Writerly Advice

This is my humble opinion, not by any means the law. You have to make up your own mind what kind of author you're going to be. These are just some of the things I've learned along the way.

First thing, obviously, you've got to write your book! I do suggest that once you've started the book and get past the hump, realizing that this is indeed what you want to do, then start setting up your separate author pages for Facebook, email, blog, Twitter. The works. Don't run your 'author stuff' from your personal pages. 
And the reason I say 'get past the hump' in your writing is that we all have a story in us. That's not in question. But being an author, and this being your job and life and passion is a different thing. If you don't want that, then it's not for you. You make time for the things that you deem a priority and what's most important. You just have to find out if the stage of your life you're in will allow the time required to be a writer.

1. Traditional or Self Publishing? I think you should just decide for yourself. This has been truly rewarding and I don't have anyone to answer to for deadlines and such but my fans and myself, and it wouldn't be that way if I was under a trad publisher so....but then again it's a lot of work. A lot. Think about it really hard first.

2. Edit, edit, edit….and then edit some more!!! Read your stuff a hundred times before it's sent out to an editor and even AFTER.

3. Don’t follow the flow of your genre's stereotypes. Be your own person and just have fun with your story. Believe it or not, readers don’t want to read something they have already read 10 times but with just different names and places. They want something different.

4. Promote yourself! No one is going to do it for you. You have to set out and spend the man hours getting your name out there. Contact reviewers and bloggers (but read their policy pages!!!) about reading your book, like pages and help promote other authors and most of them will do the same for you, do giveaways and offer to let blogs do giveaways for you as well. Connect with your readers on all the social media outlets.

5. Book bloggers are a big key to your success. And I’ve met the most incredible people who run book blogs. It’s a win\win situation when you let a blogger review your book. The fact that they are just awesome and sweet and helpful is just icing on the cake. :) Book bloggers ROCK!

6. Most important of all. YOUR FANS ARE THE REASON YOU CAN DO WHAT YOU DO. TALK TO THEM! COMMENT AND SEND RESPONSES TO THEM, ANSWER THEIR EMAILS, DO GIVEAWAYS AND THANK YOUS! SHOW THEM YOUR APPRECIATION. Without these people, you would be nothing and they deserve your time and effort after they have helped support you. This is a job, no matter how fun and awesome writing is, and you have to put in the time. I personally have posted on author's walls and not heard back. It shows me they don’t have the time to worry about me, and obviously don't make their fans a priority, and I never forgot that about them either. Answer your fans in any social media platform that they contact you in. Takes a long time? It your JOB! Make a business day of the week and do it then. It doesn't matter how you do it, but do it. You can't just write the books and that be it, the other part of your job is your social medias. YOUR FANS ROCK AND DON’T YOU DARE FORGET IT!!

7. Learn as you go. It's all a process and it'll be easier with every book release. Don't stress. Stress makes your work suffer and then it all starts to feel like 'work'. THIS IS A JOY, NOT A JOB.

8. Find someone who will read your work, even if it's an online author friend that you know, who will tell you what needs to be done and what parts need work. Don't contact a random author or someone that you're not 'friends' with to read your book. You need to find a small group or community of new authors such as yourself to give support and encouragement to. A critique partner is important. Mine gives it to me straight when a part doesn't flow or work right or if a paragraph just plain sucks. Don't let their honest answers anger you or deter you either. Would you rather a friend that you asked to help you tell you that something isn't right or a ton of reviews on Amazon tell you that? Don't get angry or upset or hurt, THANK THEM for helping you. It's hard to critique your own story. It's just like editing. You can't do it yourself.

9. Be professional. On your Facebook, on your Twitter, in your emails, everywhere. It's fine to joke around, but there is a line that should not be crossed. For example: Don't ever bash another author's work, no matter how badly you hated it. EVER. Everyone is entitled to their opinion, but as an author there is a professional line that sits there now that wasn't there before. Even if you are a blogger-turned-author, the ethics of your situation have changed. Would you want other authors bashing your work when you know that an author's word has more pull with book recommendations? No. Remember, once something goes up on the internet, it'll haunt you forever. Plus, it's rude and not a good image to your fans, especially since you yourself don't like to get bashed and get bad reviews. Making friends with other authors is a good thing.

