Help for aspiring or new authors

I’m a new author myself – but by Jupiter it was hard work. I find I’m getting a number of enquiries about how to negotiate the minefield of getting books published and marketing them. I’m ready to help anyone so I will post my advice on this page.



Someone I know keeps telling me they have a story in their head. They know the beginning, middle and end and have a clear view of the main characters, even their names.

So I say to my friend: “Why don’t you write it?”

“Oh no,” he replies. “I couldn’t do it justice. I can’t write well enough.”

I wonder if Oscar Wilde ever said that. Or Mark Twain.

There are probably many people in this world who would be excellent story-tellers if only they had the confidence to take fingers to keyboard.

If you’re one of them, please pluck up the gumption to get writing. You may be denying to the reading public a great piece of literature.

Just try it. The worst you can do is prove yourself right – that you haven’t got the talent. Then you would have lost nothing. On the other hand, you may surprise yourself and produce a high seller.

I can guarantee one thing: If you don’t write that story, it will forever haunt you. If you do set it down on paper, it may lead to the biggest thrill of your life.

If anyone wants to discuss this further, please contact me.

Now – just to encourage you before we start:

“If you hear a voice within you say you cannot paint, then by all means paint, and that voice will be silenced.” – Vincent Van Gogh

Substitute the word “write” for “paint”.

Finding a publisher

If you want your book in print as well as an ebook, I would recommend googling  “publishers who accept submissions”.

Go to publishers who are in the USA or UK. They are most likely to be honest, have the resources and do a good job for you.
Look through their websites and find some who take your kind of book then follow their submission guidelines and approach them.
It’s a more satisfying route than self-publishing or going through literary agents.
What you want is this:
A publisher who does the full package – good editing, proof-reading, does good covers or allows authors to commission their own, uses more channels than amazon, does marketing.
This is so me, today.

Twitter (and a bit of Facebook)


I was very skeptical about Twitter and I don’t think I’d ever have got involved with it if I wasn’t trying to sell a book. But it is a cost-free means of reaching people and among them, who knows, might be a customer. The technique is the same: Chat about anything, build followers and slip in some marketing. You are restricted to 140 characters but you can do things with that. For example, one of my tweets was #TreadCarefullyontheSea=#adventure #romance #Jamaica #Caribbean #Savannah #books @JanuaryGrays

That tweet goes to my own 2,371 followers. But by those # and @ marks, I add to that. The hash marks before certain words means it goes to anybody in the whole Twitter world who is following #TreadCarefullyontheSea (my book), anyone who follows “adventure”, “romance”, “Jamaica”, “Caribbean”, “Savannah”, or “books”. The “@JanuaryGrays” takes it to a friend of mine called January Grays. She will re-tweet it to her own 2,955 followers. Some of them may re-tweet it again. I have also included my website address in the tweet so I may drive some traffic there where there is a much more comprehensive promotion of my book. Apart from all that, I was able to include a picture of the book cover with the tweet.

A warning about Twitter: If you follow people and they don’t follow back (after a reasonable time), then unfollow them. They can’t see your posts if they’re not following and they’re no good to you. This is especially the case if you have less than 2,000 followers. At that point you definitely need more following you than you follow or Twitter might shut you down.

Each day, take a few minutes to see who followed you. Then, tweet out a simple message like: Welcome @abc, @nextwriter, @jellybean75 TY for the follow

Half the time, that’s ALL I tweet in a day. But, by publicly appreciating those who followed me and giving them the mention, I get more followers. Why? Because I’m seen as someone who appreciates those that follow me.

On a Twitter account (or Facebook for that matter), post a good picture of yourself (or maybe something relevant like a book cover). The pages come with avatars but you don’t want those. Make sure you show you’re a real person because there are lots of Twitter and Facebook “ghost” accounts – there only for the sake of offering large numbers of useless followers. You don’t want to look like that’s you!

