Does Your Book Club or Library Need a Speaker?


Your friendly neighborhood Vigilante Author has signed up with the online “Book Club Reading List,” which publicizes books and provides speakers for book clubs.

Here is my interview with them — which includes information that you probably never knew about me, as well as instructions about how book clubs and other groups may contact me for talks on a variety of topics.

Posted in Announcements, Author profiles, Biographical, Events, HUNTER: A Thriller, Interviews, Personal Appearances | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Helpful Links for Authors


I am constantly approached by authors — especially those contemplating self-publishing — with requests for how-to information about writing and publishing. That includes questions about resources, such as lists of cover artists, editors, proofreaders, where to buy ISBNs, etc. Also, recommended books and blogs about fiction-writing and publishing.

That’s what this post is about. Rather than continue to respond to writers one at a time, repeating the same things, I want to compile in one place a list of links to places where you can find valuable information, resources, tips, and advice. This will include links to some of the popular advice posts scattered on this site. Some of the links below are to compendiums of other outside links — treasure troves of further information.

This list is just the beginning. I’ll constantly update this post with new information as I run across it, so make sure to check back from time to time. Bookmark this post so that you can consult it when you need further information.

Also, please share the link to this post with other writers, by email and on your social media. To do that on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+, just click their “share” buttons alongside this post.

I’ll organize this post into the following broad categories:

I. General Information and Resources
II. Fiction-Writing Resources
III. Self-Publishing
IV. Marketing Your Books


I. General Information and Resources

* New Paths to Publishing. I compiled and send out by email, at no charge, an informal outline titled “New Paths to Publishing” to any writer requesting it. This 20-page document describes and compares the various publishing options available to writers today; describes the basics of the self-publishing option; offers some basic marketing advice; and provides links to resources. If you want a copy, drop an email to: RobertTheWriter [at] gmail [dot] com.

* Helpful Links for Indie Writers, by Christiana Miller. This awesome compendium of resource links covers the how-to gamut: publishing ebooks, audiobooks, or print books; writing, editing, formatting, and conversion software; advice blogs; blogs where you can publicize your work; where to find editors, proofreaders, book interior designers, cover designers and artists, publicists, cover art and images, and much more. She also has compiled an updated, cross-referenced list of these links as a 150-page book: Self-Publishing on a Shoestring: Insanely Helpful Links for Indie Authors, which I highly recommend.

* KBoards Yellow Pages for Authors. Another list of useful resources for authors.

* KBoard Writers’ Cafe. A popular online discussion board for self-publishing authors about all aspects of writing, publishing, and marketing books. Opinions expressed and the quality of advice offered vary widely and wildly, so as always: caveat emptor.

* Bookbaby’s Free Guides for Authors. Useful guides to various aspects of publishing.

* No Rules, Just Write. The website of bestselling author C.J. Lyons is loaded with advice and resources about writing, publishing, and marketing fiction.

* The Passive Voice Blog. Maintained by intellectual property attorney David Vandegriff, this blog is daily “must reading” about all aspects of the ever-changing publishing industry, with links to the most important news stories, advice articles, and commentaries.


II. Fiction-Writing Resources

* Methods and Aids I Use to Write Fiction. In this blog post, I list my favorite books on how to write fiction, and I also describe my favorite fiction-writing software, “Write It Now.”

* Randy Ingermanson’s Advanced Fiction Writing. The creator of the “Snowflake Method” of fiction-writing, and author of the invaluable Writing Fiction for Dummies, Ingermanson maintains this website brimming with valuable writing tips and advice.

* David Farland’s website. Farland is another master teacher of fiction-writing; lots of instructive material here, too.

* Savvy Authors. A good website crammed with articles and advice for writers.

* The Bookbaby Blog. This author-services site maintains a blog filled with writing and publishing advice.

* Write It Now Novel-Writing Software. This is the outstanding software that I use to write fiction.


III. Self-Publishing

* “10 Reasons You Should Skip the Traditional Publishers and Self-Publish Ebooks Instead.” My popular summary article on the comparative benefits of self-publishing over traditional.

* Let’s Get Digital, by David Gaughran. An excellent introduction and how-to guide to self-publishing.

* Kindle Direct Publishing. Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing remains the biggest, most-used ebook publishing platform. On this page you’ll find step-by-step instructions for building and formatting an ebook, then making it available via Amazon.

