public domain - NASA

Cracking the Top 100!

I’m delighted that The Sword of the Magi is currently #28 on Amazon’s Hot New Releases for technothrillers. Thanks to everyone who has contributed to the success.

This is probably an appropriate place to put a few things I’ve learned from the process of writing and publishing the book, so here we go (keeping in mind I have a lot more to learn!).

1) 3rd person limited POV rules. WAY back in high school, I don’t remember this POV ever being taught. There was 1st, 2nd, and 3rd person, but 3rd person was always presented as author omniscient. This leads to head hopping. Although some successful authors do head hop (Catherine Coulter hops into my head as one such), they do it very sparingly. 3rd person limited is basically as limiting and almost as intimate as 1st person, but it doesn’t jar the reader when you jump narrators at a chapter break. I cant’ get into a Patterson book, for example, that mixes 1st and 3rd.

2) Writing efficiently and quickly is key. There is so much else to do – marketing, publishing (formatting, cover, uploading, etc.), learning craft, life – that writing fast is super important. I can’t say I’m a fast writer, unfortunately. Yet. Will be working on that!

3) Readers are forgiving. I heard Lee Child talk about how people would email him and pick on things like, “You screwed up in your newest Jack Reacher novel. You can’t pump your own gas in New Jersey like Jack does on p. 200, you moron!” But honestly, it seems that readers might complain about stuff like that, but it doesn’t stop them from buying books. Nonetheless, I still think big errors – like taking a chemical rocket from Earth to Jupiter in four days – would still depress sales.

4) Genre is king. If fiction were college football, romance would be the SEC (well, except maybe this year). I think it would take an extraordinary horror book to have the success that a simply good romance book can have these days (maybe not from King, but from a previously unknown author).

5) Kboards Writers’ Cafe board is awesome. I have learned a lot there. Also, I recommend James Scott Bell’s advice, and the blog he contributes to,

6) Perspective. Success isn’t worth the work, in my opinion, if you don’t have someone to share it with. This can come into play with point #2 above. I’m in a slightly different position than a lot of debut authors. I don’t want to give up my day job. On top of that, I love spending time with my family. That puts writing lower on the priority list, and that makes writing efficiently even more important. In a future post, I’ll try to post some tricks and tips to get the most out of your time and still write thoughtful, meaningful stories without spending all day staring at a blank word processor screen.

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