Posted in Publishing, Writing

Are You Ready for Kindle Vella?

Amazon is launching Kindle Vella next week, and I’m ready!

For months I thought the only novel of mine I was going to self-publish this summer was Magic Hour, now available in ebook and paperback format on Amazon. That was always the plan, and then I thought maybe in 2022 I could publisher another of my older manuscripts I’m ready to put out into the world.

But then around mid-June I discovered something on Amazon that was coming in July, currently just in Beta mode. It’s called Kindle Vella, a new publication on Amazon for serialized stories, similar to Wattpad.

I actually used Wattpad way back in the day to serialize my Grisly High trilogy, which, with all its chapter cliffhangers, was the perfect story for a more episodic kind of publication.

I also put up my book Happy Birthday to Me on Wattpad, but then I forgot about it for a long while. And when I saw Kindle Vella was coming, I thought maybe I could go back to one of those earlier manuscripts of mine to put on this new publication.

But no — not only did I think it would be more exciting to publish something to Kindle Vella nobody has ever read before, you’re not even allowed to put something on Kindle Vella that has been published elsewhere!

What are the rules of Kindle Vella?

On the main site, it does give some clear rules for writers who want to publish their work on Kindle Vella. It says you cannot “publish in Kindle Vella content that is in the public domain or freely available on the web.” Basically, if you’ve published short stories or novels on your blog or elsewhere, you can’t just copy and paste it into Kindle Vella.

You also cannot “break down your previously published book or long-form content into Episodes and republish in Kindle Vella, even if that book or long-form content is no longer available or is written in another language.” This was the big one. What it’s saying is you can’t take a novel you’ve already published on Amazon and put it on Kindle Vella, even if you unpublish the manuscript from the site and have it offered nowhere else.

At Kindle Vella they want brand new content, the kind that’s never been available anywhere else, so I wondered which of my manuscripts would be best for the platform — and it didn’t take long. At the end of 2013 I wrote a middle grade novel called The Luckiest Bookworm, about a twelve-year-old girl who finds a portal in her middle school library that takes her into the world of any book ever written. It’s a super fun adventure book comprised of forty chapters, each one of them with its own nail-biting chapter cliffhanger!

I have a few other books I’m getting close to self-publishing, but the other two I’m considering have fewer chapters without as many cliffhangers. The Luckiest Bookworm seemed perfect for the Kindle Vella platform, so I just spent the last three weeks revising and editing the manuscript one last time.

It was a blast to revisit this one. I fell in love with my main character and this crazy story all over again.

And I’m really, really excited for people young and old to finally read it!

Kindle Vella is just another chance I’m taking as an author after eleven years of novel writing.

When you write a lot like I do, you have to take chances on new platforms, and if they fail, they fail. No big deal. Keep writing and try other things.

I’m still trying to get a literary agent after eleven years, and I’m currently revising my newest middle grade novel in the hopes it’s ready to be queried in the fall. I’m also querying my newest young adult novel, and I’m starting to outline a new adult writing project I plan to write slowly over the course of 2022.

But even as I constantly look forward, sometimes it’s worth looking back at some of those manuscripts that fell through the cracks. The Luckiest Bookworm was one of them, a book I excitedly worked on from December 2013 to August 2014, before querying it that fall. I got a few requests, but by 2015, I was onto the next project.

My affection for The Luckiest Bookworm has always been strong though, and after nearly eight years since I wrote the first sentence, I’m excited to finally unveil it later this month on Kindle Vella when the service goes live for readers.

Yesterday I finished publishing the fortieth and final chapter to Kindle Vella… and I’m ready! I’m not sure when launch day will be. It’s apparently going to be sometime next week, not late July like I originally thought.

But whatever day Kindle Vella is officially launched, you can bet I’ll be letting you know to tell you even more about this exciting publication platform, and all about my newest novel, The Luckiest Bookworm!

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Posted in Publishing, Writing

Think Outside the Box When Publishing Your Books

The truth is simple: you have to think outside the box as a writer.

You can’t just write one kind of thing for one kind of publication. You can’t work on one particular manuscript year after year with no interest in starting something new. You can’t put all of your eggs in one basket, as they say.

It’s 2021, and there are so many ways to get your writing out there. Medium here is one way to write lots of inspiring posts that get people interested in your writing. You can blog on your own website. You can upload YouTube videos, or start a podcast, or create an audiobook.

There are so many ways to tell stories these days, and sometimes it’s important to take risks from time to time with our work and not just head straight for the traditional route that writers have been going after for centuries.

Since 2010 I’ve wanted to become a traditionally published author, with a literary agent and an editor I adore and a book on the shelf. Lord knows I’ve tried. Twenty-one books later, I’m still trying. I’m querying my latest novel as we speak!

