Tag Archives: author

Writing as a Business

Whether you are independently published or traditionally published, the majority of the ownership for your success falls on your shoulders.  It is up to the author to write good stuff, build a fan base, establish beta readers and street teams and marketing plans.

It’s why real writers treat writing as a business.  It’s where the term authorprenuer comes from.  If you treat writing as a business, then your books are your product.  They require planning, time to execute, and a marketing plan.  There should be sales goals, expenditures, statistics, and analysis to know whether you are hitting your mark.

In an attempt to take what I have in my head and turn it into something tangible, I threw together a production schedule.  It’s aggressive.  It’s a rough draft.  It’s more of a what-if than a real plan.  But, by doing so, it put into sharp focus just how much work lay ahead of me.


From the sample graph, you can see I’ve documented in fiscal quarters which month I will write, which month(s) marketing research needs to be done and when each subsequent marketing phase would occur.  I also added time for research and overlapped the release of the beginning of a new series in the middle of the release of the first series.  I don’t know if that’s a good idea, but I know I don’t want to wait until one series is over before kicking off the second one.

However, by performing this simple exercise of playing around with what-ifs… if I release the novellas three months apart and the novels six months apart, I’ll have 20 novels in seven years.  And for that to occur, I have to write everyday for the next seven years.

Let me say that again.  I have to write everyday for the next seven years.

If anyone ever tells you being a writer sounds easy, show them a schedule like this and let them fully digest the work involved.

As I mentioned, this schedule is a draft.  A guess, at this point.  But, it was eye-opening to do it, to see how much time I’d have to write a novel, when I could be writing two at the same time, and added research time frames as well.

Looking at this I’m both excited and daunted, both of which make me feel like my head will explode.

There’s a 99% chance the actual production schedule won’t look anything like this.  But, you have to start somewhere and, looking at the next seven years, I’m glad I got started sooner than later.

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Word Count & Nearing the Finish Line

Getting over the hump sure has helped.  In a little over a week I was able to write 10,000 words and probably have another 3,000 ahead of me before putting Skyway aside.

As I mentioned in a previous blog post, the scope and placement of Skyway has changed and the ripple effect of those changes won’t be completely felt for the next few months.  The biggest challenge is that Gabby’s faith journey in this novella will be different than intended and I won’t know exactly where she is in her faith journey until I write the two other novellas that precede Skyway.

Therefore, I’ve left the faith aspect in Skyway purposely vague and will fill in those gaps when I see where Gabby is and where she needs to be in the grand scheme of these five novellas.


This novella has been a challenge, but for all of the right reasons.  I can’t wait to finally put it to bed and start working on novella number two… well, the new novella number two.


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Word Count & Getting Over the Hump

This week was a tough one, writing-wise.  As mentioned on our last podcast, the second novella, Skyway, takes place over a continuous 36 hour period.  Because of this limitation and a lot of the moving parts having to do with plot and character, what would normally be a smooth process has been quite a struggle.

Fortunately, we are on the other side of that obstacle and nearing the finish line on this draft.  There’s still one major plot challenge ahead of us, and it’s a biggie, but it’s for the right reasons.  I’ll post more about that next week.  However, I’m excited to get this first draft on Skyway done as soon as possible so I can go back and give it a good reshaping/polishing.


Another exciting development is we’ll be sending out our first novella, The Homecoming Incident, to our second group of Beta Readers in the next week or so.  When starting with a group of Beta Readers, there is always a bit of coordination and logistics involved in getting the material to them via Kindle or other forms.  That adds some time the first time you do it.  After that, it goes very quickly.

This second group of Beta Readers are all within our target demographic, so I can’t wait to hear what they have to say.

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Word Count & Rewrites

I did a lot of writing, but not that added a lot to the word count. I did add a couple of thousand words to Skyway, but spent most of the time re-writing The Homecoming Incident based on our Beta Reader feedback.  The end result was a couple of hundred more words in total, but a better story as a whole.


