David Farland’s Writing Tips: Do Overs  

Have you ever wished that you could have a “Do Over” in life? Maybe you missed out on a nice business opportunity, or you really wanted to make a great impression on a date and you just blew it.

A lot of authors have expressed that desire.  A book launch can fail for dozens of reasons.  Ignorance is the biggest one. A lot of new authors just don’t know how to market a book. Not having done their homework, they fail to take advantage of opportunities.

For example, I don’t see a lot of authors notifying local newspapers when they release a book.  I just read an article in my paper with this headline: “Local author joins ranks of John Grisham, Michael Connelly in winning legal fiction prize.” Now, I happen to be a fan of legal thrillers, and now I find that a lawyer in my town, some guy named Victor Methos, is being compared to Grisham? Do you think I’ll read his book? Of course I’m interested! Heck, I can pick up The Hallows for free, since I get Kindle Unlimited.

The point is, an article like this in a local paper will often lead to an article in a state paper, and those can lead to more interest nationally and internationally.  Yet most new authors don’t send out press releases.  You can always take advantage of the “Local boy/girl does good” angle of publicity.

When Brandon Sanderson wrote Elantris, he got a local newspaper article that included photos and mention of his upcoming first novel. The tiny store where he launched his career sold over 200 books at the signing, and that set the tone for signings nearby, caused booksellers around the state to begin hyping the book, and created a strong ripple effect.

As a traditional author, you might blow it with a novel through no fault of your own.  You may get a poor cover,  or get picked up by a publisher who doesn’t push you, or release your book on a month when your publicist is vacationing in the Bahamas, as once happened with me. I remember with one book, I got a terrific cover quote that arrived three days after the manuscript went to the printer. Man, I wished I could get a do-over.

Many times, you’re the victim of circumstances beyond your control. We’re nearing October in an election year that will be chaotic. Book sales tend to tank that month. Don’t release a book in the four weeks previous to an election! Or during the finals in basketball season.

In fact, if you’re hoping to break the top ten on the bestseller list, look to see which heavy hitters you’re going to be up against. Just delaying the week of your release can be a real game-changer. For example, I’ve been a #3 New York Times bestseller my sales numbers were terrific and probably should have made me hit #1. I wonder if my book had been moved by a week, if I could have managed #1. It’s only a couple of slots on the chart, but #1 sounds a whole lot better than #3, and once you hit #1, you can always advertise yourself as a #1 New York Times bestseller.

As writers, we get a lot of do-overs.  When self-publishing e-books, you can switch out a poor cover in a day or add the latest cover quote. You can fix typos or rewrite a whole chapter if you want.

And if you feel after your first novel that your career is in the pits, guess what? You get a do-over.  You get to write another book.  Maybe one that is more inspired.  Maybe the one that will have a great cover, or get released on just the right day, or will attract a kingmaker like Oprah as she is jogging through the airport.  Maybe it will hit the bestseller lists or get turned into a major motion picture.

With most authors, it isn’t your first book that makes you famous.  It might be your third, or seventh.  Just ask Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games, or James Dashner who wrote more than a dozen novels before he composed The Maze Runner.  Tomorrow I’m going to be interviewing Dean Wesley Smith for Apex, who has written over 250 novels.

Every book is a do-over.  Every book gives you a second chance.  Or a third, or a 251st.


We have a couple of authors in Apex who have new releases:

Alexander Voinov is an English writer who has a new romance novel set in a dark future that is being brought out by a small publisher. He’s gaining a lot of popularity, but needs a signal boost. https://www.amazon.com/Mean-Machine-Aleksandr-Voinov-ebook/dp/B088ZT6SM5/ref=sr_1_1?dchild=1&keywords=Aleksandr+Voinov&qid=1595856383&sr=8-1

I’ve known Mark Stallings for several years. He is an extremely smart and likeable writer that some of you may have met at various writing conventions. I’m excited to see his new fantasy epic, the first in a series, and you can buy it today before it ships tomorrow!


Just a reminder, we have a sale on David Farland’s Super Bundle. You get the audited versions of his most popular workshops and seminars for only $139, a huge discount! But this sale ends Friday!


If you’re interested in joining the Apex online writing group, we have a number of upcoming speakers. Bestselling authors Dean Wesley Smith, Jodi Lynn Nye, and Eric Flint are on the schedule, along with M.J. Rose whose company specializes in book marketing and promotion.


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