June 14, 2017 5 Questions You Should Ask Every Freelance Client
Being a freelancer is hard enough without clients expecting you to be psychic. So ask them these questions, and nail down specifics, before you say "yes" to a project.
May 31, 2017 "Ignoring The Haters" or "The Zen of Not Giving a Damn"
Criticism happens. If you put your work out there in front of an audience, a lot of them won't have nice things to say. Here's some help in parsing legitimate criticism from empty wind.
May 17, 2017 You Don't Need A Degree To Be A Writer
Lots of people want to be professional writers, but not a lot of us know what we need to do to go from writing stories in our bedrooms, to writing the same stories for money. I can't tell you what will work, but I can tell you what won't... getting a bachelor's degree in creative writing.
May 4, 2017 The Boy Who Cried Censorship
There is a trend I'm noticing, particularly among writers, who will throw up a "censorship" shield whenever someone disagrees with their opinion. It ain't censorship, friends, it's just people telling you they don't agree with you. Or, in some cases, that your sincerely held beliefs might, in point of fact, be wrong.
April 26, 2017 Want to Sell More Books? Target a Niche
Too often writers will keep their stories bland and safe in order to appeal to the broadest possible audience. You're actually a lot more likely to get a steady audience if you pick a niche, and give that group specifically what they're after.
April 12, 2017 Why Do People Think Writing Is Easy? Largely Because of The Dunning-Kruger Effect
We've all had conversations with people who think they're completely equipped to do our job. We know they can't, but we don't understand why they can't see how utterly incompetent they are. Well, psychology has a name for this. It's called the Dunning-Kruger Effect.
March 29, 2017 You Get Better Results When You Tell Your Audience What To Do
We all have an audience. Big or small, though, it can sometimes seem impossible to persuade them to do what you need them to. So here's a suggestion that will cut down on your frustration... just tell them what you need. Don't beat around the bush, or insinuate; tell them, and you'll get what you need a lot more often.
March 15, 2017 Success is Not A Sprint... It's A Marathon
Most of us tend to think of success as something that happens fast. You write a book, then bam, you make bank. But while there are a few tales of zeitgeist, most successful authors do it over time. They work, they sweat, they work some more, and then once they have a track record, and a body of work, that's when the money starts rolling in.
March 1, 2017 Most Authors Aren't Really "Making It"
When you think of someone who's an author, you likely picture the Rowlings, Kings, and Martins of the world. But those people are the rock stars, and unicorns. For the rest of us, we're just looking for a way to earn our bread. Most of us haven't found it yet.
February 15, 2017 Understanding The Ben Franklin Effect (And How It Can Help Your Career)
Have you ever wondered how to get more fans? It's pretty simple. According to Ben Franklin, all you have to do is ask them to help you out. Seriously, it's really that is.
February 1, 2017 How Much Impact Does AdBlock Have on The Creators You Follow?
No one likes ads, and some of us have decided to use software that blocks us from seeing them. That's all fine and dandy, but most people don't think about what that does to the earnings of creators they follow. Especially when only 1 in 8 viewers is actually seeing the ads.
January 18, 2017 Want To Make More Money With Your Blog? Try Sovrn
Making money as a blogger isn't easy. You need a huge amount of traffic, and a colossal amount of clicks on your ads to make bank. Of course, with Sovrn, you really just need the traffic.
January 5, 2017 Who Decides What You're Worth As A Writer?
We all say we want to be paid what we're worth. That's a great sentiment... but who determines what you're worth? Well, the answer may not make you happy, but it will make you a bit wiser.
December 21, 2016 5 Benefits of Being an Author
We now know the hazards of being a writer, but what about the benefits? Well, there are upsides to the job. If you're willing to look for them, that is.
December 7, 2016 5 Unseen Hazards of Being a Freelance Author
Being an author isn't easy, and being a freelancer is playing the game on nightmare mode. While there are people who can do it, you need to know the risks you're facing if you're hoping to avoid getting splattered across the nearest bulkhead by them.
November 23, 2016 5 Reasons Donald Trump is Literally the Devil! (An Introduction to Clickbait)
Clickbait is everywhere, and it has been for over a century. However, much as we might decry clickbait articles, there's no denying they do the job of getting people to click and read. Here's The Literary Mercenary's guide to writing "good" clickbait, if such a thing can be said to exist.
