One Simple Step to help you Write and Market your Novel


There is one thing you can do that will give you help in the process of writing your novel, helping you keep on track and not meander off into tangents. This same thing will also provide you with the best book marketing tool you could hope for— one that will help you and your readers get others interested in your book. And it will take you about an hour of your time.

This magic writer’s tool is a simple thing called a storyline— a one-sentence summary of your novel. Like this one: “A girl telepath in 1869 Texas must fight like a man to protect the survivors of a crashed alien spaceship.” This is the storyline of my current WIP, Sky Machine over Texas.  (Yes, it’s a Western with aliens and a spaceship in it.)

This storyline is meant to arouse the curiosity of potential readers, and warn people that hate Westerns and science fiction and girl heroes and telepaths that this is not for them.

Here’s another storyline. “A rogue physicist travels back in time to kill the Apostle Paul.” This storyline is from the novel Transgression, written by Randy Ingermanson, who also wrote the storyline.

Writing a storyline is step one in the Snowflake method of novel writing. You can read about the Snowflake method here:  or you can buy the book above, Writing Fiction for Dummies, which provides information on the method.

How does a storyline help you? As you write, the storyline will help you decide which potential scenes are a part of the story, and which are not. (The second Snowflake step, the 3-Act Structure of your novel, also can keep you from wandering off and writing scenes that don’t help your story and will have to be removed in revision.) Having a storyline helps, because writing it will help you understand what the story is about.

The storyline is also your most essential marketing tool. You have to learn to rattle it off along with your book title. (“Sky Machine over Texas? It’s about a girl telepath in 1869 Texas who has to fight like a man to protect the survivors of a crashed alien spaceship.”) It’s the answer to the question “What is your book about?” Don’t mention your book without it.

Most authors don’t write storylines. If they are traditionally published authors, maybe someone from the publisher will write a good storyline for them. Most likely, they will write a bad or misleading storyline, or each person working for the publisher will make up a bad storyline of their own. If the author provides his own good storyline, all of these people will use that, instead.

Indie and small press authors have even more reason to write their own storyline. It’s great to use it in your back cover blurb, because then your most enthusiastic fans will use your storyline when they tell all their friends what a great book it is and why they must buy it and read it at once.

Some of the rules of the storyline— it’s best to be shorter and simpler. You usually only need mention one or two characters. The part of the plot that you reveal should be an important or central one. Don’t mention characters by name (unless they are the Apostle Paul, who’s kind of famous), use a description— ‘a rogue physicist’, ‘a girl telepath.’

If you are a writer, have you written a storyline for any of your books? Please share it in a comment, and include a link to where one can buy the book in question. (No more than one link per comment, besides the link-back to your blog, but include all the storylines you want, it will help other blog readers learn how to write storylines.)


Celebrate: How the writer’s Golden Rule helps your writing career.

Celebrate blog hopThis is a post in the Celebrate the Small Things blog hop. More information here:

Do you remember the Golden Rule? Many younger people have never learned it. It goes something like this: Do to others as you would have others do to you. It’s a sort of mathematics of human social behavior. If you don’t like getting insulted, you can guess that other people don’t like getting insulted either, so you shouldn’t do it. If you don’t like having your things stolen, don’t steal from others. That sort of thing.

But how does that apply to writers? Well, imagine this situation. You have a new book coming out. And there are a handful of writers, most a bit more successful than you, who:

1. Go out and buy your book.

2. Write reviews of it,

3. Who post things on their blogs about the book.

4. Who Tweet about it.

5. Who share it on their Facebook pages and in a couple of appropriate Facebook groups.

How could you make that happen in the real world? Well, you take steps 1-5 and do them for other writers. Now, it won’t earn you much gratitude from the big-name writers like Stephen King or even the lesser-selling writers who are published by the big publishers. And even self-published and small press writers might not notice all the help you are giving if you don’t get to know them first. What you need is to develop a circle of just the right kind of writer friends— writers who are at a similar place in their writing lives, for example. Writers who write in the same or similar genres, or at least appreciate your genre as you appreciate theirs. Writers who understand your point of view— an angry atheist writer and a devoutly religious writer are not a good match, or an erotic romance writer with an Amish romance writer.

Here are some steps to finding your circle of writing friends:

  1. Network with other writers. You can do it by blog hops, or by joining FB writing groups that have actual conversations in them. Show interest in other people’s books and book promotion problems, don’t just write about your own. Make sure to join some specialized groups— mystery writers, science fiction writers, writers with Asperger’s Syndrome, feminist writers, women-against-feminism writers… Just make sure that the group is active and the members aren’t 100% absolute writing beginners.
  2. As you network, look for other writers that seem friendly. If they have FB author pages, like the pages. If they seem interested, make a friend request.
  3. Read the books of these writers and review them. Let them know, somehow, that you have done so.
  4.  Periodically share things that they post on their Facebook page.
  5. If you are on Twitter, follow these friends there.
  6. After a while of trying to be friendly and helpful, see if they are responding. Do they ‘like’ or comment on your Facebook posts? Do they ever volunteer to read some of your work? Do they ever share your Facebook posts or retweet your Tweets? If they are becoming responsive friends to you, you can begin considering them as part of your personal circle.
  7. Continue to do steps 1-5 above for all the friends in the circle. Don’t count the things you do for them and the things they do for you.
  8.  When you have done things for your friends, you might, on some occasions, ask them for favors. Make sure you say that you understand if they can’t do it.

After doing something similar to this for some time, even though I am not a person accustomed to having friends, I have a few good author friends that will help me out sometimes as I help them. Having friends like this may seem like a ‘small thing’ to readers out there who don’t have Asperger’s Syndrome. But for me, it’s a cause for big celebration.

Blogging ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows’

Today I have started blogging the contents of my first poetry book, ‘Where the Opium Cactus Grows.’  I did not know how to promote my book in 2010 when I published it. So I decided to blog about 1/2 of the poems in this book, and see what happens.

jungle spiders

she was raised among the cannibals
in borneo or was it new guinea— no matter
her father was an avid anthropologist
right up to the day he was eaten
the cannibals don’t kill you
of course but if you die
you shan’t go to waste
he always joked &
he was quite right actually

she was raised among the cannibals
and the chief’s chief wife doted on her
taught her all her best recipes
and the secrets of ruling a cannibal husband
she learned her lessons well
all her husbands said so

she was raised among the cannibals
and that could explain
quite a lot

(c) 1990 Nissa Annakindt
Where the Opium Cactus Grows on