But at the same time we all have to recognize that’s not the only avenue to get your manuscripts out there, especially older ones that have gone through the querying process and pitching process and might have come up short.

One way is self-publishing, of course. I self-published a novel to Amazon this month called Magic Hour I’m super excited about.

And I’m also really excited to try something brand new called Kindle Vella for another of my older manuscripts!

What is Kindle Vella?

The site is in beta mode right now and isn’t officially launching until July, but it’s a way to tell a long story in multiple episodes, like Wattpad and Radish. I first came across it earlier in June and became intrigued by it. I wondered if I had an older unpublished novel I could introduce to the world on this platform, and I picked out the perfect title!

The Luckiest Bookworm, a book I wrote back in 2014 that I have loved for seven years and have often wondered just how to put in front of readers, is going to be my guinea pig for Kindle Vella. It’s the perfect book for the platform before it’s forty fast-paced chapters that all end in cliff-hangers, and Kindle Vella looks to be best suited for books you write that have lots of chapters, not just a few.

Readers get the first three chapters of the book for free (which is why you want those first three chapters to be fantastic, and you’ll want that third chapter to end on a massive cliffhanger!), and then they have to purchase tokens to purchase access to additional chapters of your story.

What I like about this platform is that it will be a fun way to see how many readers bow out of my novel early on and how many stay engaged with it enough to make it all the way to end. Because, boy, The Luckiest Bookworm has quite the insane, memorable ending, and I’m hoping most readers pay for enough tokens and stick with this story all the way to the surprising finale.

I could just self-publish The Luckiest Bookworm. I’ve thought about doing so for a year or two now. But when I came across Kindle Vella, I decided to think outside the box and publish my book in an entirely different way I’ve never experienced before. And that’s super thrilling as a novel writer!

So, again, don’t think there’s any one way to publish your books.

I have writer friends who refuse to release their books in any format except traditional publishing. They’ve told me that if they can’t see their novel that way, then it goes into the drawer, never to be seen again.

I get that. Still the most promising way to get your work out there might very well be the traditional publishing model. And I’m certainly still going for it, too.

But I also think it’s important to think outside the box, especially with older manuscripts just lingering in a drawer. Try something new and different. Give self-publishing a try. Post one of your books one chapter at a time on your blog. At least once in awhile, do something that scares you!

Something I’ve always admired about Stephen King was how he would take chances on new publishing models, like the Internet with The Plant and like audiobooks with Riding the Bullet. He’s a superstar author who didn’t always publish the same way every time, and he’s also one who has stepped outside the box with the publishing of his short stories, too.

So give it a shot! Read about Kindle Vella and see if it might be something for you. Do your research on self-publishing and think about putting something online yourself. Keep trying to get a literary agent and publishing deal traditionally, too, but don’t have it be one-hundred-percent of your focus every second of every day.

We’re writers. We have so many stories to tell.

And we can tell them in any way we’d like.

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Posted in Books, Fiction, Publishing, Writing

My LGBTQ YA Novel MAGIC HOUR is LIVE on Amazon!

Hi friends,

I’m so excited to unveil my first self-published novel in eight years — MAGIC HOUR, which tells of a wedding videographer who suddenly discovers he can make anyone he want disappear by snapping his fingers… which results in pandemonium when he accidentally makes the bride and groom vanish in front of 200 wedding guests.

It’s an entertaining read priced at $2.99, just in time for Pride Month. I’d love your support!

MAGIC HOUR by Brian Rowe

Thanks, and enjoy!



Posted in Publishing, Writing

Sometimes You Need to Let Your Book Go

Yes, it can be hard to say good-bye.

When you work on a new writing project, it can be fun to get entirely swept up in it and never want to reach the end. Writing a first draft of a long project is challenging and exhausting, but it’s also pure bliss, especially on those amazing days where the writing comes together and you’re firing on all cylinders.

I’ve written twenty-one novels in the last eleven years, and every single one had its moments where I didn’t want to be doing anything else. You’re creating characters from scratch and spending time in a world entirely of your own making.

And when the novel is working, it can be fun to work on one revision after another for months on end, doing big and little things to make the work better, fine-tuning each scene, cutting things here, adding things there.

At some point you want to get some beta readers to look at your work and give you feedback. Then, yes, revise it again. But once you feel there’s nothing really left to improve, that it’s the very best you can do, it’s time to step back and say good-bye.

It doesn’t matter what you end up doing next with the manuscript…

1. Querying it to literary agents.

2. Sending it out to publishers.

3. Self-publishing it yourself.

Once that project is on submission, or you’re getting it ready for publication, the best thing you can do to not go completely insane is work on something else. Start a short story, or a novella. You don’t need to go straight into another novel right away.

