Shorter is Better

By Joe Moore

Recently, Science Fiction publisher TOR published an article on why novellas are the future of publishing. They based their theory on one important element: time. For the modern electronic reader, time is a precious commodity. If the reader can sit down with a Kindle or Nook and read a novella on a cross country plane ride or over a rainy Sunday afternoon, they can become just as satisfied as trudging through a 120k word novel. The enthusiasm of publishing novella e-books is spreading throughout the traditional publishing industry. Lower costs, quicker turnaround, more product in the pipeline.

A novella can fall anywhere between 17,500 and 60,000 words. There’s a lot of latitude in that gap and publishers are going to give some wiggle room with word count. No agent or publisher is going to reject your book if you missed the count by 1k or 5k or even 10k, especially if the story blows them away.

Have you ever written a novella? Thought about it? Have you read one? Did you get as much fulfillment out of it as a full-length novel? Is your reading time becoming more precious to you than ever? Chime in and let us know.

For those who wonder about word count, here’s a general rule of thumb guideline to counting words:

  • Epic: A work of 200,000 words or more.
  • Novel: A work of 60,000 words or more.
  • Novella: A work of at least 17,500 words but under 60,000 words.
  • Short story: A work of at least 2,000 words but under 7,500 words.
  • Flash fiction: A work of less than 2,000 words, usually under 1,000.

Creating Tangible Connections in an Online World

Chaucers-2Later today I’ll be driving north up the coast to attend a book signing in Santa Barbara. The event will be held at Chaucer’s, which the LA Times has called “the little bookstore that could“. Chaucer’s has flourished and grown during a time when other local retailers, including mega-bookstores such as Borders and Barnes and Noble, have faltered and closed their doors in the wake of Amazon and the advance of online marketing.

I’m enthusiastic about the prospect of enjoying some tangible, human interaction that is centered around reading and books.  I should seek out this experience more often, I  suddenly realize. In years gone by, I used to make regular pilgrimages to bookstores, if only for a fly-by and to grab a cup of java. Nowadays, most of those bookstores have disappeared. Seldom did a month go by in the past when I didn’t find some reason for dropping by our local library. Today, I always seem to be hunched behind my laptop or iPad.

When did the reading experience become so solitary? (Let’s not even mention writing–the craft of writing has always been a lonely road.)shutterstock_62915473

So here’s my epiphany for the day (you’re probably already aware of it): when we replaced our physical reading venues with virtual ones, we also lost a quality of personal connection. Those connections may have seemed fleeting and minor in real time, but they added real value, I think. I miss them.

So tonight, I’m planning to set things back to rights. I’m going to honor and celebrate the human connection of reading, by driving two hours to attend a book reading at Chaucer’s. (Tonight’s author, by the way, will be Robin Winter. She will be signing and reading from her latest science fiction novel, WATCH THE SHADOWS. If you’re in the Santa Barbara area, I hope to see you there!)

Am I alone in feeling that something important has been lost during the gradual transition to an online reading world? Please share your experience about what has changed for you as a reader in recent years.

What do you read while writing?

images-1Inspired in part by this week’s New York Times ‘Bookends’ article (What do you read while you write?) I thought I’d venture to assess my own reading habits (both good and bad) while in the midst of writing my current WIP. As both Zoe Heller and Anna Holmes acknowledge, the act of ‘reading’ while supposedly engaged in the writing process  encompasses a range of motivations – from seeking inspiration to procrastination to sheer ‘writing avoidance’.

Many writers I know avoid reading anything in the genre they are currently writing for fear that their own voice or plot might be unduly influenced, but as Zoe points out this might involve forswearing off a vast array of fiction for years (given how long it can take to finish a WIP). When I was writing my first book, I borrowed countless historical mysteries from the library, all of which I read, examined and dissected in the name of understanding the genre I was attempting. When in the thick of actually writing the final manuscript though I admit I hesitated continuing to read too many of these same books lest my own work feel derivative or a horribly cheap imitation. Sometimes the worse thing you can do is read an amazing book when you’re feeling particularly vulnerable about your own writing standards!

