About Vania Margene Rheault

Vania enjoys reading and writing. She's lived in Minnesota all her life, and with a cup of coffee in hand, enjoys the seasons with her two children and three cats.

Author Update

Mondays always seem to come around so fast! Last week was a wash as I was still sick, and today was supposed to be the day I posted a video on how I made one of my romance covers in Canva. Last week went by in a haze of chores, sleep, and work, so I will do my best to get something figured out and post for next week.

As for today, I don’t have much going on. Everyone is slipping into the lazy days of summer. My Clubhouse marketing chat is on hiatus until the Fall, and I’m missing the only podcast I used to listen to as they wrapped up to pursue other things. I’m still trying to figure out why I feel like crap even after my surgery, and I have another appointment on Tuesday. It would go a long way if I could feel better, and I’ve been really struggling lately to remain upbeat and positive. Twitter isn’t the fun, supportive place it used to be, and it’s been difficult not to feel alone. Not just in the writing part of it, but in my personal life as well. My fiancé and I broke up after a five year long distance relationship and my son moved out to live with his dad to have a built-in ride to work for his summer job.

I’ve had a lot of transitioning to deal with lately, and when I clicked publish on my paperback the other day, I didn’t feel a sense of accomplishment (though if you wanna see how pretty the cover looks, click here). I also felt a bit let down as I don’t really have anyone to share that with. Most of my writing friends with whom I was close faded off, and the one person who would have been my biggest supporter is gone. It’s not that I’m complaining about any of that. I like being alone–I just have to get used to all these changes and find joy where I can. And of course, I don’t want to turn this blog into a Debbie Downer’s journal. I’ll bounce back one of these days; I just need time to adjust.

I have been working on my books, though that is another area of my life where sometimes I feel like I don’t know what I’m doing or why it even matters. I love writing and I love publishing, so I won’t stop any time soon (it’s what saved me the past two years), but a friend of mine on Twitter yesterday and I were talking about crap books and how it seems anyone can get anyone to buy anything if you make a video about it on TikTok. It’s pretty sad when you see people posting their sales figures in the author groups on Facebook, and the books are no better than first drafts. I’m not saying all books are like that, or that I would resent any author their success, but it is disheartening for anyone who puts their heart and soul into their books only for them to sink while “other” books do well. In the end, it will be their loss because with the number of books out there for readers to choose from, you only get one chance to make a good first impression, and in most instances, a first draft won’t cut it. So I can feel bad for myself now, but I’ll build my book business on good books and be proud of that.

I haven’t done anything with my paperback on Amazon yet besides claim my author page and add my photo and bio. Captivated by Her hasn’t clicked in with Goodreads or Bookbub yet, and I don’t want to manually add my book to Goodreads because I know from past experience it will eventually auto-populate, then I’ll have two of the same book on there. I’m also wondering if I want to go through with paying for Booksprout for reviews, and if I want to offer Captivated to my newsletter subscribers in exchange for a review. From what others have said in the past, I don’t think I would get many takers anyway, but reviews are important, and it makes the most sense to ask my newsletter subscribers and get into the habit of treating them like the VIPs I want them to be. I also hate that Booksprout went to a paid only service, and even at the cheapest rate ($9.00/month) the quality of the reviews in the past wasn’t worth it.

I went ahead and set up Captivated by Her in Bookfunnel so I have the link available if I decide to offer it in my newsletter. There is an option where you can put an expiration date on the link, so I might just tell my subscribers they have two days to download it and then in two weeks’ time email them a review link so they can post a review on Amazon if they want. This book is the first in a duet, anyway, so I’m not looking to push this book very hard. I’ll run some ads when the ebook is live, but I’ll use a couple of free days in Kindle Select and buy some promos when the second book comes out.

What I’m waiting for is for my book to show up on Goodreads so I can claim my author profile under my pen name. I may never be wide, so claiming my page on Bookbub may never be something I care about. Bookbub ads are great if you’re wide and your book is on sale, but I’m hearing it’s still difficult be approved for a BookBub feature if you’re in KU, so not sure if building my profile on there is something I want to waste energy on.

That’s about all I’m doing right now. I’m working on my covers for the series I’m going to release next year–titling these books is already giving me fits and doing the covers is probably pointless right now anyway because who knows what the cover trends will be in January. i just need to put them together so I can order proofs. Reading them in paperback form is the last step I need to finish editing them and then I can finalize everything this fall.

Despite being down about my current situation, I’m still working, trying to stay relevant and keep on top of things in the industry. There just isn’t a whole lot going on, which can be a really good thing, but it also doesn’t set me up to talk about much on here except what I’m doing with trying to get my pen name off the ground. I still think I made the right choice there, but I forgot how long it took to get everything situated.

So, I guess that’s it from me. This blog post is posting late today because Work was busy and then I went to my sister’s last night for dinner and a movie. By the time I got home, I was just ready for bed. We can’t be winning all the time.

Have a great week, everyone!

Your (fluffy) Book Matters! (and a Monday Blues update)

I was going to do a video clip on how I made one of my book covers in Canva because I had a few people asking how I created a cover like that when I posted Captivated by Her in an FB book cover feedback group. Many of the members were surprised I did the entire thing in Canva, so I said I would record what I did.

Unfortunately, when my son visited last weekend (he moved in with this dad a couple of weeks ago but spends weekends here) he also brought the flu he picked up at his new job. Wednesday I was down for the count, and I had to take Thursday and Friday off work. Because I write these early, I just didn’t feel good enough to play around with my QuickTime player and no one wants to hear my scratchy voice while I try to breathe because I can’t stop blowing my nose. I’m typing this up Friday afternoon and I am TIRED! Though I feel the worst is behind me, I’m achy and sore and frankly, beaten down.

I haven’t even felt good enough to keep editing on the last of my book I’m going to release in the fall, but while lying around, I have been thinking of a Christmas plot I could maybe write over the summer. I’ve looking at my release calendar for this year and next and there’s really no need for it, I just think it would be fun to write. I could use it as a break from all the editing and book production I’ve been doing, but it would be difficult to get into the mood in July. Haha. We’ll see what happens. I’m going to need to write something–I haven’t written for months!


Write your fluffy book!

Wednesday afternoon definitely wasn’t a good time for me to see a tweet lamenting about how there are so few readers now who read “heavy” fiction books. This is a topic I get tired of quickly. Every writer wants to write the next great American novel, but the thing is, what even is that, exactly? One of my favorite classic books is Ernest Hemingway’s The Sun Also Rises. He may be lauded for his succinct language and his writing style, but do you know what the book is about? A man who was injured in a war, can’t get a hard on anymore and is hopelessly in love with a woman who sleeps around. At the end of the book, he realizes the type of woman she is (shallow) and that it wouldn’t have mattered if he hadn’t been injured, they never would have had the kind of relationship he wanted them to have. It’s literally women’s fiction. And women’s fiction, the last I checked, is genre fiction. A book written about a topic like that today wouldn’t win any awards. Another great American novel is The Great Gatsby, and we know that’s another book about a man falling in love with a shallow woman. I get these are poor examples; we’re not talking War and Peace here, but you get the idea.

