Phasing Out This Site

Phasing out this websiteIt’s time for me to phase out blogs I don’t seem to find time for.

That’s especially true when other websites & bloggers offer more current, useful, and relevant content.

So, at some point early in November 2018, I’m deleting this website, as well as the related links blog I’d created. (The latter attracted just five followers, and I kept forgetting to share things there. Oops. I apologize.)

Oh, I truly appreciate the friendship and interest of those who’ve subscribed to this blog. Thank you!

Also, I expect to replace both of those sites with a page of links & free downloads, at a site I’ll develop at my main domain ( But, I’m still deciding about that. I won’t have time for it until November, but it’ll be online before I delete this site.

At this point, I need to focus on where my resources can do the most good… where my voice is unique (and valuable) enough to justify the time spent there.  That means my books, plus the other 6+ big, pen-name-related websites I maintain.

(Some, like, have been all but abandoned for years. During 2019, I want to overhaul that site, big time, so it’s a current & useful resource again.)

Yes, my “fast books” book and my content curation book do continue to sell. I need to find time to update both of them. Narrowing my focus will help that. (If you’ve already bought either of those book, you’ll see the updated editions in 2019. They will update automatically if you have Automatic Updates turned on.)

Those two books were never intended to reach a broad audience – and, of course, haven’t – because they were just insights I wanted to share with friends, and make sure the content was in sequential order.

(I’m in agreement with Kill Your Blog: Large, information-packed websites can fail in their goals. If someone enters the site in the middle of an article series… well, they may not have the context they need to make the most of the information in it. A book is more likely to feed that information in the best sequence.)

Meanwhile, I want to thank (profusely!) dear friends and fans who’ve been reading this blog. I wish you great success with your writing and publishing projects.

Also, if you’re a friend who’s creating reports or courses that my other friends should know about, I’ll still do my best to look at your new whatever-it-is and write a review blurb.

And, I’ll add the best products to the links/resources page that will replace this blog.

Now, if you want to save any articles from this site: do so, soon. (I strongly recommend PrintFriendly, a free browser extension that makes it easy to print or save PDFs of your favorite articles.)

Thanks again for your friendship, and I hope you’re a brilliant success… and someone I’ll meet at future writing conferences and fan conventions.

Journals, Planners, Notebooks, and Low-Content Books

Review of Di Heuser's journal creation methodOkay. It looks like nearly everyone with access to a computer is publishing blank journals, planners, and other “low-content” books.

I have mixed feelings about it. Especially when I see ugly, overpriced “composition books” flooding Amazon’s pages.

But… another True Confessions moment, here: I’ve been publishing niche-specific journals since 2006. Yes, back in the days when Lulu was the only game in town, for quality print-on-demand books.

I’ve continued publishing them, off and on, through CreateSpace… which is now becoming part of the KDP process. (But that’s another topic for another day. When I’m not snarling and growling over it.)

My point is: I know a few things about publishing low-content books. They’re fun. They’re easy.

A Couple of Reality Check Notes
  1. Don’t count on this being your main income stream. If you do something truly unique, it might be your bread-and-butter, but… don’t count on that.
  2. Also, there are two main paths in the low-content field. One is to publish a bazillion books, and hope you sell a few of each, every month. The other is to create very niche-specific books in categories that have lots of customers, and do this brilliantly. (Which, of course, takes me back to point #1, above: If it’s truly unique – and clever, and gorgeous – it might go viral and provide a very nice income.)

But, no matter which approach you take, the work can be mind-numbing unless you use software – plus some good, reliable systems – to turn out the “guts” of each book. (That is, the interior pages. Often, most are the same set of pages, over & over again, with minor tweaks… if any.)

When I heard that Di Heuser (of PLR Planners fame) had stumbled onto a way to streamline the interior pages – and sometimes the book covers – with something like automation… I was intrigued.

See, I’m not interested in heartless software that will turn out 50 blank, lined journals at a time, with nothing to distinguish them.

But I knew that Di wasn’t the type to promote anything that spammy.

And then, last week, she surprised me by sending me review copies of her latest products, which start with Journal Accelerator. (As usual, that’s not an affiliate link.)

This month, I’m knee-deep in Halloween-ish books, so I haven’t had time to actually test her system. But her videos show exactly how it works in Microsoft Office, and – as soon as I saw what she’d stumbled onto – I laughed.

Di’s system is kind of brilliant. And clever. And it’s a way to turn out planners & journals that are not cookie-cutter versions of everyone else’s.

I’m impressed.