We can’t forget the important adage, however, that in order to be a good writer you need to read and read widely. I am ever thankful for my book group for ensuring that at least guilt alone will drive me to read outside the research I usually have to do for my novels. That research is, unfortunately, also a great excuse to do ‘writing avoidance’ reading and many an extra hour (or four!) has been spent on obscure historical research that ended up as one line (if I’m lucky) in one of my novels.

I was comforted at least to read that both Zoe Heller and Anna Holmes suffered the same weakness for ‘reading’ online when they really should be writing. Facebook status updates, trashy headlines on the The Daily Mail or ‘TV scoop’ on E-online are all traps I easily fall into when I think I’ll just ‘take a break’ and before I know it 5 minutes has turned into 20 and my brain has turned to mush.

So what about you TKZers, what do you ‘read while you write’?

  • Do you have books you turn to for inspiration?
  • Do you read or avoid books in the same genre as your current WIP?
  • How much of your ‘reading’ ends up as procrastination or writing avoidance?


How Should Characters Change?


Got an email from a writer which asked the following (used by permission):

Dear Mr. Bell,

Ok, so I’m big on stupid questions. I just had a thought as I was musing about my latest book. I know the main character has to change. That’s a big deal. But what about secondary characters? What about the bad guy? Do the secondary characters change, but less? or something… And I want the bad guy to go from neutral to really bad… Does that make sense? Not something I can google…

First off, that’s not a stupid question at all. In fact, it’s a great question with good instincts about the craft. Here are my thoughts on the matter.

The Main Character Can Change in Two Ways

In my book, Write Your Novel From the Middle, I explain that not all MCs have to change from one state of being to another. That kind of arc is, of course, common in fiction.

For example, Ebenezer Scrooge. He starts out as a misanthrope and ends up a generous, compassionate member of the community. Martin Riggs, the suicidal cop in Lethal Weapon, changes from self-destructive loner to close friend of his partner, Roger Murtaugh, and Murtaugh’s whole family.

This type of change comes only through the fire of Act II. A life lesson is learned. Now the MC is a new person with something of value for the community. As my friend Chris Vogler puts it, the hero returns home with an elixir: he has new wisdom and insight to share with his ordinary world.

Of course, as I also note, the MC can change in the opposite direction. Michael Corleone goes from a loyal American soldier to the soul-deadened Godfather of the Corleone family. That’s because in Act II his father is nearly killed by members of another crime family. At the crucial “mirror moment,” Michael realizes he’s the only one of the three brothers who actually knows how to exact revenge. Thus begins his negative slide.

In this type of large-scale change, the MC goes from pole to pole.

But that’s not always how a character changes. There’s another way. That’s when the MC retains the same basic nature, but grows stronger because of the life-and-death challenges of Act II.

An example is Dr. Richard Kimble in The Fugitive. He’s the same decent man at the end as he was at the beginning. But he has had to learn survival skills. He is forced to grow stronger because he was wrongly convicted of murdering his wife. When he escapes from a prison bus, he has to stay alive and out of the law’s reach so he can find the real killer.Marge

Marge Gunderson, of Fargo, is the same decent, small town police woman at the end as at the start. But she has to ramp up her skills to bring a vile murderer and a devious scam artist to justice. This is not like the misdemeanors she’s used to!

So consider what kind of change your MC is going through: change of nature, or growing stronger?

Also consider this: A character can resist change. He can be “offered grace” (Flannery O’Connor’s term) but turn it down. That’s what makes for tragedy.

In Act IV of Othello, Emilia, Desdemona’s attendant (and, unfortunately, the wife of Iago) pleads Desdemona’s innocence to Othello in no uncertain terms. But when she exits, Othello mutters that she is a “subtle whore” and refuses to believe her. He kills his wife instead.

Finally, change can come too late, which is also tragic. Think Scarlett O’Hara in Gone With the Wind.