I don’t know any writer who doesn’t want their book to change the world, but why does your book have to be “heavy” in order to do that? Winning awards doesn’t mean your book will see any sales. It means someone thought well enough of your book that you won an award. Not all of us who write care about that. I don’t. You know what would mean more to me? If someone emailed me and said, “Your book got me through a tough day. Thank you.”

Life is hard right now, and I feel like a tweet like that is tone deaf to what’s going on in the world. This person was complaining people don’t want to read a heavy book when Ukraine is still under attack, women’s rights are threatened, women are scared by the formula shortage, and so much more. If your life is that great that you aren’t being affected by those things, and you have the audacity to complain about something so trivial, congratulations. I’m happy for you. Don’t ever step foot outside your bubble.

I, for one, am happy to write romances that don’t require a dictionary by a reader’s elbow. I’m happy to write romances where a reader can pour a glass of wine and be entertained. If you don’t like it, don’t read it, but don’t look down on a woman who finally got her baby to go to sleep and she just needs something that will make the shitty day she had go away. That, to me, is a greater gift than being shortlisted for any award.

There is room for all sorts of books, but you don’t make yourself feel better or look better when you insult someone else’s preferred genre–either the one they like to write or the one they like to read.

Now, I’m off to go edit my fluffy book that won’t make a difference in anyone’s life, that didn’t see me through my own hard time while I wrote it. If you don’t like it, stay away from me or I’ll cough on you.

Have a great week, everyone!

Monday Madness and Creating a Community Around Your Books

I had a huge post about how ticked off I was at Facebook for restricting my page and turning off the ad to my reader magnet (Bookfunnel link) because I wasn’t following community guidelines (with their bots and lack of communication, I still have no idea what I supposedly did), but during that 24 hours, I appealed and uploaded my photo ID like they requested, and they lifted the restriction on my page and turned my ad back on. It rendered the vent in my blog drafts completely useless, but I’d rather have a useless blog post than a restricted page. I need my page. I need to be able to run ads. So I will just say thank goodness that time was the only thing wasted.

I’m at 103 subscribers now, (squee!) and I’ve had 118 claims on my book so far (with 291 clicks, so a little less than half are taking action). Yes, I’m paying ($27.00 at the moment) and I think I’ll turn it off when I reach $50.00, maybe $40.00 depending on how things go). My click spend is only 9 cents which is pretty good as far as I can tell, but this was just a small thing to get the word out, and I’ll probably run another ad when Captivated by Her is live. Even though I have a tiny bit of money to play around with, I don’t want to blow through it too fast, and there are other ways to build my list without ads. Besides the welcome email they receive when they sign up, I haven’t sent out another, and I’m looking forward to that in the next week or so. I would like to send one before my release so they aren’t hit with a “buy my book” email as the second email they get from me.

But anyway, my anger wasn’t 100% warranted (I had no idea they would help me so fast), though when I set up my ads campaign at the beginning, it would have been nice if they’d asked me for my ID first. I’m running a business, using their business to help me, and I have no problem with providing them with what they need. I just wish they weren’t so heavy-handed with the way they do things.

In the meantime, I ordered two more proofs of Captivated by Her and Addicted to Her just to make sure the changes I made to the covers turned out okay. I flipped through both books and found just a couple of tiny things to change which required me to upload new interior files, too, but I think they are going to look as good as I can get them without going crazy. I should be able to put my pre-order up for book one sooner than I thought, though waiting for June sometime while my FB ad runs a little longer while I get as many newsletter signups as I can is also an option.

This ties in really well with what I’ve been thinking about lately. I don’t read a lot of romance–I’m busy writing it instead–but I realize that an author can’t be part of the {insert genre here} community unless you know what’s going on with your peers and in the industry. I realized this, and anyone who doesn’t know what kind of content they should put in their newsletter or on social media, realizes this, too. You can’t talk about or recommend other authors, other books, romance movies, or anything else if you aren’t consuming that content. If you don’t know what to post in your newsletter, you aren’t dialed in enough. A newsletter is for news. News about you and your books, for sure, but also news about what you’re reading, what you’re watching, information that you think your readers will appreciate because you’re building a community of friends around the genre you like to read and write.

I do this with this blog. If I didn’t keep up to date for my own personal knowledge, I would never have anything to share with you. I keep up to date because it helps me with my own publishing endeavors and then I pass along what I find useful to you.

There’s no reason not to be able to do this with fiction. When the second season of Bridgerton dropped on Netflix, every romance reader known to man, even if they didn’t read historical romance, stopped right in the middle of what they were doing and sat down and binged. Because you know what happened if you didn’t? You missed out on all of the conversations that sprang up on social media. You were in the dark. You didn’t understand the outrage caused by a more chaste season, and you couldn’t weigh in on what you thought about their on-screen chemistry.

Taken from: https://www.tvinsider.com/1041720/bridgerton-season-2-storms-to-the-top-of-streaming-rankings/

Another example of this is The Lost City, a movie that came out not long ago with Sandra Bullock. I couldn’t see it in the theatre because I was recuperating from my surgery (and my sister didn’t want to see it, but don’t tell her I told you).

I’ll have to wait and stream it when it’s available, and I’ll be so late to the party everyone will already be nursing a hangover by the time I crack open my first bottle of wine. Being late doesn’t matter so much, as you can always say… “OMG! I just saw… can you believe it?!” and get the conversational ball rolling that way.

Another example I have is when Netflix dropped 365, a movie, I guess, based off a steamy romance book. I should know this. This is my forte. The second I get my words in for the day, I should be gobbling this stuff up! I’m so late to this party, there’s already a part two!

There’s nothing more heady than being able to join in with a group of people who have the same likes you do and find friends to share those things with. (You know how a lot of authors say they find their beta readers and ARC reviewers through their reader groups? This is what I’m talking about. Your readers become more than your readers because you share the same interests and you grow close to each other over time.)

It probably won’t help when I say that building a platform is like making friends because to us introverts, making friends is the scariest thing in the world, and something we aren’t good at. It requires opening up a little bit, sharing things about ourselves, and there’s always a risk of rejection when we do that. On the other hand, maybe it’s not so scary if we can already approach people with things that we have in common. A lot of what making a friend entails is weeding through all the similarities and differences, and sometimes we find that the things that we don’t share in common outweigh what we do. Then the relationship fizzles out. When that happens, what’s the worst outcome? An unsubscribe? A potential reader won’t go on to buy your books? That’s okay. We don’t need fake friends in real life, and we don’t need to hang on to people who won’t read our books.

