Agents and Acquisition Editors

Acquistion Editors and AgentsThis photo is courtesy of photostock at

The line between being an independent author and traditional published author is blending. Some authors choose a particular route based on their vision for their book. If you decide to go the traditional route for your next novel – you will come across Agents and Acquisition Editors. An Agent is a writer’s advocate, their job is to sell your work to a publishing company and an Acquisition Editor acquires manuscripts for publication.

I came across several Agents and Acquisition Editors attending New York Writers Workshop’s Non-Fiction pitch conference, a three-day pitch conference where writers polish their pitches with conference leaders and other participants, then present them to three different editors from major publishing houses. Acquisition Editors provide feedback and may request proposals and manuscripts after the conference.

Going to the Non-Fiction pitch conference was a risk – taking time off from the job that funds my writing and $425. Ouch! My expectations were balanced. At worst I’d meet other writers and sharpen my pitch. At best, an Acquisition Editor would be interested in reading it.

My first exposure to Agents at the conference was the Agent panel. My take away from listening to the three Agents were the importance of compatibility and fit. Your story may not be what that particular agent is interested in selling. In addition, the Agent may have a different agenda for your story. In essence, a writer needs to have a clear vision for their story to find an Agent that their compatible with and fits within that vision.

The rest of the conference was built around pitching to Acquisition Editors at New York Publishing Houses. The first pitch was done in front of the group of sixteen writers. I was nervous and excited like a first date maybe because I was the first to deliver my pitch. Ha! Her advice was to make sure when delivering a pitch to be clear who the main character is and what he/she is up against. In other words, show what about the main character is driving the story.

The second pitch was private. However, my vibe from introducing myself told me it wasn’t a good fit. But her advice was useful. Make sure when pitching your story you include a moment that defines the book. The third and final pitch was private as well as beneficial. My take away from her was – be prepared to answer questions about your story – short and concisely.

Here are some  Do’s and Don’ts when dealing with Agents and Acquisition Editors:

Agents and Acquisition Editors Dos and Don’t’s

  • Do – research about Agents and Acquisition editors before meeting them
  • Don’t – assume your book will appeal to each Agent and Acquisition Editors
  • Do – have a pitch that includes your story, platform and a bit about You
  • Don’t – be too in love with your project to take feedback
  • Do – write a polished query letter if Agent or Acquisition Editor asks for your work
  • Don’t – act unprofessionally in the face of rejection
  • Do – take advantage of useful information coming from Agents, Acquisition Editors and other writers
  • Don’t – give up

Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at

Email Marketing: The List That Matters

If you’re like me you have signed up for your share of email newsletters. Just to end up with emails that only make you happy when you click delete. Meanwhile, the newsletters that bring a smile to your face seem to be rare.

What’s the difference?

The approach. How you connect with your audience will determine how they react to it. A lot of time you will lose your audience if you’re approach is “Buy my book,” versus “how I can help.”

But what should you write about?

  • Ask your audience for input
  • An aspect of writing you struggled with
  • How you accomplished something
  • What you want your audience to know
  • You posted a new blog
  • You’re having an event
  • A milestone

Email marketing is crucial to building your audience. Nowadays, it’s not good enough to just have a great book. Your audience wants to know more about you than just your biography page. Your book is not just competing against other books but other forms of entertainment television, videogames, movies, etc. Besides, it’s a genuine way to build stronger ties with your audience.

I have followers on twitter, friends on Facebook and other social media. Why waste time on building an email list?

  1. It’s the list that matters!
  2. You can utilize the information to make informed decisions about your audience.
  3. All online platforms like blogs, websites, Twitter, Facebook, RSS readers can get erased, disappear and/or hacked.

Building an email list is not that hard. Here are some Tips for growing your list:

  • Create an email list from your current contacts.
  • Have a sign up sheet at ALL the events you do.
  • Anyone who goes to your blog should be asked for his or her email address.
  • Utilize paid services like Aweber & constantcontact. Both allow you to schedule email blasts to whomever you sign up.
  • Follow-up.

Do you have any helpful tips for growing an email list? How has your experience been with email marketing versus social media?


Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at

Your Author Brand

You believe most people who discover your book will fall in love with it. Your book is available at Amazon, B&N, Smashwords and your own personal website.But after checking your dashboard you realize only a handful of readers purchased your book. Why?

