Friday, May 27, 2011

Guest Post by Cheryl Shireman

Cheryl Shireman, an author who I also consider a friend, is the author of six books, two of those are novels, including Life is But a dream that is burning up the charts right now.

At this moment, Life is But a dream is ranked #346 on Amazon and is #16 in Women Sleuths and #25 in Literary Fiction, which is an amazing achievement for an indie writer.


1. How long did it take you to achieve the success you are having with your books right now?

Well, I published Life is But a Dream just over four months ago and I am currently selling about 100 copies a day on Kindle. So – four months?

2. What was the best thing you did marketing wise that you believe helped you get where you are today?

Actually, I have not done much to “market” myself other than two things –
I have done several interviews on various websites and I also participated on a website called Free Book Friday. Every week they showcase books in four categories – Fiction, Teens, Romance, and Indie. The book descriptions and an interview with the authors are posted on Saturdays. Then, readers enter to win a free autographed copy all during the week. The following Friday, the winners are announced. I have been fortunate enough to participate in promotions for both of my novels – Life is But a Dream and Broken Resolutions. When they told me that over 900 people entered to win Life is But a Dream, I was just stunned! My most recent book, You Don’t Need a Prince: A Letter to My Daughter will be promoted starting May 28th.

3. What do you do to market yourself? What works, what doesn't?

I put up a website. My husband designs websites (, so that certainly makes things easier for me. I started a blog and have had a lot of kind responses to that. I became more active on Twitter and Facebook. I joined Kindleboards and “hung out” in the Writer’s CafĂ© so I could learn more about Indie writing. I joined a Facebook writer’s group (which I LOVE) called Indie Writers Unite! Imagine a cyber coffee shop with a bunch of writers hanging out with each other and talking shop. I can’t honestly say that I have noticed a spike in sales after doing any of these things. It has been more of a gradual but consistent increase in sales every day. For one three day period in late April I had a spike in sales, but I still have not determined what caused that. On April 28th I woke up to find Life is But a Dream in the #3 spot on Amazon’s Movers and Shakers list. What a morning! Number 1 was a book by Bob Greene (Oprah’s trainer), and he had just been on Oprah that week! I took a screenshot of the Amazon page so I could save it forever. My brief moment of glory. Ha!

4. What tips/advice do you have for other writers?

First – write. I often hear people say they want to write, but they don’t have time. You do have time, but you will probably have to sacrifice other interests – such as watching television, following facebook and twitter, or reading the books of other writers. Especially if you have children. If you have children at home, they should be your priority. Enjoy them while you can. Soon they will be out of the house and you will wish you had another afternoon to color in a coloring book or build a tower with Legos. Savor those moments. Write before they get up, or after they go to sleep, or while they are at school. If you don’t have children at home, then you really don’t have any excuses. If you are not writing, then you probably like the idea of being a writer more than the actual act of writing.

Second – be nice. There is so much negative energy in the world. Don’t add to it. Find ways to encourage your fellow writers as well as those who are just beginning to write. Writing is a tough and solitary profession. We all need encouragement and support. This is especially true of Indie writers who are really on their own without the support of an agent, publisher, editor, and marketing team. Use every opportunity to support other writers. Choose to be kind.

Monday, May 23, 2011

Guest Post by David Lender

David Lender is the bestselling author of Trojan Horse and The Gravy Train, both of which are selling well on Amazon, with The Gravy Train currently at 75 and Trojan Horse at 108 in the Kindle Store.

His latest novel, Bull Street, should be out in the next couple weeks. I was privileged to do the copy editing for him and can tell you that if you enjoyed his last couple novels, you will enjoy this one as well.

What I like about the way David writes is that he does a great job of creating a mental picture in your mind and he understands the importance of showing instead of telling. He also offers great detail in his novels and understands how to put words together so they convey what they need to. He's expressive and not every writer can do that, which I find refreshing.

I've enjoyed the opportunity of getting to know him a little bit this year and of becoming familiar with his writing.


