Blog By Lauren Moore
Contemplating starting your own writing career? Already took the plunge but are concerned about low sales numbers? Tonight’s episode is for you. Tonight we were joined by Joshua Dalzelle, USA TODAY bestselling author and Amazon Top Ten science fiction author of The Black Fleet Trilogy, The Expansion Wars Trilogy, and the Omega Force series. As of June 2017, Josh has sold over 750,000 copies and in this episode, he shares with us his story of how he went from discovering self-publishing in 2012 to selling copies like Rita’s on a boiling-hot summer’s day.
So what’s his secret? It’s nothing new: the man writes what he loves and is open to expanding his universe. Inspired by casts of quirky characters like the A-Team, all of the epic drama of Star Wars, and the fun of sci-fi series like Firefly, Josh wrote what would become his first published book, Omega Rising. But before he hit ‘Send’ on the publishing button, he changed the ending to allow that single novel to be turned into a series. As his readers ate up the Omega Force series, he used that same winning formula of Quirky Characters + Epic Drama + Lots of Fun to create two new series, The Black Fleet Trilogy and The Expansion Wars.
So, that’s it? Write what you love and you too can sell 750,000 copies? Well, as he shares his story, Josh bestows a few gems of wisdom that any author can use immediately in their writing career. In particular, he shares his strategies for marketing, dealing with reader reviews, building your plots, and improving your writing craft. All of his suggestions are simple, effective, and ones that you can implement today.
But don’t take our word for it. Check out tonight’s episode and listen to the complete interview for yourself.
Find the show notes below!
- Scott Moon:
Josh Dalzelle’s Story:
- Wrote throughout school, joined the military (Air Force). Tried to submit manuscripts to agents and publishers but got rejected.
- 2012, got a Kindle and discovered ebooks and ebook publishing.
- Wrote Omega Rising in 11 months; it came out in Jan. 2013. Ended up changing the ending so it could become part of a series.
- Wrote nine books in the Omega Force series.
- Brian Keene read Omega Rising and wrote a really nice review that ended up boosting sales a lot.
- Did not do much social media marketing at the beginning other than…
- Black Fleet
- Book 9 had the biggest release (despite common wisdom about writing only a 3-5 book series)
- Tried to hook readers in the first three books for the rest of the series
- Black Fleet ended up outselling Omega Force 3-to-1
- As of today, he has hundreds of reviews, including Warship which has over 1,400 reviews
- Used to get some really difficult reviews, so he stopped reading them
- Even with the really positive ones, he finds them not that helpful to read
- Has never asked for reviews
- Josh Dalzelle and Scott share their favorite 1-star reviews
- The Expansion Wars is the sequel series to Black Fleet
- Uses the same universe, but whole new story arcs
- Audiobook publisher (Podium) came to him with an offer--much to his audience’s delight
- Writing Tips
- If you’re making a series, you need to take notes on names, places, dates, etc., to keep track of everything
- Keep track of the beats and match your scenes and beats to a basic plot chart so the plot works out well together
- When you write two series with overlapping events, you need to keep close track on all the events. So something mentioned in one series may be developed further in the other.
- Writes in Word but does use Scrivener to keep notes
- Works hard with his editor using Track Changes.
- Favorite secondary character? Lots of fun secondary characters
- Thoughts on anthologies for newer authors? (JR Handley asked) Yes--he got in anthologies that helped him get onto the USA Today bestselling list
- What does your writing schedule look like? Gets up and going around 8 AM to get that first 1k words out by 10:30 AM. Takes a break. Hammers more out to get 3-5k words out by the end of the day. After that, there comes a point of diminishing returns…
- What’s the most military-based joke you’ve worked into a novel? (Richard Fox asked)
- Where do you get your inspiration for all your writing? (Johnny Kanuk asked) All of life goes into it. Cool scenes hit me from life.
- What have you done to improve your craft? (Ken Lozito asked) Never think that you know everything. Right now, he’s enrolled in Clark Chamberlain’s “Punch Them in the Gut” writing course. It’s helping him to build more dynamic characters and more powerful stories.
- Is there something that you know now that you’d do if you were just starting out? Don’t be shy--just reach out to people if you need help. Don’t make the mistakes of having a crappy cover, blurb, and editing job for your first book. Invest in it.
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This episode of TNL is brought to you by Fortress Beta City by JR Handley, the second book his Sleeping Legion series.
Thirty-five years ago, Lance Scipio pulled most of Beta City into an emergency cryo-freeze. Now he is awoken to a catastrophically changed world.
2601AD. Tranquility-4 near the frontier of the White Knight Empire. Lance awakes to a world where unidentified Marines have raided his city, the enemy is occupying the unflooded portions, and as if that wasn’t bad enough, the city is slowly dying. Lance must find a way to save his marines.
With true ingenuity Lance and his marines save the city and themselves. This tale tells of the will to push past merely surviving, where humanity fights to thrive in this brave new world. You will love the drama as these resourceful marines find a way to out of the dire situation. All the while knowing the end result will be freedom or death.
The Sleeping Legion is a breakneck new sequence of military science fiction novels set in the universe of the international bestselling series: ‘The Human Legion’.
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