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How to Make Goals Now for the New Year Ahead

Every year, I realize how short life is and how time is flying.  Before you know it, we’ll be at the end of next year and if you haven’t set any goals, you’ll look back and think about wasted opportunities.  Now is the time to think about what you want to accomplish, and figure out how you will reach your goals so you can look back over a successful year.

I usually start by thinking about what I have to do in the next year, then I break it into workable chunks.  For instance, if you want to write a book in the next year, what do you need to do to reach that goal?  You might set weekly goals, such as write a certain number of words per week.  I lean away from setting daily writing goals, because so much can happen that disrupt a daily schedule, and it’s too easy to become discourage and give up if too many unproductive days go by.  Be careful not to set unrealistic goals.

Another thing to consider is not doing the same thing divided into twelve monthly sections but rather trying a variety of things.  For instance if you own a business and want to reach a certain number of clients in the next year, you can choose six ways to expand your business and try one each month for the first six months of the year.  Then in June you can review the past six months and see what was most successful.  You might want to continue doing the one that reached the most customers, or you might want to rotate through the six ways once more.

Take time to set goals and this time next year you’ll be looking back at a successful year!

Why You Should Write a Book

I am sure I’m not the only one who has heard, “You ought to write a book.”  The thing is, should you really? Most of the time I’d say yes, you should.

To start with, we all have something that makes us unique, and writing a book is a good way to share that with others.  We’re shaped by where we grew up, who was around us, things we learned.  All of that adds up to an interesting mix and preserving it is a way of teaching others.  Think about reading Laura Ingalls Wilder’s “Little House” series – she wrote what she knew and it preserved a way of life many of us would never otherwise know.

Next, this is a great time to write a book.  You can use software to help you and print it yourself or with the help of one of the many self-publishing firms.  You don’t need to find an agent, wait for an editor to read through your manuscript, or spend a fortune to get it done.

Finally, you should write a book just to have written one.  What a great feeling of accomplishment you’ll have once it’s done, and you won’t look back and say, “I wish I’d done it.”  You can do it, and this is a great time for you to write a book!

Do you have questions about writing? Please contact me here or at

3 Tips to Figure Out What to Write About

I’m frequently asked, “I’ve written a book – what do I do next?”  The next most common question I hear is “I want to write a book but where do I start?”  Here are some of the things I suggest people do when they don’t know what to write.

First of all, write what you know.

You don’t have to write your life story, but you could use where you live or where you grew up as the setting for your story.  No need to invent a street when you can picture it in your head as you write.  You could also use an incident from your own life in the story – anything stand out as particularly great or particularly horrifying?  Has anything that happened to you that would capture a reader’s attention?

Second, you could write what you wish could be. 

Set your book in a place you invent – create a whole different world, or make everything happen in the future or past.  It’s your book – you can be as creative as you like.  Describe life the way you imagine it on a different planet, or in a different time.  Sometimes once you get started describing a place you get ideas of what could happen there.

Third, write something to teach another person. 

Every single person knows something that someone else doesn’t.  What do you know that you could teach?  Try writing it to different groups – how would you teach a group of children what you know, how would you explain it to a police officer, and so on.  Once you figure out what you want to teach, you can figure out what kind of audience you want to write to.

Do you have any tips when people ask what to write about?  I’d love to hear them below or at!

How to Finish Your Book By the End of the Year

Hard to believe it but the year is nearly over, and if you’re a writer with the goal of finishing your book by the end of the year, you should be in high gear right now.

Here are some ideas for you to try if you’re struggling to get done with a book in the next few weeks.

First of all, you should realistically assess how much you still have to do to finish your book. If you cannot finish it without cutting out all food and sleep, then take a moment to figure out how much you can do before the end of the year and aim for a goal other than finishing.

Second, if it is a manageable amount of work you have to do to finish your book, try to break it down into hours and then keep to a strict schedule for these next few weeks. Get up a little earlier or go to sleep a little later if possible.

Third, see if there are any shortcuts you can take to reach the goal of finishing your book by the end of the year. Are you pausing after each chapter to have someone read through it? While they read through it, continue to move ahead with your book rather than editing that chapter after it’s been read.

It’s great to reach the goal of finishing your book by the end of the year, and I hope you successfully reach that goal if it’s one you’ve set!

Please feel free to contact me here or at if you have questions about self-publishing.

3 Things You Can Do During the Holidays to Become a Better Writer

Even though the holidays are a busy time of year, there are some things you can do this season to become a better writer.

First of all, think of using some of the decorations everywhere as an inspiration for your writing.

Do they remind you of childhood?
Happy memories?
How about writing about positive things you remember.
Gritting your teeth to get through the whole season?
Can you turn something negative around and write the way you wish things had turned out?

Secondly how about using holiday cheer to find someone to read through your book and give you some feedback?

When someone asks if there’s anything they can do for you, ask them to read your book. Tell your reader you’d like them to focus on the positive things in your book if you’re nervous about hearing negative feedback, then use what they say to improve your book.

Finally if you’re asked what you’d like as a present, suggest some books about writing, or a monetary gift that you’ll use to take a writing course or seminar.

Those will definitely help you to become a better writer!

Whatever you do, I hope you can find ways this season to write and improve!

For help with your self-publishing and writing efforts, please write to me here or at

Why Writers Should be Thankful

This is the time of year when many Americans look back over the past year and remember things they’re thankful for. If you’re a writer, here are some things you could specifically be thankful for:

If you’re living in the United States, you should be thankful that you live in a country that allows you to write what you like. You can express yourself in writing without having to worry that you will be punished or threatened by writing something that disagrees with someone else.

You should be thankful that you actually doing something that many people dream of doing. So many people say, “I could write a book,” but they don’t. You have taken a step well beyond what most people do.

You should also be thankful that you’re sharing your story and knowledge with readers and touching their lives. Just as you can probably look to certain authors and think, “that book changed how I think about things,” others can look at your book and say your book changed them.

As for me, I’m thankful for all the wonderful self-published authors I’ve met and talked to and whose books I’ve read. You have also changed my life.

How to Know If Your Book Is Any Good

There are a lot of writers out there and a lot of books to choose from. How can you tell if your book is one of the good books or not is obviously a very subjective thing – everyone thinks their own book is good. But there are a couple things you can do to see if your book is any good.

Join a writer’s group and have your fellow authors critique your book.

They might see where something needs to be polished, or edited, or clarified. Or ask friends or family to read your book and let you know what they thought about the writing. Be open to hearing their opinions and see if changing things improves your book.

Record yourself reading your book out loud and then listen to it played back to you.

Can you hear things you want to change? Are there places in the book that sound better or worse when you hear them out loud?

Whatever you hear from other people about your book should not stop you from writing more books though. Everyone has an opinion and just because someone doesn’t like your book, doesn’t mean your book won’t become a favorite of someone else.

Got questions about self-publishing your book? Please write to me here or at

How to Control Your Writing Schedule During the Holidays

Everyone’s busy during the holidays – There’s always something distracting us, taking up time, and interrupting our routines. Here are a few quick ideas to maintain control over your writing schedule during the holidays:

First of all, where possible, work ahead.

If you can add on time spent writing in the weeks before things get busy, you won’t feel like you’re running behind. Write for an extra hour on the weekends, or if you normally give yourself a day off each week, use that day to write even if it’s only briefly spent working.

Secondly, limit your holiday activities.

Only go to one party per week, or whatever you think is necessary. You have a great excuse – you’re working! If you need to prepare a holiday meal, divide the meal between the guests – someone brings a salad, someone else brings a dessert, and so on. Or do what I do and find a restaurant that caters – you can get a great catered meal for a reasonable price from Boston Market for example!

Finally, be gentle on yourself – you also deserve a present and some time off might be perfect.

If you’re not able to maintain the level of writing you’d like, it’s all right. The holidays don’t last forever and if you’re a week or two behind schedule, you’ll be able to catch up in January.

What about you? Do you work at the same pace during the holidays? How do you control your schedule when there are so many outside demands put on it?

Please write to me here or at and let me know!

I meet people all the time who tell me they have a great idea for a book, but don’t know where to get started. Here are a few ideas I have for where to get help writing your book:

A great place to start is to join a writing group. These are people just like you who want to write and share their ideas. You can look for groups at your local library or community center, but if you don’t find one, start one yourself! Just post a notice asking other writers if they’re free to meet on a regular basis, usually once a month.

