Tablo—Writers and Readers Unite

I don’t live under a rock, but I had not heard of Tablo until last week.

YouTube is to video sharing as Tablo is to content and story sharing. It’s an online publishing platform and marketplace where authors—like me—can write and post stories, assign tags, affix covers, and connect with thousands of readers. Indeed, every day more than a million words are published on Tablo by authors around the world.

Tablo Publishing

Readers can discover new, interesting, upcoming writers to follow and leave “likes” and/or comments about certain writing projects.

Tablo offers an easy-to-use BookMaker widget. By simply dragging and dropping a document into  the Tablo frame, it instantly turns your work into a publishable eBook. Authors can then publish their books with a single click on Tablo and its applications, on the iBooks Store, on Amazon and other major booksellers. And yes, Tablo assigns ISBNs, validates and packages eBook files, distributes content and manages royalties. The only thing the author needs to do is write a book, select a book cover, publish, and drink a cold Margarita while relaxing on a shady porch.

So last week, I saw a post about Tablo’s flash fiction contest. With a nice $500 purse, I decided to give it a try. I created a Tablo account, selected one of six writing prompts, and uploaded my 494 words to my bookshelf. To my surprise, over one hundred people read it and thirteen people voted for it. As a writer, I love for people to read my work, and on Tablo, people are actually reading my work. Yay!DANCINGDAYS3

I chose the writing prompt: Suddenly, every radio station in the world turns to white noise and a voice reads out a single name.

I immediately thought about old radio hour shows. I started humming some Big Band tunes, which reminded me of my mother-in-law, who adored Swing music. And that memory made me think about her last days at the assisted living facility. And so I crafted a flash fiction story based on the prompt and titled it, “Dancing Days.”

To read it, please click over to Tablo (, and if you like the story, please leave me a “like” vote. And if you follow me on Tablo, I’ll follow back.

I’ve enjoyed the Tablo experience of discovering interesting writers. It’s more than a publishing and sharing platform, it’s a community—a community where writers and readers can congregate, connect, and unite. What a brilliant idea! This one’s a winner, folks!

Why Authors Need Literary Agents

A few years ago, after I had collected about twenty-five stories for my anthology, Project Keepsake, I began looking for a publisher. I crafted a killer query letter and sent it out to about twenty publishers I selected from the pages of my thick Writers Market guide.

“Sorry, we’re going to pass on your project,” most of the replies noted. Other publishers said, “We only review works by agented authors with strong platforms.”

I had a pretty strong platform, but I did not have an agent. So, I shifted gears and began looking for a literary agent—not just any literary agent, I wanted a literary agent with Mary Tyler Moore spunk.

I got no after no, and then, I heard back from Jeanie Loiacono (

“I really love this and think I can find a publisher for it,” she said. “How long will it take for you to collect enough stories about keepsakes to fill an entire book?”

She was kind, interested, and experienced. After I collected the other stories, I sent her my draft manuscript, and she sent a contract outlining her services and compensation. I signed it.

Jeanie Loiacono

Jeanie Loiacono is a literary agent. Visit her website at

My friends and family members didn’t understand why I needed a literary agent, and so I found myself frequently explaining the role of literary agents in the world of writing, publishing, and selling books. In case you are wondering, here are a few things literary agents do.

