The Dreaded Question – What is Your Story About

The dreaded question - what is your story about

What’s your story about?

I think there is one question that really throws most authors.

The dreaded question, ‘What is your story about?”

I don’t know about you but I used to stumble through that with something like: “uh, it’s a suspense/thriller. This woman got kidnapped when she was a baby and now as an adult she’s trying to figure out the truth…”

the dreaded question, what is your story about

How do you keep it short and interesting?

I always felt unprepared.

It’s sort of interesting but not really. I always used to do was start with, I write suspense/thrillers or I write romance. I’ve learned not to do that, unless they ask that specifically. The reason I suggest that is because there are amazing books written in every genre but sometimes when you tell someone the genre, you may lose them. They may say, “Oh, I don’t read suspense/thrillers. I don’t read that kind of story.”

I know for me, if you asked if I read dystopian novels, I’d say no. But the truth is that I’ve probably read at least twenty in the last two years alone. They wouldn’t have been my choice to read but the authors did a very good job on selling me on what their story was about. I thoroughly enjoyed each one but I would not have sought out a dystopian type novel to read.


So what do you say, when someone asks, ‘What’s your story about?”


There are three elements that really make a fiction book blurb compelling – setup, capture, intrigue.

Setup is the underlying theme or problem throughout your story.

Capture is the heart of your story – where the protagonist is, where s/he wants to be, the hurdles s/he has to overcome, what brought them to this point, etc.

Intrigue is where you use the climax and ending to pique curiosity – you hint at who wins, who loses or what might happen…

So when someone asks what is my story about, I use the setup, which I tend to write as a bold statement, and then the intrigue. Anytime you are talking about your book, you want the other person to leave being curious. You want them to wonder what happens? What is going on for your protagonist? What will happen to your protagonist? Where does the story go? You want the other person to care.

So how do you use, Setup and Intrigue?

So the setup would look something like this:

     She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead…

and the intrigue would be something like this:

     Can she unravel 30 years of secrets, lies, and deceit, to find the truth?

When you put them together:

     She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead…

     Can she unravel 30 years of secrets, lies, and deceit, to find the truth?

“Setup and Intrigue work well
to grab attention and pique curiosity.”

Keep it short and punchy.

It’s short, simple, clearly states what is going on for the protagonist, and really it is telling the person that it is a suspense/thriller without actually saying that. It will grab people’s attention, even those who don’t read my genre.

So the next time someone asks you what your story is about, you will have a short, punchy comeback that will intrigue them.

I recently did an interview with three lovely ladies who are authors and have created a podcast, called – Self Publishing Authors Podcast or SPA Podcast for short. Each week they provide invaluable tips on writing and publishing. And they have a lot of fun doing it. Click on the button to listen to my conversation with them and how to answer the dreaded question,

“What is your Story About?”

To listen in, click the link below.

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Write Compelling Fiction Book Blurbs - on Facebook

Did you get your 10 Question Cheat Sheet,
to help you write a compelling fiction book blurb?

Why not write a synopsis?

An easier way to write
a compelling
fiction book blurb.

What is so important about opposites?

Yin and Yang will make all the difference.

What will grab the reader?

A simple layout that is key.

52 Weeks of Marketing Success – The Novel Business

Write for the Freedom!

52 Weeks of Marketing Success – The Novel Business

Glenna Mageau, Award Winning Author, Speaker, Writing Coach

Writing the book is just the beginning.

I know for many writers that is all they want to do – write the book and let someone else worry about marketing it. But the truth is that even if you’re with a traditional publisher, you are going to need to market yourself. Only those who have a big name or have sold lots can get away without doing a lot of their own marketing. Other than those people, you will be expected to do the work to get your book out there. In all honesty, it is in your best interest. You’ll better understand the process, what’s required, what’s needed and get a better appreciation for who is reading your book.

Believe me I know how scary that is. You know your story is good but then having to put yourself out there? That’s not so easy.

There’s always the questions:

Where do I start?

How do I do it?

What do I do?


If you want to market well, you need to have a plan.

Marketing is just like writing your story, at some point you just need to start. You can device a plan and then start or you can just start. The important thing is that you do something. That you don’t allow yourself to be held back because you’re unsure what to do, how to do it and where to start. Again just like writing your story, do something and then learn from it. Go back and see what you did, what worked, what didn’t and what can you do differently.

