I have good news about the Kill Switch release!

It’s been two years since Kill Process was released. Kill Switch was a daunting book to write. It’s 20% longer than Kill Process, which, when it was released, was the longest novel I’d written by far. Kill Switch also tackles new topics that required more research and finesse to handle properly. And while writing this novel, I also bought a house, moved, tackled house projects, switched roles at my day job, and more.

So it is with both excitement and relief that I’m thrilled to finally announce that Kill Switch will be released in October. The proofreading is done. The final formatting is done. The audiobook is nearly complete. The cover design is done. I will have a firm launch date within a week or two.

As usual, Patreon backers will be the first to receive Kill Switch, and they should receive their ebooks the first weekend in October, and the paperback prior to the official launch.

Thank you so much for your patience! I’m delighted to get Kill Switch into everyone’s hands.

The new cover was designed by Jenn Reese, who did a wonderful job. Thank you Jenn!

Kill Switch by William Hertling

Kill Switch Cover


Cover of Kill Process by William HertlingGoodreads Choice is one of the few completely reader driven book awards.

Kill Process was not part of the initial ballot, but thanks to enthusiastic write-in votes, it has made it to the semifinal round! Thank you so much to everyone who voted during the initial round.

Now that Kill Process is on the ballot during this semifinal round, I hope you’ll consider voting for it. (Even if you voted for it during the initial voting round, I think you need to vote again.)

Vote here:



When I wrote Kill Process, I had no idea how it would be received. It was a departure from my existing series and my focus on AI. Would existing fans enjoy the new work, or be disappointed that I had changed subject matter? Would my focus on issues such as domestic violence and corporate ownership of data make for an interesting story, or detract from people’s interest? Just how much technology could I put in a book, anyway? Is JSON and XML a step too far?

I’m happy to be able to say that people seem to be enjoying it very much. A numerical rating can never completely represent the complexity of a book, but Kill Process is averaging 4.8 stars across 98 reviews on Amazon, a big leap up compared to my earlier books.

I’m also delighted that a lot of the reviews specifically call out that Kill Process is an improvement over my previous writing. As much as I enjoyed the stories in Avogadro Corp and AI Apocalypse, I readily admit the writing is not as good as I wanted it to be. I’m glad the hard work makes a difference people can see. Here are a few quotes from Amazon reviews that made me smile:

  • “I think this is some of his best writing, with good character development, great plot line with twists and turns and an excellent weaving in of technology. Hertling clearly knows his stuff when it comes to the tech, but it doesn’t overwhelm the plot line.” — Greg-C
  • “This was an outstanding read. I thought I was going to get a quick high tech thriller. What I got was an education in state of the art along with some great thinking about technology, a business startup book, and a cool story to boot. I came away really impressed. William Hertling is a thoughtful writer and clearly researches the heck out of his books. While reading three of the supposedly scifi future aspects of the book showed up as stories in the NY Times. He couldn’t be more topical. This was a real pleasure.” — Stu the Honest Review Guy
  • “A modern day Neuromancer about cutting edge technological manipulation, privacy, and our dependence on it.” — AltaEgoNerd
  • “Every William Hertling book is excellent–mind-blowing and -building, about coding, hacking, AI and how humans create, interact and are inevitably changed by software. They are science fiction insofar as not every hack has been fully executed…yet. His latest, Kill Process, is a spread-spectrum of hacking, psychology and the start-up of a desperately needed, world-changing technology created by a young team of coders gathered together by a broken but brilliant leader, Angie, whose secrets and exploits will dominate your attention until the final period.” — John Kirk

You get the idea. I’m glad that accurate, tech-heavy science fiction has an audience. As long as people keep enjoying it, I’ll keep writing it.

