Plottr Review (2021 Pros and Cons)

Can Plottr help you plan better fiction stories?

While there’s no denying that a great plot is essential for successful fiction, there are multiple ways to come up with one.

Some authors outline their work in granular detail, breaking down their story into chapters, scenes, and even moments within scenes. Their actual writing process involves fleshing out an incredibly detailed story skeleton they already have.

Other writers are advocates for an approach known as pantsing. They might have a few key story details in mind at the start, but they largely develop their plot as they write. Stephen King likens this approach to gradually excavating dinosaur bones and discovering their shape as you go.

If you’re a believer in plotting your story in advance, to whatever extent, then you should read this full Plottr review and discover what Plottr does and whether it could help your planning process. 

What is Plottr?

Plottr is a very specialized software solution that allows authors to plot their books.

Unlike other writing tools, Plottr doesn’t offer its plotting functionality alongside a writing and editing environment. Instead, this is a dedicated app that focuses only on planning your story before you sit down to write it. You’ll need a separate tool to write the story itself.

Now that the basic concept behind Plottr is clear, let’s explore the features it offers, whether they are worth it and if Plottr is the best solution for your needs. 

What does Plottr do?

plottr review what does the software do

Plottr provides you with a visual overview of your story’s plot, allowing you to outline your story with or without a template across desktop, laptop, or mobile devices.

As well as giving you a clear visual path to follow as you write, Plottr also allows you to store information relating to your story so you never need to worry about contradicting yourself when it comes to important details. If you write complex works of fiction with many characters and locations, having all the info you need accessible and available is very convenient. 

Plottr also supports the ability to store all the information related to a series of books within one handy location. Some authors like planning out epic series of books, often in the fantasy or sci-fi genres, before they even sit down to write. So, if that’s the way you like to work, Plottr could be the tool you’re looking for. 

If you consider Plottr within the wider world of specialist author software, you’ll notice it’s a very specialized tool.

Of all the authors who write fiction, only a certain number like to outline their work visually. Of those that do, only some will see the value in investing in a premium software solution that does that alone.

However, that’s not to say there isn’t value in Plottr. Having a tool that does one thing, and that one thing very well is often the way to go.

Let’s explore Plottr’s functionality in a bit more detail.

Plot your story with templates

Having to come up with a structure for your story from scratch is hard. It’s not just hard, it’s inadvisable. 

Effective story plots typically follow certain structures, such as the three-act structure or hero’s journey, whether knowingly or unknowingly. Sticking to a story structure that readers love is a good way to ensure your fiction doesn’t end up meandering and boring your reader to tears.

If there’s a particular story structure you want to use for your next fiction project, there’s a good chance that Plottr supports it with a premade template. These templates can save you a lot of time and frustration by providing the structure to which you simply need to add your story.

The premade story structure templates supported by Plottr include:

  1. The Hero’s Journey
  2. 12 Chapter Mystery Formula
  3. 7 Point Plot Structure
  4. 8 Sequences Method
  5. Action Adventure Plot
  6. Romancing the Beat
  7. Shonen Manga
  8. Dan Harmon’s Story Circle

The list of story starter templates is often expanded. You can find templates for general fiction as well as those with a genre-specific focus.

As well as the templates included with Plottr, you can modify existing templates or create your own.  

Plot your story without templates

You might prefer to plot your story according to a structure that isn’t included in the templated bundled with Plottr or to come up with a new type of structure entirely.

If that’s the case, Plottr still supports the way you work. You can plot without a template, and even create a template from the structure you end up using. 

Most authors will probably benefit from the convenience of using a premade template, but these are by no means restrictive. 

Create characters

On an emotional and personal level, readers engage with characters more than any other story element. For example, Stephen King fans certainly respect The Overlook Hotel, but they have a sense of empathy for Danny Torrance.

Plottr helps you develop characters that will connect with readers and give your story the human touch it needs to succeed. 

You can create character cards easily in Plottr, allowing you to see a visual image connected to each character if you like, along with other information such as custom notes about them.

Plottr also provides character templates you can use in a way that’s similar to plot templates. For example, a premade character template allows you to quickly store information about each character’s goals, motivations, and conflicts, both internal and external. The character fields are also fully customizable so you can add whatever information is useful to your story specifically. 

Build worlds and design places

Creating a convincing setting for your story is important for fiction of any genre. However, it can be argued that certain genres, such as fantasy and sci-fi, lean more heavily on worldbuilding. In such instances being able to store incredibly detailed levels of information about your story’s setting adds to its richness and the level of enjoyment readers experience.

The places function of Plottr is kind of similar to its characters feature. For each place, you get a card that features an image associated with the place (if you want one), a summary of the place, and customizable fields. For example, if you were writing a sci-fi epic featuring different alien species and governments, you could add info related to those aspects for each place in your story.

Plottr also allows you to filter by place. So, if you wanted to, you could see all the plot points that take place within a certain place with the click of a mouse. 

Which devices is Plottr compatible with?

Plottr advertises that it’s compatible with all major devices, including:

  • Apple iOS
  • Windows
  • Mac OS
  • Android

However, if you want to use Plottr on multiple devices, you are required to pay a higher subscription rate. We’ll break down the different costs in a later section of this review. 

Can you use Plottr on iPad?

Yes, Plottr is compatible with iPads. However, there’s no word on whether you need a certain specification of iPad or iOS to run Plottr properly. Also, if you want to run Plottr on your iPad as well as other devices, you will be required to pay more. 

What Plottr doesn’t do

It’s just as important to know Plottr’s limitations as well as its capabilities. This is a very specialized tool so it won’t be right for everyone. 

Unlike other writing software, Plottr does not offer functionality related to:

  • Writing your story
  • Editing your work
  • Formatting your book
  • Exporting an eBook file

Plottr is purely for outlining books and book series and storing information related to characters and places. 

If that’s the type of tool you’re looking for, Plottr is a good fit. However, it’s a lot more limited than a lot of other book software. 

What are the pros of Plottr?

Hopefully, you now know what Plottr does. But does it do it well? 

In our eyes, the main pros of using Plottr include:

  • Created by an author. The original creator of Plottr developed the tool based on the outlining needs he had for his independently published fiction books. It’s always reassuring to know software is created by someone who gets your needs as they are similar to their own.
  • Upgraded over time. There’s nothing worse than software failing to evolve and offer bigger and better features over time. Plottr received regular updates and bug fixes and its users can vote on the roadmap that details its next steps.
  • Specialized functionality. Some writing software is almost overwhelmingly full of features. While the swiss army knife approach is right for some authors, others find it exhausting and would rather invest in a tool that does one thing and one thing well. Plottr is an example of the latter approach. 
  • Proven story templates. When it comes to effective fiction story structure’s there’s no need to reinvent the wheel. Plottr is preloaded with the types of plot outlines readers love so you can focus on telling your unique tale.
  • Works on different device types. Sometimes inspiration strikes while you’re on the move. Plottr’s compatibility with mobile devices means you never need to worry about a moment of inspiration getting lost while you’re out and about.

Overall, Plottr is a great choice of software for writers who need a specialist outlining solution that works across desktop, laptop, and mobile devices alike. 

What are the cons of Plottr?

No software solution is perfect. Naturally, Plottr has some drawbacks. 

In our opinion, the downsides of using Plottr include:

  • Limited functionality. While some authors will love the fact that Plottr is focused on outlining alone, you might find it to be less than ideal. If you’re looking for an all-in-one solution, Plottr isn’t your best bet. Tools like Scrivener offer everything Plottr is capable of as well as a lot more. 
  • Free/cheaper alternatives. Plottr is nicely presented and a pleasure to use. But does it do anything you couldn’t achieve with free access to Trello? If you’re just starting on your author journey, Plottr is probably an unnecessary expense you can avoid.
  • Extra costs for multiple licenses. Maybe you’ll disagree, but it’s slightly irksome that using Plottr on five devices costs $20 more a year than using it on three. There’s no real extra cost to the makers at that stage. It’s pure profit for them.
  • Subscription model. The pricing for Plottr is a little strange. You can either pay on an annual or lifetime basis, with no monthly model available. If you buy an annual subscription, but don’t renew it, your version of Plottr will still work. However, you won’t receive any updates or bug fixes. A simplified approach to pricing would probably go down well with most authors.

Overall, the major downside to Plottr is it does less than other cheaper tools like Scrivener. 

Admittedly, it has a far easier learning curve, but that’s only to be expected with a much simpler tool.

How much does Plottr cost?

At the time of writing, Plottr is available on either an annual subscription basis or a lifetime one-off cost. There are three payment tiers available for each option, depending on how many devices you need to run Plottr on.

If you want to pay for Plottr on an annual basis, it costs:

  • $25 for a single device
  • $45 for three devices
  • $65 for five devices

If you prefer to purchase lifetime access to Plottr, it costs:

  • $99 for a single device
  • $149 for three devices
  • $199 for five devices

Only you can decide if these price points represent good value for your needs as an author and in comparison to other software for author options on the market.

Is Plottr legit?

So with everything said and done, what’s the final verdict? Is Plottr legit? Is it a good investment for authors to make?

We can recommend that Plottr is a legit tool that various bestselling authors praise and use as part of their successful writing careers. We also firmly believe that the founder of Plottr is a genuine guy who developed Plottr as a result of his own outlining needs.

If you need a dedicated outlining solution, Plottr is a great choice. However, if you’re looking for a solution that does everything Plottr is capable of, plus a whole lot more, we suggest checking out Scrivener instead. 

stack of books - book summary websites

The 5 Best Book Summary Websites to Quickly Boost Your Knowledge

There’s a lot of reasons you might need a book summary. Maybe you don’t have the time to get through the books on your “want to read” list. Maybe you need to write some book notes for an article you’re working on. Maybe you just want to figure out if you want to read a full book.

Either way, it can be incredibly time-consuming to read through a whole book to find what you need, which is where book summary websites become a great option.