1. How long did it take you to achieve the success you are having with your books right now?

It’ been over fifteen years since I decided to start writing. That’s been an evolving process, including finding someone to teach me. I wrote my first novel—that’s all I’ve been interested in writing—fifteen years ago. I’ve had a career as an investment banker, which is a demanding profession that leaves little time for much else. But I made a commitment to writing, and just muscled it into my schedule. I started getting up at 5:00 a.m and then writing for about an hour before heading to the office. In my investment banking career I always wrote with a mini-cassette dictaphone. I was used to working that way, so I hired a typist in my neighborhood and bought a transcription machine. I’d leave the tapes in my mailbox and she’d pick them up and drop off the transcriptions in hard copy and on a floppy disk. I’d outline on the bus or train, in the car service, on airplanes, anyplace. I did rewriting and editing drafts wherever and whenever I could.

It took me about a year to finish my first thriller. I showed it to a friend’s brother, a successful commercial thriller writer. He said to consider it a Master of Fine Arts and move on. I did. I wrote the second novel over the next year the same way as the first.

Then I educated myself about the agency and traditional publishing businesses, targeted my queries and sent both novels around. In the course of that, a well-connected friend sent Trojan Horse to a prominent literary agent. Her reaction was, “Not bad for somebody who doesn’t know what he’s doing.” She introduced me to some thriller editors. I started working with a seasoned publishing exec who’d edited Robert Ludlum’s first nine thrillers. Eighteen months later, after one of the most intense meat grinders I’ve ever experienced, a finished Trojan Horse emerged.

Around that time I got caught up in my career again, so I didn’t send Trojan Horse out to more than a dozen agents; nobody bit. And so it wasn’t until about three years ago that I got serious again. I signed up for Thrillerfest in New York and spent the Agentfest day of face-to-face pitching to agents. Some people in all walks of life are knuckleheads. Agents are no exception. I had some offers, but who wants a knucklehead working for you? I kept writing and querying. I did Thrillerfest again the next year. Nothing.

Then I got a Kindle for my birthday last year, and one of my brothers converted Trojan Horse to a .mobi file to read it on his Kindle. It started me thinking. I educated myself about Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing platform and decided to try it. I started reading blogs about what was going on, observing the market. After about a month of screwing around with pricing at $9.99, $6.99, $4.99 against established authors I got real and changed my price to $0.99 and Trojan Horse took off. It’s now been in the Kindle Top 100 for over six weeks.

2. What was the best thing you did marketing wise that you believe helped you get where are you today?

I’ve done some Book of the Day sponsorships on Kindle Nation Daily,, eReader News Today, The Frugal eReader and Kindle Author. I seek out opportunities to guest blog and appreciate invitations to be interviewed on various blogs. I am in a writing group on Facebook and try to help out my colleagues and they help me out. I’ve sent out some review copies to local newspapers and reviewers. It’s all little bits and pieces, but I think it all helps to get the word out.

I can’t put my finger on any one thing as pivotal. Luck helps. Timing, too. This is a unique time in the life of the epublishing business. It’s like a rising market that lifts all stocks and makes people think they’re great stockpickers. I’m grateful for the reception of Trojan Horse, but I’m going to continue to work hard, write the best stuff I can, have it edited, proofed, properly formatted, etc. Now The Gravy Train is out and is doing well, also in the Kindle Top 100. I’m releasing Bull Street soon and am into my next novel in earnest. I believe it’s important for readers to know you will be there consistently writing the best quality books you can for them to read, that you’re in it for the long haul.

3. What tips/advice do you have for other writers?

First, if you’re going to epub, treat it like a business, because it is. Educate yourself about what’s happening out there. Look at what successful authors are doing with pricing, their platforms, their content. Read blogs and other tools to learn the business. Joe Konrath. Kindle Review. Kindle Nation Daily. Read Steve Windwalker’s book on pricing ebooks for Kindle. See what people are talking about on the KindleBoards.

Write the best material you can and find people to edit, proofread, format and produce professional covers for it. Buy a Kindle and a Nook and see what your books look like on them, and on the mac or pc versions of Kindle and Nook before you release them. Then spend at least a few hours of every day staying current with the blogs, maintaining your social network presence, corresponding with your readers and doing everything you can to expand your readership. Don’t spend all day writing. But do set goals for your writing; number of pages or words per day, or on average per day over a week. Keep grinding. That’s what I’m doing.