Advanced Platform Building

Jane Friedman

  • The right message + the right words + the right audience = massive success
  • Owned media
    • Your website, your blog, email newsletter, any content you host yourself
    • You don’t own social media, you don’t have people’s names, you can’t control it.
  • You must have a website
    • Critical tool for long-term decision making: Google Analytics
    • It’s free, and even if you don’t think you need it now, put it on anyway, so you can have the data in the future.
  • Google Mobile Usability
    • Google Webmaster Tools – Mobile Usability
    • You must fix this, because it affects how your site is scored and ranked
  • Design unity and repetition
    • Images, colors, fonts, headers/banners, icon or illustration style
    • Look at all touchpoints: Website/blog, email newsletter, business crds, social media cover images: should all echo the same design elements.
    • How does your website name and description and top links appear in google search results
      • The metadata appears in many different places
      • Yoast SEO plugin for WordPress
  • Email lists
    • Number one way to reach most important fans.
    • At least once a month so people don’t forget who you are, but not more than once per week.
    • Content
      • Media consumption list: all the cool stuff you used/read/consumed
      • Funny stuff
      • Q&A
      • Behind the scenes
      • Giveaways, discounts, competitions
      • Book launch campaigns
    • Make it consistent and sustainable
    • List building: your website
      • Highly trafficked pages
      • Homepage
      • End-of-page call to action
      • And social media
      • Mailmunch: popup survey that is not too annoying
      • Sumome: popup survey alternative
      • Both of above integrate with mailchimp
      • Doubled mailing list in six months
      • Use a custom subject line à more effective than
      • Consider convertkit email mailing list
  • Marketing Funnels
    • Marketing communications
      • Objectives: Sales-focused, message-focused
    • Message impact sequence:
      • (1) Awareness, (2) comprehension, (3) conviction, (4) action (the sale)
    • Funnel works best when you know what the call-to-action is for someone at each stage of the funnel
  • Common calls to actions
    • Buy my latest book.
    • Sign up for my email newsletter.
    • Download this free excerpt or guide.
    • Take this quiz.
    • Sign up for my class.
    • Follow me on X social media network.
    • Language matters:
      • “Be the Smartest Author: Stay informed about the best digital media tools and meaningful publishing industry news (2-3x month).”
    • What do you give people that’s free that attracts new people?
    • What do you give people that are fans?
    • To attract new readers or fans: Consider things people can easily say yes to
      • Giveaways, discounts, free first book in a series, free workshop or course, free downloadable guide
    • Existing readers and fans
      • Use social media to generate excitement about upcoming work (cover reveals questions)
  • The more books or content you have, the more options you have.
    • Lead magnets: the thing you give away for free to get customers.
  • Facebook ads: work with a consultant who helps you set up Facebook ads.
  • Facebook Pixel: You add something to your website, and then Facebook allows you to create ads targeting people who have visiting your website.
  • Working with influencers:
    • What’s the most exciting thing you’re working on?
    • What’s the most challenging thing you’re working on?
    • These can open up possibilities to help someone.
    • You can do it strategically, but you have to do it from a good place, not a manipulative place.
  • Working with VIPs
    • Avoid asking for book launch favors on social media.
    • Personal email should be used for important requests.
      • Be specific.
      • VIPs may want to help, but they don’t have the attention span or mental space to figure out what is best.
  • Content
    • What different ways can content be used? Use all the different formats, not just one.
      • Example: VQRTrueStory
        • Instagram photo with story as caption
        • Story as article on blog
        • Best story over 3 months goes into the print journal
    • Do image overlays: Images get far more engagements and clicks than just a link.
    • For an article, do a photo with a pull quote overlaid on it, then share that for different networks
    • Flowcharts are very popular on Tumblr…so Jane created one.
    • Consider a series or challenge that solicits participation
      • They often get saved, shared, and forwarded.
      • User generated content
      • Example: “30 day poetry challenge”
      • Simplegreensmoothies: challenge people to drink 1 green smoothie a day.
      • Posted different recipes every day for 30 days
    • Harness power of images and videos
      • Images vastly more shared than just text or text and links (10x)
      • Canva.com, will help you create the images for social media
    • Where to get an easy start with video
      • Facebook Live (video): can only be done with phone or tablet, so quality can be low
      • Snapchat
      • Instagram
  • Private Facebook Groups
  • User-Generated Content
    • Very task-oriented, or people won’t do it.
    • Must be monitored in some way to keep on topic
    • Built-in reward: must be tangible benefits to everyone
    • Focuses on relevant topics and keywords
    • Does not necessarily mean unedited
  • Tapas app: https://tapas.io/
    • Serialize books and make much
  • Use Google Trends to look up search terms and relate search terms…it tells you what people are searching for, which tells you which words to use it in your posts and post titles
  • Soovle is a tool that searches multiple sites at once to tell you what people are searching for
  • Also use “Searches related to <searchterm>” at the bottom of the search results page
  • Google Search Console: How are you being found now?
  • After you do this analysis, go back and look at your titles: make sure they are clear, literal, and related to your books
  • Goodreads and LibraryThing
  • FollowerWonk: to analyze twitter followers, type of tweets, etc.
    • MozTools : SEO Moz, open site explorer
    • Make every marketing effort trackable
  • Tools for Tracking
    • ly
    • Google Analystics
    • Amazon Affiliate


