Learn E-book Publishing Success from a Master

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The Secrets to E-book Publishing Success by Mark Coker

5 star

5 stars

This is a gem of a book for the price (free on Smashwords). It’s a good read for aspiring authors who are just starting to self-publish and need some guidance getting started in the seemingly chaotic, unorganized, and ever-expanding galaxy of the self-publishing industry. As founder of, Mark Coker leans heavily on Smashwords’ self-publishing platform to help the reader understand what it takes to publish and distribute an e-book(s) successfully. The book complements his other free companion pieces, the “Smashwords Book Marketing Guide” and “Smashwords Style Guide.” The three books together are great primers for using Smashwords and leveraging it as a distribution and marketing tool.

Coker’s book offers 28 secrets to publishing a successful e-book. Some “secrets” are common sense, and the book doesn’t go into great deal on how to take advantage of them. The biggest “secret” to success is to write a great book that resonates with readers, but Coker doesn’t explain how to do it. That’s up to you. He does, however, generally point writers in the right direction, getting them to think about the different elements of self-publishing success. For example, he suggests writers think beyond the price to generate sales. Should a book be priced at $0.99 or $9.99? It depends on the writer’s objective. Price is just one aspect of book sales an author should consider.

Coker does not offer as many specifics in this book as he did in his marketing and style guides, but I appreciate the holistic view of self-publishing he offers. Experienced self-published authors may have a few “duh” moments when something strikes them as common sense. Nevertheless, it’s worthwhile for any writer to read this book and learn from one of the masters of the self-publishing industry.

I give Coker’s book five stars and highly recommend it to all writers, including those interested in traditional publishing who might be persuaded to self-publish after reading the book. If nothing else, the price point — free — should be an incentive.

The Secrets to E-Book Publishing Success is now available at:




Outlining Your Novel a Roadmap that Almost Takes You There

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Outlining Your Novel: Map Your Way to Success by K.M. Weiland

5 star

5 Stars

K.M. Weiland’s book is a great read for writers who use outlines to plan novels and need help fine tuning their writing strategy. It’s also for those who are skeptical of the benefits of writing outlines. After reading this book, those who prefer to write by the seat of their pants may find themselves convinced that outlining is a better way to go.

The author makes a strong case for writing outlines and includes interviews with published authors at the end of each chapter that explain why many writers believe it is an important part of the writing process. She also offers discrete ways to outline a novel. I liked that this book goes beyond what lies within its pages to provide lists, templates, and links to external resources that help writers deal with challenges such as developing back stories. One list features interview questions writers can ask their fictional characters, while another ferrets out information about a novel’s setting. These are practical, concrete tools any writer can use to organize their thoughts.

If I have one quibble with the book, it’s that the author takes a strong stand in favor of outlining a novel, even though Ms. Weiland readily admits that some authors have found commercial and literary success writing without first charting their course. Still, it’s a good read for any writer to help them decide whether to do an outline.

I give Ms. Weiland’s book 5 stars and highly recommend it. It won’t outline your novel for you, but it comes darn close. It will put you a few steps closer to finishing your next outline.

Outlining Your Novel is now available at:



Well Written and Idea Packed…but Not for Some

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Nail Your Novel:  Why Writers Abandon Books and How You Can Draft, Fix and Finish with Confidence

by Roz Morris

3 star

3 stars

I decided to read Ms. Morris’ book to help revive a stack of old books and stories I never finished writing. The pile is rather large, and I hoped that the book would give me the tools I needed to finish and publish them. Sadly, it didn’t work for me. I believe that the target audience for her book is writers who have one or two manuscripts in rough form that need a nudge to get them done. It’s not for those whose writings are so fly-by-the-seat-of-one’s-pants or deeply muddled that they need a serious spring cleaning — not fine tuning. There’s a group of would-be writers who may need to read more basic books on writing techniques in order to learn how to write synopses and plot scenes. Her book does not delve deeply into these writing techniques.

To her credit, the author gives readers a potpourri of good suggestions on how to break writer’s block and improve a novel. She offers some excellent recommendations with easy-to-remember buzzwords like “outtakes,” “block busters,” and “beat sheets.” For writers stuck in the middle of their novel who need inspiration, these are great tools to push it from draft to publication. The ending wraps up with a toolbox full of ideas on how to do this and ends with a chapter on preparing the manuscript to send to a publisher.

I recommend this book for experienced writers with a basic knowledge of writing who want additional writing tips. For those further along in their careers, it could be an indispensable resource. But this book isn’t for every aspiring writer. For those literally dusting off that decades-old manuscript in a drawer needing extensive rework before it sees light of day, they may be better off starting with a basic “how-to” manual.

Nail Your Novel is now available at: