Monday, April 6, 2020


By Nancy Gideon

I’ve been doing this for a long time, a really long time like back when typewriter keys roamed over bond paper and White Out was my best friend. Before online groups, Social Media or algorithms. Back when a wannabe got info from the library and had never met an author in person, let alone a group of them. I wrote because I couldn’t not write. I submitted because I didn’t know how impossible the odds of publication were until I got a call from an editor in New York . . . wanting to buy my book and to see anything else I’d written.  That was in 1985, 69 titles and 20 reissues ago.  I’ve come a long way, baby, and oh, the things I’ve seen.

Back in the beginning, there were eight NY publishers and I worked with most of them. I published in romance when it was HUGE in the ‘80s. I couldn’t write fast enough, and at one time was contracted for eleven books in one year for three different NY houses. Revisions for my third book were due on the same day as my second child—both were early. For two decades, writing was my occupation and it paid well. 

Who knew a crash in the publishing market could be as devastating as one on Wall Street? Mid-list died a sudden death (not once, but twice in my career) and authors like me were homeless. Many never sold another. So, taking my cue from Sean Connery’s famous quote in The Untouchables, I asked myself, “What are you prepared to do?” My answer, whatever it took. Learn, research, adapt, survive. It meant stepping back from the whirlwind of bus tours and big promo budgets, stepping down from the big leagues to recover in the minors—those wonderful small presses who were just getting noticed.  

Rebuilding a career took more than writing that good book. It meant learning how to manage all the behind the scenes things that a big house’s publicist had done for me, things like getting reviews, making graphics, learning to manage my limited budget as a new animal – a hybrid author. I discovered I wasn’t without resources. I had a back list to reissue through non-traditional avenues, and . . . I could publish them myself! It was hard and time consuming, but my name got out there, my books were reviewed, readers found me again and my love for what I was doing returned, thanks to those new skills.

But not all hard work iss done at the keyboard. A lot of it happens in the psyche. It’s tough to be a writer: Isolated, vulnerable, at the mercy of things out of your control, with no paycheck or insurance, and often no at home emotional or practical support. You’re alone with the voices in your head and sometimes that self-talk isn’t pretty. You struggle to justify time spent out of the work force, away from the family with no reward in sight. That’s when you have to step out, like Indiana Jones, on faith. If you want it, believe it, and make it happen. Do what you gotta do and don’t make excuses to others or, especially, yourself. Find support (like here at IWSG!). Join a critique group, a writers’ chapter, a word count challenge—anything that makes you accountable and applauds your efforts.

Work hard but smart. If I could go back and reason with my ‘80s self, I’d have foregone that truck for the now-ex and hot tub in favor of deposits into an account for my future. Save it while you got it!

I’m OCD/ADD. I live by lists to realize my dreams.  Here’s one I’ve followed:

  • Embrace your dream. Own it and live it.
  • Share your dream with those who’ll support and cheer you on.
  • Update your dream.  Like hairstyles and hemlines, dreams change. Don’t throw anything out – it’ll come back into style!
  • Go with the flow. Be willing to try something (or someplace) new if the old isn’t work or selling.
  • Persevere! There’s no giving up in writing! Power through those rejections and disappointments.
  • Never stop learning! If this old dog can text, you can handle technology (or hire someone who can!).
  • Pursue your dream.  Dream it AND do it! No one else wants your career as much as you do. Go after it.
  • Realize your dream . . . then dream BIGGER!

I’ve had three mantras for my career that are still true today.

“Be Prepared” from years in Scouting

“Suck it up” from author pal, Thea Devine

“It’s a long way to the top if you wanna rock ’n roll” from AC/DC

They’ve been around longer than I have, so who am I to argue?


Nancy Gideon on the Web

Wednesday, April 1, 2020

Insecure Writer's Support Group Day and IWSG Anthology Contest Teaser


Welcome to The Insecure Writer’s Support Group
Purpose: To share and encourage. Writers can express doubts and concerns without fear of appearing foolish or weak. Those who have been through the fire can offer assistance and guidance. It’s a safe haven for insecure writers of all kinds!  For more about posting and joining in check here.  

The awesome co-hosts for the April 1  IWSG are:  Diane Burton, JH Moncrieff, Anna @ Emaginette, Karen @ Reprobate Typewriter, Erika Beebe, and Lisa Buie-Collard!

Our Twitter is @TheIWSG and hashtag #IWSG  

The link to IWSG Instagram
Use hashtag #theiwsg and @theiwsg may be tagged.

Announcing The Genre and Judges for 2020 IWSG Anthology!

The genre – science fiction!

And the amazing judges –

Dan Koboldt, author and #SFFpit founder
Dan Koboldt is the author of the Gateways to Alissia trilogy (Harper Voyager), the editor of Putting the Science in Fiction (Writers Digest, 2018), and the creator of the sci-fi adventure serial The Triangle (Serial Box, 2019). As a genetics researcher, he has co-authored more than 80 publications in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, and other scientific journals. He is represented by Paul Stevens of Donald Maass Literary Agency.

Lynda R. Young, author
Lynda R. Young is an Aussie writing fantasy novels as Elle Cardy. Wielder’s Prize is her debut YA epic fantasy. She is also an editor, game developer, 3D artist, graphic designer, photographer, gamer and more.

Colleen Oefelein, agent, The Jennifer De Chiara Literary Agency
Colleen Oefelein is an author of YA, picture books, and author promotion guides, a devourer of books, and the owner of the book review site North of Normal. Formerly an associate agent and PR manager with Inklings Literary Agency, Colleen has hosted numerous “Pitch Perfect” and “Rejection Correction” workshops on Facebook and at conferences nationwide, and she’s mentored several authors one-on-one through online pitch contests such as Pitch Wars.