* Smashwords Style Guide, by Mark Coker. A step-by-step guide to how to format and publish ebooks.

* Hugh Howey’s Blog. Howey became is a self-publishing phenomenon with his mega-selling “Wool” sci-fi series. He is now one of the most indefatigable, outspoken, and thoughtful advocates for indie publishing. He often posts about writing, as well as publishing and marketing.

* Joe Konrath’s Blog. The early Pied Piper of self-publishing, the bestselling Konrath is always feisty, hilarious, informative, and sometimes maddening — but always worth reading.

* Using Kickstarter to Fund Your Next Book. Michael J. Sullivan has successfully used Kickstarter to finance his book-writing projects, and explains how in this series of posts.


IV. Marketing Your Books

* Ten Winning Marketing Strategies for your Self-Published Book.” This highly popular blog post summarizes my best advice to authors about how to market and promote their books successfully.

* Write2Publish, by Michael J. Sullivan. This Reddit page is a gold mine of terrific marketing suggestions from bestselling fantasy author Sullivan. He posts links on the right side of the page to a lot of valuable marketing topics.

* Michael J. Sullivan’s Book Recommendations. A great list of how-to books focusing on successful book promotion and marketing.

* Authors’ Guide to Self-Promotion, by Michael J. Sullivan. Another post by the popular fantasy author, filled with sage advice.

* Let’s Get Visible, by David Gaughran. This companion to his Let’s Get Digital presents Gaughran’s strategies for boosting sales of ebooks, especially on Amazon. Remarkable insights about how Amazon’s bestseller and  popularity lists work, and how to exploit their algorithms most effectively.

* Smashwords Book Marketing Guide, by Mark Coker. This company offers a self-publishing platform and its own services, but this guide also provides a lot of sound marketing tips.

* Using Business Cards to Build Sales.” My primer on this topic.

* Marketing Strategies of Successful Indie AuthorsThis KBoards discussion thread features a host of successful self-published authors discussing “what worked” for them, and what didn’t. Great insights.


Posted in Audiobooks, Book business, Marketing Advice, Publishing Advice, Self-Publishing, Traditional publishing, Writing Advice | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Music to a Novelist’s Ears


One of my favorite Amazon customer reviews of BAD DEEDS is by fellow (is that term appropriate for a woman?) author Rose Robbins. On the Amazon product page, it’s the second one down on the left.

What I like so much about it is that Rose (whose own works are listed here) focuses in some detail on the story and the storytelling aspects of the book — not just on the book’s thematic/philosophical/political content. That’s extremely important to me: first, because as a thriller writer my primary job is to tell a rip-roaring suspense tale; but second, because prospective buyers of the book need to know that the novel is, first and foremost, an entertaining thriller, and not didactic propaganda.

In their reviews, some of my friends understandably enjoy and stress the thematic elements of the tale, because my point of view (which many of them share) is rarely expressed in fiction. But for a novelist, a theme is merely the abstract, unifying element of the story; it is not the story itself, nor a substitute for it. Yes, my stories have a point of view; but as a novelist, the point of view is not my primary focus or interest. My main concerns are the plot and the characters: what happens and to whom, not just “why.”

I worked very hard, and for a long time, on the structure of both HUNTER and BAD DEEDS, on their characterizations, dialogue, and the pacing of events and emotions. If I had just wanted to write, respectively, about the criminal justice system or environmentalism, I could have written nonfiction books or essays. (And, in fact, I have.)

That’s why for me, as a fiction writer, the most satisfying compliment I get from readers is: “I just couldn’t put it down!” If readers can easily “put it down,” then I just haven’t done my job as a novelist. My primary professional obligation, then, is to drag you down into my fictional Story Worlds and keep you there, utterly mesmerized. While you’re visiting those worlds, if you happen also to enjoy and agree with my point of view, well, so much the better.

Whatever you like about the books, though, I’m grateful that that you found something to enjoy, and believe that the journeys are worth your time and money. Thanks again for your support.

Posted in BAD DEEDS: A Dylan Hunter Thriller, HUNTER: A Thriller, Reviews, Writing Advice | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

The First 50 Amazon Reader Reviews for BAD DEEDS Are ALL 5-Star Raves


Absolutely incredible, folks. So far, not a single Amazon review below “5 stars,” as of 5:15 p.m. Eastern on June 27, 2011.

