Writing Advice

Surviving The Sting of Criticism

opposites-489521_1280-pixabay-pdEvery author needs to grow a thick skin if he or she wasn’t born with one, because without it, the sting of criticism will stop you from doing what you desperately want to do: write.

Recently I got a nasty review for one of my books (I won’t name which, or who posted it). I was surprised that the reviewer ended the tirade with the words: “I won’t be recommending this book.”

Obviously, from the poor review.

I was shocked at first, then followed my own policy of never giving it a second thought and refusing to rush to defend the book in the review comments.

I am always reminded of this quote summing up criticism: “Something you can avoid by saying nothing, doing nothing, and being nothing.”

It seems some reviewers are convinced that book that they don’t like should have never been written, that the author should have never been allowed to publish it, and that nobody else can change their mind.

One interesting comment this reviewer left was that the author (that would be me) presented the material in a way that made the reader doubt they could succeed in this home business.

Of that observation, I totally agree with the reviewer.

I always aim, in all my books, to present the pros and cons, the good, the bad and the ugly when I show readers how they can follow my steps and earn extra income. The reason I spend a lot of each book presenting the difficulties and the obstacles isn’t really to send a message of defeatism. It’s not that I want to discourage a reader from trying. I simply want to warn them that difficulties and problems are sure to crop up. Most home business ventures, whether they are part-time or full-time businesses, are fraught with problems, and what I try to do is to identify these problems early on some the reader can prepare and be ready to handle the obstacle.

I pride myself in presenting simple how-to books which help readers get a fast start to make extra money in their spare time. I also pride myself that I don’t make the process look too rosy. Yes, there will be problems, I tell my readers; But you can overcome them, I remind them. And, then I show them how.

Have I grown a thick enough skin over the years? Yes I have. Does the criticism still sting?

As a wise man once said: “If you want a place in the sun, you’ve got to expect a few blisters.”

All authors step out from the harbor of their dreams, to sail their written works out before the public. But being safe in a harbor isn’t what a ship was made for; likewise, being safe and protected and unpublished to avoid criticism isn’t the answer for the selling author. Toughening up that skin to deflect the slings and arrows of unfriendly reviews is the answer, and one of the most important skills to develop.

Don’t think I wasn’t appreciative of what that reviewer posted. I don’t think it will lose me too many sales. In fact, it gave me a reality check to completely explain the hows and whys of what I’m writing in future titles and when I update revisions of my current works in the future.

So, bottom line, this reviewer actually helped me see some improvements I can make to help sell even more books. Remember this: “To succeed, keep on doing what it took you to get started.”

Posted by Admin - October 16, 2016 at 2:03 pm

Categories: Kindle Books, Paperback Books, Writing Advice   Tags:

Keep Writing, Keep Publishing, Keep Going Until You Reach Your Dreams

overcoming-1697546_640-pixabay-pdIt is never too late to revert to perseverance to get things done. It was Dr. Samuel Johnson who advised us: “Great works are performed not by strength but by perseverance.”

Some call it “stick-to-itivness” or “gumption.”

Some call it grit.

Some call it obsession.

But I think staying the course self-publishing your work comes down to the internal quality of having the habit of persistence.

“Nothing in the world,” said Calvin Coolidge, “can take the place of persistence. Talent will not; nothing is more common than the unsuccessful man with talent. Genius will not; unrewarded genius is almost a proverb. Education will not; the world is sull of educated derelicts. Persistence and determination alone are omnipotent. The slogan “Press On!” has solved and always will solve the problems of the human race.”

So ask yourself….


“Do I practice the habit of persistence?”

“Could I be more committed to what I want to achieve?”

“Can I do something more, everyday, to advance me toward my goals?”

When you start putting pressure on yourself to reach your goals, you stretch your talents and abilities to new lengths, and they will never shrink back to their original limitations.

You have to set a fire under your butt to get going. No, you can’t do everything at once. But, you can do something at once. You can do one thing at once. So there’s no excuse to do one thing…. the next thing… that you need to do to make progress.

Not sometimes. All the time.