Whatever you do, don’t go back and revise the same novel again because you’re too afraid to part ways with it.

Tomorrow I’m self-publishing a novel I’ve been tinkering with since 2013.

It’s June 2021, and I’m finally releasing one of my novels into the the world that I started writing the first draft of in January 2013.

You read that right. January 2013!

That is a long time to be working on and thinking about a manuscript. Too long. The truth is I was too afraid to say good-bye.

I spent most of 2013 and the first half of 2014 working tirelessly on this novel, an LGBTQ young adult book called Magic Hour, which tells the story of a wedding videographer who realizes he can make anyone he want disappear by snapping his fingers. Over the course of eighteen months I did about five drafts (and received feedback from some beta readers in the process), and then I started querying it to literary agents.

The response was tremendous. During the summer and fall of 2014 I got about twelve full requests and five partial requests, and I did a PitMad in 2015 that got me at least ten more full requests. I was working on other novels at the time, was immersed in other worlds, but I kept believing in Magic Hour. I thought an agent might take it on.

But I never could get a yes from an agent. Some gave me positive feedback, but no agent fell in love with it, even those that liked my pitch on PitMad. 2015 came and went still with no offer of representation, and so by 2016 I was sending Magic Hour into novel contests (most of them an expensive $30 to $50 a pop) and querying publishers that would accept pitches from unagented writers. Again, I got some more positive feedback, but no offers.

In 2017, the craziest thing happened. I got an offer of representation from a literary agent!

But it wasn’t for Magic Hour.

It was for another book I’d written — a middle grade horror adventure called Monster Movie.

I put Magic Hour aside and got to work on my middle grade, and then three years passed. I would bring up Magic Hour to my agent here and there, but she never gravitated toward working on it or even wanting to read it. Magic Hour stayed in the drawer all the way until the summer of 2020, after my agent and I had parted ways, after I had moved onto half a dozen other novel projects.

On a quiet weekend in July of 2020 I pulled Magic Hour out of the drawer and read it again. I loved returning to those characters and that world, recognizing a style of writing and a specific place in my own life that was long gone. So much had changed in the past seven years. I could barely recognize the person who wrote that novel way back in 2013.

But I still enjoyed the hell out of the story, and so I did one more revision, shortening some of the chapters and doing some necessary line editing.

I could have put the book right back into the drawer. Let it linger there until the end of time.

Instead, I kept it out, polished the book one last time in May 2021, and then hired a graphic designer friend to make me a cover!

© Katie Bode

Yes, more than 3000 days since I started writing the first chapter of Magic Hour back in 2013, I’m finally self-publishing the LGBTQ young adult novel on Amazon, and there’s one thing I keep thinking over and over.

It’s about time.

Yes, sometimes, especially after many years, it’s time to let that book go.

This is not to say you have to self-publish your book if every other avenue had led to a brick wall. If you deep down think the book is a rotten mess and shouldn’t see the light of day, letting your book go might mean letting it linger in a drawer or on your hard drive forever, and that’s okay.

But in some ways it’s more painful to not publish it in any way, shape, or form, especially if you dedicated a year or longer of your life to it, than it is to just release it to the world and see what happens.

Maybe nobody will read it. Maybe it won’t get the best reviews.

But if you think it’s really good, and it’s polished and professional, and other people have reacted even a little bit positively to it, you might be ready to hit the PUBLISH button so at the very least you can move on and say good-bye.

Because when you don’t release it, there might be that temptation to go back yet again and tinker with it some more when your time would be more wisely used to start something brand spanking new.

I’m excited to be releasing a new book tomorrow, and I’m thrilled to see what kinds of writing projects, both short and long, you might be ready to put out there, too.

Whatever it may be, I wish you only the best.

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Posted in Publishing, Writing

Sometimes You Need to Throw Out Your Revisions

There’s a lot that can break your heart when working on a novel.

Trust me, I know. Since 2010 I’ve written twenty-one novels (three middle grade, four adult, fifteen young adult), and I’ve had my fair share of heartache as a novel writer that I wouldn’t be able to fit inside of one Medium story, that’s for sure.

Writing the first draft can break your heart because oftentimes you realize during the drafting process that the book you held for so long in your head just isn’t quite coming to life on the page, and you’re not sure if you’ll be able to fix it.

You can revise your novel two, three, four times, and still not feel like it’s ready to go out on submission to agents or publishers.

You might feel really positive about your novel, but you send it out to a few beta readers, and they all bring you loads of feedback that make you understand it’s nowhere close to being ready.

Oh, and there’s the querying of a novel to multiple literary agents after working on the book for many months or even years, only to come up empty.

There’s so much that can go wrong, and that’s sadly the name of the game.

