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Friday, May 30, 2014

Book Your Ticket Now For The Next Book Blog Train!

Some of you will know I took part in the inaugural Book Blog Train organized by my colleague Diana Heuser a few weeks ago.

This is a free promotional event for authors. The idea is that we all offer one of our books free of charge on the day specified. The authors all then promote the event via their blogs/websites, with additional publicity provided by Diana herself.

By all working together, the aim is to generate a rush of publicity (and website visitors) for everyone involved on the day in question.

Although the authors obviously won't make any money directly by giving away books, with a little luck (and encouragement) some of those downloading will return to post a review. In addition, all the downloads should help boost the books into the bestseller lists, raising their profiles and hopefully garnering some extra publicity. Many authors notice a 'bounce' in their sales in the days and weeks after a free promotion.

As you may have gathered, the second Book Blog Train is now open for registrations, and like the first one it is free to join (though that may not always be the case). The date allocated is Friday 27 June 2014. You must be able to make your book available free that day (e.g. via an Amazon KDP Select promotion). If you wish it can be free for the whole weekend as well. You will also be expected to publish a blog post about the event on the day and (of course) publicize it.

You can read more about the Book Blog Train in this post on Diana's blog. If you wish to register, you can do so on this web page. You can also see my blog post for the previous Book Blog Train by clicking here.

If you are a published e-book author this is a great way to get some extra free publicity for your book. At the last event I promoted my Kindle e-book Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay and generated over 400 downloads over the weekend in question. This time I shall be promoting my humorous science fiction novella The Festival on Lyris Five on Smashwords.

If you have any comments or questions about the Book Blog Train, please post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

See you on the train!

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Tales from the Lake Horror Writing Competition 2014

Those of you who write horror fiction might want to enter the second Tales from the Lake Horror Writing Competition, which opens for entries this Friday (30 May 2014).

The contest is being run by Crystal Lake Publishing, an award-winning independent publishing house specializing in the horror genre. Crystal Lake is run by South African Joe Mynhardt, who is also a moderator on my forum at

The competition is free to enter and open world-wide. I've copied the main details below from the comprehensive information provided by Joe in this forum topic...

It is time for the 2nd annual Tales from The Lake Horror Writing Competition. And don’t worry, there are NO ENTRY FEES. That’s right, you can win money and share a Table of Contents with Ramsey Campbell, Jack Ketchum, Lisa Morton, Edward Lee, Tim Lebbon, Raven Dane, Rocky Alexander, Jim Goforth, Hal Bodner, Glen Johnson, Steven Savile, Richard Chizmar, Rena Mason, Ben Eads, Aaron Dries and Jan Edwards (with one or two possible surprises to come).

The contest will start May 30th, the same day as the release of Tales from The Lake Vol.1, and continue over a two month period, with results being announced between end of September and Halloween (depending on the number of entries). Be sure to purchase a $4.99 eBook or $12.99 paperback copy to check out last year’s winning stories:

Your judges will Emma Audsley, Ben Eads, Jim Goforth and myself, Joe Mynhardt.

In an attempt for a more streamlined competition than last year, there will be only two rounds this year.

Round 1: You have 150 words to divide between the synopsis and the opening of your story (title and byline do not count towards the 150 words). So, for example, if you can summarize your entire story in 30 words, you’ll have 120 words left to hook us with your opening. The synopsis must hook the judges, but not be too vague (find a balance). You can use less than 150 words, but not more. Submit your round 1 entry in the body of an email to, subject line: Tales from The Lake Entry. We will only accept round 1 entries between the 30th of May to the 30th of June.

Round 2: Those who make it past the judges will receive an email stating that they can submit their entire story as an attachment in round two, which is from the 1st to the 31st of July.