10. EVERY BOOK IS NOT FOR EVERYBODY. Don't make unnecessary enemies. Everyone isn't going to like your book and that's JUST FINE. Even the ones who don't like your book, you should thank them for the time they took to give you a chance. It's not personal. Everyone has books they love that others couldn't stand. There are people out there who don't like candy corn, coffee, or Ryan Reynolds! I just can't fathom that, but it's a sad truth. And there are people who won't like your book. That's totally all right, but the ones who do sooooooo make up for it. You cannot go and approach or rebut to someone who gives you a bad review or says something you don't like. It comes with the territory and you've got to have thick skin to be an author. Just dwell on the ones who love you and forget the ones who don't.
P.S. Don't EVER comment on reviews. Ever. No matter what they've said to you in the review, talked about your mom, called you a horrible person, put up ridiculous GIFs about you. No. I've had the worst reviews about me. I've been told I never gradated high school, I've been called an unfit mother, someone said that they could tell I had a tumor in my head because the book sucked so badly (Yeah, they said that), I've been told they felt like they were taking a ride by the Allstate Mayhem guy because my book was such a car wreck. I've had reviews that got things completely wrong and that was the reason they hated it--was just because they didn't understand something or misread or whatever. But still, in all these instances, you NEVER engage. EVER. You go and gripe to your small author group or author friends about it in private because that's what they're there for and then you get over it :) That reviewer has forgotten you, surely, it's your turn to forget them. Go read some of your awesome good reviews instead and feel better. There are WAY more good reviews than there are bad, but authors seem to only remember the bad ones...

11. I get asked so often for the sites to where you can publish. So here they are:

AMAZON - (My own personal choice is not to check KDP SELECT because I have readers on all formats and all sites. I want to be available to them all. That decision has to come from you and the research you do on it. When you sign up and begin to publish, the very first thing they ask you to do is check that box. Some people have had great success on Kindle Unlimited. Like I said, that's for you to decide. I personally have not had success with the book I had in the program and the authors I talked to. I chose to stay available to my other readers.)



SMASHWORDS  for SONY, iBOOKSTORE, and OTHER FORMATS - You can publish through all sites through this one, even Amazon and B&N, but the only thing is that they only pay you once a quarter, every 3 months. The rest of the sites pay monthly. Just depends on how much you want to keep up with. (Find someone who formats for Smashwords because they are a pain to get it right.) Also, they don't have DRM on the books, so it's easier for someone to download and pirate them. Just keep that in mind. For me, it's worth it to be for sale on the other sites than it is to worry about the pirates that may use it. Pirating happens, no matter what you do.

DRAFT2DIGITIAL - (An alternative to Smashwords. The only difference is that they don't sell the books from the site directly like Smashwords, just distribute to the other sites for you.)

CREATESPACE - The site for paperback distribution, links directly with Amazon so once you get it all set up and approve it, Amazon will sell it for you.

12. WARNING! This is my harsh one! :) Don't tweet your book link every single day. Don't post on Facebook your book link every single day. Your 'friends' and followers didn't become those to only hear you talk about where they can buy your book. That's a good way to get unfollowed. Believe it or not, but throwing your book link out there so much isn't where your sales are coming from. (Unless you're having a sale.) And don't ever, EVER post your book links on other author's pages or walls. EVER. And don't send messages to authors asking them to review your book if you don't know them, and don't ask them for swag and paperbacks to give away for the release party of YOUR own book. If you want to give those things away, it's on you. Can't afford it? Then give away copies of your own or do free eCopies! What better way to get your book out there. Nothing turns me and everyone else off to an author more than them doing these things listed above. It's rude. It abuses the whole point of social medias. Maybe an open call on your facebook page and the ones who want to can donate, but putting an author on the spot in a message is a NO-NO! Interact with your followers, post quotes from your book to get people intrigued, do a few giveaways of eCopies that don't cost you that much or can even be free with Smashwords coupons, offer up review copies to review blogs. That's the way to reach the readers.

