All-Purpose Writing Thread!


The book I wrote in 15 days is coming back from my editor tomorrow (what was I thinking! - LOL). So far, no big red flags from him. Pre-order is doing decent so far. Since it’s a new series, I’m sticking with .99 for the pre-order and the first week that the book is available. Basically, I’m testing a bunch of new marketing techniques. I haven’t had a great selling book in about 8 months - crossing my fingers.

Anyway, in a crazy plan to cut down on book production costs, I’ve now watched enough youtube videos to create book titles. My girlfriend has a sharp eye, and she helped me with the title, colors, and picking out images that would fit the theme.


So I only have real experience writing journal papers and prose essays, but the past couple of years I have been hammering away at fiction every now and then as I think it’s a challenge to do well and I enjoy it.

I am working on a novel (about 20k in), but I also finished a novella a couple of months ago that was around 25 or so thousand words.

Anyway, the reason for this post is that I decided to submit this novella to the Kindle Singles program, and I did this January the 17th. They said in an automatic reply that it will take them 6 weeks to review it and then they’ll let me know either way.

I am still waiting for a further response, and I don’t know whether to think it’s a good or bad sign. If they thought it looked dumb and didn’t even read it they probably would have tossed it in a bin and sent an automated rejection email, do you think? Or just as likely it was put in a bin long ago and they forgot to reply back. Does anyone here have experiences either way with acceptance/rejection time? I think it’s pretty good (well of course I do I wrote it), and it isn’t short either.


Crusis, that’s a great cover. What do YouTubes have to do with titles? Maybe that’s my problem. I need to watch more YouTubes. :)

Tim, good luck with the submission. I have heard of Kindle Singles, but have never tried it myself. You never know how these things are going to work out. One of my very first submissions got picked up for Modern Love in the NYT, so good things can happen. I’ve submitted and been rejected from plenty of other places since then.


It’s a lot less exciting, but Nathaniel Cannon and the Lost City of Pitu, my second self-published e-novella, released today. (Amazon link, but it’s basically everywhere via Smashwords, too.)

Rather than the super-intense live choose-your-own-adventure story I did for the last release day, I’m doing a much more chill Smashwords giveaway of my previous novella, We Sail Off To War. The coupon code XZ44C should work for five free copies for Qt3 people.

I’m still shopping a short story or two around, but I don’t expect many bites on one of them, and the other has been sitting on someone’s desk at Asimov’s for a long time now, so unfortunately, I haven’t had much success on the traditional publication front.


@crusis that looks phenomenal for an amateur cover. Seriously. One simple thing you might try is to make the text just a teeny bit warmer. You don’t want it to look yellow, or hurt the legibility (which is good right now) but the white is pretty stark against the background. Give a creamy off-white a try.

Grays, @Fishbreath


That looks great @crusis

I need to watch those videos :)


Nice cover, @crusis, and great work, @Fishbreath!

Note btw Sheila over at Asimov’s has apparently suffered some kind of slush-related trauma this year, and their response time is now the worst in the genre pro-scale world. There are plenty of respectable markets that offer 1-60 day responses, instead of the 150+ currently the case at Asimov’s. Since even a decently publishable but not award-winning story has only something like a 1-5% chance of publication from slush, you can calculate how many submissions you’ll need to have a reasonable chance.

Apart from just being brilliant from the starting gate, really what you have to do is write a bunch of stories and keep writing and submitting them until you can start selling with anything like reliability. I’m somewhere quite low on the upward arc toward that level. Most people need hundreds of subs to get to that point. For me an acceptance is no longer the most amazing surprise ever, but odds are still hugely against any given submission of mine being accepted. I still have a long way to go before I can be one of those authors who sells everything they write, and who doesn’t even submit to slush anymore because everything is solicited…

@Gordon_Cameron: fun stuff!

@Tim_N Assume all estimates of response time are completely wrong by a factor of 100% on average. But on the Submission Grinder you can see what recent response times were and how long you can probably expect. When your purple dot is far beyond the mass of unresponded-to stripes, it’s time to send a query. Anyway, Kindle Singles will almost certainly get back to you eventually, but I wouldn’t wait for the reply underwater. For certain publishers I respect their “no simultaneous submissions” rule because they are responsive and I know they will eventually at least send a form. For others, they are so iffy on replies that a submission to them is like a cry into the void, so you might as well seek other markets at the same time.


Oops. I meant “book covers”, not titles. Giggity!

That’s a good point. The issue is that when the cover is postage stamp size, on Amazon, it’s hard to read in other colors. I do about 90% of my sales on kindle, so it has to stand out. I even tried putting a simple gradient on the title, but it took away from readability as well.


Yeah, that’s why I said a warmer white, but still white. The fact you are thinking about what the thumbnail looks like already puts you above a large number of the self-pubs.


I remember reading that Elmore Leonard had a rejection or two early in his career but after that everything he wrote he sold. He didn’t say if everything he sent out was an acceptance, but everything did sell.

I’ve read his stuff, including his early westerns, and it’s uniformly excellent and very commercial, so it doesn’t surprise me. Still, an impressive track record.