3rd: Your story in Tales From the Lake Vol.2; one contributor’s copy; $20; a 10,000 word edit by Joe Mynhardt; any one Crystal publish eBook published at the time of announcing the winners.
2nd: Your story in Tales From the Lake Vol.2; one contributor’s copy; $30; a 20,000 word edit by Joe Mynhardt; any two Crystal publish eBooks published at the time of announcing the winners.
1st: Your story in Tales From the Lake Vol.2; $40; one contributor’s copy; bragging rights; a 30,000 word edit by Joe Mynhardt; all Crystal publish eBooks published at the time of announcing the winners.  

The final story must be between 3000 and 7000 words.
You must be the author of the story you submit.
Said story must be original and not previously published in any format.
Only one submission per person via email.
If your story is accepted by another publisher during the competition period, please inform us immediately (so simultaneous submissions are allowed).

To summarize:
There is no theme or topics, as long as it's horror, weird or suspenseful.
You should only submit a synopsis with the opening of your story (max 150 words divided between the synopsis and the opening), sent to in the body of an email. Your synopsis must hook us, but not too vague.
You will be emailed if we want you to submit the full story, which should be between 3000 and 7000 words.
Round 1 starts May 30th and ends June 30th.

Since there are no fees for this competition, please support Crystal Lake Publishing and our authors by purchasing a book, leaving reviews for the books you’ve already read, or just spreading the word about the company and this competition.
Facebook: and

Good luck to anyone planning to submit a story to this competition, and kudos to Joe and his team for running it (which is a lot of work in itself) and making it free to enter.

Don't forget that the competition doesn't open until 30 May 2014, but of course you can start working on your entry now. 

If you have any comments or questions about this competition, as ever, please do post them below.

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Review: Make More Sales With Kindle
Make More Sales With Kindle is the latest product to be launched by the prolific duo of Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum.

I've mentioned some of Amy and Debbie's other quality products such as Publisher's Review Accelerator, Book Trailer Treasure Map and Translation Publishing Treasures on this blog before. I also recommended their report on underground promotional methods, which you can still pick up via this blog post for free if you haven't already.

Make More Sales With Kindle is a brand new guide for Kindle authors to ways they can promote their titles to rise above the competition and generate more sales.

Make More Sales With Kindle has just been launched at a low special offer price, and will be available at this price for a limited time only. Amy and Debbie were kind enough to allow me reviewer access, so here's what I found...

As is the case with most of Amy and Debbie's products, the content is accessed via a WordPress site. This has the advantage that products can include a variety of media and can be easily updated/expanded in future. Just be sure to keep your log-in details somewhere you can easily find them again!

Once you are in the members area you will be able to view and download the course content. The main instructional material takes the form of two PDF manuals and a Microsoft Word checklist. The titles are as follows:

1. Make More Sales With Kindle
2. How to Create Facebook Ads That Get Clicks
3. Checklist for Facebook Ads

Make More Sales With Kindle is the main (30-page) guide that takes you through a range of methods you can use to promote your Kindle book. It is mainly text-based, with a few screen captures where relevant. The topics covered include blogging, building a list, guest blogging, social media, press releases, and various others.

As you would expect from these authors, the guide is well written and easy to follow. Some of the content is likely to be familiar already to experienced Kindle authors, but there are nonetheless lots of great tips, ideas and resources that even old hands at Kindle (such as myself) can benefit from.

How to Create Facebook Ads That Get Clicks is, as you will gather, a guide to promoting your e-book using (paid) Facebook advertising. It comprises 18 pages of text and graphics. The first part explains why you should consider Facebook advertising. It sets out some compelling reasons - not only to generate sales, but to build your author platform and boost your personal brand as well.

The second (and longer) part of the guide discusses the 'nuts and bolts' of Facebook advertising. I thought it gave one of the best explanations I have seen of this. There are some excellent tips on navigating the rather confusing Facebook advertising interface. There is also an invaluable tip about a free resource you can download that makes setting up Facebook ads simpler and more intuitive.

Finally, you get a Checklist for Facebook Ads in Word format. This is designed to be used in close conjunction with the manual. Applying it step by step should ensure that your first campaign is set up successfully and you don't omit anything vital.