Damien Larkin
Damien Larkin is an Irish science fiction author and co-founder of the British and Irish Writing Community. His debut novel Big Red was published by Dancing Lemur Press and went on to be longlisted for the BSFA Award for Best Novel. He currently lives in Dublin, Ireland and is working on his next novel Blood Red Sand.

Ion Newcombe
is the editor and publisher of AntipodeanSF, Australia's longest-running online speculative fiction magazine, regularly issued since January 1998. His qualifications and employment range from horticulture through electronics into literature and communications.

Julie Gwinn, agent, The Seymour Agency
Julie Gwinn most recently served as Marketing Manager for the Christian Living line at Abingdon Press and before that served as Trade Book Marketing Manager and then Fiction Publisher for the Pure Enjoyment line at B&H Publishing Group, a Division of LifeWay Christian Resources. Recently, she was awarded Editor of the Year from the American Christian Fiction Writers and won B&H’s first Christy award for Ginny Yttrup’s debut novel Words.

David Powers King, author
David's works include Woven, The Undead Road,, and Full Dark: An Anthology. He currently resides in the Mountain West with his wife and 4 children.

Monday, March 23, 2020

5 Tips for Scoring Book Reviews in 2020

All authors know the importance of book reviews. If someone ends up on your book page, scrolls down to the review section, and finds proof that other people have read — and, ideally, enjoyed! — your book, you are far more likely to turn them into a reader, too. However, when it comes to reviews, your mantra shouldn’t be “if you build it, they will come." You might have written the best book ever published, but if you’re not willing to put in some legwork, you may find yourself without a single review. To that end, we’ve got five tips for scoring book reviews!

1. Consider buying them--ethically!

Book reviews from vetted critics are not exactly the kind of things you just happen upon. Most of the time, indie authors have to pay for such reviews. However, when it comes to the price tag, there’s a wide range. For instance, an editorial review from a trade magazine like Kirkus Reviews will cost you $425. An editorial review from trade mag Publishers Weekly costs $399 (if you’re a self-published author, you’ll need to submit through their Booklife platform). Or you can seek out a more cost-friendly review from a platform like Reedsy Discovery, which charges $50 per submission. 😊 Whichever option you choose, a review from an established magazine or service is a great investment, and can be used in your Amazon listing or website to give your book a boost of credibility.

2. Don’t forget the power of word of mouth

One marketing tip indie authors are more commonly turning to is to include a message at the back of your book, encouraging readers to head to your Amazon page and leave a review. You should make sure not to be too pushy in your approach, and to include this ask in the back matter of your book — not the body. You don’t want to bombard readers with review requests before they’ve even had time to fully process the end of your book.

3. Run a giveaway

You can’t pay a reviewer to give your book a positive review. This kind of exchange isn’t allowed on Amazon, and they do their best to ensure the review sections of books are as transparent as possible. That being said, running a free book promotion or giveaway is an excellent way to get copies of your books into the hands of many different readers who then might be prompted to leave a positive (or negative — it’s part and parcel of becoming a published author!) review of their own volition. To run a free book promotion on Amazon, you will need to be enrolled in KDP Select — a program in which authors grant Amazon exclusive rights to sell their book in exchange for access to a number of marketing tools. You can learn more about KDP Select and whether it’s right for you here! Another option is to run a giveaway using one of the many platforms that allow you to do this — such as Goodreads or Instafreebie. According to Indiereader, “more than 40,000 readers enter a giveaway every single day.” Chances are a large portion of those readers are also happy to leave reviews on books they enjoy!

4. Turn to book bloggers

There are tons of book bloggers out there who accept submissions from indie authors. In fact, at Reedsy, we have a directory of over 200 of them. When it comes to seeking reviews, not all book blogs are created equal. Some will be much more likely to review your book than others. So whether you’re consulting a list or scouting them out on your own, you should do your research to determine what blogs are best for you. Here are a few things to keep in mind while you do so:
  • Are they currently accepting submissions? If not, the answer is easy: on to the next!
  • Do they cover your genre? It’s a waste of both your and the blogger’s time to pitch a book that’s outside the genres they focus on. Book bloggers rely on dedicated fans and often specialize in one or two specific genres. If their niche is reviewing romance novels, the chances that they will throw science fiction into the mix is low — because it’s clearly not their realm of expertise, and they won’t want to throw off their readers.
  • How active are they? If they haven’t posted since 2003… you can safely refer to the first bullet point. That being said, you also don’t want to work hard to get featured on a blog that posts so often that your review ends up being a needle in a haystack. If a book blogger is posting once or twice a week, that shows consistency and the chance for each of their reviews to have their fair moment in the sun.
  • How big is their following? The more the merrier, right? Well, yes and no. It’s certainly not a bad thing to score a review on a blog that gets tons of traffic. But that doesn’t mean you should turn your nose up at blogs with smaller followings — as sometimes those smaller blogs come with a tight-knit sense of community and trust.

5. Capitalize on the reviews you’ve already received

Here’s the thing about book reviews: they often feel like a catch-22. You need readers to score reviews — but it’s tough to get readers without reviews. So when positive feedback does start to roll in, use it to get even more! Here are a few suggestions for doing just that:
  • Add a review excerpt to your book’s synopsis on all of your different book and sales pages — Amazon, Goodreads, everywhere. Ideally, the excerpt will be from an editorial review. But hey, you’ve got to work with what you’ve got, so if you haven’t scored one of those yet, use a shining reader review.
  • Add positive reviews to your author website.
  • Add a very concise and effusive line to your book cover — in this case, it should really come from an editorial review.
  • Share positive reviews on social media.
  • Include lines from positive reviews in any promotional material you create.
  • If you’re querying an agent, you know the drill: reference a positive review!