You could also do online searches for how to get started. Search “how to write a book” and you’ll find plenty of sites that give tips on how to get started.

Something you might do is talk to friends. Even if your friends aren’t writers, they might have a good idea for you to get started. You might use them as a sounding board about your book idea, or they might read through what you’ve written and give you thoughtful feedback.

Don’t forget that it helps to read well-written books. You can get a feeling for what works and what doesn’t. You might also try writing a paragraph or two of your book in the style of different writers. Not only is imitation the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also good practice!

Good luck with your writing, and let me know what worked for you to get help with your book!

Where to Get Help Writing Your Book

Happy Halloween!

I meet people all the time who tell me they have a great idea for a book, but don’t know where to get started. Here are a few ideas I have for where to get help writing your book:

A great place to start is to join a writing group. These are people just like you who want to write and share their ideas. You can look for groups at your local library or community center, but if you don’t find one, start one yourself! Just post a notice asking other writers if they’re free to meet on a regular basis, usually once a month.

You could also do online searches for how to get started. Search “how to write a book” and you’ll find plenty of sites that give tips on how to get started.

Something you might do is talk to friends. Even if your friends aren’t writers, they might have a good idea for you to get started. You might use them as a sounding board about your book idea, or they might read through what you’ve written and give you thoughtful feedback.

Don’t forget that it helps to read well-written books. You can get a feeling for what works and what doesn’t. You might also try writing a paragraph or two of your book in the style of different writers. Not only is imitation the sincerest form of flattery, it’s also good practice!

Good luck with your writing, and let me know what worked for you to get help with your book here or at!

Interview with Self-Published Author Karen Magill

Today we’re going to hear from author Karen Magill. Here’s what she has to share with us:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

I have two self published novels. One is "The Bond, A Paranormal Love Story." A woman, Laura Neill, in Vancouver is struck while crossing the street. At the same time in Toronto a car also strikes Julian Rule.

When both have an out of body experience, their ethereal forms bond as one before separating - each taking a part of the other's soul with them as they return to their bodies. They are truly soul mates. When he senses that she is in danger - a feeling that is confirmed by a psychic friend - Julian goes to Vancouver to come to her aid. With the help of a detective, Julian is able to prove that Laura's fiance is a con artist and a murderer. When Julian confronts the man, he and Laura are placed in imminent danger.

The other is "Let Us Play, A Paranormal Love Story." In an uncertain time in the future, rock and roll music has been banned. Kaya More uses second sight to lead a group of rebels to bring it back. Their quest leads them from the streets of New York City to the peaks of the Canadian Rockies to the beaches of California. The pursuit heats up as combatants switch sides and the world joins forces as the rebels find adventure, music and love.

"The Bond" is going to be published in Turkish soon. I sold the rights to a small publisher in Turkey.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I wanted to see what I could do on my own without a big house or agent telling me what to do.

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

Promotion and getting the books selling. It is an uphill battle constantly but it is fun learning all the new ways to get more attention and to find your own interviews and such. It is a great learning experience.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

I have really enjoyed learning about so much to do with the writing industry. I don’t think I would be learning all avenues if it weren’t for self publishing. Right now, I am waiting for a book on being one’s own literary agent and I can learn even more about the business. I don’t know if I would have learned as much if I had an agent and they handled everything.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

Learn everything you can and research anyone you are dealing with. There are a lot of good people involved with writing but there are a lot of scam artists too. Also learn as much as you can about promotion and marketing. You’ll need it.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I want to thank you for interviewing me and everyone for reading. Check out my blog on Vancouver and its history at and my website

Thanks so much for telling us about yourself and your books, and good luck with book sales!

Self-published Author Interview-Kelly Murphy

Today we’re talking to author Kelly Murphy. Here’s what she has to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

Hi, my name is Kelly Murphy. I was born and raised in Hamilton, Ohio till age 12. My book starts of memories I had from when my dad shot my mother in the mouth while laying beside her when I was three. My grandmother tried to raise me the best she could but was an alcoholic, and I went through about 32 foster homes from age 3 to 15. I went through a rape from 7 guys and also had a subarachnoid hemorrhaging on both sides of my brain. I was on total life support and totally brain dead. It talks about how through it all I have had Faith in the Lord and he was all I had.

I have a child with Aspergers/Autism and have two live births, my son and my daughter. My second book talks of the boy I took in that no one wanted. I had forgiven my father for what he had done and tried to get to know him, big mistakes, but I have answers I have always wanted and needed. I don’t have a good education so had a big fear, but when God brought me back for my children, He told me to write my memories while I still had them.

I am so blessed to be here today. Even though I have problem with reading, I was given the gift to write. My first book is called “ A World With No End From Beginning And Continuing” and is available at any online bookstore (and can be ordered at any bookstore). You can also go directly at and get it paperback or e-book.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

Well, I had a company that read and wanted to publish it but I didn’t have the $4,000 they wanted to do it all for me. I didn’t do well in school and needed an editor. I decided that my spelling didn’t matter but what did was the story behind it.

I feel these books are my calling in life and what I was meant to do is help others, so I decided that I would self publish so I could go ahead and help someone. And money-wise, I needed to take steps because I did not have $4,000 all at once. Trying to raise three children and get things done is a big task.

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

Knowing that I needed an editor because of my spelling and grammar. I, at times, had low self-esteem when reliving my life to write the story - because I had a very hard life to overcome.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

The convenience of doing the money part in steps, because I have always needed help financially, and I can get my story out to help others at the same time.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

Don’t let anything stand in your way no matter how different you may be. Write things down all the time and don’t ever give up on your dreams,  ever!

Is there anything you would like to add?

I would like to say that I'm sorry for all the mistakes in the first book. My editor didn’t do a good job, but the next book will have a better editor. Thanks for taking the time to let me share some of my life with you but you have to read it to know it all.

Thanks for sharing your information and inspiring story with us Kelly. Good luck with book sales!

How to Use the Cooler, Fall Season to be a More Productive Writer

One of my favorite things about this time of year is having my windows open to let in the fresh air. It’s so energizing to breathe in the delicious smells of fall that I feel like I can accomplish anything, and you can, too.

Take advantage of the weather this season.

If you are able to, try writing outside. If you normally write on a computer, take a notebook with you and try sitting on the porch just jotting down plot ideas, character descriptions, or favorite words you’d like to incorporate into your book.

If you use a laptop, take it outside and work as usual, just breathing in the fresh air.

Break up your writing with a walk around the block. It might be a treat for you once you write a certain number of words, or you might go once per hour. It will give you a chance to think and you’ll feel invigorated and ready to get back to work.

Does the weather in different seasons change the way you work? Please let me know here or at

What You Need to Do in October as a Self-Published Author

October is actually a great month to take stock of where you are with your writing. The September back-to-school feeling has worn off, and we aren’t yet in the November/December holiday rush, and it isn’t yet the resolution time of January.

  • What have you done thus far with your writing?
  • Are you on track to reach any goals you set back in January?
  • Do you need to do some extra work to catch up to where you’d planned to be?
  • Is there a habit you need to change that will improve how you work?
  • Do you need to modify your schedule to get ready for November?

Try working at a different time, such as earlier in the morning or later in the evening, to be sure you’ll be able to work enough to finish the year strong.

Are there any people you need to contact about your book?
Do you need to find a publisher, or meet with a writing group to finalize something you’ve been working on? October is a great month to do this before you and everyone else enter the final months of the year.

Have a wonderful October, and let me know if you have any tips for other self-published authors – I love to hear from you here or at!

An Interview with Mike Brennan of

Today we’re talking to self-published author Mike Brennan, who has been covering cyber security news for more than a decade at his news portal site, MITechNews.Com. This is what he had to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

"Cyber Styletto" is the first in a series of novellas that takes an insider’s look at the security threats on the Internet today. The story – developed by a technology journalist, a cyber security expert and an award-winning novelist - focuses on super hacker Yvonne Tran, part of a secret government agency called CyberCom, who is brought in to investigate a malicious network attack that kills eight innocent people in California. She and her team follow the trail to Hong Kong and Afghanistan, where they must pinpoint the cause before the next attack, which could kill thousands more people in the United States.

