Top Ten Things an Author Should (or Shouldn’t) Do

Come, my friend, sit with me. Let me share the knowledge that the elders so freely gave to me when it was my turn to sit in that chair.

Let us hold our candles aloft and together we’ll part the darkness and find some wisdom amongst this lunacy. We’ll ignore the far off chatter from Goodreads, and we’ll disregard the smoke from the fires burning in the warring camps of Facebook groups.

I’ll unroll the parchment and together we’ll study these teachings and learn what we should and shouldn’t be doing.

1. Do not pay for interviews. This seems to be the current rage. Sites proclaiming to be the hottest link to get your book in front of thousands of kindle owners will charge you a premium to be interviewed. There’s no need to do this. There are plenty of bloggers looking for interesting authors to interview who will not charge you. Submit to them, and tell your story without reaching for your credit card.

2. Ignore the untruths, the noisy children, and the general nonsense coming from the areas filled with negative energy. I don’t like words like “trolls” or “sock-puppets” or “fake reviews”. I run my career in an honest, ethical manner and the authors I associate with do the same. When I see a list with my friends names on it, proclaiming that they bought a review, I ignore it and if anybody asks what I think I step up. I want to be around positive energy, not vindictive, negative, unproductive behavior. So, let the drums continue to bang, the trolls continue to troll, and place yourself above it.

3. Write more than you promote. Russell Blake’s advice is golden. I just wish I was currently following it. Russell writes 70% of the time and promotes 30% of the time. I’m working towards Russell’s plan because it’s a good one and like most authors who are doing the right things, Russell walks the walk. And because of that he’s extremely successful at connecting with his readers.

4. Hire professionals to do some of the work. I hate to keep harping on this point but although my new self-publishing guidebook is selling well you may not have had a chance to read it yet : ) So, I’ll say it again-I pay for editing, formatting, and cover design. I won’t compromise on any of those things. Producing a professional product for your readers is mandatory.

5. Keep trying become a better writer, and realize that no matter how many books you publish, you’re not there yet. I attended a writers conference a few years back and there was a panel where several multi-million selling authors were interviewed. All of them, at different points during the interview talked about practicing writing and trying to become a better writer. If they’re doing that I should be too. I’ll never be done trying to perfect my craft. I may have a section or three that I’m quite proud of but I’m by no means there yet, and never totally will be. I need to keep trying to become a better writer.

6. Engage, don’t spam. Yes, we want to talk about our work but there’s a right and wrong way to do this. And, if you’re promoting your book do it in moderation. If the only reason you’re talking to me is in order to get me to buy your book I’m moving on. It’s that simple.

7. When you engage with others online forget that you’re online. Pretend that you’re looking right into their eyes. Whether it’s reviewers, readers, authors, or website administrators, treat them with the same respect that you’d like to be treated with.

8. Pay it forward. Are you tired of hearing me use that phrase? I wouldn’t have reached the readers that I have without enlisting the advice of other authors. Because of that I try to pay it back whenever I can and help others. Positive energy will find and create more positive energy and if we, collectively have enough of it no amount of negativity will stop us.

9. Be prepared to hear the truth. Ed Griffin, writer of the very fine novel “Prisoners of the Williwaw” was my writing teacher. Ed would tell me “take all my advice, analyze it and then either accept it or throw it out the window.” Ed’s right. No one knows our story as well as we do. So, when it comes to content, ask for help, be prepared to hear the truth and react accordingly. The key is to have people around you who will tell you the truth.

Ah, here’s the most important piece of advice, listen well because I took the hit for you on this one. (Note to Indies Unlimited moderators: Do not, repeat, do not insert before and after pictures with this post).

10. Under no circumstances should you spend the summer sitting in front of your computer eating Dairy Milk chocolate bars and writing your new book. This is not a good combination. Eliminate the chocolate intake. No matter how much exercise you do in the few hours when you’re not penning your masterpiece you will still gain weight, lots of weight.

[Note from moderators: Sorry.]

As you can see my friend, these are things we should and shouldn’t do. So now, as the moon bears heavy on the barren sky, I take leave of you with these last few words. Remember, the only eyes you must be truthful to are the eyes who stare back at you when you gaze into the stillness of the river. And tomorrow, when the morning has come, and the water is clear, the slate will be clean and once again you’ll have an opportunity to begin anew. Just stay away from the chocolate.