As well as the three items mentioned above, buyers also receive Amy and Debbie's Five Minute Facebook Graphics Tool. I didn't actually get this with my review copy, so I can only really tell you what it says on the sales page.

This is a powerful, web-based software tool you can use to create Facebook cover graphics, coupons, ads and fangates. I have embedded below a YouTube video created by Amy and Debbie that shows it in action.

If you are receiving this post by email or RSS, you may need to visit my blog to see the video.

Many people are put off Facebook advertising because they aren't sure how to create the graphics, so this tool should be a real boon for them. And you can use it for other Facebook graphics as well, of course.

The Five Minute FB Graphics Tool is being sold separately for $37. That's actually $10 more than the entire Make More Sales With Kindle product (while it's on this launch offer).

Even though I got review copies of the manuals free, I am seriously considering paying anyway to get the Facebook graphics software as well!

Finally, as stated above, Make More Sales With Kindle with the Five Minute FB Graphics Tool is available at this price for a limited time only. On the sales page today the countdown clock says eight-and-a-half days, so that's around 30 May 2014. Once the offer is closed, I expect the price to rise substantially, and it may no longer even be possible to buy the whole thing as a single product.

As ever, if you have any comments or queries about Make More Sales With Kindle, please post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

* Amy and Debbie, in association with Rob Howard, are also running a Fiction Writing Bootcamp in June titled Beyond the Hero's Journey. You can read my blog post about it here. Note that the Early Bird discount mentioned in that post ends in the next day or two.

Novel In A Month

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Thursday, May 22, 2014

My Top Tip for Negotiating Fees With Clients

Negotations by Very Quiet, on Flickr
Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 2.0 Generic License  by  Very Quiet 

Here's a true story. I recently took on a commission to write a book for a semi-regular client.

It was an interesting project, but the fee quoted was a bit low. Because I know these clients well, I got back to them and asked if they could offer me any more money.

My contact was sympathetic and asked me to give her a few days to work out a budget and get back to me with an improved offer. That was fine by me, and I made a start on the book.

A week later I got an apologetic email from the client saying that the figures she needed still hadn't come through, so to save waiting any longer, could I just tell her how much I wanted and she would aim to work around that.

I did have some reservations about this, for reasons I'll come to in a moment, but I replied with a request for a 25% increase in the amount I was originally offered. Almost immediately she got back to me accepting this. I detected a definite note of relief that I hadn't asked for more!

So what are the lessons to be learnt from this? Most important, when negotiating with clients, always try to get them to make the first offer. If it's less than you expected you can then ask for more money. Equally, if it's more than you thought, you can bite their hand off!

By contrast, if you find yourself having to name a fee first, it's much harder. Quote too little and you could end up being underpaid. Quote too much, on the other hand, and you may never hear from them again.

So, as I said above, my Top Tip when negotiating fees with clients is always try to get the client to bid first. I usually ask, "What's your budget for this job?" Sometimes that works, and sometimes it doesn't!

In the case of my latest commission, I didn't want to create difficulties for my client, whom I have worked with for many years, and who I knew was genuinely trying to do her best for me. I value my working relationship with her too much to try to wring every last ounce of profit from her.

As a result, I ended up with a fee which is probably a little lower than I could have asked (and got). If I'm very honest I do slightly regret not asking for more, but then again it's an interesting job and one I am enjoying, and I do give some weight to that as well. If money was my sole motivation, I might as well just have become an accountant.

Finally, my client did say that if there is any money left over in her budget she may be able to find a little extra for my fee. It was a kind thought, although I shall be (pleasantly) surprised if that does indeed happen!

If you have any comments or questions about negotiating fees with clients, as ever, please do post them below.



Wednesday, May 21, 2014

Beyond the Hero's Journey - A New Fiction Writing Bootcamp
I wanted to give you a heads-up today about Beyond The Hero's Journey, a new fiction writing bootcamp starting next month.