Secondary Character Change

A powerful trope is the change of secondary characters, brought about by the courage and example of the MC.

JonesHere is where The Fugitive elevates above most action films. The opposition to Richard Kimble is Sam Gerard, the lawman played by Tommy Lee Jones. He makes it clear early on he has only one job: catch Kimble. When Kimble has a gun on him and insists he’s innocent, Gerard says, “I don’t care!” Because it’s not his job to care. At that point Kimble thinks, “Oh, crap” (my interpretation of Harrison Ford’s facial expression) and so he dives off that spillway and goes kersplash in the waters below.

But observing this, and other behaviors of Kimble––as well as seeing what a lousy job the Chicago cops did on the original investigation––Gerard does begin to care. Until, at the end, he helps Kimble get the real bad guy.

Another example is Louis, the corrupt French police captain in Casablanca. Watching how Rick gradually begins to take sides against the Nazis, Louis finally finds his conscience at the end, letting Rick off the hook for murdering Major Strasser. To the arriving police force Louis says, “Round up the usual suspects.” Not only that, Louis walks off with Rick to join the war effort. It is “the beginning of a beautiful friendship.”

This kind of change enhances the theme of a story. We like to see things like justice and honor prevail. When they do, it ought to be powerful enough to inspire secondary characters, too.

Bad Guy Going From Neutral to Worse

There is no reason at all you can’t show a villain growing more villainous as the story moves along. You can show this via parallel plotline from the villain’s POV, or you can utilize it as the “shadow story,” which I wrote about here. What happens off screen with the villain? How is he altering his plans, ignoring his conscience, falling further and further from his humanity? Give it some thought and weave that material into the narrative as you see fit.

A plot is about a character who uses strength of will against the forces of death––be they physical, professional, or psychological. No one goes through such a crucible without changing or becoming stronger.

It’s your job to show us the change and make us glad we stuck around for a whole book to see it.

What are some of your favorite examples of character change?


Where There’s a Will…

The Girl in the Spider's WebI regret to inform you that I am eternally behind the curve. My seventeen year old daughter would happily reveal that state of affairs, and does so at every opportunity (notwithstanding that it was I who first told her about Leon Bridges). So it is that it was only yesterday when I learned that this coming September 1 we’ll be seeing The Girl in the Spider’s Web, a fourth installment in the Lisbeth Salander canon (also known as The Millennium Trilogy) which began with the now world-famous The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo by Stieg Larsson.  The new volume will be written by David Lagercrantz, who has been retained to write it by Larsson’s estate, which consists of Larsson’s father and brother. And therein lays the rub.

The lead up to the publication of the Salander books has been covered exhaustively elsewhere and can be had with Google search. For our purposes today we’ll touch only on the high (or low) points. Larsson conceived the Salander canon as consisting of ten books. He wrote three, substantially completed a fourth, and outlined volumes five through ten. Larsson died of a heart attack in 2004, however, before any of the books were published.  A will which Larsson drafted in 1977 was discovered after his death, but his signature had been unwitnessed. The will was thus declared invalid under Swedish law. Worse, Larsson’s longtime companion, Eva Gabrielsson, could not inherit from him under intestate succession, which is the order in which relatives can inherit from someone who dies without a will. Larsson’s intellectual property — the Salander books — thus passed to his father and brother, who were his nearest living relatives but from whom, by most accounts, he had been estranged for many years.

last-will-and-testamentMany of us — me included — believe that we are going to live forever, or at least at a point far enough in the future where it won’t make any difference, and don’t have a will as a result. While Larsson went through the motions, he didn’t go through enough of them. It is doubtful that Larsson contemplated the possibility that he would be toasting marshmallows with Karl Marx and Leon Trotsky about the time that The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo was hitting the top of the bestseller charts all over the world. The result is that Larsson’s closest blood relatives  received his entire kit and caboodle.  Ms. Gabrielsson, with whom Larsson shared home and hearth, and who may well have contributed substantially to the creation and expression of Larsson’s work, will never receive so much as a krona of royalties, or have any say as to how her partner’s property is handled going forward. That is now up to Dad and Bro. If you were hoping that one day your child might go to school with a Lisbeth Salander lunchbox, or you were planning to obtain a removable dragon tattoo to spice things up on some weekend, don’t lose hope. It still could happen.

