Bob Mayer is a NY Times Bestselling author, graduate of West Point, former Green Beret and the feeder of two Yellow Labs, most famously Cool Gus. He's had over 70 books published including the #1 series Time Patrol, The Green Berets, Area 51, and Atlantis. He is the CEO of Cool Gus Publishing. Born in the Bronx, having travelled the world (usually not tourist spots), he now lives peacefully with his wife (who also collaborates with him), and said labs. and

The Novel Writer's Toolkit by Bob Mayer

Writing a novel and getting it published: That's your goal. And nothing will keep you from making it happen. Such a goal, of course, presents a number of challenges. Make sure you have the tools you need to overcome them and succeed.

In THE NOVEL WRITER'S TOOLKIT, NY Times Best-Selling author Bob Mayer shares a veteran writer's hard-won advice with a style that's straight from the hip. He lays out the nuts and bolts of novel writing, along with guidelines for starting, finishing and revising your work.

You'll learn how to:

Develop story-worthy ideas

Translate those ideas into a compelling plot — one that keeps readers mesmerized

Pace your story for maximum excitement

Create realistic, complicated characters

Submit attention-getting manuscripts

Self-contained chapters make it easy to focus on the just the elements you need. Take in the advice, sharpen your skills, and hit the ground running. Mayer provides all the reliable information and instruction you need to make your dreams of publication come true.

What are you waiting for? THE NOVEL WRITER'S TOOLKIT ensures that you're properly equipped for success!


Bob Mayer is one of those guys who writes a kick-ass story and shares his knowledge with the world. His novels have hit The New York Times bestseller list, and his nonfiction challenges writers to hit the same heights. The Novel Writer's Toolkit has something for everyone, from the beginning to the old pro. – Kristine Kathryn Rusch



  • "A book to inspire, instruct and challenge the writer in everyone."

    – #1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Susan Wiggs
  • "An invaluable resource for beginning and seasoned writers alike. Don't miss out."

    – #1 NY Times Best-Selling Author Terry Brooks
  • "I have always loved how your programs delved deeply into the psychological models you need to develop characters."

    – Co-Creator of the Chicken Soup Books Jack Canfield



This book is the journey through developing an idea and turning it into story. I'm going to give you the tools that can help your manuscript rise above others in either the slush pile or the vast ocean of newly self-published books.

Most writing is not a special gift or talent. Writing is a skill that can be taught. It can be likened to bricklaying; you learn it one brick at a time, and you get better the more bricks you lay.

The key is to always be willing to learn, grow and develop these skills. A writer, in order to master their craft, must be willing to change.

If you talk to those who work in hospices, they'll tell you what lessons their dying patients bestow upon them. One word keeps coming up again and again: regret.

When faced with death, people look back over their lives. All the missed opportunities, the misplaced priorities, the things that weren't done. Only a handful of people focus on what they did do and are content. These people have negotiated the five emotional steps of change, which are Elizabeth Kubler-Ross' stages of Death & Dying. The last stage is acceptance. Kubler-Ross found that only 5% of those who were told they had a terminal illness were able to negotiate those five stages.

That number strikes a cord, because in my Write It Forward book, I refer to the 5% rule for internally motivated change. I've taught writing for decades and have always been shocked at how few writers actually change anything in their writing. I am no longer shocked. I have acceptance that I cannot change anyone but me. I can assist others if they desire it. This is based on my experiences and, more importantly, what I've learned from other writers, books, shows, and life.

78% of Americans believe they can write a book. I'd be willing to bet 77% of them will die regretting they never did. It's not about getting published. It's about creating and acting instead of reacting, often too late.

You have only one thing stopping you from writing the best book you are capable of. You.

This is a Toolkit because no tool is wrong. If I need to fasten two pieces of wood together and instead of picking up a hammer and nail, pick up a saw, it is not the tool's fault. It's mine.

I'm going to lay out numerous writing tools on these pages that will help you develop your craft as a writer. However, becoming an artist is up to you.

Point of view is the most critical style element in writing. It's also important in following the way I teach writing. I've been making a living writing for well over two decades and with each year and every new manuscript come new lessons learned. Over that time period I've taught writing novels and getting published at various workshops and for numerous organizations. I've attended many workshops and listened to other authors present. I've read many books and watched many movies and shows, constantly analyzing the writing, to learn new ways of creating. I've seen numerous ideas, stories and manuscripts in the course of teaching, helping other writers, and judging contests. I've been published by six different American publishers, many foreign publishers, worked with over two dozen editors, and have had four primary agents. I've been traditionally published by the Big Six in New York, and non-traditionally published through my own imprint. I've had hardcover, trade paperback, mass-market paperback, print on demand, and eBooks published across the range of possible platforms.

The words that follow are my experiences and opinions. They were born out of my desire to give those I taught something solid when they attended a seminar or class or bought a book.

Too many people lament the state of publishing and the "crap" that fills the shelves in the local bookstore or has been uploaded as an ebook. My goal in this book is not to complain but to explain; to tell you about the craft and art of writing so you can accomplish your goals.

The world of writing is a very diverse one and there is a place in it for just about everything and everyone. Things are changing rapidly, faster than ever, and I think it's an exciting time to be an author, with more opportunities than ever before.

The bottom line is I write because I enjoy it. That doesn't mean it's easy. The one commonality I have seen in every successful writer I've met is that they work very, very hard. There is a large degree of craftsmanship required to write a novel. It's not magic; it's hard work combined with the ability to constantly accept being critiqued and to critique one's self.

There's an advantage to the information in this book. It was written over the course of my writing career so you are going to get information written when I was tightly focused on craft, and you are also going to get information when I was tightly focused on the art of writing. Most writing books give you one or the other—here you get the whole deal. I've learned more about the craft of writing in this past year, my 22nd as a published author, than in all the years previous, because I've been more open to learning than ever before.

Additionally, in the last several years, I've focused on what it takes to be a successful author, not just in terms of the writing, but in terms of not only surviving, but thriving in the world of publishing. Most of that is in my Write It Forward program and book, but I will cover some of that here when it's needed.

The bottom line is the book. I love books. I love reading them and I love writing them. So if you love books, the words that follow are a glimpse behind the mysterious curtain of how they are born in the crucible of passion and idea, then written, and published.

I will take you step by step on the journey from original idea to the completed manuscript.

"I am always doing that which I cannot do in order to learn how to do it." Pablo Picasso.

Anything that upsets you, makes you feel bad, makes you angry, touches any emotional button is something you must focus on. We get upset whenever we hear or read something that affects us. Because we are hearing a truth, we react defensively with emotion. Our strongest defenses are built around our greatest weaknesses. As a writer, you will only get better by addressing the weakest parts of your writing. We all tend to want to focus on our strengths, but a book is only as good as the weakest part.

"I'm convinced fear is at the root of most bad writing." Stephen King

Often it is fear that keeps us from achieving our goals. It is fear that keeps us from writing. It is fear that stops us from living our inner dream. But fear is the seed of regret.

So. If you want to write, remember: No regrets.

Live your inner dream.

How To Use This Book

Read it through from start to finish to get the big picture, then go back and examine the parts. While I have broken this book down into tools, they are all interconnected. Just as a good novel has many loops that tie it together, so does this book. You have to study all the pieces, the tools, that I am laying out in front of you, and then try to put them all together in the large concept of not only writing a novel, but being a professional writer.