You write a novel with the best of intentions, but there’s no guarantee that people will like it, that it will find you a literary agent who believes in you, that the manuscript will ever be published.

You have to be ready to put in the time. You have to be ready for that book you’re working on right now to potentially go nowhere.

Another thing you have to be ready for that I feel isn’t talked about very much?

Sometimes you need to throw out your revisions if your story is getting worse or headed in the wrong direction.

It’s so hard to throw out a revision you’ve put dozens, more likely hundreds of hours of work into. You’re not getting paid to write a novel at this stage. You’re working for free, keeping the faith that the book might work the more you revise it and copyedit it and tinker with it.

And yes, sometimes after you’ve worked on a novel for six months or longer it’s hard to take a step back and see what your novel is and where it’s come since you completed the first draft. There’s no such thing as a perfect first draft, and so you have to revise, revise, revise. You have to let your manuscript sit for awhile, then revise again.

Beta readers often help you find the major flaws with the novel, but not every piece of advice should be taken into account, especially when you feel deep down it’s actually making your novel worse. Sometimes you’re not sure. Sometimes an idea strikes you as interesting, and so why not try it out in the next draft. You can always delete it later.

This is why I always believe in saving every single draft you do just in case you want to go back.

Just in case there’s a scene or character or moment that somehow got lost from one draft to another, and you need to go retrieve it. Just in case that newest draft is a step down from what you had months before.

Just in case that latest revision is nothing close to what you originally set out to do when you wrote draft number one.

This is the state I’m in right now with one of my manuscripts. And I’m not just throwing out one of my revisions. I’m throwing out four of them.

Let me tell you a story…

Throughout 2018 I felt inspired to write a middle grade ghost story novel. An image entered my head of an elderly female ghost pointing at a trembling twelve-year-old boy in a cemetery, and I couldn’t shake it. I had a literary agent at the time, and she was excited about the idea and what the book could be.

So I wrote the first draft in early 2019. I felt it was the best first draft of a novel I had ever written. I did a second draft, and then a third draft (more of a polish, really). I sent it to my agent in April of 2019 super excited. I thought we had something great.

Her letter and line edits she sent back to me a few weeks later was depressing to say the least. There was so much wrong with the manuscript, she thought. Wrong point of view. Too many characters. Wrong choice to have one of the parents be dead. I agreed with some of her thoughts and not so much with some of the others, but I wanted to do right by her, wanted to get the novel to a place where she could be excited by it the way I was excited by it.

So over the next eight months I revised my middle grade novel four more times. I changed more than sixty percent of the story. Cut out thirty thousand words. Deleted two major characters. Changed the point of view. Had three outside beta readers give me feedback.

And the craziest thing happened during those eight months… I started to hate the novel.

Something I had loved in the beginning maybe more than anything I’d ever written, certainly for middle grade readers, had turned into a story I barely recognized anymore. It was no longer scary or spooky. So many of my favorite scenes had been cut along the way. The motivations of my main character were confused at best. And the last scene, so mysterious and satisfying in the first couple drafts, now was a talky, uninspired mess.

The day I decided to part ways with my agent, she sent me a long letter giving me more advice how to make the novel better, and most of what she said went against what I wanted to do with the story and certainly what I initially intended when I first started working on it. We went our separate ways. I started working on another book. I didn’t think about my ghost story for a year and a half.

At the beginning of June 2021, it was time. My teaching year was winding down, and I was having major withdrawals over this middle grade novel I hadn’t set eyes on since before the pandemic began. But here was the million dollar question: should I revise the seventh draft — the last one I worked on — or the third draft — the last time I actually liked the story?

During the weekend of June 4, I hunkered down and read both versions. It was an incredible few hours, let me tell you. When you read your own novel after not having looked at it for eighteen months, it’s like reading the work of someone else. But what made this experience so extraordinary is that the third draft and the seventh draft read like two different novels. The pacing is different, the point of view is different, dozens of scenes in the third draft aren’t in the seventh draft, and vice versa.

And you know what? It became clear to me early on: the better book is the earlier draft.

This is not to say the seventh draft is a disaster. There were a few scenes in the newer draft not in the earlier draft I loved and that I’ll be transferring over. Those eight months I spent revising that middle grade book four more times wasn’t a complete waste of time. I did some cool things that will have their places in the new draft — the 2021 draft, I like to call it.

But still, there’s a lot of blood, sweat, and tears that went into four revisions of a book that for the most part are being tossed in the trash. Time is so precious as a fiction writer and we want those hours we spend at the keyboard to be worthwhile. We want them to mean something.

Well, you know what? They do mean something.

They always mean something, even if the end result is only ever seen by you and no one else.