There is a lot to learn. But there are also some amazing resources out there for you. And I’ve found something that will help you. How do I know? Because I’m taking the course and have found it so invaluable. I’ve been marketing for a while but I am learning lots.

The great news is that I found this amazing course that is 52 Weeks of Marketing Success. The really good thing about this course is that it is written by an author for authors. PM Terrell provides an incredible amount of information each week on the steps you need to take to understand the marketing world, what you need to do to market and how to use social media to get your book noticed.



I’d like to introduce you to the course

52 Weeks of Marketing Success



Plan for writing

What’s included in the course?


Week 1: Why you write, using that reason to increase your sales, and defining your marketing, promotional and sales objectives

Week 2: Looking at the market for your genre; sales potential, bestselling authors and your competition

New York LibraryWeek 3: Defining your ideal reader; how to locate and connect with them

Week 4: Selling to Businesses (Libraries, Bookstores, Retailers) and Selling Direct to the Reader

Week 5: Thinking like a journalist to sell more books

Week 6: Understanding why people read and tapping into those emotional reasons

Week 7: Staying on top of market trends and adjusting your marketing and sales efforts

Product Life CycleWeek 8: Setting goals for market growth over time and understanding the product cycle

Week 9: Determining your strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats as an author

Week 10: A deep dive into your competition – and how to reach their audience

Week 11: Looking at your book as a product and you are the business

Week 12: Pricing and discount strategies

Week 13: Understanding distribution and the placement of your books

Week 14: Understanding the differences between marketing, promotions and sales; using blogging as a hub

printing pressWeek 15: Special interest stories for newspapers, magazines and online content

Week 16: Establishing yourself as an expert and ways to make it pay

Week 17: Social media marketing: Twitter

Week 18: Social media marketing: Facebook

Week 19: Social media marketing: Pinterest

Week 20: Social media marketing: Instagram

Week 21: Social media marketing: YouTube

Week 22: Social media marketing: LinkedIn

Week 23: Social media marketing: Analyzing other channels

Week 24: Google: AdWords, Key words, descriptors

Social Media

Week 25: Advertising: YouTube

Week 26: Advertising: Facebook

Week 27: Advertising: Twitter

Week 28: Advertising: Assessing other social media channels

Week 29: Running the numbers

Week 30: The conversion rate

Week 31: Newspapers – advertising versus content and stories

Week 32: Magazines – advertising versus content and stories

Week 33: Radio – as a guest and with advertising

Week 34: Television – as a guest and with advertising

Week 35: Promotional giveaways – and why you don’t give away your book

Week 36: Blog Tours

PressWeek 37: Book Store Signings

Week 38: Signings vs. Talks vs. Events

Week 39: Libraries

Week 40: Community Events

Week 41: Maximize your exposure before, during and after the event

Week 42: Hand-out items

Week 43: Using reader enthusiasm

Week 44: Promotional items for campaign selling

eMarketingWeek 45: The email campaign

Week 46: Snail Mail: when it’s worth it

Week 47: Advanced Blogging – visuals, multimedia

Week 48: Sales forecasts and projections and breaking even

Week 49: Stages of a book launch

Week 50: Implementation strategy

Week 51: Milestones and contingencies

Week 52: Using this method for all your books and launches

“Marketing your novel is the key to Your Success.”

Patricia McClelland Terrell writes under the pen name p.m.terrell. She has been a published author since 1984 and a full-time author since 2002. She has written more than 20 books in several genres, including suspense, historical and non-fiction. She is also the founder of Book ‘Em North Carolina Writers Conference and Book Fair and the founder of The Novel Business.

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Use Your Reviews With Your Fiction Book Blurb

Use your Reviews with your Fiction Book Blurb
Use your reviews with your fiction book blurbs.

Use your review with your fiction book blurb.

It will help to grab the reader’s attention.

Reviews for an author are something that are really important. You’ve written your novel and the best way to grab attention is through a compelling and interesting book cover, an intriguing and enticing fiction book blurb and the reviews that your fans, your readers write about your book.

What others say about your novel is crucial in grabbing attention. People want to know what other’s think. So make it easy for them to find out, include it with your fiction book blurb. If you look at the best selling authors, they all have a quote by another person, in their case it is usually by another best selling, big name author. If you have that option use it. But most of us don’t have that option, so we need to use what we do have access to.

Reviews are a key way to grab attention.