In this article, we’re going to dive into five different options. Most sites cover different types of books or have different uses, so you should be able to find the one you need.

What are book summaries?

Book summaries are pretty much exactly what they sound like — a summary of a book. Some summaries are incredibly in-depth and give you a ton of details. Others are shorter and give you main bullet points. Which one you pick will depend on what you need the summary for, but just know both are available.

If you’re a person who loves the nitty gritty details in some books, book summaries might not work for you. Most summaries skip over the stories that accompany most of the points the author is trying to make. However, if you love just being able to understand the main points and don’t mind losing some of the accompanying stories, these are exactly what you need.

Each book summary also depends on the person or company creating the summaries, as different people might find some parts more important than others.

Blinkist

book summary websites - blinkist

Blinkist is one of the more well-known book summary websites. It helps you get through books within fifteen minutes instead of the usual hours (or days) it takes to get through a book. Currently, there are over 5,000 books you have access to inside of Blinkist to learn. At the time of writing this, there is currently a free plan which only lets you access one summary per day, but depending on your schedule that might be a great option.

The main premise behind Blinkist is to use your blocks of time where you’re doing something mindless, such as commuting or waiting in line at a store, to learn great takeaways from some of the most popular books out there. You can download the audio versions of any of the book summaries so you can listen to them while you travel or are offline.

Pros:

  • Curates a to-read list for you as you go through books
  • Gives notes on podcasts as well as books
  • Provides both audio and video summaries
  • Works offline
  • Around 40 books added per month
  • Available on iPhone and Android

Cons:

  • Limited free plan
  • To fit in their time frame for summaries, longer books can be missing more key information than shorter books

Pricing:

  • With a free account, you are capped at only one book summary per day
  • Free trial for first 7 days
  • Paid plan starts at $8.34/month and is billed at $99.99 for the year
  • Month-to-month plan is $15.99/month

getAbstract

If you’re a fan of business books but don’t have time to read all the ones you wish you could, getAbstract is a great option. With a third of the Fortune 500 using GetAbstract, it has some of the best information to keep you up to date on all the newest books and information being published regularly. They have some other books out

As opposed to some others, getAbstract also has features based around businesses with employees. You can set up a monthly reading club or give access to certain topics for your employees to get caught up on a subject before important meetings.

Pros:

  • Mobile app for on-the-go learning
  • Rights secured for every title
  • 22,000+ books
  • Comes in multiple languages: English, German, Spanish, Chinese, French, Portuguese and Russian
  • Summaries of articles and reports
  • Summaries of TED Talks

Cons:

  • More expensive than some other options
  • Mostly focused on business books

Pricing:

  • 3 day free trial
  • A free student plan with access to 5,000 book summaries (upgrade to 22,000+ titles at $99 per year)
  • The Pro Monthly starts at $29.90 per month or $299 for the year

SparkNotes

Most of us used SparkNotes in school to get a quick summary on a book we had to read for an assignment. SparkNotes mainly focuses on academic books and topics such as Shakespeare, biographies, classic books, and other commonly-read books in schools.

It’s not purely summaries either, it’s mostly meant to help you understand what is being said, which is particularly helpful when it comes to old texts or Shakespeare. With over 500 guides, you’re bound to find the text you need.

Pros:

  • Accurate, quality summaries of most of the famous classic books
  • No Fear Shakespeare which is a side-by-side translation of Shakespeare which takes the text and turns it into plain English so you can understand every line
  • Apps available on iOS and Android
  • Help to make sure you can source from SparkNotes correctly

Cons:

  • It doesn’t have a lot of the new bestsellers as most content is for students
  • If you’re being tested on a book, it might not have all the details you need

Pricing:

  • SparkNotes is free to use 

Instaread

Instaread has a ton of book summaries inside of a clean, simple interface. They have a built-in “cards” feature which allows you to save your favorite quotes from books for reference. If there’s a book you’re enjoying more than the others, you also have the option to purchase the audiobook through the app itself to store in your digital Instaread library.

There are also some books exclusive to Instaread, so you can get all-new content. Some authors with exclusive content include Oprah, Elon Musk, Steven Hawking, Tim Ferriss, and so on. Along with major books, they also release summaries of articles from publications such as The New York Times and Harvard Business Review.

Pros:

  • Available on all devices
  • Can buy audiobooks through the app
  • Exclusive content not available anywhere else
  • Some of the reviews and summaries are longer than you would find on the other apps

Cons:

  • Fewer book options than some of the other websites

Pricing:

  • Seven days of a free trial
  • Plans start at $

Optimize

Optimize.me focuses mainly on books and content surrounding personal development — thus, it’s name. Most of the books focus on health, wealth, business, fitness, lifestyle, and philosophy. It has a sleek design which makes reading each of the notes easier. There are also accompanying videos for a ton of the books for a deeper understanding.

While it has over 600+ personal growth book notes, it also has tips for better optimizing your life along with a class that shows you how to get the most out of your life. Due to a great funding round, Optimize is now free for people to use.

Pros:

  • Available on iOS and Android
  • Focuses on personal development
  • Personal development bonus options (quotes, courses, and so on)
  • PDF and mp3 downloads available

Cons:

  • Not many books outside of the personal development realm
  • More for personal development than notes in an academic setting

Pricing:

  • It used to be $100 per year, but now it’s free

AutoCrit Review (Updated Guide for Authors)

As self-published authors, we’re always looking for a better combination of tools and apps to improve our writing and cut down on the amount of editing needed.

At the same time, you’re probably acutely aware of the pain that comes with trying too many different tools. Sometimes, less really is more! Every new tool involves a financial cost as well as the investment of time needed to learn its features.

So is AutoCrit worth your time and money?

In today’s full AutoCrit review we’ll explore exactly what AutoCrit is capable of, break down its cost, and give our recommendation on whether this app is right for you.

Let’s get to it!

What is AutoCrit?

AutoCrit isn’t like any other tools we’ve seen. The closest comparison would be Grammarly or ProWritingAid, but it isn’t exactly like either of those. 

Like Grammarly and other writing analysis and improvement apps, AutoCrit’s basic concept involves analyzing your text to identify its strengths and weaknesses. It then suggests areas of improvement.

However, unlike other software solutions, AutoCrit is designed with fiction authors firmly in mind. While Grammarly and ProWritingAid are useful for writers of every type, AutoCrit is mainly suited to fiction authors aiming to improve their craft. 

AutoCrit also claims to be suitable for academic writers and journalists, but in our opinion, its features will be most useful for fiction writers. 

Think of AutoCrit as an automated feedback partner for your next fiction story. 

Now that you know the basic concept behind AutoCrit let’s delve deeper into its features and capabilities.

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What does AutoCrit do?

Of course, it’s easy for software like AutoCrit to make grand promises about how it can help your writing and the problems it solves. 

But what does it actually do?

When you use AutoCrit you will see that the software analyzes six main aspects of your writing.

AutoCrit offers feedback based on your story’s:

1 – Pacing and Momentum

Having plodding pacing is a quick way to get your reader yawning and keen to put your back down without finishing it. 

A good sense of pacing and momentum is something editors have a feel for after years of reading and critiquing different stories, gaining an inherent sense of what does and doesn’t work.

So how is AutoCrit able to give you feedback in this area?

AutoCrit has scanned millions of books across different genres, so the software has a vast range of data on how long optimal chapters, sentences, and sections are for different styles of writing. The tool displays this data visually so you know how your book stacks up.

Authors with experience using AutoCrit have praised the tool’s ability to identify the very same pacing and momentum problems that real readers mentioned in their reviews.

2 – Dialogue

Let’s face it. Bad dialogue is one of the fastest ways to yank a reader out of the blissful suspension of disbelief and remind them they’re reading a story rather than enjoying something realistic. 

Dialogue might seem simple on the surface but so many authors fall into the trap of using inappropriate dialogue tags or writing in a wooden or unrealistic way. 

So is AutoCrit helpful at offering dialogue improvement suggestions?

The main way that AutoCrit aims to improve your dialogue is by identifying redundant dialogue tags or adverbs that lessen the impact of your character’s speech. It’s easy to fall into writing these without necessarily being consciously aware, so having AutoCrit identify them can strengthen your story.

3 – Strong Writing

Strong writing stems from the avoidance of cliche, repetition, and redundant words that weaken sentences.

AutoCrit can scan your text and identify weak writing that you could easily overlook during your self-editing process.

Of course, AutoCrit’s improvements are only suggestions. You’re still in complete creative control, so if your writing is identified as weak by AutoCrit but is a conscious choice on your behalf, you are free to retain it. 

AutoCrit’s assessment of your writing’s strength will never replace the ability of a human editor. However, it can offer a lot more than a typical self-edit. This has the result of making better use of your editor’s time and saving you money in the process.  

4 – Word Choice

Have you ever read back a piece of your own writing and thought ‘why the heck did I use that word so many times…and how did I not notice’? AutoCrit aims to eliminate that issue by identifying inappropriate word choices, excess repetition, and identifying times where you start sentences in the same old boring way.

5 – Repetition

Repetitive words and phrases can sometimes be stylistic choices by the author. However, they’re sometimes simply the product of going unnoticed. 

Often, reading your work out loud will help you identify any repetitive words or phrases which land heavily on the ear and distract from the meaning of your writing. But it’s always easy to overlook some. AutoCrit eliminates this problem. 

6 – Compare to Fiction

The unique feature that sets AutoCrit apart from other somewhat similar tools is the large number of books it has scanned to generate the data it works from.

It claims the number of books it uses for data to be in the millions. This is hard to verify but there is no real reason to doubt the claim. One of the cool features offered by AutoCrit is a direct comparison with how your book compares to its scanned data for the following genres:

  1. General Fiction
  2. Movie Script
  3. Mystery/Suspense
  4. Romance
  5. Sci-Fi/Fantasy
  6. Short Story
  7. Young Adult

It also allows you to compare by author, both fiction and nonfiction. So, for example, if you were writing a self-help book, you could assess how your sentence lengths compare to Tony Robbins’. If you were writing a young adult fantasy book you could measure your stats against J.K Rowling’s.