November 9, 2016 Neil Gaiman Hit it On The Head When He Talks About "The Freelance Mentality"
Being a freelancer isn't easy. You have to be hungry, and you have to hit your deadlines without fail. You need to be sharp, flexible, and ready to do anything. You do that long enough, though, and you may not be able to turn off the hustle.
October 26, 2016 Finding Your Audience: Unfortunate Lessons From Jack Chick
Jack Chick, the man behind the infamous Chick tracts, was many things. A fundamentalist, a creator of hate speech, and possibly a madman, are all up for debate. His product found an audience, though, and it created an empire. There is a lesson to be learned in that.
October 12, 2016 Making Money By Self-Publishing With Kindle Direct Publishing Select
Kindle Direct Publishing Select is an option that's available to any self-published author using the Kindle Direct publishing platform. It's worth a look, even if you're reluctant to get exclusive with Amazon.
September 28, 2016 5 Signs You're Dealing With A Vanity Publisher
Vanity publishers, or vanity presses, are the bane of the publishing industry. Fool me once, shame on you, I say. Which is why, this week, I wanted to share the signs you should be looking for so you don't lose your valuable work to the jaws of vanity.
September 14, 2016 If You Write One Story, It May Be Bad. Write A Hundred, And The Odds Are In Your Favor
This quote from Edgar Rice Burroughs is something I think every author should keep in mind. It isn't about who fired the best bullet on the first try. It's who kept shooting until the target was full of holes.
August 31, 2016 Recycling is Key When it Comes to Being a Successful Author
Recycling concepts and characters is typically bad form when it comes to your writing. However, recycling actual stories by publishing them multiple times, thus ensuring they're always somewhere on the market, can be great for your visibility, as well as your pocket book.
August 24, 2016 Can Authors Advance Their Careers By Going To Conventions?
If you've never been to a convention, they are great places for geeks to take a vacation. And if you're an author, as well as a geek, they're ideal locations for increasing your readership, expanding your network, and meeting people who can help you advance your career. Here are a few tips on how to con for work, brought to you by the Literary Mercenary himself.
August 10, 2016 Why Patreon is a Lifesaver For Authors (Like Me)
Patreon is one of those phenomenal crowd-funding websites that lets thousands of authors (like yours truly) do what they do for a living. However, most people don't quite realize how important Patreon is to the creative professionals who make the things they love.
July 20, 2016 Why Other Authors Are Your Allies, Not Your Competition
There's a common phrase out there that goes something like, "other authors are your allies, not your competition." This seems like feel-good b.s., but there's a lot more truth to it than you know. The Literary Mercenary explains.
July 6, 2016 Let "Joy on Paper" Help You Promote Your Book
Finding a platform to promote your work isn't easy, especially when so many places will shut the door in your face if you're not already famous. Which is why I recommend everyone check out "Joy on Paper," a lovely radio program in the Tampa area, who is reaching out a helping hand.
June 22, 2016 How Do You Sell Books? Alec Baldwin Has The Answer
If you've ever seen Glengarry Glen Ross, then you know where this is going. If you haven't, then strap in, because this is going to get harsh.
June 8, 2016 How Many Book Reviews Do You Need Before Amazon Promotes You?
Being promoted by Amazon can be a huge boon to your royalties, but it isn't easy. This week, we look at ways you can satisfy the Amazon algorithm, and get it on your side.
May 25, 2016 Cross-Promotion, Book Sales, and You
Selling books isn't easy. However, you might have an untapped audience that you haven't even thought about pitching yourself to. This week I talk about cross-promotion, and how it can help you increase your standing on the sales charts.
May 11, 2016 Authors Live Under The Tyranny of Numbers. Here's How You Can Help
Being an author looks sexy; like the literary equivalent of a rock star. However, as much as you might love those singers, they didn't get where they are because they wrote great tunes, and put on a great show. They got there because people followed them, liked them, and supported them. The Tyranny of Numbers is a cruel mistress, but it's important to remind the audience that they're the ones with the power.
April 27, 2016 How To Get Your Novel Published
So, you've finally finished writing that book. If you want to get it published, here's a run down of all the methods you have available to get from where you are, to where you want to be.