Kill Process Cover

I’m excited to announce that my new novel, Kill Process, is now available!

Here’s where you can get it right now:

More storefronts, such as iBooks and Barnes & Noble, will be available in the coming days. I’m also very happy to announce that, thanks to in part to fast work from Brick Shop Audio, the audio book edition is already available!

The concept:

By day, Angie, a twenty-year veteran of the tech industry, is a data analyst at Tomo, the world’s largest social networking company; by night, she exploits her database access to profile domestic abusers and kill the worst of them. She can’t change her own traumatic past, but she can save other women.

When Tomo introduces a deceptive new product that preys on users’ fears to drive up its own revenue, Angie sees Tomo for what it really is—another evil abuser. Using her coding and hacking expertise, she decides to destroy Tomo by building a new social network that is completely distributed, compartmentalized, and unstoppable. If she succeeds, it will be the end of all centralized power in the Internet.

But how can an anti-social, one-armed programmer with too many dark secrets succeed when the world’s largest tech company is out to crush her and a no-name government black ops agency sets a psychopath to look into her growing digital footprint?

A few of the early endorsements:

“Awesome, thrilling, and creepy: a fast-paced portrayal of the startup world, and the perils of our personal data and technical infrastructure in the wrong hands.”
Brad Feld, managing director of Foundry Group

“His most ambitious work yet. A murder thriller about high tech surveillance and espionage in the startup world. Like the best of Tom Clancy and Barry Eisner.”
Gene Kim, author of The Phoenix Project

“Explores the creation and effects of the templated self, the rise of structured identity and one-size-fits-all media culture, and feasible alternatives.”
Amber Case, author of Calm Technology

I hope you have a blast reading Kill Process. I certainly enjoyed writing it.
— Will

My editor is working on Kill Process right now. I’ll receive the marked up manuscript next week and will process all the changes and comments before turning it over to my proofreader. They’ll work on it for about a week, then return it to me, and I’ll process all those corrections. Then the book goes out for formatting to two different people: one for ebook and one for print. When they’re done, everything gets proofed one last time, and if it all looks good, I’ll fulfill Patreon awards to backers.

After that, I’ll upload files to the various vendors, and a week or so after that, the books are live and available for sale. While all that’s happening, there will also be final tweaks to the covers, coordination with the audiobook narrators, and more.

Even as close to the end as this, it’s still hard to predict whenever Kill Process will be available. Do I get a file back right at the start of a long weekend when I can be completely focused on it? Or do I receive it as I’m entering a long stretch with my kids and my day job? It’s hard to say.

If things go well and there are no major issues, I hope to fulfill Patreon rewards by late May, and have the book for sale by mid-June. I’d like the audiobook to be available by July. If I can get anything out earlier, I will.