Thanks, @Miramon. I suspected something was up at Asimov’s, going by the submission grinder’s timeline, so I sent a query letter this morning and will decide if I want to withdraw and try elsewhere when I hear back.

On another note, I think I’ve said so before, but thanks for your input and advice to those of us less far along. (That goes for the other more successful folks here, too.) I think I speak for everyone in the latter category when I say we really appreciate it.


Trying some new launch strategies with the new book. I’m taking a chance and pricing this book at .99 until it’s released. I’ve also paid for a couple of ads to run the first two days of release. I’ve found that getting a lot of pre-orders early can lead to fast reviews. I have a new plea at the end of the book that politely begs for a review. It’s something like “Hi. I’m a full-time write and I make my living from my books. Please review” then I offer an incentive for a review. In this case, it’s a a couple of free ebooks, even if it’s a bad review. Is this sleazy? Maybe, but people are busy, and time is money. I think the least I can do is offer a little incentive for their time.

I went ahead and setup a pre-order for the sequel. There’s a link at the end of the book that takes readers to the sequel on Amazon. I’m hoping my readers like the book, and quickly order the next one in the series.

I’d like to offer one piece of advice to every author. Start your mailing list now. Don’t wait. I started my mailing list very late in the game, and it’s hurt me. I have about 450 subscribers, but it should be in the 1,000s. Still, even with such a small list, I find great gains. I mailed my list today, and had 50+ pre-orders, and the book catapulted into a number of best seller lists. Those lists mean visibility, and nothing more. The also put the book on the all important “Also bought” that show up under other author’s books.

I might have shared some of this in the past. Sorry if I’m sounding like a broken record.

Oh - and you can see the performance here. This isn’t a plea to buy the book, just a way to see if my marketing is resulting in sales rank. I don’t know if this book is good, it feels like it’s fast paced, but it’s also a little out of my normal genre.

I’ll know next week if writing a 73K book in 15 days was a mistake. I do like to learn the hard way.


Good luck Tim! It’s at 4289 and climbing right now. I hope you crack 1000!

I’ve gotten a lot from your recommendations on this board. I hope your current strategy works and that you learn a lot from this one. I know I’m trying to figure the marketing stuff out myself.


Good luck to you! Your covers look great.

And you’re not a broken record, its all very helpful.


Had a rocky launch for the new book. I rushed to get my pre-order up and accidentally uploaded a slightly older manuscript. All of my notes and fixes via beta readers weren’t in place. UGH! So it had about 25 grammar errors. I fixed it as soon as it was unlocked, but it sold a number of copies. About 500. So I’ve been dinged by some negative reviews. It’s updated now, but lesson learned. Get that damn book uploaded, and double checked much earlier.

I’m experimenting with Amazon ads for the next few days. I’ll share what I learn if you all are interested.

I tried AMZ ads when they first launched, but I couldn’t get a single click. Since then they seem to have streamlined the ad process.


I’d love to hear all your marketing stuff.


Not a marketing person, but I have heard good things about buying ads in Kindle Nation Daily. Been a few years, though.


I spent a ridiculous amount of time setting up this whole mailing list/landing page setup over the last few days. I coordinated 3 platforms. Mailchimp to handle the mailing list part, which involved setting up multiple opt-in pages, and an automated process to send out an email with book links. Wix for the landing page - this was time consuming but not hard to do. Bookfunnel for the book delivery part. Again, not that hard just time consuming to gather up the .mobi and .epub files, also book covers.

So this offer is meant to build up my mailing list. I give away 3 books as part of my reading library. In exchange I get someone’s email and use it to send out new book releases, and giveaways/special offers. I’m not out to spam readers. I send out about 1 email a month. Sometimes more if I have a new pre-order up.

I’ve needed to do this for at least 2 years, and just kept putting it off. It’s a pain in the ass, but I think a large mailing list can be gold for authors. My goal is 5K to 10K subscribers. I currently have about 500. Long way to go. UGH

I just had about 20 very kind friends test this and help iron out the bugs. Take a look at the landing page and work through the process if you want to see how it flows. You can unsubscribe afterwards. I’m not trying to scam emails here. Notice I also put a large mailing list header at the top of my website.

I wish I would have started this process years ago. For new authors it’s worth starting on your mailing list as soon as possible, or so the wisdom goes.


I currently have about 25, but then I only have one novel. Still, jealous.

Looks great. Signed up. Seamless.

Here’s my landing page. Did it myself on wordpress, so it needs work.


You’re way out in front of me. The closest order of magnitude to my count is zero. Besides back matter links, how do you guys build your lists?

In other news, I’ve been really diving in on the sci-fi math of late, and it’s been revealing interesting facts about my universe and the nature of stealth and detection therein. For one, my back-of-the-napkin guesses turned out to be more or less accurate in terms of thermal signatures and detection ranges, but the spread in ranges from small ship at low power to large ship at high power is more than I thought—from less than 200,000 kilometers to more than 16 million kilometers, for two fairly extreme cases. Thanks to the work I had to do to figure out thermal signatures, I now have a little design worksheet for ships and their power systems, which puts me well ahead of where I was for my last sci-fi novella. I’m looking forward to having the background detail available for the next one.