Depending on your way of thinking, this might strike you as either very cool or antithetical to the nature of creative work. However, in our opinion, it’s a useful feature. Say you want to ensure your work is paced similarly to a particular genre or author you admire. AutoCrit removes the guesswork. 

So now you know the main areas of assessment that AutoCrit carries out on your text. You’ll probably agree that these are most useful for fiction authors, as nonfiction authors are unlikely to find much value that they wouldn’t get from Grammarly or ProWritingAid.

If you like the basic concept of AutoCrit and think it could add value to your writing and self-editing process, read on to discover how it works in more detail, the extra bonuses it offers, and how it stacks up to competing services and tools.

autocrit review

What does AutoCrit score mean?

AutoCrit gives your text an overall score. This is similar to the rating provided by Grammarly if you’ve ever used that.

It assesses the number of improvements it believes should be made relative to the length of your text, rates them according to how important they are, and gives your writing a numerical value between 0 and 100.

It’s important to not get too caught up on the score itself. AutoCrit is only making suggestions after all. You might not agree with them and as the author that is your prerogative and right. 

However, the score is useful in terms of allowing you to get a feel for how much improvement you might need to make, and is also valuable in comparing two different texts.

What’s a good score on AutoCrit?

As stated in the last section, it’s important not to think of AutoCrit scores as good or bad as such, more like just how much scope there is for change.

However, the makers of AutoCrit state that most successful books tend to score at least a 70 in their experience, and often range between 70 and 90. You might want to use those numbers as a ballpark when assessing your work.

Is AutoCrit better than Grammarly?

General writers probably won’t find much value in AutoCrit that isn’t present in Grammarly, but if you’re a fiction writer, you’ll probably find the extra features make it a better choice, provided you agree with the recommendations made and feel they improve your process. 

Grammarly integrates more widely than AutoCrit and is useful for many types of writing. However, the massive number of books AutoCrit has scanned and the unique analysis it provides to fiction writers make it an arguably better choice.

What is the AutoCrit community?

The creators of AutoCrit are keen to emphasize that when you invest in this tool, you’re getting more than just software.

Depending on the level of membership you end up choosing for AutoCrit, you gain access to extra services outside of the core software such as a mobile app, community discussions, talks from famous authors, and preferential access to done-for-you services like editing and critiques. 

Although these services look attractive on the surface, it’s important to stop and think about how much value you would get from them. After all, quality done-for-you services are widely available through various platforms. Also, there are plenty of quality writer discussion groups available that don’t require an AutoCrit subscription.

That’s not to say that there isn’t value in the extra offerings from AutoCrit. If you think they’re a good fit for your needs and you can see yourself participating in them to an extent that justifies the extra membership cost, then by all means go for it! We’re definitely in favor of authors being offered extra help. Just make sure it’s the right fit for your needs rather than being wowed by the idea rather than the reality. 

Does AutoCrit offer courses?

As well as its core offer of the AutoCrit online editing tool, the company also provides educational courses to writers.

The courses on offer at AutoCrit currently consist of two different types – one set of courses that you receive as a bonus when you purchase the highest tier of membership, and a separate set of courses that are available for a standalone price that also includes access to AutoCrit.

Let’s take a quick look at both types of courses.

When you sign up for the highest level of AutoCrit access, Annual Professional, you also get access to two courses:

  1. Eliminating Repetition. This course teaches writers how to keep their writing varied and engaging.
  2. How to Write Better Dialogue. This course teaches the principles of crafting realistic conversations between your fictional characters.

While these courses cover useful topics, it’s questionable how worthwhile they are as standalone courses. 

For example, would you really want to take an entire course about dialogue? Wouldn’t it be better to take a broader fiction course that covered dialogue as just one aspect of the bigger picture?

Also, it’s interesting to note that these courses are almost an admission that AutoCrit on its own won’t teach you everything you need. The tool identifies both repetition and dialogue errors – but apparently not to the full extent you need to be an effective writer.

Aside from the courses bundled with the highest AutoCrit plan, the company currently offers the following two courses on a standalone basis:

  1. Story Sorcery: Write Fantasy. Lasting for a month, this course teaches you the fundamentals of fantasy writing with a series of online lectures, exercises, and a supportive community of fellow learners.
  2. Nightmare Fuel: Write Horror. Just like the fantasy writing course, this offer provides a month of tuition to help you craft better horror tales.

Both courses are listed at a regular price of $298 but are available for purchase at $149. Whether the courses are ever sold at the full price or that’s just a marketing gimmick isn’t exactly clear. 

How much does AutoCrit cost?

So now that you know everything AutoCrit does, and the various extras on offer, let’s get down to the detail of how much it will set you back.

At the time of writing, AutoCrit is available at three different price points:

  1. Free. Very basic access to AutoCrit including grammar and spelling and a few of the more advanced editing reports like repetition, but without access to the vast majority of the features that make the paid offering worth it. 
  2. $30 a month. Full access to all of the editing reports from AutoCrit as well as its comparison to pro author capabilities. This tier also grants access to the membership community and other bonuses.
  3. $297 a year. Paying for an annual subscription in one go gets you everything from the monthly subscription tier as well as access to the bonus courses mentioned above as well as a cost-saving of around 2 months a year.

So which option do we suggest?

Unless you’re sold on everything AutoCrit is capable of, it makes sense to start with the free tier. Check it out and get a feel for what the tool does and if you like the basic experience of using it. 

If it’s a good fit for your needs, try a month of the paid tier. Get access to everything the tool does so you can make a personalized comparison with your other self-editing options.

We’re willing to bet that, for the majority of people reading this, you will only be editing full manuscripts a few times a year at most. So it might make better financial sense to subscribe monthly when you’re in the self-editing phase, and then cancel for the months you don’t need the tool.

Is AutoCrit worth it?

Ultimately, we’re firm believers that every self-published author needs a self-editing tool. Whether you opt for Grammarly, AutoCrit, or ProWritingAid is down to personal preference.

These tools will never replace the need for a human editor. They just aren’t capable of that level of insight and feedback.

But if you like the sound of AutoCrit and you write fiction, why not give it a go? Compare it to your existing self-editing solution and see if it’s a better fit for your needs. 

BookCamp Review: The Writing Hub You Didn’t Know You Needed

BookCamp is the writing hub you didn’t know you needed

If you’re dreaming of writing and publishing a book one day, but aren’t sure what to do next, then Chad R. Allen’s community may be exactly what you need to reach your goals. Read on the for the full BookCamp review.

Quick disclaimer before moving on: We are affiliates of BookCamp. That does not affect any of the breakdowns below.

BookCamp is a membership community providing expert guidance to help you find shortcuts to publication. Offering self-paced training alongside group events and coaching, BookCamp helps writers become authors and build their platform.

This program is designed to help a variety of writers, but if you’re a nonfiction writer who wants a book deal with a traditional publisher, then you’ll get the absolute most out of this program and community.

What is BookCamp?

BookCamp is a mentorship community built around creating accountability and training to help you get your book out into the world. Through BookCamp you’ll set goals for your project, establish personal accountability and create a writing and marketing schedule that works for you.

Inside BookCamp, you’ll discover a supportive group of writers who are working towards the same goals and who want to help one another. And while having a supportive community is great, there is also a huge library of practical training available as soon as you become a member. Topics range from the steps to getting a book published to the best way to develop a great book concept and so much more. 

In addition to pre-recorded training, every month more expert interviews and training are added to BookCamp. This is in addition to opportunities to attend live virtual events such as co-working, group coaching, and masterclasses!

Here’s what you’ll learn about in BookCamp:

When you sign up for a membership you have an all-access pass to all the training and features of BookCamp, including previous coaching and training sessions.

Upon entering BookCamp for the first time, you’ll be prompted to go through an orientation where you’ll learn how to use the site and set goals for your book project. 

Everything in BookCamp is themed around going to summer camp, so as you navigate the site you’ll come across:

  • Your Trail Map (an outline of the path to publication)
  • Fireside Chats (one-on-one mentoring and group coaching)
  • The Writer’s Cabin (dive into writing process and craft)
  • Pitch Your Tent (learn how to create your online presence)
  • The Pavilion (learn how to grow your platform) 
  • Capture the Flag (focus on developing a great book concept)
  • The Amphitheater (learn the ins and outs of publishing)
  • The Blob (get training on how to market your book)
  • The Tool Shed (a resource library filled with worksheets and guides)

When you first review your Trail Map and consider your personal book goals, this should help you identify where to start in BookCamp. If you’re confident with your idea but need some help with craft, then The Writer’s Cabin will be your first stop. If you’ve written your book but you don’t know whether to pursue traditional or self-publishing, then The Amphitheater will be a helpful place to visit.

No matter your question, there is likely a training or masterclass available in BookCamp. And if there isn’t? Then take it to the next Fireside Chat where you can ask your question during the weekly group coaching session.  

How much does it cost?

BookCamp is a monthly subscription of $37. There is no minimum time commitment, and writers can cancel their membership at any time. The best part about BookCamp is there are no hidden fees or upsells once you’re inside the community. Your membership grants you 100% access to everything BookCamp has to offer, including all past training and interviews.

There is a lot of material to go through in BookCamp, which is why it’s so important to understand your individual goals and where you require the most help in the process. Getting a book into the world takes considerable commitment and effort. Joining a supportive and focused community can help you stay on track.

Who’s Chad Allen?

chad r allen - bookcamp review

Chad R. Allen is the creator of BookCamp and is passionate about helping writers get their books into the world. He’s also a writer, editor, speaker and writing coach with a BA in English and a MA in Theology. Before going full-time with his own business, Chad spent 20 years at Baker Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, and has collaborated with numerous bestselling authors such as Michael Hyatt, Jeff Goins, Caroline Leaf, Ernie Johnson Jr., Chip Ingram, Mary DeMuth, John Burke, Mark Batterson, and Phyllis Tickle.

Who will get the most out of BookCamp?

Chad’s primary expertise is with nonfiction and traditional publishing, but the training and community available in BookCamp is helpful to any kind of writer. Several longtime members of the membership are fiction writers and find a lot of value in BookCamp. No matter if you’re new to writing or a published author, writing fiction or nonfiction, many parts of the writing, publishing and marketing process are the same and BookCamp will be especially helpful in those crossover areas.

BookCamp Perks

From it’s inclusive environment to its in-depth training on a wide variety of topics, there’s a lot to love about BookCamp. Here are a few additional perks you receive as part of your membership.

  • You don’t need to be tech savvy to go through the training material

If you can press “play” on a video and have an Internet connection, then you’re all set. But even if you can’t do video, or have a weak wireless signal, many of the training videos have an option to download the video, audio and the slides so you can still follow along.

  • Private Facebook Group

BookCamp subscribers are invited and encouraged to join the exclusive Facebook Group where they can interact with the community, ask questions, receive feedback and so much more. 

  • Weekly “work together” sessions

Every Monday at 11 a.m. Eastern Time, Chad or someone from his team hosts a “work together” session. The Zoom session begins with five minutes of encouragement and then the timer is set for 50 minutes. At this point, everyone does focused work on their own projects for the remainder of the session.

  • Bi-weekly co-working sessions

Twice a month on Thursdays at 7 p.m. Eastern Time, Chad or someone from his team hosts a co-working session. This drop-in virtual meeting is run the same as “work together” sessions except in the evening, for those who can’t make the daytime sessions.

  • Monthly group coaching sessions

Every month Chad answers writing, platform and publishing questions during Fireside Chats. Participants can show up and ask questions live, or submit questions in the Facebook thread announcing the next Fireside Chat.

  • Submit work to be considered for feedback

During the first seven days of any given month, BookCampers are invited to submit up to two pages of material for possible critique and feedback. While the team can’t guarantee feedback on every submission, they review as many as they can.

BookCamp Areas of Improvement

It should be pretty clear by now that BookCamp is a training and community hub dedicated to helping writers get their books into the world. It’s focused on being helpful and encouraging while drawing like-minded writers together.

But like any course or membership community, there are elements of BookCamp that aren’t for everyone. Here are a few potential drawbacks to be aware of when considering joining up.

  • There are a LOT of emails and virtual live events

In order to get the most out of your membership, you really do need to set aside time to engage with the material and the community. There are several emails each week letting you know what’s happening at BookCamp, and it’s the best way to stay in the loop. In addition, the write-ins, masterclasses and other events are great ways to get writing and stay accountable, but only if you show up and do the work.

  • There’s a LOT of material to go through

While the material is organized into large sections, apart from a search bar at the top of the page, there aren’t additional filters to help find the specific training or topic you want. This means you’ll need to search through the sections until you find what you’re looking for.

  • Training material is à la carte

There isn’t a natural order to take the different courses or training in, apart from the direction you get from your Trail Map. This “choose your own adventure” approach may work great for some people, but it could be overwhelming for others who are looking for a higher touch experience.

The setup of BookCamp can be both a blessing and a curse. There’s training on pretty much everything you can think of related to writing and publishing, which is great. But getting through it all could be challenging. Your best bet is to get clear on what you want to learn in the moment and leave everything else for later.

What You’ll Learn With Chad R. Allen’s BookCamp

While this isn’t so much a course on writing and publishing, it is definitely an education on the process and industry. Looking to grow your platform? There’s a seven-lesson masterclass on that. Or how about learning how to design a writing process that works for you? Yes, you guessed it. There’s training on that as well. But maybe you need some technical help with your blog. Believe it or not, there’s training on even this topic inside BootCamp.

Here are the main sections you’ll find in the membership site, where all the different training is organized into.

Fireside Chats

This is your opportunity to join in for live group coaching and receive one-on-one mentoring from Chad. You can also review more than 50 previous Fireside Chats at your own pace.

The Writer’s Cabin

All of the training in this section is focused on the process and craft of writing. Learn how to be a better writer, glean writing tips from established authors and so much more.

Pitch Your Tent

If you’re at all curious about how to create your online presence, this is the section you’ll head for. Featuring interviews and training on topics such as web design and blogging.

The Pavilion

Once you have your online presence set up, now it’s time to focus on growth. The Pavilion hosts everything from tips and interviews to specific training on how to attract your ideal reader and build a significant platform.

Capture the Flag

This section focuses on setting up your book for success. Learn how to identify felt needs, develop strong titles and subtitles and craft a marketable concept your readers will love.

The Amphitheater

Look forward to lots of insider guidance in this section as you learn how to get published! Wondering how to choose the right agent and publisher? Maybe you are trying to decide between traditional publishing and self-publishing. How about a proven book proposal template? Visit The Amphitheater for help with all of this and more.

The Blob

Ready to launch your book? Head to The Blob for tips and insight on marketing your book. Make sure to check out the multi-part masterclass on Tim Grahl’s book, “Your First 1000 Copies: The Step-by-Step Guide to Marketing Your Book.”

The Tool Shed

Any time Chad creates a worksheet or guide, he adds it to The Tool Shed for BookCamp subscribers. There’s a BookCamp editor and proofreader database, crafting a killer bio worksheet and much more.

If you’re searching for a safe and fun writing community to join, then BookCamp should certainly be on your shortlist. It’s focused on creating a positive and encouraging environment with high-level and practical training that will help you create and launch a book that sells. With no minimum commitments, this monthly subscription-based membership allows you to access the complete backlog of coaching and receive training on a multitude of topics in addition to weekly live virtual events and plenty of coaching through the monthly sessions and Facebook group. For just $37 a month, you have access to a publishing veteran with a wealth of knowledge he’s happy to share.

So, are you ready to join BookCamp?

The 7 Best Writing Apps

Ages ago, writers had to write by candlelight with quills and ink. Now, it’s as easy as whipping out your phone while waiting in line at the grocery store and jotting down a few sentences.

The question is, which app should you use to organize your writing? With so many options out there, you want to pick the right one so you don’t spend more time moving your writing around than you do actually writing.

Having a good writing app can save you from having to scroll through all of your notebooks to find that one note you need. Instead, it’s all in one place and much easier to find.

Let’s dive into all of the options for the best writing apps.

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Evernote

evernote - best writing apps

Evernote has been around for many, many years and is one of the most popular options when it comes to choosing the best writing app. It has the ability to capture almost anything you find around the web or files you need to upload. That way, all of your inspiration and notes are in the same place. There are even Evernote-compatible notebooks out there that can turn your writing into text with a simple picture on your smartphone. 

The search inside Evernote is quick so you can find the exact words or things you were working on. That way, you can quickly find a note or jump right back into where you left off. The free plan has a ton to offer without needing to upgrade right away so you can test it out for as long as you’d like.

Features

  • Free plan available
  • Works across multiple devices
  • Paid plans start at $7.99 per month
  • Tasks built into each note
  • Clip web pages
  • Attach files for reference or inspiration
  • Scan documents to attach

Bear

While it’s only for Apple products, Bear is a gorgeous, simple writing app. It has a built-in focus mode so you can only see the text you want to write without any of the distractions. Bear has metrics, such as read time or word count, for writers who love metrics.

With custom markup shortcuts, you can use simple keystrokes to create things like headers, strikethroughs, and more. This keeps your eyes and brain only on the sentences you’re writing instead of having to stop writing and focus on formatting. For those who like to burn the midnight oil, there’s also themes (including dark mode) so you don’t have to strain your eyes while typing away.

One of the key features Bear offers is the ability to encrypt or password lock individual notes. That lets you keep your notes and ideas private. 

Features:

  • Only for Apple products
  • Hashtags for easy organizing
  • Built-in metrics
  • Upgraded plans starting at $1.49 per month
  • Can encrypt individual notes with Pro version for extra safety

Google Docs

Although it doesn’t have all of the bells and whistles of some writing apps out there, Google Docs is a standard go-to when it comes to writing apps. Not only is it easy to write in, since most of us have experience with things like Microsoft Word, but it’s easy to share documents as well and syncs seamlessly between all your devices, no matter the operating system. 

That way, if you’re working with an editor or a team, you can even work on a document together at the same time. You can even send them to people who don’t have Google accounts with a simple link.

Features:

  • Accessible on any computer
  • Easy to share
  • Best for collaboration
  • Easy-to-use apps for almost all types of devices

iA Writer

Currently used by half a million people across the world, iA Writer is a simple, streamlined writing app. It is designed with a minimalistic approach to the writing process so you don’t see all the bells and whistles as you type. It has built-in features such as content blocks and syntax highlighting.

Keep in mind, this is a paid app. Once you buy it, you own it forever. If you’re someone who is not a fan of subscriptions or forced microtransactions, this might be an ideal situation. Most of the versions have a free trial so you can get your feet wet with it before fully committing.

If you like to include various forms of media inside your writing, iA Writer has content blocks which enable you to move things around with a simple click-and-drag.

Features:

  • Available for Mac, iOS, Windows, Android
  • Paid-only app
  • Focus Mode
  • Various writing editors installed to check for things such as cliches or weak verbs
  • Custom typeface for the type of device you’re using (large screens vs small devices)

Scrivener

For writing professionals, Scrivener is one of the top go-to writing apps. With long writing projects in mind, it is built to handle multiple pages, chapters, ideas, and scenes. This is a more complex app, compared to the others, as it’s designed to handle the multiple layers as you put them together.

Scrivener is popular with screenwriters, lawyers, authors, and is built for other writing projects that require a lot of research, chapters, and revisions. It gives you the ability to either hammer out your outline or start writing the first page immediately. One of the strongest features Scrivener offers is the ability to import support materials or notes right into the app and open two pages side by side so you can write and see what you need at the same time.

Features:

  • Built for long-form writing
  • Multiple export options: PDF, Word, Final Draft, etc
  • No free option
  • Templates for a variety of writing

First time writing a book? Check out our guide on tips for first-time authors.

Ulysses

Ulysses is a writing app designed for Mac, iPad, and iPhones. It lets you organize countless writing projects in one simple app. For writers who love the extra challenge, or charge by the word for projects, it has a word counter. If you want an extra challenge, there is also a deadline feature which challenges you to hit your deadlines on time. That way you never miss a deadline and it helps you stay focused.

With a markup-based text editor, it allows you to simply keep typing as you format. Ulysses also lets your writing sync across all of your devices so you can simply pick up where you left off on any device.

Features:

  • Free trial on all devices
  • Ideal for all sizes of writing projects
  • Exports into all types of files, including HTML
  • Different themes for different writing experiences
  • Monthly plans start at $5.99 – but students get a special discount

Final Draft

Now, before you audibly gasp at the price tag for Final Draft ($250), know that it’s a one-time fee. This is the gold standard when it comes to being the best writing app for scriptwriters. It comes with every feature under the sun you could possibly use, including a beat board, comments, content analysis, exporting your drafts, and more.

Currently 95% of the entertainment industry uses this writing app, so if you ever want to get into scriptwriting, or turn one of your books into a screenplay, this is the app you need.

Features:

  • License fee of $249.99
  • Free trial for 30 days
  • Available for use on iPhone and iPad
  • 300+ templates for screenplays, stage plays, comics, and more

Once you’ve decided on an app and start writing, check out our next guide on self-publishing programs.

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9 Self-Published Authors Who Made It Big

Today more than ever, it’s not just great writing that sells. Besides having a powerful plot, theme, protagonist (whether that is a fictional character or the star of your nonfiction), and stellar writing, there is another piece to the puzzle that all successful self published authors share. 

Decades ago, great authors wrote their books, sent them to the publisher, and then started the next. There was no website to keep up, no social media to build a brand for, and no podcasts to speak on. 

Book tours did not take place in the way they do today, and word of mouth spread via literal word of mouth, not free apps on smartphones. 

Today, great writing still sells, but in a heavily saturated market, great writing usually can’t stand alone. 

Enter, platform.

Writers are now not just focused on learning the craft of writing and doing their best to write well, but turning some of that attention to building their platform. This takes away from their writing time, but allows them to heighten their chances of success in book sales. 

In fact, many authors who make it in the self-publishing world do so because they know how to use current marketing trends in their favor. They are an established brand, they have a large following (platform), and when they write and publish their books they can easily take it to the masses.

If your goal is to publish, you can do so with a few clicks on your computer. There are many online self-publishing companies that allow you to publish your book no matter what stage your writing is at. 

However, if your goal is to maintain autonomy over your book, the edits, the cover, and the marketing plan through self-publishing, your road to success will have a bit more work along the way. There are great benefits in selling the exact words and format you want your book to be in, and self-publishing allows you to do so. 

Sometimes it helps to hear the stories of those who have gone before and seen success.

Let’s get started.

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Can You Be Successful Self-Publishing Books?

The answer to this question is subjective, because success is defined differently by most writers. If you define success as a certain amount of book sales, you know how to market well, and you have a plan in place to do so, the chances of succeeding are high.

If success is making a certain impact on your readers, being successful is much more subjective. However, large sales often mean great influence, and influence often means impact. 

Yes, you can be successful in self-publishing. Success is dependent on how you define success, and the amount of work you are willing to put in, as well as what we will call “chance.” Algorithms change frequently, and something you promoted via an online post a year ago could blow up tomorrow. You never know. 

Successful Self Published Authors Who Made It Big

If you’ve heard all the stories of traditionally published authors making it big and seeing success, you may be surprised to find some well-known authors got their start through self-publishing. 

Some of the big names you likely know are successful today because they took matters into their own hands and decided to self-publish their work, even when traditional publishers didn’t think their ideas were worth a contract. 

Below is a list of authors and their success stories. This list is not exhaustive, and only emcompasses a percent of the authors who have self-published their work and gone on to see success. 

As you read their stories, take note of what they did well, when they decided to self-publish, and what their journey was like. Emulate the ideas that apply to your own writing and publishing goals:

Margaret Atwood is known for her work The Handmaid’s Tale (now a major TV show). But before her success with The Handmaid’s Tale, she was a self-published author for her book of poems Double Persephone, which was award-winning. 

Robert Kiyosaki is now known as a businessman and successful author, but he experienced many putdowns for his idea Rich Dad, Poor Dad. Unable to land an agent or traditional publishing contract, he self-published. Now he has sold over 40,000,000 copies, spanning 109 countries. 

Lisa Genova attempted traditional publishing for her book Still Alice, but received many rejections. In 2007 she self-published her book, and two years after, she republished her book with Simon & Schuster. Seven years later, it became an Oscar-winning film. 

Wayne Dyer was so passionate about helping people it’s said that he gave out copies of his self-published book. He printed 4,500 copies of his debut book Your Erroneous Zones before traveling across the nation for marketing. Known as one of the top-selling books, he’s sold more than 100,000,000 copies. Probably worth giving those few away!

Have you ever heard of Eragon? Well, it started as a self-published book. Written by Christopher Paolini, who was just 15 years old, he used his parent’s small publishing company to get his book into the world. Christopher toured an entire year just to promote his book, and it ws discover and republished by Alfred A. Knopf. In just five months it sold over one million copies and went on to become a series. The series went global, and has sold more than 33.5 million copies.  

Writers are often encouraged to have a website and blog regularly. Author Andy Weir is a great example of what can happen when following this advice. Weir used his blog to post chapters of his novel, The Martian. With a growing fanbase and asked to distribute his work as an ebook, it quickly became a bestseller on Amazon. Traditional publishers caught wind of what was going on, and “within one week, Weir signed dual multi-million dollar book and movie deals with Crown Publishing and Twentieth Century Fox.” He sold more than three million copies of his book, and the movie grossed $630 million and was nominated for an Oscar. 

Trying to make it as a female author in the 1900s was a difficulty Beatrix Potter decided to overcome. Traditional publishers wanted nothing to do with her book The Tale of Peter Rabbit, so she self-published 250 copies. Less than a year later, Beatrix signed a traditional publishing contract and sold over 20,000 copies in the following twelve months. Her book has now sold roughly 45,000,000 copies. Looks like Potter made a wise choice when self-publishing those first few hundred!

Carl-Johan Forssén Ehrlin was a behavioral scientist from Sweden who originally wrote The Rabbit Who Wants to Fall Asleep to help his own children get to bed. He used positive reinforcement techniques in his book and self-published it. It went on to become the first self-published book to top Amazon’s charts in the UK and USA. 

E. L. James was a British woman going through a self-described “midlife crisis.” The story, which became 50 Shades of Grey, was first developed as a fan-fiction project in 2009 based on the Twilight series, originally titled Master of the Universe. However, after being reprimanded for the mature content by the administrators of a fan fiction website, James decided to self-publish the book in 2011 with the help of an online publisher, The Writers’ Coffee Shop.

Which points in the above stories stuck out to you? What did you resonate with? What sparked an idea for a way you could pursue the success of your own novel?

Write down your answers to these thoughts. 

You never know which idea may be worth a contract, a movie adaptation, or sell millions of copies. 

As You Consider . . .

Margaret Atwood’s book went on to become a TV show, but it wasn’t without a lot of hard work. She shares how she generates plot here, and even teaches a MasterClass on creative writing. Her start as a self-published author, and her later success, did not come about simply by adamantly pursuing a bad idea. She put the time, work, and effort into her creative process, and the end was success. 

Lisa Genova went through the process of attempting traditional publishing. This pursuit took long enough for her to stockpile rejection after rejection. It would have been easy to give up, but she believed in her idea enough to pursue another format for getting it into the world. Seven years after self-publishing, her book became an Oscar-winning film. 

Both of these authors had an idea, and both of them believed in it enough to see it through to the end. 

As you consider your own idea, ask yourself the following questions: 

  • Why am I passionate about my idea?
  • What response have I received from others?
    • Positive? Negative? Mix?
  • What feedback am I getting from the industry?
    • Agents, editors, traditional publishers, etc.
  • Do I know how to write in a way that meets industry standards?
    • Writing rules, writing for different genres, etc.
  • What is my writing voice?
    • Formal, informal, come-alongside-approach, credible, etc.
  • What is the current market for my genre? 
  • Do I have a platform? Am I building my platform?
  • What is my writing brand?
  • What is my definition for publishing success? 

Answer these questions honestly to set yourself up for the best possible outcome. Once you know what you’re working with, you can move forward with confidence. 

Your Idea

As you consider your answers to the above questions, realize your idea may need tweaking. Learning to write well, understanding what makes a great idea, and knowing how to present it to your target readers takes time. 

It’s crucial to understand the difference between pushing forward with an idea you believe in, and pushing forward with an idea you believe in and is credible. 

What’s the difference?

The answer to that question is subjective. However, a good way to measure the credibility of your idea is to look at the feedback you receive. 

Do most people love all your major plot points but get confused over the decisions of your protagonist? 

Do people connect with a specific orbital character better than your main character? 

Is there a specific subplot readers want more of, even more than the main plot/goal/quest? 

For nonfiction, consider the feedback you receive on your writing voice. Are people encouraged by the way you write, or put off? 

Are you sharing knowledge you are credible to share? 

Is your idea one that will get lost in an overly saturated market? If so, what is a fresh angle you could take that hasn’t been done before? 

Writers succeed because they don’t quit, but writers also succeed because they consider advice and incorporate the feedback that applies to their writing. 

Part of what makes you a writer is knowing what feedback is best for your story, and what feedback should be ignored. 

Moving Forward 

As you pursue your writing goals, take encouragement from those who have gone before you. Study how they met success, and take the ideas that work for you. 

Be honest with where you are at. Practice the craft. Market. Build your platform.

Then get out there. It’s time for your book to be read! 