The answer may be few readers know your book exists. You need to develop your author brand and author platform. An author brand is an author’s perceived image and identity. While an author platform is all the ways in which you are visible to and communicate with your target audience. In other words, your author platform is every effort you make to be visible while your author brand is what worked. This post will focus on your author brand.

As an independent author an author brand is crucial to success. It can be an effective way to increase readership and freelance work. It’s a win for everyone when an author has a firm grasp on how to market themselves and their work. The reader will know what she is taking off the bookshelves and the author will have someone excited to read his work. Here are

Questions To Identify Where Your Author Brand Stands:

  • How do readers get to know you?
  • Who is familiar with your writing?
  • How many hits does your website receive?
  • Does your work appear in any publications? How many readers do those publications have?
  • How many people subscribe to your blog? How many followers do you have on Twitter? How many people follow your Facebook page?
  • Are you familiar with other writers in your genre?
  • Are you apart of any writing communities?

Taking sometime to reflect where you’re at, as an author will help determine what steps you need to take to bring your author brand to the next level.  You want readers to associate your work with your niche. Mention Maya Angelou readers think poetry and memoir. Mention Stephen King readers think horror stories.  Here is a list of

How An Author Brand Develops:

  • Speaking and workshop engagements – Exposure.
  • Do creative events – Break out the habit of just doing book signings.
  • A blog with a following – Consistently putting out material that is interesting and entertaining is a good way to start.
  • Active social media – Engage!
  • Connections with other authors – Writing conferences and book fairs are good avenues to build relationships.
  • Publications – Having published work for readers to know your work. You’re a creative non-fiction writer, Creative Non –fiction is a literary magazine for you.
  • Do interviews – Readers will see another side of you.
  • Being active in networks such as Writing groups and Associations
  • Volunteering for something your passionate about – Let your passion for children reading lead your efforts not just your children’s book.
  • Credibility in the field you’re writing about – A MFA in Creative Writing, experience in your field or your body of work can add to your credentials.
  • Write and request reviews – Readers want to know what other readers think.
  • Acknowledge your supporters – Thank You Cards.
  • Recycle – Pictures from events, interviews, reviews and other material that reveal your brand.

How have you developed your brand? Do you have any methods you would like to share? Leave your suggestions as comments.  

Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at

Image courtesy of Stuart Miles /

100 Bright Ideas To Promote Your Book

100 Ideas To Promote Your Book

Image courtesy of Feelart /

  Nowadays to market your book successfully you have to be ACTIVE in your book promotion. More books than ever are being published. Bowker, the world’s leading provider of bibliographic information, counted more than 391,000 self-published titles in 2012 – a 59 percent increase compared to the year before. That’s huge. But how can your book reach readers with all this competition? Discoverability! You don’t want to limit your GREAT book to just your family and friends. You want your book to be a better seller than your favorite author. Keep in mind promotion is a process that you own by:

  • Having a sense of urgency
  • Comparing your success to your goals
  • Having fun

Some of these methods will generate sales others will increase your discoverability. But before you write off any of these ideas, remember, writers wear many hats and promotion is a big one.