Trying to get a new pen name off the ground has required a lot of revelations and scrutiny into the past five years to see what I’ve been doing wrong, and figuring out what I’ve done right. That may be a different post. But anyway, how can you make friends through your newsletter and social media? More importantly, how can you make friends in your genre that will draw in readers who will stick with you throughout your career? What do you have to offer them? If you say not much, go read a book in your genre, go watch a movie you can recommend that has the same vibe as your book. See what happens.

Have a good week, everyone! Next week I’ll probably play with how to make a video and record doing one of my book covers. I’ve been getting a lot of requests on how to make a romance cover with only Canva and minimal skill, too. Here’s my latest one I did for the book I’m going to release in the fall. I may do a tutorial on how I did it.

Until next time!

Monday Musings and Author Update

Hi! It is so good to be back. It feels like forever since I’ve blogged, andI I thank my guest bloggers and my author interviewee for the the time they took out of their busy schedules to help me out while I recuperated from surgery. Four weeks post-op, I’m feeling better. I’m surprised, really, at how it knocked me off my feet and I was wondering if the surgery did what I wanted it to do. But four weeks isn’t that long, and I feel like over the weekend I turned a corner of sorts. Right now I’m just trying to take it easy and work as my body allows.

What am I working on now?

Despite being laid up, I finished listening to my 6 book series, again. Rewriting to “take” out the takes and makes, come and gives (two other words I found I like to use a lot) was worth it though it did set me back a few weeks. I did the same thing with my reader magnet and duet, and I just finished that up a few days ago. It seems I can’t merge my business brain with my creative brain, (which may spell trouble for me later on down the road) and I wasn’t able to set up my newsletter and get that going until I was done editing. But I do have my reader magnet set up in Bookfunnel, and I figured out how to integrate my Bookfunnel account with my Mailerlite account. When someone opts in to my newsletter after they download my book, they’ll receive a welcome and thank you email that I created as an autoresponder. It took a lot of figuring things out, but I was able to add two and two and actually get four (though I think it took me about four hours). A friend tested it for me as by then I had run out of email addresses to try, and it worked for her. But I’m going to ask a couple more people if they’ll test it for me before I start promoting it. All I have to say is, thank goodness for YouTube!

Now that that’s out of the way, I can start formatting my duet. I’ve been getting a little feedback from a couple people in an FB group about the blurbs, and Sami Jo (I did her author interview last week) and I have been trading back and forth. She gave me a couple suggestions, so at least the hard part of that is done. It’s looking like if I continue to feel better and nothing else comes up, I can put the first one on preorder sometime in June. I still need a couple of weeks to proof the paperback proofs, so I don’t want to rush. I need to put my first book on preorder for a week or so so I have time to claim my Amazon author page, my Goodreads author page, my Bookbub author page and start running some low cost Amazon ads. I don’t want to put the preorder up for longer than a week though, because preorders that don’t do anything can hurt you, and as a “new” author without one person waiting for my book, no one is going to preorder it. Dave Chesson has a great YouTube video explaining this, and you can watch it here:

Once I get all that done, it’s time for a break! Just kidding. I need to re-edit the fake fiancé standalone I’m going to release sometime in September or October, and once that’s done and the cover finalized (I think I’m going to swap it out though that will cause some extra work for me) I want to write a Christmas novel to release in November. I have some kind of an idea, a second chance trope, I think, but only a glimmer of a plot. So we’ll see what happens. That means four books this year squished together, but I’ll be releasing 6 in 2023 because I’m tired of looking at that series and just want it done. During that time I need to finish a series I started last year (2/6 done) and after THAT I think I can slow down and fall into a three books a year schedule since I can promote my backlist by then.

Craft Tip:

While I’ve been trying to recuperate I started watching the Marvel movies again. My sister and I watched them during lockdown when our movie theaters closed since I hadn’t seen them before and it gave us something to do. Since then, I’ve become obsessed with piecing together each movie into the whole. There is so much going on within each movie and the over-reaching arc of the entire plot. I have watched all the movies once, and my favorites ended up being the last two since I have a thing for post apoc, and l love when Scott pops out of the quantum realm not knowing what Thanos did. So the other night I watched Captain America and it struck me as Steve and Peggy were talking about finding the right dance partner, that the end scene of Endgame where Steve and Peggy are dancing circled back to that first movie and their conversation. I think that is a brilliant example of tying the beginning of a story to the end and wrapping things up. Much like my speech teacher told us to tie in the end of our speech to the thesis statement at the beginning, there’s a sense of closure when you reference the beginning in the end. I don’t know if I always do this, as I write romance and the ending is already laid out, but I’m going to keep this in mind going forward. If you haven’t watched the Marvel movies, I would give them a try if only to pick them apart story-wise. They drive me crazy, but in a good way.

What I’m loving right now:

I can’t say I’m really loving this, but the Six Figure Author podcast ended last week. I will miss them, but I’ve come to realize that you can listen to all the marketing advice out there but if you’re writing in a small niche or something “out of the box” you’ve already chosen a rough path for yourself. The book content needs to come first and then the marketing advice, and I’ve been working on the subgenre/story/tropes and studying the covers of the newest releases, so the technical part of marketing has kind of fallen to the wayside and when it comes to listening, I’m behind. Toward the end of the last podcast, each host gave their own advice and it was heartening to hear that they all thought that a new author could still make it in this business, though it may take longer than it would have ten years ago or even five years ago. Indies are getting savvy with content, covers, and blurbs and slapping something together isn’t going to work anymore, not if you want to compete. Quality is the number one factor when starting up an author career, and even if you think your book is up to par, it may not be. If you want to listen to their last podcast, you can do it here.

Another thing that I’ve been loving is this book, Titans Rising: Publishing in the 21st Century. The sub, subtitle says it’s about writing SFF and Horror, but the lessons can be applied to any genre. I’m half of the way through it, and while they do talk a lot about SSF and Horror, they also talk about the publishing industry as a whole, a conversation I’m always eager to listen in on.

That’s Blaze, and she’s rowdy.

By the way, I saw someone on Twitter charging 17 dollars for something like this. While her video was just a little longer and it had more elements, it’s not worth paying for. I made this in Canva in two minutes. You want one, I’ll do it for free. FFS.

That’s all I have for this week. Not much has changed in the past month, though I’m making progress. I’m excited to publish again and even more excited that I’m figuring out some of the technical stuff with my newsletter.

Enjoy your week, everyone!

Author Interview: Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy Author SJ Cairns

I met Sami-Jo through a friend and through the years of writing we’ve stayed in touch. I asked her if she would be willing to answer some questions as her publishing journey has been a little twisty, and I always like to pick the brains of people who have had different experiences than me. I hope you enjoy her interview and sign up for her newsletter to stay in touch with her and her publishing journey!