The book is available now at,,, Barnes & and iTunes. Soon it we will be available at, Schuler Books in West Michigan and on

Why did you decide to self-publish?

We are breaking new ground in fiction, creating a new genre about cyber crime, and we didn’t think a traditional publisher would see the big picture until we sold a few thousand books on our own. We also wanted to get the book out quickly, since many of the facts in it are ripped from today’s headlines. We wanted to make more money and get paid faster than if we went the traditional publishing route, too.

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

Marketing the book, getting the word out to the target audience worldwide. We’re still figuring out that part of the book publishing business. But we plan to have Cyber Styletto translated into German, French, Japanese, Chinese and Spanish. I’m sure there are a lot of folks who would be interested in reading "Cyber Styletto" that are non-English readers.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

Total control over distribution and sales. We also earn a much higher profit than if we went the traditional publishing route.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

Make sure you connect with veterans of the book self-publishing industry who can help you learn the ins and outs. We had Gian DeTorre, our novelist, who handled this part for the team.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Follow your dream. Don’t let anyone tell you that you can’t do it. You can. You can achieve anything you believe.

Your book sounds very exciting Mike! Thanks for sharing your information, and good luck with book sales!

Self-Published Book Author - Interview with Saheem Wright

Today we’re talking to author Saheem Wright. Here’s what he has to say:

Tell us about yourself, and your self-published book and where it is available.

I’m from Chicago, born and raised. What made me start writing was the reality I was living in. My mother was doing drugs and my father was in jail most of my life. We lived in one of the worst parts of Chicago so writing helped me escape that.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

What made me decide to publish was as the years went on, I kept writing about things I’d seen, things I’ve been through and things my friends have been through. Like, I wrote something about my friend that lost her baby very tragically. Her baby was only two years old and ran in the street and got hit by a car. I thought people should know that. My book is available at, barns& and

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

My biggest challenge was getting it prepared, putting it all together, because this is years and years of my thoughts.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

The best part about publishing my book is getting my story out and letting people know what I went through as a child. The hand I was dealt I had to play, and you can rise above all.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

My advice for new writers is to take your time, know what you want to say and tell your story.

Thanks for sharing your information with us Saheem, and good luck with book sales!

Do you have questions about self-publishing your book, please write to me here or at

"Notes from An Alien" Author Interview

Today we’re talking to Alexander M Zoltai, author of “Notes from An Alien.” Here’s what he has to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

  • Start with a 500-year InterWorld War.
  • Continue through ecological disaster and the decimation of populations. 
  • Follow the institution of a Worlds’ government, bringing a glimmer of hope.
  • Discover the challenges and failures of unifying three very different Worlds.
  • Explore what it takes to give birth to a lasting peace.

This is what reading Notes from An Alien promises.

And: This Story Could Help Earth…

You can read it online, get a free digital copy, plus buy it at Amazon or Barnes & Noble and for the iPad by going here:

Why did you decide to self-publish?

First, because Notes from An Alien is a radical “niche” novel.

Second, because I don't “trust” the mainstream publishing process.

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

Taking on the never-ending job of self-promotion.

Why? Because, even on the Internet, I'm quite the Introvert :-)

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

The best part of self-publishing is that the book is out there, available, and I'm controlling the promotion.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

Make absolutely sure you get as many eyeballs on the manuscript as possible.

Is there anything you would like to add?

I have a forum for discussing the issues raised in the story here:

Plus, I spend at least 20 hours a week in the virtual world, Second Life, attending to various levels of self-promotion...

Thanks for the information about your book Alexander, and good luck with book sales!

For help with your self-publishing efforts, please write to me here or at Thanks!

An Interview with Jim Miller of "Mined Your Own Business"

Today at jexbo we’re talking to Jim Miller, author of “Mined Your Own Business.” Let’s see what he has to say:

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I decided to self-publish for a number of reasons. In no particular order, but of equal importance are; royalties, more overall control of my novels, the ease of publishing today and a kind of ego related, "I did it all".
What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

The biggest challenge for me was the initial hurdle of getting a book published. I have been writing for many years, but my novels all seemed to get stuck on disks or manuscripts in drawers, all waiting for the best time for me to move. I would often tell people that the marketing side of writing was where I didn't apply myself. I was doing tons of writing, but not much of 'getting it out there'.

A friend who worked for a small press asked if I had anything ready for print that he could have a look at. I gave him the story 'Mined Your Own Business' and after a couple of weeks he emailed me and said that the publisher wanted to offer me a contract to put it out as an ebook. At that time I was busy working on entering the self-publishing world, but I said okay.

A few weeks later, in May, 2011, he notified me that 'Mined Your Own Business' was up on Amazon. After the thrill of seeing it up there and both my wife and I purchasing a copy I settled down and realized that I was now a published mystery writer. That realization gave my level of confidence a boot upwards and when a few reviews showed up and people actually liked it, I was ready to accept the fact that I could be a writer for real. Notwithstanding that I had had a ton of articles published in newspapers and other little clips, friends telling me who good my work was. All of that didn't seem to matter to some inner me. But, now? Now I've got the confidence to go out and self-publish with enthusiasm.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

I think that some of the above fits this category. But the sense of accomplishment was huge. A kind of validation of myself.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

I can't say enough about just going for it. Without that little bit of a shove from my friend I might still be storing up manuscripts and writing for myself. I have to admit that I do re-write a lot, and put long hours into making it the best I can. My inner voice will tell me, "Nope, that scene, Jim, it sucks." And try as I might to shut him, up, we both know it's not the best I can do. So I go back and re-do it. It might be days before I finally accept the fact that if I left it, I was only fooling myself. So, in summary, write it as many times as is necessary - you shut up that little voice, and then you ignore the next little voice that says, "You ain't good enough." and you do it.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Yes, Jerry Cleaver, a writing teacher has a book out, 'Immediate Fiction' and in that are two rules a writer needs to live by:

I can do it!

Whatever writing problem you have there will be a writing solution.

A bit about the ebook selling. The evening of the book launch on Amazon I got an email from my editor who said, "We've been up for four hours and already sold two copies of 'Mined Your Own Business'."

I had to reply, "Yes, I know, Bev bought one and I bought the other."

My temporary blog site is

'Mined Your Own Business' is on Amazon at

Thanks for sharing your information with us Jim, and good luck with book sales!

If you’d like to share your self-publishing story with jexbo readers, please write to me here. Thanks!

Writers, Why You Should Take a Notebook with You at All Times

I always carry a notebook and pen with me because I find interesting things that I want to remember all the time. Actually, I also always carry a small pack of colored pencils, because I like to scribble down sketches of some of the places I visit in case I want to write about them later.

There are several things I always make note of such as interesting quotations, funny things people say, and ideas for future stories or articles. I also keep a list of words I like and want to remember, or that I need to look up in a dictionary when I get a chance.

Some writers prefer writing in longhand, and even if you’re not one of them, it’s very convenient to have a notebook handy for the times you’re stuck somewhere and have an idea you want to write about. You can always type it once you’re back in front of your computer, but without a notebook handy, you might forget something you want to include in your book.

Do you keep a notebook handy? What other tips do you have for other writers? Please let me know here or at I’d love to hear from you!

How to Get Your Book Finished by the End of the Year

We’re in the homestretch of the year, and you might be finishing your book with no problem. If you’re stuck though, here are some things you might try that will motivate yourself to finish your book by the end of the year.

If you started off well but have slowed to a crawl, take a moment to think about what worked for you at the beginning.

Do you like starting a fresh document?

Then, try making each chapter a separate document.

Did you work at a specific time and now find yourself working sporadically?

Try working with the schedule you used at the beginning.

Are you stuck?

Have a friend (or a writing group) look through what you’ve finished so far and give some feedback. You might just need a fresh perspective to get back on track.

Do you have an outline for the rest of your book?

Try working on different parts and fill in the outline as you go. You don’t have to stick with working from the beginning to the end. Write the end, jump around and write parts of each chapter, don’t worry about working in a certain order.

Figure out what you have left to do to finish your book and write a schedule.