 Go to your Twitter home page
  • Look for the image like a wheel with spokes on the top right, click on that
  • From the drop down, click on Settings
  • Look on the left of the screen for “profile”
  • Now you’ll see a photo box
  • Upload a pic of you from your computer
  • Done
Do a pinned tweet which will be seen at the top of your page by everyone who goes there. It’s the best way of getting your core message across. One of my pinned tweets was:
 ~ So everything I most want people to read is there. My book is #adventure (the hash takes it to anyone interested in that) #piracy #Jamaica #Savannah (key locations in my book and therefore hopefully places where I have potential readers), book title, prequel to Treasure Island (a book that has a big fan base), #books because that takes it to reading fanatics and finally my web address. I also added a pic of my book cover.
~ Also, if anyone wants to re-tweet you, they are most likely to re-tweet the pinned tweet so you get extra leverage that way.
~ Another advantage of the pinned tweet is that, if you don’t tweet much and someone wants to re-tweet you (because they’re nice), there’s always something available to them.
~You can do a pinned tweet by clicking on the three dots next to the star at the bottom of the tweet.
Don’t forget to cross-fertilize. Add your website address or Facebook page to your tweets.
Secondly, don’t start following every Tom, Dick and Harry on Twitter. You want to get to a position where more people are following you than you’re following (there’s a good reason which I’ll cover another time). So while you’re still a Twitter novice, don’t follow celebrities, politicians and the like. Follow people you really want. When someone follows you, follow back. You gradually increase your following that way.
Tagging. You can make sure your tweet is seen by specific followers by tagging. That means adding their Twitter address to your tweet, e.g. in my case, add @DavidKBryant. If you want to tag various people on your tweet but the 140-character limit prevents you from including all their addresses, just do the same tweet over and over and tag a different person each time.

On Twitter, Thursday is Throw Back Thursday. Every Thursday use the hastag # TBT and post something from the past. It can be anything, an old song, old book, old movie. Doesn’t matter. But you will most likely get a favorite, a comment, or a retweet for it. — Friday. Everyone does Follow Friday. The hashtag is # FF you use the hashtag and then put a list of your followers. You will get RTs for it, maybe a thanks from one of the people you mentioned. Be sure to use their @ID so other people can follow them.


Make sure you know who you are! On Facebook, your identity shows in the top white search bar when you’re on your page. Your general FB page will have a different address than your author page.
FACEBOOK TIMELINE (general Facebook page)
Don’t regard your timeline as an overt marketing platform. It’s there for social reasons and you’re far more likely to attract friends with chat, leisure and humor. I only post about my books on my timeline when there’s a specific bit of news – like a launch, new review or interview.
Don’t forget to build on friendships. Look at what friends are posting then comment, “like” or even share. If you show you’re interested in people, they’re more likely to be interested in you.
Don’t over-friend. You can get caught out if you’re not able to recognize the pictures of your “friends”. That’s because if you ever get locked out (can happen), FB will ask you to identify friends as a security step towards getting back in!


This is the place for your product promotion, but you need to build up “likes” and followers and it takes time. If someone “likes” your page, “like” theirs back and send a pleasant message to them.

You can post news about your books, reviews, excerpts, all sorts of stuff. Remember to cross-refer – put in a link to your website if you have one, and put in links to Amazon or other sales outlets. Don’t forget the power of pictures, like book covers or relevant atmosphere shots.

You can “boost” the hits your posts get by paying a small fee. I only do this when I really, really, want a post to reach a wider audience and I’ve found that FB’s estimates of the extra “reach” tend to be exaggerated.

You can show that you’re a generous soul – let other authors guest on your page.

#3  Amazon reviews

A review will only show up automatically on the amazon site where the reviewer posts it.  That might be, or any of about a dozen others.  So, for example, if your sales are mostly in the UK, you might have a fistful of good reviews on that amazon site but they won’t show up on the important unless you work at it.

The best way is to ask reviewers to post on and You might also have enough rapport with the reviewer to ask them to post on any other appropriate (to them) amazon sites such as .ca and .au.
The drawback is that the review will only show as a “verified purchase” on the amazon site where the sale was made.
So make the most of pushing reviews on your website, FB page and Twitter.