You’ve probably read this or heard this before, but it’s true: any time spent writing or revising teaches you something. Even if you have to throw out your work. Even if you have to throw out scenes and characters and entire drafts you spent weeks and months on.

I’m throwing out 95% of four drafts of my novel, and I am thrilled about it. I started the new draft this week, and I’m going back to the book I loved in those early weeks. Yes, it needs a lot of work. Yes, some scenes, potentially even a character or two, will have to reworked or cut from the manuscript. I have tons of revising and editing ahead of me before I started querying this one to literary agents in the fall.

But it’s all for the best.

I’m listening to my gut on this one, and my gut says to go with the third draft, not the seventh. When the book was still working in a way I knew it was working and had promise to become something scary and memorable for younger readers.

Revisions are essential in the process of writing a novel, but don’t continue with another revision if the last one didn’t feel right. If you’re changing things and doing things for what you deep down believe to be the wrong reasons. It’s going to be your name on that cover, after all.

So do your best always to improve your latest novel through revisions and help from beta readers, but always remember it’s okay if you have to throw out one or more of those revisions.

Tell the story you want to tell, and make it your own. However long it may take.

And if you mess up somewhere along the way? Don’t panic. Those early drafts are always right there waiting for you.

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Posted in Books, Publishing, Writing

My New Book “Write Your Novel Now” is Available on Amazon!


Two years in the making, my new ebook about novel writing is officially live on Amazon!

For less than a cup of coffee you can learn 100 essential tips and strategies to help you draft, revise, and publish your novel.

Some of the tips and strategies include…

  • How to develop a killer work ethic as a writer
  • How to write your novel in a single month
  • How to choose the right word count, POV, and tense
  • Why revision is the key to being a successful writer
  • The words and phrases to look for when you’re editing
  • How to successfully query your novel to literary agents
  • What you need to know if you want to self publish
  • The pros and cons to MFA in Creative Writing programs
  • And lots, lots more!

So what are you waiting for? You can download Write Your Novel Now! 100 Tips & Strategies to Help You Draft, Revise, and Publish Your Book right now on Amazon for just $3.49. Yep, just $3.49.

Thanks for the support, and I look forward to your thoughts!

Posted in Publishing, Writing

5 Things You Should Know if You Want to Self Publish Your Novel


Self publishing is something every novel writer should look into sooner or later.

Because you know what? Self publishing has changed considerably in the past ten years, even the past five years. It’s not looked at in the kind of negative light it used to be.

Sure, there is a whole lot of crap getting self published out there in 2020, but there’s also lots of quality novels finding a home with readers everywhere.

Self publishing doesn’t have to be embarrassing. It doesn’t have to mean a death sentence. I’ve been trying to be traditionally published for a long time because I hope to see my book on a Barnes & Noble shelf and I want to work with amazing literary agents and editors that will help take my writing to the highest level possible.

But I’ve also thought about self publishing more than ever as of late. I currently have ten novels in the drawer — that’s right, ten novels that have never seen the light of day — and part of me is wondering if it’s finally time to get to work on putting at least some of these manuscripts into the world.

You can self publish anything, really, but the trick to be successful is to do it the right way, not the wrong way. Trust me, I’ve done it the wrong way many times before, and I don’t want to self publish one of my novels again until I have a solid plan and some talented people to help me make the writing soar.

Here are the five things you should know if you want to self publish your novel…

1. You want the entire package to be as professional as possible.

This is number one. You’re not going to want to slack on anything. Self publishing your novel is not the time to do a quick read-through, throw together a decent cover, and call it a day.

You have to treat the self publishing of your novel, even if it’s just one novel, as a business. You want to be professional. You want to look like you know what you’re doing.

Keep in mind there are so many novels self published these days. How are you going to stand out? What’s going to make a reader care about your book? If it’s not thoroughly professional in every way, you’re never going to make much of an impression on anyone.

2. If you’re not adept at graphic design, hire someone to design your cover.

One of the first things your potential readers are going to see is your novel’s cover. Again, this is not the time to slap something together that’s mediocre or that doesn’t represent your novel as well as it could.

Unless you’re super skilled at graphic design, you shouldn’t be making your cover in the first place. You should hire someone to make a cover for you. I’m lucky enough to have a longtime friend who’s super skilled at graphic design, but there are lots of places you can pay people to do the exact cover you want. There are even places where you can pay money to have various people compete to be your graphic designer.

I know you want to save money. I know you want to find some public domain image and put some fancy text on it. I see these kinds of covers all the time, but they won’t do you any favors. Your cover is going to tell your reader how serious you are about self publishing. Make sure the cover is pure gold!