Here’s a look at the covers for Kill Process. The black and red cover will be the regular edition, available for sale through all the usual outlets. The hooded-hacker cover will be a signed, limited edition available to Patreon backers.


Trade paperback and ebook cover


Signed, limited-edition cover


Here’s the working description for Kill Process:

By day, Angie, a twenty-year veteran of the tech industry, is a data analyst at Tomo, the world’s largest social networking company; by night, she exploits her database access to profile domestic abusers and kill the worst of them. She can’t change her own traumatic past, but she can save other women.

But when Tomo introduces a deceptive new product that preys on users’ fears to drive up its own revenue, Angie sees Tomo for what it really is–another evil abuser. Using her coding and hacking expertise, she decides to destroy Tomo by building a new social network that is completely distributed, compartmentalized, and unstoppable. If she succeeds, it will be the end of all centralized power in the Internet.

But how can an anti-social, one-armed programmer with too many dark secrets succeed when the world’s largest tech company is out to crush her and a no-name government black ops agency sets a psychopath to look into her growing digital footprint?

The Turing Exception, book four in the Singularity series, is now available from Audible and iTunes. Narrated by Jane Cramer, this unabridged audio version of The Turing Exception completes the Singularity series.

In the year 2043, humans and AI coexist in a precarious balance of power enforced by a rigid caste reputation system designed to ensure that only those AI who are trustworthy and contribute to human society increase in power.

Everything changes when a runaway nanotech event leads to the destruction of Miami. In the grim aftermath, a powerful underground collective known as XOR concludes that AI can no longer coexist with humanity.

AI pioneers Catherine Matthews, Leon Tsarev, and Mike Williams believe that mere months are left before XOR starts an extermination war. Can they find a solution before time runs out?

I hope you enjoy it!

Original Avogadro Corp cover.

Original cover.

When I was ready to publish Avogadro Corp, I had an image of what I wanted the cover to look like: I wanted a menacing data center. Which is kind of funny when you think about it, but I think the original cover was actually a good advertisement for what you were getting into with the book.

Maureen Gately designed the cover, and she took a simple image and added some depth with the typography. I always liked the way this cover functioned: since Avogadro Corp was science fiction, and most science fiction book covers were very dark, whether you were looking at a physical bookshelf or an Amazon listing, the white cover really stood out.

Original AI Apocalypse cover.

Original cover.

When AI Apocalypse came out, we didn’t have a ton of time to explore new concepts. There was only four months between the books (December 2011 to March 2012). Maureen took the Avogadro Corp cover, and added visual elements to hint at the move out of the data center and into the real world. On the plus side, it creates a strong series identity. I think it’s a stronger cover, and in some ways, it’s probably the cover we should have used for Avogadro Corp.

Original Last Firewall cover.

Original cover.

Somewhere between then and The Last Firewall (out in August 2013), I found a piece of stock imagery that jumped out at me, and I knew I wanted to use it for the next cover. To me, this image represents Cat’s personality being uploaded into the net in the climatic battle scene. This was my favorite of the original covers, and I have a blown up version hanging next to my desk that’s been signed by Maureen. I also turned it into a nice laptop sticker, and I’ve mailed out a bunch of those.

In 2014, I started regularly hanging out with my friend Jason Gurley. I first knew Jason as a writer, but he’s also an amazing cover artist who was very much in demand, and had a waiting list months long. But his writing career was starting to take off, and he decided to retire from the cover designing business.

Every time we would see each other, he’d say something to the effect of “You should really let me design you a new cover for Avogadro Corp.” Then it started becoming “You know, I’m retiring from cover design soon, you should really let me design you a new cover before it’s too late.”

