A Guide to Nano Wrimo 2019

It’s that time of the year again when writers from across the globe decide whether to embark on one of their toughest challenges- yep, the annual Novel Writing Month Contest (NanoWrimo) is here!

I’ve entered NanoWrimo four time since I began this crazy journey of writing books and have only succeeded just the once. In case you don’t know what it is Nano challenges you to write a complete 50,000 story in just 1 month. To some this word count is easy but to others (like me) it is one of the most gruelling challenges out there. To offer some guidance I’ve put together some top tips that should help see you through to the finish line.

Write whenever you can

If like me you have to do a real job (boo! – I joke…) that takes up the bulk of your day you need to take every opportunity you can get to put those words down on the page. To hit the target you have to write at least 1,667 words per day (Around 2-3 hours of work). If your commute into work is a long one do some on the bus or train, do it in your lunch breaks and if you work a 9-5 job make sure you write in the evenings. This is easier said than done of course as funnily enough life often gets in the way. If you have children, pets and other commitments then… good luck!

Accept that the 50,000 words are going to suck

The whole point of Nano is to prove to yourself that when pushed you can hit the word count of 50k within the space of 30 days. I know a few Indy authors that can do this with their eyes closed and you’ll likely see in the Nano forums that some entrants will smash this number within a matter of days. Don’t feel disheartened. Instead get your words down and accept the fact they won’t be great. Getting the words down is the true challenge and if you like what you’ve done then spend the next few months refining them. It’s likely that you’ll end up cutting a fair amount and rewriting whole parts but for now focus only on hammering that keyboard or scribbling that pen.

Do not edit!

If you’re a stickler for perfection then Nano is not for you. Many writers fall into the trap of editing as they go. Don’t! If you do that you will never reach the end goal of 50k words. Editing, of course, is one of the most important if not the most important parts of the whole writing process but for Nano resist the urge to edit as you go.

Check the forums for support

There are many support groups on the NanoWrimo website that provide a wealth of support. One forum I’ve used in the past is the regional forum where you can make contact with other entrants in your area and work together to build your regions word count. Seeing which region will top the word count leaderboards adds an extra element of competitiveness and motivation.

Am I entering this year?

Yes, I am. I’m working away on my current project: The Temple of Arrival and Nano will be a huge motivator to get down as many words as possible. With the book currently at 50k already with probably more than that to go, NanoWrimo will be the perfect thing to push me on and help me finish the first draft.

Are you taking part this year? Do you have any tips that you’d like to share? Let me know in the comments or via social media.

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Why I’ve gone back to KDP Select

So, a few months back I launched an experiment with my books by going wide with their distribution. Now that experiment is over and I will be going back to KDP Select exclusivity for all of my titles.

You may think that having my books available on every format under the sun would prove to be more profitable in the long run, in reality however it turned out that I was actually missing out on income I could have been making with KDP.

After going through my reports, it was clear that Amazon Kindle was where 90% of all my sales come from and hence 90% of my author income to boot.

To go wide I used Draft2Digital, a service that made distribution onto Kobo, Nook etc extremely easy and their support team was really great and I cannot fault them.

A no brainer

The real revelation for me came when I managed to land an international BookBub promotion for Terran Defenders: Genesis. The book was wide and I was expecting it to sell well on all channels and not just Amazon. Well, it did sell but when I compared the wide figures with Amazon’s there was a clear winner. Amazon Kindle sales were 10x higher than those on all the other sales channels put together.

As part of the experiment I put each of the Sundered Crown books into wider distribution but after multiple plugs via social channels and my newsletter not 1 of those books has sold on Nook, Kobo etc. Prior to this each book had been a part of KDP Select and even though sales were not great I was still able to make income from lends and page reads.

I apologise

So here I am apologising to my readers who do prefer Kobos and Nooks over Kindles. I hope you understand that aside from loving what I do this is also a side income too. Indy publishing is a business, albeit a one-man band most of the time and I am afraid finances do come into play when it comes to decisions.

Fortunately, there are plenty of apps out there that allow you to read kindle books on other platforms so I hope that this won’t deter your reading of my works too much.

So just to be clear-

Heir to the Sundered Crown

War for the Sundered Crown

Quest for the Sundered Crown

Are all back to being KDP Select exclusives along with The First Fear, Nightblade and Unconquered Blood of Kings

Have you had success going wide or is Amazon still your best place for book sales or buys? Get in touch via Facebook and Twitter and please sign up to the newsletter

What I’ve learnt about self-publishing – Book Promotion is Changing

Often when indy authors are asked; ‘What is the thing you need the most help with?’ the answer is most often ‘marketing’. And it’s because of this answer that there are now hundreds of different services offering to promote your books.

Since publishing Heir to the Sundered Crown back in 2014 I’ve experimented with a wide variety of these services. Sites such as Booksends, Fussy Librarian etc are basically businesses that have large mailing lists that they send daily deals to their subscribers. An author pays them for a spot on one of their mailing lists (often sent out on a specific day) and these prices can vary from as little as a single Dollar to hundreds of Dollars.


The holy grail of these sites, however, must be Bookbub. With a mailing list of hundreds of thousands from across the world, landing a promotion with this site is incredibly difficult due to the sheer number of authors applying for promotions. This fact alone tells you just how highly regarded Bookbub is to many Indy authors.

Personally, I’ve only ever managed to get a UK Bookbub promotion and that was a good few years ago now, the results of which were by far the best I’ve ever had in comparison to other promoters. Now don’t go thinking Bookbub will propel your book to the top of the sales charts, the book still has to be good enough for people to want to buy it which means having a professional looking book cover and quality writing.