I also invested quite a bit of time hashing out the Skyway plot.  It’s not a complex plot, but it has enough moving parts that, if you don’t take them into consideration, the reader will be pulled out of the story.  I know exactly where I want to story to travel, but the specific steps within it require that all of the tentacles of the story remain connected and believable.

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Word Count & Stumbling Along

I didn’t do it.  I didn’t keep up my 1500 words a day.  I tried, but the empty page glared back at me this week.

My problems were three-fold.  First and foremost, I was burned out.  I have never written 1500 words a day in my life.  Not solely toward a book.  Sure, I probably write more than that just working and emailing.  But the nightly 1500 work effort was new and my creative tank drained to empty.


Secondly, I lost the story.  The second novella’s plot is more complex than the first one, which was a pretty direct line between beginning and end.  The second novella bobs and weaves and when I needed to attack, I had no more punches left.  There was one evening I spent two hours looking at the screen trying to pry words, any words, out of my head and onto the page.  None were forthcoming.

It wasn’t until I took a fresh look at the story again and worked through some vague plot ideas until they were razor sharp, that the story was able to flow again.  This is the way writers block always rears its ugly head with me.  It’s not that I can’t write.  It’s because I don’t know what I’m supposed to write next.

Lastly, I enjoyed life a little more this week.  Even though you don’t have to keep your Lenten sacrifice on Sundays during Lent, I was still writing 1500 words a day, including Sundays.  This past week, I took the day off.  Monday was also the opening day for Major League Baseball and my son and my best friend took in some innings at the Rays/Jays season opener.  And challenges at work and health issues with family and friends was like a vice grip on my creativity that hindered my writing.

However, once the story cleared up in my head and things settled down in my personal life, the writing quickly returned to form and I was still able to collect a little over 4,000 words this week.  Not bad, all things considering.

Hopefully next week will be less interesting and more productive.

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Word Count & Beta Readers

The first Gabby Wells novella, The Homecoming Incident, is in the hands of my first group of Beta Readers.  Can’t wait to hear their responses, make the tweaks and send it to our second group of Beta Readers.

I’m about one-third of the way through the first draft of the second novella titled Skyway.


Not all 1500 words a day ended up on the page of Skyway.  Some went to quick fixes on The Homecoming Incident and some went toward outlining Skyway.  All that being said, however, I’m very happy with the 9,000 words I was able to write this week.

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Helpful Links

Want to start writing or publishing novels?

There are a lot of great websites out there to help new writers learn from experts and for starting publishers to get a feel on the marketplace.  Here are a few that I’ve found helpful and the ones I visit most often.

Alton Gansky – a successful Christian author who has published over 40 books, both fiction and non-fiction.  Gansky provides video interviews on a consistent basis with leading authors, publishers, editors and book designers.  If you want to learn from the experiences of others, this site is a great resource.

Books & Such Blog – Books & Such is a literary agency that represents over 150 authors, including over 20 best selling writers.  The faith-filled staff provide nearly daily blog entries on all things literary from the perspective of an agent.  I visit this site daily.  They don’t represent me, but I hope, by the time the Gabby Wells novels are published, I’d have gained enough traction to have them represent me on another novel series I plan to write after the Gabby books are done.

Michael Hyatt – Hyatt was once the Chairman and CEO of Thomas Nelson publishing, the largest Christian publisher in the world.  He has turned his focus to speaking, helping people get the most out of their products and rising above the congestive marketing noise on the internet.  His website and other offerings are full of effective and helpful information.  His book Platform, previously mentioned on this website, is one of the most practical, inspiring and helpful books for people trying to grow a following and market their material.

Molly Greene – Greene is a free lance writer, blogger and author who continually updates her site with her own insight or links to other helpful blog entries that can range from writing to publishing, marketing to promo ideas.

Chip MacGregor – another literary agency with a nice blog that is updated consistently with great information.

John August – For those of you interested in screenwriting, August (Big Fish, Go, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory) provides a vast array of information, including a weekly podcast with fellow screenwriter Craig Mazin (Identity Thief, Hangover 2 & 3).  Great insight about the business from people inside the business.