Words simply fail.


BAD DEEDS earns 1st 50 5-star reviews 6-27-14


UPDATE, July 3, 2014:  The streak finally ended with 52 consecutive “five-star” Amazon customer reviews before a reader posted a “three-star.” The reception for this new novel continues to blow my mind.

Posted in Announcements, BAD DEEDS: A Dylan Hunter Thriller, Biographical, Reviews | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Nice Publicity for BAD DEEDS


I am pleased to report that BAD DEEDS is beginning to get some attention.

The Vigilante Author poses with his two thrillers (photo by Theresa Winslow, The Capital)

The Vigilante Author poses with his two thrillers (photo by Theresa Winslow, The Capital)

A June 15 feature by Theresa Winslow about summer “beach reading” in The Capital, the Annapolis newspaper, features your friendly Vigilante Author, including a photo of him proudly displaying HUNTER and BAD DEEDS.

Meanwhile, British psychological suspense author Maggie James posted on June 20 a fabulous review of BAD DEEDS on her blog. Many thanks to Maggie, whose work I hope to soon spotlight here on The Vigilante Author.

Posted in Announcements, Author profiles, BAD DEEDS: A Dylan Hunter Thriller, HUNTER: A Thriller, Personal Appearances, Reviews | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

BAD DEEDS Earns 30 Consecutive 5-Star Amazon Customer Rave Reviews


I have simply been blown away by the early reader reception of BAD DEEDS. As of June 17, the first thirty reader reviews posted on Amazon have all been 5-star raves.

While writing the book, I was sweating bullets, hoping not to disappoint readers of HUNTER. But it appears that many fans of the first book are even more pleased with Dylan Hunter’s second adventure. This response has left me walking on air. Thank you, Dylan fans!

UPDATE, June 20: As of this writing, the first 37 Amazon customer reviews of BAD DEEDS have all been “5-star” raves.

UPDATE, June 25:  BAD DEEDS has now had an unbroken string of 44 straight “5-star” Amazon customer reviews, none lower, since publication.


Posted in Announcements, BAD DEEDS: A Dylan Hunter Thriller | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Here’s the BAD DEEDS Print Edition!


The Vigilante Author with his latest baby

The Vigilante Author with his latest baby

At long last, I have the print proof of BAD DEEDS. 

Yes, I’m happy and proud!

You can order it through Amazon; the temporary link is here.

However, I’ll also make personally inscribed copies available through this blog, at a cost of $20.00, which will include Priority Mail shipping. Copies will not be available until mid-June, but I’ll take orders now. Payment via PayPal. See the “Purschase Books” page on this site.


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BAD DEEDS Is Now On Sale!


Dear Friends,

I’m delighted to announce that the long-awaited sequel to my bestselling debut thriller HUNTER has been published at last!

And this time, vigilante hero DYLAN HUNTER confronts today’s corrupt Washington power elites, a host of environmentalist zealots, and their… BAD DEEDS.

He sought peace in the tranquility of nature.

But can he tame the violence in his own nature?

At a cabin in the Allegheny National Forest, Dylan Hunter
and Annie Woods seek to heal the wounds from their ordeal at the hands of a twisted psychopath.

And to build a life together, Dylan promises Annie that he’ll abandon his violent ways.

But ideological zealots and Washington’s political elites have conspired to terrorize and plunder the hard-working locals. These victims have no protector against the bad deeds of the powerful and privileged…

…except for one man.

A man as ruthless and violent as they.

A man committed to absolute justice.

Because Dylan Hunter cannot walk away—not even if it costs him the woman he loves.



(The print edition of BAD DEEDS will be available on Amazon within 1-2 weeks.)


Would you like your own personally inscribed copy of BAD DEEDS or HUNTER? Or would you like a copy inscribed to someone as a gift?  Click here.

Now, enjoy BAD DEEDS…with a vengeance!

UPDATE, 11:55 p.m. May 28: Great first-day sales translated into a quite respectable ranking on the Kindle chart, around #3700 at the end of the day (on the East Coast). And this was a gratifying juxtaposition, too, since Lee Child was one of my fiction inspirations (click to expand):

BAD DEEDS Hot New Release Assassination Thrillers 5-28-14


Posted in Announcements, BAD DEEDS: A Dylan Hunter Thriller, Vigilante fiction | Tagged , , , , | 2 Comments

Authors — Using Business Cards to Build Sales


A common lament of authors is: How do I promote my books? I’ve tried to present a host of time-tested ideas in this blog.

