World Building Tips for Authors

forbes westGuest Post
by Forbes West

People come up to me – at bars, restaurants, half-way houses, and ask, “Forbes? That you?” After a few moments of sideways glances and awkward chatter, they will soon say to me, “Boy, Nighthawks at the Mission (available at now), you really set up a world there, whoa, I gotta say, you know, that world you built in that sci-fi story, yowza.” And I’ll nod and glance at my watch and exit the room quietly after making an excuse as I do not like talking to strangers.

After I’ve walked away and soon realize I left my keys in my other jacket pocket and I have to wait around an hour for my wife to come open the front door, I sometimes reflect to myself, what is world building? How does one do it without submerging the real stuff of story – the characters, the plot – and explain this new setting to the reader who doesn’t have the privilege of sitting inside my brain the entire day?

When I started writing Nighthawks at the Mission (available at now) I didn’t even exactly start with the story. I started by making up the actual entire world that this story would inhabit. Continue reading “World Building Tips for Authors”

Author Tips and Tricks

smart owlHere are a few tips, tricks, hints, and “did you knows” that we’ve been accumulating over the past few months. I hope they help!

Shipping to a library? Whether it’s a school library or an actual standalone library, make sure the word library is on the outside of your package in the ship-to address. Depending upon what Post Office you’re at, that will make your package eligible for “library rate.”  (Some postal workers actually haven’t heard of this, and there is a debate over where it has to be from AND to a library, or just one or the other.) Library rate is by far the LEAST expensive method of transit available. If that doesn’t work (it’s worth a try, right?), you can use media mail as long as there is no personal correspondence in the package.

Signing books and peripheral materials? Don’t use the same signature you use for your legal and financial dealings! You’re setting yourself up for identity theft if you do.

You can edit a facebook comment. Just go to the comment, hover over the top right-hand corner and you will see a little pencil. Hover over that and a little bubble will pop up – click on that.
facebook edit comment Continue reading “Author Tips and Tricks”

Tuesday Tutorial: Strut Your Stuff on LinkedIn

Unfortunately, LinkedIn has discontinued this reading list feature.

LinkedIn gives you an opportunity to show off your books without ever saying a word. Yes, it’s true. And for those of you who whine “but these people don’t know I write and I don’t want to tell them” – you don’t have to. That’s the beauty of it all.

LinkedIn has an option called “Reading List by Amazon.” Sure, you can add whatever you’re reading to that list – but why do that? Add your own books, and they’ll show up every time someone looks at your profile. Genius, eh?

LinkedIn Profile ScreenSo, go to your profile. Click on “More” on the Nav Bar across the top, then click on “Reading List by Amazon.”

That will take you to a new screen, with books that other people in your networks are reading. There is also a big blank box where you can type in the name of your book. So go ahead and do that, then click “Search Books.” (See next image.) Continue reading “Tuesday Tutorial: Strut Your Stuff on LinkedIn”

A Handy Tool for Authors: Google Alerts

The other day I mentioned to a writer friend that my Google Alerts didn’t seem to be catching everything. “What’s a Google Alert?” he asked. I was stumped. I thought everyone knew about Google Alerts. Every author should be using them.

I explained to him that you can set up Google Alerts to monitor subjects important to you, and it will send you email notifications any time a new search result is found.

For example, any time one of my new books is released, I set up a Google Alert for the title. That way, if my title gets any press, reviews, or is otherwise mentioned online, I’ll be notified. And the really REALLY cool thing about this is – you don’t have to have a Google or Gmail address to participate!

This is how to set up a Google Alert: Continue reading “A Handy Tool for Authors: Google Alerts”