And here are some other helpful websites for specific needs.

Good Reads – If you like to read novels and want to share your experiences with others, Good Reads is a great place to see what other people are reading and what they think about them.

Chesterton Press – If they were accepting submissions, I would submit our Gabby Wells novels to this Catholic publisher.  However, on their submissions page, if you scroll down to A Brief Analysis of Story Telling: The Harry Potter Standard you will find a detailed and wonderfully instructional guide, using J.K. Rowling’s approach to writing, to show the right way to structure and approach writing.  Great stuff.

Createspace vs. Lightning Source – Not sure if you should self-publish in Amazon’s Createspace, publish with the main printing company (Lightning Source) nearly all publishers use, or some combination of both, this blog entry from Terri Guiliano shares the pros and cons of each approach.

99 Designs – needs a book cover?  Get book designers submitting their work to you for a relatively low price.

Catholic Writers Guild – Writing a Catholic book and need a way for book stores to know your book is in line with Catholic teaching?  The Catholic Writers Guild offers a service to read and approve your book with an official Seal of Approval.

These are just some of 150 or so sites I have accumulated about the publishing industry.

Take a look and happy hunting.

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Trying to determine the best path for a new novel series is like trying to find your way through a wild jungle with only a pocket knife at your disposal.


When we look at how best to release our Gabby Wells novel series, we have extensively researched, evaluated the marketplace and have come up with some basic assumptions.

  1. Publishers and readers will pigeonhole these novels as Catholic or Christian fiction. The consequence is the book becomes a niche young adult offering instead of a general one.  This is based on the fact that the main character is a Catholic youth, strong in her faith, who actively works to figure out how her faith should interact with her life.
  2. Most Christian publishers are Protestant-based and rarely/never publish Catholic flavored fiction.  This comes from evaluating the top Christian publishers and the books their authors write.
  3. Most Christian bookstores are Protestant-based and rarely/never carry Catholic flavored fiction.  This comes from evaluating the top Christian bookstores and the books they sell.
  4. Most Catholic publishers focus solely on non-fiction authors.  This comes from evaluating the top Catholic publishers and the books their authors write.
  5. Most Catholic bookstore do not carry Catholic fiction.  This comes from personal experience and validated by further research.
  6. Most of the work in promoting and marketing a novel is done by the author.  This comes from extensive research from information shared by authors themselves and blogs from publishers and agents.
  7. Publishers may be wary of the dark paths and decisions the main character takes during her faith journey and the sacramental nature of her faith.  This is more of a gut feel than proven research, but since the novels are a series, there is a risk of one publisher owning the rights to some of the books while the remaining books in the series are owned by some other entity.
  8. Publishers would be wary of taking on a novel series where they cannot benefit from all of the rights normally included when signing an author.  Gabby Wells character is a Sonlight Pictures property with television series and movie scripts already written and copyrighted.
  9. The higher value proposition for a niche book limited by the assumptions above would be far greater by not using an established publisher.  If assumption #1 is correct, then a decision has to be made on whether it is a better decision to make %15 on a niche book from an established publishing company or take 85% on a niche book by self-publishing/creating your own imprint?

I’ll be honest.  I have no idea if any of these assumptions are completely valid.  That’s why they’re assumptions.

But these are the things that muddle through my brain as we get closer to a finished product in the first book in the Gabby Wells series.

So, if our assumptions are correct and it would be difficult to find a publisher that would accept it, find a bookstore that would sell it, that we’d have to market it ourselves anyway, for a niche book that would exist in a small market, then the next logical questions is:

Why are you doing this????

Simple.  Because I feel God has asked me to.

I’ve learned from past experience that God dreams bigger than we do and, therefore, I remain ever hopeful of the success of our novel series.  That definition of success is up to God, not me.

As much as I believe my assumptions about publishing Gabby Wells are close to the mark, I have also learned from past experience my assumptions about God’s plan in my life have rarely been accurate.  So, I will wait and see how things play out, what resources will cross my path and what opportunities will find me when I least expect it.