April 13, 2016 Don't Create Content Faster Than Your Readers Can Consume It
Unlike books, it's easy to write articles or blog entries. In fact, you can likely write a half dozen a day, if you choose to. However, if your pace outstrips your ability to promote it, you won't be doing yourself any favors.
March 30, 2016 What Authors Need To Know About Fair Use
Fair use is one of those legal terms that authors need to know, understand, and use when it's appropriate. The hard part, of course, is knowing when you're covered. Which is why the Literary Mercenary is here to help.
March 16, 2016 "Like For Like" is Not a Good Strategy For Authors Trying to Network
Networking is hard, especially when you're just getting started in your career. If you've been falling back on the old, "give someone a like, and they'll like you back" social media strategy, you're in for a rude awakening. Here's why.
March 3, 2016 Getting Published Isn't A Big Deal (But Don't Let Your Readers Know)
There's a huge difference between being published, and making a living wage as a published author. Most people don't know the difference, which is why you need to be patient with them.
February 17, 2016 Square Credit Card Readers Are A Necessity For Hand Selling Books
Hand sales might not be the biggest part of your income as an author, but if you do a lot of events then they add up. In today's fast-paced world, it really pays to be able to say, "paper or plastic?"
February 3, 2016 Thank You Notes Are An Author's Greatest Tool
If you've been looking for a way to crow-bar open all those doors that keep getting closed in your face, here's a simple one that may do the trick. Trust me, it's a lot more effective than you'd think.
January 20, 2016 Diversity in Fiction, and The 2016 Oscars
If you haven't heard about the controversy over the lack of diversity in the 2016 Oscars, don't worry, it's the same argument we've been having for decades in everything from sports teams to books. It's like a soap opera; years go by, but by the third line of dialogue you know right where we are.
January 13, 2016 The Vagabond Writer Is A Reality, Thanks To Modern Technology
Writers have this punk rock image of authors like Hunter S. Thompson or Jack Kerouac traveling the nation, and working as they experience the strange and bizarre. If that's what you want to do, you can probably do it right now with the tools you've got at your desk.
December 31, 2015 To Make A Living As A Writer, Try Broadening Your Horizons
Making a living as a writer isn't easy. While some few of us may luck into gigs where we get to do exactly what we want to, the rest of us need to stretch out, and find as many patches as we can. If we're lucky, we'll be able to sew them all into a quilt that will keep the roof over our heads.
December 17, 2015 Don't Wait Until You're "Good Enough" To Get Paid
Creative professionals work ridiculously hard to make the things their viewers love. If you want to make a living doing this, don't jerk around until you've reached some arbitrary deadline. Making money is hard enough without you punching yourself in the face to prove you're a "real" artist.
December 2, 2015 You Don't Get To Be A Special Snowflake, Just Because You're A Writer
There are some writers under the mistaken impression that industry standards and manuscript edits are just guidelines, to be cherry picked how they want. They aren't, and if you treat them that way, you are probably going to need a new career.
November 18, 2015 How AdBlock Hurts The Creators You Love
AdBlock is a gift for readers who don't want to mess with ads... but without those ads, your favorite bloggers, writers, and video personalities don't get paid. Keep that in mind when you watch or read, because our financial fates literally depend on you helping our numbers.
November 5, 2015 Wil Wheaton is Right: Every Year Authors Die of "Exposure"
If someone else made a lot of money off your work, but then gave you nothing but a "good job" and a pat on the head, you'd probably be pretty pissed. That's what authors, even those as famous as Wil Wheaton, are just expected to do, though. Here's why it's bullshit.
October 28, 2015 What is Author Blaming, And How Can You Deal With It?
Author blaming is a lot like victim blaming. You know, people will say they really admire your work in one breath, and then admonish you for choosing to be a writer because it means you're always broke. As if by choosing a profession you love, you deserve to be punished. How do you deal with this?
October 14, 2015 Do Book Giveaways Really Work?
Half the news stories about huge author successes include an anecdote about how the author ran a giveaway, and suddenly found thousands of new readers. That can happen... if you're lucky.
September 30, 2015 Become A Successful Author (By Setting The Right Career Goals)
If you want to be a successful author, then there's one thing you need to do right now. Decide what the hell success looks like in your bathroom mirror.
September 16, 2015 Do I Need A Literary Agent To Get Published?