This is an intensive, four-week storycrafting course that promises to help participants to 'quickly write blockbuster, hot selling fiction novels using Hollywood’s formula – in just a few weeks.'

The course is being run by my colleagues Amy Harrop and Debbie Drum, whose excellent writing courses and products such as Publisher's Review Accelerator, Book Trailer Treasure Map and Vintage Publishing Profits I have mentioned on this blog before. Amy also has experience working in film production in Hollywood.

On this course they are collaborating with Rob Howard, who also ran the month-long KD Fiction Writing Class and Challenge back in March (see my blog post about it here). I know several readers of this blog took part in that earlier event and got a lot out of it. 

Rob's previous course focused on the Hero's Journey (which I also feature in my Write Any Book in Under 28 Days course), but the new Beyond the Hero's Journey bootcamp will take a different approach, which - as the name indicates - goes well beyond that quest-based plotting method.

I understand that the course leaders will be sharing and discussing methods used by Hollywood storycrafters to come up with scripts for blockbuster movies, and showing how these same techniques can be adapted to the creation of commercial novels and shorter fiction.

The course will start on Thursday 5 June 2014 and continue for a month. Course members will be able to attend four live online classes of an hour-and-a-half each. They will also be able to access all replays, course materials and homework assignments, a dedicated fiction writing Facebook Group, and so on.

Right now you can sign up for Beyond the Hero's Journey and get a substantial ($50) Early Bird discount. That will be ending in the next few days, though, so don't hang around if this is something that appeals to you.

If you're interested in learning to write commercial fiction that incorporates the methods used by Hollywood screenwriters, this is definitely a course worth checking out.

As ever, if you have any comments or questions about the Beyond the Hero's Journey bootcamp, please feel free to post them below.

Nick Daws Course

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Thursday, May 15, 2014

Review: Kindle Copy-and-Paste Mogul 
Kindle Copy-and-Paste Mogul is a new writers guide by Stevie Drive that has just been launched as a low-priced special offer on JVZoo.

As the author of Kindle Kash and a published Kindle author myself I'm always interested in new products in this field, so I decided to invest a few bucks in a copy.

The first thing I should say is don't be deceived by the slightly unfortunate title. This is thankfully NOT a guide to creating Kindle e-books by plagiarizing other people's content!

Rather, it reveals a method for quickly generating nonfiction Kindle e-books with big sales potential by tapping into the huge global audience for modern pop culture.

Buyers of Kindle Copy-and-Paste Mogul get a number of items with their purchase. The most important is the main PDF manual, which runs to 64 pages. It's generally well written in Stevie's homespun style, and illustrated with plenty of screen captures where relevant.

It wouldn't be fair to give away every detail of Stevie's system, but it is basically a method for quickly putting together popular nonfiction e-books that should appeal to the fans of a wide range of pop culture icons.

The manual is divided into seven 'steps' that take you from devising an idea for a book, through researching and writing it, to creating a cover, and then promoting and marketing your book for maximum sales.

Obviously, it doesn't go into great detail about formatting your book or publishing it using Kindle Direct Publishing, but there are plenty of other guides available if you need help with this (including my own Kindle Kash, of course!).

The manual does talk at some length about outsourcing the research and writing of your book. This approach may or may not appeal to you, but it certainly has the potential to speed up the process - especially if (as recommended) you plan to publish multiple titles aimed at the same readership.

In addition to the main manual, you also receive certain bonuses. These include a Task Checklist, which sets out a step-by-step action plan for completing your first book, and some copy-and-paste scripts you can use (or more likely adapt) when hiring outsourcers, cover artists, and so on.

There is a disclaimer script for your book as well, which should hopefully prevent you getting into any disputes over copyright or trademarks.

Overall, I thought Kindle Copy-and-Paste Mogul was a good quality product that set out a very do-able method for creating Kindle e-books that should have good sales potential. The method may appeal most to those who have some interest in modern pop culture (or perhaps children who do), but even if you don't you can easily research the necessary information or outsource it. At its current low launch price, it's definitely worth a look.