3. If you have some money in your budget, hire an editor or at least a copyeditor.

I wouldn’t suggest it’s as important to hire an editor for your novel than it is to hire a graphic designer to make your cover, but if you have some money in the budget, it wouldn’t hurt for you to hire an editor to help make your manuscript better in every aspect.

Even just hiring a copyeditor to go through the book and find the typos and misspellings will give your work the professional polish it needs. Do you ever notice typos and misspellings in traditionally published books? Almost never, right? And when you do, it always sticks out because seeing one is so rare.

An occasional typo or misspelling won’t bring your self published novel down, but several will absolutely hurt you in the eyes of the reader. You want them to get lost in your story. You don’t want the magic evaporating for them every few pages because of constant errors in your manuscript. Editors will help with this, and, again, if you have the money, they’re well worth it in the end.

4. Series sell much better than stand-alone novels, and publishing books in the same genre will help grow your success, too.

A big reason I’ve hesitated self publishing lots of the novels I’ve written in the past few years is that there’s all stand-alone books. They don’t have sequels, don’t have follow-ups. And those can be hard sells when it comes to the self publishing world.

Readers love series. They love to go on a journey with characters in not just one book but in several. Trilogies are good. Series of five books or more are even better! If you want to be a success at self publishing, it’s going to be in your best interest to write series instead of stand-alone novel, although it’s certainly possible to write a stand-alone book that sells a lot of copies.

Keep in mind that your genre is important, too. A mystery or a thriller or a romance book will probably sell better than a super introspective literary novel. Readers have so many options these days, and you want to grab them with something. You want there to be some kind of hook. They don’t have time for things they might not understand.

And that goes for the genre you keep self publishing in, too. I made the mistake in my early self publishing days of putting out books in different genres, which absolutely confused my readers. Don’t self publish a horror novel, then put out a romance and a western a few months later. If you’re going to publish stand-alone novels, at least stay consistence in the genre they’re categorized in.

5. You’re going to have to promote, promote, promote.

Here’s the last big one. Something you absolutely can’t ignore. It’s something you need to understand when it comes to traditional publishing, too, but you for sure can’t ignore it when it comes to self publishing.

There’s always this feeling once you self publish something that because you worked on it so hard for so long, the readers are going to show up no matter what. You’ve revised it a bunch of times, had a copyeditor comb through it, hired a graphic designer to make you an amazing cover. The book is in a popular genre, and it’s the first of a trilogy. Naturally you’re going to assume hundreds of readers will snap it up instantly.

I’m sad to say that’s rarely the case. Even if all the right elements come together, it’s very well possible you’ll self publish the book and have almost no sales at all. A week will go by, a month will go by. You’ve told your friends and family… and you’ve sold less than ten copies. What happened? What went wrong?

Well, what probably went wrong is that you didn’t do any promotion for the book. You did no marketing of any kind. You didn’t spend any money for this part of the process, which is simply essential. Sure, if your novel is really good, you’ll probably sell some copies of it eventually even if you don’t do any promotion. Some people will find it if you wait long enough, but the problem is most of them won’t.

You’re going to want to pay for some advertising, you’re going to promote it on Facebook and Twitter and Instagram and Amazon and anywhere you can think of. You’re going to want to try new things constantly and see what works well and what doesn’t. You can’t just sit back and hope readers come. You have to make sure they find your book sooner rather than later!

Whatever novel you’re planning to self publish, I wish you only the best with it!

Traditionally publishing isn’t for everyone, after all. And sometimes you try for traditional publishing for a long while and have no success, but you know in your heart you have an amazing story the world deserves to read.

Just because you never found a literary agent to sign with doesn’t mean that novel you adore is over and done with. There’s still absolutely a way to get it out there, and better yet, you’ll have complete control over it, too!

Self publish for the right reasons, and do everything you can to make your work professional. Spend money for the perfect cover, hire an editor or copyeditor if you can, and promote, promote, promote.

And think about writing a series too, not just stand alone books. Even if you write the best stand alone novel ever, you won’t get very far if you only end up self publishing one book. You should want to self publish lots and lots of books!

And if they’re in the same genre, especially in the same series, your chances of success will only increase in the weeks and months to come.

Want to take your writing to the next level?

Click here to read about my Editorial Services.

Posted in Money, Publishing, Writing

How to Find Success on


Dear Friends,

A year in the making, my new ebook about writing for is officially live on Amazon!!

For less than a cup of coffee you can read all about 100 essential tips and strategies to make a substantial profit with your writing.

This book is both for the beginners who are just starting on Medium and for the long-time experts wanting to brush up on their skills.

Some of the tips and strategies include…

  • How to design your stories and profile
  • What Medium features are most beneficial
  • How publications work and why they’re so important
  • Why curation is crucial to your Medium success
  • What curation jail is, and how you can escape it
  • How promotion will bring more readers to your stories
  • Why new daily content will grow your income
  • How to write a successful story in 10 minutes
  • And lots, lots more!