Don’t let this happen to you. If you have created a piece — or several pieces — of intellectual property, be they published, recorded, or otherwise, have a will drafted in which a specific bequest of that property — and everything else you have — is made. Spend the money and go to an attorney who specializes in such matters; your attorney will/should make sure that your will is executed properly and in accordance with the laws of your state. Please believe me: this is much better than writing it out on a cocktail napkin on the third night of Bouchercon. Insist that your will explicitly states 1) to whom you are giving, or bequeathing, the specific intellectual property and 2) that you are granting to your beneficiary full administrative rights over the property. Should there be something that you do not want done with the property (such as action figures or computer game licensing) this would be the time to mention as well: put your restrictions in writing. If while bestowing your property you exclude someone who would otherwise be the natural object of your bounty, state why you are making the choices you are making. Yes, you might hurt someone’s feelings. If, however, you state that you are leaving your intellectual property to your brother because you feel that your brother is better able to deal with business matters, contesting your will successfully will be problematic for your sister.

You laugh. But you never know. There are any number of authors who didn’t live to see, and thus enjoy, their success. Do you really want someone you don’t even like deciding how your work will be treated, or — even worse — a government official choosing who will control things? The answer of course is “no.” Don’t let your loved one, whoever they may be, end up like Eva Gabrielsson.

Reader Friday: A Room With a View?

AVT_Blaise-Cendrars_5947A writer should never install himself before a panorama, however grandiose it may be … Like Saint Jerome, a writer should work in his cell. Turn the back.

Blaise Cendrars 

Can you work with a view? Do you need silence or do you like a little noise? Where is your preferred place to write?

First-page Critique: THINGS NOT FORGOTTEN

Today we’re critiquing the first page of a story called THINGS NOT FORGOTTEN. I’ll add my comments at the end, and then I invite you all to add your thoughts in the Comments.


normanbates_thumb2Wednesday, 10:30 p.m.

But the tongue can no man tame; it is an unruly evil, full of deadly poison.

James 3:8

Keep running. Don’t stop until you know the madman is gone. But he was still alive.

Jason smelled his own sweat…pungent and sour. And vomit. He’d thrown up, splattering the front of his plaid flannel shirt, the taste still in his mouth. Urine soaked the front of his jeans. He couldn’t believe he’d pissed himself.

How could he run away and leave his best friend?

Eric’s screams still echoed inside his head.

His feet pounded the earth. He glimpsed over his shoulder to see if the maniac chased after him. His heart pulsed in his ears.

When he turned back, his forehead slammed into a branch. Jason staggered but stayed on his feet. Eyes watered from the pain.

Got to keep running. Don’t look back.      

His feet obeyed despite the dizziness swimming in his head. Moonlight flickered patches of light through the trees. Instead of providing a path, it only contributed to the vertigo. It had been two years since he and Eric came to the cabin to hunt. If only he somehow had grabbed his rifle when he escaped, but there was no going back.

As he ran, he used his hands as battering rams to clear a path. Knock down any low hanging branches. Twigs and brush slashed at him but he refused to stop. Blood trickled down his face and arms. It mixed with sweat and stung his eyes. He swallowed. His stomach lurched, threatening to spew whatever contents remained.

His mind replayed the events in short, choppy segments. Eric and he had been drinking beer, swapping sea stories in the navy when someone knocked on the front door. If only they had never opened it.

Now his best friend was dead, or soon would be. He didn’t know for certain. As the psychopath tortured Eric, Jason worked his hands and feet out of the rope binding him to a chair.

The nearest neighbor was five miles away, but he didn’t know in what direction. In his haste, he rushed into the thicket of trees and brush, running as fast as he could. Nothing else mattered.

