Notes from An Alien

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Tag Archives: Lindsay Buroker

How To Help Your Favorite Authors

Authors need all the help they can get—what with shoddy treatment from publishers and the massive number of books being produced—they can definitely use your help :-)

I’m reproducing, with the author’s permission, an article from Lindsay Buroker‘s site.


As authors, we spend a lot of time trying to promote our books. Our biggest obstacle is obscurity because there are a lot of books out there. No, really. A lot.

We like to think that good stories are all it takes to make it (in author terms “make it” usually means “become well known enough and sell enough books that I can quit my day job and write for a living”), but you can doubtlessly think of mediocre books that are selling bazillions of copies and authors you love who never make it out of the “mid-list” category.

Sometimes it’s just the author (or publishing house) with the biggest marketing budget who wins, but you, as a reader, have amazing power. Don’t believe for a second that you don’t have anything to do with whether an author makes it, because you do. A lot. No, really. A lot.

Why does this matter to you? Well, authors who get to quit their day jobs can write faster and put more books out for you!

The following are some little things you can do that can make a big difference. Some of them only take a few seconds. Your favorite authors will appreciate the effort. Trust me. :)

Helping out on Amazon

Amazon is the big kahuna of book sellers, especially when it comes to ebooks, so helping an author “get found” on there can give them a big boost. You can certainly do these things on other bookstore sites as well (nothing against copying and pasting a review, for example), but Amazon tends to have more cool features to help an author get found.

Here’s the list (any one of these things can help):

  • If you do nothing else, consider writing a review on Amazon, even if the book already has quite a few and/or you’ve reviewed it elsewhere. There’s evidence that ratings and reviews factor into the Amazon algorithms that decide which books are promoted on the site (i.e. certain books are recommended to customers who bought books in similar genres). If reviewing isn’t your bag, don’t worry about writing paragraphs-long in-depth studies of the book; maybe you could just pen a few sentences with a couple of specifics about why you liked the book.
  • “Tag” the book with genre-appropriate labels (i.e. thriller, steampunk, paranormal romance). You don’t have to leave a review to do this; you just need an account at Amazon. A combination of the right tags and a good sales ranking can make a book come up when customers search for that type of story on Amazon.
  • Give the book a thumb’s up. This takes less than a second and probably doesn’t do much, but it may play into Amazon’s algorithms to a lesser extent than reviews/ratings.
  • Make a “Listmania” List and add your favorite authors’ books to it. This creates another avenue for new readers to find books. It’s better to create lists around similar types of books (i.e. genres or sub-genres) than to do a smorgasbord, and consider titling it something description so folks will be more inclined to check it out, ie. “Fun heroic fantasy ebooks for $5 or less”
  • If you have a Kindle, highlight some wise or fun quotations from the book and share them publicly (if enough people share their highlights, they’ll show up at the bottom of a book’s page):

Popular Highlights on a Book's Sales Page

Helping out with Social Media

If you’re involved with Twitter, Facebook, Digg, StumbleUpon, etc., you can give your favorite authors a shout-out when they release new books. If they blog, you can follow their site (through Google Reader or other RSS readers) and share the link when they post something that may be interesting to your friends. If they’re on Twitter, you can follow them and retweet their links now and then.

Authors don’t expect you to follow them 24/7 and repeat everything they say (that might actually alarm some folks…), but a little promotional help now and then is greatly appreciated.

If you like to be social about books, you can join sites such as Goodreads, Shelfari, or LibraryThing. You can help your favorite authors by posting reviews and talking about their books on those sites, or you can just use those places to find online reading buddies with common interests.

Helping out with Your Blog

Do you ever talk about books or what you’re reading on your blog? You might consider reviewing your favorite authors on your site (you could even make a few dollars if you signed up as an Amazon affiliate).

Also, if most of your favorites maintain websites, you could add an “author blogroll” list in your menu with links to those sites.

And Lastly…

These days, most authors have websites and contact forms so you can get in touch. If you enjoyed their work, consider sending them a short note to let them know. While it won’t help them sell more books, it’ll make their day.

Thanks for reading (this post and books in general!).


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Author Interview ~ Lindsay Buroker

Today’s interview is with Lindsay Buroker from E-book Endeavors. I first met her in Twitter-land and was fascinated by her Goblin profile pic :-) Let’s get this interview rolling!

So Lindsay, tell us a little about yourself.

I’ve worked as a lifeguard and been a soldier in the U.S. Army, but for most of my adult life I’ve worked for myself. I currently run several websites and blogs and make a living from the advertising revenue and affiliate income. I e-published my first novel in December, and it’s been fun learning how to promote my own work instead of always selling somebody else’s!

I started Ebook Endeavors to share what I’m learning about the process.

As for the rest, I live in the Seattle area with two vizslas who more or less run the house and dictate my work schedule. Writing is permitted after a trip to the dog park, thank you very much. For hobbies, I play tennis, garden, and hike.

I had to look up vizsla and discovered, to my glee, that they’re Hungarian. I just happen to be half Hungarian and was born in the Year of the Dog :-)

Now, Lindsay, do please, tell us about your books.

The Emperor’s Edge is a high fantasy adventure in an urban steam-age setting. Here’s the blurb:

Imperial law enforcer Amaranthe Lokdon is good at her job: she can deter thieves and pacify thugs, if not with a blade, then by toppling an eight-foot pile of coffee canisters onto their heads. But when ravaged bodies show up on the waterfront, an arson covers up human sacrifices, and a powerful business coalition plots to kill the emperor, she feels a tad overwhelmed.