So what are you waiting for? I’d love for you to take a look.

You can download How to Find Success on 100 Tips & Strategies to Make a Profit with Your Writing right now on Amazon for $3.99. Yep, just $3.99.

Thanks for the support, friends, and I look forward to your thoughts!

Posted in Publishing, Writing

I Start Querying My New Novel to Literary Agents Today!


Today I begin querying my new queer YA thriller to literary agents.

And I’m currently dealing with all sorts of emotions.

I’m nervous for sure, since I’ve been through this process ten times before. Ten times in ten years, and only once has a literary agent taken a chance on me.

A few times I thought signing with an agent was going to happen for me… and it didn’t. In the spring of 2016 I queried a novel called Toothache that received twenty full requests from agents in the course of a few months. I thought I had it made. I thought at least one or more agents would agree to take me on. But none did. They all said no. And I was crushed for awhile there.

Even when you pour your heart and soul into your book for many months and even years doesn’t necessarily mean a literary agent is going to take a chance on it, or you. There’s no guarantee of anything. And I have to remember that moving forward.

However, I’m still cautiously optimistic as I begin the querying process again, since I did have success with an agent once before and I feel like in the past three years since I signed with that person, my writing has improved considerably and my querying writing skills have improved a lot too.

I was lucky to work with an individual who showed me the power of revision and how strong of a writer I could be after lots of hard work and dedication. I’ve certainly come a long way.

And I’m also super excited, since I’ve been writing and revising this novel for three years now.

I’m ready to finally send a pitch for this book into the universe and see what happens!

I started working on this manuscript in February 2017, and I finished the first draft that August. It’s the novel I wrote for my MFA thesis at the University of Nevada, Reno. It was a novel I wanted to write years before, but I felt I wasn’t ready yet. I felt like I needed some time to mature as a writer, and I also knew how insanely hard this particular project was going to be.

And hard it definitely was. I put it off and put it off. I thought about it for the longest time (years, really), then finally wrote the first draft when I decided I wanted to make it my MFA thesis. I spent a long summer in dark rooms creating the first draft, messing up and making mistakes, but finally writing the thing and finishing it after so much time.

And in the past two and a half years I’ve completed eleven additional drafts. Twelve drafts total, and it’s been through so many different versions and iterations. In the second draft I gutted eighty-two pages from the middle. In the third draft I deleted two characters and added a new one.

I had seven beta readers read the novel for me and give me feedback in 2018. My MFA thesis advisor read it three times during my final year in the graduate program and helped me immensely in shaping it into something great. My former literary agent read four drafts and gave me awesome notes.

The book kept changing and changing. I kept making it better. Even in the eleventh draft I wrote three brand new scenes. And in the twelfth draft I just completed, I removed four thousand words from the book, stripping out any sentences, phrases, or words that didn’t need to be there.

The first draft was 110,000 words. The second draft was 80,000 words. After many more revisions the book got all the way down to 65,000 words, then went back up to 76,000 words. The draft I’m ultimately querying is 72,000 words, a good word count I think for a young adult thriller.

For three years now this story and these characters have been a part of me. Have obsessed me. Have given me reason to sit down at my computer again and again for another focused writing session.

But you can’t hold onto your novels forever. At a certain point you need to send them out into the world and see what happens.

After two and a half years working together, I unfortunately parted ways with my literary agent at the end of last year, for reasons I won’t go into here. She’s a tremendous agent and person. I wish her only the best.

I needed a fresh start at the beginning of 2020, and now it’s time to finally take my favorite novel, the project that has totally consumed me since 2017, the manuscript I’ve spent far more time on than any other, and start pitching it to literary agents to see if they might want to take it on.

I don’t know what the next few weeks and months will bring. I don’t know if one or more agents will take a chance on this thing. I sure hope somebody does.

All I know is I’ve put everything I have into this novel, and I know after three years of hard work it’s the best thing I’ve ever written. It’s the manuscript I always hoped it would be and more.

If there’s anything I’ve written in the last ten years I want to be my first traditionally published novel, it’s this one.

So keep your fingers crossed for me, okay? The querying… begins now.

Posted in Fiction, Publishing, Writing

My New Short Story was Just Published in a Literary Journal!


I’ve been seriously writing fiction for 10 years now, and I rarely have an experience like this one.

Since I started sending out my work at the end of 2010, I’ve mostly received rejections. I’ve gotten so very used to rejection.

In the past five years I’ve written fifteen short stories, and about half of those have since been accepted to literary magazines or paperback anthologies.

