Friday, February 24, 2012

The steps to becoming a rich Indie Author

I have discovered the necessary steps for Indie Authors to become rich! 

Keep in mind that I am not currently rich (I keep failing at step #5), so this is just theory.  That said, I've been self-published for over a year now and have achieved small success.  I've also paid close attention to how others have succeeded.  In about 2-4 years, I will honestly be able to support myself with my writing (maybe sooner if step #5 happens)

1.  Write something and publish it.

This is the obvious statement.  Write something and submit it to Amazon, Smashwords, or wherever you like.  The more places it's published, the more likely it is to get noticed.

Now, if you go straight to step #5, it doesn't even have to be good (It pains me to tell you that)  I've seen books that have been published with a couple of pictures taken from a cell phone and a caption.  It's ridiculous.  I beg of you to write something worth reading.

2.  Make it interesting.

This is my favorite part; a strength of mine.  It's even more important than step #3 although maybe not as important as step #4.  I like it better than step #4 though.  (Nothing is as important as step #5.  You can even skip step #1 and win the lottery if you have step #5, although you have to write something to be a rich Indie Author)

Writing an interesting story will draw people in and if one person tells others that it's interesting, you'll sell more.  People are more likely to buy your next books too.

Write something fascinating.  Take the reader on a journey into a new world.  Make the reader stay up all night and call in sick to work the next day because they want to find out what happens in the end!

3.  Make it good.

This is an odd statement, isn't it?  Good is different than interesting.  There are well-written books out there that have every word spelled correctly and punctuation precisely placed . . . and they're insanely boring to anyone with even the slightest imagination.

However, it's difficult to read an interesting story if the words are all spelled incorrectly.

4.  Get as many people as you can to notice it.

AKA - Marketing and social networking.  That's right.  Facebook, twitter, blogs, review sites, your mother (If she buys the book, it's a sale.  Don't underestimate how difficult this can be. If you do step #2, she may tell her bridge club.)

You can write the best book in the world, but if nobody knows about it, it won't sell.  I won't belabor this point.  Indie Authors have been agonizing over this to no end.

5.  Get super lucky.

And here we get to the key, the one step that the writer doesn't have full control over. The degree to which you do the other steps is the degree to which you influence this one.

I've written and published 4 novels, 1 novella and 8 short stories (step #1).  I have reviews that tell me that my stories are definitely interesting (step #2) and many that tell me they are well-written (step #3).  There have been a few reviews that compare me to a teenager who should be failing English Lit. but I'm constantly trying to improve with each writing (step #6), And I'm letting people know about my books (step #4) so . . .

However, I have not gotten super lucky.  And yes, I'm saying super lucky.  I've been slightly fortunate here and there, but not super lucky.  To sell a million books, your work has to be noticed by the right people at the right time.  Those people have to like it and tell everyone else.  Then everyone else has to take an interest in it.

If you want to become a rich Indie Author, you need to write and publish a book and then get super lucky.  Everything else is optional.

6.  Repeat steps 1-4.

Okay, so step #5 isn't happening for you.  Do it again.  That's right.  Write another story and publish it.  I highly recommend applying steps #2 and #3.  Too many people right now are trying to skip straight to #5 after doing #1.  They put out a bunch of crap, making the rest of us look bad.

If you do steps #1, #2, #3, #4 and #6, then after a while you'll have a steady, income producing list of books.  Get enough good, interesting books out there then you can make a living off of it even if you're not rich.

In Conclusion

As I said, I'm not rich (yet), but I have been actively doing all the steps except #5.  As a result, I'm starting to supplement my income nicely.  If I write two or three interesting, good books per year, I'll be supporting myself before long.

All my best,

John H. Carroll

Friday, February 17, 2012

My Neverwinter Nights modules

Neverwinter Nights

Neverwinter Nights is a D&D rpg (role playing game) created by Bioware in 2002.  When they released it, they opened up their toolset to individual builders.  Now there are over 6000 modules, many of which are better than the original campaign.  The community still exists with people continuing to make modules and run Persistant Worlds, which are online multiplayer modules.

