Category Archives: Uncategorized

8 Writing Tips from Jeff VanderMeer

Chicago Review of Books

I just completed my ninth novel, the first volume in the Adventures of Jonathan Lambshead series, working title “I am Squishy” (that will change, I’m sure). I’m also working on the tenth novel of my career, Hummingbird Salamander. This doesn’t include a number of unfinished or crappy novels written in my teens—or hundreds of short stories.

If nothing else, being a novelist for decades gives you some hopefully useful ideas about process. I’m loathe to ever suggest that there is only one way to do something—it’s different for every writer. But I do think that examining someone else’s process can be of use for your own, even if it’s just to reject everything another writer does!

So, with that caveat, here’s what I’ve learned over time. If some of it seems basic, that’s important, too. Because at the end of the day, there is no magic solution, no short-cut, to…

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A couple of old buddies of mine (Joe McKinney & Michael McCarty) have written themselves a book. It looks like a crackerjack of a story!


via Joe McKinney Interviews Michael McCarty

Show Me the Money … (in 10 steps or less)

Dianne Greenlay

Show Me the Money … (in 10 steps or less)

 I have a debut novel, “Quintspinner – A Pirate’s Quest ” published, with Book Two of the intended trilogy just a smidge away from being finished and ready to publish as well. I published Book One in 2010 through iUniverse, as I was brand new to the world of self-publishing or indie-publishing (whatever term you are comfortable with) and a complete technophobe.
Quintspinner - A Pirate's Quest

In 2009, I had sent my manuscripts out to a few traditional agents (OK, several dozen, but who is counting, really??), because that’s how I thought you had to do it, and had a few requests for partials and fulls, but became frustrated when the last agency said (and I’m paraphrasing here): “This is really good, but it’s obviously YA and we don’t have a YA section. We strongly encourage you to submit…

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It is Sunday and I’ve got the day off and I intend to do some writing.

But first, let’s talk about Kindle Scout. A lot of people ask me – IS KINDLE SCOUT WORTH IT?

Well, mileage can vary, like they say in the commercials.

My book, KELPIE DREAMS, (available in audiobook later this month), won Kindle Scout back in May 2016. I got a big fat $1500 US advance, which translated to about $2000.00 up here in Canada. That’s a lot of money for this old boy. I paid some bills and even a few frills for my wife. As a direct result my local publisher matched that Kindle Scout advance on my latest regional book.

So that’s definitely worth it.

The only problem is I haven’t managed to sell off that advance yet. I have sold about a 1000 copies of KELPIE DREAMS and am still about $275.00 worth of sales away from turning this into a paying proposition.

So – Kindle Scout sucks, right?


I suck. Not in an oh-heck-I-might-as-well-jump-off-an-asteroid sort of suck. No, no I am talking about a whole different level of suckitude. I have had a rough couple of years losing family and dealing with other personal crisis and my fighting instincts have been dulled down a bit. So I suck. Some of you folk will want to tell me not be so hard on myself, but I don’t blame myself for this level of suckitude that I have unexpectedly acquired. I own it, I accept it and I am taking steps to rise above it. Sitting around and grumbling about the ineptitude of the folks at Kindle Scout would not serve me one little bit – so I will take on that suckitude and conquer it.

Kindle Scout works for some folks.

Let’s take Tom Swyers for example. His book, THE KILDEER CONNECTION, was released in August of 2017 and has sold over 5000 freaking copies.

Is KILDEER a BETTER book than KELPIE? Heck no, but what is true is that Tom Swyers has promoted his release in a heck of a lot more ways than I had ever thought of. Better than that, his KILDEER is #2 in a series, so a significant portion of those 5000 readers who bought a copy of KILDEER have read it and enjoyed it and have gone on to buy a copy of Tom’s first book, SAVING BABE RUTH.

Tom Swyers took what Kindle Scout gave him and made it work.

So – is Kindle Scout worth it?

You bet your sweet patootie it is worth it – but you ought to give some serious thought about what comes next. Be ready for that next move. Have your paperback version ready to hit print in a week or two after the e-book release. Have your promotional material all ready to roll. Have your guest blogs pre-written. Have your Twitter feed all HootSuited up – (or whatever freaking gadget/app/thing-a-ma-bob that you use). Get busy thinking about the next book and your next campaign.

Be ready to work at it.

As for me, I know what I need to do. I am working on that new local book for my traditional publisher. I aim to have it submitted in the next couple of weeks. I have a deadline and I am cooking.