For around $20, it may be a good value if you’re manually creating printed planners & journals, or customizing planner designs.

Also, her main product could be useful if you’re selling printable planners & journals at Etsy or Gumroad, etc.

Two caveats

(1) Though Di assures me that this system works in OpenOffice and LibreOffice, the demo is in Word. If you’re not using Microsoft Office, you’ll need to make some modifications to the process.

(2) Even if you are accustomed to using Microsoft Office, you may need to go through her videos, step-by-step, v-e-r-y slowly, to follow what she’s showing you.

But, with those warnings, if you’re working on planners and are creating them one-by-one, by hand, this product may save you hours. Once the system is set up, it should be pretty simple to modify each planner, journal, etc., to include the sub-niche specific tweaks.

The Upsells

Di has two upsells.

One ($27) shows you how to apply a similar approach to Photoshop, so you can turn out multiple book covers with just a few clicks. For many people, this is probably a nice, quick system.

For finicky control freaks like me… well, I like to craft each cover by hand, endlessly tweaking the scale, the colors, the saturation, and so on. (Yes, I know I’m spending far too much time on them. I happen to like this part of the process. So there! LOL)

Di’s other upsell ($37) is an expansion of her main product. It shows you how to use Microsoft Office to create journals and planners with multiple sets of pages, at a lightning-fast pace.

For example, let’s say you’re a Girl Scout Leader. You need to plan a meeting every week, and each week the line-up is about the same: Gathering the Scouts, maybe starting with a flag ceremony of some kind, then one of the many songs the kids love, then an activity, then a snack break, then (maybe) another brief activity, then the closing… and so on.

For that kind of planner, I’d probably need four to six pages per meeting. (Including a page where, after the meeting, I’d jot notes about what worked well and what didn’t.)

Di’s system would allow me to create a six-page set of pages, each of them different. And then her system will repeat them – over & over – to fill a journal… with just a couple of easy clicks.

I could even pre-date them, so – in future years – I could go back & easily find the previous Halloween-ish meeting, or the one where we (once again) reviewed how to tell poisonous Florida snakes from non-poisonous ones.


I think Di’s ideas are very clever, and if it sounds like a product that might streamline what you’re doing, I recommend it: Journal Accelerator.

I’ve also been pleased with a few other journal/planner resources, but none are as affordable as Di’s system. That’s why I’m reviewing this system, first.

Di has created a brilliant, inexpensive way to start creating blank journals and planners. Then, you can see whether you enjoy publishing these kinds of books, and if they’re profitable for you in your niches.



In other news… I’ve recently read two books that are helping me with my career as an indie author.

One is kind of essential, and will help you write better book blurbs, sales letters, blog posts, and even craft a better author bio: Story Brand, by Donald Miller.

I suggest getting the printed book, so you can more easily flip back & forth through the pages, comparing different points he makes.

The other is strictly for geeks. It’s Contagious: Why Things Catch On, by Jonah Berger.

Again, I recommend getting the print edition. (As I’m writing this, you can get a used copy for under $5.) The reason for the print edition is… well, some of this book is an absolute snooze. I flipped through a lot of the pages, and that would have been nightmarish on my Kindle reader.

But, I learned things like: The #1 way to get word-of-mouth started might be to create awe among your fans & readers.

Berger talks about that in depth, along with several other emotional triggers that can spark lots of word-0f-mouth publicity via social media… and in real life.

In addition, I’ve been kind of impressed by the free course that just started at Product Launch Formula Masterclass. (Yes, I break out in hives at anything with that kind of name, but his ideas are really, really good for authors. And the classes are free.) Sign up at So far, he’s not spamming me.

And I paid for the Lifestyle Liberation Academy course collection – it’s a membership site – and, even in the first set of videos, I discovered something that’s been holding me back for over a decade.

Henri’s courses may be too “do what you love, the money will follow” for you, but – for me – he’s saying important things that I needed to hear. Also, he assumes you’re starting with zero knowledge about online business. So, he includes a course about learning to use WordPress. And another about how to publish a Kindle book. And so on.

Anyway, that’s my news. And I’ll be kind of crazy-busy between now & Halloween, because that’s one of my niches.

The difference this year: I’m doing things I love, and getting ready to publish the kinds of books I’d want to read, myself.

A Snowflake-ish Plotting System for Novellas

Today, I wrote 8k words.

I also watched far too much TV, played too many online games, and made two dinners (for later in the week) from scratch.

The only way this worked was due to two things:

  1. Using Dragon to dictate what I’m writing.
  2. Being obsessively well-prepared by using a variety of plotting tools, in a Snowflake-ish style.