Author: Martin Crosbie

Martin Crosbie is the administrator of and writer of seven published novels. His self-publishing journey has been mentioned in Publisher’s Weekly, Forbes Online Magazine, and Canada’s Globe and Mail newspaper. You can learn more about Martin on his Amazon author page.

40 thoughts on “Top Ten Things an Author Should (or Shouldn’t) Do”

  1. Another way to get professional editing etc is to bargain with people. The person that is going to be editing my next work is doing it because I sent her some books I no longer wanted. I didn’t do it for editing but she offered. As for covers, I like to use beginning artists. That way I get an original. As for pay it forward, I do that with every aspect of my life. I am also writing more than promoting and maybe that is why my sales suck! LOL. Thanks for all the hints Martin.

  2. If you get a chance, I recommend reading Martin’s guidebook, which he did not promote – ‘How I sold 30,000 eBooks on Amazon’s Kindle.’
    I read it and left a review for others.
    I’m still learning and this is a good reference book, and gave me some tips.
    Although sales are nice to have, an honest review has much more value especially if they help make a better writer..

  3. Great advice, Martin.
    Your book is next on the list.
    I have been writing more as well, but I suggest dark chocolate as a snack. It is difficult to eat a lot of it, and the flavonoids are good for you. 🙂

    1. Thanks for taking the time to read my book, Lois. And, that’s a no to the dark chocolate I’m afraid. I’ll just have to go cold turkey or find some, what’s that word again??? Oh yeah-moderation.

  4. Thanks Martin. I really appreciate your positive energy. It gives me hope and reminds me that good guys (like you) can finish first. It is sometimes difficult to churn through all of the noise and advice out there. But I appreciate the idea (highlighted in #5) that I can move forward with the attitude that I can always be learning, and that I might make some mistakes along the way, and that is okay. I can always become a better writer. I can also always become better at the business side of writing too – and that process of learning can be fun when I am doing it in accordance with my own beliefs.

    Am loving A Temporary Life by the way :-).

    1. Jennifer! Good to hear from you and it was great having you at the workshop. And yes, for me it’s progress not perfection. That’s what I have to strive for.
      Thanks for reading My Temporary Life and I’m very glad you’re enjoying it. Let us know when your books are live. These Indies Unlimited guys love new releases.

  5. Very sage advice Martin! I love your description of the different sites and verbage that some use to describe others! I too have stayed away from “Trolls” and other sort of people, I help out when I can and where I can. I too have an up and coming artist who does the covers of our book along with Rebbekah as well. Original and helping out a fellow aspiring artist. Love your humor! keep up the wonderful writing Martin~

  6. Great advice, Martin. Funnily enough, I’m losing weight. (I wish I could remember who it was who wrote in a post: Writing: a great way to lose weight.) But then I’m running up to releasing my first ever indie book in November, that’s probably got something to do with it.

    1. Oh Danielle, I wish I could say I was doing the same. Soon though, very soon. Good luck with your new book. You’ll be ready for the Christmas buying season.

  7. So good! Ed Griffin was one of my teachers, too, and I had the privilege of being in writer;s groups with both him and Bill Burns for a couple of years each. Most valuable education ever in and out of class. Write on, friend, your knowledge shows in every brilliant thing you have to share with us. Thank you, Martin! 😀

  8. Hey Aurora! Yes, Ed is an incredibly encouraging man, a great teacher. We must get together for that coffee one day and compare notes. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

  9. All good points, especially #7. I am disturbed by the recent rise in crude comments posted on a few LinkedIn author sites.
    I don’t eat chocolate (or anything else) when I am writing. When I’m not writing, well …

  10. Great post, no let me see:

    I interview authors … free of charge … phew check
    I pay it forward for authors with a showcase blog of their books… phew check
    I don’t eat chocolate while writing *crosses fingers behind back*, I eat jelly babies, lots of liquorice, and again, no chocolate … *still crossing fingers behind back* 😀

  11. Great stuff Martin,

    I’ve been working toward the 70/30 thing myself. It’s amazing how much more you can write! I’m an analytical guy, so putting it into a number is helpful for me. Thanks for the advice.

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