How to Prep for NaNoWriMo: 7 Ways to Make Sure You Crush Your Goals

Every November, writers from around the world get together and work on cranking out an entire novel in a month. Originally founded in 1999 by Chris Baty, the goal of NaNoWriMo (National Novel Writing Month) is to write 50,000 words over the course of the month since that is roughly the length of an average novel. Over 400,000 (and growing) people buckle down every year to attempt the challenge.

While it’s hard to write a fully polished novel in that amount of time, most of the focus is on simply sitting down and putting words to paper as fast as possible. For people with writer’s block or even a general sense of self-doubt, it can help them smash through the internal barriers that prevent them from getting their story on paper.

A ton of writers also enjoy the camaraderie and the community that comes with joining NaNoWriMo, since everyone is in the same boat of working on hitting their word and page goals every day.

Writing a novel is a serious undertaking, let alone trying to do it in a single month, so let’s break down everything you can do to prepare for what’s ahead. Here’s your guide on how to prepare for NaNoWriMo.

How to Prepare for NaNoWriMo and Ensure Success

typewriter on the ground surrounded by yellow leaves - how to prepare for nanowrimo

1. Set your writing schedule

If you want to hit your 50,000 word goal, that comes out to about 1,667 words per day. It can be hard to say how long that will take since everyone has a different writing pace, but the average is about 2 to 3 hours per day.

Keeping all of this in mind, you need to take a hard look at your calendar and figure out how you can fit in the required time to get your writing done.

Some people say it’s much easier to start with a higher goal, such as 2,000 words per day. That way, you’re ahead so when you have a bad day you don’t have to catch up with hundreds or thousands of words.

You might be able to get up earlier or stay up later and fit in a whole chunk of uninterrupted writing time. However, if you have kids or other responsibilities on your plate, you might want to break your writing up throughout the day into 30-minute or hourly chunks.

On top of that, you should schedule your writing sessions at your peak writing times. Some people have much more clarity when they first wake up or they love to burn the midnight oil and write while everyone else is sleeping.

Planning your writing blocks during a time you know you’re always tired is just setting yourself up for a losing battle.

2. Let the people around you know about NaNoWriMo

No, this doesn’t mean you need to recruit people to join you (although you can), this simply means you should let people know that you’re going to be taking your writing seriously.

This can mean they shouldn’t interrupt you during certain hours or maybe you set up a babysitter for your kids. What you don’t want to happen is to take on this huge writing commitment and then get mad at everyone around you when they interrupt you but you never let them know about your new writing journey in the first place.

Make sure all of the people in your life know what you’re doing and why you need certain quiet, focused hours.

3. Account for off days

No matter how motivated you are, there will be days when the words refuse to pour out of your fingers and no amount of coffee helps.

On the days you feel good, sometimes it’s worth it to go the extra mile and crank out a few extra words here and there to get ahead and account for the off days. While it would be nice to imagine that we’re all robots and can crank out pages of work every single day without a problem. Instead, you should plan for a few bad days throughout the month and plan accordingly.

4. Have your writing easily accessible

One key to succeeding at NaNoWriMo is to have your writing easily accessible. Whether you carry a notebook around or have a writing app, you’ll want it nearby and easy to write in.

That way, when you have things such as missed appointments, are stuck in a long train commute, or have some spare time while your kids nap, you can crank out a few hundred words.

You’d be surprised at how many small pockets you can find in a day to put in a little writing here and there. It might not seem like much at first, but you would be surprised at how fast it can add up.

Ideally, you want it to also be quickly accessible because you don’t want to spend half that time just trying to open your app or find the notebook you’re using. Ideas will also come to you throughout your days so you will need somewhere to quickly capture them on the go.

5. Track your progress

Whether you choose to use software with built-in word counters or you choose to make something like a NaNoWriMo bullet journal spread, it’s a good idea to know where you are in your overall progress. Seeing the word counter continuing to grow can help keep your motivation going, even on your bad days.

6. Outline your story

If you want to go the extra mile, having a thorough outline and your ideas all in one place can help you write faster when the month begins. Unless you have a free and open schedule all month, you’re going to be writing in focused chunks of time and need all of your ideas ready to go, even if they change as you write during the month.

You don’t want to sit down and forget your storyline or what you wanted to happen next in your novel. Then, you’re wasting 20 or more minutes searching for that note somewhere in one of your notebooks and poof, there goes time that could have been used for writing.

If you prefer visuals, some people put storyboards on a whiteboard or other physical sheet in front of them so they can see where they are in their plot.

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7. Prepare your space and tools

If you love to write in the same place so you can build the habit, setting up a dedicated space can help. Put your favorite plant on your desk, a good notebook nearby, and keep it clean so you’re ready to dive in and work.

You want your space locked and loaded to dive in completely on November 1st so you can get right to writing without anything getting in your way.

This might be the time you need to invest in some better tools to support your writing. If your keyboard is missing some keys or your pens always leak, you’ll want the best tools so writing is as easy as possible.

Set up rewards for yourself

Don’t forget to reward yourself along the way. Whether or not you hit your goal of 50,000 words, you should set benchmarks along the way to celebrate. Any words you can get on the page is a celebration, even if it’s not a full novel.

As writers, it’s easy to overlook progress. When it comes to something like writing and publishing a novel, you have to understand how long it can take to make it happen. Novels are marathons, not sprints. That’s why it’s essential to celebrate every little benchmark.

A Primer on the New York Times Bestseller List

The goal of many writers is to land on the New York Times bestseller lists. Being a bestselling author can mean future book contracts, speaking gigs, recognition for your work, a sizable passive income from your writing, and many more opportunities. 

If you search the New York Times, you will find “Authoritatively ranked lists of books sold in the United States, sorted by format and genre.”

There are multiple lists you can search, all separated into categories: Fiction, nonfiction, children’s, and monthly lists.

Under fiction: Combined print and E-book, hardcover, and paperback trade.

Under nonfiction: Combined print and E-book, hardcover, paperback, advice, how-to, and miscellaneous. 

Under monthly lists: audio fiction, audio nonfiction, business, graphic books and magna, mass market, middle grade paperback, young adult paperback. 

These categories have stipulations, and people are often curious about how to actually land on a bestseller list. What does it take?

Does good writing mean you can land at the top? Can you buy your way onto the bestseller list? What if you have a large social media following and market well? 


TABLE OF CONTENTS

  1. How to Get on the New York Times Bestseller List
  2. New York Times Bestseller List Rules
  3. Can Self-Published Authors Get on the New York Times Bestseller List?
  4. Does the New York Times Bestseller List Mean You’re A Good Author?
  5. The Mindset of a Bestseller
  6. What Are the Right Goals for Your Book?
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How to Get on the New York Times Bestseller List

Regardless of which list you want to make, to land on any bestseller list, generally you must sell at least 5,000 books in one week. This is the minimum sales goal. You may need to sell 10,000 copies in one week. Depending on the list, the different requirements can get tricky. 

If you want to be a bestselling author on the NY Times list, you must sell between 5,000-10,000 copies of your book in one week, but the sales cannot all come from one entity. 

Your book sales must be distributed. For instance, if you have 10,000 followers on Twitter and every single follower buys a copy of your book, this does not count as diverse sales. All the sales came from one entity.

Similarly, if you sell 5,000 copies through one marketplace, this doesn’t count either. Selling 7,000 copies through Target for instance, does not count as diverse sales.

The number of your sales copies must be distributed over a range of entities. Diverse sales could consist of selling X amount of copies through social media, your website, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, etc. 

That said, sales data is collected and sent in via all stores, big and small, from the last Sunday to Saturday period. This data is then taken and considered against the rules for landing on the NY Times lists.   

New York Times Bestseller List Rules

While the general rules that must be followed to land on a bestseller list are relatively simplistic, execution can be difficult. After all, that’s why landing on a bestseller list is considered such a feat. 

The two overarching rules are:

  1. Books must be traditionally published 
  2. Minimum, distributed sales must be 5,000 

When you publish your book, how you go about publishing, what your marketing plan is, where you interview, if you do a book tour, and more, all factor into if you make the minimum sales goal.

Five thousand copies, minimum, must be sold in a one-week time frame, and sales must be diverse. 

What list you land on depends on the target audience of your book as well as your format.

The three major categories are fiction, nonfiction, and monthly lists.

This means if you published a hard cover young adult book, you could not hit the monthly list even if you sold 10,000 copies within the one week timeframe. If you published a paperback young adult book, and sold a minimum amount of copies with diverse distribution, then you could land on the monthly list.

Can Self-Published Authors Get on the New York Times Bestseller List?

According to the Nonfiction Authors Association, “The long-standing challenge for self-published authors has been that the list is compiled based on brick and mortar bookstore sales, and most self-published authors aren’t featured in bookstores unless they are working with a distributor.”

The NY Times list is full of traditionally published books. However, if you self-publish a book and you make great sales, a traditional publisher may make you an offer. If you choose to re-publish traditionally, the relaunch of your book could take off just as your first launch did.

If you meet or exceed the minimum sales goal in a one-week period, and your book fits one of the categories, your originally self-published book will become a bestseller. 

Many successful authors started their career self-publishing. 

While it’s crucial to have a great marketing plan in place, a solid author brand, and have the in-between steps mapped out so you can reach your goals, making a bestseller list does not have to start with your debut book.

You can successfully self-publish, meet your sales goals, garner the attention of agents and editors, and land a traditional publishing contract. 

However, the Nonfiction Authors Association also says, “The New York Times also features a bestseller list for ebooks, which is compiled based on sales reported from Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Apple, and Google. If you distribute your ebook through these channels and achieve exceptional sales, you can absolutely make this list.”

Wherever you’re at in your publishing journey, focus on great writing, stellar marketing, and then see what happens. You never know when your self-published book may receive a traditional contract offer, or which week your traditionally published book will make the sales goals. 

Don’t give up.

Does the New York Times Bestseller List Mean You’re A Good Author?

The answer to this question depends on your definition of what a good author is. Is it great writing? Reaching the masses? Moving your readers emotionally? Influencing your target audience to change in some way? 

