Separate Yourself From The Pack: Getting Noticed – Guest post by Nikolas Baron

12 Feb


Everyone wants to be a writer. If you go onto Facebook or Twitter and ask “how’s your book going,” there’s a good chance you’ll get numerous replies, many from people you weren’t even aware wanted to write a book. And, why not? When we’re hanging out with friends, we all love to tell stories, and we all want to be the guy or gal at the party who captivates the other party-goers with tales of fun and adventure. The idea of putting that natural desire to paper in the form of a book, which anyone can read, is an enticing one. Where issues enter, however, is when we realize that everyone else around us feels the exact same way. Everyone wants to be a writer.

Ebooks and the Internet have made all of this even worse. Where once, if you wanted to publish your book, you either had to go through the traditional publishing process of submission, rejection, and eventual publication, or you had to invest massive amounts of money out of your pocket to self-publish. Now-a-days, you simply format your book to certain guidelines, upload it to an Internet store, and wait for the sales to roll in. Anyone can do it, and many, many, many people do, for better or worse. What then can an amateur writer do separate him or herself from the pack? What can an amateur writer do to get noticed in a sea full of amateur writers?

In my work with Grammarly, I spend a lot of time researching online tools to make writers better, and I believe that while setting yourself apart from the pack is difficult, it’s not impossible. In fact, the easiest way to do so is to start by understanding some of the most common mistakes amateur writers make and how to avoid those mistakes. Here are a few tips I’ve learned to help amateur writers set themselves apart, and even above, the crowd.

  • Actually Finish Your Book: Remember when I said you could ask about books on  Facebook or Twitter and getting a ton of replies? Often, many of those replies will be something along the lines of, “I’m working on it. Just gotta find the time” or “I’m still in the outlining phase.” That’s because while most people talk about writing a book, very few people actually do. Writing a book is hard, and it takes discipline. The easiest way to set yourself apart from the rest of the writers on the Internet is to actually finish your book. Don’t worry about quality yet. You can edit errors in a book, but you have to have a book to edit first. Don’t think, just write.
  • Write Every Day: Writing is a skill, like sports or visual art. The only way to get better is to practice, practice, practice. Whether it’s fiction, non-fiction, a blog post, a business memo, or whatever, try to find time in your day to  lay some words on a page. In fact, if you want to avoid two major mistakes, use this tip to help with the previous one as well.
  • Remember That Editing and Proofreading Are Different: So, you’ve taken the first two tips in hand, and you’ve finally finished your book. Great! Celebrate! Then, prepare for the long and arduous process of  editing that book. No one writes perfect first drafts, and editing your manuscript is almost as important a process as writing it. Some might say it’s even more important. With that said, it’s important to remember that editing and proofreading are two different things. If you’ll allow a cleaning analogy, proofreading is like dusting. You aren’t making any major changes to the room, but you’re tidying up. Editing is like taking all of the furniture out onto the lawn, deciding whether or not you want to keep it, and then moving it all back in. Is this scene necessary?  What about this character? This bit of  dialogue – is that really how the character would talk? Would anyone talk like that? Be willing to slice and dice your book to shreds, if necessary, and in the end, you’ll have a superior product.   
  • Don’t Forget to Proofread, However: Keep in mind, however, that even after you’ve finished moving the furniture out of the room and decided what’s coming back, you still need to tidy up. You still need to dust off the coffee table, so to speak. One of the easiest ways to lose professionalism in the eyes of your audience is to put out a product filled with typos and silly grammar mistakes. You can use a standard spelling and grammar check on your word processing program, but if you really want to catch all of those errors, consider a more detailed grammar check. For example, at, we offer a check that scans your text for over 200 standard grammar errors, alerting you to issues you might not have caught on standard readings. Regardless of how you choose to proofread, don’t forget this important step. A typo-riddled manuscript will quickly turn your reader off, and as previously established, he or she will have plenty of other things to read.

Setting yourself apart from the pack is not easy, but it’s not impossible. It takes work, but if you’re willing to do it, you have a better chance of finding an audience for your book. Remember to write every day, and when it comes time to edit, don’t be scared to tear your manuscript apart if it serves the story. Firmly establishing these practices early will save you many headaches in the future.


About Nikolas Baron

Nikolas discovered his love for the written word in Elementary School, where he started spending his afternoons sprawled across the living room floor devouring one Marc Brown childrens’ novel after the other and writing short stories about daring pirate adventures. After acquiring some experience in various marketing, business development, and hiring roles at internet startups in a few different countries, he decided to re-unite his professional life with his childhood passions by joining Grammarly’s marketing team in San Francisco. He has the pleasure of being tasked with talking to writers, bloggers, teachers, and others about how they use Grammarly’s online proofreading application to improve their writing. His free time is spent biking, travelling, and reading.


