How You Can Maximize Your eBook Sales Today

There is one thing almost every author overlooks when self publishing—and it may surprise you. Sure, there’s lots of talk about the importance of professional editing. Even I’ve written about it. And everyone knows it’s important to have test readers or a writing group who critique your novel. But I’m going to let you in on a secret: writing a good book won’t guarantee sales.

4 Types of Editing & How To Choose Which Your Book Needs

Note: Melissa no longer offers these services. This post remains as archived content for your reference. One of the most common questions I get as an editor is about what different types of editing there are and what each one entails. New clients aren’t always sure what level of editing they need and don’t know how to make that decision. Before you can decide between the

A Proofreading Checklist: What to look for before calling it done

Before hitting “send” when sending out a new piece or before hitting “publish” on a new blog post, it pays to proofread your piece. Here are some quick things to check when proofreading your own copy. Homophones Perhaps one of the most common mistakes when when writing is misusing homophones–words that sound alike but are spelled differently. Spell check won’t catch a misused word; it

Show Don’t Tell — An Example Done Right

You may have had college professors preach to you to “show, don’t tell.” The ironic thing about that statement is that it contradicts itself. Take the video I’ve embedded below, for instance. In the video, a blind homeless man is begging for change. A young woman comes by and changes what he has written on his sign–and in response, many more people begin to give

Why the Plan to Make Nook Profitable Is Set to Fail

Digital Book World recently reported Barnes & Noble CEO William Lynch’s plan to help make the nook profitable. The device is not currently performing as well as B&N had hoped—although the company reportedly sold twice the number of devices this black Friday versus last. Lynch is quoted as saying that the “key” to Nook business is to continue to grow digital content sales and that

Why Authors Shouldn’t Try to Think Outside the Box

Creativity is defined as the ability to transcend traditional ideas, rules, patterns, relationships, or the like, and to create meaningful new ideas, forms, methods, interpretations, etc. We often hear this concept expressed as “thinking outside the box.” Authors, perhaps even more than other creative groups, feel the stress to be “truly creative.” To avoid cliches. To add stunning plot twists. To do what has never

How to Publish Your Book: The Options Authors Have Today

So perhaps you’ve done the hard part already and written a book. Or maybe you’re just doing some research because you’re thinking about writing a book. Either way, you should know that the publishing landscape today looks vastly different than it did a mere 15 years ago. Heck, it looks vastly different than it did 2 years ago. Authors today have a lot more options —

Creating Characters from Scratch

This year I’m participating in NaNoWriMo for the first time. For those of you not familiar with the acronym, it stands for National Novel Writing Month and it’s organized by the Office of Letters and Light. Participants begin writing on November 1st, and the goal is to write a 50,000-word  novel by midnight on November 30th. As I said, this is my first year participating, but I’ve

The Secret of Storytelling — From One of Pixar’s’ Masters

I don’t normally write posts this long—but this time I couldn’t resist. Andrew Stanton’s TED talk was something every author—every storyteller—should listen to.  Andrew Stanton starts off his TED Talk with a joke. “A tourist is backpacking through the highlands of Scotland and he stops at a pub for a drink. The only people in there are the bartender and an old man nursing a

The Role of an Editor — And Why You Should Have One

Ever wonder what an editor does? Chances are it’s a lot more than you think. It’s an editor’s job to make sure your readers can see the forest despite the trees—that they don’t get caught up on typos and mistakes that will cause them to focus on the words instead of the story. And, in the process, a good editor will look for things you

Do You Drive Through Stop Signs When Writing?

Last month Tim Berry wrote about learning that a stop sign requires a full stop—one where the car rolls backward slightly—and how that reminded him of decision making. That sometimes we all need a full stop now and again to think things through and prepare ourselves to head off again in the right direction. I couldn’t help but think of how the same concept applies

Crafting an Author Bio that Helps Sell Your Book

[This post is part of a series on how you can maximize your ebook sales.] Almost every book includes an author bio. There’s a reason for this. The author bio tells the reader why he or she should care what the writer thinks. It tells the reader that the writer knows their stuff. This is often clear with non-fiction and how-to books; the author’s bio