Regardless of your definition for the above, making the NY Times bestseller list does not automatically mean you’re a good author. It does mean your book was likely well-received by the masses. And if influencing readers is a determining factor in your success as a writer, you’re well on your way. 

However, not making a bestseller list does not mean you aren’t a good author. You could nearly reach your minimum sales goals every single week and not hit the list, while another author may hit their minimum sales goals one week and watch their sales tank every week after.

You could also reach a large audience but exceed your minimum sales goals but not have a diverse enough reach in where those sales come from. 

On the other hand, you could never meet your sales goals but influence a few readers in a monumental way. 

You could be a writer ahead of your time–so accomplished that the power of your writing won’t be recognized for years to come.

Not meeting a particular goal has nothing to do with your abilities or talent as a writer. The market is ever changing and while the market does determine who lands on bestseller lists, it does not determine your worth as a writer.

The Mindset of a Bestseller

When setting out to write your book, do your best not to think about writing a bestseller. This will put undue pressure on you and likely stifle your creativity. 

Instead, focus on creating the best work you possibly can. 

Don’t think about the many potential readers, the lists you hope to make, your sales, your marketing plan, what’s trending, or anything else that will pressure you to write a specific way. 

If you have a great idea and are passionate about taking it from idea to edited manuscript, focus on getting the words down. 

Yes, you should have a target reader in mind, but focus on just that one reader.

No one can fully write to the masses, because no one can fully please every single person within their target audience. 

There is a lot of pressure that comes with writing on a deadline, writing for a specific audience, marketing well, picking the correct date to release your book, making those initial sales, covering your advance costs, making royalties, promoting well but not too much, and all the other aspects that come with launching a book. 

Many bestselling writers didn’t know they were writing a bestseller until the data came in. They simply sat down, put in their word count every day, edited, and submitted their project. 

Readers connect with authentic writing.

Readers can tell if you’re trying to write to a trend because you want to try to hit a specific list. 

Readers can also tell if you poured your heart and soul into your work just so they could read it. 

Be that writer.

What Are the Right Goals for Your Book?

There is nothing wrong with having goals to push you forward and keep you on the path to your dreams. 

Many writers hope to make a bestseller list with one of their books. As previously mentioned, great opportunities can come from a traditionally published, bestselling book. The key is to keep your dream in the appropriate proportion with your passion for writing. 

Dream of making that bestseller list. Work for it. Pour yourself into your writing. Have the right team to help you with your marketing. Promote, interview, tour. Do all the things! 

But if your goal is to simply land on a list, you’ll likely miss enjoying the journey. 

Writers hopefully write because they love the process. Meeting goals are milestones and something to celebrate, but if your only excitement comes from meeting goals and not from the work itself, you’ll likely burn out. 

Enjoy finding those ideas. 

Plotting your book.

Writing your first draft.

Editing.

Finding a publisher.

Your release day.

And as you wait for sales to come in and watch your numbers rise, enjoy this part of the process too. 

Just remember, your ability as a writer is not only tied to hitting a certain list. 

You wrote and published a book.

That by itself is a tremendous accomplishment. 

So, writer–move forward. Do your research to make sure you’re hitting all the main factors you need to. Write your book. Make it the best you can be. 

Then let the market do the work for you and see what happens. 

You are a successful writer either way! 

How to Title a Book: Fiction & Nonfiction

If you polled every writer and asked them the worst part of writing a book, they’d almost universally say titling it. I’ve never heard a writer say they’re good at titles. Titling a book is hard! If you’re among the majority that struggle to title your stories, let’s talk about how to title a book.

TABLE OF CONTENTS

Do titles of books matter that much?

In short: Absolutely they do!

Your book’s title and cover are your biggest marketing elements. People skim titles. If your book title doesn’t reach out and slap a reader in the face, they might miss it. A good title is memorable, accurate, and intriguing. You want a potential reader to see your book while they’re browsing and pause. Your title should scream: “Hey! I’m interesting!” to your target demographic.

The title is the first thing you reader sees—or hears—about your book. They’ll make a snap judgment about what your book is about. They might even judge its quality on the title alone. Imagine you’re looking for an intriguing, mature fantasy novel, and your friend recommends something called Fulfilling the Epic Prophecy of Yeuwliene. Maybe it’s a great book, but the title is a little cliche, not very interesting, and has a made up word—presumably in a language from the story—that means nothing to you. To me, that title reads as a book that didn’t have an editor, written by an inexperienced author. I wouldn’t buy it.

An absolutely stellar title won’t necessarily make your book sell. But a lack of such a title can definitely hurt sales.

Let’s dig into how to title our books effectively.

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How to title a nonfiction book

You’ve likely noticed that nonfiction and fiction books are titled pretty differently. That’s because they serve different purposes, and they are attracting different audiences for unique reasons.

When you’re titling a nonfiction book, you’ll want to be pretty upfront. While fiction books can get more creative and appeal to the storytelling part of a person’s brain, nonfiction typically wants to be much clearer about their purpose. A common titling format for nonfiction is a creative but relevant title, then a much more specific subtitle. Let’s look at some tips for titling nonfiction books.

1. Think about how people will search for your book. For example, if I searched “How to make friends” on Amazon, we get titles like:

By utilizing obvious search terms for that content, the authors are taking advantage of the way people search for titles. Be sure to consider the way people look for the information you’re providing when you title your book.

2. Don’t forget subtitles. Like the example above shows, you can get a lot of mileage out of your subtitles. Here to Make Friends: How to Make Friends as an Adult: Advice to Help You Expand Your Social Circle, Nurture Meaningful Relationships, and Build a Healthier, Happier Social Life is a long one, but the way it’s formatted on the cover makes it an attractive title, while still utilizing every term as a marketing tool for search engines to show the book to potential readers.

3. Categories and genres. Know your book’s subgenres and categories to keep those in mind while titling. Look at other books in that genre to see the standards for titles.

How to title a fiction book

Fiction titles can be less specific and more creative, but they also follow certain formats. For example, you won’t see as many subtitles in fiction, unless they’re doing something stylistic, like spoofing another genre. So what do you need to keep in mind when titling a novel?

1. Genre. Even though fiction titles don’t describe their content the way you’ll see in nonfiction, the genre is still important. There are tropes and expectations in different fiction genres, even for titles. This is a handy guide for title examples and ideas based on novel type.

2. Target demographic. There are ways to title a book to attract different reader demographics. To see this illustrated, let’s look at some adult fantasy genre titles versus children’s fantasy titles.

For adults:

  • Outlander
  • Circe
  • Children of Blood and Bone
  • Ninth House

For children:

  • The Magician’s Nephew
  • A Wrinkle in Time
  • The Wizard of Oz
  • James and the Giant Peach

Keep your target demographic in mind when titling your book.

3. Being representative and interesting. I remember the first time I heard the title The Hunger Games. It was odd! I was intrigued to learn more, but at the same time, I knew it was dystopian. I think that’s a great example of a well-done title. It appealed to me (I was 15, right in the target demographic), held an appropriate level of intrigue, but also allowed a potential reader to make several assumptions if they were familiar with the genre of dystopian YA.

How to get ideas for book titles

1. Look at other books in your genre. It’s great to be original and creative with titles, but shooting blind with no idea of the norms in your genre might be a bad idea for a few reasons. For one, you might hit a cringey trope! If you don’t know the cool things people are doing, you also won’t know the icky things people are doing. To avoid horrendous embarrassment, be in the know before you set a title in stone. Another reason to know what’s going on with titles in your genre is that there are trends in titles, just like there are in cover designs. Hitting a title that people associate with that genre, subgenre, and featured tropes can help your book find its readership.

2. Make a list. Of what? Everything! List your characters’ names, important places in the story, lines you liked, important imagery, genres and subgenres, titles of other books you enjoy in the genre, and anything else you can think of. If you hit on a possible title and you like the meaning but the verbiage or vibes aren’t quite hitting, you can take that word or phrase and brainstorm different versions of it, swap the order of words, and hit up a thesaurus to see if any synonyms might work better. Seeing all of your title material in one place makes it easier to build one.

3. Ask around. Run your title ideas past lots of people. Ask them what your titles evoke for them, without any context. Leave an open answer format at the end of your beta reader interview forms for them to suggest names. Sometimes it’s hard to title something you’re so close to, so definitely keep an open ear to what your friends and readers think.

On a personal note, I’ll share how I titled my own books. Little Birds is a collection of contemporary short fiction. Since it was my debut collection, I was thinking about it for what it was—a collection of these tiny beings that I created and let loose into the world in hopes someone would see one and be affected by it. They were little birds to me. Little Birds is also the title of one of the stories, so it was on my mind.

Starlight was my second collection, and I think I was more intentional with the way I named it. It’s a collection of horror, sci-fi, and generally much darker stories. But each story is really about the light you find in the darkness, like stars in a night sky. I felt like the vibe of the word itself fit the collection, as well as holding a deeper meaning if you stop and give it some thought. In my opinion, those two factors are what make the perfect title.

Examples of great book titles

Great fiction titles

As we discussed, a great fiction title is interesting and intriguing for your target demographic. These are some fiction titles that stand out to me as particularly good.

1. To Kill a Mockingbird by Harper Lee. It’s a memorable, iconic title with literal and metaphorical meaning in the book. It essentially means the death of innocence. A good title should catch attention, be memorable, and ideally have a deeper meaning once the reader has finished the book.

2. Fahrenheit 451 by Ray Bradbury is another example of a memorable and interesting title that holds a deeper meaning once the book is read.

3. The Fault in Our Stars by John Green. A reference to the Shakespeare play, Julius Caesar; the full quote reads: “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars/But in ourselves, that we are underlings.” This title is interpreted in many ways, but one of the most popular is that it’s in reference to how Hazel and Augustus’ fates are out of their own control.

4. Raybearer by Jordan Ifueko is a great example of a unique title. Even though it’s one word, if you Google it, you’ll only find Ifueko’s books. That’s an iconic use of an original term as a title.