You’ve been published by small presses up until now. Can you explain the pros and cons that go with publishing with a small press?

  • The absolute best part of having a publisher behind you is that they’re using their own money. Sounds shallow, but while writing can be pure magic, publishing is a whole other mangy beast that incurs a lot of costs for multiple editors, book cover design, formatting, and anything that includes a dollar sign to put out the best possible product.

The downside is that someone else has their grip on your work. They usually get the lion’s share of any profit, you’re bound by their publishing schedule (though it’s quicker than traditional publishing) when all you want to do is hit PUBLISH, and the author is still expected to do their own marketing. Oh! And they can go under at any moment. A plague amongst many small presses since the publisher is sometimes no more than a single person or two with some loyal people to work out all the kinks. When you’re in your groove and suddenly the publisher disappears, your books become homeless. It can be heartbreaking.

You’re looking at self-publishing for the first time. What do you think the biggest challenge of that will be?

  • Not knowing just how much I don’t know about the process is super daunting. There’s so much to learn if you want to do it right and make an impact right from day one. And, come on, who doesn’t want an amazing launch that catapults your book to the top of some fancy best-seller lists? It’s the dream, but it means more work and since I have a newly minted two-year old, spare time is in short supply. I have to-do lists coming out of my ears.

The series you’re working on will have several books in it by the time you’re done. Do you have any tips for how a writer can put together and publish a large project like that?

  • I never intended to write a series, but it’s the small things that can make you want to shave your head. Is this word usually capitalized? Does this character already know such-and-such about this character? Was this character’s eyes green or brown? It’s never-ending. A series bible can help by making extensive notes about things such as special words and how they’re used or spelled, having handy character bios including all physical attributes and important events, but be prepared to search back for things when needed. After multiple drafts and rounds of editing, some details are branded in your brain, but do yourself a favor, assume you won’t remember it all, and write it down.

Since you’ve been writing and publishing, what is the biggest lesson you’ve learned?

  • That you can’t read and reread a contract before signing enough. Not a happy lesson, but an important one. When you’ve spent years on a project and plan on putting it in someone else’s hands, it’s takes an enormous amount of trust. And whether you know the people behind the label or not, publishing is a business and should be treating like one.

I think, during these times in particular, it’s difficult to stay motivated and on track. With a husband and a little one, along with a part-time job, how do you stay motivated to write?

  • I think the motivation comes for wanting something for myself. I loved writing before having my daughter and it took far too long to get back in front of my laptop, especially after losing my office to her nursery. Writing and publishing is something I enjoy. Being motivated and having the time to utilize that motivation is not always aligned and I repeatedly have to give myself a kick in the ass to get things done when the timing lines up. Motivation is not a one-time deal, it takes daily effort and prioritizing.

You’ve done everything from blogging on your website to vlogging on YouTube. What is your favorite social media platform and why? And can you give us some tips on how to find time for that in a busy schedule?

  • I tend to use Facebook the most. Some hate it, but I firmly believe that all social media platforms are as good as you cultivate them to be. Your domain, your control. I wouldn’t be published at all if it wasn’t for the writing relationships made on Facebook. If you can figure out your ideal reader, create content with them in mind, and try and have some fun while doing it, you’re golden. Social media is more to connect with people and, if they are readers, they may follow you and your titles based off how they feel about you as a person. These days, the author is as much the product as their book is. Create a bunch of things on a free day or weekend and then schedule their posts along the week or month when you know you won’t have time. There’s lots of programs that can do that for you.

In closing, what’s on your plate for the rest of 2022? And do you have the next couple of years mapped out?

  • My plan is muddy, but I can vaguely see it somewhere in there. Not ironclad, but my hope is to learn a few more (a million more) things about self-publishing, devise a re-release schedule for the 4 already published books in the Soul Seer Chronicles series while finishing up book 5 and tackling book 6 (They ALL need new covers). Also, to work on another series I haven’t announced yet. Oh, and developing my newsletter subscribers, marketing materials, and update my website. Phew. It’s fine. I’m fine. I can do this. The biggest drive is just to get my books back out there. Not being a published author right now actually feels odd and I’m not a fan. Though, being in control of my titles is super empowering and I am looking forward to reintroducing them to people all over again.

Find SJ on her website: sjcairns.co
Sign up for her newsletter: sjcairns.com/newsletter-sign-up

Until next time!

Guest Blogger: Six Great Reasons to Write Short Fiction by Vera Brook

SIX GREAT REASONS TO WRITE SHORT FICTION

By Vera Brook

You may have glanced at the title of this post and shrugged. “I write novels and series. I’m not interested in short fiction.” Maybe you even rolled your eyes. “It’s just not worth my time.” 

But wait! Don’t go away yet. I promise there are great reasons to consider writing short fiction alongside your novels and series—both to hone your craft and to market your longer fiction and reach new readers. So let’s dive in and discuss six of these reasons, shall we? 

Actually, it might be helpful to first define short fiction. I dwell in the world of science fiction and fantasy, and in that world, we break down short fiction into four main lengths. Flash fiction is typically 250 to 1000 or 1500 words; a short story is between1500 and 7500 words (with 3000 to 5000 words considered a sweet spot); a novelette is 7500 to 17500 words; and a novella is 17500 to 40000 words. Anything longer than 40000 words is a novel. Other genres may use different definitions, so it’s good to familiarize yourself with some short fiction in your genre. 

I also want to mention from the start: if you want to write short fiction, you need to read short fiction first. Not a huge amount, but some. It will help a great deal. If you find a story that absolutely blows you away, you can study it for craft and apply what you learn in your own writing. And by searching for short fiction to read, you will also discover markets where you could submit and publish your own short fiction later on. 

How do you find short fiction to read? There is a rich plethora of short fiction magazines and anthologies out there, some in print, some digital, and many available in both formats. My favorite tool to search for magazines and anthologies (to submit to but also to read), and to track my submissions, is the Submission Grinder. You can search by genre and length, pay rate, response time, etc. And it’s absolutely free to use (although you could support the creator to help the good thing going). The Best of… anthologies are also a great choice, as long as they are pretty recent. 

Okay. Let’s first talk about the benefits of writing short fiction in terms of craft, and then about all the different ways to use short fiction to market your longer works and widen your readership.

Craft reason #1: Practice and improve your openings

sketch of woman sitting at desk. orange background text: craft reason 1: practice and improve your openings

The openings of novels are crucial. When a reader comes across your book on Kobo or Amazon, they’re very likely to open the ebook sample and read the first chapter or so. If the opening grabs them and pulls them in, they will get the book. The same happens in physical bookstores. The reader picks up a paperback and reads the first few pages. 

