The Foolproof Trick to Publishing Success

IMG_0127No author-publisher leaps into the fray with the thought, “I’ll publish, no reviews will appear, and my novel will sink like a stone to the bottom of the swamp.”

Authors want success. They crave 5-star reviews. They dream about fat royalty checks, and heartfelt notes written by dedicated fans.

Children, I don’t want to lie to you. Sure, we’ve all heard the stories of overnight success. But for most of us, the path to visibility (and hard, cold cash) is a tough slog. You must build a well-received backlist of titles, and find reviewers for your book(s). You must persevere, advertise, cultivate relationships with book bloggers, hone your storytelling gifts and…wait for it…connect with other authors.

When I started out in 2011, I ran into Molly Greene, Barb Drozdowich and Frederick Brooke on Twitter. We hit it off immediately, had read and loved each other’s books, and that initial connection led to conversations with Martha Bourke, Rachel Thompson, and Helen Hanson. Soon BestSelling Reads was born. We began BSR with two objectives: feature books with great review scores and, not incidentally, invite authors into the group who scored high on the “niceness” scale (Toby Neal and Scott Bury immediately came to mind) because we weren’t interested in promoting writers with massive egos.

Around the same time (2012) I joined The Independent Author Network and met the multi-talented Kathleen Valentine (Kathleen designed the cover art for The Shell Keeper and my upcoming series, Heavenscribe). A few months later (and thanks to the kindness of Naomi Blackburn) I was accepted into The Sisterhood of the Traveling Book on Goodreads where I met many readers who went on to join my private reader group. Naomi, thinking my books were similar in tone and theme to works by Bette Lee Crosby, introduced us. Through Bette, I met Diane Capri, Steena Holmes, Jillian Dodd and Patricia Sands.

The point I’m trying to make? Each new contact sparked the sharing of ideas, new intel on the daily changes in indie publishing and the camaraderie we all crave when we work jobs in a self-imposed solitary confinement. I began using BookBub when ads cost $15 because Martha Bourke kindly shared the site after she stumbled upon it. When I encountered problems with a graphic designer, Diane Capri offered sage advice, and Steena Holmes–over a weekend, no less–redesigned cover art for several of my novels.

While it’s true there’s no guarantee that you’ll ever make oodles of money by publishing, you increase the chances of success by connecting with other career novelists. I can’t stress this enough: if you aren’t reaching out to other authors by joining professional organizations, and by connecting on Twitter and Facebook, get started now.

ShellKeeper-3That sort of “connect early and well” strategy explains how I became one of the debut authors for last week’s launch of Toby Neal’s Lei Crime Kindle World. Toby put the word out to several authors she knew, and I jumped at the chance to participate. I’ve now become friends with a new batch of authors; you’ll find their Lei Crime KW releases here and my novella here. Btw, if you’ve never read Toby’s superb Lei Crime series, you’ll find it here.

My own professional connections now stretched across the world, thanks to The Alliance of Independent Authors. This week ALLi will host IndieReCon, a free virtual conference for author-publishers. I strongly urge you to listen to at least some of the taped sessions. We’ll also host three live Twitter chats with the #IndieReCon hashtag:

April 15 10:00 AM EDT / 2:00 PM GMT / 3:00 PM London
April 16: 12:00 PM EDT / 4:00 PM GMT / 5:00 PM London
April 17: 9:00 AM EDT / 1:00 PM GMT / 2:00 PM London

Whatever your long-term goals, don’t go it alone. The more you connect with other members of the indie tribe, the faster you’ll meet–and succeed–your goals.

New Release, New Contest!

ShellKeeper-3Need some extra cash in your pocket? To celebrate the release of The Shell Keeper, I’m giving away two $25 Amazon gift cards (grand prize, two winners) plus a Kindle book of one of my past releases to 10 additional entrants (winners choice of which Kindle book to receive).

The Shell Keeper is a Kindle Worlds release based on the fabulous Lei Crime series by Toby Neal. If you’re unfamiliar with the bestselling Lei Crime novels featuring detective Lei Texeira in Hawaii’s tropical paradise, you’ll find them here.

For The Shell Keeper, I put a spin on Toby’s police procedural motif, adding magical realism to the story:

In South Carolina, magic is as plentiful as sweet tea.

Thanks to her aunt’s unwanted generosity, policewoman Lei Texeira has embarked on a vacation—of the supernatural sort. What Lei discovers about the sorcery of belief, and the love promised to her future will begin to heal wounds she’s carried for far too long.

To enter the contest:

1) Please leave an honest review of The Shell Keeper on Amazon here,
2) Leave a comment, below, with the title of your review.
3) Enter the Rafflecopter.

The contest will close on Friday, April 24th. Many thanks for entering!

For news, giveaways and contests, join my mailing list here.

Look for these other Lei Crime Kindle World releases: Half Moon Girls by Corinne O’Flynn, Saddle Road by JL Oakley, Warrior Dog by Emily Kimelman, A Snake in Paradise by Eden Baylee, Fireweed Trail by Craig Hansen, Never Again by Julie Gilbert and Hidden Poppies by ML Doyle.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Indie Recon Virtual Event


Yesterday I taped a Creative Round Table with fellow authors Roz Morris and David Penny that will air during Indie Recon at the London Book Fair. Roz is an author, editor and writing coach with more than 4 million books sold as a ghostwriter; she now … [Continue reading]

Writing in Toby Neal’s Lei Crime @KindleWorlds

Essay by bestselling novelist Christine Nolfi with photo of bestselling author Toby Neal, about to launch the KindleWorlds for the Lei Crime novels.

As many of you know, I've been deep in the writing cave since Christmas working on my spring release, a five-part series entitled Heavenscribe. Well, I brought more work into the cave after receiving a fabulous offer by bestselling author Toby … [Continue reading]

Winners of the Paperback Giveaway

free paperback books via bestselling author Christine Nolfi

Thank you to everyone who entered the Liberty Series paperback giveaway. The winners are Karen Kenyon Miller, Deborah Blanchard, Sue Tinge and Lori R. Ladies, I'll contact each of you directly to ensure I'm sending the paperback you'd like to … [Continue reading]

Liberty Paperback Giveaway

Treasure Me

Would you like to win an autographed paperback from the award-winning Liberty series? Four winners will be randomly selected from the comments, below. To enter: 1) Please name your favorite character in any of the four Liberty novels, and 2) List … [Continue reading]

Choosing the Right POV Characters


Last weekend I spent eight frustrating hours attempting to pummel a scene into shape. Throwing out paragraphs, revising others, sharpening the character’s internal dialogue—nothing worked. Finally, the proverbial light bulb sputtered to life above … [Continue reading]

Reader Appreciation Event

Reader Appreciation Event

I never tire of finding ways to say “thank you” for the support readers have given me over the years. With that in mind, I hope you’ll join me and 16 other bestselling authors for a special Reader Appreciation Event beginning January 15th. The event … [Continue reading]

Thoughts on the Holiday Season


Writers lead hectic lives, but I have a rule: slow it down during the holiday season. I've done very little writing since the middle of December. What has consumed the hours instead? Time for reflection; leisurely hours baking cookies and … [Continue reading]

A Darkness Survived


M.R. Merrick is a Canadian writer and author of The Protector series, a young adult mash-up between urban and epic fantasy that has drawn rave reviews from fans around the world. In this essay, he gives a raw accounting of the struggles encountered … [Continue reading]