The toolset is fairly easy to use once learned.  A lot of it is placing buildings and people for players to roam around in.  The hardest part (for me) is scripting to make everything work.  It's very close to writing computer programming language.  I had a lot of help from the community, and especially from a friend named Mistress who runs her own persistant world called "Realms of Mythology"

These modules are uploaded to the Neverwinter Nights Vault where they can be accessed by everyone and played.  Like Indie books, the quality of the module ranges from terrible to brilliant.  I've made two modules and added some tools for other builders as well as helping on a Lexicon for builders.

Resurrection Gone Wrong
Have you ever wondered what it would be like if YOU were suddenly transported to a fantasy world?

This module assumes that you are walking along through the local park and get stuck in a thunderstorm. You run for shelter when suddenly you experience an explosion of light and sound. You feel yourself falling and everything becomes dark.

When you wake up, you are in an unusual room with two oddly dressed ladies talking. You feel strange, as though your skin doesn't fit right. Then you begin to have a conversation with the two ladies. That's when things take a turn for the weird.

Try to survive in someone else's body in a D&D world. Can you get back? Is there some sort of dragon killing wand somewhere? Who the hell let all of these zombies roam around town anyway? This truly is a Resurrection Gone Wrong!

Building the module

I began this in 2005 and finished in 2006.  It was extremely fun.  The npcs that travel with the player are generally considered the high point of the module.  There is a good amount of humor in it too.  It has achieved hall of fame status on the NWN Vault which hosts modules.
There is no pay for this.  It's just something fun to do.
There are 44,570 words of dialogue in it.
Screenshots from the game

Lizardfolk Thorpe
Lizardfolk Thorpe
Certificate of Zombification
Certificate of Zombification

Resurrection Gone Wronger, Romancing the Bob

Thursday, February 9, 2012

It's been a while, Hasn't it? --- A Valentine's Day poem

Why I wrote this poem

My wife and I have been through a lot of hard times together and have always managed to make it through.  During this period, we were doing a little better.  My wife and I were able to buy some newer clothes and she could get her nails and hair done.  She liked looking good and was gaining confidence in her appearance to go along with growing confidence in herself.

It was important to acknowledge how wonderful she had always been and how much I appreciate her.  I debated whether or not to share this, but I like showing everyone these things.  My wife doesn't mind.  She's thrilled whenever I write a poem and she likes that I show others how we feel about each other.

File:Valentines Book 1940 1.jpg

It's Been a While, Hasn't It?

Hello, my Love
It’s been a while hasn’t it?
It’s been a while since I’ve written you a poem
It’s been a while since I’ve told you exactly how much I love you

I know that I tell you I love you a few times a day
I even remember to tell you how beautiful you are sometimes
Sometimes I’ll kiss you a little longer
Sometimes I’ll look in your eyes a little deeper

But it’s been a while since I’ve written you a poem
The kind that lets you know how wonderful you truly are
The kind that lets you know how beautiful I find you
The kind that lets you know that I’m the luckiest man in the world

You make an amazing difference in my life
When I’m not with you, I don’t feel right
I feel as though there is an emptiness next to me
I even panic a little inside if you go too far away

I love looking at you every day
Lately you’ve taken more pride in yourself and your appearance
You used to be afraid to let people see you
Now you shine like a beacon to those around you

I don’t think you realize that you have become a pillar in your community
I don’t think you realize that others look to you for advice and stability
You have become a confident woman
I don’t think you realize that others feel inadequate around you

I am in awe of the self-assured woman you have become
I know you do not always feel this way
I understand sometimes the ghosts of the past worry you
I see the uncertainty of the future scares you at times

That is why you have me
I will always be your safety in the storm
I will be the rock that you can lean on
I will be your partner through this life

It’s been a while since I told you how much I love you
I do, you know
I love you so very much
My Love

I love waking up and hitting the snooze button and then cuddling
I love telling you to have a good day
I always think of calling you when I’m at work
I jump whenever the phone rings hoping it’s you

Is it silly to feel that way after all these years?
Isn’t that the way new lovers are supposed to react?
I can’t help it though
I always want to be with you

