Build Confidence in Your Writing

Before anyone else will admire your work, you must first believe in your ability to craft engaging prose. You must be fully convinced in your mind that your work is first-rate (even if it is still only second-rate), and that your written worlds are immersive, fully-realized, able to draw readers in through style, character, detail, and bold commentary (which should be embedded and never preachy).

So how do we reach this degree of confidence? How do we write with authority?

We do it by writing. The more you write and the more genres you write in, the more confidence you will have in your writing skills. This confidence will show through your words.

Let’s be real: It is a presumptuous thing to create whole worlds out of words. It is a bold thing to publish your work. It is a brave act to run a writing blog, to presume you have anything to share with new writers. That boldness comes from experience. After your first 500,000 words, you will begin to feel this boldness creep into your spirit, like light in a dark cave. After 1,000,000 words, your confidence will begin to soar. You will have learned what works and what doesn’t, what sounds good and what sounds like common drivel, what your strengths are and which areas to work on.

Learn from the masters

Best-selling author Brandon Sanderson is a great example. He writes with incredible confidence; you can tell this just by the way he conjures up unique magic systems in almost every series he writes.

You’d think his magic systems would come off as absurd or silly, and yet they are engaging and lauded as original. Do you think he would write such bold systems if he didn’t have oceans of confidence in his writing skills? Because of his experience, he believes he can pull off these literary feats. And he does, totally, pull them off. (Allomancy: consuming metals to achieve magical powers. Seriously? And yet boy does it work).

I’ve fed myself on a number of Sanderson novels, and enjoyed all of them. Admittedly, Steelheart was not quite what I expected, but that was my fault, not realizing it was a Young Adult novel. His books in the Stormlight Archive are the sort of monumental reads that I look forward to consuming, months in advance. Most novels (300-350 pages) I can get through in a week, but the 1,000+ page monsters Sanderson writes feed me through the long winter nights . . . or for about a month. Still, I look forward each day to my reading time with a Sanderson volume. His tomes are the kind of fantasy you love to lose yourself in for weeks at a time.


Confidence is Keyword

Every chapter of every one of his books oozes confidence. You can tell he gives great forethought to his worlds, that he takes his time crafting each scene and imbuing all his characters—even the minor cobblers—with personality. If you don’t believe me, just check out his series of writing lessons on YouTube. Though the filming is second-rate, the shoddy audio a bit distracting, his lessons are all illuminating. He explores the complexities of world-building, weighs the pros and cons of PoV, and teaches us writers the art of the craft.

Sanderson even teaches on literary agents and what to expect financially if you go the traditional publishing route.

You can learn just by reading the masters. George R.R. Martin’s characters are more realistic than most fantasy characters. I recently read Lord Foul’s Bane, and was bored with the one dimensional characters. It seemed like everyone in ‘The Land’ existed for a single purpose and they would see that purpose fulfilled, without spontaneity, passion,  or personality. I got the sense I would have been more impressed if I hadn’t read the SOIAF series before reading a Thomas Covenant book).

(SIDE NOTE: I’ve noticed that most fantasy shows I try to watch now also seem less impressive since I started watching Game of Thrones; The Shannara Chronicles was alright, but just not quite up to the level of sophisticaiton I’d grown accustomed to in Game of Throne–though the music was interesting.)

Anyway, by reading and learning from the masters, you will pick up the trinkets and bullets that make best-sellers work so well, while building your confidence in your own abilities. And of course: WRITE WRITE WRITE!

Confidence is key, and that key comes from experience in reading and writing. You will only get better, the more you do of both, so keep at it.

Tips on Tweaking AMS Ad Campaigns to Sell More E-Books

If you are self-publishing e-Books on Amazon and not using its AMS (Amazon Marketing Services) ad campaign setup, then you are missing out on a great and cost-effective opportunity.

DID YOU KNOW that there are more product searches performed on Amazon than on Google! Everything you need to start promoting your awesome book is right there at your fingertips; Amazon makes it easy. It’s not a perfect system yet, but it can help you make sales today. And if you select its ‘Sponsored Products’ ad campaign, it is also cost-effective. For as little as 14 cents you can win over a potential customer who is browsing for books like yours, and sell her your $2.99 e-Book.

The best part is that once you’ve sold a few copies, your customers (assuming you’ve written a book they love) might start promoting your book to their friends at no cost to you. How’s that for free advertising?


The great thing about promoting your books on Amazon is that the people who shop there are ready-made customers. They are browsing Amazon’s voluminous shelves because they are ready to buy. You are not annoying people on Facebook or Twitter or anywhere else with pop-ups or with uninvited promotional material and desperate-sounding memes and ads. The people on Amazon are there because they want your book—they just don’t know it yet, not until you show it to them.