But even the stories that were accepted took a long, long time. Sometimes years. This past spring I had a story of mine, “I’ll See You in the Morning,” finally accepted to a literary magazine after four years on submission and probably twenty drafts total!

And then also this year I had my short story “Character Driven,” which I wrote at the end of 2016, finally accepted for publication, which was made me so happy. I love that story.

That second piece was on submission for about two years before it was accepted. Two years doesn’t even seem like a long time to me anymore. Two years seems almost average.

So it was a total shock to me this past summer when I wrote the first draft of a new short story called “Walter,” revised it a few times, sent it out to five places… and was accepted to one of those dream magazines in mere weeks. From first draft to acceptance was ten weeks, a goddamn miracle!

The story was inspired by a real-life event that happened to me in Portland, Oregon, in March 2019. Sometimes it’s better to come up with a story from scratch rather than piece together a work of fiction based on something that actually happened to you, the writer. But in this case, everything worked out.

And the nice surprises kept on coming!

When I received the initial e-mail that said “Walter” had been accepted to Bosque, I was overjoyed. Ecstatic. I was floating on air for days.

When you get rejected as much as I do, an acceptance of any kind is a truly momentous occasion. In early August I was informed that my story would be published in November, and I figured I wouldn’t have any e-mail interaction with this person until November, maybe late October.

An initial surprise: Mere days after receiving my acceptance letter, I received a follow-up letter from Bosque’s editor informing me I had been chosen as the literary journal’s pick for Fiction Discovery of the Year!

I had to read that e-mail twice, believe me. I didn’t believe it at first. What a lovely surprise this was!

A second surprise? The editor reached out a week later about copyedits. I figured whatever changes she wanted would take me an hour, maybe two. If I was lucky, maybe just thirty minutes.

You know what the editor wanted changed? One word. She questioned one word in the entire story. I agreed with her that the word was unnecessary, so I cut it from the manuscript, and then sent the story back.

That was it. I was done. After spending an entire year with a literary agent who made me revise my book ten arduous times, to be asked to change a single word of my manuscript was definitely a lovely surprise, one I did not expect.

A third surprise? Yes, there was a third one! In mid-September I received another e-mail from the editor telling me I would be paid for my story because of being designated as the Fiction Discovery of the Year. It wasn’t a lot of money, but it was a lovely gesture, and I was thrilled to receive a check in the mail a few weeks later, wow!

Were there any more surprises? Yep, the best one of all was this very week!

It’s one of the great surprises you can have as a writer — when the literary journal actually shows up in your mailbox.

It’s happened to me five or six times before in the last few years. And every single time it arrives not expected but as a total surprise because you always forget it’s coming.

I hadn’t thought of Bosque and “Walter” for a month or so. It wasn’t on my radar. I just returned home for a trip and checked my mail to find a package from Bosque, and I gasped! Here it was, hooray!

And oh my God, what a beauty this journal is. I say that every time I see my work in print (well, almost always), but after a decade of writing fiction and getting some of my work published, this is by far the most gorgeous literary journal yet. Here are some pictures below…

This was such a fantastic way to end my first decade of writing fiction. Such a perfect motivation to keep me going strong for many more decades to come.

Although I think of myself as a novel writer, not a short story writer, the success I had with “Walter” inspired me to return to the short form.

Starting in 2017 I promised myself to write at least one new short story a year, and I’ve stuck to that. I wrote a story in 2017 called “39 Pies” that has gone through twelve drafts and has been rejected at least forty times. In 2018 I wrote a long magical realism story called “Gretel” that has been getting extremely kind rejection notices, which is promising. That one’s gone through about ten drafts and I’m confident it will find a home one of these days.

Since ‘Walter’ was accepted so quickly, I decided to write a second short story in 2019, and so recently I completed my last new work of fiction of the decade, a story called “F” that’s written in the second person. I just started sending it out, and so far, only rejections. But hey, who knows what might come of this one in the new year?

Because of the success of “Walter” I have decided to aim for two new short stories a year. And to take risks every single time. I write middle grade and young adult novels, so it’s been fun to write adult fiction in my short stories. To write the kind of story I would probably never attempt at novel length.

To keep growing as an artist by thinking outside the box and coming up with something no one would ever expect of me.

So if you’re interested in writing short stories, now is a better time than ever to take a risk in more ways than one! Let my journey serve as an example of what can happen when you persevere, when you try and try no matter how much you fail, no matter how many rejections roll in year after year.

If you stick with something long enough, and if you give it your all every time, it’s absolutely true: you will get better, and you’ll eventually start to hear that lovely word yes even if you’re used to that ugly word no.

Let’s all see where our imaginations can take us in the months to come. Here’s to risk-taking and memorable short story writing in 2020 and beyond!