For more on David Lender, visit his WEBSITE. And thank you David for sharing your insight with your fellow writers!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Guest Post by Heather Killough-Walden

Heather Killough-Walden is the author of several novels which you can find HERE on She is also the New York Times and USA Today Bestselling author of the Big Bad Wolf series and The October Trilogy.

Her novels are fantastic and offer readers that rare opportunity to step out of their lives for a moment and to be swept away into a world of fanstasy and suspense. All of her books are well written and appeal to a multiple of audiences.

To give you an idea of her current success, check out these numbers on Amazon from just a few of her novels (current as of this moment):

#98 paid in Kindle store
#4 in Romance Vampires
#4 and #5 in Romantic Suspense

#114 in Kindle Store
#6 in Romance>Vampires
#9 Romance>Contemporary

#180 in Kindle store
#7 Children's Fiction>Love and Romance
#14 Children's eBooks

#165 in Kindle Store
#9 Fiction>Action Adventure
#32 Thrillers>Suspense

#559 in Kindle Store
#10 in Fantasy>Epic
#11 Science Fiction>Adventure
#11 Romance>Fantasy

And that isn't even the best part. All of Heather's novels are only $1.00 on the Kindle right now.

I had the chance to interview Heather and I asked her to share some of the secrets of her success with other writers.

1. How long did it take you to achieve the success you are having with your books right now?

It took quite a while. I did the query letter routine for ten years without success and publishing houses almost never accept unsolicited manuscripts any longer. I have more than 300 rejection letters in my closet. Finally, Amazon Kindle came around, providing for people like me a venue and platform through which to share their work with the world. I hastily posted a vampire romance I wrote called The Third Kiss: Dorian’s Dream. It shot to #1 in vampire romance on Amazon and prompted a call from an incredibly prominent (and very good) agent. That agent, the CEO and chairman of Trident Media Group, managed to secure a number of publishing deals for me in record time. I have the best agent in the world!

The entire process, from the time I finished my first novel to the time that I signed my first deal took approximately ten years. I felt like giving up a hundred times. Maybe more. But Churchill’s famous speech kept ringing in my head and I hung in there. I’m very, very glad that I did.

2. What was the best thing you did marketing wise that you believe helped you get where are you today?

Again, that would have to be simply posting my work on Amazon. Amazon also possesses a number of blog sites and lists that you can join as an indie author in order to promote your work. I have to admit that I’m relatively shy, so I only posted on one or two of these. However, I priced all of my books at $1.00 and that, combined with the incredibly popular paranormal genre and (I’d like to think, lol) my writing skills, ensured that the books sold anyway, thrusting me into the top ranks on Amazon. I recently made it to the USA Today Bestsellers List, in fact. It’s an incredibly momentous occasion for me.

3. What do you do to market yourself? What works, what doesn't?

At the moment, Trident Media and my print publishers are in charge of a lot of the marketing for my upcoming print publications (The Lost Angels series, due out in the UK in July and here in the US in November). However, for my electronic works, I have created a number of mild marketing techniques.

Once I had enough readers, I developed a newsletter through which readers learn of upcoming releases, contests, awards, etc. A good friend of mine handles the list for me. I also have a Facebook page and I love to friend readers and carry on conversations with them; they’re all very unique and precious individuals and I am more grateful for their loyalty than I can say. I have a website as well, and through that website, I keep readers informed of what is going on in my literary career, I have a blog, and I thoroughly enjoy feedback. Now that my books have sold a good number of copies, Amazon also does a bit of marketing on my behalf by suggesting my books to readers for me. That’s a big, huge help.

4. What tips/advice do you have for other writers?

I have very often felt like giving up on pursuing my writing career. The rejections really hurt, and when you get enough of them, no matter how good you are, a part of you begins to believe them.

Plus, if you’re not selling books, then you’re not making any money, and in so many peoples’ terms, that means you’re not “successful.” Like it or not, you’re judged on your financial worth. Add to that the fact that being poor can be literally painful at times, and you have one disheartening situation.

So, to those writers out there struggling day after day, rejection after rejection, Ramen meal after Ramen meal, I take a page from Winston Churchill and say this:

“Never give in. Never give in. Never, never, never, in nothing great or small, large or petty. Never give in….”

Want to learn more about Heather Killough-Walden? Visit her WEBSITE.