So here’s the plotting system I’m using. It’s probably ridiculously involved for most people, and I’ll probably streamline it as I continue writing.

But hey, it’s working. That’s all I care about, right now.

I start with an idea, and I put it together in the Bedtime Story Model. Even with a half-baked concept, that step takes me about half an hour… maybe two hours, at the most.

Then, I take that story and plot it on the circus tent worksheet. Originally, I found that at Larry Brooks’ website. I’m not sure it’s still there. It looks like he replaced it with one that’s not an actual worksheet. (That’s the URL I originally used, but he’s updated the article, and the PDF is different.)

After that, I go to my own 10k-word template. (If you ignore the word counts, this form works fine for any length of novella or shorter book.)

Finally (yes, this is the last step before writing), I refine everything in my very own, eight-page hybrid beat sheet.

Generally, I don’t share that with anyone. It speaks to me; I’m not sure it’d resonate with anyone else.

Basically, it’s a mix of things including Super Structure, by James Scott Bell, The Secrets of Action Screenwriting, by William C. Martell, and Chuck Wendig’s very rude version of a beat sheet.

(The latter includes some VERY NSFW language, used over & over again. If you can ignore that, his summary is pure gold. If you can’t ignore his F-words – and worse – you’ll hate that summary. Remember, you were warned!)

I cherry-picked what I liked best among all those resources – Bell, Martell, and Wendig –  and threw together the final/fourth template (beat sheet) for this process.

Note: The Bell book is a must-own, in my opinion.

The Martell book is clearly self-published and could use some editing, but I don’t care; his insights are unique and… well, see if your library can get a copy on inter-library loan. I wasn’t impressed with the Kindle edition’s formatting. (Right now, used paperback copies start at $65 and worth every cent, because – in my opinion – his advice is that good. But, I bought my copy for $25, before other people discovered how helpful Martell’s books can be.)


This morning, by the time I fine-tuned the fourth/last version of the outline, I was ready to write. (I’d started the four-step outline process,  this past weekend.)

And that’s how 8k words flowed almost effortlessly, and I’m expecting the same tomorrow.

Obviously, I’m throwing this article together at the end of a busy day. So here it is, nearly 500 words of babble about what’s working for me. I’m apologizing in advance for any typos or things I could have said much better… but didn’t take the time.

(If something doesn’t make sense, ask in comments. I’ll reply later this week, next time I take a break. Or when the book is in the editing phase. Whichever comes first.)

I can’t promise my system will work for you, but – if you need to write your own books, quickly – it’s probably worth trying.

What Are You Selling?

I’ve been working on some videos to promote my books. This current marketing adventure began when I read Rusch’s “Creating Your Author Brand.” I recommend it.

Authors, what are you selling?For me, it was filled with “ah-HA!” moments about continuity & quality… two points I’ve ignored with my “flash-in-the-pan” books. (They’re the ones I write in 10 days or less, and – short term – they can sell very well.)

But now, following Rusch’s tips, I’m working on an actual brand for my main pen names.

Her book was a superb start, but it’s more about the bedrock of branding than how-to of marketing, per se.

Initially, I followed popular advice: Sell my books with an “elevator speech.” Lead with the compelling things that make my books different… or, in genre romance, what makes them comfortable (even predictable) while telling a fresh, new story.

I fine-tuned my blurbs with great opening lines, bullet points to drive home why someone should buy my books (instead of competing books), and so on.

Then, I stumbled onto this TED Talk video.

After that, I found her free worksheet at, and I bought her related book.

Within a few pages, I put the book down. I knew I needed to review the six videos I’m currently working on. Two of the four need to be revised, big time. When I recorded them, I was missing the point. 

Oh, I’d written good scripts for them, if I was only trying to persuade people to have an interest in my books.

But my message was dry. Boring. My videos were “just the facts, ma’am” more than “ooh, cool!”

(At the time, I thought I was writing my blurbs for busy people who just wanted the highlights, to give them an excuse to click that “buy now” button.)

Now I realize I was missing a key ingredient, and that ingredient is my readers’ interests, beliefs, and the things they consider valuable.

So, I’m back at my desk. I’m reworking the yawn-and-a-half video scripts. Re-recording will follow.

(I’m glad I have time to do this before a big radio interview next week. I want that audience to feel excited about me, my blog, and my upcoming books.)

Along the way, I’ve found other useful videos at TED Talks. Here they are, in case you want more to mull over.

First, Seth Godin’s advice is good… not great, but worth considering in this short presentation.