So how do you use reviews with your fiction book blurb to grab attention?

1. Where do you find your reviews?

– if you are new, there are many reviewers who have blogs who will do reviews, there are book tours where you can ask for reviews, you can ask people you know…

– people who have read your novel may post their review on any of the online bookstores – Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Smashwords, Draft2Digital, etc.

– people who read your novel may post their review on sites like Goodreads, Library Thing, Bookstr, etc.

2. What do you use from a review?

Here’s an example of a full review. It’s pretty long so using all of it wouldn’t be practical.

Nothing tastes as good as revenge!

Once I had accustomed myself to Author Maggie Thom’s pacing I settled down for what proved to be a fast-paced and suspense charged thriller of a book!

The author has a marvelous talent for laying out numerous plot lines, and merging them with the skill of a surgeon. Many reviewers have covered the basic story-line and it is a complex one. I enjoyed the characterizations so much that they deserve a strong mention.

Meet, Getty. Sixty-seven years old, newly released from a twenty-year prison stretch, for a murder she did not commit. Oh, make no mistake, she murdered someone alright. Just not the man she was alleged to have killed. Getty is fueled by an overpowering need for revenge, intertwined with a guilt she will never shake.

She is out for blood, no matter who gets in her way. The character development is well handled. Getty is not quite what she appears to be. Or is she? That is just one challenge facing the reader, as Author Maggie Thom leads you deeper into the story.

Meet Kyara … Getty’s grandaughter. Kyara, shattered and damaged from the stigma she’s carried all her young life. Wanting to trust, and not knowing how, without exposing herself to yet more hurt and shame.

The author shows us Kyara’s guilt at her own treatment of a mother she’s ashamed of, and her proud determination to discover just who had been responsible for injuring her. Kyara is a strong character amidst a cast of strong characters. The author has created a character we can identify with, making Kyara human and three-dimensional, so she comes alive on the page.

A Myriad of supporting characters enrich the plot, all of them intensely visual, but it is the ever threatening aura of the characters even when they are not present on the page that makes this book the terrific thriller that it is.

Author Maggie Thom has created memorable characters that will linger long after you close the last page.

S. Burke


There’s a lot of information here, so using the whole review is too much. But there are a lot of really good pieces that can be taken out of all of this explanation.

Choose those things that talk about what a good story you’ve written:

“…a fast-paced and suspense charged thriller!” S. Burke


“…The author has created a character we can identify with… she comes alive on the page…” S. Burke


“…it is the ever threatening aura of the characters even when they are not present on the page that makes this book the terrific thriller that it is…” S. Burke

Choose those points that talk about your talent as an author:

“…The author has a marvelous talent for laying out numerous plot lines, and merging them with the skill of a surgeon…” S. Burke


“…Author Maggie Thom has created memorable characters that will linger long after you close the last page…” S. Burke

So out of one review, there are many snipits that I can take and use. There is some great information here and it gives the reader a clear idea of what someone else thought about the story and the author.
“Using a review with your fiction book blurb, is a great way to showcase what others are saying about your novel and/or you as an author.”
Use reviews with your fiction book blurb
Use your reviews also in your marketing.
Give your reader the review they are looking for.

A couple of tips for how to write the reviews:

  • put the part of the review that you’re using in quotation marks
  • if you take from the middle of the fiction book blurb, put (the ellipses) … before the review
  • put … at the end of the quote (if the information you are taking is not the very end of the review)
    (the … show that it is not all of the review, that you are only taking part of it)
  • italicize the words within the quote, it more resembles someone saying it
  • put the name or initials of the person who wrote the review
  • if you have people who have clout who have given the review, use those and put their titles, if they have shared that.

Where do you put the review snip-it you’re using?

You can use the review segment that you’ve chosen, either above or below your fiction book blurb. Be sure that you have at least one on the back cover jacket. And one with the book description on all online book stores – Amazon, Kobo, Barnes and Noble, etc. or anywhere you book is hosted online.

Here’s what it should look like.

She was kidnapped not once but twice and now someone wants her dead because of it…

Her life was a lie!

Bailey knew her upbringing wasn’t normal but she’s worked hard to stabilize her life. At 29, she finally has a good business, a stable home; her life is miles from that of her childhood. Then suddenly her mother dies, leaving a gaping hole and a discovery that they may not even be related. If Guy, the private investigator is to be believed, her life is a lie. Using the skills she learned on the streets, Bailey travels back through a sketchy and dangerous past, to find answers. Dodging bullets, staying ahead of those who want her dead and convincing Guy she can do it alone, are making it difficult to discover not only the secrets of her mother’s past but that of a family claiming she is theirs.

