Practical Advice for Aspiring Authors – Part 1 – from Publisher, Editor, and Author Lane Diamond


So you want to be a published author? Whether you’re planning to self-publish, submit to a literary agent, or submit directly to a small press, there are some things you should do before you self-publish or submit. Even for the latter option – submitting to an agent or small press – this will improve your odds of being accepted.


These days, every author must do her own heavy lifting when it comes to marketing and building her author’s brand. It’s just the way it is, and it doesn’t matter if you’re with one of the Big 5, a small press, or self-publishing. You must take charge of establishing yourself as an author. Don’t grumble about it (won’t help or change anything); just do it. Every smart publisher today looks at the author to determine if they have the right stuff to be successful, and that means not just that they’re writing great books, but that they’re engaged out there in such a way as to sell themselves, and that aforementioned work, to readers.

The nasty little secret about the Big 5 is that they’ve never really done much in the way of marketing new authors. They put the book into distribution and hope it sells. If not, they take the returns and shred them or forward them to deep discounters. A lot of new writers don’t know that. They think the great big awesome publisher is going to spend millions promoting their book and making them rich and famous. Uh… no. Not gonna happen. As for small presses, well… ditto. They just don’t have the necessary resources to make that happen – not without leaving you with peanuts for royalties. And even then….

The best you can hope for is a publisher who’s willing to apply as much sweat equity as they can muster, working with you to help you build your brand by… well, working.

As the managing publisher/editor at Evolved Publishing, I can tell you that we now consider the person every bit as important as the book(s) – perhaps more so. Publishers are looking for authors who understand that being an author means being an independent businessperson.

So do yourself a favor and get at least these 3 things done now:

1) Set up a professional Facebook profile and page. Notice I didn’t just say fan page. The reason is simple: Facebook has made fan pages largely pay-to-play entities – if you want anyone to actually see your posts, you have to pay to promote them. So be sure to have a profile that people can friend.

2) Set up a professional Twitter profile.

3) Create a clean, professional website. To be clear, you needn’t spend a ton of money here. If you’re technically proficient at all, you can learn how to manage a free WordPress site. Your only expense then will be your domain name and your web hosting service (unless you happen to know someone with a server who can host your site), both of which are reasonably inexpensive. As to the domain name, make it about your brand, meaning the name under which you’ll be publishing. If your name is John Smith or Mary Jones, you need a pen name. Just sayin’.

To be clear, there are plenty of other social media sites you may want to take advantage of, if you have the time and inclination. I would just say that Facebook and Twitter are the bare minimums.

Put your best foot forward when you submit your book. Sell not just your work, but you.


Lane Diamond Talks about Editing & Writer Coaching


I’ve spoken on occasion about how hard it is for me to do my own writing because of all my responsibilities as managing publisher/editor at Evolved Publishing. Well, that got to me thinking: Exactly how many books have I edited, or co-edited with another, wherein I do the final polishing edit? And wouldn’t it be about time to do a little maintenance to update this information?

Well… here it is. To date I’ve edited 95 books or stories for EP, 83 of which remain active there, and 12 of which have been returned to the authors. Wow. Yeah, that was my reaction when I did the update. And guess what? It explains a lot about my own lack of writing. C’est la vie… and it’s okay.

For the full list, just click over to my Writing Coach page and scroll down.

But really, as I think about it, I can’t possibly view this as a bad thing. Indeed, it’s a fantastic thing for me, and a point of real pride–in no small part because many of these books have gone on to win some very nice awards. I have helped, in my own small way, a number of authors to achieve their dreams (or at least to get started on those dreams), and nothing has been more rewarding for me than that.

And so the first thing I must say to all those authors is this: “Thank you.” Seriously, despite occasional frustrations with scheduling and workload, it has been my privilege and honor to have worked with all of you. I hope you become the superstars you deserve to be in this business. You’re doing great work, and I hope I’ve been able to contribute at least a little to that effort and to your growth as a writer.

I wear two hats in this arena: editor, writing coach. The first is clear enough, as I help authors address structural issues with their work–plot, characterization, setting, etc.–and then I help them not only clean up the prose but to ramp up its power. This is, I think, my greatest strength as an editor. As a writing coach, it’s really quite different, as I take on the role of trainer/educator/mentor. I do all as a writing coach that I do as an editor, but so much more. And make no mistake, this is where I’ve achieved my greatest professional satisfaction.