People tend to think that a literary agent is a necessary component of success. It isn't. While these men and women can be a great help to authors, they are far from a requirement for success.
September 2, 2015 If You Want People To Treat You Like A Professional Author, Act Like One
There's this idea that, just because you write books, that people should accord you professional respect. I'm afraid, my friends, that respect has to be earned when you fight in these trenches.
August 19, 2015 Questions Beginning Writers Ask (That Experienced Writers Are Tired of Hearing)
So, you're a fresh-faced young writer who wants to make a splash on the scene... but you don't know how. You've got questions, but you lack a mentor, and no one will give you the time of day. Here are some of the most common questions and misconceptions that beginning writers have, answered with The Literary's Mercenary's standard, no-bullshit attitude.
August 6, 2015 You Need Quality AND Quantity to Make a Living as an Author
Making money as an author of any stripe isn't easy. If you're banking on writing one perfect book, though, you may as well play the lottery. You need both quality and quantity to earn your paycheck.
July 22, 2015 Why "Fake It Till You Make It" Is Great Advice For Authors
Have you ever wondered what you have to do to get people to treat you like a literary rock star? Well, generally, it means you have to roll in hard, and give the impression that you're the next big thing. If you pull it off long enough, your sales will back up your attitude.
July 8, 2015 Sell More Books By Getting Featured Reviews on Amazon
Not all reviews are created equal. While 100 regular readers might think you're the bomb, a featured reviewer can add a lot more weight to your page, and make you pop up in a lot more searches.
June 26, 2015 Is Having A Bad Job Worse Than Having No Job?
The maxim of "any job is better than no job" goes deep in our heads... but has science found that it is actually the other way around?
June 11, 2015 How to Make Money as a Writer (By Embracing Your Inner Troll)
Trolling is extremely common online behavior, but what a lot of us don't know is that there are trolls out there who feed on more than attention. Whenever you talk about them, you're making them money. Sound good? Well, here's how you do it.
May 27, 2015 Sell More Books (By Always Being Ready to Sell More Books)
A bad habit some authors fall into is believing that they can only sell books at certain times, or in certain places. When someone comes up to you unexpectedly, it's important to be able to slip your game face on in an instant.
May 13, 2015 Do Book Series Really Sell More Books Than Stand-Alone Novels?
Go to any writer forum and everyone wants to talk about their series. Why does everything have to be a 5-book epic? Is it because they sell better? Or because we think they sell better?
April 29, 2015 The One Phrase Every Author Needs to Know For Networking Success
You need to network. Writing a great book is a good first step, and getting it published is even better, but you need people to support you and help you get the word out, as well as to find new opportunities. How do you do that? Well, you use this magical phrase to get on people's good sides.
April 15, 2015 Want To Be A Successful Writer? Then Stop "Chasing Your Dream"
Language defines how we think about things. The idea of authors being "professional dreamers" who are somehow removed from the day-to-day concerns of the rest of us is implicit in the language we use. Why? And how do we get people to stop doing that?
April 1, 2015 Sell More Books By Choosing The Right Anthology Theme
Anthologies are a hard sell. Short stories need to scrap and claw in order to find an audience, and you can help yours find readers if you put a little more thought into your book's main feature; the connecting theme. If you can get a reader with that, then you've got them good.
March 18, 2015 How Much Is Your Author Really Making With Patreon?
Patreon is a great way to show your support for creative professionals who create small projects on the regular rather than making one, bit thing like a movie or a novel. However, when you're debating whether or not to pledge your money there's a hiccough in the crowdfunding website you should know about.
March 4, 2015 Blackheath Dawn Is A Place For Writers To Get The Help They Need
I started The Literary Mercenary to help my fellow writers get a head start on their journey to professional success, and it's in that same spirit I recommend you check out Blackheath Dawn. A great British site with tons of information, it's a helpful resource to have.
February 18, 2015 What Is Public Domain, And What Does It Mean For Your Novel?
We're told over and over again not to use other writers' toys when telling our stories because it will violate their copyrights. But what if there is no copyright? That is when we get into public domain territory, and it's a land whose borders you should know before you start working on a project that might find a home there.
February 5, 2015 Copyright Myths Every Author Should Know About
There's a lot of bullshit floating around about how copyright does and doesn't work. Here, let me help you get to the bottom of it.