Everyday, think perseverance:


“He who is often shooting hits the mark at last.” (A German proverb)

“The sea is made bigger even by one drop.” (A Kalmuk proverb)

“Where one man finds an obstacle a stumbling block, another finds it a stepping stone.” (William Lyon Phelps)

“To wait for luck is the same things as waiting for death.” (A Japanese proverb)

“Weak men wait for opportunities…. strong men make them.” (Anderson Baten)

Finally, here is an extract from the public domain edition of Napoleon Hill’s classic “Think and Grow Rich” published by The Ralston Society back in 1937, where he underscores 8 key causes underlying persistence:

“Persistence is a state of mind, therefore it can be cultivated. Like all states of
mind, persistence is based upon definite causes, among them these:

a. DEFINITENESS OF PURPOSE. Knowing what one wants
is the first and, perhaps, the most important step toward the
development of persistence. A strong motive forces one to
surmount many difficulties.

b. DESIRE. It is comparatively easy to acquire and to
maintain persistence in pursuing the object of intense desire.

c. SELF-RELIANCE. Belief in one’s ability to carry out a plan
encourages one to follow the plan through with persistence.

d. DEFINITENESS OF PLANS. Organized plans, even
though they may be weak and entirely impractical, encourage

e. ACCURATE KNOWLEDGE. Knowing that one’s plans are
sound, based upon experience or observation, encourages
persistence; “guessing” instead of “knowing” destroys persistence.

f. CO-OPERATION. Sympathy, understanding, and
harmonious cooperation with others tend to develop persistence.

g. WILL-POWER. The habit of concentrating one’s thoughts
upon the building of plans for the attainment of a definitepurpose, leads to persistence.

h. HABIT. Persistence is the direct result of habit. The mind
absorbs and becomes a part of the daily experiences upon which it
feeds. Fear, the worst of all enemies, can be effectively cured by
forced repetition of acts of courage.”

Posted by Admin - September 26, 2016 at 9:42 am

Categories: Book Promotion Ideas, Kindle Books, Paperback Books, Writing Advice   Tags:

Before You Type A Single Word, Find Out What Types Of Books Sell Best

bestsellers-1656185_1280-pixabay-pdWhen you create nonfiction ‘How-To’ or ‘Self-Help’ titles, the best way to be successful (that is, sell lots of e-books and earn a fair profit) is to discover what potential readers are looking for, research the solutions, compile the answers, write up the step-by-step plans, and then create/format/illustrate/upload/promote your e-book yourself.

With nonfiction you do not entertain; you offer solutions to problems.



If you were going to invent something, wouldn’t you put all your energy and your intelligence and sweat labor into inventing something people actually needed and couldn’t wait to purchase?

Well, that’s what I do. In my opinion, nonfiction, self-help, “how-to-do-it-yourself” e-books will tend to sell better, longer, and at a higher price point than any other type of digital product.

Before you waste time choosing the wrong e-book to research, write, edit, publish and promote, follow these two simple rules to determine your best options by writing in your notebook answers to these questions and exercises meant to get the creative ideas flowing:


  1. Ask yourself: “What do I love to do?” The answers will lead you to consider what you’re passionate about in life, work, play and relationships. By being passionate about something, you’ll find the energy you’ll need to follow through on a subject long enough to dig up the information, compile, craft and distribute your work to others who are able and willing to pay for this information.
  2. Write down five 3-5 word phrases like “work from home” or “natural acne remedies” or “how to stop smoking fast” that relate to the things you love to do. Type them the way you speak them. Some will be winners, some will not. Your key to success is eliminating the keyword phrases that have low demand/high supply (that is, not many people looking for them and/or too many webpages competing for a high ranking on that particular keyword). Another factor in your decision making process will be how valuable your keywords will be. It’s nice to rank high in the search engine results for your keyword… but if no one is buying in that category or advertisers are not spending money on ads in those search results, you’ll be barking up the wrong tree with you e-book efforts and you’ll likely spend a lot of time writing an e-book that few people are needing. If they don’t need it they’re not going to spend money on it. And charging for your e-book is the only way you’ll make steady cash in this business.

Posted by Admin - December 17, 2015 at 9:00 am

Categories: Kindle Books, Paperback Books, Writing Advice   Tags:

What’s In Your Pipeline?

pipeline-1585686_640-pixabay-pdBack when I earned my keep selling advertising, it was understood that you always needed new prospects, even when you had plenty of sales. That is, you had plenty of sales right now. Next month, you started over from zero. Not having any prospect halfway sold was like being out of business.

It is called keeping your pipeline full.