  • LITERARY AGENTS SEND OUT MANUSCRIPTS TO REPUTABLE PUBLISHING HOUSES. Jeanie is well-connected in the publishing world and knows the key players at several publishing companies. Publishers open her email messages and take her endorsements seriously. She knows the people in the industry who may be interested in particular projects and doesn’t waste time sending manuscripts to publishers who won’t care.
  • LITERARY AGENTS ALLOW WRITERS TO WRITE. Before I found Jeanie, I spent hours each day researching publishers and crafting tailored query letters. Even when I wasn’t scouring the Internet or the pages of my Writers Market, my mind was preoccupied. Finding a publisher was more time consuming than I had ever imagined, and it interfered with my job as a freelance writer. Jeanie lifted the burden of finding a publisher from my shoulders and allowed me to get back to writing (and making money). Handing the task of finding a publisher to her was freeing, and a smart business decision.
  • LITERARY AGENTS SHIELD WRITERS FROM THE GLOOM OF CONSTANT REJECTION. Rejection is par for the course. Jeanie sent my manuscript to dozens of publishers, fielded the rejections and negative remarks, and continued to move forward without losing hope.
  • LITERARY AGENTS SEND PROGRESS REPORTS TO AUTHORS. Every other week, Jeanie sent me a detailed spreadsheet listing all publishers and contacts she had sent my manuscript to, along with comments and status notes. She kept me well informed during the process.
  • LITERARY AGENTS NEGOTIATE THE TERMS OF PUBLISHING CONTRACTS. I’m not a lawyer. The legal jargon of the contract was a little confusing to me, and I certainly didn’t know the going royalty schedule for first-time authors. Jeanie knew what to look for in the contract and fought for the best possible deal for me.
  • LITERARY AGENTS CELEBRATE SUCCESS WITH THE AUTHORS THEY REPRESENT. Jeanie was genuinely happy for me when she found a publisher (Native Ink Press) for Project Keepsake. She basked in the sunshine with me that day.
  • LITERARY AGENTS HELP WITH PROMOTION. Jeanie didn’t stop advocating for me and my book after she landed my book deal. She posted reviews on Amazon and other online bookseller sites. She tweeted about my book. She shared information about my events on Facebook and on her website. She wants the authors she represents to succeed, and so she helps us. She is a champion for her authors.

Sure, Jeanie and other literary agents work on commission, but what Jeanie Loiacono did for me far outweighs the meager monetary compensation she gained from my project. I had hoped Project Keepsake would skyrocket up the bestseller list and make Jeanie (and all of us involved) a small fortune, but that didn’t happen. I promoted and peddled books like a mad woman, but we didn’t make it to the Today show. Through it all, Jeanie never complained. That’s just not her nature. She continued to press forward with optimism and spunk, and that’s what makes her a great literary agent.

To learn more about Project Keepsake, visit the website at

The DOs and DON’Ts of Writing Critique Groups

A small group of writers and I met for the first time last month in the back room of a local restaurant and launched a writing critique group. Writer extraordinaire, Karli Land, is our facilitator.

I’ve participated in a writing critique group before when I was active in the Chattanooga Writers Guild, and so I know one of the best things a writer can do for his or her writing career is to join a good critique group. These groups are not one-size-fits-all, so you may have to try out a few before you find a group that fits.

Our critique group is made up of writers of different skill levels, both published and unpublished, working on projects in different genres. The projects range from a book about Jesus, to a historical fiction book revolving around Huguenots, to a collection of humorous stories, to a book about a little girl who goes to church camp, to a book about a defiant man who can’t stand his job, to a work of science fiction with vampire undertones.CritiqueGroup

Me? I’m trying to advance my first novel, a fictional tale that’s been floating around in my head for several years. Writing fiction doesn’t come natural to me, and so I’m hoping that attending the monthly critique group will help me stay on track and complete a manuscript by the end of the year.

Our mission is simply to help each other. We move page to page through each writer’s work and share thoughts. The writers of our group are voracious readers, and so, it is easy for each of us to read a passage and spot what works, and more importantly, what doesn’t work. The challenge is delivering to other members of the critique group honest, helpful feedback without hurting their tender feelings and crushing their confidence.

Here are a few DOs and DON’Ts from our writing critique group.