January 21, 2015 The Elevator Pitch: What It Is and Why You Need One
The day may come where you're at a party or a convention and you meet a real big shot. Someone who wants to turn you into a literary rock star. You've got a book, and here's your chance to pitch it to him. You've got a minute and a half; what do you do?
January 7, 2015 Make Money Writing (By Joining InfoBarrel)
Making money as a writer isn't easy, but once you have that sweet income stream setup it can flow for years even without any additional work. If you've been wandering the Internet and looking for a place to start setting up your stream then you need to stop by InfoBarrel.com. Here's why.
December 25, 2014 How To Get Your "Big Break" As An Author
The Big Break is that mystical, fabled point in time where you've made it. You don't have a day job, you've got fat royalty checks, crowded signings, and an audience that pays attention when you speak. How do you get it? Well some of it's luck... but not as much as you think.
December 10, 2014 Why Do People Hate Artists Who Expect To Be Paid?
There's a knee-jerk reaction to label any artist who demands to be paid for his or her work as a corporate sell out. After all, isn't it all about the love of the craft and the pleasure of the audience. Sure, why not... but at the end of the day you did the work, and you deserve the profits. Explaining that to people who have come to expect art to cost nothing though is not an easy thing to do.
November 26, 2014 Tax Deductions Every Writer Should Know About
It's edging toward the end of the year, but if you've been a careful record keeper then you might find tax time is going to treat you very nicely this year. Here are just a few of the things that people forget they can totally write off on their taxes when the IRS comes a'knocking.
November 12, 2014 Care And Feeding Of Your Author: How To Support Your Favorite Writer's Career
In order to let your favorite author keep producing the work you love he or she will need support. If you want to know how you can help here's a checklist for you courtesy of the Literary Mercenary.
October 29, 2014 Will Self Publishing Work For You? Maybe... If You're Lucky
Self publishing is hugely popular... but will you be the next person who pays off thousands of dollars in debt with steamy romance novels, or will you be one of the other indie authors out there? Forewarned is forearmed, and you need to know what's in store for you.
October 10, 2014 Deals With The Devil: What To Look For In Your Publishing Contract
Getting that first big contract can feel like victory in your inbox, but before you sign it make sure you read the fine print. Thoroughly. Two or three times. Make sure you don't find any of these things in there.
September 23, 2014 The Best Alternative To Google AdSense
For those of you who've been suspicious of Google AdSense, you have good reason to be. But what is the alternative? Read on, and I'll tell you all about it.
September 19, 2014 How To Get Writing Jobs
Getting a "traditional" job as a writer (the sort where you're paid to provide a written project) might seem like an impossibility to some. It's not. It does take hard work, and a secret tactic or two, though. The Literary Mercenary's got you covered, though.
August 29, 2014 So You Want To Be A Writer?
Are you sure? Are you really, really sure that you want to be a writer? Well fortunately for you there's an acid test to see if your heart is pure.
August 7, 2014 More Things You Should Never Say To An Author
One of the parts of the job you don't get a guide for is interacting with the public. For all those folks out there who think we're some kind of exotic species, here's a list of things you should educate yourselves on. Please. Then we won't have to stab you.
July 24, 2014 How to Make Money With Your Blog By Selling Swag
Sometimes selling books just isn't enough. If you've thought about adding tee shirts, messenger bags, coffee mugs or stickers to your catalog, it's a good idea. Here's an introduction into how to do it.
June 19, 2014 What I Learned Writing Short Stories For Two Years
In 2012 I sat down and decided I was going to put 10 different stories in 10 different anthologies. Why? Well it had something to do with money, but what I got out of it was something very different indeed.
May 31, 2014 How to Know if You're a Real Writer
The question of whether or no you're a real writer is one that haunts a lot of us. Fear no more, we're going to exorcise a lot of the bullshit standards people have tried to hold up, and give you two solid, simple ways to tell whether or not you're a real writer.
May 6, 2014 "The Audacity of Hope" or "How Variable Ratio Reinforcement Keeps You Writing"
Variable ratio reinforcement is a scientific term that's close enough to hope that the two are siblings, if not twins. If you've ever wondered why you keep burning the midnight oil even though there's no reason to believe that this project is the one that will make it any more than another, this might be the reason why.
