Steve’s Writing Advice 8/7/2018

(This column is posted at and Steve’s Tumblr.  Find out more at my newsletter.)

I’ve been giving a lot of advice lately on writing, as well as processing some of my most recent experiences. So what I decided to do is write down my basic advice on what to do. I’m keeping it positive, and I hope to update it over time.

What To Write

  • Obviously you should write what you like, but you may want to target to a market.
  • There is almost inevitably a market for something you’ll want to write, but the question is how many sales you want to make (and if you cary).
  • There are inevitably other authors to learn from and study.

How To Write

  • It’s likely if you want to write you already know how. It’s just a matter of getting it into professional shape – or acceptable shape.
  • There are a lot of books on writing efficiently and effectively. Chris Fox’s books are very well regarded.
  • When possible join a writer’s group, meetup, or team to help you out.
  • There’s nothing like practicing, so keep writing!


  • Have an editor. Period. Pay them or reimburse them somehow.
  • Having beta and pre-readers helps, but an editor is hard to replace (though you may find one with betas and pre-readers)

Book Covers

  • A book cover is a great sales tool, and makes a real difference in if people buy it.
  • Different genres and audiences have different cover expectations.
  • There are various sites and tools that will help you make covers.
  • You can also get premade covers from several sources like
  • For major, important works you want a professional-level cover.
  • You can learn to do your own covers, but it will take effort if you don’t have much graphic experience. There are online tutorials.

Book Covers – Doing it yourself

  • You can do book covers yourself, as noted, but it takes time and effort to learn.
  • You can get good paid stock art and photos at and
  • For practice (or to save money) you can get free stock art and photos at and
  • The Non-designer’s Design Book by Robin Williams is indespensible to learning good design skills. There’s other advice online.


  • Unless you have a reason (or format) not to, a book should be in ebook format no matter what others you choose.
  • Physical books may or may not interest your audience. It’ll be up to you to decide that.
  • eBooks will usually outsell physical books, but physical books are also great for gifts and holidays.

Formats – eBook

  • eBooks can be formatted by publishing sites (like or on your own.
  • The best tool to format eBooks is – it’s powerful enough to write a small book in it.
  • Your formatting will usually be mobipocket (Kindle) or ePub.

Formats – Physical books

  • Physical book formatting is more complicated than eBooks, because you have to worry about page breaks, page facing, and more.
  • Covers will also require careful formatting because of sizing and colors (hint, save in CMYK).
  • You’ll probably have to run a few copies of physical books to ensure they’re set up right.

Formats – Audiobooks

  • Audiobooks are a forgotten format – and if you can get your book into audio format, then you have an edge over others.


  • There’s many places to publish, however you want to make sure whatever service you use you end up on – for obvious reasons.
  • To easily publish on multiple sources, is a mainstay.
  • Many services like the above do physical books, and


  • Pricing affects sales, and cheaper is not always better. People will be concerned that a cheap book isn’t worth it.
  • Most smaller eBooks are best priced at $2.99.
  • Larger books seem to center around $4.99, but some go higher.
  • Physical book pricing is inevitably much higher than eBooks, and often you make more on each physical books.

Promotion – General

  • Good promotion ties into each other. Your books mention your website, your website points to your newsletter, your newsletter mentions new books, new books go on sale, etc.
  • You’ll want to read up on promotion. Though a lot of promotion advice is repetitive, that’s because a lot of it is always new to someone.

Promoting – Website

  • You will want an author’s website, period. You want your own domain, and can set up a website in wordpress.
  • If you’re on Amazon and/or Draft 2 Digital there are author pages there as well. Set them up and link your website back to them and vice versa.
  • Mention your website in all of your books.

Promoting – Social Media

  • Writers should have a Twitter, Facebook presence, and blog to establish a presence. At the very least a blog and twitter is needed.
  • You may only have so much time, so make your best call.
  • Hootsuite is a great way to manage social media.
  • Mention your social media in all of your books.

Promotion – Newsletters

  • Have a newsletter. is a perfect place to start.
  • Send out your newsletter at least monthly if not more (but I’d avoid more than one a week). Mention books, give samples, etc.
  • If you want to get more people on your newsletter use for giveaways or giving out samples.

Marketing – General

  • Marketing is an inevitable part of book writing. You can’t avoid it – but you can outsource it.

Marketing – Amazon

  • If you’re publishing things at Amazon, use Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). It’s pretty much point and pay and (hopefully) sell.
  • If you’re amazon exclusive, you can do book sales and promotions.

Marketing – Reviews

– Steve