The opening is crucial! But how often do we get to practice writing the opening? If you write long novels, not very often. Just once per novel. Short fiction lets you practice writing different kinds of openings and get better and better at them. A super helpful skill that you can directly apply when writing your next novel.

Craft reason #2: Practice and improve your endings

sketch of woman sitting at desk, green background, text: craft reason 2: practice and improve your endings

If the opening sells your current book, the ending sells your next book (or so the saying goes, and I think it’s true). But as novelists, how many endings do we get to write? Not many. Again, just one per book. Short fiction lets us write lots of endings and different kinds of endings, and as with openings, practice makes perfect, and the improvement is directly applicable to novel writing. Stronger, more effective endings could also make a huge difference for the success of your series, where the read-through rate is critical and you want to do your best to compel the reader to jump directly to the next book in the series. 

Craft reason #3: Experiment with new genres and genre mash-ups

sketch of woman sitting at desk: aqua background, text: craft reason 3: experiment with new genres and genre mash-ups

Maybe you write crime mystery and want to try adding a speculative element, like a futuristic technology or a paranormal ability. Or vice verse: you write speculative fiction but want to venture into the psychological thriller territory. 

However, it can be daunting to jump straight into writing a novel in a new genre. Short fiction is a perfect playground to try it out and see what happens, without investing too much writing time and effort. In fact, even reading short fiction in a new genre is a great way to get the lay of the land, including popular tropes that you could play with and subvert as you wish—as long as that short fiction is current, published in the last decade or so. 

So far so good? Great. Onward to using short fiction for marketing!

Marketing reason #1: Put your writing in front of readers who love the genre

sketch of woman sitting at desk: orange background, text: Marketing reason 2: put your writing in front of readers who love the genre

Let me ask you this: What’s the biggest challenge for writers today? It’s discoverability, isn’t it? 

Whether you are self-published, with a small indie press, or with a traditional publisher, it is incredibly tough to get readers to find your book. I don’t know how many millions of books there are on Amazon, but it’s an astronomical number, and advertising is expensive. 

If only there was a way to reach the readers in your genre—the readers who are most likely to enjoy your writing—and introduce yourself to them… Well, there is! Short fiction magazines in that genre. If you can get your story published in a magazine like that, guess what will happen? Hundreds or thousands of readers who already love the genre will read your story and discover you, the author, and all your other books! I discovered some of my favorite authors that way—by reading their short story in a magazine first. 

If your flash fiction or short story or novelette gets published in a top tier market, you will also get paid a nice amount; and even better, if the contract is good, you will get paid for only for the first-publication rights and anthology rights, but you can republish your short fiction in your own collection later on. 

Imagine that! A terrific promotion—and you get paid for it, instead of the other way around. 

To be fair, the best magazines and anthologies are competitive. Don’t expect to send them your first story and get an acceptance email (although if you do, congrats!). Rather, think of short fiction as part of your writing journey. It will take time to write good short fiction; it will take time to get it published. But I truly believe it’s worth it. In fact, personally, I consider writing and submitting short fiction as important to my writing career as my novels or series, at least for now. 

One last idea: When you are done with a series, consider writing a short story in that world. In most magazines, if your story gets published, it would be accompanied by your short bio, and the bio could mention your series and encourage the readers to pick up book one. Be careful not to include spoilers in the short story. And just to be safe, you could center it on a minor character or event, rather than the major character or the main story arc. But if your story is compelling and intrigues the readers enough to want to know more, you could gain new fans for your entire series!

Marketing reason #2: Reader magnets to build your newsletter list

sketch of woman sitting at desk, mauve background, text: marketing reason 2: reader magnets to build your newsletter list

Short fiction also works great as a reader magnet (for new readers to sign up for your author newsletter). By definition, short fiction is short, and therefore takes less time and effort to write than a novel. This makes it easier to give it away for free than an entire novel, especially when you are just starting out and only have a few novels published (like I do). And a fun short story or novelette can still entertain the readers and, if they like it, bring them one step closer to becoming your fans. 

The last bit of advice on reader magnets: Use a strong, compelling short story. It should be as good as you can make it in terms of your writing craft, even if it’s short. Don’t forget that the goal is to woo and impress a new reader enough to read more of your work and become a loyal fan over time. A careless, poorly edited short story will not cut it, and you could actually lose a reader that way.   

Marketing reason #3: Gifts to reward your loyal fans and keep them engaged in between books in a series.

sketch of woman sitting at desk, yellow background, text: marketing reason 3: gift for fans to keep them engaged between books in a series

Another terrific way to use short fiction is as a gift for your loyal fans, already on your mailing list. And one time when such a gift might come in handy? When you are in between books in a series, and your fans are anxiously awaiting the next installment. Unlike with a short story that you would submit to a magazine, for new readers who are not familiar with the series, here you are writing primarily for fans who know the characters and the plot inside out. You may still want to be careful with major spoilers, just in case a few readers are behind in their reading. But you have more leeway in terms of what you could refer to in the short fiction, and it might be fine to assume quite a bit of knowledge of the series already. 

A quick mention, since this post is already getting long: Many authors use short fiction as Patreon rewards for their supporters. It’s a similar idea to gifting a short story to your fans through your newsletter. And the best part? Whenever you gift short stories to your fans, once you have enough stories, you could publish a collection of your short fiction! How cool is that? I adore individual-author collections. And it’s another book to your name, so helps with discoverability too. 

One last thing I wanted to mention: Nowadays, both reader magnets and gift copies are distributed electronically, and that’s especially true for short fiction, which may be too short to publish as a paperback. So basically, you would use an ebook version of your short story or novella to give away. You want to make sure that the ebook is correctly formatted, including epub and mobi files, but the distribution can get complicated pretty quickly because of all the reading devices out there. So my recommendation would be to use a service like BookFunnel where you can open an account (for about $20 a year currently), upload the files with your short story (you will need a cover!), set up a landing page for the readers to download the ebook, and then share the link. 

That’s all for now. I think I ran over the word limit a little bit. (Oops. Sorry, Vania. I hope that’s okay.)

Before I let you go, here are a few of my favorite resources on the craft and the marketing uses of short fiction. Best of luck with your writing!


Resources:

Writing Excuses podcast – a long-running podcast about writing and publishing fiction, with the focus on helping the listeners improve their craft and become better writers. 

Mary Robinette Kowal’s guest lecture on writing short stories – part of a series of lectures on the craft of writing science fiction and fantasy directed by Brandon Sanderson.

Kristin Kathryn Rusch’s lecture “How to Write A Short Story: The Basics” – practical advice on crafting short fiction from an award-winning, multi-genre professional writer and editor.

The Submission Grinder – a free online tool to search for short fiction markets and track your own submissions. 

The Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA)’s collection of model publishing contracts – includes anthology and magazine contracts. 


