Friday, November 4, 2011

New Blog

All new content will be posted to and this site will be discontinued in the next few weeks. Please visit and subscribe to blog updates there. Thanks!

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

Reading For Writers

Do writers need to be readers? The short answer is YES! This may seem obvious, but you would be surprised how many manuscripts we receive from non-readers. When we receive a manuscript,we will either accept without reservations, accept if conditions are met, or reject it outright. In almost every case where we have rejected a manuscript outright, it is due in part to the author not being a reader.

Reading books should be a part of your schedule each day, a minimum of an hour a day if you are serious about becoming a published author. By reading an hour a day, you are building on a number of qualities that every great author has:

1. Knowledge of subject matter. Read books in the genre you are interested in writing for.

2. Copiousness. Read books from a wide variety of genres. (Want to see copiousness in action? Check out Collision with Doug Wilson & Christopher Hitchens).

3. Writing For Reading. Read consistently and regularly will help you find your own natural rhythm with your readers.

4. Ideas On What To Write. Reading is one of the best ways to brainstorm without thinking about it.

5. Ideas On What NOT To Write. Don't write a book that has already been written. Many would-be authors make this mistake.

Reading is one the key ways to build your skills as an author. Read more, write more, & publish more.

Brad's personal reading guidelines:

  • I read Scripture every day. Everything else I read is viewed through the lens of Scripture. It is not all I read, but it effects all I read.
  • I try to read at least one non-fiction and one fiction book at the same time. More often than not, I will be reading multiple non-fiction books at once. The key for me is that they are in different genres. For example, I am currently reading business (Personal MBA), psychology (Influence), philosophy (On The Shortness Of Life), trivia (Brain Candy), and Christian (Three Gospels). The fiction I am reading currently is actually a true crime type of book, which reads like fiction (Gang Leader For A Day).
  • I will try to read only non-fiction most of the day. Two hours before bed, I switch to only fiction. This was a suggestion from Tim Ferris, I believe in The Four-Hour Workweek, and it has proved very helpful for my sleeping habits. Reading non-fiction before bed gets the brain juices flowing too fast.
  • I try to finish a book every day. I average 4-5 books a week, not counting the manuscripts I read for the publishing business. Reading is a large part of my job as well.
  • Most people who don't read insist it is because of time. I don't have the time not to read . . . once you build reading into your life, it is hard to remove it without feeling like something is missing.
  • As you can tell by the variety of books that I am reading now, I read from a wide list of genres. I have found it very helpful to read books simultaneously and follow what you are most interested in at the time.
  • I stop reading a book if I don't like it. Don't feel like you have to trudge through a book you don't like - just stop and pick up a more interesting one.
  • I review almost every book I read on Amazon (of course, besides the ones published by our company). This small commitment has made me both a better reader and writer.
  • I write in my books. A lot. I plan on sharing more of this in the future, but in the meantime, if you aren't writing in your own books, see How To Read A Book and Mindhacker.
Hopefully this is helpful to see how at least one other reader actually reads. Post your own reading plans or thoughts below in the comments section.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

3 Ways For Authors To Use Social Proof

Man has always relied on a variety of shortcuts when making decisions. Rather then reevaluating every facet of every decision, we rely on principles to help us judge new decisions based on the past. We rely on our brains and our intuition to push through the noise, which has grown louder and more far reaching than ever before.

(Courtesy of katdaned)

Social proof is one of the tools that we use to help make decisions. The principle of social proof is simply using what other people think is correct to determine what we think is correct. This is a powerful psychological principle and plays a part in our lives every day. In fact, it is so powerful that the suicide rate will often jump after a highly publicized suicide, widely known as the Werther effect.

As an author, you want to insure that social proof is working alongside you and not against you. It can often be the difference between selling a lot of books and struggling to sell any. Here are three ways authors can use social proof.

1. Endorsements: Seek endorsements from as many people as you can before your book is printed. Find authority figures in your field who are willing to give an honest, positive endorsement of your work. Make sure that the best are displayed on the back cover, and any others are recorded inside the book or on your website. This is a shortcut that many people use when deciding whether or not to buy a book, and sometimes it is all that it takes.

2. Early Reviews: You want your book reviewed positively as soon as it is released by as many people as possible. These reviews must be honest, not a part of your family (happens more than you would think), and public. The best place for you book to be reviewed is Amazon. We offer our authors a letter that is helpful to use when you are seeking reviews and filtering strategies for choosing reviewers who will likely give you a positive, honest assessment. Email us at if you are interested in a copy of the letter or finding out more about selecting reviewers. Also for all of the books you send out for early review, plan on a 10% success rate. If your goal is to get 20 reviews, send out 200 copies of your book.

3. Crowds: Magicians, street performers, and sidewalk vendors have all known a secret for a long time that others are just finding out. The best way to attract people, is to have people there already. Crowds attract crowds. If there are 15 people surrounding a performer, then he must be good; if there is no one there, its probably not worth you being there either. As an author, you can use this social proofing method to your advantage in many ways. 

At book signings, engage with multiple people at once and use something else besides your book to get them to come to the table. Build your momentum and you will have a crowd around your table soon.

Keep track of your selling stats and any awards you receive, and advertise any positive trends. If more people are buying your book, then more people will buy your book.

Social proof is powerful concept that can make or break an author. Use it to your advantage. For more information about social proof and other psychological principles, pick up a copy of Influence.