Only then will I know if I have assumed correctly.

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Podcast 02 – Author Jeff Strand

Jeff Strand, author of over 20 novels, including the highly successful Andrew Mayhem Series and A Bad Day for VooDoo shares his approach to his comedy-horror novels, the changes to distribution and his latest release, Dead Clown Barbecue.


Many thanks to Jeff who suffered through a cold while recording the podcast.  He’s a trooper.

Enjoy the Show!

(Running Time 38:24)

Links Mentioned in the Show:

Jeff Strand

Lynne Hansen Design



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A Pius Man – Book Review

A Pius Man: A Holy Thriller, by Declan Finn, is equal parts intriguing and frustrating.  As a self-published novel, it is one or two professional edits away from being a top-notch thriller.

pius-manA Pius Man is the first in a trilogy of books and deals with the threats against a newly elected Jesuit Pope and his attempts to canonize Pope Pius XII, who served as the head of the Catholic Church during World War II.  The complex and compelling story involves representatives from nearly every branch of international enforcement agencies, from Vatican police to Mossad to Secret Service to Egyptian police, ex-Special Forces, Interpol, to free lance mercenaries, spies and a Hollywood stuntman to boot.

These forces work together and against each other in an attempt to uncover the connection and ultimate goal of a series of murders involving al-qaeda operatives, scholastics, and priests, all of whom were involved in investigating Pope Pius XII.  Each team member comes in with suspicions and preconceived ideas about the others and through their deep and intertwining investigations learn the true agendas behind their reasons for being there.

Finn has obviously done a tremendous amount of research, both about the Vatican and Pope Pius XII.  As the book examines, in the sixties and seventies there was a lot of new claims that Pius XII was in bed with the Nazi’s and did nothing to help the Jews from the slaughter that awaited them. These claims were mostly based on suspicious sources (some of which were forged) while proven documents contradicting these claims were mostly ignored.  It is this tension between Pius XII’s real actions during one of the world’s darkest moments and these false claims that Finn uses as a catalyst for the story.

More often than not, Finn does a good job of weaving into the story corrections about inaccuracies of Catholic belief and history.  Most of these morsels of information are related directly to the investigation, while others are bit clunky in the text.  However, as a Catholic who has had to defend the church’s beliefs and stances from the ignorance of others, I appreciate Finn’s attempts to clear the air.

There are a few things that stand out and get in the way of this book reaching its full potential, simple things that a professional editor would have fixed quite easily.  For example, there are eight main characters in this book, many with appropriately middle-eastern names, and yet Finn rarely calls them by the same name twice in a row.

There is one character, for example, whose name is Sean Ryan.  Within a single chapter he can be called Sean, Ryan, Sean Ryan, Sean A. P. Ryan or Sean Aloysius Patricus Ryan.  Multiply that by eight characters and put that in the middle of two vans under a hail of gunfire and rocket propelled grenades and you quickly lose track of who is doing what.  The simple standard of introducing a character once and, thereafter, using a single version of their name outside of dialogue would have eliminated this confusing and completely unnecessary obstacle for enjoying the story.

Even though it was recently published, I’m not sure when the book was written, because it feels like it has been sitting around for a while.  For example, when characters talk about picking up disposable cameras at the airport, it screams “ten years ago.”  This, too, was a distraction.

Another very odd choice had me stumped.  Although a small part of me appreciated his thinking outside of the box, I was more than confused by Finn’s choice to, at the end of multiple chapters, suggest the reader go online to a website and type in a key phrase to learn more about a character or subject.

I have never heard of an author promoting the idea of having the reader put the book down to do something else.

Finally, I think Declan Finn is the one of the best names for an author I’ve ever heard.  It just screams political thriller.  I don’t know if its a real name or a pen name, but either way, it rocks.

I hope Finn invests a few dollars to revisit this book, updates it and gives it fresh edit.  If he does, he could have something really special here.

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