  • DO show up.
    Everyone in the group has made a commitment to attend and help one another. Even if you haven’t written a word in a month, show up and help the other members with their projects. Writing critique groups are only as effective as their participation. Everyone wins when all members participate in the process. If you can’t attend a meeting, send an email to all members and offer your critique of their projects by phone or email.
  • DO be kind and respectful—or in other words, DON’T be an ass.
    There is no room for mean, disrespectful comments at the writing critique group sessions. Remember the Golden Rule and do unto others as you would have them do unto you. Consider your words. Don’t say, “This part is a mess! It sucks!” Instead, start your remark by saying, “I really love this part, but I have a suggestion about this other part…” And don’t have distracting side conversations during the critique sessions. Give the other members your full attention during their critiques.
  • DO critique the works of the other members.
    Dive deeply into the other members’ projects and really try to offer assistance. You won’t help anyone if your only feedback is, “That was great. Way to go!”
  • DO offer suggestions that help.
    If you tell another writer that something is weak or doesn’t work, propose a fix or solution to the problem.
  • DON’T short change other members.
    Every member of your group is deserving of a thorough critique, even if the meeting is running long. It’s not fair to rush through the last critiques because it’s getting late. One way to address this is to determine in advance, how many minutes to spend on each critique. If five people are sitting around the table, and the meeting is an hour long, everyone can have a 10-minute critique and discussion.
  • DON’T be overly sensitive to criticism.
    Remember, everyone has different opinions about books and movies, and so the members of your group will have different opinions about your writing. The key to success is to consider everyone’s opinion, but in the end, make your own decisions about what to change and what to keep. Don’t let the criticism hurt your feelings. Shake it off and keep writing.
  • DO say thank you.
    Remember to thank everyone at the end of the session and encourage the other members to continue working on their projects and participating in the group. And don’t forget to thank the business or homeowner hosting your writing critique group.

If you have other suggestions and tips, please list them in the comments so that we can all learn.

Selling Books at Country Fairs and Outdoor Festivals

Janie Dempsey Watts and I decided to try our hands at book selling at Prater’s Mill Country Fair in Northwest Georgia this past weekend. The two-day, October event showcases Appalachian music, Southern foods, history exhibits, and over 200 booths featuring handmade arts and crafts—iron works, pottery, woven garments, quilting, carvings, paintings, prints, collectibles, etc.

Going into it, Janie and I didn’t know what to expect. We knew that thousands of people roam around the fair each year, but we didn’t know if we would sell enough books to justify the time, labor, and aggravation involved in setting up and working the crowds for two full days. I told my family, “I’ll never know unless I give it a try.”

Those who know me well know I go into most activities seeking knowledge. I participate, make adjustments as needed, then afterwards, I evaluate the experience and consider what lessons I learned. I ask myself, “What went well? What didn’t go so well? Why? What could I change to make the experience better?” And then I share what I learned.

This morning as I assessed the weekend and its many successes and blunders, I jotted down a few tips to help other authors who are considering selling books al fresco. Enjoy!

  • PARTNER WITH ANOTHER AUTHOR—Partnering may allow you to share booth or entry expenses, but the big benefit of partnering is the sharing of tasks and equipment. I took care of the tent, sandbags for the tent, a folding chair, the easels for our posters, a phone charger, and a decorative tablecloth. Janie brought a folding table, two folding chairs, a table scarf, and other supplies. During the fair, I manned the booth when Janie needed to take a break and vice versa. And I enjoyed having a friend there to talk to when no patrons were stopping by the booth.
  • NEGOTIATE WITH ORGANIZERS—The Prater’s Mill booth fee was $125 for artists and craftsmen. The fee was too high for us (after expenses and taxes, authors don’t make much money per book), so Janie contacted the fair’s organizers well in advance and negotiated a different deal for us. In the end, we both paid Prater’s Mill 20% of our total sales.
  • PROMOTE BEFORE AND DURING—Fair organizers promoted the fair in newspapers and publications throughout the state, but I wanted people to know that two local authors were going to be there selling books. The week before the fair, I posted the event on social media and asked friends to swing by and see us. I not only posted it on my Facebook wall, but I also posted the information with a photo of Prater’s Mill to local and county-wide sites. One post was viewed by 4,377 people. Try to promote a few days before via a newspaper press release or a guest spot on a local radio or television show. Also, during the weekend, we took photos of book buyers and splashed the photos all over social media to remind people of the fair.


    Use large posters and signs to draw attention. Place your poster on an easel. I sold books at an outdoor country fair, so overalls were appropriate.