  1. Execute your book marketing plan – Any serious author needs to have a book marketing plan. It’s how you plan to achieve your sales goal. For a more in depth look at creating one check out my previous blog post How To Write A Book Marketing Plan.
  2. Do a launch partyBuild excitement about your book by setting up a launch party at your favorite lounge.
  3. Establish an author page on Facebook – An author page is a good way to share information about you and your book. You want to say something interesting that get followers engaged.
  4. Engage readers through Goodreads – Create trivia about your books.
  5. Utilize Twitter – In 140 characters tweet about an event your doing.
  6. Participate in book fairs – There are tons of book fairs happening from the South Carolina Literacy Celebration to the Harlem Book Fair. Finding one that matches your budget, travel distance, readership and return on investment is key.  Besides having an opportunity to sell your books, you will be able to meet other authors.
  7. Get your book featured at book clubs – The readerscircle has a directory to find book clubs, which boast having over 90,000 readers. If a book club wants to read your book, show up for the discussion in person or through video chat.
  8. Organization events – Be a vendor at event that relates to your book.
  9. Sponsor an event – Host a book reading over lunch at your favorite restaurant.
  10. Book signings at Independent Book Stores – Reach out to independent bookstores to set up book signings.
  11. Write an E-newsletter – You can start a bi-weekly email newsletter geared towards your interest.
  12. Do giveaways – Give a couple of your books away to readers. It could lead to the best promotion money can’t buy word of mouth.
  13. Do magazine interviews – You don’t have to be famous to be interviewed. Does your alma mater have a magazine?  Sharing your story is not only a reflection of you but of your school. Check out my UA Magazine  interview for an example.
  14. Cross – promote – You’ve met other writers in your journey to be a best selling author. By cross promoting, you can be a guest author for their blog or feature their work on your website.
  15.  Host a workshop – Let’s say you authored a memoir, you can do a workshop at your local library about crafting memories into powerful stories.
  16. Writing conferences – Writing conferences offer opportunities to develop your writing craft while being surrounded by other serious writers. In other words, it’s a great place to network. There are a lot of writing conferences that happen throughout the United States. For example, the South Hampton Writing Conference takes place every summer in July. For a more exhaustive list of writing conferences check out
  17. Make a book trailer  – Make a visual impression with a book trailer. Check out Chuck Sambuchion’s How To Make Book Trailer to discover how to create one.
  18.  Pre-publication reviewsPrior to releasing your book find people to read and write a review for it.
  19. Post-publication reviews Ask readers who bought your book to write a review.
  20. Join a writing Community – Join a writing community like Wattpad to share your work and read the work of other writers.
  21. Write a blogCreate a blog on WordPress, Blogger or Tumblr to promote your book. It’s also a solid way to build your brand.
  22. Be a featured writer – Become a featured writer for an online magazine.
  23. Update your email signature – Utilize your email signature to include information about your book.
  24. Create urgency Create timed coupons for your books.
  25. Join a writing groupThere are writing groups like The Harlem Writers Guild and Association of Writers & Writing Programs whose purpose are to develop and aid writers in the United States. Find a group that fits your need to join.
  26. Contribute to web forumsGoodreads have active web forums where you can share your knowledge and spread your brand.
  27. Launch a website Having a website for readers to visit, to purchase your books and to learn about you is essential to any author who wants to sell his books.
  28. Craft a press release –  Zach Cutler’s Creating A Press Release goes through the steps to create an effective press release.
  29. Send out thank you cardsWrite a thoughtful message to your readers to show that you appreciate those who support you.
  30. Mention your books in all your publicationsIf you wrote multiple books, every book should include mention of each other in it.
  31. Make merchandiseThe merchandise you create is only limited by your imagination. It can be a bookmarker, a t-shirt or pens that relate to your book.
  32. Make a Author Page on – A simple and effective way to promote your book is to utilize to create your author page. Once your author page is created, add your book to your bibliography, your multimedia, your blog feed, your twitter feed and upcoming events to it.
  33. Local retailers – Stop inside your favorite shop and see if it is willing to carry your books.
  34. Donate copies of your book to your local library – Ask the librarian to display your book throughout the library in the local section, the genre of your book and in a spot that is prime real estate.
  35. Offer sample chapters as free downloads – Let readers download the first three chapters of your book from your personal website, amazon etc. It gives readers the opportunity to know you as an author before they commit to purchasing your book.
  36. Offer sample chapters as free chapbooks – Print up the first three chapters of your book as a chapbook and give it away to readers you come across at venues.
  37. Review other books in your genreLet’s sayyou’re a fiction writer, writing a review about another fiction novel is a great way to add to your credibility as a writer.
  38. Business cards – Create business cards so readers can find you or pass your information along. Be creative.
  39. Repost positive reviews on social mediaYou get a good review on Amazon or Goodreads, let the whole world know by reposting it on social media.
  40. Keep copies of your book on handYou never know where your next book sale will come from always have a copy of your books readily available.
  41. Create a promo kitGrab a binder and put items that stand out inside it for example articles written about you and by you, reviews, and pictures of you at events.
  42. Purchase advertisingYou can buy ads in your local newspaper, Facebook etc as a way to promote your book. But before you spend money on advertising make sure it’s a sound investment.
  43. Co-sign your bookCreate a consignment agreement so other authors and independent bookstores can sell your books. However, independent bookstores tend to have their own consignment agreement.
  44. Create memes that feature quotes from your book – Design creative, fun and informative pictures to share on social media like instagram to promote your book.
  45. Use your book cover as posters – Go to staples or any retailer who make poster boards and use your book covers.
  46. Sync your online presence – Link your Facebook profile, Facebook page, twitter, blog and instagram together. When you make a post it goes across multi-platforms.
  47. Develop a 60 second pitch – Attention spans are short so develop a quick pitch to get readers interested in reading your book.
  48. Do radio Interviews Contact your local radio station, and reach out to other writers who have online radio shows. It’s a good way to get exposure to new readers.
  49. Subscribe to Google Alerts – Google alerts are updates about the latest relevant information set up for it. Set up a Google alert for your book and if anyone mentions it, Google alerts will send you an email. It’s like a lead finder. Follow up!
  50. Utilize hash tagsBecome a social media trending topic by using a hashtag whenever you post. Check out #AWalkThroughBrooklyn, my poetry lives.