When I look to authors such as Ruby Standing Deer (I’m sure she won’t mind me singling her out), and I think back to where we started and the journey we’ve taken together, I simply could not be more pleased. Ruby has authored 3 books thus far, all part of the Shining Light Saga, historical fiction pieces focused of the American Indian culture of about 500 years ago: Circles, Spirals, and Stones. The 3 books combined have garnered 187 reviews at Amazon, 130 of which are 5-Star, and another 34 are 4-Star. That’s fantastic! And she has her 4th book coming early in 2016, so as her books continue to perform well and she continues to build her catalog, her future is bright.

And I was there at the beginning. Cool stuff.

Now, I don’t really take on editing jobs anymore outside of Evolved Publishing, because the EP authors keep me quite busy enough, thank you very much. However, I do still take on an occasional client in my capacity as a writing coach. I’m currently working with Melody J. Kaufmann on the beginning of her career as an author of sci-fi and fantasy. Her first book, After the Return, is progressing and getting stronger all the time. What lies ahead for MJ in her future as an author? I don’t know, but I’m hopeful that 5 years from now I’ll be able to look back, as I’ve done with Ruby, and say, “Wow, look at that!”

And who’s next? Hmmm… maybe you?

To be clear, I cannot take on a client right this minute, but if you want to be next up, beginning in September, now would be the time to give me a holler. Just email me at, and we’ll start the conversation and the plan.

In the meantime, if you really want to know my work, there is no better indication than the books that appear on my Writing Coach page. I hope you’ll read all of them that appeal to your genre preferences. Really… you’re going to love them. Hey, maybe you’ll even take a chance on discovering the wonderful peoples and culture of The Fish People, a fabulous 500-year-old culture lost to time but not forgotten, in Ruby Standing Deer’s Shining Light Saga. Or maybe you want to try Robb Grindstaff’s Hannah’s Voice, or David Litwack’s The Daughter of the Sea and the Sky, or Angela Scott’s Desert Rice, all of which I cannot recommend strongly enough! And please enjoy.


The Devil’s Bane – “Come on, Diamond, get it done already!”


I’ve heard that phrase more than once in recent times: “Come on, Diamond, get it done already!” They’re talking about my second suspense thriller featuring Tony Hooper, and the sequel to Forgive Me, Alex. Often included in that adminition is advice on how I might manage my time such that I’ll actually get it done. They mean well but…. I am at peace.

You see, it’s just not as simple as they think. So when will The Devil’s Bane be completed? Good question. I’ve made a few excuses, and I’ve experienced the crisis of faith that often accompanies a long delay in producing the next book, but the simple truth is that my other duties outweigh my goals as a writer.

I do make a little progress on occasion, but it’s a slow go. As managing publisher/editor at Evolved Publishing, I have more work than I seem able to complete. Don’t believe me? Just ask any of the 50+ EP team members waiting on something from me.

However, I don’t want to give the wrong impression: I’m not complaining. Really… I’m not! :)

In fact, I have finally come to peace with the circumstances. I am a publisher first, an editor second, and a writer third. And you know what? That’s okay. It has taken me a while to come to that conclusion, but I’m breathing a little easier now that I have.

And so what about The Devil’s Bane? Fear not, for it will be done. Someday. :) Seriously, though: don’t give up on it, or on me. It’s just going to take a little longer. I’ve really released myself from self-imposed deadlines on this, given the job requirements at EP. It’s quite liberating, but it also leaves a bit of a question mark. So I shall just drop back in from time to time to report on progress.

And for those of you who have been waiting patiently, THANK YOU!


Get a FREE Audiobook of Suspense Thriller “Forgive Me, Alex”


As you may know, my psychological suspense thriller Forgive Me, Alex is also available as an audiobook. What you may not know is that it’s possible you could get it free at as part of a 3-Day Free Trial. Just follow the link below for more information.

Get Forgive Me, Alex FREE as part of Audible 30-day Free Trial



This unabridged version, narrated by Kevin Scollin, provides 10 hours and 22 minutes of listening pleasure. Check it out.

In other news, I’ve been woefully neglectful of this blog and website, but some things are happening soon that will, I hope, make it easier for me to post more often. I appreciate your sticking with me.

Regarding the release of The Devil’s Bane, the sequel to Forgive Me, Alex and the second book in the Tony Hooper series, that too is running behind as I struggle to find adequate time to write. My publishing and editorial duties remain significant. Nonetheless, I am starting to creep forward again, and I’m determined that it see the light of day as soon as possible. Please stay tuned.