Then Malcolm Gladwell’s talk, which highlights something important: On a scale of 1-to-100 (from “meh” to “love it!”), you don’t have to score a perfect 100 with everything you do. (Being realistic: 60 is good, but 78 may be ideal, and kind of the “sweet spot” for those of us who tend to be a teensy bit to anxious about perfection.)

And finally, Simon Sinek’s talk. I’d heard him on TV, years ago, and he’d inspired me. Here’s that show (on BYU-TV), and it still inspires me. It’s a good place to start.

Today, I’m glad I had an excuse to revisit his advice as I’m reinventing my author branding. But, some of this video is very dated (and some of it is truly spooky), and less useful than other parts of it… for author/book branding, anyway.

I hope these tips are helpful. For me, this has been important, as I pause to reinvent my branding, my books, and how I look at my career, in general.


Recording Tips for Podcasts & Videos

Recording tips for podcasts & videosI’ve been publishing podcasts since forever. I wish I’d been more professional about them, from the start.

Today, I listen to some of my podcasts… and sigh. Some of them – more than I like to admit – weren’t very good.

In recent years, I’ve developed a system for recording podcasts. I also use it for my video soundtracks.

Note: Because I’m a privacy fanatic (due to some overzealous fans), I don’t appear on-camera. I use slideshows or videos (that don’t include my face), and I’m talking off-screen.

Here are the steps I follow, to record the soundtracks.

1) Mindmap the video idea, or otherwise create a list of things I want to talk about in the video.

2) Edit it, add talking points, etc., as needed.

3) Use Dragon to record what I expect to say in the video, so the script ends up in OpenOffice or Notepad.

4) Print that script and edit it.

5) Use the script to record in Audacity. Tweak the sound quality as needed.

6) Use that audio for my video soundtrack. (Or as part of it, anyway. I usually have a standard intro/outro, plus music that’s a segue for both segments.)

This process saves me a LOT of time. Hours, at least. Sometimes days.

By the time I’m recording in Audacity, I can usually get the soundtrack right the first time.

Also, for those who want to tweak sound quality in Audacity, I use this cheat sheet. ( )

Those settings came from a YouTube video I watched, explaining how to produce more professional soundtracks. (I don’t recall which video it was. If you recognize these settings, let me know the YouTube URL so I can give the guy credit for it.)

Generally, I don’t go through all the steps on the cheat sheet. The best results come from the first few steps. Test it yourself. You may see that some steps aren’t worth the extra time on a busy day.

Now, between a good script and a polished recording, I’m far happier with my audio results.

I hope these are helpful for your book marketing and podcasting, too.

Blogs to Books – A Few Tips

If you’ve been following my new “just links” blog, you know that I’m using some of my old blog articles as the starting points for books.

Yes, some of this comes from my growing ambivalence about how I share information, online, especially in social media. Also, Jaron Lanier’s TED talk had a big impact on me.

I was so impressed by that, I went back & re-read Kill Your Blog, by Buck Flogging (aka Matt Stone).

  • Yes, that book has a terrible cover, and yes, his pen name is kind of clever but – when you switch the B & F – it’s more than a little vulgar. So is some of how he talks in this and other books. (So far, I don’t recommend the latter.)
  • Yes, his KDP numbers aren’t red-hot. In fact, they’re kind of horrible, as “Buck Flogging” and as Matt Stone.

Despite that, I think he makes some excellent points in Kill Your Blog. If you’re serious about turning your blog articles into books, it’s probably worth the $3.99 (or whatever it’s selling for, now).

Putting This Idea to Work

A couple of my blogs include 500+ articles, each. So, I’m turning some of them into book series.  I’ll break each site’s articles into bunches that total around 10k to 20k words. Most of these will be “Best of ____” books, with a subtitle identifying the focus.

Blogs to Books - for indie authorsIf you like this idea, I recommend reading the great how-to article, From Blog to Book, at

But now I’m faced with the mechanics of this process: First, getting my blog posts organized by topics. (I’m starting with WordPress blogs, not HTML sites.)

Then, copying & pasting the selected blog posts into Scrivener or a word processing program.

(Initially, I thought I’d just publish my blogs as printed books, through CreateSpace. For me, that means using a word processing program. Because: I’m a control freak when it comes to formatting, and I don’t yet have Vellum. Or a Mac.)

Is This Legal? Answer: Yes

I’ve heard mixed opinions about whether blogs can become Kindle books. (Years ago, it looks like Amazon actually encouraged it.)