April 17, 2014 How to Make Money on Your Blog With Affiliate Marketing
You've probably heard the term affiliate marketing somewhere on the Internet. It means that you act as a salesperson, and for every product you sell you make a commission. Why not use that setup to sell more books, and fatten your bank account?
April 4, 2014 Sell More Books By Marketing to Readers, Not Writers
Marketing a book is a high-wire balancing act with a poodle on your head, but there's no reason to make it harder than it should be. One big mistake many writers make is to try and market themselves to other writers, when they should be trying to reach readers instead.
March 18, 2014 How to Make an Amazon Author Page (And Why You Should)
Amazon is the go-to destination for many readers, and with the Kindle dominating the market it's prime virtual real estate. Amazon has an option for authors to create a profile page so they can get more easily discovered... so why don't you have one yet?
February 27, 2014 Stop Calling Me A Starving Artist
Language shapes our perspective on the world, and it helps give voice to what we believe. The phrase "starving artist" is something that we need to get rid of. Here's why.
February 12, 2014 Don't Judge a Book By Its Cover (Even Though Most of Us Do)
You only get one shot at a first impression, and for authors it isn't the opening line of the novel; it's the cover. What makes a good cover? Well, that varies, but there are some universal truths that really make a cover stand out.
January 23, 2014 How to Make Money Publishing Your Blog on The Kindle
The Kindle is the premiere ereader on the market today. People can even read your blog on it... for a price. Here's how to turn even a free blog into a revenue stream.
January 8, 2014 Pen Names: Do You Need One?
The idea of a pseudonym is appealing to a lot of writers. However, a nom de plume is not required in order to become a success.
December 27, 2013 We Are The Dreamers of Dreams: How Authors Impact Readers and Society
Books can shape readers, but if enough books with the same ideas reach enough people then that can lead to some major shifts in thinking, cultural changes, and general philosophy. That's not a power to be used lightly.
December 12, 2013 Patreon: Bringing Patronage Into the 21st Century
For those who haven't heard of Patreon, it's the new hot place for creators who are looking to crowdsource their work. It's different from Kickstarter though, because instead of building up for one big project, it provides smaller chunks for smaller content. A good revenue stream, it's definitely worth checking out.
November 27, 2013 Tips For Hand Selling Your Book
It isn't easy to hit the bricks and convince people to pay hard-earned cash for your book. But here are some ways you can make it a bit easier on yourself.
November 14, 2013 Make Money Blogging: How to Add a Tip Jar
Most bloggers think that selling merchandise and earning ad clicks are the only ways to earn a living. If you have a generous fan base though, why not turn them into patrons by adding a tip jar to your blog?
October 31, 2013 Where to Find Online Writing Jobs
Writers have to do a lot of work to make ends meet. For those looking for employers who have been tested, these places pay for work. Maybe not as much as you'd like, but beggars can't be choosers.
October 9, 2013 Why Cat Videos Will Always Be More Popular Than Your Novel
While they might seem like they're worlds apart from one another, those cute cat videos that everyone's watching on the Internet are serious competition for your novel. And they will win. Let me tell you why.
September 27, 2013 Why NaNoWriMo is a Crock of Shit
NaNoWriMo, or National Novel Writing Month, takes place every November. For those of you contemplating participating, please take a step back and look again at your expectations. You will thank me later.
September 16, 2013 The Literary Mercenary's Guide to Shameless Self Promotion
Do you want to sell more books? Of course you do! This handy dandy little instruction guide will tell you most of the ways to get your work out there, and to get it noticed.
September 6, 2013 Professional Rule #1: Never Work For Free
There are a lot of artists of all stripes out there who expect giving away their talent and hard work to be part of "paying their dues". It's not. It's abuse, and if you let it happen to you then you're going to get milked for years by people making money off you.
August 30, 2013 How to Make Money Blogging: The Literary Mercenary's Guide
Anybody can run a blog. Not just anybody can turn it into a money-making machine that pays the rent and lets them quit their day jobs. Which one are you?
August 25, 2013 My Time in the Red Trenches: An Un-Romantic Romance
We can't all start at the top. I've written a lot of romance stories, and edited a few besides. What I found out when I got into that part of the industry is mildly horrifying, to say the least.
August 16, 2013 How Much Money do Writers Really Make?
Want to know how much money writers make? Well you can find that here, along with all of the things you need on your side to actually break even in the literary field.