End of Summer 2014 – New Visions (IndieGoGo Campaign by Evolved Publishing)


LINK TO CAMPAIGN: End of Summer 2014 – New Visions

As you probably know, I am the managing publisher/editor at Evolved Publishing, a small press I co-founded with D.T. Conklin. Indeed, you may have seen me lament on these pages that I spend so much time focused on my responsibilities to EP, including having a part in editing 70 (and counting) EP books to date, that I find it almost impossible to focus on my own writing. The clock just seems to run out on me every day.

Well, as much as I may complain about that on occasion, when my mood sours because I’m itching to write and can’t make it happen, the truth is that I love what I do with EP. I’m so proud of what we’ve built there. As of today, we have a team of 29 current authors, with 1 or 2 more likely in the next month or so. Supporting their work we have a team of 11 editors, 8 artists/illustrators, and 6 foreign language translators. We’re also working closely with about 10 different audiobook producers/narrators, and we have a team of fans willing to support us via advance reviews, social media sharing, and of course, snatching up our books just about as fast as we can get them out.

Oh, we do love our most loyal fans at EP, not just for their financial support, but for the constant moral support they provide. They engage with us and have fun with us and… well, they make an often tough business so much more enjoyable for us. We’d be lost without them.

I like to think that some of those fans would be at least a bit lost without EP, too. We’ve put out more than just a few quality books, as evidenced by the ever-growing list of awards we’re pulling in, often in competition with dozens or even hundreds of other titles. And our average rating at Amazon, across our entire catalog and many hundreds of ratings, is over 4.5 stars. Pretty good stuff. Our reputation for that kind of quality is growing, including with those loyal fans, who are quick to spread the word in their own circles.


That brings us to our IndieGoGo campaign. We talked about it over on the EP website here: Evolved Publishing Opens a Crowdfunding Campaign on IndieGoGo (Working to Build a Stronger Alternative for Indie Authors), so stop by and check it out.

Ultimately, though others are attempting to do what we do, and even tried to copy our model (one website copied our verbiage word-for-word, until I spanked them for it and they pulled it down), we think our standards for excellence separate us from the crowd. Indeed, some of those other houses are publishing works we previously rejected (I’m not throwing stones, just making an important point about EP). Quality is Priority #1–that’s not just our motto, it’s our covenant with our readers and with our team.

The IndieGoGo campaign we’re running is all about being able to continue doing what we do at a pace that readers want, and kicking up the visibility of our work across a broader audience out there. The best way to ensure that EP continues to attract great talent, and that those on board with us continue to create excellent, entertaining books, is to make sure everyone involved is reaching enough of an audience out there to justify keeping on with it.

Competition is fierce in its overall flood of offerings these days, though we think our quality helps us stand above that crowd. Still, too many do not yet know about EP’s extraordinary commitment to quality. We have some absolutely wonderful books that haven’t yet made their mark with readers, which is just a shame. We need to get the word out, and that costs, of course.

If you’d like to help, the perks are a great value. Even if you don’t want a one of the specific perks offered, and just want to support the arts and EPs place in that world, you can contribute as little or as much as you’d like. I’ve posted the link again below. And thank you!

End of Summer 2014 – New Visions


“Forgive Me, Alex” by Lane Diamond Wins Pinnacle Book Achievement Award


I’m so pleased to announce that my debut psychological thriller, Forgive Me, Alex, has been honored with the following award:

Pinnacle Book Achievement Award, Summer 2014 – Best Books in the Category of THRILLER

(Scroll down near the bottom of the page for the THRILLER category.)

It almost seems odd to be getting an award 2-1/2 years after the book launched, but then again nothing in this business happens quickly. Besides, given that it’s been taking me so long to get the sequel out, it’s good for me to keep Forgive Me, Alex out there.

And speaking of The Devil’s Bane, I’m happy to report that I’ve once again carved out some time from my busy Evolved Publishing schedule, and I’m making regular–if slightly slower than I’d like–progress. I see no reason at this point that it won’t be part of EP’s big book launch on March 23, 2015.

Anyway, if you haven’t already picked up a copy of my book, now you have another excuse to jump on the bandwagon. :)

Available at Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iTunes, Kobo, and Smashwords. Or get an autographed print copy directly from me at THIS PAGE.

Tony Hooper stands in shadow across the street, one amongst many in the crowd of curiosity-hounds gathered to watch a monster’s release. Seventeen years after Mitchell Norton, “the devil,” terrorized Algonquin, Illinois on a spree of kidnapping, torture and murder, the authorities release the butcher from psychiatric prison.

Tony longs to charge across the street to destroy Norton—no remorse—as if stepping on a cockroach. Only sheer force of will prevents his doing so.