  • TAKE POSTERS AND SIGNS—At fairs and festivals, people walk by and look at your booth before deciding to stop, so a nice poster is mandatory. In three hours, Office Depot printed a 15” x 22” poster of the cover of my book, mounted it on foam board, and laminated it for me for just $20. We placed our posters on easels so that the signs would be eye-level and easy to read. It’s also a good idea to have signs in the booth saying things like, “Project Keepsake—$16,” “Local Authors,” “Ask Me About Project Keepsake,” and “Signed Copies of Books Available.”
  • MAKE A LIST—Make a list and be prepared. Some events provide a table and chairs, and others do not. Beyond books, business cards, posters, and money, you may need tape, scissors, a pen, paper, a few basic tools, a jacket, a hat, sunscreen, water, hand sanitizer, tissue, paper towels, a change of clothes, a hand truck, and trash bags.
  • SET UP A TENT OR AWNING OVERHEAD—At Prater’s Mill, we experienced both torrential downpours and bright, burning sunshine, so the water-repellant canopy we borrowed from my sister-in-law proved to be invaluable. If you opt to use a tent, you may want to tie weights or sandbags to the legs to prevent the wind from blowing it away. Also, a can of WD-40 may come in handy since metal frames rust sometimes making legs and braces hard to slide into position.
  • STACK BOOKS ON THE TABLES—Stack a few books on the table so that passersby can read the spine of the book. Also, prop one book upright so patrons can see the cover from several feet away. If the weather is wet or humid, don’t take too many books out or the pages will swell and buckle.
  • BE NEAT—Keep your table nice, neat, and presentable. Clutter is distracting. No one wants to see crumpled candy wrappers and trash on the table top.
  • GIVE STUFF AWAY—One way to draw people into your booth is to give away inexpensive freebies. This past weekend, I gave buckeyes to dozens of people as they contemplated buying my book. I’d smile and say, “Put it in your pocket for good luck.” The buckeyes were great conversation starters. Be creative. What about a clear vase full of tootsie rolls? And always have a few bookmarks and business cards on the table for people to take.
  • HAVE OTHER RELATED THINGS TO SELL—Janie was smart. She had three items to sell—Moon Over Taylor’s Ridge, Broken Petals, and okra necklaces. I only had one item for sale. After seeing the little glass bluebird on the cover of Project Keepsake (and on my poster), a few people stopped by and wanted to purchase a glass bird. I was surprised, but afterwards I thought, “If I ever do this type of event again, I should probably have a few little birds to sell.”
  • POSITION YOUR TABLE CLOSE TO THE FLOW OF PEOPLE—You want to be as close to the people traffic as possible so you can make easy eye contact. If you place your table deep within your booth, a potential customer has to walk all the way in, which may deter people from stopping.
  • SET PRICES FOR CONVENIENCE—Don’t sell your book for an odd price requiring coin change. Make it easy on you and the buyers and round the price to the nearest dollar.
  • HAVE CASH AND YOUR SQUARE DEVICE—Have plenty of cash on hand. I sold copies of my book for $16, so I made sure that I had plenty of one dollar bills in my cashbox. Also, make sure that your Square device (or other credit card processing device) is working and ready for the day. Pre-program the items you will be selling on your Square app so you don’t have to remember the prices during the transaction.
  • KNOW YOUR ELEVATOR PITCH—An elevator pitch is a thirty-second description of your book. Every author should have one, and every author should practice saying the pitch over and over again. Here’s mine: “My book is a collection of 55 nonfiction stories about keepsakes—a ring, a pocketknife, a quilt, a Bible, a hat, a fishing lure. I asked friends and other writers to pick one of their keepsakes or heirlooms and tell me where it came from and why it’s special. I’m interested in the stories and memories associated with the keepsakes.” I pause for a moment then ask, “Do you have keepsakes at home?” Also, if you partner with another author, make sure you know how to pitch his or her book, too. 
  • PREPARE FOR CHIT CHAT—“So, are you from around here?” “I love your boots!” “Do you read nonfiction?” “Do you have keepsakes or heirlooms at home?” “You look familiar to me.” “I think the rain is over for a while. Have you seen the radar?” Also, if you find out a patron is involved in a particular school, library, club, or group, inquire about speaking to the group about your book. Seize the moment and ask, and don’t forget to get his or her business card or contact information.
  • DON’T HOUND PEOPLE—Not everyone reads, and not everyone wants to buy a book at a country fair or fall festival, so if they keep walking, let them walk away. Don’t call to them. Don’t badger them. Let them go.