Vera Brook is a science fiction, fantasy, and romance writer, and the author of the SAND RUNNER SERIES. Her latest book, THE KISS, a paranormal love story, came out in November 2021. She’s working on two entirely new series, a standalone novel, and a whole lot of short fiction. You can learn more about her writing on her website at verabrook.com. She also tweets about her writing journey, books she loves, and things that interest her at @VeraBrook1.

Copyright © 2022 by Vera Brook

Guest Blogger: The Pitfalls and Perks of Being a Multi-Genre Author by Barbara Avon

The Pitfalls and Perks of Being a Multi-Genre Author

I’m going to speak from my heart in this blog post about the pitfalls and perks of being a Multi-genre Author. Who am I, if not honest and true to myself? In turn, I’m going to convey those feelings to you. Keep in mind that these are my personal thoughts on the subject. This article is not about trying to sway your opinion. It’s about my personal experience. 

The pitfalls – There are none. 

The perks – There are many.

I’ll start by elaborating on the fact that I don’t feel like there are any pitfalls (or roadblocks) to being an author who writes in various genres. I consider myself more of a “storyteller”. I’m like the grandmother who beckons the children to sit at her feet and asks them what kind of story they would like to hear. 

I never considered “boxing myself in” when it came to writing stories. There are infinite stories to tell, and so far, I have explored writing romance, horror (including paranormal and psychological), fantasy (time travel), literary fiction, thriller, and even children’s books. Compare writing in multiple genres to dreaming. Do you dream in only one colour? Do your dreams encapsulate only one type of scenario? Probably not. I let my mind take me where it wants to take me. I let my imagination flow freely. Being an Independent (or Indie) author, I am allowed that freedom of expression. I don’t report back to anyone (i.e., an agent, or publisher) to ensure that my story fits a trend. My name is not synonymous with any one genre; in fact, my name, and brand, are synonymous with being multi-genre. (Or that is my goal at least.) I don’t wish to be know as “Barbara Avon – Romance Author”. I wish to be known as “Barbara Avon – Author.”

I’m often asked this question: “Do you use your real name across genres?” 

Yes, I do. 

The inevitable follow up question to that is: “Does it hinder or help?”

So far, I have not had any reader tell me that they are put off by my choice to write in different genres. In fact, I had a very good friend honour me by saying that I inspired them to try their hand at writing different genres, which brings me to “the perks”. 

I can revel in different worlds. I allow myself to explore not just a romantic situation, but a horrific one, or one that will let me travel in time, or one where I thwart the evil villain. Is this a “perk”? Yes, because I’m going to put it simply: Life is too short for me to prohibit myself or allow myself to stifle my creativity. 

I started this journey later in life. I was 42 when I self-published my first book. Growing up, I used my imagination to escape the doldrums of daily life. I was a shy kid, and especially so when I switched schools and became the “new kid”. I was often alone, reading, listening to music, dreaming. I started writing angsty poetry in my teenage years. When I was awarded an A + for my short story in high school English Class, that was it. I caught the writing bug and knew that one day I would write a novel. What is my biggest regret? It’s that I didn’t start sooner. That’s what I mean about “life being too short”. I had a lot of time to make up for. My first three books are romantic suspense, but (inspired by the great Jack Finney), I thought to myself, “Why can’t I write time travel too? Why can’t I at least try?” They are merely words. Place them strategically one after and another, and eventually, you’ve created something out of nothing. I soon realized that I could write time travel, and then horror, and I even became a serial killer in a book or two. 

I have a box of all my books. It’s a time capsule, of sorts. I want it passed down to family throughout generations, and between the pages, they will catch glimpses of who I was. Because there are many facets to a person’s personality, there is so much to learn about me through my words. Yes, it’s fiction, but authors leave a piece of themselves on the page.

I want to state a very obvious perk: I have the chance to reach more readers. I have the chance to romance someone, or scare someone, or help someone skip through decades. When I started this journey, I had a group of loyal readers (who resided locally) who read each of my books, regardless of the genre. It was clear to me that I wasn’t chained by genre, and the creative freedom remains exhilarating to this day. As an Indie I also have control over cover design, marketing; everything that has to do with publishing a book, from start to finish. I am my own publisher, but let’s face it, readers don’t care if I’m Indie. They want a good story, period. As a reader myself, I want a good story, period. Fiction is our greatest escape, and it thrills me to know that I can help someone escape their life, if even for a few hours.

Here’s my advice if it’s advice that you seek. Do it. If you are a horror writer who has always wanted to delve into fantasy, do it. If you prefer to write under a pen name, do that too. When it comes to pursuing a desire, I’ve always said that I’d rather regret something I did, than regret never doing it at all. 

What’s next for me? After publishing a romance last November, I am currently working on a psychological horror. Later this year, I’ll be publishing another romance. After that, a Christmas story (as is my tradition every year). I’m also asked, “Is there any genre you won’t tackle?” Yes, I will never be able to write Science Fiction. (Side note – I leave science out of time travel stories.) I also would never be able to write Historical Fiction (1900s and earlier), or Regency Romances. (I’m in awe of my fellow authors who are able to expertly write in those genres.) However, I do want to try my hand at romantic comedy soon. I also love marrying genres! No one says that you can’t write a horror story with a romantic subplot. In fact, it’s my brand: “Love is the most remarkable magic – Even in horror.”

When will I stop writing? Never. Not as long as I have my senses and use of my hands. My books will last forever, but I will not. That is the greatest perk of being multi-genre. I’m immortal through my books. I was able to traverse multiple different worlds – and what a ride it was.  

Barbara Avon – Multi-Genre Author
Browse all my books here — Barbara Avon on Direct.me 

Barb’s new release, R E V I V E D is available now!
Check out R E V I V E D and other titles on her Amazon author page.
Happy Reading!

Monday Author Update: Spring is Here!

There isn’t a whole lot going on with me–I’m in surgery today and I have some great guest posts lined up for the next three weeks. Barbara Avon is writing about being a multi-genre author on April 4th. She’ll also have a new book out by then, so watch for that! Vera Brook will be blogging about the benefits of writing short fiction, and that will post on April 11th, and I interviewed Paranormal Romance and Urban Fantasy author SJ Cairns for the 18th. That interview will have a giveaway, as well, so make sure you pop in!


I’m still plugging away trying to rewrite sentences to “take” out take and make out of my manuscripts. Those are just two crutch words I fell back on when I switched to 1st person present and I didn’t notice. After this series, I’m going to read over my reader magnet again and buff that up. While I start to build my newsletter signups after I edit my reader magnet one more time, I’ll have to edit my duet again. I mean, those words aren’t crazy to the point where the books sound bad or I would have hopefully noticed a lot sooner, but I can’t deny that the sentences are stronger when they’re rewritten. It’s such a drag, especially since I probably used those words in ALL my books, and I have two more books in a series I started and four more standalones that I’ll need to re-edit.