That holds true for self-publishing as well. No projects in the pipeline, no juice to keep your sales going.

Now, it you’re not writing to make money, then stop reading right now. This blog is for writers who treat what they publish as a business. If it’s a hobby for you, what I’m about to share will probably just irritate or annoy or outrage you, so skip this blog post.

For myself, I have come to the end of my author series, on how to sell more Kindle books, at least for the time being. I have the outline of a new ebook on how to gain more positive reviews and how to advertise your books for free, but those will move over and wait. My latest book will publish in March 2015, and will focus on helping the indie author find that missing spark, that magic formula if you will, to get started and complete everything you start.

And “The Magic Formula” is the basis of my next series of books. They’ll allow me to look at non-fiction self-help topics in a fresh way. I’ve got one ebook almost ready for final proofing. I’ve got several other titles in development. I’m filling the pipeline as we speak.

My goal has evolved to the point where I want to create a long-lasting, “evergreen” body of work, that will sell long after I’ve written it. That’s what I hope you, the reader, strive for too.

My topics will aim at self-help solutions. They will fall under the “Magic Formula” umbrella. Yes, they will be shorter than my current works. But they’ll offer up immediate solutions to everyday problems. The goal: once you read it, you can apply it; once you apply it, problem gone.

Yes… many would scoff at such an approach. But in my mind, people are buying Kindle books either for escape or personal solutions. They want fast ways to solve their problems. They need help. These new books will allow me to deliver that help. Quick and easy.

Back to the pipeline: by pushing this new series of ebooks forward, I can anticipate these new projects, work through them, get them published and move on to the next. They’ll be available both in paperback and in digital download formats. Having my pipeline full gives me a full plate to start working from.

The secret now is staying on track, keeping up with a full schedule, and knowing when to stick a fork in once book project, publish it and then move on to the next.

So what do you have in your pipeline?

Have you set up a series that needs to be finished?

Great. What then?

What have you got waiting in the wings?

What’s next?

Kindle book publishing is a simple process. Write what you want, push a button, and whoola! — your book is available to millions of readers on the world’s best bookselling platform, the Amazon website.

Once you’re finished with the book you’re currently writing, what will you write next?

If you’re not sure, then decide now what you will write next month, next year, five years from now, and do it today. Time will pass. Tomorrow — the day you put the hard stuff off to — is rushing toward you. Fill up your pipeline now to be ready when it arrives. Keep writing, keep learning, keep expanding your indie publishing bookshelf. You will succeed so long as you never quit!

Posted by Admin - February 23, 2015 at 10:06 am

Categories: Kindle Books, Paperback Books, Writing Advice   Tags:

How To Get Others To Promote Your Kindle Book, Land More Book Reviews

After you’ve written you book, you’ve got to get exposure for it. You need reviews. You need word-of-mouth buzz. You need advertising. Here’s a place to start finding ways you can do it all. For free.


Great article written by Jim Devitt. Read and bookmark this 2012 blog post for regular reference. Good info that is still helpful when you want to improve your sales rank and boost royalty checks.



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Posted by Admin - June 29, 2014 at 10:54 pm

Categories: Book Promotion Ideas, Kindle Books, Writing Advice   Tags:

Free List: Promotional Websites To Promote Your New Kindle Book

Good resource for Kindle Book authors:


Created as a SlideShare post by AmyDebCreations.com, detailing very good ways to sell more books, get more exposure and increase pool of readers who will help share news about your published ebooks and paperbacks. Highly recommended.

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Posted by Admin - June 29, 2014 at 11:22 am

Categories: Book Promotion Ideas, Kindle Books, Recommended Tools & Websites, Writing Advice   Tags:

From Blank Index Card To Published Article In 24 Hours


Repurposing and reusing your own content is easy. Let me show you how easy it can be.

KDP-Self-Publishing-CvrThe other day I listened to a teleseminar on the subject. It made me wonder: “Would it be worth the time and trouble to create my own MP3 audio training report that could provide added-value for readers of my book?”

I scratched a few notes onto a blank 3″ x 5″ index card, then jotted down a few more ideas on the back.

I quickly drafted and recorded a 10-minute MP3 lesson on a subject from a book I published back in 2012, showing readers how to start their own home-based bookstore online. Here is the book I wrote about:



But the lesson was about how to write your book for different audiences. I’d realized after I’d published this book that I was missing out on sales because I’d overlooked including information to at least three audiences.  This experiment in offering updated information on my blog didn’t take long to produce.  The recording was a one-time take. I didn’t edit it, and I spoke off the cuff, referring to my double-sided index card during the recording.

