How To Start Writing an Essay

The opening paragraph of the essay is arguably the most important part of the essay. The beginning of the essay has to hold the reader’s attention as well as show the thesis statement. The essayist ought to seek to make a strong and persuasive argument. The readers must know in the beginning what idea the essayist is trying to convey, and of course, there should be studies, theories, factual evidence to back up every idea and argument.

How to Choose a Topic For a Dissertation Proposal

So you are finally rounding off your academic program, and there is just one more huddle to scale through before you get that degree. You’ve just realized it’s not a small huddle, in fact, it will determine whether you have just wasted your time, money and effort over the last couple of years.

How to Make Money as an E-Book Author

Writing and publishing a book once took some hard work and a lot of time and effort. After meeting with publishers and shopping your book idea around, you met with editors and went over multiple drafts of the book. Once the book finally landed in stores, you never knew if you had a best seller or if your book would land in the bargain bin. Those who went the self-publishing route had to research companies carefully to avoid potential scams. Thanks to Amazon and other websites, you now have the chance to make money and become an entrepreneur as an e-book author.

Into the Open: Getting your Name out There

By Nicholas Baron

I must admit that publishing is a daunting task, and though I’ve never published myself, I have had the opportunity to rub shoulders with many successful writers thanks to Grammarly. I’ve noticed a sort of pattern that these writers take to that coveted Golden Brick Road, and also some similar publishing woes shared amongst them. I’ve nailed the whole messy publishing shebang down to some fundamentals and listed them here for you. Please feel free to speak your mind if you’ve got something to say; comments are appreciated.

JK Rowling Writes The Cuckoo's Calling Under a Pen Name

Her pseudonym is “Robert Galbraith”, and while she tried to keep it secret, JK Rowling couldn’t sustain it. The Harry Potter author, was uncovered as the author of a new detective novel called “The Cuckoo’s Calling”.

“The Cuckoo’s Calling” follows Cormoran Strike, a war veteran turned private eye who investigates the supposed suicide of a model.

One of the professional reviews was from Publishers Weekly, which describes the book ”in a rare feat… Galbraith combines a complex and compelling sleuth and an equally well-formed and unlikely assistant with a baffling crime in his stellar debut.”

The book is now one of the top books on Amazon

The Path to Self-Publishing

Self publishing was the path I chose to follow as a romance writer for a mostly niche audience of Nigerians and other Africans both at home and abroad. Going the route of self-publishing can be a lonely, challenging but at the same time rewarding venture. For academics who think self-publishing may be a viable prospect, there are various platforms and options to pursue.

According to Claire Morgan, for the academics guide to self-publishing, there is no “one size fits all” solution. Authors attempting to self-publish their papers, books, and other research materials need to explore what each format offers in terms of compensation, communication, and other factors. These are,


ResearchGate's community extends to 2.7 million academics, most of them in medicine and the biological sciences, though all disciplines are welcome. Tens of millions of papers have been uploaded to the site, which serves as a blend of publishing company and social network, nurturing collaboration between researchers worldwide. Best of all, it costs nothing to sign up and share.

“Everything on ResearchGate is centered around and for the convenience of the researcher,” says Bengsch. “They can follow their peers’ work easily and share their research with them. If researchers have a question, they can ask their peers in our ‘topics’ feature and receive a helpful answer within a few hours. This is also how researchers often find their collaborators on the network.”

Bengsch also points out how users take advantage of analytics to gauge the popularity and perceived validity of their work. “Researchers can build and monitor their reputation on ResearchGate. This is especially useful for researchers who chose to publish their work online. Everything they contribute can be evaluated by their peers. This evaluation is the basis for our RG Score, a new way to measure scientific reputation.”


“Lulu has helped countless academic authors who seek more control of their ideas and curricula publish books that they can then make available directly to their students and peers at a price they dictate,” says Dan Dillon, Lulu‘s director of product marketing. “Lulu offers authors, both academic and not, the opportunity to take full control of their work and focus on creating the best content rather than finding a publisher. Taking their work directly to their audiences has helped countless academic authors create an impact.”

For academics with longer works looking to publish in ebook or bound formats, companies like Lulu might be best. Prices vary depending on what an author wants, ranging anywhere from free to $3,199 for the most generous package. Complimentary consultations are available to help authors decide which format and services suit their specific needs.


Although Smashwords cannot quote an exact number of scholarly participants, researchers and professors like Rojas use the site to create and distribute ebooks for general and academic audiences alike. Rojas called the site “excellent, easy to use, and user-friendly.”

Every academic’s self-publishing journey varies, and Rojas explains how he came around. “Grad Skool Rulz began as an advice column on the blog. People kept telling me that it should be a book. Eventually, I agreed. Once I got tenure, I compiled all the columns into a book,” he explains.

“Then I decided to self-publish for the following reasons. First, the book is blunt, and I didn’t want anonymous referees interfering with the message I wanted to get out. My views on graduate school are much more blunt and direct than most professors are comfortable with,” he says. “Second, I wanted the book to be accessible to anyone with an Internet connection. Smashwords is easy to use, and the authors choose the price. I now charge $3. Third, I make more money per sale than I would with a regular publisher. So: blunt material, access, and money all factored into my decision.”

Once a writer formats their manuscript according to the Smashwords style guide, they can upload a cover image and distribute the final product in a variety of formats, including epub, PDF, mobi (Kindle), and more.

“If the book is properly formatted and meets the legal and mechanical requirements of our retailers as described in the Style Guide, we distribute the book to the Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony, Kobo and to public libraries,” says Coker. “The author sets their own price and retains all rights to their work. The author earns 60-80% of the sales price as their royalty. Smashwords takes a small commission on all sales of approximately 10% of the retail price. The retailers report the sales back to Smashwords, and we pay the authors quarterly.”

Click to continue reading...

I am really not an academic but I have read the entire piece and I think it covers most of the options available. I think for those outside of the academia, Amazon Kindle direct publishing and Nookpress are also viable options.

Okadabooks - Buy Books Via MobilePhone SMS Credit

While Okechukwu Ofili came to me with this idea, I was blown away. Not only did he agree with my belief that Nigerians do read, he took it a step further and did something. Okadabooks is a fast, simple and fun way to read ebooks in Nigeria without ever having to worry about how to pay with cash, card, whatever. You send a text to top up your account, choose a book, then download and start reading – it’s as easy as riding an okada. It’s book reading, reinvented. Oh yeah, and it may be cheaper than the Okada you rode yesterday!

The eBook reader app is currently in the test launch phase. During this time books will available to anyone in Nigeria with an android phone. You will be able to purchase the available books using your phone credit, including all the major phone providers. My short story, Best Friends Forever is on the app in full for a mere N150. There also free books, and some go for as little as N20. You are also assured of a good variety of titles and categories, and this will keep growing. We may even extend to Apple and Windows soon.

To download the app, click HERE. To find out more about Okadabooks, check out their faq.

Setting up an eBook Publishing Company for a Target Audience

I got an email recently that said, Dear Myne,

I need information from you viz eBooks publishing and marketing. I recently set up a Publishing house [traditional publishing + self publishing + eBooks] and we are preparing for our first releases, a novel and a collection of short stories which we are publishing traditionally.

However, ePublsihing is one of our offerings and where we hope to make the money to offset the risks we will be taking with these really great books in our market. We are especially interested in eBook creation and marketing directed at a specific audience [we will eventually publish a broad scope of writers]. I read your piece posted on Bulkyon Books page days back, now, my questions are —

1) What would be the best way to convert these books over which we have intellectual rights to eBooks and what formats are advisable, how do we do this?

2) Is it possible to guard against unauthorized downloads or unpaid copies?

3) We would like to be able to sell from our website, how does that work? Is it about simply creating links to the product on Amazon or the other merchants? Or do we need some special software?

4) Which merchants should we list our books on? Which give a better deal—our authors get their eBook royalties from us at a fixed percentage per book?

5) How do we market these books? Are there special marketing companies who specialize in marketing eBooks, perhaps targeted at our core demographics—Book lovers, Africans, Nigerians in that order?

6) We've had emails from iUniverse and Xlibris but there is so much fine print, we never are sure what exactly they are offering, hence we are asking you—what should we look out for? Any recommendations? Weve also had offers from Indian coys offering to convert text to eBooks and what not for pretty cheap. IS it possible to use these and then somehow make the books available for download on the major merchant portals?

My answers are as follows;

1. If you have MSWord 2007, I believe you can convert word documents to PDF. This is the most common eBook version. There are other formats available based on the retailer, like ePub, mobi, etc. For this you need a software. I have a free one called Calibre. You  can download it to your laptop and use whenever you like from

2. There is something called DRM, some eBook publishers use it to prevent sharing between devices and people, but it's a bit too complicated for me. I do not bother with putting DRM on my eBooks, and go with the theory that piracy and sharing will actually benefit me via free publicity and word of mouth. Neil Gaiman thinks this is true and Nollywood is also evidence of that.

3. To sell from your website, you can either use a third-party shopping cart like Google checkout, Zencart or Paypal to deliver the eBooks when people buy. These need special software that you need to integrate into your website. The easier option is to make the eBooks available on well known retailers websites and then put the links next to the books.

4. There are now loads of eBook retailers. The big players are and (they will ship your books to Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, Diesel, Sony, etc). You can also publish romance on The rates are very similar, between 60 - 70%. In some cases, Amazon will only pay 35%

5. There are bloggers obviously, and publicists are available to help market and promote at a price. The big distributors like Authorhouse and Createspace also employ marketers and they can work with you if you pay for the services.

6. Yes, it is. iUniverse and Xlibris are author services companies. They will do for you what you cannot do yourself, for a price. I will assume the Indian companies are doing a similar thing. My advice as always is to only pay what you can afford and what you believe you can make back in a realistic time frame.

I hope some people find this useful. Please put any follow-up questions in the comments and I'll try to get to them. You can also send me an email at any time.

How to Sell your writing Online as an eBook and in Print

Please, the time has come when I need your help SERIOUSLY. I just want to find out some things and knowing your wealth of experience, I am sure you can help me. As you know, the book I am working on is almost ready and I intend to sell some e-copies before going to print. It is about selling my books online.
This was an email I received recently and I have reproduced the questions and my suggestions below.

1. How can I upload my ebook on Amazon to sell and what do I require to be elligible for this?

You simply go to and register. If you already shop from Amazon you can use the same sign in. It is free but I think you need a credit card or bank account so they can pay you when you make sales. You can find more information on their help site

2. Do I need to do anything extra for people to be able to buy my book on kindle? or does uploading it on Amazon qualify the book to be bought on kindle?

Uploading it at the link above will make it automatically available on Amazon and people who have the Kindle will be able to download it wherever they are.

3. Apart from Amazon, what other sites can I sell the e-copies of my books?

Apart from Amazon, will distribute your eBook to several retailers including Apple, Diesel, Kobo, Sony, and on their own website. I greatly recommend Smashwords since their sign-up requirements are less tasking for international authors, and you can get paid through Paypal. They will also distribute to Amazon and Barnes and Noble, but I suggest doing these sites yourself since the option is there, and you get more up to date reports on uploading you book and after that, on sales. To self publish on B&N, go to Register with the relevant details and you can upload your book. You may require to provide some tax details and/or a credit card.

4. I heard from a fellow writer that there are sites where when people order for my books, the site will print it into hard copy (Paper back or hard cover) and deliver to those people. Do you have an idea what these sites are?

Yes indeed, there are several sites where you can get print on demand services. The foremost providers, and they're virtually free are and For Createspace, you upload all the necessary files and once the final look is approved by you, your book becomes available on The book will also be given expanded distribution for a nominal fee.

Lulu first makes the book available on their site, and later on other online retailers including Amazon. My tip is that you use only one of them. I forgot to mention earlier that you can also publish your eBook on for free and it would be sold on their site.

For assisted and paid for Print on Demand, the biggest player is Author Solutions - they are the ones behind AuthorHouse, xLibris, iUniverse, Trafford, Westbow, Balboa and Abbott, among others. I used them for my first book but found them a bit costly for someone just starting out. However, their services are topnotch and I may go back to them with time.

Let me know in the comments if the above throws up any further questions and I'll try my best to give a fitting answer.

FAQs - Self-Publishing and Book Publicity

Hey Myne,

I know someone who is self-publishing a novel and I was wondering if you have any advice for her? I would classify her book as "teen fluff", and I mean that in the nicest way possible. Its not the same demographic as your work, but I thought it might be helpful to hear from you since you have had such success with your work.

Ideas, tips, concerns? Would you like a copy of the book to read over and offer suggestions? She is all ears.I told her I would reach out to you to see if you would be able to talk with/to her.




I think your friend is already doing well, she has a FB page, has a good follower count on Twitter, and is also on Blogspot and Tumblr. These are most important, having an online presence.

Self publishing can be supported by going with an author services company like CreateSpace, at least the distribution and sales are taken care of. All the author has to do is the publicity and marketing.

What your friend should do is look for book bloggers in the YA category and ask for book reviews. Then she should look for forums (message boards) where she knows her target audience is and become active there.

All these depend on how financially successful she wants to be. If she's just content having her story out there, and her name on a book cover, then she need not overstress.

All the best to her. She can always email at I'll be happy to host her for one of my guest author sections.



Everything You Need To Know About Writing and Publishing

I'll be co-hosting a radio show with Vera and Chika Unigwe on writing and publishing. I've had a couple of other shows with Vera, one on "Why should I get married, and the other on To hyphenate married names or not. This time, we'll be chatting about the following topics;

- How to get an agent
- How to publish independently
- How to market published books
- How to get a publisher without an agent
- How to keep the writing momentum going
- How to be a disciplined writer
- How to be a writer.

So, for those of you who are interested, let's talk. Chika Unigwe (author of On Black Sisters Street) has been traditionally published and will be sharing more on that. I will be sharing about my experiences of independent publishing (Authorhouse and Createspace) and what keeps me going.

You can leave any questions or suggestion for discussion here in the comments. You can also e-mail your questions/comments to me or to or text 1.443.934.9039 * The show is going to be Live on BlogTalk Radio at 8amPST, 11amEST, 4pmGMT and 4pm Nigerian time. Call 1.646.929.1905 during the LIVE show to join the conversation. Here’s the direct link to the show, and you can share it with as many people as possible; 

You can also participate in the live chat room if you register with Blogtalk Radio. I'll also be running a tweet stream, so follow me @Myne_Whitman

Do enjoy your weekend, and hope some of you can tune in. Mwah!

Frequently Asked Questions - Authorhouse and Book Promotion

I'm from India. I was looking to publish my poetry book with Authorhouse(UK). Just wanted to know if I can rely on them with regards to the promotion of my book. As this is a poetry book so what are your suggestions- are there enough poetry lovers. Can I take this step ahead?

Looking forward to hearing from you.



Thanks for your mail. I think there are enough lovers of poetry but I have to tell you that Authorhouse will not promote your book. You have to do all the marketing and publicity for your book if you go with them. However they will make sure the book is available in many places so that you can reach a much wider audience, in India, America, Europe and beyond.

Good luck with your writing.


Frequently Asked Questions: Comparing Createspace and Authorhouse

First off, I know this FAQ series is not for everyone but please bear with me and those who may find it useful. My replies are not meant to be gospel or comprehensive, they're only from my experience. Do feel free to chip in your own thoughts in the comments. Today's post is another question I get asked quite a bit since my second book, A Love Rekindled was released via Createspace.


Hi Myne,
I have a collection of short stories published as Ebook. I am thinking of publishing it in hard copy but I don't even know where to start. I am currently working on a novel. I just want to know stuff about publishing in hard copy. I just knew you would be able to advice me due to your wealth of experience. Thanks & God bless u.



There are several ways of self-publishing the paperback of your books. I have used two of them myself and went for the second after I was not fully satisfied with the first.


I would say it was much easier going with Createspace than Authorhouse, especially on being able to have a more affordable book. When you go with the least expensive publishing package, both are about the same price at an average of $600. My biggest issue with Authorhouse is that cost of producing your book which was around $10 for me, and also this price is fixed so you can't change it along the line. This translates to highly priced books and especially if you want to get any appreciable royalty.

On both I went with the paid-for service and did not have to worry about interior layouts or cover design issues. However Createspace has a completely free option where you design the cover, interior and do everything else yourself. The publishing consultants at CS were helpful and the customer service always on call. However I was a bit impatient with their time lags when any change needed to be done, it is usually 5 working days and no earlier. That said, that give me the leeway to be sure of what I really wanted.

The only drawback for me so far is that they only sell on I had assumed this meant all the Amazons like AH did for me, but CS is basically American. They said my book may later be for sale on and others but I won't be getting the Amazon royalty but the third party one which due to my low price is almost next to nothing. I have complained about this to them and hopefully with time, they will rearrange it. The good part about them too is how responsive and willing to meet you halfway the staff generally are.

One final thing to remember is that bookstores will rarely stock your book as they regard CS and Amazon as competitors. And it's not just CS, they do not like Print on Demand books because it's usually non-returnable so this also affects Authorhouse and most other self publishers/vanity press. I later learnt that a way to go behind this is to also publish with Lightening Source at the same time since they distribute with Ingrams which the bookstores use.

Hope this helps. Best of luck with the book.

Frequently Asked Questions - Learning to write from online courses

Hello Myne,

I'm a fan of your blog and your writing. Lately, I realise I have many ideas that I'd like to write down but can't seem to be articulate. I remember a previous post in which you mentioned that you took free writing lessons. Could you please recommend any online programme?

Many thanks,



This is a link I bookmarked two years ago and which I refer to on a regular basis.

When I started out then, I found the Creative Writing Suite 101 course very useful, as well as the Write what you know from the Open University UK.

I have moved on since then to the editing parts, but you can pick and choose as they suite you.

Hope it helps,


Frequently Asked Questions - I want to be a published author


Congrats on your anniversary, it actually looks like I've been reading Myne Whitman for like 3 years,

I have been meaning to ask, how do I go about being/learning to be an author, its not like I consider myself much of a good writer, but good or not, I have some little things I write every now and then and I dream of publishing them someday.

I don't want to keep thinking about it all on my own, just said to ask some more established writers like you people.

I work as an Engineer, I speak more with figures and drawings, so English sef na difficult thing. but writing as always been a want to help me start off?



Thanks on your email. It is readers like you that has brought the blog so far, maybe I would have fallen off without supporters, who knows?

To be a writer is not too hard, one just have to keep writing. For this, there are a lot of resources out there on the web and you can also buy some books that help. Personally, I am still taking some online courses and the exercises that come with them have been a great help. Check out some of them here.

To be an author on the other hand, you have to find a publisher. I was able to get enough finances to publish myself but that is not the only possible way in the industry. Usually, you send in your manuscript to already established publishing companies until one of them buys it and gives you a contract. That way they handle all the more time consuming chores of publicity and marketing of your book while you continue writing. Check out

Also, if you can direct me to your blog, I can help by drawing publicity your way. Also I can read and comment on your work. If you want a wider audience, you may check out It is a website I set up for aspiring Nigerian writers and is really bustling. As time goes on, I intend to send out short stories published there for national and international contests.

I wish you all the best.


Blogging Basics for the Beginning Writer - Raquel Byrnes (Guest Author)

My guest author for today is Raquel Byrnes, a blogger, writer and published author of Purple Knot - released June 3 by White Rose Publishing. Continuing in my Blogging Series, Raquel has agreed to share tips for beginner writers who also blog. Raquel has been blogging since 2009 and her debut novel,As an author who also started off blogging, I totally agree with the points that Raquel shares. She also reiterate some of the tips I shared under finding your blog niche, this is expecially important for would be authors. Well, let's hear first about the newly minted author...

Raquel Byrnes lives in Southern, California with her husband of sixteen years and their six children. She considers inspirational fiction a wonderful way to minister to others. She writes romantic suspense with an edge-your-seat pace. Her debut is the first book of the Shades of Hope Series, and was released on June 3rd from White Rose Publishing. You can visit her at her website: and her writing blog, Edge of Your Seat Romance. Her book is already available on Amazon, and you can buy by clicking on the image to the left.