Author business cards constitute one of the cheapest, easiest methods to build a readership and increase sales. I know that I’ve sold hundreds of books through the use of my HUNTER business card.

Before I begin, let me first give a tip of the hat to Robin Sullivan — wife and business partner of bestselling fantasy author Michael J. Sullivan — for providing 90% of the ideas and information in this post.

Robin used to maintain an invaluable website/blog, “Write To Publish,” which, sadly, has been defunct for some years. One of her most useful posts for me was “Author’s Business Cards…Get Them…Use Them.” Precisely because her information is so valuable, it deserves a new lease on life. So here I am, snitching it shamelessly yet publicly, giving full credit to Robin. If you read her article, then you won’t have to read this one.

Here, though, I want to indicate how I’ve adapted her methods for my own use.

In terms of bang-for-the-buck, I can’t think of many methods of advertising your books that generate a better return than business cards. For about an hour of time, plus the price of a restaurant meal, you can produce an advertising product that can generate thousands of dollars in sales and a host of fans.

First, like Robin, let me recommend as a source for inexpensive business cards Just today I designed and ordered 1,000 new cards for the forthcoming release of BAD DEEDS. These one thousand cards — two-sided, full-color, UV coated, on thick glossy stock — cost only $19.00. You read that correctly. I splurged for “rush” production, and spent $26.35. You have a variety of shipping options. Mine cost me an additional $14.63.  Grand total: $40.98. And the quality is fabulous.

HUNTER card front

On their site, you can start with a blank card, with tabs for front and back views. Or you can use one of their templates. I didn’t bother with the templates, because I knew what I wanted. Here is the front view of the business card (click for a larger view).

As you can see, I used the cover of HUNTER as the eye-grabbing basis for the card. You can upload book covers or any other image into the blank template on the GotPrint site, then manipulate it to fit the space. The template on the screen was horizontally aligned, and the book cover is of course vertical. Manipulating the image around took a bit of getting used to, but there are good instructions.

Next, beneath the cover, I inserted a curiosity-arousing “teaser,” consisting of three questions. I positioned them on three lines, to look reasonably aligned. For the font, I chose an italicized Verdana, in all caps, but in a dark gray shade. That was to offset the website link at the very bottom, which I didn’t italicize, and which is in black. It’s very important to make your main link stand out, easy to find and read.

For the back, I wanted to provide a lot of information in anHUNTER card back attractive horizontal display. As you can see, it consists of a number of elements. I selected a “writerly” photo and positioned it on the right-hand third of the card; it’s just a bit bigger than postage-stamp size. The left-hand two-thirds of the card provide the info. So that the card wouldn’t look too “busy,” I stuck with the Verdana font, with one exception: the word “Author.” I thought that since the photo shows me at a keyboard, it would be cool to use Courier font. I selected a light grayscale color, to blend into the gray image of the photo to its right. Then I provided three lines of contact information. Finally, bottom left, I put in my Avenger Books publishing logo, and a QR code. That code, when scanned by a smartphone, will take the reader right to the HUNTER product page on Amazon.

What are QR codes, and where can you get them? Once again, Robin Sullivan explains. You can turn any URL link into a graphic QR code, download it, and use it on anything from business cards to T-shirts to billboards. Just go here to generate your own. The one shown here is for this blog.

Now, how do you use business cards? Robin offers a lot of tips. I’ve posted them on public bulletin boards in restaurants, shops, and post offices, and left small stacks (with permission, of course) in various retail shops, bookstores, libraries, and other places where readers might show up.

However, by far the best way to use them is person-to-person. Every time you meet someone new, they want to know what you do. “I’m an author,” you say, and hand them your card. If you have a spiffy-looking book cover, your card will impress them and very likely generate questions.

But you don’t have to wait around to encounter strangers. You are constantly running into strangers: store clerks, waiters and waitresses, barbers and hair stylists, people sitting next to you in coffee shops, the clerk at the post office window. You can initiate a conversation, quite naturally. For example, if I’ve just had someone perform a service for me, like a waitress or clerk, I often say something like:

Me: “Thanks so much for the help . . . By the way, [Name], are you a reader?”

