authors, Indie book publishing, self publishing, Thomas Nelson

Michael Hyatt, Chairman of Thomas Nelson, talks with Kevin Weiss, CEO of Author Solutions, about the state of self publishing

Mike Hyatt, CEO of Thomas Nelson has an outstanding blog at This past week he posted an interview with Kevin Weiss where they discussed self publishing.  In this candid discussion, Mike and Kevin address the questions:

  • What is self-publishing and how does it differ from vanity publishing?
  • What advantages does self-publishing have over traditional publishing?
  • What kind of authors can benefit the most from self-publishing?
  • Who are some examples of self-published authors who have succeeded?
  • What should an author expect to spend to self-publish a book

I think you will find the interview very helpful.

authors, Ebooks, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, Publishing, self publishing, writing

Million selling self-published author John Locke shares his secrets to success

Book sales is not the only reason for publishing a book, but book sales is something every author is concerned about.  The most recent successful self published author is John Locke. He is a New York Times best-selling author (Saving Rachel) and has written eleven books across three genres (titles include Vegas Moon, Wish List, A Girl Like You, Follow the Stone, Don’t Poke the Bear!). He is the first independently published author to have sold one million books on kindle and is one of only eight authors to achieve this milestone.

What follows is excerts from an interview he did on the Author Learning Center. His insights are very interesting and helpful. Enjoy.


Author John Locke shares insights in interview on Author Learning Center

 How do you write so many books so quickly? What’s your secret?

John: I complete the entire manuscript before editing, and don’t get distracted with research. I don’t believe in trying to “perfect” or “fine-tune” my first few chapters. Those who strive to write something perfect never complete their manuscripts. I’d rather fix a bad manuscript than never finish a perfect one. Also, I don’t waste time researching details I can look up later online. For example, in my latest western, Emmett & Gentry, I knew my character had to cross a river in West Kansas in 1863. Faced with that, some authors would begin researching rivers, settings, nearby towns. They’d uncover all sorts of fascinating things, which gives them a million possibilities how they could write that scene. When I come to that part in my manuscript, I just write (name and description of river), highlight it in yellow, and keep writing. When I come back to that part in my edit, I’m not searching for all the possibilities, I’m only searching for one thing, because I’ve already completed my manuscript. It takes far less time to fill in the blanks than to write an essay! If you’re researching after the fact, you can get the answer in 10 minutes instead of four hours. Same way with character names. I would never sit at my computer and waste time trying to decide the perfect name for a character, or a character’s description. I would have figured those things out while taking a shower or waiting for my son to get out of football practice. In other words, when I’m at the keyboard, I don’t allow the details in my novel to distract me from writing the manuscript. If I did, I’d never complete it!

ALC: A lot of people are getting angry and speaking out these days about the price of e-books being out of synch with the manufacturing costs. The big publishing houses sell books from the big name authors at almost the same prices as the print book even though they have no printing, shipping, or stocking costs. In your book “How to sell a million e-books in 5 months” you talk about how e-publishing has allowed you to turn the tables on the traditional publishing industry. Because you can publish so cheaply, without incurring the costs they incur (staff, advertising, reseller discounts…), you can offer books at 99 cents and they never could. So far, many of the big houses are sticking to the ‘agency’ model that supports this high pricing structure. How do you see the traditional publishing industry responding to this in the future?

John: The traditional publishers will soon be forced to price their ebooks much lower, and the timing of when to release the ebook will be a bigger decision than the pricing. There are loyal readers who are currently willing to pay $14.99 for an ebook because they love the author and want to read the novel immediately. But even these loyal readers will soon feel gigged by the publishers when, a month later, the price starts dropping. This type of pricing model punishes the most loyal readers instead of rewarding them. I have a loyal audience and could easily bring my next book out for $2.99 instead of 99 cents and make a lot more money. I’m not going to do that, but if I did, I would offer my loyal readers a two-week window to buy the book for 99 cents before setting the higher price. They’re the ones who brought me to the dance, and they’re the ones who deserve the discounts.

ALC: A lot of people still look down on self publishing. A common reason cited is because without the ‘gate keepers’ of the traditional process (editors, agents, publishers)… the quality is likely to be very poor. You sent your book Saving Rachel to a writer and an editor. The writer said it was really bad and the editor said it would never sell. You published it anyway. What advice can you offer to other authors about how to know when to ignore ‘expert’ advice and stay true to their vision… and when to take the advice in an effort to make the book as good as it can be?

