Let’s talk believable antagonists and realistic sources of conflict.

I’m not going to get into the four types of conflict, or six, or however many it is now. I am going to talk about creating a believable antagonistic force, rather than one of those cardboard caricature, source-of-all-evil bad guys.

The concept of a having one person be the source of all of a story’s conflict has always seemed overly simple to me. Either the antagonist has help, or the protagonist’s problems are going to be disappointingly simple to solve. A lone enemy, unaided, is easy to overcome.

Continue reading “Antagonistic Forces”


No, not that kind.

I’m talking about the kind of book spam authors receive after they’ve gotten well enough known that spammers think the author might actually have some money, but might still be naive enough to fall for an obvious scam. Newsflash, scammers: I’ve never been that naive.

This post is inspired by an actual email I received this week.

Scammer fail

Maybe I’m just new to the world of scammy solicitations landing in my inbox, but holy scam alert Batman!! Does anyone actually fall for this?

Let’s review what this would-be marketing savant did wrong.

Continue reading “Book Spam!”


Don't be one of many. Names matter.

Something came to a head recently that’s been bugging me for a long time: we (Westerners, especially those in the United States) need to get a lot more creative with our names.

Recently one of my employees pointed out the ridiculousness of creepy old men who demand to be on a first name basis with the people who work the front counter. In terms of accountability or identification, a first name means next to nothing. At my company alone, if you were helped by “Jessica” that could be Jessica in Cargo, Jessica in Fuels, Jessica in Accounting, or Jessica in Parts & Acquisitions.

This is a problem.

Continue reading “Names Matter”


You should be writing. No. Seriously.

I see a lot of motivational posters aimed at authors. You know the ones: a movie character pointing out that you should be writing. Or maybe it’s a pop culture icon. Or maybe the message is framed as a comic strip. Or maybe it’s just a blank page with the words “You should be writing!” emblazoned across it.

And while some are fairly benign, many seem designed to guilt the viewer. I don’t know about you, but I write to feel free of my daily obligations. Writing is my own world, a world free of deadlines and restrictions. The concept of feeling guilty because I haven’t put enough words on paper lately is anathema to the whole reason I write.

Why is it that we, as authors and as a society, conflate guilt with motivation?

Continue reading “Motivation vs Guilt”


Flood waters and sign

Some time back, a friend posted in a group we both frequent. She was frustrated with the flood of conflicting marketing advice for authors, and listed some of the contradictory advice she’d heard.

  1. Socialize with non-writers on Facebook. Don’t try to sell. Make friends.
  2. Advertise on Facebook.
  3. Advertise on Amazon.
  4. Forget Facebook and Amazon. Focus on Goodreads instead.
  5. Forget Goodreads. LibraryThing is the place to be.
  6. Advertise on other sites.
  7. Give away books on Net Galley.
  8. Don’t give away books for free. It invites pirates!
  9. Give away one book to entice readers.
  10. List with genre sites.
  11. Concentrate on Twitter.
  12. Forget promotion. Sign up with KU.

While I can’t stem the flood of contradictory and often counter-intuitive advice, I can offer my experiences. I spent a lot of time sorting through a veritable avalanche of marketing advice to come up with my strategy. These are my answers, backed up with research and personal experience.

Continue reading “Throttling the Flood of Conflicting Advice”


There’s a never-ending flood of writing advice out there for aspiring authors. Some of the best I’ve heard is also the simplest and the most universal, like this bit from Stephen King’s On Writing:

If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others: read a lot and write a lot.

On the flip side, there’s tons of advice aspiring authors could probably do without. Today I’m here to tackle the misconceptions and one-size-fits-all solutions, and explain why they really aren’t helpful.

Continue reading “On Questionable Writing Advice”