Them: “A reader? You mean magazines?”

Me: “Do you like to read books?”

Now, at this point, you’ll get a quick sense of the person’s potential as a reader of your book. If he or she isn’t much of a reader, just let it go.

On the other hand, if the person says, “Oh, sure. I read a lot,” then you have an opening for your next question:

Me: “You looked like a reader to me. Tell me: What do you read when you read?”

Then shut up and listen. If they indicate interests well outside of the type and genre of your own book, you probably don’t have the basis to give him or her your card. You can follow up, of course, asking if the person reads in your general category. In my case, I’m looking for (a) readers of (b) thrillers, mysteries, suspense, or romance. Because my novels also explore serious political, psychological, and philosophical issues, there’s a chance that anyone interested in those things may also find my books interesting.

If you see no interests even remotely related to your book, you can let it go, saying, “Well, that’s interesting.” If they pursue it and ask you why you inquired, you can then tell them you’re an author. And they may pursue it further, at which point you can give them a card.

Ideally, though, they’ll indicate some interest in an area related to your work. At that point, you can take out a card, hand it to them, and say:

Me: “Then you might find my latest book interesting.”

Them: (looking up from the card) “You wrote this?”

Me: “That’s right. [Now give them a one-or-two sentence generic summary.] It’s the first book in a suspense thriller series, featuring a journalist with a mysterious past. You say you like thrillers [mysteries, romances, whatever]. What are some of your favorite books and authors?”

That question will give you more information and possible bases for common interests and further conversation. In my case, if they happen to name one of my favorite authors, then we’re really off to the races. We can chat briefly about that, and I can then explain how my own work might be similar or different from those other works. It also gives me the opportunity to give just a bit more curiosity-inspiring info about the story. I usually wrap it up with something like this:

Me: “Well, it sounds to me as if my novel might be one you’d enjoy. You have my card; why don’t you look it up tonight on Amazon? Check out the description and the customer reviews, and see if it might be something you’d like. As you’ll see, my readers have been very kind to the book. Oh, by the way — do you prefer ebooks, print books, or audiobooks? . . .  HUNTER is available in all three editions.”

And then I thank them for their time and interest. Simple, friendly conversation.

I have made a lot of sales that way. More importantly: I have also made a lot of good friends! What starts as passing conversation can sometimes blossom into enduring relationships.

All from an inexpensive little business card.

Try it. I think you’ll be pleased with the results.

Now, I eagerly await the receipt of my new batch of business cards, featuring this new cover. Talk about a conversation-starter, eh?




Posted in Book business, HUNTER: A Thriller, Marketing Advice, Publishing Advice, Self-Publishing | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 5 Comments

BAD DEEDS Goes Off to the Formatter


Just to keep you up to date: Today, May 19, BAD DEEDS went off to the formatters.

Over thirty (that’s 30!) beta readers went through the manuscript flagging issues and errors, many tiny, but some major. I’ve been working day and night to make repairs and  polish the text as well as I can. I’ve been making tweaks up till the very last minute.

But the last minute has arrived, at last, and the manuscript is about to be sent to Jason Anderson at Polgarus Studio, who will prepare both the ebook and the print editions. The turnaround should be very fast for the ebook; the print edition may take a bit longer.

But the official release date remains May 28.

The “Acknowledgments” at the end record my undying gratitude to scores of people who played roles in the production of the book. In addition to over thirty beta readers, I consulted with eight experts about technical aspects of the book, ranging from aircraft (manned and unmanned), weapons, electronics, spy gadgets, and martial arts. Many of my betas had their own areas of expertise, contributing suggestions and corrections that added immeasurably to the book. Over a dozen fans of HUNTER contributed names for the new book’s villains during a little online contest I ran. Numerous others provided other forms of assistance, from the cover design, to promotional advice, to the design and maintenance of this blog. BAD DEEDS is truly a team effort, and it’s an injustice that only my name appears on its cover.

Thanks to all who have participated in this process. And thank you, the fans of HUNTER, for your patience in waiting for this new adventure.


Posted in Announcements, BAD DEEDS: A Dylan Hunter Thriller, Vigilante fiction | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment