My house has never been cleaner than when I sit down to write. How many of you can relate to this? You've got a GREAT idea, maybe even an outline in your mind about your next writing project. But when you sit down to pen your masterpiece, something comes up. You remember to put the laundry on, a call comes in, you remember you need to pay a bill, and the list goes on.

Let me let you in on a secret: All of the great writers did not have a one-size-fits-all approach to accomplish the first drafts of their novels. There is an author behind each book on your bookshelf, and each author has their own approach to writing. Some people like to get into a routine and set writing hours and only write during those hours. Others like to write only when inspired. Still others write with writing partners or within writing groups. The good news is that there is no wrong way to get your first draft done.

Here are some ideas to help you establish your writing process:

- Notice what time of day best suits you to be able to...


Marketing your book is critical to getting sales, so it’s important for authors to have an understanding of the process. Even when you're in the beginning stages of writing your book, you'll want to identify your audience demographic and get some traffic (attention) in order to ultimately sell books. Your publisher may have marketing programs available, but all authors can—and should—take every opportunity to help promote and sell their book. Below is a simple, three-step process that you can follow.

1. Know your audience.

A writing coach once told me to pick a certain person and write to him or her. Defining your audience through a singular “avatar” has its benefits:

  • Know what problem you are solving for your audience.

  • Clearly define your storyline.

  • Clearly define sales or speaking points.

  • Write your elevator pitch with your audience in mind.

  • Define your demographic.

  • Create a sales page that speaks to your audience and post it on your website with a link...


It’s an exciting time when you’re ready to launch your new book. From setting up signing events at bookstores, to emailing your newsletter list to let them know the big day has finally come, there are several things you can do to help market your book. One approach to spreading the word is to write a press release.

Before you write your press release, consider the audience. Are you sending this to the media to let them know about an interesting/entertaining launch party? Are you sending this to a network of bookstores and podcasters to announce your title is available and you’d like to speak on their platforms? Are you sending this to your newsletter mailing list that is more of a warm market? It’s always important to remember who you’re writing to and why, to help tailor your message.

The purpose of a press release is to promote something special and significant, such as your book release. In sending a press release to the media, you are hopeful they will feature you on a personal interest story or share your...


Recently, one of our favorite author-bloggers wrote a comprehensive post about word counts. You may not think word counts matter, or you may be unsure of your word count because you're still writing your book. But we encourage you to think of the bigger picture: your finished book. Depending on your genre, your final word count matters to your audience!

Readers in your genre have an expected book-length. If you go outside of the guidelines listed below, you are putting readers outside of their comfort zone, and they will have a tough time buying your book. Even self-published books must stay within a predictable word count range.

While you're outlining your book, think about your final word count. Consider where you want to be when you're mid-way through your writing. Plan out your word count for each chapter. For example, if you’re writing a mystery novel that is nine chapters, and then your word count should be roughly 90,000 words, and each chapter should be approximately 10,000 words. Halfway through the book, you...

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What is a trim size?

Trim size refers to the size of your book. Whether you are creating a paperback or hardback book, your book team will need to know what size cover files and interior files to produce. It’s important to establish your trim size early on, so everyone working on your project stays within the same guidelines.

Avoid this mistake.

When I printed my first book, I chose a non-traditional size because I thought it was cute. When the book sold well (over 5k copies) and I wanted to move it from self-publishing to traditional publishing, we had to resize all of the files to fit what would work with my publisher’s printer. The lesson here is that if you want to leave the doors of opportunity open for your book to potentially move to a traditional publisher or print a large scale print run, you can pave the way for success by opting for a traditional trim size.



Getting on the bestseller list is every author’s dream, but how does it work? I’ve deconstructed the mystery behind getting a spot on the top three most sought after bestseller lists: The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal, and Amazon. First, you need to understand the two critical factors that create the perfect environment for a book to make it on a bestseller list: how sales get counted and which sales get counted.

Sales are recorded weekly, from Monday to Sunday. All sales during this seven-day period are added up and compared against other sales that week to determine who has sold the most, and therefore the ranking of the bestseller list. This is why your first week is so important to launching you on the list—and why all authors seeking bestselling placement should have a strong pre-order plan.

Unique sales matter—bulk sales do not count. You cannot simply have a friend order thousands of books on your launch date and hope to make it to the bestseller list. Also, the timing of sales has to do with when your...


It's an exciting time to be working in the publishing industry; there are more options for authors than ever before. So how do you know what publishing route (and company) is best for you?

Know this: there is not a one-size-fits-all model. Individual publishing houses and imprint companies operate very differently. There are pros and cons to each of the two main publishing models. To determine which route is best for you, spend a little time defining your goals, creating your budget and sales projections, as well as your break-even analysis and marketing plans. Laying out a clear action plan, and business plan for your book will help you discern which model is best for you.

Consider your book's audience, message, and the scope of your marketing plan. Do you have a niche book that only a certain audience will purchase? My regional cookbooks are a great example of this because they focus on the food of a particular city or county. These are the types of books that do well under a small, local publisher or as a self-published work with a localized marketing effort. As...


Marketing your book can easily become a full-time job, but with the proper plan, you’ll be able to execute your launch efficiently and successfully.

1. Establish the connection: follow bookstores, colleagues, media outlets, and influencers on social media. Set up a spreadsheet with all of your marketing leads on various tabs. These are people you are going to reach out to and offer a free ebook, or connect with them on how they can interview/feature you during your launch week:

  • podcasts - Set a goal of contacting 10/day. Be sure you have followed them on social media and been engaged in their online platforms (liking/sharing content) - that way they might recognize your name when you reach out.

  • instagram - Find the 'bookstagrammers' that review books in your field and inquire about their affiliate programs to feature your book. Look up which hashtags people are using in your industry through / you can also use to schedule...

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Paperback Writer is a podcast hosted by Tiffany Harelik. A publishing professional since 2010, Tiff helps writers navigate book editing, production, and marketing. She offers tips and resources for authors to navigate their options in the ever-changing publishing industry.

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In this self-paced course, Tiffany teaches people how to publish their book with easy to follow steps. She walks authors through writing their book, offers an inside look at the publishing industry, and expert advice on book marketing.

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