Also, at their Content Guidelines page, Amazon said, “We will not accept content that is freely available on the web unless you are the copyright owner of that content.” (emphasis added)

So, this morning, I wrote to Amazon’s customer support for clarification.

Here was Amazon’s reply (in less than an hour):

Hello Eibhlin,

You can publish your blog as long as you hold the copyrights. There are no restrictions on it.

Our content guidelines are published on the Kindle Direct Publishing website, found here:

Content that is in violation of these guidelines will not be offered for sale.

Thanks for your interest in Amazon KDP.

Converting Your Blog to a Book

Anyway, copying all those blog posts could be tedious.

I’ve looked at several approaches.

The first were BookWright, Blurb, and blog2print, and similar companies. Generally, you have to publish your book on their platform. That might be fine for some personal projects, but not for what I have in mind.

Then I tried BlogBooker. (Some instructions are at Edublogs.) It didn’t work for my site with about 150 articles. I got an error message. But, my computer or browser may have been the issue. It’s kind of old, and running Windows 7. So, BlogBooker might work for you.

You might be able to use a simple PDF plugin… maybe. The problem is the lack of control. I want to publish a 6″ x 9″ trade paperback, and plugins don’t give me many options. Here’s a pretty good article (at wpmudev) that lists several free plugins you can use.

However, I use Print Friendly as a browser plugin, to print and save PDFs of articles I’ll refer to, later. The ads are annoying at times, but the plugin usually works perfectly.

I’ve had the best luck with a free WP plugin, Anthologize. It’s kind of clunky, and I don’t recommend it for books that will include more than, say, 30 of your articles.

However, if you have more patience (or perhaps a better computer) than I do, the free version of Pressbooks might be worth trying. It’s open source. People have created lots of free, really attractive templates for your final/printed book, too. But, for some reason, it didn’t play well with my exported blog files. (Yes, I need to spend more time figuring it out.)

Also, there is a paid Pressbooks option. I used that when it was still free, and it did a very good job.

The Clunky, Manual Approach

Because I’m rushing to get one blog – a small-ish one with about 150 articles – into a book, I’m manually copying-and-pasting from the website.

Here’s my process:

  1. Use my website’s Sitemap to copy a list of all the article titles. Then, alphabetize the list so it’s easy to correlate with the actual website.
  2. Decide the main topics. In other words, how I’ll organize the book’s articles, so they flow logically, from one to the next.
  3. Use a printed list (and, in my case, highlighter pens) to indicate which article (on the alphabetical list) belongs in which chapter.
  4. Set up Scrivener (or OpenOffice or Word or something similar) with those headings and article/chapters.
  5. Go to the website, and cut-and-paste the articles into my manuscript.
  6. Edit the book, removing all hyperlinks (at least for the printed book).

You may think of a better system. For now, this is working for me. It’s a little clunkier than I’d like, but I’m rushing through this project.

If you have a large blog or two, consider turning it into a book. I hope my insights are helpful. (Yes, I’ll update this article as I learn more about the fastest & most elegant ways to turn blogs into books.)

If you have suggestions or questions, be sure to ask me in comments.

TV – Goal, Side Hustle, or Oh-Dear-Heaven?

TV - Goal, Side Hustle, or Oh-Dear-Heaven?If you write topical, trending, pop culture books, there’s one benefit (or liability) I forgot to mention: TV shows.

If you’ve written a fresh, innovative book or two (and marketed them with a supporting blog or quirky author platform), and the topic is trending (or a cyclical interest), you may hear from TV producers.

Of course, maybe that was your goal all along. If so: yaaayyy!

Or, maybe working with TV shows could be a side hustle (a part-time income source). It may also boost your book sales. Again: yaaayyyy for more income!

Or – at the other extreme – you may mutter “Oh dear heaven” every time another TV producer contacts you, especially if you’ve had a bad experience in the past.

“Producer” Can Mean Many Things

The first thing to know is: a “producer” may have an actual job with an actual production company.

Or, he/she may be someone who’s worked in the entertainment industry and is putting together a show idea to pitch to a network.

Even when they say “I’m working with [major network],” they may actually mean, “A network seems open to ideas – or I’ve had good conversations with them in the past.”

I’m okay with that. As the cliche goes: That’s entertainment.

Why Producers Contact You

Producers will contact you for one of two reasons.

1) They’re casting a show and they’re looking for “talent” (people who will be on-screen, talking and doing things), or they’re looking for guests to appear on the show, or they want your input (ideas or research).


  • “Talent” usually gets paid. If you’re going that route, be sure to get a good entertainment manager and a related contract attorney. Do not be like the ensemble of newbies who agreed to share $500/week… without realizing that a typical reality/unscripted TV show requires ~3 days (not including travel time) to film, per episode.
  • “Guest experts” often appear on-screen for a few minutes per episode, or in lots of little segments throughout one episode. Some get paid. Most don’t. (Be sure to negotiate for your name and book title on-screen, when your segment/s are in the show.)
  • Off-screen… you may simply “talk shop.” That’s fun and I’m rarely paid for a few hours (spaced over several days, weeks, or months) of chatting about a topic I’ve written about.
  • Or, a show may hire you as a consultant/researcher. That can mean anything from scouting filming locations, to locating fellow experts to appear as guests, to providing additional research info as content for a particular episode.

If you do this, learn from my mistakes: Get 50% payment, up-front. According to friends who work as consultants/researchers, regularly, that’s normal.

And, even if you have a contract, make sure you have an entertainment/contract attorney ready to enforce it.

I’ll sheepishly admit that I spent three weeks scouting historical locations for a paranormal show… and was never paid. They said the producer wasn’t actually authorized to sign contracts. Ouch. Lesson learned!


2) They’re working on some ideas and need expert input for background info, to fact-check a few key points, or because they hope you’ll present them with a fully marketable show concept they can use, as-is.

I don’t mind calls like that, when I’m not busy. I know I’m unlikely to be paid for it, so – for me, anyway – it’s just a chat with someone who’s fun and enthusiastic about a topic.

Because I value my privacy, I do not tell him/her my real name. Ever. (Not unless a contract and payment are involved, and – even then – the production company’s contract writer and accountants are the only ones who need to know my real name.)

Do You Wanna Be in Pictures…? Really?

If you sign up to be a regular member of the show’s team/cast – meaning: in front of the camera – consider what you’re giving up.

First of all, your privacy can vanish. I know people who’ve appeared in shows that trended briefly, and then were cancelled. One is a close friend. He can’t even go to the grocery store without being recognized and asked for an autograph.

Yes, people sometimes recognize me, too, from my public appearances. Most are respectful enough to ask, “Are you [pen name]?” (I may or may not admit to it.) Then they drift off once I’ve answered their (brief) question. Generally, I decline to autograph anything except my books.

My point is: You and every member of your immediate family will be in the limelight. And, if the media glom onto you, the exposure can be relentless. (Seriously, Jennifer Anniston doesn’t need to make another movie or TV series, ever. She’ll probably be on the covers of tabloids for the rest of her life, whether she likes it or not.)

Think about your life, but also the privacy of your parents. Your kids. And remember that distant cousin who’s always wanted to be famous, and he/she might write a tell-all book or give embarrassing interviews to tabloids. (Really. It happens. Like what Meghan Markle has had to deal with.)

Related to that: after the show is cancelled, you may not be able to return to your old career.

  • That’s partly about privacy. Some companies don’t want the attention a “TV star” might bring them, no matter how brief your entertainment career.
  • It’s also about how the show portrayed you. (Heaven help you if you were edited to look not-very-bright, weird, promiscuous, or two-faced. That’s how the HR person may think of you, seeing your name on a resume.)
  • It’s also a (possibly legitimate) concern that, if a company hired you, you might vanish in a few months when the next network hires you for a new TV series.

So, if you usually need a “day job” to cover your bills, keep the financial aspects in mind. Like a book that’s viral for a short time… TV paycheques can come to an abrupt halt.

One smart friend negotiated his filming schedule so he kept his day job. He’d show up on the TV set on weekends, and film his segments with the rest of the “reality show” cast.

When the show was cancelled, he still had his day job. Life went back to normal. (Or normal-ish, anyway.)

After the Gig is Over (or the show is cancelled)

Many former TV stars (and full-time researchers/consultants) have two likely options to continue the fame and/or fortune.

You can travel either path, or or pursue both at the same time.

  1. Hit the road and talk at events, colleges, TV talk shows (national or local), radio shows, podcasts, etc., and hope you’re entertaining/interesting enough to remain popular (and well paid).
  2. Build on your existing fame (this should start while you’re still on TV) with what you and I usually consider an author platform: Books and merchandising, a website or two, a YouTube channel, lots of social media, and so on.

For merchandising, shop around. Search for “on-demand merchandising” and look for companies – like Teespring and Merch by Amazon – that don’t require an up-front membership fee or investment.

(I haven’t had time to look at Printful, but they’re one of many companies that offer a broad range of merchandise you can brand. That’s convenient, but you may do better by going directly to individual print-on-demand companies. Research carefully before committing to just one option.)

And, of course, if you’re reading this, you already know that being an indie author is both easy and free… and $2 (for a $2.99 Kindle book) is a far better per-copy-sold royalty than the 35-cents (per printed book sold) that traditional publishers offer. (And then there’s the income from digital books “borrowed” via Kindle Unlimited. And audio books, and so on.)

Amazon offers all the tools you need to publish your own book today, and see income from it tomorrow.


  • For great, inexpensive book covers, I like Fiverr’s vikncharlie.
  • For editing, ask at A search for “editors” can point you to people doing good work, inexpensively. Be sure the editors’ reviews are current and credible.
  • For book promotions on a shoestring, Fiverr’s bknights still gets raves from many authors.
Why I Wrote This

So… yes. This week, I’ve heard from three TV producers and actually spoke with one on the phone. Usually, I hear from a producer about once every two or three months. (It’s been that way since around 2003, when one of my books – related to a pop culture trend – attracted attention.)

Generally, I’m not interested in TV. I’ve seen too many friends get sucked into that scene, and emerge damaged by the experience.

Also, I like my privacy. There is no way I’ll be in front of the camera.

I’ll be a consultant or researcher, but only on my own terms. It has to be fun and it has to pay pretty well.

Otherwise, if a producer wants to “talk shop” about my niche, and my schedule isn’t too crazy, I’ll happily chat for an hour or so. No strings attached.

Just be aware that TV producers may contact you if you write trending, topical nonfiction topics (and some abruptly successful fiction sub-genres). Remain on your toes. Know if you’ll be paid: how much and when, for exactly what kind of work.

Don’t get sucked into the “this could be fame and fortune” vortex. Not with your eyes closed, anyway.

Mostly, keep writing. It’s what we do… right?

TED-ish Talk Tips – and a question

Lately, I’ve been creating YouTube videos to promote my nonfiction books. Often, I share one or two tips from a book, and then point viewers to it at Amazon.

TED-ish Talk Tips for Video Book TrailersThat presents some slight problems.

First of all, there is no way I’m stepping in front of a camera. That’s a privacy issue.

So, my presentation has to be compelling.

The second issue is a quirky one. I’m kind of famous in one niche, and people know my voice from lots of radio shows, public appearances, podcasts, and so on.

(I was on the History Channel once, as well. It was less fun than I’d hoped.)

But this means I can’t sound like myself in videos under another pen name. Someone is sure to notice the voice and say, “Hey, wait… I know that voice! She’s [pen name]!”

So, my presentation has to say everything in text, usually in slides, right there on the screen.

(I use music for the backgrounds. If you’re doing this, I recommend getting the 7-day free trial membership at You can download 20 audios per day. It’ll save you money while you’re deciding whether you want to continue making videos.)


To keep my slides interesting, I’m studying TED Talks.

As a shortcut to understanding what works – and doesn’t – in related slide presentations, I like a book called How To Design Ted Worthy Presentation Slides, by Akash Karia.

If you don’t mind reading an older version of that book – it’s shorter by about 35 pages – you can find a PDF of it here:

He links to some great resources.


Like many people, I’m stepping away from Facebook. Not entirely, because – for now – it’s still useful for connecting with fellow writers. And for advertising, maybe.

(Seeing how wrong Facebook got my interests, I’m not as enthusiastic about their “targeted” ads, now.)

I might just use HootSuite to post quick links at my Facebook page. It is a convenient way for people to see them.

Or, I’m considering doing that at a blog (maybe here), and people will see those posts if they’ve subscribed to my emails (in the right column on this page), or if they use an RSS reader. (Yeah. I know. That’s very old-school, but it’s something I may go back to, myself.)

So, I’m interested in your reactions. How would you feel about a mix of quick, short links-plus-blurbs here, in addition to my usual everything-but-the-kitchen-sink posts?

Or, should I set up a “just the links, ma’am” kind of blog, for those posts?

UPDATE: The response was almost immediate. Many of my readers made it clear that they prefer infrequent, personal, sometimes-long articles. So, I’ll be setting up a separate micro-posts blog for links, trivia, and the occasional/fleeting bright idea.

Font Choices – Prettier Printed Books

Free font choices for prettier printed books.When I publish a topical book that needs to be selling in Amazon immediately (if not sooner), the formatting is usually plain vanilla.

For CreateSpace books, my go-to font is 11- or 12-point Georgia. I center the headings (or use the default in OpenOffice), and I make sure the margins seem wide enough.