Everyone seems to have a story… but who’s telling the truth? And who wants her dead? Is Guy part of the solution? Or part of the problem? To discover the facts, she’ll have to untangle a web of deceit, lies, and secrets, dating back over thirty years.

Maggie Thom writes a fast-paced thriller that is laced with romance and keeps the reader interested and on the edge…” InDtale Magazine

“Using what someone else says, will carry a lot more clout and believe-ability than if you tell the reader from your point of view.”
Why not write a synopsis?
An easier way to write
a compelling
fiction book blurb.
What is so important about opposites?
Yin and Yang will make all the difference.
What will grab the reader?
A simple layout that is key.

Make Your Book Covers 3D – To Grab Attention

A 3D Book Cover will grab more attention.
Your book cover not only needs to look professional but it needs to really grab the reader’s attention.
You know when you go to a library or a book store and pick up a book. There’s nothing like holding a real book in your hands is there? I love the feel of a book. And the look of a book.

When you see a book, what is the first thing that you do? You pick it up and look at the cover. So the cover needs to look good. No question about that.

But things have changed. People are more often than not, looking at books on the internet – whether to buy a paperback, ebook or audiobook. So not only do you need to have a cover that gives a hint about what your book is about but it needs to pop. It needs to stand out and grab attention from the other millions of books and the other billions of images.

Images are a great way to grab attention and your book cover is no different. But having a book cover, gives you an advantage. You can make the book cover image look like a book. Often when you get your book cover it is 2D. They are flat pictures. They look like this:

Which doesn’t look bad but it doesn’t really stand out and give the impression it’s a book (unless you stop and read what’s on it). Right now it is just another picture that could be skimmed over. And I don’t know about you but after all my hard work of writing a book, I want it to look like one, even if it is just an ebook.

I found this program that changed that flat, 2D picture into a 3D picture. Look at what it does to it:


The two on either end were created with this program. The image in the middle, I used the book I created using this program, and then added it to a marketing banner. The 3D book image on the banner it looks more appealing than if I’d put a flat picture.

Your book, whether an ebook or paperback looks more real to the reader when it’s 3D. It looks like a book they’d pick up at the library or book store or it gives the sense of what it would look like on their ereader. It definitely brings it to life and makes it stand out more.

What a difference, right?
To make these ebook covers I use this program Ecover Authority

It’s a web based graphics application that easily lets you create 3D covers without having Photoshop or any other photo program. It truly is easy to use. There are a number of choices that you can choose from: paperback front and back book covers (in different sizes and facing different angles), hardcover book covers (in different sizes and facing different angles), ereaders, tablets, computer monitors, TV screens, etc. You simply choose the one you want and then you either upload your picture or you choose a background that they have.


(*affiliate link – means I get paid a commission if you buy through my website)


Here are a few of the options I’ve created, using their backgrounds. You can use this program to take your PDF giveaway or one that you have for sale or a course and turn it into something that looks more like what it represents.


(just the book part or CD’s were done with Ecover Authority not the boxes they are displayed in. I wanted to show you some of the variety that is available.)





“If your book covers look like real books, they are more likely to grab attention.”
Make your book covers stand out on the Internet with 3 D Covers.
So as an author, I suggest you give your book that extra pop that will grab a reader’s attention.
Why not write a synopsis?
An easier way to write
a compelling
fiction book blurb.
What is so important about opposites?
Yin and Yang will make all the difference.
What will grab the reader?
A simple layout that is key.

* Please note that if you buy through the links on this page, I will receive an affiliate commission.

Writing Tips from Authors – Interview with Laurence O’Bryan


I’m thrilled to have been able to do this interview with Laurence O’Bryan – Author, Marketer and founder of BooksGo Social.

Laurence shares some interesting tips about his journey of becoming a writer – some things that worked and some that didn’t. Research is important but Laurence goes above and beyond to do his.

His tip for new authors – Get connected. The Indie Community is amazing, so reach out. BooksGo Social is a great place to start. There are approximately 15,000 authors on their facebook group that share information about their journey with writing and reach out to get help. It is a very inspiring and supportive community.