“The devil” walks the world again. What shall Tony do about it? Aye, what indeed.

After all, this is what Tony does. It’s who he is. “The devil” himself long ago made Tony into this hunter of monsters. What a sweet twist of fate this is, that he may still, finally, administer justice.

Will FBI Special Agent Linda Monroe stop him? She owes him her life, so how can she possibly put an end to his?

Tony Hooper and Mitchell Norton battle for supremacy, with law enforcement always a step away, in this story of justice and vengeance, evil and redemption, fear and courage, love and loss.


What Does It Take to Make a Living as an Author?


I must admit that reading articles by authors who say something along the lines of, “With 18 books now out and available, I hope to one day make enough money as an author to quit the day job.”

Uh… what?

I just read an article where an author says something like that, and I can’t help but think that the individual in question is doing something wrong. Are the books poorly written? (I don’t know.) Is the author writing in some obscure genre? (No.) Does the author have a simply awful deal with the publisher? (I don’t know, but only half the author’s catalog is with a publisher, and the rest are self-published.) Does the author spend absolutely zero time and money marketing the books he/she has worked so hard to produce? (I don’t know.)

Something just isn’t right here. It could be any number or combination of factors holding this author back, but a little self-analysis is really called for.

To be honest, I could never get to 18 books if my first 17 weren’t selling and making me at least a modest living. What’s my magic number before I would think about hanging it up? That’s a hard one, because the marketplace is a different animal than it was 20 years ago.

Once upon a time, everyone expected authors to hit their sales stride by the time their third book released, or perhaps their fourth. Few authors received a deal for their fifth book if their first four weren’t making money. (Hell, sometimes they wouldn’t get a deal for their second book if their first one wasn’t at least a modest hit.) Now, it’s one thing for a traditional publisher to make money, and another thing altogether for the author to be making a living off the same books, given how crappy some of those traditional publishing contracts are for authors. Still, the third or fourth book seemed an appropriate time to tell the boss, “I quit!”

Nowadays, with the eBook and self-publishing revolutions, in which me, you, your neighbor, your neighbor’s uncle, and your neighbor’s uncle’s dog are all publishing books, the equation seems to have changed for most. It’s much harder to get noticed in the first place, and to go through that brand-building process, now that we’re all competing with 93,274,561 other authors (rounded off to keep it simple).

At Evolved Publishing, for example, we now have authors with four to five books out who are still looking to get over that hump. I believe they’re close, and certainly the genres they write in play a big role, but it looks as if they’ll need those sixth and seventh books to make that leap. In most cases, I believe six books might be the target number, but all six must be in the same genre, and therefore appealing to the same audience. In other words, if you’re writing in multiple genres, you need six books in each of them. Also, it helps if it’s a genre that sells well. If you’re writing literary fiction, as an example, you’ll have a tough row to hoe. Or if you’re writing children’s picture books, the magic number might well be ten to twelve just to get your catalog rolling, as parents tend to gravitate to authors who have a large catalog to offer.

Of course, that’s just an estimate based on empirical evidence I’ve seen and heard in all the discussions out there, and based on actual numbers I have for some twenty-five authors. Every individual experience is different. Some get lucky and hit it big with book number three or four; others are still struggling at six or seven. And when it finally happens for an author, the whole of their catalog will take off all at once–like zero to sixty in a split second… after revving the engine for years.

Additionally, you must build your brand as an author, and that means spending time developing your following–social media, website, advertising, special promotions, perhaps even a free eBook to get folks: A) knowing who you even are, and; B) excited about your work.


The point I want to make is three-fold:

If you only have one or two or three books out, and they’re not selling, it may just be an indication that you haven’t yet hit that magic number where readers sit up and take notice. Keep going, and keep being careful to produce good work.

If you have eighteen books out and they’re still not earning a living for you, something is amiss. Frankly, your work may not be good. Sorry to say it, but there you have it. A lot of folks are publishing garbage these days, but they can fool readers for only so long. The consumer always catches up in the end.

Writing is the most important thing you do. Keep building that catalog, as it’s essential to your eventual success. However, you can’t ignore completely the marketing of your books and your brand. It’s a long slow grind, building your brand; you must start early and keep at it throughout your career. You needn’t spend hours a day at it, but at least a few hours a week is a good idea.


If you lack patience, perseverance, and a thick skin, embrace your day job with a new gusto and stop torturing yourself over being an author. If you possess those qualities, however, and you’re producing good, professional-grade work, then just keep on keepin’ on. Your day is coming.