Worse, Sicarius, the empire’s most notorious assassin is in town. He’s tied in with the chaos somehow, but Amaranthe would be a fool to cross his path. Unfortunately, her superiors order her to hunt him down. Either they have an unprecedented belief in her skills… or someone wants her dead.

Encrypted is high fantasy, too, though there’s more romance, and there are some science fiction elements.


Professor Tikaya Komitopis isn’t a great beauty, a fearless warrior, or even someone who can walk and chew chicle at the same time, but her cryptography skills earn her wartime notoriety. When enemy marines show up at her family’s plantation, she expects the worst. But they’re not there to kill her. They need her to decode mysterious runes, and they ask for help in the manner typical of a conquering empire: they kidnap her, threaten her family, and throw her in the brig of their fastest steamship.

Her only ally is a fellow prisoner who charms her with a passion for academics as great as her own. Together, they must decipher mind-altering alchemical artifacts, deadly poison rockets, and malevolent technological constructs, all while dodging assassination attempts from a rival power determined the expedition should fail. As if Tikaya didn’t have troubles enough, her new ally turns out to be exiled fleet admiral, Federias Starcrest, the man who recommended taking over her nation. To trust him could be a mistake; to fall in love with him would be a betrayal to her people, her family, and the fiancé she lost in the war. Those runes cloak more than mysteries, however, and he may be the only one who can help her unravel them before their secrets destroy the world.

Whew!! Two books I’d love to read!!

Lindsay, when did you begin writing and can you remember how it felt inside, back then?

I was always reading and writing stories as a kid. I was an only child, so I had to entertain myself somehow on road trips. I’m not sure I was into analyzing my feelings then (okay, now either), but making up stories in my head kept me busy. I wasn’t always the best at finishing them though. Completing stories is a more recent development.


Was there any certain date or time you remember when you began to either think of yourself as or call yourself a “writer”?

I still don’t, which is funny since most of what I do to make a living revolves around writing, albeit non-fiction (not nearly as fun as making up stories!). With my day job, I think of myself more as an entrepreneur than a straight-out writer. Even with my novels, I think of myself as a storyteller more than a wordsmith.

Interesting differentiation

What are your hopes, or dreams, or goals for your writing?

A couple years ago, I would have told you it was to have my novels in print on Barnes & Noble shelves across the world, but the e-publishing revolution has changed things somewhat. I’m not sure what the future holds, but I enjoy being an indie author, and it’s hard to imagine giving up the control that comes with that.

I do, of course, plan to write more novels, and I hope more folks will find them and become fans of my work.

Have you had any “formal” training in the art of writing?

Uhm, I took a creative writing class in tenth grade. Does that count?


I have a liberal arts degree and did lots of writing of one sort or another along the way, but I never wanted to pen literary fiction, which seems to be what college courses teach. I always knew I was more Hollywood and just wanted to tell fun stories.

What do you feel has taught you the most about “how to write”?

I joined an online writing workshop a few years ago, and that taught me a lot.

From critiquing others’ manuscripts, you learn what doesn’t work for you. From having others critique your manuscripts, you learn what you’re doing that doesn’t work for other people. You can’t please everybody, but, somewhere along the way, you internalize the useful feedback and find your style.

I tend to be a kinetic learner, so the workshop process taught me much more than I’d ever learn from reading a book on writing or attending a lecture. Of course, there’s still plenty of room for improvement!

Who are your favorite writers and why are they favorites?

I enjoy writers who do characters well, and Lois McMaster Bujold always jumps to the forefront of my mind as someone whose characters really come alive. I like the way her plots evolve from the hopes, fears, and dreams of the heroes. A lot of authors come up with the plot and then create characters to fill it. There’s nothing wrong with that, but it’s less my style.

Where and/or how do you get your ideas for your writing?

I get ideas from the non-fiction I read and from watching shows like Modern Marvels on the History Channel. The counterfeiting scheme in Emperor’s Edge came out of a two-hour show I caught on the history of money laundering.

My early stories were derivative of the medieval fantasy stories I grew up reading, and that’s something I’ve tried to get away from. It’s true that history is weirder than fiction, and there are a lot of fun ideas to be mined from the last ten thousand years or so.

What is your normal revision or editing routine?

I write the first draft, just trying to get a semblance of a story out there. I usually have an idea of how things are going to end, but that first draft is very much me muddling my way through, figuring out how to get to that point.

I do a lot of re-writing in the second draft, but I’m more comfortable with the story at that point, and there’s less groping around in the dark. I also clean up sloppy sentences and fill in more world-building and setting details at this point.

Things tend to be fairly solid by the end of that draft. I ask beta readers to take a look and incorporate their suggestions. Then I do one last pass, tightening everything. I usually cut a few thousand words that aren’t pulling their weight.

And that’s it. After that, it’s off to an editor for proofreading. There are times, like during a pivotal conversation between characters, where I’ll go over things several times, but, for good or ill, I’m not somebody who revises endlessly.

Anything else you’d like to share?

Just that I hope folks will check out my ebooks.

The Emperor’s Edge is available at Smashwords, Amazon, and Barnes & Noble.

Encrypted: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Smashwords.

Lindsay, thanks for taking time for this interview. I’ve learned a few things over at your site, E-book Endeavors, and I intend to continue following you as you learn more about the new world of self-publishing. Thanks again!
O.K., folks, time to ask Lindsay a few questions :-)
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