But he must be far away from the cabin by now. Rare streaks of moonlight revealed glimpses of the ground. He tripped over a fallen tree. He tried to catch himself, arms flailing to catch anything his hands could grasp. He went down hard, his body spiraling across leaves like a helicopter until it crashed into a tree.

Pain shot through his ankle.

Get up!

His leaden legs wouldn’t obey. A twig snapped, then a rustle, soft and subtle. Then the crunch of leaves and footsteps like someone closing in on him.

It’s not possible. How could he have found me?

My comments:

I have to say my stomach tightened as I read this page, which is good news for the writer. The use of short sentences and strong verbs (pounded, slammed, staggered, flickered) are appropriate for an action scene. The punchy verbs and short sentences used in this example help underscore the sense of urgency and panic that is being experienced by the character. (An aside: this scene reminded me of a newspaper story I once read about a mass shooting that took place in Australia. The story included an unforgettable description of a mother and her two young girls fleeing into the brush, trying to escape from the shooter.)

I did get distracted by a couple of things in the writing. As I first read the third sentence, “But he was still alive,” I wasn’t sure if “he” referred to to the victim or killer. That unclear pronoun reference should be fixed to avoid causing potential confusion.

I found the references to the actual encounter with the killer to be generic, and therefore a bit of a let-down. Imagine that a maniacal killer has suddenly appeared at the door of your remote cabin in the woods, tied you up, and tortured your best friend. Wouldn’t you have a vivid impression of the experience as you attempt to flee? Each moment spent with such a  monster would be burned into into your brain cells. I think the writer could improve the scene by finding a stronger way to convey that experience to the reader.

The sentence, “It had been two years since Eric and he came to the cabin to hunt” was confusing. Had they been living in the woods for two years? The writer needs to rework that section, or simply edit out that line.

The phrase “dizziness swimming in his head” struck me as a bit off the mark. Same comment applies for the image of the body spiraling like a helicopter. That sentence  comes off as a bit of overreach. (Also, I think one tends to think of a person’s arms flailing in space in a circular pattern like a helicopter, not the entire body.)

This comment is a really tiny nit: I stumbled on “rare streaks of moonlight”, probably because I initially misread it as “rare steaks.” (Silly, I know, but you don’t want to lose any reader for a reason that can easily be avoided.)

Overall, I think this page is in promising first-draft condition. The writer just needs to sharpen the language here and there, and do some polishing with an edit.

Now I’d like to hear from the rest of you. How do you like this first page? Please add your comments and suggestions. And thank you to the brave writer who submitted this work!

Internal Conflict

Nancy J. Cohen

When developing your characters, you’ll want to give them internal conflicts as well as external ones. What do we mean by this? The internal conflict is an emotional struggle that inhibits your protagonist from moving on. He could have trouble taking the next step to get a job promotion, making a commitment to his girlfriend, or deepening his relationship with his estranged father. Often something in his past has caused this crisis of confidence, and he can’t see his way past it. Adding these internal conflicts gives your characters added depth. It’s not only about fighting the bad guys. It’s also about fighting one’s inner demons. For examples, look at popular movies and TV shows that have captured your attention. Take notes on what bothers each of the characters. Here are some examples:



Claire is forced to hide her knowledge in a land ruled by superstition.
Jamie is torn between his gentler instincts for Claire and his cultural expectations of a husband’s role in marriage.
Claire is torn between her love for two men.
Claire wants to go home but that means leaving Jamie.

Outlander1  Outlander2



The main character wrestles with guilt and grief over his daughter’s death while trying to prevent Armageddon. The bad guys exploit this weakness by luring him with a woman who resembles the dead girl.

Lord of the Rings

Lord Rings

Son seeks approval and recognition from father who favors his brother.
Man struggles against the pull of corruption.
Woman wants to fight in a world that belongs to man.
Woman loves man who loves another woman.
Woman must give up her station in life (or special power) to be with the man she loves.
Man fears he will succumb to the same weakness as his father. (This also applies to Luke Skywalker in Star Wars. He fears turning to the dark side like his father.)