I gave away 40,000 copies of FRY last week!

12 Jan



Picture credit:

Hi everyone,

Ever thought of trying out Bookbub? Well, last week I had my first promo with them, and gave away over 40,000 copies of FRY in the US alone! The promo was also picked up by some big sites who’ve featured FRY before; Digital Books Today and eReader News Today, but Bookbub definitely accounts for a large chunk of those downloads.

Prior to this promo, I had left Amazon KDP and experimented with making my book available on other sites such as Smashwords for a few months, but in the end the pull of Amazon proved too much, so I decided to go back to an exclusive agreement with them. I had to wait a couple of months for the other sites to take down my book, but after that I was ready to go. I applied for a Bookbub promo, not really expecting it to be granted, because I’ve heard from a lot of authors that Bookbub turn most books down. Then to my surprise, FRY got the nod, and from there it was plain sailing. I think the fact that I hadn’t done a promo since the end of May probably helped my download numbers too, especially as the book sites don’t like to feature books which are available for free too often. In the end, FRY reached number 16 on the free chart, and might possibly have gone higher, if the top of the charts weren’t dominated by one author, Beth Moore. Moore’s popular spiritual books were all available for free at once, and the cross promotional effect seemed powerful, making it difficult for any other author to reach higher than about number 14. An interesting strategy!

All the same, I can’t quibble about 40,000 downloads! If you were in any doubt about how effective Bookbub is, I think my experience shows that it does the job! I am certainly raking in the reviews as a result, and seeing an increase in sales too.

Have you done a Bookbub promo? I’d love to know how it went. 

Self Publish Bible’s New Year’s Resolutions for 2014

2 Jan

Happy New Year!

Self Publish Bible is one year old today (ahh!)


It’s a good job I’m not the superstitious type because the rain is lashing against the windows and the river is rising (again.) We spent much of Christmas in darkness, so I’m just hoping the power will hold out while I write this. I have always loved making New Year’s Resolutions. Not sure why really, except I really, really love to plan. After a good long think, I’ve boiled it down to the following, (besides keeping dry of course. That goes without saying.)

Read more

My Goodreads Reading Challenge for 2013 was a paltry 10 books. I met my target, but I’m sure I could read more. (And no, I’m not counting all those bedtime stories about farmyard animals that my daughter makes me read every night.) Before I had my children, I probably read a book a week, but as a full-time mum, I just don’t have much free time, especially as I need time to write. This year, I’ve set a goal of 15 books, with the intention that it will keep going up. I am including audiobooks in my total, as I hope this help me to access books I otherwise wouldn’t get to.

Write faster

In 2014, I hope to get quicker and more efficient at writing. I want to make a better use of my time by banning the internet, and perhaps even using a timer to keep me tied to my desk while I write. I am also hoping to find more time to write once my son starts school in September, and my daughter goes part-time at nursery. The real trick will be not to use too much of that time up on household tasks. It’s amazing how much time you can fritter away on a few chores. The good news is that I do seem to be getting quicker. I took years to write FRY. My second book, May Queen Killers is due to come out in May and should take 14 months total.I just hope that my speed will continue to improve with experience.

Write better

I intend to read at least one on book on writing/editing skills this year. If possible, I’d love to attend a writing workshop. It’s great fun to get together with other writers and you always pick up something new.

Don’t waste too much time on social media

This is not to say that I’m giving it up altogether, but now that I’ve been at it a little while, I’m starting to see what works for me. I like to blog, but not too often. Really only when I’ve got something to say, or an occasional book review or author interview. I update my Facebook author page whenever I blog, but probably not more than that. The same goes for LinkedIn and Google plus. My favourite place is definitely Twitter. In addition to meeting other authors, I have found readers through Twitter and more importantly, reviewers. At first, I was a bit retweet happy, but these days, I am careful not to bombard my followers with too many messages and I just pop on for a few minutes here and there. Of course, I am a bit more active when I’m running a promotion.

Have you made any resolutions for 2014?

I’d love to hear what they are! Until next time, stay dry, folks!

FRY makes indiereader’s best books of 2013 list!

17 Dec

So I have some exciting news! FRY made’s best books of 2013. Not only that, but the list includes best-selling author Hugh Howey. How’s that for a great way to end the publishing year?