  51. Build your networkEvery event you do have a sign up sheet to collect names, emails and phone numbers. Don’t forget to utilize it.
  52. Use friend networks Give your friends copies of your books and ask them to share it with their friends.
  53. Have your book available in multiple platforms – Have your book available as a Paperback, Mobi and Epub. You want to make sure your book is available for each reader regardless of how they access it.
  54. Package your books – If you’re a multi-book author sell your books together with a discount to create an incentive for readers to buy more of your books.
  55. Create a paperback/ebook deal – Purchasing your book on your website will get a customer a free ebook to give to a friend.
  56. Support a charity Utilize themes in your books to support a charity. Your book deals with cancer? Do a charity to support The American Cancer Society.
  57. Work your distribution networkUtilize retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Nobles, and Smashwords along with your personal website to make your books readily available.
  58. Write up a mock interviewWrite up ten questions and answers that reveal information about you and your book. When an interview arrives you will have one foot in the door with how to craft your image.
  59. Make your book available to a digital libraryThere are book services like Scribd and Oyster that allow subscribers to read books like Netflix allows its audience to watch movies. By making your book available to a digital library it can increase the chance for it to be discovered.
  60. Ask readers to make videosHave readers post vlogs or vine videos about your book.
  61. Do blog tours Set up a series of blog interviews on different blogs and encourage readers to follow your tour.
  62. Group author events –To create a bigger event do an event with other authors.
  63. Have themed eventsCreate an author event that’s tied to a significant day or event.
  64. Get reader testimonialsShare fan letters you receive that people write about your book.
  65. Utilize an order formUse an order form at the end of your book to market your other titles.
  66. Develop a catalogPost a printable catalog on your website that shows all your books, a brief description of each, prices and discounts for large orders.
  67. Pre-publication copiesSell prepublication copies of your book before your release date for those readers who want to be among the first to have your book.
  68. Do library tours – Set up a library tour among libraries in close proximity to each other doing different workshops.
  69. Establish a business relationship with wholesalersBaker & Taylor, Ingram, Lightning Source and AtlasBooks Distribution all expect discounts to market your books.
  70. Follow – upYou will be surprised how effective a simple follow up call or email can have on building business relationships.
  71. Craft meaningful messages when selling signed copies of your book – If your signing a copy of your book for a reader include what you know about her to have a lasting impression.
  72. Sponsor an award that ties in with your title – Let’s say your book is called I Am Successful and it’s about your success as an entrepreneur. Sponsor an award named after it to give to an entrepreneur in your town.
  73. Share freebie chapters with magazine editors – There are magazines looking for solid material to include in its pages. Find a magazine that would be mutually beneficial and share a chapter for its readers.
  74. Reuse what works – You don’t have to constantly create to new material when promoting your book. If a workshop was successful at your alma mater, use it again when working with another organization.
  75. Improve your SEOEdit your content and HTML coding to increase its relevance to specific keys words. Read Scott Matterson’s SEO 101: How search engine optimization really works for more information about it.
  76. Standardize all your informationMake your twitter name, instagram name, email etc. all the same for easy reference.
  77. Register with BowkerlinkThe BowkerLink Publisher Access System allows you to communicate your new release titles, as well as price and status updates to a wide audience of book, audio and video buyers.
  78. Take advantage of free publicityThere is free publicity available for your book and yourself for various listings like Books In Print.
  79. Write a sales letter –Write a thoughtful sales letter to potential readers and businesses to see if they will purchase your books.
  80. Create a brochure Make a brochure that reveals your full arsenal of talent. If you’re an editor have the brochure include your editing services, books you edited and your books.
  81. Connect with others on LinkedinUtilize LinkedIn as a platform to network with other readers, authors and organizations.
  82. Use RSS feedsCreate a RSS feed for your website.
  83. Use PodcastsMake a weekly podcast for your readers.
  84. Become a paid spokesperson or public speaker Pitch to your network that you are an expert in a theme in your book and ask for what you want. You may need to do some public speaking events for free until your public speaking takes off. But the more public speaking events you do the more opportunities you have to expose people to your books.
  85. Place your book in catalogsFind catalogs that cater to your audience an place your books inside it.
  86. Write a powerful author biography – Craft a powerful author biography that leaves the reader wanting to know more about you and your book.
  87. Stayed informed on the latest indie publishing newsSubscribe to Digitalbookworld, The Galley Cat and other book industry news site and be active.
  88. Execute personal mailing list from event participants, organizations, business associate directories and other resources –  Each directory has a group of potential readers. Take the time to carve out messages on the level you know group members.
  89. Develop an available for interview sheet – Sending an available interview sheet to a potential venue establishes professionalism.
  90. Add favorable reviews to your book – As long as you’re in a position to reprint up your book. You can make changes to it. Make the most of favorable reviews and include a quote on the book cover or in the first page.
  91. Swap your books with other Authors – Trade your book with another author. It will allow you to be exposed to each other’s work, which can lead to other opportunities.
  92. Have a great cover, Re-do it if necessary – Make sure your cover is professionally done. You will thank yourself later. A great cover is one expense that is well worth it.
  93. Accept credit cards – Be able to take credit cards whenever you are at a venue. Square and PayPal’s Here are inexpensive and reliable devices to do it.
  94. Be cordialGet to know people and be genuine. It may lead to opportunities in the future.
  95. Document your experienceTake your readers on your publishing journey by sharing your experience as it happens.
  96. Swap tips among other authors Some authors will do promotion just like you, while others will be drastically different. Turn your tips into best practices by sharing them with other authors.
  97. Create a promotion teamAsk your friends and family to be apart of your promotion team. Create fun roles that match their interest and they will enjoy doing it.
  98. Mention other authors – Authors support each other. If you’re a fan of another writer. Mention them to your readers, followers and fan base.
  99. Talk about your book oftenWhenever you meet people make sure you mention you’re an author.
  100. Talk to people on social media and ask them to check out your bookYou may have a ton of friends on Facebook but what good is that if you don’t interact. Take the time to reach out to renew old friendships. Take an interest in what they are doing and they may take an interest in your book.