13. Have fun! Don't post your super-personal, inappropriate stuff on your social medias. Post things that your fans can go back and forth with you about to be fun and light. Just post and talk to them. Don't leave your pages stale for days at a time. They want to hear from you, even if it's just you saying Hi. Can't think of something to say? Do what I said above. Post a quote or teaser, ask the readers who they picture as the character or post who you would picture, ask them about music recommendations, or book recommendations, talk about your latest read if you enjoyed it, talk about your favorite TV shows. Literally anything about entertainment and anything to do with reading. Don't be shy about it, just be yourself.

14. I know from personal experience what it's like to jump the gun and put out a product that isn't perfect. It matters. It may not seem like it in the grand scheme of things, but it does. I didn't have money for editors and book cover artists and all that when I started, and I did it all by myself. It was all I could do. But if I could go back, I would have found a way to make it happen. Putting a product out with bad editing or a bad cover doesn't hurt anyone...but you. You'll be marked in reviews for that bad editing and those reviews never go away, so even if it's just finding a friend to read them over for you, and getting them as perfect as they can be for your situation, do that.

15. Other authors are not your enemies. They are not competition. Readers read all the time, day and night, some read one book a day. Every single day. They do not pick up a book by an author and never read another author again. So don't look at other authors that way. They can be a great ally. Get to know other authors, befriend them. The best friends I have in the world are other authors! When you share things for them, they might share things for you. That's not the only reason to befriend them, so don't think about it like that either. Remember, readers see what you do online and I've seen some authors say and comment and post some pretty nasty and uncalled for things and arguments with other authors. That's what I remember about them, not their book. If you want positivity to be given to you, give it to others. We should be happy when we see an Indie doing well. Don't look at that as a threat or that they took a spot that could have been yours. There is plenty of room for everyone.Your time will come. Be happy for them and they'll be happy for you.

16. Your story is your own. Don't 'sell out' and change who you are and what you write just because it's what popular. Write for you and no one else. The market changes all the time and trying to write things that don't come natural to you to keep up is like trying to fly a kite with no wind. It won't last long. You should move with the market and write what the readers want, but only to the degree that you're STILL YOU. Readers can sniff a forced book a mile away. As long as you write with your heart and not with your wallet, you'll be doing well. If historical romance was what was hot and that's not what you were interested in, then don't write one. When the market changes, you'll be there with books waiting for the readers. Example : Just two short years ago, YA paranormal was on fire. And now, it's NA contemporary. It WILL change. It always does. Write. For. You. And no one else.

17.  I get asked all the time how to cure writer's block or how to finish a story when you can never write past the first hump in your books. Just keep writing. Even if it doesn't make sense, even if you know you're going to delete it, just keep writing. Every book has 'humps' to get over. My hump is always the middle. It's usually the part that not a whole lot is going on and you have to wade through all that necessary stuff to get to the good parts again. Just push through. Another way is to write a future scene you're really looking forward to writing. The scene I write is always a kissing scene or some romantic piece that I just can't wait to write. If I go ahead and write it, I give the thinking part of my brain a little while to rest while the part of the story that basically writes itself flows easily onto the pages. Then, when I go back to the 'hump', I have huge motivation and drive to get to the part I just wrote and plug it in. Also, try writing in a different place. Go to the park, switch chairs so you'll have a different view in your house, write on the porch, write first thing in the morning or another time that you never write. Headphones and music is my focus zone. That's how I get most of my work done b\c it pushes away distraction. Switch it up. That's the fun of writing is that there are no rules! You are your own boss, you create your own world. How awesome is that? And you should want to do it. You should want to write. If writing doesn't come easy, you never finish a story, and you stress about it to the point that it makes you unhappy, then you need to lighten up and have fun with it. If it's still that way, then maybe this isn't the 'job' for you. Writing comes from something inside us that needs to come out. It's a positive experience that we can be proud of and know that our heart is on a platter for readers with every page they turn. There will always be sorrow and heartache and laughter and whatever else, but ultimately, we should feel good inside when we write. If you don't, then don't force it. We all have that 'thing' we love and NEED to do, it eats away at us inside until we let it out. Find that thing and latch onto it.