5. Rebecca by Daphne du Maurier. A simple title, but it takes on meaning once you read the book and realize Rebecca is not the main character, nor is the main character ever referred to by her first name. In the story, the narrator is so obsessed with the dead woman, Rebecca, that she loses her own identity. The title displays that concept.

6. The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins. Like we discussed earlier, this is a great example of a title catered to its genre.

7. This is How You Lose the Time War by Amal El-Mohtar and Max Gladstone. The title is quirky and descriptive of the story. It’s one that gets cleverer post-read.

Great nonfiction book titles

Like fiction titles, nonfiction should be intriguing for your target demographic. They should also make it clear what your book content is about. Nonfiction genres like self-help are usually straight to the point, while memoirs and biographies can be more creative. Let’s look at some examples of each.

1. Is Everyone Hanging Out Without Me? (And Other Concerns) by Mindy Kaling is a very funny title for a very funny book.

2. Obviously: Stories from My Timeline by Akilah Hughes. Hughes is an online personality, and she got her start with a YouTube channel called AkilahObviously. This works as a reference and nod to her early work and original fans, while also conveying the tone of the book–snarky, sassy, and hilarious.

3. How To Ruin Everything by George Watsky is an attention-grabbing title that sums up the essay collection pretty well.

4. 1 Dead in Attic: After Katrina by Chris Rose is about the challenges New Orleans faced after Hurricane Katrina. The title imitates the way bodies were reported directly after the flood, and it’s a format most people will remember, pricking at those emotional memories of the tragedy. The subtitle clarifies what the book is about.

5. Prairie Fires: The American Dreams of Laura Ingalls Wilder by Caroline Fraser outlines the life of author Laura Ingalls Wilder, detailing the hardships she faced in the Great Plains.

7. Thanks, But This Isn’t For Us: A (Sort of) Compassionate Guide to Why Your Writing is Being Rejected by Jessica Page Morrell. This title sets the tone for the book while telling us exactly what it’s about.

Your book’s title is one of the biggest marketing elements, so take some time with it! The title can’t make your book’s success, but it can certainly break it.

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How Much Do Self-Published Authors Make on Amazon?

Self-publishing is a quickly growing industry. Authors have found a step-around for the toiling, exploitative traditional publishing industry, and they’re taking hold of their own career and art. While the creative freedom, quick turnaround, and higher royalty rates sound amazing, how much money can you actually make self-publishing your books?

A major platform for indie writers is Amazon. As a tool, Amazon can be tricky to learn and master. But with a little research and a strong strategy, a self-published author can make $10,000+ per month publishing their own books on Amazon.

If you’re considering self-publishing on Amazon, you probably have one question: How much money can I actually make as a self-published author on Amazon?

Great question! And good for you on doing the research before you jump in with two feet. It’s a complicated question, and obviously varies greatly from author-to-author, genre-to-genre, and every strategy in between. Let’s talk about it.

How much do self-published authors make on Amazon?

The income self-published authors make on Amazon varies greatly from writer to writer. The format of your book, how many you sell, and decisions you make when you’re setting up your book for publication can all affect the money you make.

Royalty rates on Amazon

The royalty rate on Amazon changes based on your format and a few other factors. eBooks and paperbacks, for example, each have their own rates.

eBooks have two possible royalty rate options on Amazon. One is 35%, and the other is 70%. What would make an author choose half the royalty rate? Not every title is going to be eligible for the bigger royalty rate. According to KDP’s website, these are the qualifications to get the 70% royalty rate:

  • The list price must satisfy the price requirements. Currently, the USD minimum requirement for a 70% royalty rate is $2.99. Any price below that will be rated at 35%
  • The list price must be at least 20% lower than the price of the physical book listed on Amazon. This means you can’t be eligible for the 70% royalty rate if you sell your eBook and physical books at the same price.
  • The eBook must be available everywhere in the world the author or publisher has rights. That means you can’t have the 70% royalty rate if you limit your book’s availability.
  • The 70% rate is also only available in certain regions.

Depending on your goals with your book, you might opt for the 35% rate. For example, if you want to offer an eBook for 99 cents as a sales funnel for your business. But if your goal is to make as much money as possible, you’re likely going to want to cater the way you publish to hit those requirements for the 70% royalty rate.

Paperback royalty rates are a little different. Through Amazon distribution channels, KDP offers a 60% royalty rate. If users enable expanded distribution, the rate drops to 40%. According to the KDP website, paperback royalties are calculated with this formula:

(royalty rate x list price) – printing costs = royalty payment

So if your book is listed for $16, the printing costs are $5, and you’re selling through Amazon distribution channels, this is how you would calculate the royalty you receive on each book:

(.60 x $16) – $2 = $7.60

Which gives you $7.60 per book sold! Not too shabby, right?

How many books are sold

Let’s say we’re making $7.60 per book. Now all we need to know is how many books are being sold to calculate our income as a self-published author on Amazon. There’s no real way to know how many books you’ll sell until you try, but there is a way to roughly determine how many books other authors are selling on Amazon.

All you need is the book’s Best Sellers Rank (BSR) and a calculator. For example, let’s look at The Cyborg Tinkerer by Meg LaTorre and calculate what she potentially makes per month in Amazon sales.

If we scroll down to the BSR information, The Cyborg Tinkerer  is currently ranked #1,124,955 Then, by inserting that number into an online calculator, like this one from TCKPublishing, we get the estimated number of copies the paperback sells each month.

If we assume LaTorre is selling her paperbacks at the 60% royalty rate, and that sales number calculated with her BSR is accurate, that means she’s making roughly $1.50 per month on paperback sales for The Cyborg Tinkerer. If she were selling her book at the price we used in the formula in the previous section, that number would be closer to $30.40 per month.

That’s just one example of how much a self-published book sells. Try plugging in your favorite indie author’s numbers and see how much they make to get a few more ideas of what to expect.

Number of books available

Another factor that will affect what an author makes is the number of books available. Having books available in all formats (paperback, hardback, and audiobook) will lead to more sales, but having more books published will also boost sales. The more regularly you publish books, the more money you’ll make, for several reasons:

1. The Amazon algorithm favors more regularly productive accounts, which means the more often you drop books, the more Amazon is likely to suggest your books to new readers.

2. Having more books makes you more visible–there are literally more products for readers to stumble upon and for Amazon to suggest to them.

3. If a reader loves one of your books, they’re likely to seek out more. They can’t buy another one if you don’t have another for them to buy.

Because of those three factors, you’re definitely going to want to publish more books to make more money, especially if those books are in a series.

How to calculate royalties for self-published authors

Formats available

As we covered, different formats offer different royalty rates. Paperback, hardback, ebooks, and audiobooks will all pull different prices, different sales numbers, and different royalty rates. Even if you’re self-publishing outside of Amazon, this will be true in most cases. eBooks have the highest royalty rates because of the low cost of production. Hardbacks typically sell for more, but they also cost more to print. Which format you make the most money on will depend highly on your pricing structures as well.

Publishing venue

Where you publish your books will affect your royalty rate. We already discussed Amazon’s, but there are venues for self-publishing outside of Amazon. For example, IngramSparks’ current royalty rate per eBook sold is 40%. If you meet the parameters for the 70% royalty rate on Amazon, you’ll make more money publishing through KDP. If you don’t meet them, you’ll make more money with IngramSpark. Be strategic with where you’re publishing your books to make the most money.

Royalties calculator

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How to earn more as a self-published author on amazon

You can make more money as a self-published author on Amazon by strategically releasing and marketing your books. Here are five ways you might increase book sales on Amazon.

1. Publish more books

Not only does having more books increase your revenue because there are more products being sold, but the Amazon algorithm favors accounts that publish regularly, pushing your books in front of more readers in suggested sections.

2. Offer your book in multiple formats

Even with a single book, you can have more “products” available by offering your book in multiple formats. Hardback, paperback, audiobook. You might even republish your books in different formats, like compilation books for series, companion novels, or new editions with fresh covers.

3. Write a series

Publishing a series can be more lucrative than publishing a standalone novel. If you write a stellar first book, one customer purchase can turn into several, as they come back to buy each new installment of the series. It’s also easier for readers to get immersed in a series, just because they’re spending more time with the story and characters. That immersion can translate into them recommending the series to more friends, making fan art, buying merch, preordering the new books, and other actions that greatly boost sales and lead to more readers.

4. Increase readthrough for your books

To make more money, you should have a strategy for increasing readthrough on your books. Readthrough refers to how often readers are buying more of your books–particularly more books in a series. There are a few strategies for increasing readthrough, including:

  • structuring your endings in a way that makes your reader want to read more
  • publishing your books as a full box set instead of one at a time
  • setting advanced pre-orders so your readers can commit to reading more even with a slower publishing schedule
  • encouraging your readers to follow you on Amazon and socials so they stay plugged in and updated for your new releases

Regardless of your strategy, increasing the readthrough for your series will boost sales.

5. Continuous marketing

And obviously, marketing your books well will lead to earning more. This could mean participating in Amazon’s advertisement programs, or it might mean utilizing your author platform to draw in more sales. Some strategies include:

  • Hosting book readings and other events
  • Offering limited time sales and specials
  • Making a special event of bookiversaries and other significant milestones
  • Social media campaigns, like the one below

Here’s an example of an Instagram challenge I hosted to boost pre-orders for my book, Starlight. It shared snippets of the stories, as well as writing prompts based on the stories for my followers to write their own shorts. This put my book in front of every participant’s followers, as well as getting those potential readers invested in the book because of this kind of hands-on participation leading up to the release date.

The marketing for your book doesn’t end after the launch. Try to plan how you’ll market your books for years after the publication to keep sales consistent and increase your income with every publication.

Anyone can self-publish books

You’ll see a wide range of income sizes from different self-published authors. If you want to make a living through self-publishing your books on Amazon, do your research, track your data, don’t be afraid to experiment with different strategies, and don’t give up!