By Indie Authors for Indie Authors.

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Ten Tips to Being an Author

10 Tips to Being an Author


My name is Andrew Joyce and I write books for a living. I’ve seen the publishing business from both sides—with a big-time agent and as an Indie author. So, if you would allow me, I’d like to impart the little bit of wisdom that I have learned along the way.

In this day and age, being an author consists of three things: (1) Writing, (2) Editing, and (3) Marketing. Here are my Ten Tips to Being an Author.


1. Traditional publishing doesn’t save you from the marketing slog.

If you want an agent, then by all means send out query letters. But keep in mind that if you snag an agent and he or she gets you a deal with a publishing house (big or small), you will have to do your own marketing. And be careful of small publishing houses and signing away your rights. I believe Indie is the best way to go. It could take a year or more to find an agent—if ever. In that time you could have published and be selling books. The Martian started out as an Indie book and they made a movie out of it!


2. Read. A lot.

Read, read . . . and then read some more. Read everything you can get your hands on! Reading to a writer is as medical school is to a doctor, as physical training is to an athlete, as breathing is to life. I would suggest reading Hemingway, Fitzgerald, and, of course, Steinbeck, to name but a few. Think of it as taking a writing class.


[clickToTweet tweet=”Reading to writer is like med school to Dr., training to athletes, breathing to life #writerslife” quote=”Reading to a writer is like med school to a doctor, like physical training to an athlete, like breathing to life.”]


3. Do your research. 

Whether it’s guns, historical figures, or women’s undergarments of the 19th century—know what you are talking about.


4. Write.

That seems obvious, but I can’t tell you how many times I’ve run into people working on their first book who are obsessing over the cover or the title before they’ve written three chapters. You have to have a fire in your belly to tell your story. Anything else and you’re just playing at being an author.


5. Edit. Edit yourself and hire an editor.

Once you’ve written your book and you’re happy with your story, it’s time to tighten it up and edit it. It will be hard, but you’ll have to edit out some of your genius words, phrases, and sentences. Sometimes even whole paragraphs. When I start the editing process, I’ll go through the book at least four times changing things, rewriting things, moving things around, doing whatever it takes to make my story more readable before I call in my editor. This is very important: An author CANNOT edit his or her own work. Yes, you make changes throughout the editing process, but you can read your manuscript a thousand times and not see an egregious error that your editor will see on the first read-through.


6. Don’t be in a rush to publish. Edit some more.

If you can’t afford a professional editor, ask friends and family to help out. Find beta readers online. Get all the help you can. Remember this: The more eyes that read your manuscript, the better. Everyone sees things differently. On subsequent go-rounds, you’ll find that you and your editor will see things that you both had missed. If possible, you want people that will stick with you through the multiple passes of your manuscript that real editing demands. I make every correction when a mistake is pointed out, and I take about 75% of the material revisions (style, flow, etc.) suggested by my editors. When all is said and done, I have gone through my manuscript (making changes) at least twenty times and my editors half that many times. But you, as the author, have the last say. You have to sign off on the final version. The biggest complaint about Indie books is that they are poorly edited. Do not be in a rush to get your book up on Amazon—do it right.


[clickToTweet tweet=” Do not be in a rush to get your book up on Amazon—do it right. #amediting” quote=” Do not be in a rush to get your book up on Amazon—do it right. #amediting”]


7. You need to market your book.

Now the real fun begins (I’m being facetious), the marketing. I do not know of one author that likes this stage of the game. We all hate it with a passion. But it has to be done. Different things work for different people. If you research this subject online, some sites will tell you that social media is the most important. Others will tell you that reviews are important (which is true). You can advertise, but you’ll probably never see a return on your investment. You can run specials, dropping your price to $0.99 and you’ll see sales. At $0.99 (royalty $0.34), you still won’t make money, but your sales ranking will go up and you’ll get a few reviews. You’ll have to advertise these sales. There are places that will send out an email to their subscribers for as little as $40.00. I usually sell a few hundred books going that route. Choosey Bookworm and Book Gorilla are two of them. You can find more by doing a little research.


8. Contact book bloggers. 

There are many lists of bloggers online. The Indie View has a excellent, extensive list. Ask to write a guest post or do an interview instead of asking for a book review. That will make you stand out because book bloggers are inundated daily with requests for reviews. Do your homework. Find their name on their blog and address your request using their first name. Read their “Review Policies” even though you are not requesting a review. You’ll learn if they will host a guest post and what genres they are interested in. It’s hard work; that’s why we all hate marketing. For my first book, I sent out 3,000 requests. Got 300 responses. And ended up selling 7,000 books and getting about 100 reviews just from those 300 guest posts.


9. Get reviews!

Reviews are very, very important. Do whatever you can to get them, short of paying for them. Amazon does not allow paid reviews. If you want family and friends to review your book, ask them to buy it—a “Verified Purchase” review carries more weight.


10. Write some more.

After you do all of the above, sit down and write another book. The creating is where the real joy and satisfaction of the writing process comes from.



Andrew Joyce Author

About the Author:

Andrew Joyce left high school at seventeen to hitchhike throughout the US, Canada, and Mexico. He wouldn’t return from his journey until decades later when he decided to become a writer. Joyce has written four books, including a two-volume collection of one hundred and forty short stories comprised of his hitching adventures called Bedtime Stories for Grown-Ups (as yet unpublished), and his latest novel, Yellow Hair. He now lives aboard a boat in Fort Lauderdale, Florida, with his dog, Danny, where he is busy working on his next book, tentatively entitled, Mick Reilly.



Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.

Two Life Changing Words

Write conversationally

Image Courtesy of Writing Is Hard Work

How Two Words Changed the Course of My Career


by Don Spector


Several people who have read my book–Memories of a Mad Man–have given me what I consider a supreme compliment. They said that while they were reading it they felt like I was sitting in the room talking to them. That compliment had its genesis over forty years ago when I was a junior copywriter in a Madison Avenue ad agency.

To break into advertising any way I could I had taken a job in the mailroom, my bachelor’s and master’s degrees be damned. (Neither of them had anything to do with advertising.) The agency’s creative director was on my mail delivery route and one day I got very brave. Along with his ordinary mail, I dropped in his inbox a piece I had written for the night school copywriting course I had just taken.

When he called me up to his office I was terrified. But he surprised me by saying he thought I might just have the makings of a copywriter. And a few days later I was sitting in an office overlooking Madison Avenue as a brand new junior copywriter.


[clickToTweet tweet=”Two Words changed me as an Author and changed course of My Career #amwriting #supportindie” quote=”Two Words changed me as an Author and changed course of My Career”]


My first assignment was to write a radio commercial for our client Redbook Magazine that would entice listeners into buying the next issue. This was during the Kennedy years and in an advance copy of the next issue I found an article on Caroline Kennedy’s life in the White House. I sat down at my typewriter (remember those things?) and painfully wrote and rewrote and re-rewrote the 60-second commercial.

When I got up the courage to show it to my boss, he scowled. It was bo-o-o-oring. As he handed it back to me to try again, he said something that changed my life. “Write conversationally…as if you’re talking to them, not writing to them.” And he meant it for all my advertising writing, not just for commercials.

I went back to my office armed with a whole new way of thinking about writing and I gradually discovered that the words flowed more easily. My new radio commercial made it onto the radio.

I began applying his “write conversationally” advice to everything I wrote. And it worked. I found that writing in that style was easier for me. Even more important, my clients as well as the audiences they wanted to reach tended to like the ads and commercials I wrote. That’s pretty important when we’re asking the client to spend millions of dollars on running them.

That “write conversationally” style led to another important change in my writing. While writing my book, I had hit the dreaded writer’s block. I mentioned this over lunch to a fellow author who gave me some advice.

“Instead of typing your ideas,” he said, “try dictating them.”

I went back to my office and tried it. It worked. My block was broken, ideas flowed more easily and conversing with my computer fit very well with my conversational style. I’ve been dictating a portion of my writing ever since.

I don’t suggest every author write conversationally. That fit my profession which was talking to people via radio, television and the printed page, trying to convince them to buy something. But whatever the style an author chooses, I can’t help but think that dictating can oil the wheels of their creativity as it has mine, especially during those dreaded times of writer’s block.

Write Conversationally. I attribute much of my success in advertising — and now hopefully in book authorship — to those two words.



Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.



About the Author

Starting as a junior copywriter in a Madison Avenue ad agency in the ‘60s, Don Spector qualifies as a genuine Mad Man. Creating advertising for the agency’s high-profile accounts like Smirnoff Vodka and Tareyton cigarettes, he began his ascent up the creative ladder in several New York agencies. His commercials and print ads for advertisers like Xerox, the Yellow Pages and Jaguar ultimately led to an offer of a key position in Los Angeles-based BBDO/West where he was soon named Creative Director.  After moving to a similar position at Foote Cone Belding/Los Angeles, he eventually started his own agency where he served until his retirement.  The advertising he created for dozens of companies like ARCO, Absolut Vodka, Bristol-Myers and S.C. Johnson won numerous awards. But, more importantly, it generated millions of dollars in sales for them.

To find out more about his book and discover retailers, you can visit MEMORIES OF A MAD MAN on Goodreads!


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