Check out the upcoming Dublin’s Writers Conference – June 23 – 25, 2017 in Dublin, Ireland.

Laurence O’Bryan

Author, Marketer and founder of Books Go Social.

I was first published by a school newspaper when I was ten, for a short story about aliens getting lost.  The Istanbul Puzzle was my first novel to be published (Jan, 2012,) The Jerusalem Puzzle my second (Jan, 2013,) and The Manhattan Puzzle my third (Aug, 2014.) The Nuremberg Puzzle (April, 2016) is the fourth novel in the series.

In 2007 I won the Outstanding Novel Submitted award at the Southern California writer’s conference. I missed the award ceremony and only found out after it was over that the agents and editors attending had picked me out from over 300 unpublished novels submitted.

The Istanbul Puzzle was also shortlisted for Irish Crime Novel of 2012. It has now been translated into 10 languages.

I am on the committee of the Irish Writers Union, and I host a”live” crime writers’ group in Dublin each month. I also promote and support other writers through my site

My research has taken me all over the world, from San Francisco to deep in the Arab world. I still enjoy looking at the stars, and listening to the stories of strangers.

What keeps you going?

I know it’s a cliche, but I dreamt of becoming a writer when I was a child telling adventure stories to friends on my street. Two of those friends committed suicide before they reached the age of 21. Ireland was a place of repression, secrets and shame back then. It still is. I dedicate my writing to their memory.

My motto? Not All Who Wander Are Lost – Níl gach uile fhánaí caillte.

BooksGo Social is a good way to get your book out there and get it found. If you go there to use their services, mention that I sent you and you’ll get 10% off. Or contact me and I’ll give you the discount coupon.

Writing is Like Making a Wedding Cake

Writing is Like Making a Cake

You just take a lot of ingredients, throw them together, mix them up, leave them ‘cook’ for a while and voila – you have a masterpiece!

Right? That’s all there is to making a cake? to writing, isn’t it?

Unfortunately, not. You can throw ingredients together/words together and it might turn out okay or it might turn out a bit of a disaster. The truth is that you are probably struggling with writing because you are scared of how it will turn out. Well, let me tell you, I can pretty much guarantee that your first few versions are more likely to look like this:

cake flop

than they are like this:

Wedding Cake by NikkiSo what’s the deal?

When making a beautiful cake, you have to make it a few times to get the ingredients right, the mixing of it just right, the baking of it just right. And then you have to spend a lot of time practicing the art of making it look amazing. It’s not a simple feat.

Writing is the same thing. First, you need to get the words down on paper. It doesn’t matter what it looks like because the final touches, the beautifying of it, comes later. You need to write and try different things to figure out what you want to do with your writing. But to get there you have to be willing to just write, whatever comes to mind. And know that in the beginning, many things you write are just not going to feel right or sound right.

But that’s okay.

I’m sure that those who make and decorate wedding cakes, started with making simple cakes or even cupcakes. They have mixed a lot of ingredients, they have baked a lot of cakes and they have decorated a lot of cakes, to get to the point of being able to create this:

wedding cake by nikki - with name2

The same goes for writing

if you want to write you just need to start somewhere. Choose something and write. It doesn’t matter what and it doesn’t really matter if you have an end goal in mind or any clear direction. All that will come with time. For now, just write. When you have an idea, write. Don’t worry about what it looks like or even where it’s going, in the beginning.

The truth is that just like making a masterpiece wedding cake, masterpiece writing takes practice.

The more you write, the easier it comes and the easier it comes, the clearer you will become on what you want to write and the more willing you are to take risks with it. And yes just like baking any cake, you will still have flops every now and then. Sometimes your writing just won’t go where you want it to or look like you want it to. But that’s okay. There will be times you will produce something that will shock you, impress you, surprise you and excite you. You will know that what you have written is good and worth working on.

So throw together whatever words you have right now and see what comes out. Love those flops for they can teach you a lot and help you with creating future stories. Every piece is precious for what it teaches you. Sometimes you just have to write because the words are there begging to get out. They don’t really have any direction or rhyme or reason, they just need to be released. So release them. The best way to get ideas flowing, to allow your creativity to bloom, is just to write. This is where I equate writing with eating a cake – sometimes it is just begging to be eaten… for no rhyme or reason. 🙂

So just do it.

So just write and maybe it will lead to a book… and maybe another one… and another one…

For now… just write.

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