John: If it’s advice, they should listen. But when someone just torques your manuscript without offering specific reasons, that’s not advice. My first manuscript, Killing Hailey, was terrible. I never published it. But I was able to receive some specific reasons why it was so terrible, and I used that advice to get better. But the advice worked for me because I could follow it without destroying my vision. By contrast, when an editor told me Saving Rachel needed an additional 20,000 words of descriptive elements, I responded, “That would slow the action to a crawl.” He said, “People don’t want that much action in a book.” –His advice ran counter to my vision, so I chose not to take it.

self publishing

“Book culture is a word of mouth culture”, says NYTimes best selling author, Lisa Genova

I love the quote in the headline of this blog. It is from an interview with best selling author Lisa Genova in an article titled, A new world for authors.  It is the most concise statement I have read that supports the idea that no matter what changes take place in publishing, one of the biggest drivers for success is still one person telling another about a book. Technology has made word of mouth easier and faster, but it doesn’t change the fact that authors need to focus on this basic idea as a  key part of their marketing strategy.

What ideas do you have on how to create word of mouth for a book? Please share them in the comments section and I will post them for other authors to read.

authors, Publishing, self publishing, writing

7 secrets of successful self published authors (4th installment): Knowing your goal and publishing options

Learn more about your publishing options in my webinar on the Author Learning Center.

This is the fourth installment in my series  on the secrets I learned by watching and talking to successful self-published authors.  The first three secrets are knowing your audience, really believing in your work and setting a deadline when you want to hold the first copy of your book. The fourth secret is clearly establishing a goal and then understanding your publishing options. For certain, the opportunities for authors have expanded dramatically over the past few years. Not that long ago, if an author wanted to publish, the only option was traditional publishing. With that model, you must find an agent and hope a publisher wants to acquire the rights to your manusript. In most cases, the wait was long and the answer was always, “no”. More recently, authors can choose DIY publishing, which requires the author to upload a manuscript and in many cases do the design. The DIY technology turns the uploaded manuscript and cover into a finished printable PDF. is an example of this option. The advantage of this model is speed to market and retaining your rights and control. However, in most cases distibution is limited and finding any personal support is difficult. The third option is called assisted or supported self publishing.  Like DIY publishing, assisted self publishing allows an author to retain rights and get to market quickly, but this model also provides personal support throughout the process and pre-publication,  publishing, marketing and distribution services. Both of these options guarantee your book will get in the hands of readers. Traditional does not

So which publishing option should you choose? That depends on your goal. If you are not concerned about broad distribution and you are technologically savvy, then DIY can work for you. If you want some guidance through the process and want a full array of services, then assisted self publishing is best for you. If you are willing to wait, and don’t mind giving up your rights, then traditional publishing is best.


I don’t want to oversimplify this decision, but these are the basic ideas you should consider as you take your publishing journey. If you would like a more complete consideration of your goals and best options, register for my webinar, Six tips on how to get published” on the Author Learning Center (, Tuesday, October 11 at 2:30 pm (EST)

authors, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

Stan Lee shares his secrets to creating a page turner on the Author Learning Center

My recent post of Stan Lee’s interview on the Author Learning Center, ( was the most popular post I have had in a long time. So I say, give the people what they want. Here’s another excerpt from the interviews Stan did for the outstanding new web community for writers and authors.  As the former President and CEO of Marvel Comics (and the creator of Spider-Man, Hulk, Fantastic Four, and X-Men), offers some tips for how to write something that’s so good your readers won’t be able to put it down! Great advice from a Hollywood legend!

authors, helpful hints, Indie book publishing, self publishing

Stan Lee of Marvel Comics shares from his experience on The Author Learning Center

Earlier this year, the Author Learning Center, was launched to provide writers and authors resources on writing, publishing and marketing books. Recently, a number of new features were added, but perhaps most exciting is the number of notable authors who are providing their insights on the site. Watch this interview with Stan Lee of Marvel Comics fame. It is quite inspiring.

authors, Indie book publishing, self publishing, writing

7 secrets of successful self published authors (3rd installment): Setting a date when you want to hold the first copy of your book

This is the third installment in a series of posts on the secrets I have learned from successful self published authors. The first two secrets are knowing your audience and believing in your work. The third thing I have seen  successful self published authors do is set a deadline for when they want to hold the first copy of their book. That may not sound very profound, but this is a key to actually achieving your publishing goal. When you work with a traditional publisher,  an editor will typcially set a deadline for when the manuscript is due based on a publication date. Self published authors don’t have that demand imposed on them so they need to set a deadline for themselves and also build a timeline to reach that goal.

There are typically some key milestones along the path from writing to getting published. They include completing the manuscript; submitting for publication, providing time for editing and illustrations if neededworking on the design of the interior and cover, leaving time for revisions and printing. So the best place to start is pick a date when you want to hold a copy of your book in your hand. It may be an artificial deadline or it may be a birthday or other event that you want to target. Then once you have that date in mind, work backwards to establish the key milestone dates you need to hit to reach your goal. Seems simple, doesn’t it, but I have found this is a key to actually getting from manusript to finished book.

Setting milestone dates and a date when you want to hold the first copy of your book is a key to getting published