  • Do you need to write a certain number of words per day?
  • Do you need to do one day of editing per week along with writing?
  • Can you set up a specific time each day to work for the final stretch?
These are just a few tips to help you. Good luck writing your book and finishing it by the end of the year! You can do it!

And if you have questions about self-publishing your book, please write to me here or at Thanks!

How to Get Ready for the School Season and Have Time to Write

Getting ready for the school season can be a speed bump in summer fun. You know it’s coming, but it feels like it’s coming too fast. Here are a few tips to get things ready and still have time to write.

First of all, once you have your list of items needed for school, find out if another parent will be kind enough to buy double of everything so you don’t have to go shopping at all, with you paying your half once the shopping is done. If this doesn’t work, how about splitting the job with another parent – you go to one store, they go to another. This helps both of you.

Second, try getting everything ready all at once – school supplies, clothes, books – and setting it up in a closet somewhere that won’t be in the way. I find that if I spend one day working hard at getting it all put together, it leaves me more time to write than if I spend a couple hours here and there spread out over a few weeks.

Third, check what you already have before you buy something new. Have you emptied the backpack your child brought home in June? It might be full of things on the list of school supplies. Can your child re-use notebooks and folders? Are there enough pencils/pens/crayons left from last year that you don’t need to shop for new?

If you’re able to split the shopping with someone, work hard for a day rather than spread the work out, and reuse and recycle old school supplies, you should be able to get ready for the new school year and still have time to write.

For more tips on writing, self-publishing and running a business, please contact me at

Self-published Author Interview - Saurav Dutt

Today we’re talking to Saurav Dutt, author of a number of books and winner of the Dark Tales Quarterly horror competition 2010 and the Dark Static short story contest 2009. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

My book is a biography of Academy Award nominated actor Mickey Rourke. As well as providing a career retrospective, it is a commentary and film criticism analysis of his life and work. It is available through Amazon UK and US on paperback and Kindle formats as well as the Lulu website on paperback, Ebook and digital download.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

Ultimately, it was to have the creative control I so savored and needed to portray the exact vision of my work that I had in mind when it was first conceived.

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

Having the tenacity to self-promote and pursue as many avenues of promotion as possible especially when that side of being an author was completely alien to me at the outset. It was time consuming and sometimes self-defeating to trawl through these multitudes of hyperbole to find the best ways to promote and market.

What has been the best part about self-publishing and why?

Having a more one to one relationship with my audience and getting back the positive feedback from them is pleasing knowing that I could reach them through my own endeavors and with a writing style that was completely my own and not diluted by editors, literary agents or publishers. It was purely my own work from the first to the last word, and getting praise from complete strangers was worth all the effort as they understood my vision.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

To stay true to their creative truth and to never ever compromise or dilute their art for the perceived likes and dislikes of others. In other words, don’t commercialize your work for the sake of somebody else, stick to your guns and your vision and believe me, there is an audience out there willing to be engaged.

Is there anything you would like to add?

As well as my biography on Mickey Rourke, I have published books of poetry and fiction ranging from horror to drama. Most recently my book “The Far Lonely Cry of Trains” made the shortlist of the 2011 Amazon Breakthrough Novel award and my first novel “Dark Mood Rising” won the Exeter Writing Competition in 2010.

Thanks for the information Saurav, and good luck with book sales!

Do you need help self-publishing your book? Please write to me here or at I'd love to hear from you!

How to Find Time to Write Your Book

Finding time to do all the things you need to do each day can be tough, and adding in writing a book can really take up your time. What I think helps is flexibility. What works at one time may change – for instance if you have young children, you might write during their naptimes. If you have a full-time job, you might write early in the morning or late at night.
You also need to find what works best for you, and this might mean you try working at various times. Do you have uninterrupted time on the weekends? Are you a night owl? If you try varying the times you write, you might find you work best at a different time than you thought.

Another thing you might try is getting up earlier than you usually get up to write, or stay up later at night to write. I choose to work early in the morning, because I never know what each day will bring, but one of my best friends always writes late at night once she’s finished everything else she needs to do. You might be able to make time during the day to write, for instance take a shorter lunch break and use the extra time to work.

Is there something you can take off your list of things to do and use that saved time to write? For instance are your kids old enough to do their own laundry, which would free up the time you’d normally have to do it for them? Could you find a lawn service to take care of your yard to give yourself a couple hours on the weekends to write?

Let me know if you have any tips, here or at I’d love to hear from you!

How to Turn Your Book Idea into a Reality

The simple answer to how to turn your book idea into a reality is obviously to write. It’s one thing to come up with a great idea, it’s another thing altogether to actually get it down on paper.

If you come up with an idea for a book, you should start by setting some writing goals. Will you write for a certain amount of time each day? Will you write a certain number of words per day? Where will you write? Do you prefer to work on a laptop in a coffee shop? Can you work from home?

Next do any research necessary for your book. Is there any information you’ll need to know when you’re writing? If you’ve already got the details handy, you won’t need to stop writing in the middle of your book to look something up. Will you be interviewing anyone? Get the interviews done before you start writing. You can always get additional information later, but the more you have to start with, the easier it will be to just fill in details.

Many writers start with an outline. Do you have a rough idea of characters, opening and closing, and plot development? If you get an outline written down, you can use it to keep yourself from going astray while you’re working.

What helped you turn your book idea into a reality?

Please share your tips here or at Thanks!

How to Motivate Yourself to Finish Your Book

Writing a book is hard work and it takes time. It’s easy to get discouraged when you’re halfway through something and you just can’t think of the next thing to write, or you just can’t face sitting in front of the computer (or opening a notebook, if you’re writing your book longhand) for one more minute. Some ideas that might help are take a break, work according to a schedule, or give yourself a deadline.

If you’ve been working so long on your book that you just can’t face another minute on it, rather than give up on it completely, take a break. If you don’t want to take a break from writing completely, how about starting work on a new book? Maybe write a short story, or an article for a magazine or blog. Writing can be great fun, and if you give yourself something else to work on, when you’re ready to get back to writing your book, you’ll be refreshed.

Another thing to try is set a schedule and stick to it. Give yourself a goal of a certain number of words per day, or a certain amount of time to write, and then do it. Every day you’ll be a step closer to finishing your book!

Last, give yourself a deadline to finish your book. Are you close enough to the end that you can finish it in a month if you work hard? How about by the end of the year? If it helps you stick to the deadline, tell someone and have him or her hold you accountable. If I know someone’s going to be checking on me, I’m much more motivated to do things I said I’d do.

Do you have any tips to keep yourself motivated? I’d love to hear them! Please write to me here or at!

Top 3 Reasons to Self-Publish

There are lots of great reasons to self-publish your book, but I think these are the top three: control, time, and convenience.

First of all, if you self-publish your book you get to control all aspects of it. How much will you charge for each book, where will you market your book, what sort of cover art will you choose, even what font your book will be printed in! If you choose to self-publish, every decision will be yours.

Second, you will not have to wait for a publisher to get your manuscript, read through it, and get back to you. If you go through a traditional publishing route, it could be weeks or months before you even know if your book will be published, whereas if you self-publish, your book will be published on your schedule.

Third, it is convenient to self-publish your book. You can buy software to prepare your book for you, step by step. You could choose one of the many online self-publishing firms that provide a variety of services, from editing to marketing your book. There are lots of great self-publishing firms out there just waiting for your book!

Do you have questions about self-publishing? Please write to me here or at!

How to Deal with Publisher Rejection

No one likes rejection, let’s start by getting that out of the way. But you need to remind yourself there’s a huge difference between rejection and failure. Your book might have been rejected by someone, but unless you give up, you have not failed.

Keep in mind is there’s a world of publishers out there, and just because your book has been rejected by one (or by a hundred), it has not been rejected by all publishers. Go to your local library to find other publishers where you could send your manuscript, or check online for publishers looking for new talents. It’s a set-back to have been rejected, but you need to remind yourself it’s just that you haven’t found the right publisher yet. Make a list of publishers and work your way right through it if you have to, until you find the one who is right for you.

If the rejection letter came with any comments, see if you can make that work to your advantage. For example, if you were entering your manuscript in a writing contest, the publisher might like to see your work again at a different time, when you won’t be in competition with other writers. Could you re-submit it? Did the publisher think the material was too short or too long? If so, consider editing your manuscript with that in mind.