If you have any questions about Kindle Copy-and-Paste Mogul, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

Get Kindle Kash

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Tuesday, May 13, 2014

How to Get Your Windows 8 Start Menu Back With Start8

In this post a few months ago I talked about my experiences with Windows 8, and some of the issues I had with Microsoft's latest, widely disliked, operating system.

One particular problem I mentioned then is that Microsoft, in their wisdom, removed the Start button and menu in Windows 8. Although the button came back in Windows 8.1, all it does is return you to the default 'Modern' start-up screen with its array of unenticing 'apps' (see below).

After grappling with this unsatisfactory situation for a while, I decided I should give the Start8 add-on for Windows 8 a try. This software promises to return the Start button and menu to Windows 8. It offers various other customization options as well.

Start8 is produced by the Stardock Corporation. As a commercial program it is not free, but the price is a very modest $4.99. In fact I got mine for less than this, since after trying it free for a month I was offered a 15 percent discount if I then paid for a licence. As I was going to pay anyway, I was happy to accept this offer!

Downloading and installing Start8 was quite straightforward - just a matter of carefully following the on-screen instructions. There are various customization options you can apply, but for the most part I simply accepted the defaults. I also took the opportunity to cancel Windows 8's irritating email log-in screen and ensure that I was taken straight to my preferred desktop view.

On restarting my computer, all the options I wanted had been applied, and I also had a proper Start button at the bottom left of the screen. When I click on this, here is the menu that appears on my computer...

As with previous versions of Windows, you can choose what programs you pin to your Start menu. You can also customize the items on the right, including the command that appears by default in the box at the bottom. As you can see I chose 'Shut Down', but you could also have Hibernate, Switch User, and so on. Obviously, all these commands are available by clicking on the arrow to the right of the box anyway.

Stardock also offer a program called ModernMix, which lets you run Windows 8 apps in resizable windows rather than taking over your whole screen. This also costs just $4.99, or less if you buy it with Start8. Personally I have yet to see a Windows 8 app that I want to give the time of day to, so I haven't bought ModernMix - but if there are any apps you like and want a better method of working with than Windows 8 allows, it's worth considering.

Finally, for the record, I should like to say that I'm not getting paid to promote Start8 and neither am I an affiliate for it. It's just a software product that I've been very pleased to have, which has made working with Windows 8 a much pleasanter experience for me.

There are, of course, other Start button replacements for Windows 8 as well, including the free, open source Classic Shell. I haven't tried this myself, but you can read an interesting comparison between the two products here. The upshot seems to be that Classic Shell has more customization options (as well as the attraction of being free), but Start8 is much slicker and easier to use. Personally, after trying Start8 free for a month, I was more than happy to pay the modest fee to keep it installed permanently.

As ever, if you have any comments or queries about Start8, please feel free to post them below and I will do my best to answer them.

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Thursday, May 08, 2014

Review: Mastering Evernote for Publishers

Mastering Evernote for Publishers is the latest product to be launched by the prolific duo of Amy Harrop and Deborah Drum.

I've mentioned some of Amy and Debbie's other quality products such as Publisher's Review Accelerator, Book Trailer Treasure Map and Vintage Publishing Profits on this blog before. I also recommended their report on underground promotional methods, which you can still pick up via this blog post for free if you haven't already.

Mastering Evernote for Publishers is a brand new course for authors and self-publishers on how they can use the free Evernote note-making software to to quickly research and create articles, blog posts and even books.

Mastering Evernote for Publishers has just been launched at a low special offer price, and will be available at this price for a limited time only. Amy and Debbie were kind enough to allow me reviewer access, so here's what I found...

As is the way with most of Amy and Debbie's products, the content is accessed via a WordPress membership site. This has the advantage that products can include a variety of media (PDFs, videos, spreadsheets, and so on) and can be easily updated/expanded in future. Just be sure to keep your log-in details somewhere you can easily find them again!