If you want to know what I’m talking about, I’ll give you an example:

Zarah will have that same power. I see glimpses of it when she’s feeling good. It makes me proud of her, but her legacy isn’t something I can comprehend.

This is a sentence from the fourth book of my series. You can see the “makes me proud” part of that sentence. I do that…all the time. In this example, it’s easy to fix it from that to simply, I’m proud of her, but her legacy isn’t something I can comprehend.

You might not think it’s a big deal, but when I do this 250 times in an 80k novel, it’s a bit much.

Another example is something like this: She stands from the couch and takes the pill bottle I gave her off her desk.

Rewriting this is simple too: She stands from the couch and lifts the pill bottle I gave her off her desk.

I use “takes” a lot as a verb (I used the word on average 200 times per novel) and it’s as boring as “got” and “get.” (In the book I’m reading now–the author uses “get” 300 times, and “got” 164 times, which is really distracting. But she doesn’t have my problem, and she uses “takes” only 70 times. Haha. We all have our issues.)

It’s not difficult to find a better verb, and the sentence is stronger and reads better.

As I said, it’s not time consuming, but when my brain is stuck, figuring out a different way to say the same thing can be difficult.

That pushes back my launch of my duet even longer than I had anticipated, surgery aside, but I’m trying to convince myself that’s a good thing. I want to launch this pen name strong, start off with a solid foundation because I’m tired of doing things the wrong way and wondering why nothing is working. And the very last thing I want to do is publish a book and have to re-edit it. I hate that. Part of my process for this new pen name is to try like hell not to mess up a release so I don’t have to go back and fix anything.

So, that’s my life. Editing, trying to set things up so I can launch my duet. My best hope now is to have my duet out this summer sometime. I don’t need long to re-edit a book, but sometimes I feel like it I need a lot of brainpower to rewrite a sentence. It’s actually pretty easy, but when your brain is stuck on something, you need to jiggle it loose and figure out another way to say the same thing. I don’t aim to take out all of them–I believe you can edit so much you edit out your style and your voice and I don’t want to do that–but now that I see them, I can’t unsee them, and I can see where my brain would get stuck in that rhythm while I was writing.


There’s a lot of talk about writing conferences this year, but I’m not going anywhere. Not because of COVID, just because I have so much in virtual stuff both paid and free to get through that I don’t have time to go anywhere. As much as I would love to be able to network in person, I would like to have some books out too, so I’m focusing on editing, publishing, and building my newsletter through social media while trying to consume the content I’ve paid for.

On a happier note, I looked at MailerLite’s emails, and they aren’t getting rid of their classic design. I don’t need to redo or relearn anything when it comes to my newsletter, so that was welcome news. But since I upgraded to a BookFunnel’s integration I’ll need to figure that out before I start promoting my reader magnet.


The Six Figure Author Podcast with Lindsay Buroker, Jo Lallo, and Andrea Pearson is ending soon. I was pretty bummed when they announced it during their last episode, but I can see where the podcast would be time consuming. Jo said in the comments of this episode they’re leaving their FB group up, so that’s nice. It’s a great resource for indie authors, and maybe they’ll post their career updates there instead of sharing on their podcast. If you want to listen to their latest episode, you can find it here:

I will try to update you all when I’m feeling better, probably on a Thursday since Mondays are booked for the next three weeks (which takes a lot off my mind) and I’m thankful I have friends willing to help me when I’m in a tight spot.

I hope you enjoy the guest posts and enjoy the warming temperatures! I know I will.

Working on your craft: Can you publish without an editor?

So, there was an interesting question that came up in one of my Facebook writing groups, and essentially, she asked, Can you really make a living publishing without an editor?

Considering that’s what I’m trying to do with my new pen name because I can’t afford to hire out, it piqued my interest.

All the answers, as you would imagine said, of course you need an editor. I was the only one who said, not so fast. There are a lot of variables when deciding something like that, and some of the questions I threw back at her were, How long have you been writing? Have you ever gotten feedback before, like, ever? Do you have a good memory to keep track of your own (in)consistencies and details? If you don’t know how to write a catchy beginning, avoid a saggy middle, create interesting and meaningful character arcs, and know your grammar and punctuation backward and forward, then you’ll probably need help. (It also helps immensely if you know what you don’t know and have the wherewithal to look it up.) During the first couple of years when decided to try write books to publish, I needed help, and I did use editors and beta readers. That was back when I had a large circle of friends who were willing to trade or charge very little and we all came through for each other. Now most of those friends are gone, and I’m alone. I said in my post, if you’ve written enough words to find your voice and style, then you’re one step ahead of most newbie authors. I’ve edited for a few new writers, and no amount of good editing will fix bad writing. The writer first has to give you something to work with, and if s/he doesn’t….

If you, or the original poster of that question, are looking for an easy way out, there isn’t one. Writing is like any other skill and it takes practice and a knowledge of the genre you’re trying to write in.

I admit, I love a writing craft book, and I read them all, but some of them get too formulaic, and I can’t follow. I tried reading Save the Cat! Writes a Novel: The Last Book On Novel Writing You’ll Ever Need by Jessica Brody, and it just wasn’t for me. (She also has a blog that you may find helpful.) The way Jessica broke down a novel’s components made my head spin. Another book I’ve read, (though not recently) is Romancing the Beat: Story Structure for Romance Novels (How to Write Kissing Books) by Gwen Hayes. Romance authors a million times over swear by this book, but I just couldn’t make it work for me. And it’s not because I’m a pantser and want to write as I discover the story. I’m a plantser, and have a general idea of how I want the story to go, what the characters’ backstories are and their emotional wounds from their pasts that haven’t healed and how they affect their futures, which is what any romance book is about. But turning writing into a formula, or consciously chopping up my plot into the three act structure is really difficult for me to grasp and I can’t do it. The only two things I do with regards to planning that way is making sure something happens at the 50% mark to avoid the saggy middle (the Mirror Moment as James Scott Bell calls it), and breaking up my characters around the 75% mark, because that’s most what romances do. To be honest, them breaking up and thinking all hope is lost is my favorite part of any romance, and I would do it anyway.

When you’re a new writer, betas or developmental editors are valuable. They’ll tell you where the story drags, if you’ve rushed your ending, if your characters have no substance, and over time, if you listen to their feedback, your writing will smooth out and you’ll start to include those elements naturally. I don’t think any writer who is writing a debut novel will have all that figured out, never mind having written enough to find their voice and style. It’s why whenever I see a writer saying they are querying their first ever book, I say good luck, because chances are, your book will sound like you’re a brand new writer, and an agent can’t sell that.

It’s really not fair, because a lot of good writing comes from gut instinct, or following an intuition that you’ve honed over a million words. You develop your own formula based on genre expectations and how you twist those reader expectations to make your tropes fresh and new. All that comes with practice and listening to feedback.