Two More Ways to Sell More of Your Novel on Amazon

[This post is part of a series on writing sales copy for your book—see the first piece in the series here: The Truth About the Back of your Book, and the 2nd post here: Compacting Your Whole Plot into Paragraphs] What you choose to include in your Amazon product description will ultimately make or break your book sales, no matter how hard you’ve worked on the

Compacting Your Whole Plot into Paragraphs

[This post is part of a series on writing sales copy for your book—see the first piece in the series here: The Truth About the Back of your Book.] We’re always told not to judge a book by its cover… but most people are referring to the front of the book. It’s flip side is a different matter. Without well written sales copy to convince

Dark Waters: Celtic Legacy Book 1

In indie author and blogger Shannon Mayer’s latest book, Dark Waters (the first in her new Celtic Legacy series) the bonds of family are stretched to the breaking point. Legendary monsters, a deadly prophecy and soul swallowing fears threaten to destroy the lives of two sisters who, when they had nothing else always knew they had each other. Add in two stunning men, magic, secrets, sensuality and

Bonded: Book One of the Shadowlight Saga

I had the pleasure of editing indie author Mande Matthews’ latest YA Novel, Bonded: Book One of the Shadowlight Saga, which has already achieved an average of 5-stars from reviewers on Amazon.com. A timeless tale of heros, the book weaves together a chieftain’s son and a warrior maiden—his vow to protect her pits his best friend against him, endangers the light of his little sister and leads

The Truth About The Back of Your Book

It’s a mistake authors make all the time. They labor away on their manuscript, editing and re-editing; they even hire someone else to help them. And when they’re done, they tentatively put it up for sale. Without thinking about the one thing that can make or break a book: the sales copy. Your content will determine if they read the book all the way through

Turn Your Blog Into a Book

It’s happening all over the web: bloggers are becoming authors. And you can too. Publishers see bloggers as a safe bet—these are people who already have a loyal audience and a solid working platform. But you don’t have to work with a traditional publisher to get your book out there; self publishing offers some serious advantages especially for the blogger-turned-author. Whichever publishing path you go

The Secret to Using Commas Correctly

Grammar, in so many ways, is like the seasoning in a soup. A dash of salt and a pinch of pepper and the soup tastes amazing—too much though, and you get an uneatable mess. Too little and you get a bland broth. In order to be a good cook, you need to know your herbs and spices. Well in order to be a good writer,

A Zombie-ish Apocalypse

One of my recent projects has been for self-published author Shannon Mayer, who recently published A Zombie-ish Apocalypse: a trilogy of novellas that follow the story of one couple as their life goes to hell. A paranormal romance set in a post apocalyptic world, Mara and Sebastian fight off marauders and monsters alike. But Sebastian carries a dark secret, one that more than threatens to tear

Seamless Editing

I recently had a discussion with several fellow editors about voice and style. Namely, when to leave it in and when to take it out. Every piece of writing has a natural voice to it. As an editor sometimes I have to make a decision about when to leave something that’s not wrong, but could be written clearer, and when to rework a sentence from

A Copy Editing Sample

A while ago I had the pleasure of working with Author Marilyn Pontuck on a book proposal–I did a copy edit of her cover letter and shared some information on the publishing world in general. She has kindly agreed to let me share a before-and-after of her work so you can see the difference that editing makes (I’m only include excerpts, to avoid making this

Grammar Police: 3 Common Grammar Mistakes

Today many people learn grammar by ear and application rather than through rules and an understanding of proper sentence structure. But there are a few quick rules you can learn that will help you avoid the grammar police. Here are a few of my favorites: Which is proper English? Most people know that there’s a difference between American English and British English, but they aren’t

Elements of a Media Kit

I covered “What Is a Media Kit?” the other day, and mentioned briefly what goes inside of a media kit. Here is a further breakdown of the individual pieces that goes inside to help introduce your company to an outsider. A basic press kit includes the following: A Company Bio. A brief explanation of the company’s history, a bio serves to explain why and how

What is a Media Kit?

A press kit, or media kit, as defined by Wikipedia is a pre-packaged set of promotional materials of a person, company, or organization distributed to members of the media for promotional use. They are often distributed to announce a release or for a news conference. The materials in the release “introduce” the company, so in addition to media distribution, a press kit can be a