Once you are in the members area you will be able to view and download the course content. The main instructional material takes the form of three PDFs. These are as follows:

Evernote Overview (44 pages)
Power Using Evernote (48 pages)
Writing With Evernote (19 pages)

All three manuals are well written and produced, with plenty of screengrab illustrations. The first two take you through everything you need to know to get up to speed with Evernote, even if you have never used this software before.

As an occasional Evernote user I found the second manual particularly interesting, as it covers advanced features of the software I hadn't previously tried (or even known about). These include making photographic, audio, webcam and even handwritten notes. This really opened my eyes to the full potential of the software. There is also some very useful advice on searching and organizing your notes.

The third manual 'Writing with Evernote' is divided into two sections, one for non-fiction writing and the other for fiction. The authors discuss how they use Evernote for outlining, research, writing and editing. They recommend using Evernote in place of a standard word processor for the entire writing process. I'm not sure I'd go this far myself, although it does have the advantage of making it very easy to access your notes as you need them. Even if you only want to use Evernote for research and outlining, though, you will learn a lot of valuable tips.

As well as the PDF manuals, the members area also has a section containing six instructional videos. These cover the following topics...

Getting Started With Evernote
How to Use Evernote Web Clipper
How to Add Multimedia to Evernote Notes
How to Email Evernote
How to Search in Evernote
How to Share Your Evernote Notes and Notebook

The videos obviously cover some of the same territory as the PDF manuals, but it never hurts to have this information presented via a different channel as well.

The other bonus you get is a 51-page PDF of Amy and Debbie's 'Productivity Hacks'. This has nothing to do with Evernote, but is a valuable resource in its own right. The vendors share some of the tips and tools that enable them to be so productive. Some of these are perhaps a little obvious ('Wake up early,' for example), but others are real eye-openers.

Overall, I highly recommend Mastering Evernote for Publishers, which more than lives up to the high standards I have come to expect from these authors.

If you have any comments or questions about Mastering Evernote for Publishers, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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Monday, May 05, 2014

Why Writers Need to Stretch Beyond Their Comfort Zone

Today I have a syndicated guest post for you by Jen Matera from the excellent Write Divas blog.

In her article, Jen sets out some good advice for writers on why they should challenge themselves to try new things - both in the actual writing  and the editing and marketing of their work as well.

Over to Jen, then...

* * *
Divas on Writing: Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone (via
Stretch Beyond Your Comfort Zone In writing, like in any other part of our lives, we can find ourselves doing the same thing, the same way, over and over. Not that this is necessarily a bad thing; there are many processes in day-to-day life that…

* * *

Thank you very much to Jen for a useful and interesting article.

I do agree it's good for writers to stretch themselves, in all sorts of ways. Another area where I think many fiction writers are much too easily satisfied is plotting. 

I see many examples, both in published books and in new writers' work, where the author was clearly happy to settle for the first idea that occurred to him/her, and ended up with a predictable and pedestrian storyline.

Always bear in mind that modern readers are sophisticated. They are likely to have consumed many thousands of stories already, both in writing and film/TV. They are therefore unlikely to be satisfied by a plot that is just a minor variation on one they have seen a dozen times before.

By contrast, if you take them on a journey they have never traveled before, with genuine surprises and unexpected twists, you could end up with a lifelong fan. And yes, I know that's not easy, but this post is all about stretching yourself!

Thank you again to Jen for allowing me to reproduce her article here. If you have any comments or questions, as ever, please feel free to post them below.

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Saturday, May 03, 2014

All Aboard for the Book Blog Train!

I am posting this as my contribution to the Book Blog Train, a promotional initiative organized by my colleague Diana Heuser. of the writers taking part in the Book Blog Train are offering our books free or heavily discounted. The train's previous stop was the blog of Caroline A. Connell. Caroline is promoting her novel The Secret Alchemist, an exciting thriller set in the world of high finance. Do check it out if you haven't already!

My own contribution is my Kindle e-book titled Three Great Techniques for Plotting Your Novel or Screenplay (pictured). This will be available free from the book's Amazon sales page on Saturday 3 May and Sunday 4 May.

As the sales page says, this is a no-fluff mini-guide that sets out three powerful techniques you can use to generate all the plot ideas you need to create a stream of successful short stories, novels and screenplays. The techniques can be used individually or - for even greater impact and originality - by combining two or all three of them. Examples are included throughout.

For the benefit of Book Blog Train passengers who may be visiting my blog for the first time, I
should mention that I am a professional freelance writer, editor and writing teacher, living in the English county of Staffordshire.

I am the author of over 100 books, and innumerable published articles, training materials, radio and stage plays, advertisements, e-books, games and novelty products. I am also an award-winning short-story writer, and creator of the top-selling CD guide Write Any Book in Under 28 Days. My e-book is partly adapted from one module of this course.

If you would like to receive my free tips, advice and news for writers, please do sign up to my E-Writer newsletter.

Check out next the blog of Carol Whitaker, who is promoting her highly rated self-help book Ridiculously Happy.

I also especially recommend picking up the e-book by Book Blog Train organizer Diana Heuser titled How To Publish and Sell 100 Copies of Your Kindle Book With No Money Down. I reviewed this excellent guide on my blog a few weeks ago, and it's available free this weekend as part of this very special promotion!

* Remember that if you get lost at any time, you can see the entire Book Blog Train route map at

See you at the next station!

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Thursday, May 01, 2014

Horror 101: The Way Forward - A New Career Guide for Horror Writers

"Horror 101: The Way Forward" is a new guidebook for horror writers.

It has been compiled by Joe Mynhardt, the South Africa-based owner of Crystal Lake Publishing (a small but highly regarded horror publishing house). Joe is also a moderator on my forum at

Joe was kind enough to send me a review copy of Horror 101 (as I'll call it for short from now on), so here's what I thought...

To start with, this is a Kindle e-book, although it's also available to buy from the Crystal Lake Publishing website. DRM (digital rights management) has been disabled, so you could convert it to EPUB or other e-book formats if you like (e.g. using Calibre). Of course, it's perfectly possible to read Kindle e-books on almost any device using the free apps available from Amazon.

The publishers describe Horror 101 as "a comprehensive overview of the Horror fiction genre and career opportunities available to established and aspiring authors."

As you may have gathered, this is not the work of a single author. Horror 101 comprises over sixty articles from a wide range of horror writers, including big names such as Graham Masterton and Ramsey Campbell and some up-and-coming authors whose names are not (yet) as well known. The latter include Siobhan McKinney, another member of my writing forum.

The articles are typically quite short - I'd guess most are in the region of 500 to 1000 words. As the description I quoted earlier indicates, they focus mainly on career advice for horror writers, rather than the specifics of how to write a horror story.

So there are articles on subjects such as how to get an agent (and whether you need one), the pros and cons of Kindle self-publishing, creating audiobook versions of your work, screenplay writing, and so on.

But there is plenty of advice related to the craft of horror fiction writing as well, including developing your ideas, avoiding genre cliches, endings to avoid, proofreading and editing, and many more.

The book is professionally designed and edited (by Joe and his co-editor Emma Audsley, who also proofread it). As well as the articles themselves, there are interesting biographies of the authors, which are sometimes almost as long as the actual articles!

The articles are interspersed with thought-provoking quotes from successful writers, from Stephen King to Lord Byron.

Horror 101 runs to almost 120,000 words, and for any aspiring (or established) horror writer, it's invaluable reading. So the best news is that - at the time of writing at least - it's on sale at the rock bottom price of just 99c (or 77p in the UK). I reckon that makes it one of the best-value e-books in the Amazon store!

Horror 101 won't actually make you into a horror writer (that clearly has to come from within). But if horror is your preferred genre, it will open your eyes to many possibilities for developing your craft and building your career as a professional horror writer.

As  always, if you have any comments or questions about Horror 101: The Way Forward, please do post them below.

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