Battlestar Galactica


Man blames father for the death of his brother. He’s unable to forgive.
Female hero has had to work hard to prove herself. This means hiding her vulnerability.
A man who traded sex for secrets discovers he’s responsible for the world’s destruction.
A woman who is dying from cancer is forced to take charge.

It helps in determining a character’s internal conflict if you examine their past history. What happened to motivate their present behavior? What is inhibiting them from emotional growth? How will your character overcome this hang-up? Layer in your motivation, and you’ll have a richer story.

Finding Strength in Numbers

1MWAEdgarsKris is off this week, attending to her official duties for the upcoming Edgar(R) Awards ceremonies. Awards season is traditionally a time of anticipation and excitement for writers. The ceremonies present a rare opportunity for us to emerge from behind our glowing screens, don beaded gown or black tie, in order to honor and socialize with our peers.

In addition to handing out awards, professional associations can support and add value to any writer’s career. Here’s a roundup of some of the leading associations for writers:

Mystery Writers of America

MWA, which presents the Edgar(R) Awards, is a well-established association for crime writers in the United States. MWA works to raise the the level of recognition for writers who write in the crime genre, while educating its members about their rights and interests.

International Thriller Writers

As the title suggests, ITW is an association of writers who create thrillers. Emphasis is placed on finding ways for bestselling authors to pass their knowledge of the writing craft to mid-list and debut writers. ITW presents its yearly Thriller Awards at its annual conference in New York City.

Sisters In Crime

The stated mission of Sisters in Crime is to “promote the professional development and the advancement of women crime writers to achieve equality in the industry.” There are SinC chapters all over the country.

Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America

SFWA, which hosts the Nebula Awards, “informs, supports, defends, and advocates” for its membership of science fiction and fantasy writers. High-profile members of the past include Ray Bradbury, Anne McCaffrey, and Isaac Asimov.

Romance Writers of America

RWA seeks to enhance the professional interest of romance writers through networking and advocacy. It presents annual awards for both published books and unpublished manuscripts.

Horror Writers Association

HWA promotes the interests of “dark literature”, and those who write it. HWA presents the annual Bram Stoker Awards(R) for achievement in horror literature.


Are there any groups I’ve overlooked? Which professional associations do you belong to? How have those associations helped your development as a writer?

And congratulations to all the nominees for the Edgar this year!

Keep Your Options Open

Omega ConnectionAllan Leverone

Note from Jodie: I just moved to a new city a few days ago and am up to my ears in unpacked boxes and chaos, so I’ve brought back my friend and two-time former client, bestselling thriller and horror author Allan Leverone, to tell you how he recently increased his author visibility and spiked book sales. Take it away, Al!

Thanks, Jodie. Great to be back at TKZ. My first book was published a little over four years ago, in February 2011. You may remember that as the chaotic period when the self-publishing phenomenon really broke through and turned the traditional publishing model upside down.

Between December 2009, when I signed my first contract, and February 2011, those changes swept through the industry. One result of everything going on was that I suffered a unilateral modification in contract terms by my publisher—changing the agreed-upon format of my upcoming release from mass-market paperback to ebook-only—a change that forced me to reconsider signing in the first place.

My debut novel hadn’t even been released yet and I was already questioning my decision to sign that first contract.

Should I hire an attorney and attempt to force the publisher to abide by the original contract terms? Should I demand they return the rights to my book based on breach of contract? Or should I suck it up and accept the change?

Eventually I chose the third option and the book was released almost a year later, and I was left with the challenge faced by all authors not named King or Patterson or Grisham.

How the hell was I going to attract readers to a book offered for sale by a virtually unknown writer?

My theory was then and still is now that avid readers don’t read books, they read authors, that when picking their next read, given the choice between an author’s name they recognize and one they don’t recognize, they will almost always choose the former over the latter.

This was a problem, and one thing that struck me as I read J.A. Konrath’s blog day after day, where he hammered home the point that ebooks are forever, was that this problem was only going to get worse. If convincing readers to choose my book was a challenge in 2011, it was only going to become more of a challenge over time, as the market became more and more saturated.

It was critical I raise my name recognition, so that I could become one of the authors whose names readers recognized and thus chose.

When I looked at the writers who were becoming successful in the Brave New World of modern publishing, I saw men and women who all seemed to have one thing in common, regardless of their genre: they took risks.

I decided I would become a risk-taker as well, and since making that decision I’ve approached the business side of writing from that perspective: to take chances when I felt it could be beneficial.

So when I read in October 2014 that Amazon Publishing was about to open up a brand-new venture called Kindle Scout, I paid close attention. I’m friends with some outstanding writers published through Amazon’s Thomas and Mercer imprint, people like Vincent Zandri and J. Carson Black, and their experience with Amazon has been universally outstanding.

Do you know how rare that is in the world of publishing, for authors not just to be satisfied with their publisher, but actually pleased?

But there was a problem: Thomas and Mercer was closed to submissions and had been for a long time.

As someone looking for a way to get involved with Amazon Publishing, the benefits seemed obvious to me: Amazon is the world’s biggest bookseller and thus has a ready-made ocean of buyers out there, actively searching for quality books in all genres. Their targeted marketing is second to none, and unlike other publishers, they can directly control which titles their readers see, and how many readers see them.

So I studied the Kindle Scout program. It seemed fairly straightforward. I would submit a manuscript. My book would be featured in a thirty-day campaign, where readers (“Scouts”) could examine an excerpt and nominate the book for publication if they deemed it worthy. At the end of the book’s campaign, Amazon editors would consider the quality of the work and the number of nominations received, and within fifteen days would either accept the book for publication by their brand-new Kindle Press imprint, or would decline to publish it and return the rights to me.

It just so happened that I had a manuscript nearly submission-ready.

My theory was to take risks when it could be beneficial.

This was a no-brainer. I finished cleaning up the manuscript and submitted it into the Kindle Scout program about ten days after the program opened for submissions. Two days after THE OMEGA CONNECTION’s campaign ended, the manuscript was accepted for publication by Kindle Press and on March 3, was among the first ten books released by the brand-new imprint.

I believe I made the right decision. My experience with Amazon Publishing to this point has been nothing short of outstanding. The copyediting process was thorough, I have an Amazon rep who is friendly and smart and responsive, and best of all, the book is selling. I’m gaining readership.

Omega Connection

THE OMEGA CONNECTION has taken up residence in two bestseller categories at Amazon, Political Suspense and Hard-Boiled Mystery, and has consistently ranked between 5,500 and 9,500 at Amazon. These results over a six-week period are far better than I’ve ever achieved with any other book.

Is Kindle Scout for everyone? Of course not; nothing is for everyone. The program is not perfect. For example, unlike traditional publishers, Amazon expects Kindle Scout authors to provide their own quality cover art. As someone familiar and comfortable with self-publishing, this was not a problem for me; it might be a deal-breaker for some.

And as with any venture, it is absolutely essential you read and understand the contract before signing anything.

But if you’re willing to take chances, if you believe in your work, if you’re looking to sell books and raise your profile as an author, you would be doing yourself a disservice if you didn’t at least seriously consider the new Kindle Scout program.

It’s your career. Keep your options open.

Allan Leverone, Mar. '12

Allan Leverone is the New York Times and USA Today bestselling author of eleven novels, including MR. MIDNIGHT, named by Suspense Magazine as one of the “Best Books of 2013.” 

A 2012 Derringer Award winner for excellence in short mystery fiction and 2011 Pushcart Prize nominee, Allan lives in Londonderry, New Hampshire with his wife of more than thirty years, three grown children and one beautiful granddaughter. 

Check out THE OMEGA CONNECTION or learn more at The CIA’s most secret weapon, Tracie Tanner, must stop a killer targeting defense contractors. Or die trying.