Finally, you might just need to take a break from sending out your manuscript to publishers. Sometimes the stress of waiting for an answer can be overwhelming. Give yourself some time before you send your manuscript to another publisher, then when you’re ready, get right back into things and keep looking for the right fit for your book!

Do you have questions about self-publishing? Please write to me here or at! Thanks!

How to Develop a Good Book Title

Many books go through a number of working titles. Most titles are what the author comes up with while writing, but sometimes a whole book is built around a title the writer thinks of even before starting the book. Then there are some titles that are changed by editors or friends who read through manuscripts while the work is in progress.

One thing I think you should keep in mind is open-mindedness. Try to not be so attached to a book title that you don’t listen to what others are saying. Is the title you came up with too long? Does it not relate to what you’ve written? Is it confusing?

When you’re choosing a title for your book, try to choose something that will grab the readers’ attention. They might be browsing through a long list of books, and you want your book to hold them long enough to check it out.

Also consider your book category. Are you writing for young children? Teens? Adults? Is your book science fiction? Is it a biography? Think about how you could use the title to market your book to those groups. You might even consider rounding up a group of people and giving them a list of possible titles and have them choose the one that sounds most intriguing to them.

How did you come up with your book title? I'd love to know!

Do you need help creating your self-published book? Please write to me here or at Thanks!

Self-Published Author Ken Spoerl

Today at jexbo we’re talking to author Ken Spoerl. This is what he had to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

My fictional book is the story of a man, who because of a strange set of circumstances faces accusations of embezzlement and grand theft. The story follows him on a quest to prove in innocence as he and his lawyer build a case for his defense.

Matthew Scott left his place of employment one afternoon with company funds that were entrusted into his care to deposit into the firm’s corporate account. That was the last anyone saw of him. He seemingly vanished from the face of the earth until one year later he returned with a bizarre explanation for his disappearance. He was taken into custody and charged with embezzlement of company funds. He ultimately ends up in a court of law where a jury must decide his fate.

The title of my book is “The Return of Matthew Scott” by Kenneth Spoerl. It is available at (click on the book store tab), and barnes&

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I decided to self-publish after contacting numerous traditional publishers. Although almost all of them told me that my book sounded interesting and the story line captured their attention, the response to my query was consistent. They were either not taking on new clients or they did not want to look at work from new unpublished authors.

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

The biggest challenge for me in self-publishing was, and still is, book promotion. I work a full time job so I had to find time to contact newspapers and radio stations for interviews to promote my book. I also have to visit bookstore owners in the hope that they will stock my book on their shelves.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

The best part of self-publishing is that I have total control over everything involved with the book from selling price to promotion. Also the publishing process is much faster than it would be with a traditional publisher.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their books?

My advice to others about self-publishing is, do your homework. There are a lot of self-publishing companies out there. Investigate these companies and weed out the ones that don’t offer a book evaluation and a personal representative to guide you through the publishing process. Although it is completely up to the author whether or not he or she wants to use the evaluation to make changes to their work, the evaluation can be a useful took in writing a quality book. It may be hard to hear that your work isn’t perfect but it is important to realize that constructive criticism can be very beneficial in the long run.

Thanks for sharing this information with us Ken, and good luck with book sales!

Do you have questions about self-publishing your book? Please write to me here or at Thanks!

Interview with PoetTree

Today at jexbo we’re talking to Thomas A. Stanton, aka PoetTree. Let’s hear what he has to say:

Tell us about your self-published book.

'Rhyme with Reason: Poettrees Galleries ’ is fiction & non-fiction, Inspirational, Emotional, Real Adventures, children’s poems, Adult poems (clean), internet, philosophy etc. Based on past experiences and others, I wanted to reach out to the public with my poetry to find ways to help inspire people pertaining to their everyday lives. Family mishaps, sports enthusiasts, child abuse, nature lovers, love & romance, the love and loss of pets, devoted friendships, spiritual dreams and heartaches. Through my discoveries with this book I have discovered that truly their is something in 'Rhyme and Reason' for anyone.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

Through years of writing poetry and hand creating art, I decided among family and friends that I have a message, a way of reaching to people through my words. Publishing my work was my best alternative to reach out to others in ways to help people with my writing.

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

Honestly, it was the challenge of what the cost would be, along with the details that would best fit my book based on the price.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

The best part is easy, holding the final copy of your own book within your hands. This gives you such a complete feeling.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

When in search for the right method and cost of self-publishing, my suggesting would be to take your time and weigh your sources. Do not take the first one that falls on your lap. There are many competitors out there and I have found that the more options that a publisher can offer us, the more advantages we have as a writer.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Author House..(This is the only site that has the E-Book)

Publisher Site: Hardcopy, Softcopy, E-Book

Amazon: Hardcopy, Softcopy

Barnes and Noble: Hardcopy, Softcopy

E-Bay: Hardcopy, Softcopy Hardcopy, Softcopy

Thanks for the information Tom, and good luck with book sales!

Do you need help with self-publishing your book? Please write to me here or at!

Interview with "The Immigrants' Daughter" Author, Mary Terzian

Today, we’re talking to Mary Terzian, author of “The Immigrants’ Daughter.” Here’s what she has to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

My book, “The Immigrants’ Daughter,” a memoir about growing up in Egypt in the 1940’s, was published in 2005 by It is a story of triumph over destiny, breaking the chains of tradition by embracing freedom. It can be ordered from bookstores (distributed through Ingram), from, Barnes&, and other online retailers, in E-format from, and from digital shelves like Kindle, Ipad and Nook.

“The Immigrants’ Daughter” won the Best Books 2006 Award and placed as a finalist in the Indie Excellence 2007 Book Awards, in nonfiction, under the “multicultural” subdivision. It has garnered fifteen five-star reviews on At the 18th Annual Writer’s Digest Competition for self-published books it was given 4.5 points out of a possible 5.

Per the judge’s comments, “'The Immigrants’ Daughter' is a totally enjoyable read from start to finish . . . laced with the perfect mix of drama and humor, with some occasional sarcasm thrown in for good measure. She (Terzian) is also a master at sensory detail . . . so that readers are engaged in the surroundings without ever being overwhelmed. Women of all nationalities will be amazed at her strength and character as she takes them through her struggles to overcome Middle Eastern ideas regarding ‘a woman’s place’ in society in the 1940’s . . . The snappy chapter titles brought a smile to my face.”

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I tried a few agents and publishers. I must confess. I did not pursue this route long because I felt young editors will not fully appreciate the ambiance of the times and the struggles it took for women, especially in the Middle East, to overcome their secondary role. Also the book’s multicultural content and my foreign name might raise some concerns about it being a home-made recipe. I wrote it, of course, from the wider international perspective. Also self-publishing was the faster route to see the book in print. .

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

I was a closet poet in my teens, releasing my pent-up emotions via the pen. Eventually writing became a sideline because it gave me pleasure my regular jobs did not offer. I had quite a number of articles published in local and ethnic papers, first in Armenian and later in English.

Some of them are available online, at, or just by “googling” my name. Success and acceptance at Toastmasters’ and Writers’ Clubs boosted my self confidence to venture on my own. Beside the major decision of choosing a publisher, I had to cross over my regularly low profile to promote my book, to meet my audience, embrace my fans sometimes, attend discussions, and to keep up with an ever-changing technology. Marketing a book is a time-consuming occupation.

My two critique groups, and the two clubs I belonged to, California Writers’ Club and Writers’ Club of Whittier, were the testing grounds for my writing. I could not have succeeded without my fellow writers' encouragement, constructive criticism and kudos.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

My book proved to be a catharsis for me. It sort of cleansed my soul. It was an accomplishment I had opted for and it was carried out satisfactorily. It helped me shift my priorities from fame and fortune to the pleasure of self-actualization. I hope I influenced a lot of women, men too, to make the proper choices in the pursuit of their goals in life. I derived the greatest satisfaction from fans who have profusely thanked me for the impact my book has had on them. Bringing hope and joy to others has been a mission I did not anticipate but welcomed with open arms. When my fans ask for more articles I am “tickled pink.”