#4  Linked In

Goodwill Librarian's photo.
Linked In is a tremendously good method of making contacts. The more people you follow in the world of books, authors, book reviews, publishers, etc, the more that Linked In recommends like-minded souls as contacts. I think It’s well worth looking through all the potential contacts they offer and sending invitations to people who sound right. I’ve started up a lot of discussions that way. I always accept invitations from people who want to link with me.
Linked In is an excellent way of building a network, although be warned: Do not use it for hard sell – you will quickly put people off..
I’ve followed thousands of people on Linked In and have engaged in several interesting dialogues.
This is me right now. ☕️☕️☕️

#5  Websites

I started mine simply to promote my book. It’s ideal to have a place on the internet where you can say whatever you please. The trick is make people visit it. I try to make FB and Twitter do that by always mentioning the website. I also use the web address in my sign-off from emails. I’ve had some successes with that. For example, I was in touch with a travel agent about booking a vacation. Because my web address was at the bottom of the email, she visited my site. Who knows, she could have been a fan of adventure/romance/pirate books and bought a copy (or told a friend). I know for sure of one sale I’ve made that way.

I would recommend not waiting to start your website. Get going with it. The world expects people who are selling something to have a site.

You have to remember that every click a visitor has to make, or anything they find the slightest bit difficult, makes them hit the “x” button. So keep websites tidy and clear, avoid anything (like yellow or soft colored type) that’s hard on the eye and get your main message across straight away.


You will need help. I have used the services of this lady and she is most efficient:

Angela J. Shirley

Consultant – Books/Business Sales

Self Employed

February 2011 – Present (4 years 4 months)Washington D.C. Metro Area

Business or book sales not doing well? I have some solutions for you!

Other Services: Book Reviews, Office Support, Promotions, Research, Troubleshooting, Press Releases & more!

Available in person or virtually WORLDWIDE


Nice to know

Skai Juice's photo.

#6  Piracy

There are three groups on Facebook who help guard against piracy and give lots of tips.
They are: Book Piracy Fighters, Authors Against Piracy and Authors Against EBook Piracy.
Life doesn’t get better because you ignore reality. It gets better when you accept reality and learn from your mistakes.

“Experience is the name everyone gives to their mistakes.” – Oscar Wilde

I came across this interesting and useful chart on the Internet and wanted to share it with my fellow solstice authors.

"I came across this interesting and useful chart on the Internet and wanted to share it with my fellow solstice authors."

#7  Blogging

What I am learning quickly is the power of blogging. The item I put out about “no such thing as fiction” went to about 20 groups and I’ve got quite a lot of responses, including author Tom Bryson. It gets people to my website (the numbers have gone up considerably) and puts my book in front of them. It also makes friends.

You need to find the groups that suit you (through FB and Linked In).
You can, of course, also join in other people’s discussions.
Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing's photo.
Smashwords's photo.


You know you’re a writer when…

I remember when I was first taught how to hold a pencil. I was so eager to work on my penmanship right away, because I knew the sooner I could learn how to write, the sooner I could share all my stories with people. I remember being fascinated by the thought of having another form of storytelling that people could come back to later on and hear without me having to verbally recite it.

30 Dumbest History Exam Answers Ever.

The following are actual exam answers taken from a group of 17 year olds:

1. Ancient Egypt was inhabited by mummies and they all wrote in hydraulics. They lived in the Sarah Dessert and travelled by Camelot. The climate of the Sarah is such that the inhabitants have to live elsewhere.

2. The Bible is full of interesting caricatures. In the first book of the Bible, Guiness, Adam and Eve were created from an apple tree. One of their children, Cain, asked, “Am I my brother’s son?”

3. Moses led the Hebrew slaves to the Red Sea, where they made unleavened bread which is bread made without any ingredients. Moses went up on Mount Cyanide to get the ten commandments. He died before he ever reached Canada.

4. Solomon had three hundred wives and seven hundred porcupines.

5. The Greeks were a highly sculptured people, and without them we wouldn’t have history. The Greeks also had myths. A myth is a female moth.

6. Actually, Homer was not written by Homer but by another man of that name.

7. Socrates was a famous Greek teacher who went around giving people advice. They killed him. Socrates died from an overdose of wedlock. After his death, his career suffered a dramatic decline.

8. In the Olympic games, Greeks ran races, jumped, hurled the biscuits, and threw the Java.

9. Eventually, the Romans conquered the Greeks. History calls people Romans because they never stayed in one place for very long.

10. Julius Caesar extinguished himself on the battlefields of Gaul. The Ides of March murdered him because they thought he was going to be made king. Dying, he gasped out: “Tee hee, Brutus.”

11. Nero was a cruel tyranny who would torture his subjects by playing the fiddle to them.

12. Joan of Arc was burnt to a steak and was canonised by Bernard Shaw. Finally Magna Carta provided that no man should be hanged twice for the same offence.