Coffee, christmas trees, and cranking out the publications

9 Dec



Christmas tree picture taken from


Hello friends,

Since I last blogged, I have moved house, drunk the equivalent of an olympic swimming pool full of coffee and lost my hairbrush. I’ve just about finished with the unpacking now, and am starting to notice that Christmas is coming. (Where did I put the Christmas Tree? Please tell me it’s not up in the loft!)

The good news is, I’ve got two short stories out. My Christmas short, The Snowpersons is in a free anthology called ‘A World of Joy‘, published by Grey Mouse Publishing. A World of Joy is a collection of holiday-themed short stories, celebrating joy, hope, renewal, and love. The anthology contains stories from multiple holiday traditions and we all had a lot of fun putting it together. Check it out, it’s free!

My other short story is called Vampire Driving School and is in a charity anthology called ‘In Vein’. All proceeds go to St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and all stories are Vampire themed. Scary stuff!

In self-publishing news, Write. Publish. Repeat. is out this week and well worth a read. It’s written by Sean Platt and Johnny B.Truant from the Self Publishing Podcast. If you haven’t already checked out their podcasts, they’re a great source of inspiration, as long as you don’t mind a bit of profanity and that one of them laughs like a gazelle. Personally I like gazelles.


Five star reviews, paperback problems and forging ahead

30 Sep




Just a quick post to let you all know what I’m up to at the moment. I now have a very rough first draft of my second novel, May Queen Killers, but it will need a fair bit of rewriting before I am happy with it. It’s quite different from my last book in that I’m telling the story from more than one perspective. It’s still very psychological, but there’s more of a detective element this time. Like FRY, it will be fast-paced and full of twists and turns. I like to keep my readers guessing!

Later this month, I also have a short story called Vampire Driving School coming out in a charity anthology called ‘In Vein‘.  The anthology is in aid of St Jude’s Children’s Research Hospital and features the work of 18 different authors, so it should be a good read.

And finally, FRY got a fantastic five star review from  a few weeks ago. They even made it their book of the week. As it was featured on their site, I also got a sticker to go on the book cover, which is great as we’ve just been finalising the paperback version. Getting the paperback out has taken longer than anticipated, so I’m really glad I launched the eBook first. When the paperback proof came back, there were a few minor problems such as the page numbers being larger on one side of the page than the other. It took a bit of fiddling to get the cover right as well, but it now has the IndieReader sticker and review on it, as well as an author picture and a few other features which were not available on the eBook version.

Indie Authors – do you release your eBook and paperback versions at the same time, or do you prefer to put out the eBook first? 



The path to prolificacy

26 Aug


Apologies friends, I haven’t been around the blogosphere much lately; I’ve been writing. I’ve always wanted to be a prolific writer. My first idol was Enid Blyton, who wrote around 600 books. 600 good books, or so I thought when I was six or seven and reading as many of them as I could get hold of. Now, you might think my ambition to be prolific is ironic, considering that it took me over ten years to write my first novel, FRY. But in the years I spent writing, or not writing FRY, I had many, many more ideas which I am dying to get down on paper.

Now that I’ve written my first novel, I no longer suffer from writer’s block, or laziness or procrastination, or self doubt, or whatever the hell it was holding me back all those years. Now, my main obstacle is time, because I have two small toddlers to look after and they leave little time for anything else.

Luckily, I am now a lot more organised with my time, and when I sit down to write, that’s what I do, I write. I am now 40,000 words into the first draft of my second novel, May Queen Killers and I have set myself a goal of adding 10,000 words a week, most weeks. Working at my current pace, that’s around 10 hours a week. I write mostly in the evenings, plus a few hours on a Monday morning, when both kids are in nursery. And I hope to get faster, the more I write.

My current method is to sit at my computer and just hammer out the words. I have a rough outline, so I know where I’m going, but I don’t look back and I don’t edit. Not yet. Once I’ve got the whole thing down, I will then begin the editing process. I’m not sure how long this part will take me as I have nothing to compare with. FRY was pretty clean once it was finished. I had taken time over each chapter, and my main task was to cut out errors and make sure it all hung together right. All the same, it went through quite a few edits and proofreads prior to publication. 

May Queen Killers is due to be published in May 2014, and if I keep going at the rate I’m going at the moment, it should be ready ahead of time and I’ll be able to begin work on my next project before it comes out. Wouldn’t that be nice?  

Do you set yourself word count targets for your work? If so, are you getting any faster? 

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