book business

How I Make a Living as a Writer (And You Can Too)

Make a living writing

Copywriting for fun and profit. Don’t knock it ’til you try it.

I’m proud to say I’ve built a full-time career around writing, as both a novelist and a copywriter.

That means splitting my time between the two. Usually I spend the morning writing novels, then spend the afternoon writing marketing and advertising copy for business clients.

(“Copy” is just fancy ad agency shorthand for “words that sell stuff.”)

I’m not alone. There have been innumerable examples of copywriters who also successfully wrote fiction. James Patterson, Salman Rushdie, Joseph Heller, and Dorothy Sayers, to name a few.

I’m not saying that I’m remotely in the same class as them. But I have written for hundreds of businesses, from little tech startups to big names like Home Depot and Saks Fifth Avenue.

I write copy for all sorts of things: company websites, blog posts, articles, case studies, sales letters, newsletters, landing pages, sales emails, pay-per-click ads, direct mail, brochures, you name it.

Writing copy requires quite a bit of discipline, research, and the willingness to develop specific skills. It will absolutely improve anyone’s storytelling abilities. It helps make your fiction writing punchier, better researched and more emotionally resonant.

It may sound counter-intuitive, but it’s true. A good copywriter, like a good novelist, has to know how to write in a way that connects with the reader’s emotions.

So if you’re interested in writing for a living, I suggest looking into copywriting as a possible business. Not only does it multiply your opportunities to make money writing, it will also make you a better writer. What’s not to love?

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Doomsday at Walmart?

It Happened One Doomsday at Walmart

Toothpaste, shampoo, hot dogs . . . and my book! All at Walmart.

I swear, I never saw this day coming.

Hey, you know, I’ll celebrate any new milestone. Including this one.

So here it is:

Today, for the first time, I have a book that’s available at Walmart.

And I’m . . . Proud? I think?

Yeah, why not. I’m proud to be at Walmart.

There. I said it.

So now, while you’re shopping for all of your favorite low-priced deals at Walmart.com, you can add my book to your shopping cart.

Why not, right? It’s a good book. At a good value.

At Walmart.

Get a behind-the-scenes look at the good gals and bad guys in It Happened One Doomsday. Subscribe now. >

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Publishers Weekly: “Fascinating.”

Publishers Weekly print edition

OK, so, yeah, I’m at the bottom of page 51. Not exactly headline news. But still, PUBLISHERS WEEKLY!

So there I was in Target, shopping for chicken and peanut butter, when something terrifying popped up on my phone.

Publishers Weekly had just reviewed my new book. Not just online, but in print.

I froze. My heart started pounding. A cold jolt of adrenaline shot through me. Why? Because first off, in the world of a writer, this is officially a BIG THING.

Like, Tyrannosaurus-Rex-in-your-living-room big.

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YES! New Book Deal Announced!

OMG, I want to frame this. My new book deal with a New York publisher is right at the top of today’s Publishers Lunch.

Laurence MacNaughton's debut urban fantasy IT HAPPENED ONE DOOMSDAY, about an inexperienced crystal sorceress who scrambles to stop the end of the world without falling for a muscle-car driving mechanic who is fated to become one of the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse, to Rene Sears at Pyr, in a nice deal, in a two-book deal, by Kristin Nelson at Nelson Literary Agency (World English).

My new book deal is in Publishers Lunch!

Publishers Lunch is a daily publishing industry newsletter put out by Publishers Weekly. Essentially, it’s the #1 place for announcements about new book deals between literary agents and publishers.

According to the website, their subscribers number more than 40,000 publishing professionals.

And, you know … little ol’ me.

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Ask an Author: World Building and Exposition

Ever wanted to know how a science fiction or fantasy author builds an imaginary world?

What Is World Building?

How do authors create strange new worlds? Find out!

Authors like J.R.R. Tolkien, Stephanie Meyer, J.K. Rowling, Frank Herbert, William Gibson and scores of others are renowned for the worlds they’ve created.

What makes them so intriguing?

I’ve been invited to join a handful of other authors at MileHiCon here in Denver this month to talk about the reasons why (and how to do it).

What Is World Building?

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BookGoodies.com: Do you listen (or talk to) to your characters?

Do you talk to your characters?

Cure for writer’s block: nude finger puppets.

I once got to hear Orson Scott Card talk about his writing method. He went on at great length about how the voices of his characters talked to him.

The voices told him to do this, he said, the voices told him to do that.

As he droned on endlessly, a friend leaned over to me and said in a stage whisper:

“My voices are telling me to kill!”

The audience cracked up. Orson Scott Card was not amused.

But the thing is . . . that really is how it works. You hear the characters in your head, the same way you can hear the voices of your parents or your friends.

You know what they would say in a certain situation. And when you’re writing a book, you can turn that into the story.

Read the rest of the interview on BookGoodies.com >

Plus, you can sign up for free cool stuff when you join my author newsletter. >

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Do you review books on Amazon?

book reviewers needed, free ebooks

Funny, now it says: ɟǝᴉɥ┴ ɹǝpᴉdS ǝɥ┴

Want to make your opinion heard?

Want a free ebook?

If you’re interested in reviewing The Spider Thief on Amazon.com or Goodreads — and getting free review copies — just send me a link to your book review site, or to any reviews you’ve posted online.

Click here to contact me. >

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My Dinner with Satan

Dinner with Satan ... or is it Seitan?

It’s pronounced SAY-TAHN. Yeah, it is.

I recently discovered, much to my dismay, that I had eaten Satan for dinner.

This is a true story. Allow me to explain.

In the midst of a snowstorm, my wife and I decided to try a new restaurant.

We ended up at a brightly lit, very mod, hipster-friendly place that put an emphasis on fresh food.

Hey, I’m cool. I love fresh food.

But what landed on my table bore no resemblance, by any stretch of imagination, to the gyro I had ordered. Continue reading

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The Art of Getting Things Done

Sun Tzu Ruined My Life

Don’t make them get medieval on you!

Sun Tzu ruined my life.

Don’t get me wrong, “The Art of War” contains some gems of insight for anyone engaged in a difficult struggle, like running a business.

(Or fighting a war with chariots and spears.)

But the problem is that Sun Tzu puts a great deal of emphasis on lightning-fast strikes intended to leave the enemy off-balance and lead to a swift victory. He recommends avoiding a prolonged conflict at all costs.

And he makes some good points.

But sometimes, you can only win the battle — or write a book — with a slow and steady application of force.

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Categories: book business, For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , | 2 Comments

Why You Should NEVER Carry a Notebook

Levenger Index Card Holder Pocket Briefcase

Don’t carry a notebook in your pocket. Instead, carry index cards!

For many years, I carried a writing notebook with me everywhere I went. That’s what all serious writers do, I’ve always heard. But in truth, it’s a terrible idea.

Here’s why.

  • First, when you write in a notebook, your notes are locked in rigid sequential order. If you tend to think of things randomly (and who doesn’t?), you’ll spend a lot of time flipping back and forth through your pages to find something.
  • Second, it’s difficult and time-consuming to transcribe your notes from your notebook into the files for each project. I suppose if you’re the sort of person who only works on one story, ever, then this isn’t such a big deal. But I’m always working on a huge list of projects.
  • Third, notebooks get gnarly quickly. They get creased, folded, bent, ink-stained… It’s not pretty.

The Un-Notebook Solution

The secret is deceptively simple:

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Categories: book business, For Writers, how to write a book, how to write a novel, writing | Tags: , , , , | 2 Comments

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