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

1. Have the book professionally edited.

2. Choose a cover that is compatible with the story within.

3. Have an attention catching title that will strike a chord with the readers.

4. Research web for information on comparative costs and services of self publishing companies. I found The Fine Print by Mike Levine very useful.

5. Be as careful in the choice of a publisher as in the selection of a lifetime partner.

6. Study the offers. All that glitters is not gold.

7. Review your contract carefully. Read between the lines. Are shipment costs spelled out. Is an ISBN included in the charges? Is the author’s royalty based on the list price (at which the books is sold) or at the net price (after all relative expenses have been deducted.)? Check on author discounts, free books etc.

8. Have a marketing plan. The onus of promoting the book is primarily the author’s responsibility.

9. If the idea of self promotion is alien to you, hire a publicist, use advertising or the social media, burn a house down (not really), learn to accept praise gracefully.

You need to develop your platform as soon as you start writing your book.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Write from the heart. If you are sincere the rewards will catch up with you. My most favorite motto is “the future belongs to those who believe in the power of their dreams.” Eventually your enthusiasm and determination will meet with success.

Thanks so much Mary, and good luck with book sales! For help with self-publishing your book, please write to me below or visit!

Interview with Self-Published Author Jon David

Today we’re talking to author Jon David. Here’s what he had to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

My book is the first of a trilogy. “Diary of a Lonely Demon” follows a young woman named Morgalla who happens to be a demon from Hell. She tries to have as normal a life as possible and tries to find her way in the world. She’s afraid to show her true self to anyone, human or demon. It’s available at createspace:

You can also “LIKE” Morgalla on facebook and see many illustrations of her and the world she lives in.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I think it comes from the same reason all authors like me decide to: Sick of hearing NO from publishers and agents. I know of many writers who are great but if publishers don’t think their work won’t sell, they’ll never get published. It also kinda comes down to luck. When you look at how many submissions they get, it’s almost a miracle that a certain author gets accepted.

So writers are faced with two difficult questions: Wait around for years for something that might never happen? Or do it yourself?

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

Good question. I suppose it might be finding the right people to trust, or maybe getting your work out there and finding the right people who will enjoy your work.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

Every time I autograph a copy of my book to someone who is enthused about it or who enjoyed it. There is no thrill that equals that.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

Read a lot and many different authors. You’ll discover what authors you like and which ones you don’t. That will strengthen your own work, make it as ironclad. That is the foundation of making your work popular. People can tell when you’ve spent a lot of time and effort making your writing as professional as possible. Don’t even THINK about going forward until you’ve had a professional evaluate your writing.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Morgalla has the opportunity to be a very popular character but she only needs a chance. I looked at other characters, particularly female, and saw what was lacking or what was common among them. I then went and molded her in a way to make her unique. I’m very proud of what I’ve done so far and I cannot wait to hear what people will think not only of book one, but of the other two as well when they’re ready.

Thanks so much for telling us about you and your book Jon. Good luck with book sales!

What about you? Do you need help with your self-publishing efforts or have some good tips to share with our readers? Let us know here! Thanks!
Today, we interview author Diana Layman, Author of "The Magic Strand,"

Why did you start your business?

In the summer of 2007, on a family trip to Glacier National Park, we visited an electromagnetic anomaly with "mysterious" properties. I had an idea that this place would be the perfect spot for an access point between dimensions (alternate-earth time-space). As a long-time professional ghost-writer and mother, with my eldest child approaching puberty, I thought about writing a book about a human girl who is raised in an alternate dimension who is returned home to (our) earth as she turns 14 - sort of a reverse Wizard of Oz, mixed with Gulliver's Travels, Greystoke: Legend of Tarzan and Harry Potter.

After feeling out-of-place growing up as a giant in a magical Lilliputian world, Aurora (aka Rory) finally comes "home" only to be confronted by all the issues facing teens in America today. I wanted to explore the concept of "fitting in" in a way that empowers young teens and confront some of the issues they face without lecturing like a parent. Under the guise of fantasy and adventure, I wanted the story to teach or at least present issues without giving clear answers or making a parental opinion clear while still providing tools for good decision making. Further, I wanted to explore the issue of how the Internet, movies, TV and phones influence our perception of reality without our knowledge or permission. Several teachers who read the completed manuscript indicated that they believed I had created a classic story that could benefit anyone who read it, and it seemed like I had a responsibility to make sure people got a chance to read it.

What unique challenges did you face in starting your business and how did you overcome those challenges?

Even though I had professional writing credentials, to date I have been unsuccessful in finding a literary agent. This happens to many thousands of writers, both good and not so good. To make light of the acceptance of a difficult situation, I say that I could, "wallpaper my bathroom" with the rejections I have received from the agents I have contacted. I have not given up and will continue to contact them, hopefully strengthening the case for traditional publication as I go. After receiving my 40th rejection, I began to lose hope that the book would ever be published. I saw my dream of making something of value available to parents and children nationwide slipping away. Somehow, I just couldn't let that happen.

As I spent many years as a marketing exec in high technology business and I had a vision the whole time I was writing of what a great movie this story would make, I started thinking that I could make the book available on the net in a really cool and possibly unique way. I liked the idea of taking the elements found in a movie and inserting them into the book and onto a website to spark interest. I also believe that if agents and publishers can get a real “feeling” about the story from the web site, I might be able to “strip” the wallpaper away.

I started with a shoestring budget, pulled and melded together two separate flash templates which I purchased online for less than $200, researched the Internet for the right kind of music and images, wrote all the text and hired a web design company to get it all up and running. I applied for copyright and an ISBN number and the site went live on April 15, 2011. I give visitors illustrated story excerpts and two sample chapters to read before purchase. There is a testimonial section with comments from other readers, a Q&A section with the author, and photos of actual places that appear in the story. To make sure parents feel comfortable purchasing the book online, I provide a printable document explaining the concept of the book and how to purchase it online. Even if the traditional publishing world doesn’t get it, I believe that young readers will. Why do I believe that? Keep reading.

Increasingly, books are becoming available online. The advent of the Kindle and the Nook are converting readers to e-books at an astonishing rate, "...$90.3 million in revenue in February -- roughly triple the sales reported in the same month last year," (source: and paper book sales decline every year. And these figures do not even include phones as sources for electronic reading.

In addition, schools are getting into the act changing from paper text books to online textbooks in an effort to save districts money and tap into the growing positive feelings about online reading and learning. "Nationwide, 15 percent of elementary schools have turned to Studies Weekly {online materials} for their core materials in social studies and science." (source:

Young people love working with online materials and are excited by the kinds of graphics that make reading materials more interesting. Although most 9 to 14 year old readers don't have access to their parents' e-readers, many do have access to a computer at home.

To meet the growing demand for computer-based reading material, entrepreneurial authors like me are designing their own web sites and graphically illustrating their work to make reading more attractive for online readers from 9-14 and on up, to adulthood.

Finally, as many teachers will readily admit, comic books have always been an impetus to spur reluctant readers. You have only to investigate the growing popularity of graphic novels (virtually unheard of 20 years ago) to know that illustrated work appeals to a stratum of readers who rarely, if ever, read anything of novel length unless it is illustrated. If I can reach younger readers who do not read traditionally published novel length fiction, especially with this kind of message, so much the better.

What kind of publicity activities have you done for your business?

My public relations activities are in their infancy. First, I built The Magic Strand’s Face Book Fan Page (now accessed through Like). Every bit of publicity will be posted on it as well as on my personal Face Book page. I designed business cards and have been distributing them through school libraries wherever possible as a spur to reluctant readers as mentioned above. I have sent business cards out to 150 friends and family and have asked them to distribute them as well. One of my college friends forwarded one of my Face Book postings to a famous sci-fi writer (Robert Greenberger) who gave me a plug on his Face Book page. I am pursuing “mom” bloggers and children’s book reviewers, offering free copies of the book. I have a friend who is a public relations agent who is pursuing several avenues for me, but the most important thing I hope to do is make The Magic Strand available online for free at public libraries across America. I intend to get nationwide editorial coverage to publicize the availability to the general public.

What advice do you have for other entrepreneurs out there who want to make their business ideas a reality?

Never say die. There are few things as strong as faith - people are willing to die for it - and I have faith in myself and my story. The hardest thing I face every day is the knowledge that the odds are stacked against me. In some ways that is a freeing experience, because there is no place to go but up, but in others, it makes every activity feel like climbing Mount Everest. I believe in myself and I believe in the quality and intrinsic value of my story and its message. I just keep thinking that I have to keep putting one foot in front of the other and that if I can help one kid understand how to make a good decision when there are no good options, it is worth it to me. I think every successful entrepreneur needs that unshakable personal faith and faith in their product or service to succeed.

I will send a free copy of the e-book to anyone who knows of a child whose family cannot afford the price of the book. Contact me at

Thanks for your great tips and advice Diana. How about you? Do you need help with your self-published book? Please contact me here or at Thanks!
Today at jexbo, we’re talking to Linda Hoagland, author of nine self-published or print-on-demand books. Here’s what she had to say:

Tell us about your self-published book and where it is available.

"Watch Out for Eddy" is a story about a fifteen-year-old named Eddy, whose life is forever changed when he, while riding a bicycle, collides with a car.

Eddy’s mother, Ellen, tells the story of her son’s survival as well as the survival of the family. While she was waiting for Eddy’s brain to heal, Ellen looked for help with handling the monster that the brain injury had created. The part of Eddy’s brain that was injured was the part that led to aggression and hatred. His brain seemed to be stuck in that mode. Her quiet, passive son changed to one that was determined to kill her and his younger brother.

Ellen needed help and wasn’t able to find it. It became her goal to write a book so others, who might be in her situation, could have whatever guidance she was able to offer.

"Watch Out for Eddy" is available at and from the author. It was published in 2009 by Henderson Publishing of Pounding Mill, Virginia.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

I live in a rural area of Virginia where there are no national chain bookstores, no literary agents, or direct paths to the large publishing houses. The only way my words were going to be put on the printed page was by self-publishing and, of course, selling those books by personally presenting them to the public.

What were the biggest challenges to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

The cost became my biggest challenge to getting this particular book published. It took a great deal of time to get the funds gathered to begin the process, but I couldn’t have been happier about the end product.

I wanted my book edited for spelling and grammar but I didn’t want the content changed in any other way because it was a true store and I wanted it to remain true.

Self-publishing allowed me to keep my story true and factual with only the names changed to protect Eddy.

What was the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

In order to get my books into the hands of the readers, I have to get out and meet the public, which I gladly do at every function where they allow me to set-up a table. Most of the time I get to talk one-on-one to people and tell them about my writing and how much a part of my life it has become.

I have discovered that because I self-publish or use print-on-demand, that I get a bigger portion of the profit than if I were published by one of the large publishing houses who limit the writer to a very small percentage of the profit for each book sale.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

If it is your desire to be the next John Grisham or Danielle Steel, then you should seek the services of a literary agent and pound away at the big publishing houses. But – if you want to see your words in print the way you wrote them, then self-publishing is the route to follow.

I would love national recognition for my writing, but I’m very realistic with my dreams. If my books are read by my friends, neighbors, and those I meet and greet at the fairs and festivals in my region of this wonderful country, I will be happy.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Keep writing – the more you write, the better you get.

I have eight other self-published or print-on-demand books available. They are:


Checking on the House, 2011

Death by Computer, 2010

The Backwards House, 2009

An Awfully Lonely Place, 2008


Quilted Memories, 2011

Living Life for Others, 2010

Just a Country Boy – Don Dunford, 2010, Edited

The Little Old Lady Next Door, 2006

They are available from the writer,, PublishAmerica, or local outlets in Virginia, West Virginia, and Tennessee.

Arts Depot – Abingdon, VA

Holston Mountain Artisans – Abingdon, VA

Appalachian Arts Center – Richlands, VA

Historic Crab Order Museum – Tazewell, VA

Bubba’s Book Swap – Kingsport, TN

Hearthside Books – Bluefield, VA

Brainy Boston Bookstore – Princeton, WV

Thanks for the great information about self-publishing your books Linda! Good luck with more book sales!
For more information on self-publishing, visit

How to Start a Writing Group

Some writers work well on their own, and writing is a solitary business. But something that can really help you focus on your writing is joining or starting a writing group. Writing groups can hold each other accountable for reaching personal goals, and they can help fine tune the work each member is writing.

First of all, you should check to see if there is already a group in your area. Many community halls have a variety of groups that meet, and they might already have a writing group. You might also check with your local library.

If you can’t find an already established group, you can start your own. Find out what the requirements are for using a local community center or library. Is there a charge? Are you allowed to eat or drink in the venue?

Next, decide how you want the writing group to work.
  • Will you each read a piece of what you’re working on?
  • Will you have a different subject each meeting, and everyone writes on that subject and critiques each other?
  • Are you going to focus on a specific topic, such as children’s books, or science fiction, or will you be a group for all writers in general?
  • How often will you meet?
Once you know the when and how of your group, you need to find members. Most community centers and libraries have bulletin boards where you can announce an upcoming meeting, and some also have newsletters and you can advertise for a low cost. You could also let people know about your group through online chat rooms and message boards.

Good luck starting a writing group!

Do you have questions and need help with writing and marketing your self-published book? Please contact me here or at

3 Top Tips for Dealing with Rejection Letters

Most writers, myself included, have received their share of rejection letters from publishers. While it is disappointing every time, there are some things you can do to make the rejection hurt less.

First of all, remember that a rejection of your book is not a rejection of you as a person. Although our books are like pieces of ourselves to us, to an editor it’s just a book, and you are just getting their opinion.

Second, make sure you are submitting books in the proper format that each editor asks for.

Are you sabotaging yourself by not including a cover letter if one is required?

Is it a publisher who requires you to have an agent?

Do your homework before sending anything so you can be sure your book won’t be rejected for a reason that would’ve been easily corrected before you sent it.

Finally, take action if your book is rejected. If there are comments from the editor, read them to see if you can make changes in your manuscript. Maybe it’s just a small change you need to make and you can resubmit it with a greater chance of having your manuscript accepted the second time around. Or do what I did, and find a self-publisher and publish your book yourself.

Do you have questions and need help with writing and marketing your self-published book? For additional resources, check out our self-published interview series on this blog and the information

Interview with Gibran Tariq, Self-published Author

Today at jexbo, we talk to self-published author Gibran Tariq. Here’s what Gibran had to say:

• Tell us about your self-published book.

The name of my self-published book is "When I Say Jump," and it is about a government conspiracy to imprison one out of every four black males born in this country. To a lot of us in the black community, this grim statistic is more than a mere conspiracy theory. In fact, it is more of a governmental prophecy. I chose to write about it because I have spent 35 years of my life in prison and dating back to when I was 14, I have seen up close and personal the devastating rape of the black community by the invisible hand of the prison/industrial complex.

• Why did you decide to self-publish?

In 2002, I had a very bitter experience. I was still in prison and my work had become known in the greater Atlanta writing community and I was approached by an independent publisher to write a novel. I did.

However, I never received any royalties on the sales of the book. Upon my release, I was secretly contacted by the husband of the publisher who provided me with the details of what had happened to the money of the writers who had all been cheated by this particular company. They were going through a nasty divorce and he wanted me to sue her. Instead, I simply chalked it up as a lesson learned, deciding then to self-publish if I continued in the world of literature.

• What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

A total lack of confidence. Not in my work, mind you, as I was absolutely convinced that I had a viable product. However, I did lack confidence in my ability to reach out to the world. Being in prison severely limited my perspective, forcing me to think small. Sure, I had dreams of reaching a world audience, but had no real clue as to how to sustain this dream or how to put it into motion. The Internet had narrowed the vastness of the world's cyber-geography, but I was the new kid on the block when it came to computer use.

Then I got a miracle in the guise of Angela Morrow, her partner Chris, and the Writer's Choice. They believed in me, my work, and my aspirations. They then put together a literary package for me that was tailor-made for my particular writing sensibilities, and in addition formulated a promotional plan to help me go from one level to the next in a timely fashion so I wouldn't feel overwhelmed. They have even helped me start a creative writing class where I teach and use my own unique brand of writing prompts that I personally developed as writing tools while I was confined.