I made the recording using a cheap telephone headset, utlizing recording software that came free with my laptop (found in Programs>Accessories>Sound Recording), and free WMA-to-MP3 software I downloaded from Cnet.com.  (Note: Anything you record onto the laptop goes direct to WMA, Windows Media Audio. I had to convert it afterwards to MP3 so it would be easier to share online.)

After I’d uploaded the MP3 to my blog, I grabbed the index card and was ready to toss it into the trash… when I wondered: “Can I do something else with this?”

I thought I could.

Then, I did.

I jotted down “Post article to EzineArticles” as a reminder. I’ve had a lot of success over the past few years with the free article content I’ve published through EzineArticles.com.

But, instead of procrastinating until the mood had faded and the urgency had been lost forever, I logged onto my EA member site later that afternoon and started writing. Their writing and editing interface is really good. You can write as you brainstorm and the publishing page saves what you’ve written as a draft while you type. I jumped around: Thought up a title based on keywords I wanted to target. A short 3-sentence introduction. Then I dropped down to keywords. Then even further down to my Author Resource box. Only then did I start writing.

What did I write about?

I wrote from what I’d jotted down on that little index card.

I looked at the few words I’d scrawled to remind me what to make my audio recording about, and then I started typing as the words flowed. When the words stopped flowing, I looked back at the index card, read the next couple words, and started typing again.

As I typed, a scenario that I used in sales calls 10+ years ago popped into my mind.

I wrote it down.


I turned the index card over and was reminded of three solutions to the problem I was explaining to my reader.

I wrote all three down.

I summed up the article. Fixed the two hyperlinks EzineArticles gives writers as payment in kind vs. a cash payout, then started editing.

It took all of 30 minutes.

But I didn’t publish it right away. I logged out. Let the idea stew in my mind all night, then into the next morning.

By late morning, I spotted that worn index card and remembered to log back into EA, do a final edit, and click on the ‘Publish’ button.

I logged out and figured I’d hear if the article was accepted in 2-3 days.

Let me tell you, I was surprised to get an email within the hour that my article had been accepted, was published, I had the link ready to share with anyone who wanted to read it (here is the article), and a message that my article would be added to their homepage within 24 hours.

I was shocked and pleasantly surprised. I clicked through to the article: There was my smiling face; my article; my author resource links to my chosen landing page.

Done. Finished. Ready-made content.

All from a tiny little index card and a wild idea.

You can do this too. You can have a stack of these small cards sitting right next to your laptop or desktop computer, or in your pocket or purse. You can sketch out an idea you want to share with somebody, then record it, transcribe it or rework it into an article, and you’ll have all this at your fingertips:

1. An MP3 for sharing your idea (here is the MP3 lesson I created and repurposed into the EA article).
2. An article published for free far and wide — and likely to rank well for a few days on search engines.
3. Content for your blog, website, or social media platform.
4. ‘Lessons Learned’ content that you can share with readers, followers, potential propsects… and this is what you’re reading now — my lessons learned.
5. If you have your RSS feed from your blog linked into your Author Central page, a smidgen of your article post will show on that page too.
6. Once you have your article posted on one of your blogs or websites (hey, it’s my article, I’ll post it online for extra mileage myself!), then you have a new landing page to send people after a quick post to Facebook, Twitter, Google+ — any place you are posted with hopes of being followed.

And that’s that. I didn’t post this to brag, I didn’t post this to try to get a cheap link to my published books and hope to make a fast buck (although I’m not above being cheap, nor hoping to make an extra sale here and there!)

No, I posted this to share how easy and simple this process was. It wasn’t even a process. It was simply an index card that turned into a published article in less than 24 hours. It’s free and easy to duplicate. Try it. You might be happily surprised of what turns up!

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Posted by Admin - May 20, 2014 at 2:11 pm

Categories: Book Promotion Ideas, Kindle Books, Recommended Tools & Websites, Writing Advice   Tags:

Adding Bonus Audio Files To Help Readers

I am experimenting with uploading free MP3 audio files to my blog to help readers get more out of my Kindle books.