Wear comfortable clothing. By the way, this man bought my book, returned an hour later and told me how much he loved the first two stories.

  • WEAR COMFORTABLE, APPROPRIATE CLOTHING AND SHOES—Sorry, four-inch-heeled, strappy Manolo Blahnik shoes and skin tight pencil skirts aren’t appropriate articles of clothing for a country fair or street festival. Think comfort. Consider jeans and a nice top. Wear comfortable shoes. This past weekend, I wore my Project Keepsake tee shirt so everyone would associate me with my book. 
  • WEAR A NAME BADGE—A name tag will help people know who you are so they can call you by name. It will also reinforce your brand.
  • SMILE AND BE FRIENDLY—No one wants to buy a book from a grumpy person (unless you are Grumpy Cat). Smile. Be friendly. Be inviting. Be helpful. Be respectful. Let people know you are approachable and you want to be there.
  • WRITE A THANK YOU NOTE—In today’s world, a simple thank you goes a long way. Sit down and write a thank you note to the event organizers and ask them to keep you in mind for other events.

If you, too, have sold books at an outdoor community festival or fair, I’d love to hear your ideas and thoughts. Please share by leaving a comment. And as always, thanks for reading my blog. Check out my other blog at

A Novel Equation

Let’s face it—many of us are goal-oriented. I know I am.

I’m also a recovering math junkie. Indeed, before I re-invented myself as a freelance writer, I was an engineer who used equations, geometry, and algorithms in my daily work activities.

So when I started contemplating writing my first novel, I immediately sat down and drafted an equation to help me plan. It’s a simple approach but helps set writing goals.

I made one assumption. My equation assumes that a novel has approximately 64,000 words. I got this number from Amazon. It’s the mean word count for novels published in 2012.

Before you use my equation, ask yourself two questions:

  1. How many months do you want to spend writing your first draft? That’s your “x” value.
  2. How many days each week do you plan to find a few minutes to work on your novel? That’s your “y” value. Be realistic. Most people will not write every day.

Now that you have “x” and “y” values, it’s time to plug and chug. Here’s my equation:

Novel Equation14,769 ÷ xy = the number of words you must write each day to make your goal.

If you want to have a first draft in six months (x = 6), and you envision working on your novel three days each week (y = 3), then you must write 820 words each day to make your goal. That’s a little more than one page (12 font, single spaced) each day.

Wow! That’s not so bad when you break it down, is it? You can do that! Check out my table and start dreaming.BytheNumbers

Note that Microsoft Word has a function that shows you how many words your document contains. You can find this word count function under Tools -> Word Count. In Mac Pages, you can keep up with word count by going to View -> Word Count. The word count is at the bottom of the page.

So what are your goals? Leave a comment and tell me your novel’s working title and how long you think it will take you to get your first draft on paper.

And as always, if you enjoyed this post, please hop over to my other website and check out Project Keepsake ( And share my work with others. Happy writing!

Golden Rule of Writing

I recently read Chuck Sambuchino’s post (Writers in the Storm Blog) titled, “How to Support an Author’s New Book: Eleven Ideas for You.” I found myself jumping out of my chair with arms lifted high, shouting “Amen, Brother!”

I think about this topic a lot these days. I call it, “The Golden Rule of Writing,” which is, “Do unto other writers as you would have them do unto you.” It’s about reciprocity—please help me get the word out about my book, and when your next book is released, I’ll do the same for you.

Don’t get me wrong—most of my friends and fellow writers have been extremely caring and helpful as I‘ve worked tirelessly to promote Project Keepsake. But a few of my friends and writing buddies have not helped at all. In fact, a few of my writer friends have vanished from the face of the earth, and I’ve been wondering why.

But as I read Sambuchino’s post, I had some revelatory thoughts—maybe a few of my friends think I’m upset that they haven’t bought a book, and maybe they just don’t know how they can help me, aside from making a purchase. I’ve tried very hard not to push any of my friends into purchasing my book, because I know the content of Project Keepsake doesn’t appeal to everyone. I’m fine with friends not buying a book. Really.

But there’re are many other ways to help a writer/author/friend promote his or her projects other than buying the product. I’ve listed Sambuchino’s suggestions below, and I’ve added a few more to his list.

  • HAND OUT YOUR FRIEND’S PROMOTIONAL MATERIAL—Give her business cards, her book marks, her sell sheets, her postcards to your other friends, family members, and coworkers who may be interested in her book or scheduling her for a presentation at club or church meetings.
  • SHARE CONTACTS—Hook your friend up with your other friends in the media business (newspaper editors, feature writers, radio personalities, television hosts, etc). Introduce them. It’s very hard to cold call a media contact and get noticed, so your introduction could make the difference. I also share names of contacts at bookstores and libraries with my other writing buddies. It saves them time.

    Wayne Minshew at B&N in Rome. He kept me company.

    Wayne Minshew kept me company for two hours at a book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Rome, Georgia.

  • SHARE INFORMATION—Clubs are always looking for interesting speakers. If you hear that Rotary, Kiwanis, or a book club is looking for an interesting speaker or guest, share that information with your friend. If you learn of an upcoming writers conference that fits your friend’s project, send her the link or remember to tell her about it.
  • ATTEND AN EVENT—Whether it is a book launch party or a reading at the public library, attend at least one of your friend’s events and bring someone along. I recently had a poorly-attended book signing at the Barnes & Noble in Rome, Georgia, along with ten other local authors. I was pleasantly surprised when two of my writing friends (my buddy, Wayne Minshew, and new friend, Karli Land) showed up to hang out with me. It would have been a lonely two hours without them.
  • CRAFT AN EFFECTIVE ELEVATOR PITCH FOR YOUR FRIEND’S BOOK—Don’t just tell your other friends, “My friend has a new book out.”  Give them a little more meat. Say, “My friend, Amber, just published a collection of stories about keepsakes—a quilt, a pocket knife, a cake pan, a ring. It’s a really interesting book. She was recently on a magazine cover. The article talked about the whole project. The name of the book is Project Keepsake.”
  • BUG A BOOKSTORE EMPLOYEE—Don’t look for your friend’s book. Go to the bookstore clerk and ask him about the book. They will find it in their system and lead you to the book. Your action will cause the bookstore employees to take notice of your friend’s title, and who knows? One of the employees may select it for their “Pick of the Month.”
  • FACE THE BOOK OUT AT BOOKSTORES—When you are at the bookstore, rearrange the books on the  shelf so that your friend’s book faces out. This will help your friend’s book get noticed by passersby.
  • WRITE ONLINE REVIEWS—So many times, if a reader is on the fence about a book, a well-written, positive review will seal the deal. So take five minutes and post great reviews for your friend’s book on online sites at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Goodreads, etc.
  • BE SEEN WITH YOUR FRIEND’S BOOK—If you have a copy of your friend’s book, carry it around with you sometimes and mention it to friends. Read it at the doctor’s office. Read it at the DMV. Read it at your kid’s soccer practice. Read it on the plane. Make sure that others see your friend’s book.
  • “LIKE” YOUR FRIEND’S FACEBOOK PAGES—The more “likes,” the better because strangers navigating to the Facebook walls will think, “Wow, I need to know more about this author and her book.”
  • SHARE ON SOCIAL MEDIA SITES—Merely “liking” a post is not enough sometimes. When the author mentions the book or an event on Facebook, share the news with your social circles and include a small note about what the book is and why they should buy it. Sharing is an act of endorsing. My friend, Ruth Demeter, shared my post about the book event in Rome with her friends who live in the Rome area. I am appreciative. It’s all about exposure.
  • RESERVE A COPY AT THE LIBRARY—Again, the library employees will take notice of your friend’s book and may order additional copies or suggest it to readers.
  • CONSIDER SHARING EVENTS—If you are also a writer, consider sharing an event with another writer. I have shared my events with other writers/authors, when applicable. And I recently shared a fifteen-minute radio spot with another writer. I still had plenty of time to promote my book, and quite frankly, I think that including her made the radio spot more interesting. Two of my writer friends, Janie Dempsey Watts and Renea Winchester, have recently asked me to partner with them at upcoming events. I’m thrilled. It doubles the event’s exposure, splits the costs, and it’s fun to enjoy the ride with people I adore.
  • BE ENCOURAGING—Being kind and encouraging is just what friends do. Ask your friend about her events. Ask how book sales are going. Ask if there is anything you can do to help promote your friend’s book. And then, just listen. Sometimes, new authors just need to know that their friends care.


On the eve of 2013, I vowed to release three or four more eBook titles in 2013. So last week, I got busy and uploaded another project to the Kindle storefront. It’s not long enough to call an eBook, so I’m calling it an eBooklet or eInstructional Guide. Have a Seat

My newest eProject is titled, Have a Seat—Chair Caning Using Split Reed. Years ago, I interviewed my friend, Marvin Garner, and he taught me how to weave the seat of a ladderback chair using split reed. It didn’t take long to find a home for the article at Grit Magazine, but I had to cut so much content to get it to fit in Grit’s space. Last week, I expanded the introduction, added more photos, and added supplemental information. I uploaded it on Thursday night and sold my first copy on Friday.

I need to do more of this type of work. I have hundreds of articles in my computer’s folders just waiting to be revisited, updated, and published. As the magazine world continues to decline, I will have to put my work out there using other venues.

Will publishing eBooks and eBooklets make me a wealthy writer? Probably not. But it does keep me current, relevant, and helps me market my other writing projects. If you are interested in publishing an eBook but don’t know how to get started, I offer a three-hour workshop designed to help writers get their projects off the ground. Contact me if you are interested, and I’ll send you my rate sheet.


NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month, an intensive, online writing project that challenges participants to produce a 50,000-word novel during the month of November. Chris Baty launched the month-long literary marathon in 1999—shepherding 20 friends through four grueling weeks of high-octane noveling. Since then, the project has grown and gained popularity with a whopping 256,618 participants in 2011. That’s right—thousands of writers conceive and give birth to novels during the month of November.

How do they do it? I’ve always been curious, so I recently read Baty’s book, No Plot? No Problem and other online resources to learn the art of 30-day noveling, and I think that I am ready to take the plunge. Here are six tips I’ve learned from my research.

1. Do a Little Planning—In the weeks leading up to NaNoWriMo, develop the idea for your novel including characters and plot. Use a brainstorming technique such as bubbling or mapping to expand your idea prior to November 1.

2. Consider Your Writing Schedule—Will you write Monday through Friday, or do you intend to write seven days per week? What hours during the day have you set aside to write your novel? I’m contemplating a NaNoWriMo writing schedule from 6:30—8:30 a.m on week days. I find that my brain works more efficiently in the mornings before my phone starts ringing and the emails start rolling into my inbox. And I may work on my novel a little on the weekends, but those times will be bonus hours.

3. Set a Daily Word Count—Divide 50,000 words by the number of days you plan to write during NaNoWriMo to get your daily word count. To make my goal, I will need to write 2,500 words each day—that’s an aggressive 1,250 words each hour. This hourly word count scares me a little. I’m not a fast writer, so I may need to add more time to my schedule. And don’t forget to keep track of your word-count progress as you write.

4. Type Frantically—When you sit down to write, let your thoughts feed your fingers and just type, type, type. Try to reach that magical place that I call writer’s nirvana.

5. Don’t EditNaNoWriMo is all about output—a month in which quantity trumps quality, so you must resist the temptation to tweak and edit your sentences as you write. Again, the goal is to finish a 50,000-word draft in 30 days. You can edit your work in December.

6. Network with NaNoWriMo Writers—Join an online forum or a local group of NaNoWriMo writers so that you can draw water from the well when you need support and encouragement. As part of your every day November routine, consider posting your word-count score on one of the dozens of NaNoWriMo message boards. Finally, consider establishing a NaNoWriMo account on the official website at