13. In midevil times most people were alliterate. The greatest writer of the futile ages was Chaucer, who wrote many poems and verses and also wrote literature.

14. Another story was William Tell, who shot an arrow through an apple while standing on his son’s head.

15. Queen Elizabeth was the “Virgin Queen.” As a queen she was a success. When she exposed herself before her troops they all shouted “hurrah.”

16. It was an age of great inventions and discoveries. Gutenberg invented removable type and the Bible. Another important invention was the circulation of blood. Sir Walter Raleigh is a historical figure because he invented cigarettes and started smoking. And Sir Francis Drake circumcised the world with a 100 foot clipper.

17. The greatest writer of the Renaissance was William Shakespeare. He was born in the year 1564, supposedly on his birthday. He never made much money and is famous only because of his plays. He wrote tragedies, comedies, and hysterectomies, all in Islamic pentameter. Romeo and Juliet are an example of a heroic couplet. Romeo’s last wish was to be laid by Juliet.

18. Writing at the same time as Shakespeare was Miguel Cervantes. He wrote Donkey Hote. The next great author was John Milton. Milton wrote Paradise Lost. Then his wife died and he wrote Paradise Regained.

19. During the Renaissance America began. Christopher Columbus was a great navigator who discovered America while cursing about the Atlantic. His ships were called the Nina, the Pinta, and the Santa Fe.

20. Later, the Pilgrims crossed the ocean, and this was called Pilgrim’s Progress. The winter of 1620 was a hard one for the settlers. Many people died and many babies were born. Captain John Smith was responsible for all this.

21. One of the causes of the Revolutionary War was the English put tacks in their tea. Also, the colonists would send their parcels through the post without stamps. Finally the colonists won the War and no longer had to pay for taxis. Delegates from the original 13 states formed the Contented Congress. Thomas Jefferson, a Virgin, and Benjamin Franklin were two singers of the Declaration of Independence. Franklin discovered electricity by rubbing two cats backwards and declared, “A horse divided against itself cannot stand.”. Franklin died in 1790 and is still dead.

22. Soon the Constitution of the United States was adopted to secure domestic hostility. Under the constitution the people enjoyed the right to keep bare arms.

23. Abraham Lincoln became America’s greatest Precedent. Lincoln’s mother died in infancy, and he was born in a log cabin which he built with his own hands. Abraham Lincoln freed the slaves by signing the Emasculation Proclamation. On the night of April 14, 1865, Lincoln went to the theatre and got shot in his seat by one of the actors in a moving picture show. The believed assinator was John Wilkes Booth, a supposedly insane actor. This ruined Booth’s career.

24. Meanwhile in Europe, the enlightenment was a reasonable time. Voltaire invented electricity and also wrote a book called Candy.

25. Gravity was invented by Issac Walton. It is chiefly noticeable in the autumn when the apples are falling off the trees.

26. Johann Bach wrote a great many musical compositions and had a large number of children. In between he practised on an old spinster which he kept up in his attic. Bach died from 1750 to the present. Bach was the most famous composer in the world and so was Handel. Handel was half German half Italian and half English. He was very large.

27. Beethoven wrote music even though he was deaf. He was so deaf he wrote loud music. He took long walks in the forest even when everyone was calling for him. Beethoven expired in 1827 and later died for this.

28. The French Revolution was accomplished before it happened and catapulted into Napoleon. Napoleon wanted an heir to inherit his power, but since Josephine was a baroness, she couldn’t have any children.

29. The sun never set on the British Empire because the British Empire’s in the East and the sun sets in the West.

30. Louis Pasteur discovered a cure for rabbis. Charles Darwin was a naturalist who wrote the Organ of the Species. Madman Curie discovered radio. And Karl Marx became one of the Marx brothers.


Smashwords's photo.
We’ve all been there.
This was you, wasn’t it?
The PAGE International Screenwriting Awards's photo.

Oh man.

Purple Clover's photo.

Grammar Checker, why do I have to correct everything with which you come up?

How copyeditors see the world. (from Enlightened Redneck)
Personally, I don’t mind having this problem.
Wake County Public Libraries's photo.ched
Queens Book's photo.
Title Wave's photo.
Just punctuate. </p><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br /><br />
Oh, the irony.

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Author of fiction