I hope this has helped you in some way. I wish you all the best with your book!


  1. Hey shelly, OMg i love your work and u give great adivce. Lately iv been writing my own novel at home but have no idea how to get it published?!? Can you please give me some advice??

  2. Hi shelly,
    I like how you are giving advice to aspiring writers such as myself. I am writing a book and really want to self publish. Unfortunately I have not one single clue on how to do that. Will you (pretty) please ( with mini twice bars a chocolate sauce on top) tell me how to do it? I and most likely many others would love to know.
    Anonymous T.

  3. I have a question about writing - I write a lot and have done ever since i was little, but the furthest i've ever gotten is with a story that i'm writing at the moment, 25 pages. I keep getting distracted and i also find it really, really, really hard to edit, because i don't want to change what i've already done. So I guess my main question is how do you keep focused on your story, and not get distracted?

  4. I loved the significance series, that was a unique and fresh plot that I've never seen before. I love you for having such a brilliant mind to come with that awesome plots. Oh and could ya do me a favor and extend the significance series until Maggie and Caleb grow old? Yeah that would be goooooood :)

  5. Really really love this post! I am struggling with going the indie way or trying the traditional way....great points, love your work!

  6. This was great advice! I am currently writting a trilogy and blogging about it as I go and was wondering if you had any advice on how to promote it!!! Any help would be awesome!

  7. Hey! So first I just want to say that you are a great writer and I love the Significance Novel. I love reading books, and I am even starting my own book blog well kinda its not all about books. But anyways what I wanted to ask was, well OK so I again love books, and I think I might wanna write one but do you have to be a certain age or is it fine if your just starting out as a teenager. Please reply. OK that's all, bye. Thanks!

    1. It's definitely a great idea to start as a teenager! Get a head start on everyone else. :)

  8. Hey, I'm a writer myself in the final stages of completeing my first book. You say I need to decide whether to self publish or not on my own, but I need your god's honest opinion. Should I seek out a publisher or self-publish on Amazon?

  9. Hey Shelly! My favorite book boyfriend would have to be Caleb and my favorite thing he did for his girlfriend would have to be when she got kidnapped and he wanted to just drop everything and find her even though it meant risking his life! awwwwwwww! lOve all your books and i always make my friends read them and now we all we do is talk about how amazing your books are!

  10. Hey Shelly,
    For me my writing is just something for me to do. I am so not sure if I am ready to get it out for other to read yet. I have learn so much from all of the AWESOME Indie Authors I have met just within the last few months. I enjoy all your work and I can't wait to see what is coming next. I have met a new Indie Author that was going to STOP writing because she didn't thing her work was any good. She has two books out and people were reading just not reviewing her work. She has not stopped and I just want to say thanks for all your advice about being supportive for starting out authors.

  11. Shelly your books inspired me to become a writer. So far I have only completed one book but it wasn't the best I can do. My best friend and I read your significance series more times than we can count and that is the book that really inspired me. I want to find my Caleb and in my books all my unfinished books I have my Caleb's. I want to be as good of an author as you one day because you inspired me to follow my dream. When I grow up I want to be a writer. It's my passion to tell a love story that I know I can never live. I write stories I want to come true but I know never will. Your writing advise helped me. Your significance series helped me. You as an author though I don't know you personally helped me become the writer I am. No words will ever be able to explain how much I love your books and how much I hope mine comes as close to amazing as yours. I hope you keep inspiring others as you have me and I can't wait till the series comes out. -Ellena Shaw