(That can be a tricky balance. I don’t want it took look as if I used big type and wide margins to the book looks longer than it is. But, with too-narrow interior, readers might have to pry open the book to see all the words.)

For my latest book, I did something different. I actually spent an hour at Google Fonts, selecting a font I liked. I chose “Unna.”

But, I also snagged several other fonts from this guy’s list, for future use. Some are better than others. The main ones I looked at: Prata, Oranienbaum, Rozha One, Rufina, Suranna, and Unna.

Most of these are different from the free commercial fonts I download at

Your impressions may vary, so I recommend checking his full list:

And then… I discovered I actually liked tweaking the printed book so the appearance was pleasing. (This one is likely to sell in tourist gift shops, so I wanted to be sure the book had the publishing equivalent of “curb appeal.”)

I may go back and reformat several of my printed books.

(Tip: “Fringe” readers – aka those who like woo-woo topics – and academics tend to buy printed books. So do some readers of Regencies and other historical romances. And the occasional cozy mystery reader, who wants to flip back through the pages, seeing the clues/foreshadowing that had been hiding in plain sight.)

“Down the Rabbit Hole” Topics for Viral Books

How to find "rabbit hole" topics for fast, viral booksOkay, since Rob Howard’s appalling “easy, viral books” report came out, I’m reluctant to go anywhere near that phrase.

But… that phrase does describe a very broad niche in which I’ve been successful.

I’m talking about easy, viral books. The ones I describe in my own book about writing… well, viral books.

(That’s different from what Rob talks about. We just happen to use similar phrases, talking about books that can be written quickly, and sell well.)


I should be writing (as Mur Lafferty says), but I woke up realizing I should also share a couple of resources with you.

They’re strictly for topical, viral books. The kinds of books I write in a few days. Maybe a couple of weeks, max.

It all starts with an “ooh, shiny!” topic. Maybe it’s in the news. Maybe it’s evergreen. Maybe it’s both.

I research it, and share the juiciest, most interesting things I’ve learned. (Kind of like this article, I guess.)

Some of those books sell in the four-figures region for a couple of months, and then go flat. A few keep selling. And selling. And selling.

Of course, it helps if I re-energize them regularly, following the recommendations in Chris Fox’s superb book, Relaunch Your Novel. (Except, of course, my books are rarely novels. His principles apply to nonfiction, too.)


I find my book topics in the news. Usually, I’m browsing their “weird news” section, or – less often – skimming their strange opinion/editorial topics.

(The latter are the ones I blink at and wonder, “Who thought that was important – or even credible – right now?” But, clearly, someone did, and so did an editor with her – or his – finger on the pulse of a broad group of readers.)

Example: The Washington Post’s “wild card” option, in their digital editions. (I read it daily on my Kindle Fire. $1 for six months of daily news…? Lots of quirky, viral book ideas…? Ooh, yes!)

This morning, it was an article about taste buds and weight gain.  A book on that topic – and suggestions for dealing with it – could do very well. My goodness, it could even spawn a cookbook series featuring healthy, extra tasty foods.

That’s one of maybe half a dozen great, viral-ish topics I saw in the Washington Post in the past 24 hours.

The other resource is where I get more evergreen ideas: An American magazine that’s near every grocery store cash register. It’s called “First for Women.”

Every one of their magazine covers could provide at least two or three really good book ideas. Usually, more.

I have their December 4th (2017) issue next to me. Here are a few headlines and subtitles/blurbs. Any of them could be great, viral books. And each would be unique, because it would be based on your topical research and your angle on the subject.

  • “Reclaim your brain… bye-bye tired! / The heavy metal making women feel slow and tired & the natural compound that sweeps it away. Feel the fog lift in 24 hours!”
  • “Instant Confidence! / Double chin – Saggy butt – Belly rolls – Thigh jiggles…”
  • “Body Clock Cures / Insomnia – Anxiety – Slow metabolism – Winter sadness – Headaches – Cravings”

And that’s not even the main headline on the cover. (It’s about a thyroid detox. That’s a topic they feature at least once every few months.)

As I’m looking at this cover, and thinking about the endless winter this year – the storms that keep bringing snow and gloomy skies in the American northeast and across much of the UK – I’m thinking about “winter sadness” and SAD. A well-marketed book about that could do very well, this year.

So anyway, that was on my mind this morning. I hope this information is helpful. Now, I need to get my current book finished and in Kindle.

If you write one of these books in the near future, feel free to link to it in a comment at this article. I’d love to see your ideas for books like these!