That’s where AMS Ad Campaigns come in.

We’ve already covered how to set up your campaign previously, and also in this article.

Here we are looking to master some tweaks to improve the success rate and ACoS of your ad campaigns. So, here are 3 quick and easy tips:

  • Ad Copy: this is the short description of your e-Book that appears beneath the cover
  • Daily Budget: Start at a minimum of $1.00 per day and increase if you feel you are not getting enough click-throughs. You can increase it to any amount and still be confident that you will not be spending that much a day
  • More and Better Keywords: Here is where your homework comes in to play

Given the absurdly few characters you are permitted for your ad copy—about 130 characters, including spaces—you will need to come up with some clever phrases to entice potential buyers. There’s really no room for detail, so just employ the hook you used in your longer book description when publishing it, and shrink this down to the heart of the plot. Make it shine!

AD COPY WARNING: Don’t use terms like ‘bestseller’ and ‘award-winning’ or any other type of self-aggrandizing hype, as the folks at Amazon who review your ad will likely reject it for these reasons. Also, try not to include any punctuation outside of periods and commas—one of my ads was rejected for ‘use of unofficial punctuation’ for the exclamation mark I used, and I kid you not!

Along with your e-Book cover and starred reviews, the ad copy is really what will sell your book.

Don’t worry about starred reviews, right now, though. I always manage to sell numerous downloads when I first publish a book and it hasn’t garnered any reviews yet. There are a few kind buyers who are willing to take a chance on non-reviewed books, so long as they don’t have to pay a lot and they are intrigued by your cover art and description.

The daily budget deal is a whack-a-mole. It’s hit or miss and tends to vary from book to book and genre to genre. You will have to play around with it. Make copies of your ad campaign (just hit COPY all the way to the right on your AMS ad campaign dashboard and POOF, you have another campaign you can tweak) and simply alter the daily budget amount and nothing else. This should give you an idea—after a week or so—of which budget does the trick.

Your keywords are the DNA of your ads

Instead of Adenine, Guanine, Cytosine and Thymine, you’ll have fantasy, magical beings, trolls, books about magic schools, or whatever. You should shoot for at least 200 keywords. Use synonyms of popular keywords (since the most popular keywords will be oversearched and therefore of little value to you and unlikely to display your book to potential buyers, as these words will be used to advertise best-sellers). Use comparisons, as in book titles of similar books, and author names of writers who have similar books for sale. You can do this manually, by searching Amazon, by using Hoth (a free keyword tool), or by employing kindlepreneur’s KDP Rocket, software designed to do all the hard work of keyword searching and collecting and collating swiftly and automatically. But it’ll cost you.

Once you have submitted your ad campaign and it has been approved, and once your numbers start trickling in (this could take a week or so), you can go to your dashboard and see which keywords are earning clicks, and which of these is making you sales. Go ahead and delete the useless keywords that aren’t even getting impressions. You can add more keywords if you find them, too. Here you can change your ad copy if you aren’t earning any sales.

UNSOLICITED SUGGESTION: Run two or three simultaneous ad campaigns, with the only difference being your ad copy. This will tell you which description is winning over shoppers. Once you discover your golden goose, you should tweak your other (black swans) ad copies to sound more like their big sister. Now you can tweak your daily budget.

I hope and trust you have found something useful to take away from this post, something you can use to improve your ad campaigns. Good luck and keep tweaking!

How to Turn Your Book Ideas into Money in the Bank, Step 7: Marketing

Welcome back to our Turning Book Ideas into Money series! So far we have covered:


Now it is time to market your brilliant book idea. Simply publishing it isn’t going to win you more than a few downloads, maybe enough to pay your monthly coffee bill. Fortunately there are many ways to promote your baby. For this post we’re going to focus on AMS Ad Campaigns.

So, you’ve earned a breather. Take a moment to congratulate yourself.

Okay, lazybones, it’s time to get back to work. What do you want, an award?

As soon as (or before) you hit that Publish button, it is time to set up an Amazon Ad Campaign. This is a low-cost tool Amazon has set up for self-publishers, and it is a must-do task for all writers who wish to sell more than a few copies of their books. It is fairly simple to set up, though you will be spending a lot of time collecting keywords.


If you’ve purchased the guidebook on which this series is based—Take it to the Bank—or if you’ve been following these posts, then you have already learned a lot. People lay down fat stacks to learn how to do some of what you have learned on your long journey to publication. Many other guidebooks go into greater detail for you, but they tend to steer you toward steps that will drain your bank account. Take it to the Bank is designed for frugal new writers.

STEPS TO MARKETING YOUR E-BOOK Continue reading “How to Turn Your Book Ideas into Money in the Bank, Step 7: Marketing”