• What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

Now that I am not alone, my confidence in my ability to promote myself has soared and now I enjoy meeting people and talking to them about my work. Self-publishing awards me total control of my work and this is very therapeutic for me. After 35 years of having absolutely no control over my life where I was told when to go to bed, when to get up, when to eat, when to talk,etc... it feels great to wake up in the morning, knowing that what I accomplish throughout that day will be according to the plan of my choosing.

• What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

Even though they may not encounter the mental roadblocks I did, I urge them most emphatically to pursue the dream of doing for self. But even more than just offering a slogan, I encourage them to study their craft and then to study the market. I do not hesitate to tell anyone out there who is embarking on this wonderful, creative venture to contact Angela Morrow and Writer's Choice. I promise that they can and will help anyone navigate their way through the murky waters of the publishing world. And help is indeed needed. I was once a drug-trafficker and I conducted a lot of business with a lot of shady characters in a lot of dark alleyways, but they didn't frighten me half as much as some of the shady people I have met in the literary world. Writer's Choice helped me determine who was who, and what a blessing that was.

• Is there anything you would like to add?

At long last, it is my time to shine and I will seize the moment. "When I Say Jump" is merely the beginning of something I will be doing for quite a time to come. Thanks for the opportunity to express my views.

Thanks for the information about you and your book Gibran! Good luck with more book sales!

Questions to Ask a Self-Publishing Firm Before You Give Them Any Money

I think self-publishing your book is a great idea, but there are a number of things to consider before you decide to pay a self-publisher to publish your book. First of all, how much you are willing to spend to have your book published? Once you know your limit, then you need to shop around for a publisher that will fit your budget.

It’s very important to understand what you’re paying for. Some publishers will merely print your book exactly as you give it to them. If you’re confident in your editing, this might be the best way to go. If you need some editing help, however, you might want to look for a publishing firm that includes it as part of their package. Then you’ll need to ask what does editing mean to that firm? Is it a basic editing such as a spell check, or something more thorough?

If your book needs cover art, will you have to supply it? Does the publisher have someone who will work with you to decide on the book cover? How much will it cost to have a cover designed for your book?

Other questions to consider include: Are there hidden charges, such as shipping and handling, that won’t show up in the basic package rate? If you’re using a print-on-demand service, what is the up-front charge?

Overwhelmingly, I hear positive comments from authors who self-publish their books, but these are some things you need to keep in mind when you’re deciding to self-publish your own book.

Interview with James Lynch, Self-published Author

Today at jexbo we talk to self-published author of three books, James Lynch. Here’s what James had to say:

Tell us about your self-published book.

At this point there are three books that fall into my slogan: “Fictional books of another kind.”




All three books are in paperback, kindle, and eBook versions. They can be purchased through customer friendly websites such as jexbo and There is a listing found at in addition to my blog.

Why did you decide to self-publish?

Well, there was a story to be told. I say this with big smiles. When it comes to a creative work or vision, often times, you have to lay the foundation or groundwork in order for people to see where you are coming from before they will hop aboard. You know this for a fact, there are many manuscripts sitting in basements, under the bed, and garages that would make great reading material for many people, but the publishing industry did not see the author’s vision or just plain wouldn’t give the author a chance. Hence, some things you just have to do yourself. The tools for the self-publishing author today make this once astronomical feat possible. I am more than happy to avail myself of such tools.

What was your biggest challenge to overcome in self-publishing your book and why?

It would have to be creating a schedule for writing and not letting anything else interfere with it. Just an hour a day, five days a week, can do wonders for the creative process. The key is realizing that one hour of writing, meditating, or editing is priority for the designated timeslot.

What has been the best part about self-publishing your book and why?

How well the book has been received by the readers. Young people and teenagers in particular express how much they ‘love’ the books. There is one character in “Who are the Colesmiths?” that young and old alike fell in love with.

What advice do you have for other writers who are self-publishing their book?

Quite simply, tell the story. Then do the following steps.

1) Read the story out loud while making editing notations.

2) Get a team of proofreaders from different walks of life or professionals. Sit down and have a meeting with each of them if you can. Why is this beneficial? You will find that even if you have 'Dotted your i's and crossed your t's' that enhanced emotional flavor could be added to the book by listening to the opinions of how it made your proofreaders feel.

Is there anything you would like to add?

Jill, thank you for the interview and the readers for taking an interest in the Product of Culture fictional book series. May you find success in what truly matters!

Thanks for your information and tips James! Good luck with more book sales!

Questions to Ask Yourself Before You Decide to Self-Publish a Book

Self-publishing is a great way to go to get your books out to readers, but it might not be for everyone.

First and foremost, you’ll need to think about the cost involved, a cost that you might not recoup. Self-publishing means you’ll be buying your books from a printer, and then selling them yourself. How many books can you afford to have published, and are you able to risk purchasing more than you’ll be able to sell?

Also, you need to be prepared for the huge amount of work you’ll have to do in order to market your book yourself. Do you have both the time and interest to do this? If you don’t, do you have a friend or family member who would do this for you? Would you be willing to pay someone a percentage or a flat fee to promote your book for you?

These are just a few questions to ask yourself before you decide to self-publish your book. Do you have any other questions you’d advise writers to consider before they choose to self-publish?

Did you think through any of these questions before you self-published your book? Please let me know – I love to hear from you!

Writing Inspriation - Record Your Family History

Everyone has a story to tell, and one thing I particularly enjoy is hearing stories from my own family. What I do is ask questions such as: 
  • How did you meet your spouse?
  • What did you like about school? 
  • What hobbies did you have? 
  • What’s the most interesting thing that ever happened to you?

I write things down in stories on my computer, but you could also use a tape recorder and interview your family that way.
Learning about your family can give you some great ideas for stories. You might choose to write the stories exactly as you hear them, or you could turn them into fiction by changing a few of the facts. If you’re suffering from writer’s block, a family story might be just the thing to get you started writing again.
If your own family history doesn’t interest you, maybe you could visit a local nursing home to learn about someone else’s history. There is a world of stories out there waiting to be written, and you might be just the one to write them!

Do you have questions about selling your self-published book? Please let me know below. Thanks!

Staying on Top of Things

If you’re like me, hardly a week goes by without something unexpected popping up that demands your full attention. What helps me is that as much as possible, I try to work ahead, so that when these things occur, I am not also frantically scrambling to finish a project on top of everything.

I like to keep things organized on printable calendars (make your own by searching “free printable calendar”), which I keep next to my computer. This way, I can have a picture in front of me showing when different things are due. I write projects on my calendars with a pencil, but some of the templates on the computer let you write on each day what is due before you print them.

It’s good to stay flexible with your work schedule if possible. I prefer to work in the mornings, but if there’s nothing going on some nights, I like to get a jump-start on the next day’s work. I also use the occasional evening to work on things that don’t have a due date, but are still important, such as filing papers.

Keep a list of things you’re working on, or would like to work on, and skim through it on a regular basis so you don’t forget what’s important. It’s easy in your day-to-day life to forget the big picture, and reminding yourself of your goals can keep you on track.

Do you have any tips for staying on top of things? If so, I’d love to hear them! Please let me know below.

Dealing with Tricky Customers

I would like to say that running a business is easy and fun all the time, but there are times when I have to deal with people I call “tricky customers.”

Overwhelmingly, I have emails and calls from positive, helpful people, but every once in awhile I get a message that knocks the wind out of my sails.

Here are some of the things I do when I have to deal with these negative customers:

I try to always respond with kindness. For all I know, that person has had a terrible day. And a problem on my website, or with one of the authors selling books on my website, is just the straw that broke the camel’s back to them. If I answer gently and fix the problem as fast as I can, I find that the tricky customer soon calms down.

If I have to research something for a tricky customer, I let them know how long it will take me to help them, what I am doing to help them, and when I have finished what I’m doing. This way, they aren’t left hanging wondering if I’ve even gotten around to reading their email.

For the worst-case scenario, make sure you have a good lawyer. I have never had to use my lawyer, but I update her quarterly with what I’m doing. This way, if I need her, she has current information about my company and customers.

Remember that the worst case almost never happens. And even the angriest customer usually calms down, and you don’t have to deal with them forever.

Remind yourself in the midst of a crisis of dealing with a tricky customer that whatever the problem is, it will pass. And you will likely have a satisfied customer in the end.

Got questions about being a new entrepreneur or selling a self-published book? Please let me know here or at