Once you have your voice and style down, once you know you can deliver to your readers, then yeah, I think you don’t need an editor, not someone who will deep-clean your manuscript, though it does mystify me how many people get angry when I say it. (I even left a Facebook group over it.) I don’t know if it’s because they resent having to use an editor, or are just defensive of indie publishing as a whole and how much crap is published on, let’s face it, a daily basis, or what. I really don’t know what makes people so mad when I say it, but that doesn’t make it less untrue. Besides, no one has any idea how hard someone will work not to need an editor. I read craft books like crazy, read in my genre (though not as much as I should) and write. Maybe that’s the issue people have? They aren’t writing? Look, it doesn’t matter who you are, you need to practice to get better, and that goes for anything you want to try to master. Olympic gold medalists have been honing their skills in their chosen sports since childhood. Same as musicians. But I suppose if you have twenty hours a week to write, and you’re talking to someone who only has five free hours a week, yeah, maybe there will be a little resentment there. I write a lot. I don’t have many friends, I work from home, I don’t go out much. When I’m not working, doing chores, running errands, or going to Tuesday movie night with my sister, I’m writing. That’s not something I’m going to apologize for, and neither should you if someone is giving you a hard time.

In reality, it’s a moot point, anyway. I know 6 and 7 figure authors with one-star reviews that say they needed an editor, when I know that hiring an editor is part of their publishing process. You won’t please everyone, so you might as well be honest. If you need help, get help, and if you can write a good story without help, don’t worry about it. You can’t achieve perfection, and I’ve already said this will be the last time I go through my 6 book series. I will ALWAYS be able to find something to change, but I need to let them go. I’m tired and I have many other stories in my head that I want to get onto the page.

So, how do you make your writing better, level up so you don’t need an editor?

Read a lot in your genre. A lot of developmental editing is finding those tropes and elements that make your genre what it is and helping you meet those reader expectations. You won’t know what those expectations are unless you read a lot in your genre. I know this stinks like writing to market, but every genre, be it romance, domestic thrillers, detective novels, have elements that you can’t leave out or you’ll just make readers mad. Writing a good story is all about the overall picture as much as knowing where your commas go.

Listen to feedback early in your career. When I first started writing again, it took me a lot of feedback to find my groove. My very first beta who volunteered pointed out all the “justs” and “thats” and that was my first lesson in filler words. That was a great start to learning what I was doing wrong. Another beta/editor told me to trust my readers because I had a habit of “reminding” them of what they’ve read in previous chapters. That was another great lesson, and one I still apply today when I find myself rehashing information. Repetition is tedious and boring. Echoing was another thing people pointed out to me, and I still do it, and it’s part of my editing to delete or replace repeated words. That’s one of the reasons why I’m going through my series again when I thought I was done. Because I found a couple of words that I used over and over and over again and I wanted to tighten up my sentences. Those are words I will always watch out for now, and you can make your own list of filler and crutch words to refer back to when you’re creating your own editing process.

Work on new projects. I learned a lot working on different books, and it’s the only way you’ll be able to practice crafting an engaging plot. As Kathryn Kristen Rusch says, rewriting will only teach you rewriting. You need to work on fresh projects to move forward.

Realize it will take time. “They” say you need to write a million words before you find your voice. I think that’s true–I wrote a 5 book fantasy series that will never see the light of day, plus a few novellas, and a book that would turn into book one of my first trilogy before I found my stride. That was in 3rd person past. I wrote a quarter of a million words in first person present before I found my voice in that POV, and I can tell reading through my series. That’s why I was so paranoid editing these books–I wanted book one to sound like book five, and it did take me a few extra thousand words added to books one, two, and three for them to smooth out and sound as good as books four, five, and six.

I feel bad for the beginning writer with no writing friends or money for resources. But as they say, if you don’t have money to spend, then you have to spend time, and that might mean swapping projects with another author who is in the same position as you. That’s not a bad thing. You can learn a lot editing for someone else, so it’s a great idea to join author groups on Facebook and make friends with authors who write in your genre. You’ll get help, and you’ll help others, so it’s a win-win for you and your writing career.

This was a very long introduction to what was supposed to be a list of craft books that have helped me. I linked to Save the Cat Writes a Novel and Romancing the Beat above. Just because they didn’t work for me, doesn’t mean they won’t work for you, and you should definitely give them a try.

It’s surprising but one of the books that helped me a lot isn’t necessarily a craft book. It’s The Bestseller Code: Anatomy of the Blockbuster Novel by Jodie Archer and Matthew L. Jockers. This breaks down why bestsellers sell the way they do. This might be my favorite book in the whole world because it mixes craft and the publishing industry. I love it. I can’t recommend it enough.

The second book that changed my life is Tiffany Yates Martin’s book, Intuitive Editing: A Creative and Practical Guide to Revising Your Writing. I love everything about this book. She reminded me about conflict, character arcs, character motivation, and stakes. Important elements that, if you skip or miss, will make any book fall flat. You need tension, and this book will help you find it. There’s even a section that mentions other editing resources if you can’t hire out. If you like audiobooks, she posted on Twitter she narrated it herself! (She also blogs, and you can sign up for her newsletter.)

Though I haven’t read it for a long time, it was one of the first self-editing books I ever read, and it helped me a lot: Self-Editing On a Penny: A Comprehensive Guide by Ashlyn Forge.

This book made so much sense. It was a real eye-opener, and now I recommend it to every new author: VOICE: The Secret Power of Great Writing (Bell on Writing) by James Scott Bell.

When I went to the Santa Barbara Writer’s Conference a few years ago, every agent in attendance said this book is a must have. I do have it, and it’s a great resource: Self-Editing for Fiction Writers, Second Edition: How to Edit Yourself Into Print by Renni Browne and Dave King.

Someone recommended this book to me, and his sense of humor keeps this book from reading like a textbook–it was an enjoyable read, and I also learned a lot: Dreyer’s English: An Utterly Correct Guide to Clarity and Style by Benjamin Dreyer.

And last, but not least, Mignon Fogarty’s grammar guide is a must have. Written in a light, conversational tone, Grammar Girl is easy to understand, and she goes through everything you need to learn grammar and punctuation for all of your writing projects: Grammar Girl’s Quick and Dirty Tips for Better Writing (Quick & Dirty Tips) (Quick & Dirty Tips)

This post turned into its own animal, and that’s okay. Thanks for reading if you’ve gotten this far. In an age where everything is pay to play, including beta readers, even if you have plans to hire out, making your manuscript as perfect as possible will save you money. The less your editor/proofer has to do for you, the better for your wallet. You’ll never regret teaching yourself as much as you can. I haven’t.

Thanks for reading!

***Per usual, this post does not contain any affiliate links, and the book covers are screen grabs from Amazon.