Blogging Basics for the Beginning Writer by Raquel Byrnes

First of all. Do it. Having a blog is an important aspect of getting yourself ready for publication. Here are a few reasons why.
• You connect with other writers. This is the single most fruitful reason to blog. You encounter like minds and encouragement. With the solitary existence of a writer’s life, a few friends who know what your struggles are make big difference.
• You learn consistency. A blog doesn’t gain followers or keep them without new posts on a regular basis. Writing to a schedule with help you as a writer.
• You learn from your peers. One of my favorite blogging activities is joining in blogfests. It’s where a blogger will host a theme and you can sign up to participate. Then on the given day, you post your excerpt or flash fiction piece and fellow writers offer advice and tips. It’s helpful and you learn to take critique…two advantages to you as an author.

So how do you get started? It’s not as hard as you might think. Blogger is extremely user friendly with drag and drop elements and standard templates to get you going right way. Wordpress is another popular site builder, also free.
Some things to keep in mind when starting a blog that will save you the palm to forehead moment later in the game…
• Choose your blog name carefully. It should have something to do with your genre, your name, or the kind of books you write. Imagine an agent’s face when you tell him your blog is called CatBoots47 and you write horror.
• Decide what you will blog about. Is it a chronicle of your writing journey? Is it about your comic book collection? Do you take photographs and post them with blurbs? Choose something and stick with it. Nothing hurts you more than a blog with no direction.
• Don’t ignore it for weeks. Yes, life is hectic. I know you have things to do. But posting once a week or even twice a week is helpful in keeping followers and growing your connections. If you consistently have nothing new, then people will stop checking.
Finally, I want to remind you to have fun. This is a casual medium. The tone in conversational and friendly. It’s a place to show your personality, what you are passionate about, and to encourage others.
It’s a place to interact. Don’t forget to answer the comments, follow back, and join in the conversation. You’ll be glad you did.

Frequently Asked Questions - Authorhouse Publishing

So I have a contact me link on both this blog and on my website too, and often I receive emails from various people. Some of the mails are just to say congrats, ask where they can get my books, and so on. But a lot of the emails are usually asking about blogging or self-publishing, and I have decided to start a series here and share some of these information. While removing any personal identifiers, I believe that some of the questions and answers will be of use to a wider audience than just the person asking.

To start off, I'll be answering questions on Authorhouse. Read on and I'll answer any follow-on questions if you leave them in the comments...

Hi Myne, (I like this name)

My sis recommended your book, i am yet to read the book but i just wanted to congratulate you on actually finishing and publishing the books. I write childrens' books as well, i have been writing them for about two years now and i am still unpublished; due to the fact that i just don't "get" self publishing; don't laugh :-) I see you have published through Lulu and Authorhouse; may i please pick your brain on which of these two is the better option for a first time publisher? I have approached Authorhouse and they are willing to publish my books even before reading it you see, that is part of why i don't get it. I am confident that (by the Grace Of God) my books will sell, i just thought that they should at least read them first. Am i being old fashioned? Do tell me what you think please, i most definitly will appreciate your advise a great deal. Thanks for your time. See, just like you, i don't know how to talk small, please pardon the long letter ;-) Regards,

Dear XXX,

Thank you for visiting my website and for your email.

Self publishing is really hard work and I'm not even talking of recouping my investment yet. I prefer Authorhouse to Lulu because they're more experienced and with wider reach. So they're responsible for making the book available to online retailers, mine is to promote and keep it out there. I'm trying my best but it's easier that I don't have a full time job.

Authorhouse publishes children's books too and you are the one who pays for it. That is why they're not bothered to read it before accepting to go ahead. They do not pay you, you make money when you sell the books. When you are ready, you send them the electronic copy, that is what they work with. And it has to be the complete manuscript.

I hope that helps and all the best in your writing efforts. Let mem know if you have any more questions.

Best Regards,

Myne Whitman