Here, I’ve uploaded a 13-minute MP3 file on the subject of sourcing used books for resale, the topic of my book, “How To Make Easy Money Selling Your Old Used Books on Amazon.”  I made the file with a cheap pair of headphones plugged into my laptop, and recorded the message by clicking on the free the Recording Option from my computer’s ‘Accessories’ folder from the Start Menu (I use a Windows 7 laptop).

I then downloaded a free WMA to MP3 software and it converted quickly (about 5 minutes) from the Windows Media file to an MP3 file that I’ve uploaded. You can click on the player below to access this recording:


It didn’t take long to do this recording. No editing was done. The recording, converting, and uploading to this page took all of 30 minutes. I’ll be able to see if this type of ‘value-added’ information will help my readers, and if so, I can offer additional features and services in future Kindle books I publish.

The sweet part about adding this to a WordPress blog is that when you insert the MP3 by clicking on the button titled “Add Media,” the WP software automatically loads the audio player right into the post (the long black audio player bar you see right below the thumbnail of my book cover) and this makes is very simple to create a new post in seconds.

One idea you might want to try is to run a much larger image of your book or photos showing the process of the tips you are sharing. One other idea might be to inserting ‘photo rotating’ code into your page to show the process you are speaking about. Bulleting ‘tips’ will also give the person listening to your message something to look at on the page.

Finally, it would be a good idea for me to add a “What’s Next?” button, where I offer a free download or a link to another page, another book or video I have for sale, or a way for the viewer to opt-in to a membership site, a mailing list, or sign up for an ecourse.

The sky is the limit! Let me know what your ideas are for this.


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Posted by Admin - May 14, 2014 at 11:04 am

Categories: Book Promotion Ideas, Writing Advice   Tags:

2 New Kindle Books Put Focus On Self-Publishing Shortcuts, Building Better Book Descriptions To Get More Sales


Announcing the new release of “Self-Publishing Kindle Books That Sell! – How To Write and Publish Money-Making Kindle Books” — a complete collection of how-to advice that will aid any writer struggling to write ebooks that will sell.

Click here for the 176-page Kindle Book version

Click here for the 152-page paperback workbook, and oversize book measuring 8 1/2″ x 11″ — plenty of room to collect your thoughts and organize your research on any book project.

Clear. Concise. Complete. That’s what you’ll find in “Self-Publishing Kindle Books That Sell!” Here’s what one reviewer had to say:

“After reading the review copy of ‘Self-publishing Kindle Books that sell,’ I was not surprised about being impressed with the quality. If you’ve read any of Steve Johnson’s books before you, too, won’t be surprised. Steve continues to provide value.
The book includes, for instance, the significance of keyword phrases, along with a keyword phrase chart; an explanation of the importance of book covers; how to effectively title your book and its importance on complimenting the content.
In addition, readers will be pleased with the 8 topics Steve provides to get them started writing their eBook immediately with tips on how to craft a title for each one, along with tips for book description, work sheet and much, much more.”

— Award Finalist & Bestselling Author, Cherry-Ann Carew, founder of Writetastic Solutions

As a bonus, you get eight “Shovel-Ready” nonfiction ebook ideas to get you started… topics that are evergreen and ever sought out. Easy topics to research and write…. plus, most of the research has already been done for you.

Get your copy today!

sellmorekindleebooks-book-cover - med

“Sell More Kindle Books! How You Can Write Better Book Descriptions That Can Sell More Kindle Books” is now available in the Amazon Kindle ebook store. Author Steve Johnson zeroes in on one of the most important ways self-published writers and indie publishers can use free tools that Amazon offers to get more exposure for their books and paperbacks that they are selling online.

The Kindle version is 104 pages, and includes links to 4 free downloads readers can access upon purchase to print off step-by-step worksheets and have them at their fingertips as they brainstorm the right ways to craft book descriptions that lead readers to the ‘Buy Button’ and boost book sales! (View details here)

The printed paperback version has a few more pages of worksheets. It is available now direct from CreateSpace. (Get your copy of the paperback version here)

Johnson has more than 12 titles self-published on the Kindle Direct Publishing platform. He conducts ‘Ebook Bootcamp’ workshops for new and experienced authors in Northwest Arkansas, his home state, where he lives and works in the beautiful Ozarks Mountains.


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Posted by Admin - August 15, 2013 at 11:11 am

Categories: Writing Advice   Tags: