Advice for Aspiring Novelists by Sam Boush – Guest Post

Advice for Aspiring Novelists by Sam Boush – Guest Post

Today on the blog we welcome Sam Boush, author of All Systems Down with his Guest Post, Advice for Aspiring Novelists.

Sam Boush Photo

Sam Boush is a novelist and award-winning journalist.

He has worked as a wildland firefighter, journalist, and owner of a mid-sized marketing agency. Though he’s lived in France and Spain, his heart belongs to Portland, Oregon, where he lives with his wife, Tehra, two wonderful children, and a messy cat that keeps them from owning anything nice.

He is a member of the Center for Internet Security, International Information Systems Security Certification Consortium, and Cloud Security Alliance.

Guest Post sign

I’m not some hugely-famous novelist. I haven’t sold a million copies of my book. And no one – not even the checkout lady – recognizes me at the grocery store.

But I’m off to a good start. My debut novel, All Systems Down has gotten stellar reviews and is listed as one of Goodreads’ top technothrillers.

As a novelist at the beginning of his career with a two-book deal, I can offer you advice as someone who had found some success but is still in the initial stages.

Finding a publisher

I opted to skip the agent and work directly with a publisher. This approach isn’t for everyone, but it worked for me. There are some major disadvantages to the agentless approach: you won’t get your book considered by a “Big 5” publishing house, you won’t get a big advance, and you won’t have anyone negotiating on your behalf for film rights or anything else.

But I worked for multiple book publishing houses many years ago and I can tell you there are clear advantages, too. Small publishers are accessible, easy to work with, and hungry for talent. (I had a couple small publishers vying for my book by the end of it.) Finally, and most importantly for me, time-to-market is considerably shorter. I went through major revisions and my publisher was still able to launch my book within about eight months of when I first queried.

If you decide to go directly to publishers, I recommend looking through Publishers Marketplace for the presses that fit your genre. Query them thoughtfully and individually. Find out about the books they’ve published. And keep moving if you don’t hear back.

Editing and Rewriting

After I landed Lakewater Press as a publisher, they went straight to revisions. I mean right away. I had a couple of editors, including the acquisitions editor, putting together structural rewrites.

Ultimately, they delivered a document to me with all the changes I needed to make, including a complete scrapping and rewriting of the last 30,000 words. It was rough, but I ultimately delivered a much stronger story. It’s thanks to this process that Kirkus Reviews ultimately wrote of my book, “The story’s swift pace leads to a surprisingly thorough wrap-up.”

Marketing and Publicity

No matter what size publishing house you get, if you’re a debut novelist you’ll end up having to be your own best marketer. Some of us thrive on it; most of us just want to write. But if you want anyone to read your book you’ll need to get it in front of people.

The first thing to do is ask friends and family to read an Advance Reader Copy (ARC) with the suggestion that they review it on Goodreads and Amazon. I send out roughly a hundred personalized emails to my friends, then coordinated with my publisher to get electronic ARCs delivered.

Next, I worked with a publicist, (in my case, the wonderful FSB) to spread the word. This is a huge part of the process, since a good publicist finds media of all kinds to read and review your book. The attention starts small, but the buzz will build into future success.

Finally, I’ve been active on social media. Twitter, Goodreads, LinkedIn, YouTube… everything. People you know get excited when they find out you have a book. They want to read it. They tell their friends. They tell their local bookstore to buy copies. (Yes, this literally happens.)

In summary, building a publishing career is like any other career. It takes long hours, dedication, and time. Don’t feel you need to rush it. Just go out there, do your best, and remember – above all – this is supposed to be fun. So enjoy!


All Systems Down
The Cyber War Book One

Author – Sam Boush
Publisher – Lakewater Press
Pages – 238
Release Date – 8th February 2018
ISBN 13 – 978-0994451279
Format – ebook, paperback

New Synopsis

24 hours.

That’s all it takes. A new kind of war has begun.

Pak Han-Yong’s day is here. An elite hacker with Unit 101 of the North Korean military, he’s labored for years to launch Project Sonnimne: a series of deadly viruses set to cripple Imperialist infrastructure.

And with one tap of his keyboard, the rewards are immediate.

Brendan Chogan isn’t a hero. He’s an out-of-work parking enforcement officer and one-time collegiate boxer trying to support his wife and children. But now there’s a foreign enemy on the shore, a blackout that extends across America, and an unseen menace targeting him.

Brendan will do whatever it takes to keep his family safe.

In the wake of the cyber attacks, electrical grids fail, satellites crash to earth, and the destinies of nine strangers collide.

Strangers whose survival depends upon each other’s skills and courage.

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4 Responses

  1. Megan @ Ginger Mom & the Kindle Quest says:

    This is fantastic advice. My novel is still in the drafting stages but it is good to know that it can be done, even if you don’t have an agent.

  2. DJ Sakata says:

    Hopefully, someday that cashier will want his autograph, that is, besides the one he has to sign for his credit card 😉

  3. Nikki says:

    Great post! Thank you for introducing me to Sam’s work!

  4. Terri A. Wilson says:

    This was a great interview. It’s great to hear from someone who is doing it right now. Some very helpful thoughts and ideas here.