Then I need to get busy working on my next book. I need to get back on my writing machine and start boogying. Enough of wallowing in my own personal funk.

I am NEVER going to blame the folks at Kindle Scout for my own personal suckitude. The fact is, I have worked with at least TWO of the suckiest small press publishers on the planet, over my forty years of pounding keyboards into money and BOTH of those sucky small press so-called-publishers have gone the way of the do-do, meaning that they are done-done!

So I am NOT even going to mention their names, because they are dead and gone – but the point is – I HAVE SEEN THE BEAST OF SUCKITUDE – and Kindle Scout (or Kindle Press) does NOT look a ding-dong-thing like either of them.

So YES – Kindle Scout can work, just so long as you are ready to work too. Be prepared to promote your release and be prepared to follow up your new release with a brand-freaking-new release and don’t just sit there in the funk of your office chair moaning and wondering when Kindle Scout is going to send you some brand new money.

Speaking of money – I still owe about $275.00 on my KELPIE DREAMS advance.

The good news is that KELPIE DREAMS is currently on sale from this Sunday to next Sunday (February 4 to February 11) for 99 cents.

SO – if I can only manage to sell 300 copies of KELPIE DREAMS over the next week I will burn that last bit of advance down to the ground and my book will become a paying proposition!

So please, if you can find the time, pick up a copy of my book for 99 measly cents. If you already have bought a copy, thank you very much, and could you PLEASE shout it out somewhere. On Facebook, on Twitter, even write it on the walls of your washroom at work.

As for me, I’m going to keep on writing.

I am getting down off of the soapbox now.

End of sermon.


yours in storytelling,

Steve Vernon



“Quirky, strange, weird, bizarre and filled with humor” – BookDragon Nin

How I sold 1,000 books over the holidays #marketing #bestseller

Wow. These are the kinds of e-book sales that I dream of…


Here is my promised share of how I sold 1000 books and became a bestseller (in Canada and Australia, at any rate) over the 10 days of the Christmas/New Year holiday. Settle in, folks, this is going to be a long post.

First up, what I did was nothing ground breaking, just plain old advertising and spreading the word.

For a bit of background, the book I promoted was THE PRINCE’S MAN, first in my Epic Fantasy series (only 2 books out so far, 3rd one is underway).

I know it can sell in quantity – when it came out, it was an Amazon Top 100 Hot New Release, selling 1500 copies in the first 6 weeks. That was back in 2013. I’ve written and released several other books since then, including its sequel, THE PRINCE’S SON.

I haven’t promoted TPM in over 12 months, and sales had…

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Hidden worlds: The Stoke Newington Nursery Vanishing

There is a story here. I mean to find it someday. For now, just give this haunting little bit of history a good long read.

Portals of London

Halfway along Stoke Newington Church Street is a rift. A lost world of leaf, iron and stone; a crouching, brooding interruption in the row of high-end bakeries, fashionable cafes and designer home-ware shops:

Abney Park Cemetery.

One of the ‘Magnificent Seven’ garden cemeteries built when Victorian London was too full of the dead, Abney Park’s garden element has, over the years, assumed feral dominion over the dwindling numbers of burials. And the graveyard’s dark, knotted pathways and strange, ivy-ridden desire lines have come to acquire a reputation for danger.


Recent council ‘clean-up’ operations have tried to address this. But, when it comes to the advanced woodland ecology, at least, the authorities are fighting a losing battle.

Beneath the wild-turned trees that spread in every direction from the ruined chapel at the cemetery’s heart, worried by creepers, slowly crushed by roots, lie forgotten numbers of graves.

One of them, maybe, belongs to…

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Getting More Instafreebie Downloads

Some great tips here, folks.

Joynell Schultz

Instafreebie is one platform authors use to distribute free stories to readers. A bonus to using Instafreebe is they have author group giveaways with a purpose of growing your newsletter. (Readers get a free book if they sign up for your newsletter.)

I had been struggling with this a little, as I only had short stories that I could give away free. All my novels and novellas are enrolled exclusively with Amazon and enrolled in Kindle Unlimited. In addition, I don’t have the budget for a fancy designer cover for a free giveaway, so I make my own.

Both these issues (average covers and shorter stories) resulted in less downloads than the other authors in the group giveaways. This was fine, as I continued to grow my mailing list, but made growth slow and I questioned the cost-effectiveness of this method.

Well, I found the secret for me to have

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