Friday, December 15, 2017

This Year I’m Going to Take My Own Writing Advice

by Traci Tyne Hilton @TraciTyneHilton

My Best Writing Advice

1. I am going to keep my books as diverse as possible. Some in Kindle Unlimited and some distributed to all the stores. This diversity is why you need to spend the first year or two of your indie career doing more writing than anything else. Can’t be diverse in distribution when you only have one title!

2. I am going to invest deeply in editing. One of the main benefits of indie publishing is that you can tell your story your way. But you know what? One of the main benefits of traditional publishing is working with an editorial team to grow as a story teller. I’ve had plenty of independence. I’m ready for a growth spurt.

3. I’m going to pursue the opportunities that come my way. Invited to a box set? I’m in! Potential for a trad deal? I’ll try! I have the money to go to a conference and learn more? I’m going!

4. I WILL focus! I tell everyone, every time I can, that the difference between the rich indies and the rest of us is that the rich indies focus. They don’t attempt to be everything. For the most part, they stick to writing. I will write more this year than any year previously, and I will hold myself to this goal by leaning on friends for accountability.

5. Speaking of focus, I do not do my career a favor by designing my own covers. I’m not bad at it, and it’s fun, but there’s the problem. How much time have I spent designing covers that could have been spent writing? A lot. That’s how much. When I teach I encourage readers to save up and get a stock cover. They are professional, attractive, and affordable. I am determined to only use stock covers for my indie books this year. Err. Saying that is hard. I may hire people to do custom covers if push comes to shove. But I will try for stock first, and use custom second, and not make my own. This will be one of the biggest changes for me, and a very good one. Anyone who has checked out my output over the last two years know that it is…slim. I spent more time parenting (read: taxi driving) the last two years, than in years past, so the time I spent making covers cut into already limited writing time. I have more time to write this year. I am NOT going to spend it on covers!

6. When I say focus, I mean focus on your priorities. I love teaching and speaking. I know it comes at a cost to the actual writing, but I am not going to quit. I know that it will cost me potential income if I have to spend several days prepping a class and then a day teaching it. That is time that could be spent writing. But doing that increases the quality of my life, and I’m already giving up cover making! What more do you want from me?! Plus, I’m a better teacher than cover designer, so picking this over that is a good switch for me.

7. Readers love #’d list articles so all of my articles from now on will be numbered lists. Except the ones I’ve already written that aren’t numbered lists.

8. It’s a truism that the shoemakers kids go shoeless. I teach this stuff in classes, and in casual conversation and online. It is just nonsense for me to ignore my own good advice. So I am going to print this out and stick it somewhere I can see it to remind myself of my plan. I suggest you make your own list of goals and print them, too.

9. Speaking of goals, how about rewards? When I first started indie publishing I promised myself a new bike. I never got it. Why? Because as I realized this was a legitimate job and found myself making real money I ended up doing more significant things with it. I am going to need a carrot to keep me pushing toward my goal. And that’s the bike. Right now I want a grown-up trike with a basket in the back so I can take it grocery shopping. What about you? What thing would motivate you to work harder?

10. I am going to be methodical and organized and regulated in my advertising. I know how to advertise. I know where to advertise. I just forget to, or only do it when I am in a sales crisis. Not this year. This year I am going to pull out my trusty ad calendar. I am going to plan, prepare, and promote! And I might even write a blog about that for you all, since it is the second most important thing an indie can do.

So, what about you all? What are your goals for the coming year and how are you going to help yourself make them happen.


Traci Tyne Hilton is the author of The Plain Jane Mysteries, The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries and the Tillgiven RomanticMysteries. Traci has a degree in history from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest with her husband the mandolin playing funeral director, two busy kids, and their dogs, Dr. Watson and Archie Goodwin.

More of Traci’s work can be found at


  1. Wonderful advice Ms. Traci. Wisdom eludes many of us. Fortunately for you, it's made several stops. God's blessings ma'am.

    1. Bless you, too! That is a very kind thing to say. I hope I can apply the wisdom that was kind enough to visit me. :D

  2. Love this! You're talking to yourself and us. Now I need to talk to myself. Hmm, what will be different?

    1. Ooh! When you come up with the list, please let us know! :D I'm hear to cheer you on as you reach farther for your 2o18 goals.

    2. Thank you all for your encouragement. The Lord always redeems! Christmas blessings!

    3. Thank you all for your encouragement. The Lord always redeems! Christmas blessings!

    4. Blessings to you, too! And God is good, all the time. He can turn our little ideas into blessings that change lives, for sure.