Of course there are more than 100 ways to promote your book. Do you have any promotion methods you would like to share? Leave your suggestions as comments.  

Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at

“Image courtesy of Feelart /”.

How To Write A Book Marketing Plan

You finished writing your novel. Maybe you completed a chapter in your memoir. Or you received favorable feedback from your writing workshop. Wherever you are at in your writing career the moment of possibilities has arrived. Thoughts enter your mind about your book’s potential. It will be a bestsellerBye, bye, day job. Both are promising ideas. But how will you do it?

There is no guarantee that no matter how much effort you put into your book it will reach the success you want it. But you can turn a possibility into a probability with a Book Marketing Plan. It’s a document that reveals how you plan to achieve your sale goals. If you’re a self-publisher its imperative you create one. How else will you be able to decipher your success? If you’re looking for an agent it will aid her in understanding your vision. If you’re looking for a publisher it will help you submit to publishers who focus on your genre.

There are many other people who have written books, blogs and articles about Book Marketing Plans and I encourage you to seek counsel. I write to share my experience with you in hope to make your writing journey a little easier. There is no set format of what to include when creating a Book Marketing Plan. But I have focused on the steps I feel are most important:

1)    Define Your Success: You want to create a SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely) goal. Let’s say your goal is to sell 5,000 books in a year. Being able to reach this goal depends on how well you plan.

2)    Identify Your Target Audience: Who is your audience? You’re book can’t be everything to everybody. By being specific you can focus your efforts on that group. You wrote a children’s book. Your target audience should be adults with children.

3)    Delivery: How will your book be available? Will it be hard cover? Paperback? Ebooks? Hardcover books are more expensive than paperback. Ebooks are the cheapest books to produce. Maybe a combination of sorts.

 4)    Know Your Competition

  • What does your book have in common with your competition?
  • What separates your book from your competition?
  • Is your price comparable?

5)    Objectives:

  • Pre-Publication reviews: Book reviews increase the chances of your book selling. Some famous publications that review books are Publishers Weekly and The New York Times. They can be out of reach for some. Be diligent and search for review media whose interests relate to your book. But I don’t agree with paying a fee to get your book reviews.
  • Distribution: If you are a part of a publishing company, they should be able to provide you a list. If you’re a self-publisher, it’s important to figure out how to make your book available to your target audience. Some options: Independent bookstores, personal website,, B&N, or
  • Publicity: If you have a publicist great. If not, work your network.  Some ways to build publicity are Interviews, Blog Tours, Flyers, email newsletters, business cards and free listings.
  • Events: detail every event you plan on doing: Book Signings, Book Fairs, book release party etc.
  • Post-Publication reviews: Follow up with your readers. Ask them to write a review. Engage them over the Internet, in-person and everywhere in-between. Most importantly THANK THEM!

6)    Make A Budget: How much will it cost to reach your sales goals. Do you have enough income to do it? Break down the cost of each part of your plan.

 7)    Set A Timeline: The more deadlines you set for your objectives the easier it will be to gauge if you are on track to reach your goal. Be reasonable in your timeframe.

 8)    Brand Yourself: You are the ambassador of your book. What are you known for? Are you an expert?  Utilizing social media such as Twitter, Facebook, Wattpad, Goodreads, or your own blog is a great way to brand yourself.


Rashaun J. Allen (@rashaunjallen) is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at

How Writers Make a Living

     My alarm clock goes off. It’s time to get up. I didn’t stay up to 1am to write, therefore, I am in a good position to go into this two-hour writing session with more energy before work as an Assistant Store Manager. I am free from distraction even skipping breakfast. I look at what isn’t crossed out on my to do list: work on memoir, work on blog, write journal and do writing assignment for workshop. I decide to write my blog. It has brewed the most in my head. I attempt to ask an important question, I would usually avoid. Can I make a living from writing?

It depends on what kind of writer you are. Dana Beth Weinberg’s The Self-Publishing Debate: A Social Scientist Separates Fact from Fiction (Part 3 of 3) shows writing income for four different types of writers:

  • Aspiring writers are those who haven’t published their manuscript
  • Self-published writers are those who independently published their manuscript
  • Traditionally published writers typically sell their manuscript to a publishing company
  • Hybrid writers are those whose manuscripts are self-published and traditionally published

Looking at the numbers from her survey, “aspiring writers made no income, while self-published authors in the sample earned a median income in the range of $1 to $4,999, while traditionally published authors had a median writing income of $5,000 to $9,999, and hybrid authors earned a median income of $15,000 to $19,999.” Before aspiring writers become authors do your homework about publishing. I wrote a previous post about where to go to publish. It may make sense to be a writer who has one foot in traditional publishing and the other in self-publishing to reach your fullest potential.

     Let’s face it. Writing is a courageous act for a writer because the road to success has no clear path. Despite working on the next great American novel and having the ability to chase writing gigs that pay; both may not produce a livable wage. It can be a cruel reality trying to find the right blend of writing and making a living. For a lot of writers, writing is the other job after a full day’s work. It could be teaching, or a list of jobs that have nothing to do with writing.

     Writing has to be one of the few passions where achieving the end result i.e. a book doesn’t necessarily change one’s living situation. Thinking it will could be problematic. But your book that took hard should be met with reasonable expectations. What readers, critics, agents or publishers think are valid. They all have the potential to enhance your book sales. But writing rigorously puts a writer in a better position to be successful.  I will go as far as to say having a purpose to write is more important than making a living from it.

As you prepare to make an income from writing here are 10 tips to make a living off writing:

  • Write with a purpose
  • Master your craft
  • Write great books
  • Create a marketing plan
  • Have a great book cover
  • Develop your brand
  • Follow the publishing industry
  • Have a network of writers, editors, readers, agents and publishers
  • Know your audience
  • Sell your work

     My alarm goes off again. It’s time to put my pen down. I mentally switch gears from Writer to Assistant Store Manager. As an Assistant Store Manger, I am responsible for motivating associates to do their best to help achieve profits. As a Writer, I am responsible for my own motivation to create compelling stories. One day a reader of my work wrote me an email saying I encouraged her to pursue her dream to write. She saw me taking steps in my life to write despite countless obstacles. The feeling of inspiring someone is empowering. If only I earned a living from it.

Rashaun J. Allen is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine.

Writing Habits


     I’m stuck. Where does the story go from here I wonder. I write often. But I haven’t written anything down in a half an hour. I stare at my notebook and twiddle my pen in search for an answer. I have been writing this story for a while. Working through revision after revision, adding dialogue, removing scenes and sharpening the language. The goal is to get to the moment where my story is in its finest form. I look at the wall next to my desk. The words “writing is my fire” is written in red marker on paper taped to the wall. It’s my daily reminder to pursue my passion. I posted this note as a positive affirmation. I read it everyday. It is one of my many writing habits.

     Until recently I didn’t think about my writing habits in a meaningful way. My thought process was simple: I have to write. Period. How my writing went from thought to creation was either luck or an act of God. I knew what I didn’t like about writing. I often felt like I thought about writing more than I did it and when I wrote it wasn’t enough. Both were symptoms to a crucial writing habit – procrastination. At best, I’d do something entirely different like web surf. At worse, I twiddle. The moment procrastination became concentration, I wrote furiously like my life dependent on it. It was this fire to write that I have to recreate.

     I read Andre Dubus’ The Habit Of Writing in it he writes about his writing habits that help him produce on average three stories a year. Intrigued, I discovered like myself he wrote in longhand and then typed it. It was a method I developed after it was suggested at a workshop. Writing in longhand prompts me to produce while typing I often edit as I go.  However, I wasn’t familiar with vertical writing the idea of digging deeper to discover a story instead I wrote to finish.  He borrowed an idea made popular by Ernest Hemingway to stop writing in mid-sentence. It is a trick to recapture your train of thought to write. I read my work often aloud to catch grammatical errors but he takes it one step further by reading his writing into a tape recorder. His writing habits were similar to my own and some were techniques I am curious enough to try.

     One of my writing habits became clear in a writing workshop. I cherish critique partners. Writers who read each others’ work to raise probing questions to aid the author to a more polished story. Joining a writing community has enriched my writing and reading experience taking me outside my comfort zone from the way I write to the authors I read.  

     When I look at my habits of writing I know what works. I scan often sitting on a topic before writing it. It can lead me to a prompt to develop a story. I’m a morning writer. When I wake up early 4 or 5am I’m able to create with no distraction.  I often find a writing space, which is usually the last place I wrote or a place I only go to write as to create a bond not to break. I’ll do different kind of rewrites, I call them resolution or revolution. Resolution is when I go through my writing looking for ways to improve the language of my writing: grammatical, syntax, flow. Revolution is when I attempt to answer questions raised from readings of my writing. Giving my work a moment to breath before committing future revisions to the computer. These methods aren’t written in stone. But it limits the twiddle. When followed I’m ready to write again. The fire to write returns to produce writing I’m proud of.

 Here are the writing habits as a list:

  • Write often
  • Create a positive affirmation
  • Work through procrastination
  • Write in longhand before typing
  • Explore different writing techniques like vertical writing
  • Stop writing in mid-sentence to continue writing when ready
  • Read writing out loud to catch grammatical errors
  • Utilize critique partners to facilitate feedback
  • Be apart of a writing community to grow as a writer
  • Use prompts to develop stories
  • Find your writing comfort zone i.e. writing in the morning
  • Revise, Revise, Revise
  • Write furiously


Rashaun J. Allen is the author of A Walk Through Brooklyn & In The Moment. He has been featured in several publications such as: The Chronicle, The Troy Record, Albany Student Press & UA Magazine. Find his books at