The market is changing

As I mentioned in my previous post I’m part of a small group of authors called Firebound Books. We regularly compare our promotional data and the main thing that we’ve all discovered is that the market is changing. Whereas a few years ago a promotion on the smaller sites would guarantee a decent amount of sales and a boost to the sales rankings. Today, the payoff from the same sites is a lot smaller for paid titles. Even 99p/c sales result in very few sales and often fail to cover the initial cost of the promotions. As I’ve discussed before (read here) it now seems that the only way to guarantee large numbers of downloads is to give your books away for free.

The main cause of this seems to be that the majority of the promotion sites are massively oversubscribed with authors. Some of their mailing lists have gone from advertising just three books per day to ten and if your book is put at the bottom of the list then you’ll likely see a poor return for the investment.

To overcome this decline in returns we must do things differently. The market is now swamped with books and only by improving the quality of indy books can we hope to continue to make a dent in the market. Good book covers and most importantly well-written books are key. Unfortunately, Indy authors are often given a bad name because of the countless poor-quality books produced. We need to up our game if we are to remain competitive in this ever-changing marketplace.

For a list of book promotion sites look here.

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In this blog post my fellow Firebound author Rob May talks about his new novel; Girl Under the Gun. Check it out today!


When I wrote my epic fantasy trilogy, Reckoning of Dragons, I tried to bring the excitement, pace and plot twists of my favourite thrillers into the mix. So when I sat down to write an actual modern day thriller, I thought I’d flip my approach on its head, and supplement the car chases and gun fights with some classic fantasy elements.

So Girl Under the Gun has a lot of things you might recognise from your favourite fantasy trilogy: a young hero takes her first steps into a wider world; an experienced warrior finds his jaded worldview challenged; an old conflict is re-awakened; and a trail of secrets leads to a hidden treasure, while several factions with conflicting motives stalk and fight over dangerous new territories.

If this sounds like an odd mix, don’t forget that The Lord of the Rings could arguably be described as a chase thriller: everyman Frodo Baggins is pursued by sinister agents all through the book, from his home in the Shire right to the entrance of the Crack of Doom itself.

Before I started writing, I couldn’t decide if I wanted an old-school, tough protagonist, like James Bond or Jack Reacher, or whether to feature a resourceful fish out of water, like Robert Langdon or Christopher ‘Fluke’ Kelso (from Robert Harris’s Archangel, one of my favourite thrillers). In the end, I went for both options: LJ Hardwick is young literature student, who has never left England, while Mark Grant is a soldier-turned-spy, whose reckless, unconventional approach to missions has earned him the nickname the Game Breaker.

But LJ is smart, fast and adaptable. The word of spies and secrets might just be the future that best fits her growing potential. And for Grant, finding solace in new friends and rightful causes might finally put the brakes on his untrammelled aggression.

Of course, since Girl Under the Gun has the same twists and subversion as Reckoning of Dragons, you won’t find the answers to any of those questions until the very last page …


Girl Under the Gun is out now, for the special price of 99c/99p for a limited time, or read it FREE with Kindle Unlimited.


Or get in touch via my website, and I’ll send you a free review copy.


Finally, for fans of Reckoning of Dragons, book one of the follow-up series, Empire of Dragons, will be out in August. Sign up to my mailing list for more info!



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Book Review: Mistborn 1: The Final Empire

I’m a bit late to the party with this but after finishing book one in Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn Series I felt like I had to write a review.

A Must Read For Fantasy Fans

The Final Empire is the first book in the Mistborn trilogy and introduces us to a world that has been long conquered by a seemingly invincible god-like being called the Lord Ruler. This premise is instantly fascinating as it answers the age old fantasy question of what a world would like if the heroes failed to succeed at beating the big bad. The people in this world are oppressed and live in fear of the Lord Ruler. The most oppressed being a race of people called Skaa, a people that have been persecuted for so long that all the fight’s been knocked out of them.

The opening of the book introduces Kelsier a man determined to put an end to the Lord Ruler and free the Skaa from their servitude. As well as being a highly likeable and charismatic character, Kelsier is also a Mistborn, a person with the ability to burn metals within their bodies and gain supernatural abilities as a result. From the get go I was hooked by Sanderson’s writing which is a bit odd as I really struggled to get into the first part of his Stormlight Archives series. The writing in Mistborn flows a lot better and the premise is absolutely gripping.

The characterisation of Kelsier and Vin (our heroine) is great and does a good job of showing how Kelsier develops his master plan and becomes something of a legend to the Skaa people. When we are first introduced to Vin, she is a street urchin abandoned by her brother and struggling to survive.  As the plot develops Vin turns from a meek frightened girl into a confident woman and it is through her eyes that we learn more about Mistborn and the incredibly in-depth magic system called Alomancy created by Sanderson.

Without giving too much away the plot rockets along at a quick pace and the intricate way in which the plot to overthrow the Lord Ruler is written is remarkable. The amount of planning and world building Sanderson must have done to develop this series must have numbered in the hundreds of hours.

Basically, Allomancy is the ability to burn metal through liquid ingestion and create certain responses such as added strength or enhanced senses.

The Lord Ruler

When the Lord Ruler is finally introduced he certainly lives up to the hype. All through the novel, there are hints as to his identity and his abilities but when he does appear, let’s just this is how villains should be done. He is terrifyingly powerful and the way Sanderson writes it is obvious how this being has managed to enslave an entire world.

Overall, as you can probably tell I highly recommend you give this series a try! I’ve ordered the rest of the series, cannot wait.

The epic Sundered Crown Saga is available on kindle and paperback now!
Heir to the Sundered Crown (Book 1) – http://a.co/cRiRqBL
War for the Sundered Crown (Book 2) – http://a.co/39JC6qc
Paperback editions –
Heir to the Sundered Crown http://amzn.to/1XDSxlg
War for the Sundered Crown http://amzn.to/1RiVFDs

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