I made $600 in the first week.

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Photo by Danae Callister on Unsplash

This fall, I made a decision that was a long time coming. To be honest, I’m not sure why I waited so long to venture into self-publishing. Fear, I suppose. There’s a rather steep learning curve and a lot of moving parts involved. And a lack of real need. I’ve done okay with traditional publishing and blogging.

But with the pandemic, traditional publishing (at least for me) is in a weird place. I had a novel release this spring — when bookstores, schools, and libraries were all closed. That’s a story for another time, but it wasn’t fantastic.

And after a good run, blogging has become less financially lucrative for me. This November I expect to earn only 10 percent of what I did last November. …

The rest will take care of itself.

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Photo by Nik Shuliahin on Unsplash

I’m working on a project right now. A big experiment.

I have this theory that writing short pieces — fiction and non-fiction — and publishing them on Amazon could lead to a decent income stream. My goal is to make $100 a month within 90 days and $1000 a month within a year.

Maybe I’ll do more. Maybe it’ll fail completely. I honestly have no idea. This isn’t the time for me to think about that. Because I have no control, really, over the results.

My experiment might fail spectacularly. …

And why you should.

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Photo by Eugene Lagunov on Unsplash

You’ve written a thing. Maybe it’s something short — a story or a blog post. Maybe it’s longer — a book. But you’ve written it. You’re proud of it. You think maybe, maybe, it’s worth something.

Worth reading. Worth publishing. Worth putting out into the world.

Now what, though?

One of the first things you need to do, when you’re a new writer and you’ve written the thing, is to find a reader. One reader that we call a beta reader.

What is a Beta Reader?

According to Wikipedia, a beta reader is “ a test reader of an unreleased work of literature or other writing, who gives feedback from the point of view of an average reader to the author. A beta reader is not a professional and can therefore provide advice and comments in the opinions of an average reader.” …

The difference between goals and dreams.

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Photo by Andreas Wagner on Unsplash

In late 2015, I was miserable. Really miserable. I hated my job. Writing wasn’t working out the way I wanted it to. Overall, I just didn’t like the way my life was happening in that moment in time.

I decided that my best bet for being able to quit my job was to write another novel. I’d had two traditionally published at that point, so I thought I had a fair expectation of being able to sell my new book.

I needed something faster than that, though. So I started blogging about my process. It wasn’t about how I was writing my book, though. …

Or: Overcoming your artistic stumbling blocks.

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Photo by Brett Jordan on Unsplash

My friend Juneta is an artist writer. In fact, when I think about artist writers, I always think about Juneta.

An artist writer is someone who:

  • Is a perfectionist.
  • Has lots of ideas, but tends to want struggle shifting between them, so usually works on one thing at a time.
  • Writes for their muse.
  • Really wants readers to appreciate the artistry of what they’ve done.
  • Has a hard time moving on if what they’ve done so far doesn’t feel perfect enough.
  • Sometimes feels like they can’t do something, even though they totally can, because they want to do everything really well. …

This is how you really get your shit together.

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Photo by Carl Heyerdahl on Unsplash

I’m a stubborn person. I can’t stand to be told that I can’t do something. I might doubt myself sometimes, but my internal reaction to someone else doubting me is pretty much always watch me.

My personal philosophy is summed up well in this quote from Jim Henson: If you care about what you do and work hard at it, there isn’t anything you can’t do if you want to.

Somehow, that’s come to look like personal challenges in the last decade or so.

For me, there’s nothing quite like setting a defined, deadlined goal for myself — and meeting it. This is going to sound boastful maybe. I don’t mean it to. …

Finding your actual audience matters — a lot.

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Photo by Perfecto Capucine on Unsplash

Ninja Writers are in the final stage of a four-month program we call BYOB — or Blog Your Own Book. In October, we’re talking about actually getting your book out there into the world.

And that has me thinking about what ‘into the world’ actually means.

It doesn’t mean: into the hands of all 7 billion souls on the planet.

I mean. We wouldn’t complain right? But even the biggest, baddest, most viral bestsellers sell to a fraction of the whole world.

So take a deep breath and let it slow and easy. You don’t have to appeal to everyone. All you really need to do is identify who you will appeal to and then figure out how to get in front of THEM. …

Medium is awesome, but volatile. Here’s something I’m doing to mitigate that.

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Photo by Daniel Eledut on Unsplash

I had an epiphany recently.

My daughter told me that she’d read that short-reads do well on Amazon. Especially in Kindle Unlimited. And that made sense to me. Amazon is basically a giant search engine.

In fact, I realized, writing for Kindle Unlimited is very similar to writing on Medium.

Only there’s the whole search engine thing. People search for what they want to read on Amazon, where on Medium we basically read what we’re served up.

The pay system is similar: a subscription-based model where writers are paid for page reads. Only, we can also sell our work directly, earning a royalty.

Of course there are limitations. Amazon isn’t a blog. Medium is. But it’s possible to build a body of work there that helps with audience building and creates an income stream. …

A four-step process.

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Photo by Charles Deluvio on Unsplash

You’ve worked so long on this project. You’ve poured your heart and soul into it. And maybe you just want to be done with it. Or maybe you’re sick to death of it.

But here’s a universal truth for writers: Writing is editing.

In this post, I’m going to go through some basics that will help you make your manuscript as strong as it can be.

Trim the Fat

I often tell my students that there are two kinds of writers. Those of us who write sparse first drafts and need to expand in revision. …

Put it all together, then find the gaps.

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Photo by Florencia Viadana on Unsplash

We’re headed into month three of the Blog-Your-Own-Book Challenge.

In July, we planned our BYOB projects. In August, we wrote them — 31 blog posts, all on the same theme. In September, we’ll work to put all those words together into a book.

Here’s what that looks like, at least for the beginning part.

Take a Look at What You’ve Got

My best advice here is to write each of your blog posts onto index cards. Or put them into Dabble as scenes. Or just type them out into a Google Doc.

You need to see all of your posts in one shot.

If you didn’t do it in the planning part, organize them so that they make sense as a cohesive whole. Gather like posts into chapters. Your book probably isn’t particularly long, so you might not have more than four or five chapters. …


Shaunta Grimes

Learn. Write. Repeat. Visit me at ninjawriters.org. Reach me at shauntagrimes@gmail.com. (My posts may contain affiliate links!)

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