Bestseller Blueprint

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“There is no one who loves pain itself, who seeks after it and wants to have it, simply because it is pain…”

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Castle writing retreat in France

Castle writing retreat in France

A few years ago I decided I wanted to run a creative commune and writing retreat in a European castle. We spent 3 months touring castle properties for sale, but didn’t find anything good enough.

Since then, however, we’ve started running writing retreats in castles. The next one is in France, at this amazing property. My retreats are very casual, lots of alone time and personal feedback, not a lot of “teaching” or seminars.

I choose inspiring locations where I can soak up the history, where we can have intimate home-cooked meals, and let our brains work exhaustively on one big problem (your book).

Edinburgh writing conference

Edinburgh writing conference

I’m self-conscious about this one because I pronounce it the way it looks, edin-BURG. We spent last winter in this city and loved it, so when the chance came to speak at a writing conference this summer we took it. We’ll probably stay a month and soak up the haggis and culture – plus I’ll be working on my second mermaid book, which I decided on our last visit that I’ll set here (the first is set in Ireland, but there’s some really cool mythology linking the two.

This summer we’ll probably also spend some time in Budapest, Prague and Lisbon – three of our favorite cities in Europe. And all that will be gearing up to our castle writing retreat in France at the end of August.



Just landed in Bali – digital nomad paradise

Just landed in Bali – digital nomad paradise

Bali is one of my favorite places; great food, a huge spiritual/natural food community, lots of history and culture. It’s an Instagrammer’s dream, everything is so pretty and photogenic. We’re staying in an old traditional house that’s all open, so that means mosquitoes unfortunately, but I still love the rustic appeal and space (my wife would much rather have something clean and hermetically sealed).

It’s March, 2019, and I feel like I’m still behind on 2018 goals, but it’s time to let go and move on. Today is Bali’s “day of silence” – a 24 hour total shut down; we’re not supposed to turn any lights on or even use the stove. I heard they were going to turn the internet off as well, so I had stocked up on TV shows and movies, but it seems to be working.

It’s kind of like a purge: Around sunset the “Pengrupukan” ceremony begins in the house compounds with the noisy banging of pots and pans and bamboo tubes along with burning of dried coconut leaf torches to drive out the demons.

Most Hindu Balinese villages make ogoh-ogoh, demonic statues made of richly painted bamboo, cloth, tinsel, and styrofoam symbolizing negative elements or malevolent spirits or even characters from Hindu mythology. After the ogoh-ogoh have been paraded around the village, they are burned in the cemeteries.

We are surviving on toast and instant noodles, watching the rain fall, and hanging out with the beagle and obnoxious cross-eyed black cat that came with the AirBnB. It’s a day of quiet and self-reflection, so working on this website – and figuring out the root of my author identity (who I am, why I write, personal anedcotes) seems fitting.

I may also do a little ritual cleansing and maybe some goalsetting: We are here in Bali for the next six weeks and, besides finishing this site and remaking my fiction platform from scratch, I plan to finish 2 new novels, and possibly a short non-fiction project. I spend a LOT of time on non-essential tasks and as I told someone on Facebook today, the books are the most important things. You don’t need to keep cranking out books if they aren’t selling; but if they ARE selling everything gets easier with more content.

This year I plan to step significantly towards a much larger platform: I’ve been roughly feeling in the same place for years, and doing the same kind of things. The bigger gains will happen from content marketing, partnerships and advertising, but I can’t do it until I have my basic platforms and funnels figured out (website, landing pages, email sequences, sales pages…)

I’m grateful for the life I’ve created, and I probably couldn’t have imagined the level of freedom I enjoy, but at this point I’m looking for more security and the ability to reach and help more people.

Finding my tribes

I’ve been travelling since I was 16, first in Argentina, then Malta and Taiwan (with side trips everywhere else), but I often felt isolated. In the last few years, there’s been such an explosion of location independent workers that a new community has popped up of “digital nomads.”

Now when we travel, we look for events or conferences we can go to to make new friends or meet old ones. It keeps me grounded and content during those periods where social interaction is harder to come by.

MOST “normal people” have no idea what it’s like to travel full-time, run an online business, and/or the struggles of writing and publishing books, (or they are all aspiration with no practical knowledge or ability).

I get tired of the guru role and it’s nice to be among peers. In a couple weeks, I’m speaking at a digital nomad conference here in Bali, about how people can use nonfiction books on Amazon to build a six-figure passive income empire. I’ll probably make a video or something, so make sure you’re following me on YouTube or social so you don’t miss it.





What to add to your website’s top menu?

What to add to your website’s top menu?

You menu should, almost always, be on top of your site, but under the header (like this one). You should only have one menu. (Though you can have different links on your footer menu – that’s OK).

You shouldn’t have more items than fit on one line. If your menu breaks into 3 lines because you have 27 items in it, it will look like crap and be confusing.

Choose your main categories and put the other pages as submenus, usually that dropdown when the mouse cursor is over the menu.

Your main pages should be:

  • Home
  • About
  • Books
  • Reviews
  • Store/Buy (I put these under books rather than adding a separate page).
  • Contact (or this can go under “about”)

Other items may be,

blog, events, news, reviews, public appearances, awards… but if those don’t have a lot of content, you could put most of them on your “About” page rather than making them jump around to different pages.

Keep things as simple as possible.

You may have to make tough choices in deciding what to display or not. I don’t think you should have more than six items on your menu at any time, so you have to think about how your organize things.

You can also determine the flow of traffic. Where do you want them to go first.

What do you want to show them next.

Figure it out.

Remove all the menu headers except a few – you could even add a “start here” page, and after they read that say “now you can read and excerpt, buy the book on amazon, sign up for my list or follow me on Facebook” with links to all those choices (although, that’s probably too many chance).

Focus on one main action and make it the biggest, easiest choice.


What the Hell is this site?

What the Hell is this site?

This is a demo site I set up to show writers the best way to set up an author website with WordPress – where to put everything, how to organize the content, and how to showcase your books so people actually want to read them. This site not only has posts about how to sell your books online, get people to sign up to your email list, which themes and plugins to use, and present yourself professionally, but also demonstrates everything by being a live virtual site.