I love sitting next to you with our family around us
We really are a good family you know
I find myself filled with joy when I look at our children
I think it’s wonderful they are loved and live good lives

It feels as though it should be easy to take us for granted
Everything seems so natural when we are together
Our marriage and our family feel so right
Yet every day I find myself in awe that we are living so well

I know we have trials ahead of us
I know we are going to make some changes in our lives
But I look forward to making them with you
I feel that together, we can do anything

So, it’s been a while
I’m telling you now
I love you, I always will
My love

Happy Valentines Day

Copyright 2007 John H. Carroll

Sunday, February 5, 2012

World building and tense situations - A guest post by D Kai Wilson-Viola


World building is a subject I'm extremely interested in.  When writing series of books, it becomes vital to get the details right.  It's also one of the hardest things to do, especially when things get tense in the story.  That's when having your facts straight matters the most.

I've invited fellow Indie Author D Kai Wilson-Viola to write a guest blog and she presented me with an exceptional piece.

World building and tense situations
My stories always start with some sort of major problem.  Whether that’s where they actually start once they’ve been edited and put together is a different story, but that’s where everything starts for me.
Which, to be honest, makes world building both a bit difficult, and a lot liberating.
My first novel is out on the 12th of February, and is the first in upwards of 50 novels set in the universe I’ve built around my detective and his two friends.  So, John asked me to come talk ‘world building’ and give some tips on how I manage it all.  And I’ve got three absolutely amazing tips to share.
World building so you’re not changing canon
Though, before I go there, I’d better explain canon.  I don’t mean the things firing balls of lead at castles or pirate ships – I mean canon.  That sacred bible of what is – and isn’t – in your world.  It is, as far as I can tell, something I picked up in my fan fiction days – the idea that something could be canon or non-canon.  And the idea that if you screw up your own canon, your most obsessive fans (and we all get them) can call you on it, and complain.  So, having your own world building straight is a must.  It’s also essential for other reasons – if you’re not sure of your own world, others will struggle, especially when consistency will give you the chance to really use the world around the characters, for or against them.  Basically, your world could almost be its own character, if you use it right.  With that in mind though, I’ve got three tips.
1)      Keep your own bible – I use software to track mine, but before I discovered the items that I use (there’s two – a wiki/database based piece and Liquid Story Binder, which is a kind of folio system for writers), I had folders and key sheets.  It might feel like hard work, but if you’re building a world that has persistence, you need to track scars, and dates and where everything goes.  Elliot Peters, my main character goes from being pretty much unscarred to picking up several over the course of four books, and I have to remember whether he’s got them or not by (x) point.  The easiest way to do so is to keep a timeline, with a master sheet that documents scars.  I’ve found the front/back images that are here work well - but you might have other ideas.  Every three books, I update that, especially if I’ve stopped writing in the period beforehand, and ensure that anything I’ve finalised is included.
2)      Update regularly – It’s easy to get wrapped up in the tiny details of keeping the ‘bible’ updated for your world, but if you don’t do maintenance, it’s kinda like tax receipts – it’ll take forever, and you’ll hate it.  I update mine once a week when doing ‘other paperwork’ like billing, so it’s kind of part of my maintenance tasks.  If your world is consistent, you’ll need to do it less, and eventually, you’ll only need to keep track of the changes.
3)      Little things matter too – even in tense situations, if you can give a ‘call back’ to something that was mentioned in another book, you show not only mastery but immersion in your own universe, which, in turn leads readers to trust you.  And reader trust is what invests them in books more than the most skilful writing ever can.  If there’s no trust there, no matter how beautiful your writing, readers will resist and you’ll be stuck with a perfectly crafted book that no one cares about enough to engage with.
Once you’ve got the basics of world building down, you’ll find it much easier to do it again and again – so even if you finish up one series, you can use what you’ve learned to build your next world and your next.  And then, when you toss them in at the deep end, you know how deep and where the escape hatch is.

D Kai Wilson-Viola’s debut novel, Glass Block (  is due out February 12th.  A copywriter and editor by trade, she’s been serving the indie community as an advisor for years.  You can follow Kai on Facebook (, Twitter (, at her own blog ( or at Author Central after February 12th.