Meanwhile, my process for publishing had become more rigorous. Whereas Avogadro Corp went through a single copyediting pass, The Last Firewall went through developmental editing, copyediting, manuscript proofreading, and post-formatting proofreading. Around this time, I noticed that I was still getting some negative reviews on Amazon about typos and grammar issues in Avogadro Corp, and decided I needed to do a second edition of the book to bring it up to par with the rest of the series.


Second edition cover.

I realized that a new cover would be the perfect complement to the second edition. So one night I emailed Jason and said “OK, I’d like to do it.” And he emailed me back about ten minutes later saying “Well, I just happened to have mocked up these four concepts a month ago, in case you said yes.” One of those four concepts turned into the new cover for Avogadro. One of the other concepts was also really cool, and I asked if I could also later use that concept for the fourth book in the series. Jason graciously said yes.

The next book I worked on was The Case of the Wilted Broccoli, my children’s novel. I knew what I wanted, something that was vaguely a riff on Cory Doctorow’s Little Brother cover, but with little kids, drones, and computers. It clearly required custom artwork, something that neither Maureen nor Jason did. I’m a member of Codex, a writers community, and I soon got a recommendation for M.S. Corley, who did cover design and custom artwork. I loved the cover he created for Wilted Broccoli.


Final cover for Turing Exception.

More time passed, and I was far enough along with The Turing Exception to realize I needed to get started on the cover for it. I also needed to address the fact that books 1 and 4 would have new covers in the a certain style, but books 2 and 3 were still in the old style. The series needed to have a consistent identity. So I would need not one cover, but three new covers. By now Jason Gurley had retired from cover design. But Jason had liked the cover Mike Corley did for Wilted Broccoli so much that Jason had transfered all of his clients over to Mike. Mike agreed to do all the new covers for me, and Jason sent him the files for Avogadro Corp and the book 4 concept. Along the way, Mike realized he needed to make a few changes to Avogadro Corp to get it consistent with the rest of the series, so he actually ended up designing all four covers over a really short period of time.


Second edition cover.

Mike did some great things to create a thematic color treatment for the series. It might not be obvious with the ebook covers, but when you’re holding the physical books in your hand, it stands out. (Look at how the author photo on the back cover is handled, for example.)

There’s several cool things that happened with the redesign. I really wanted to keep elements of Maureen’s covers, because I felt it was important to honor the work she did, since those original covers really performed quite well, in terms of helping the commercial success of the series. You can clearly see those elements in the revised covers. The servers, clouds, and helicopter are there on the AI Apocalypse, and we’ve still got the woman transforming into packets on The Last Firewall cover.


Second edition cover.

The other very cool thing Mike did was something both aesthetically pleasing and functional. My print books are manufactured by Createspace in a print-on-demand process. It turns out a good book, but the cover registration is frequently off. This means that any hard edges that should align with where the cover folds around the spine might not be in the right place. So I wanted all of my covers to have a single wrap-around image. And that’s what Mike did.

Here’s an example of one of the paperback covers so you can see the wrap-around effect:

Wrap around cover design.

Wrap around cover design.

And all of the books with their new covers look lovely together as a set:


If you order any of the paperbacks on Amazon, you’ll be getting the new covers.

I really appreciate all of the hard work and countless revisions that Maureen Gately, Jason Gurley, and M.S. Corley put into these covers. Hopefully you like the new versions, and if you’ve bought the paperback versions, they should look great together on your bookshelf.

The Case of the Wilted Broccoli CoverI just released my newest novel and my first book for kids ages 7 through 11. It’s called The Case of the Wilted Broccoli:

Willow and her brothers, Elon and Linden, want to build the best science fair project ever, and their plan to build a quadcopter that can fly itself is sure to win. But they’re up against stiff competition, including Willow’s best friends.

The science fair takes an unexpected backseat when students at Mt. Hood Elementary start getting sick, including Willow. Everyone thinks it’s just a stomach flu, but Willow suspects there’s something wrong with the school lunches.

Willow, Elon, and Linden will have to work together, using their autonomous quadcopter and all their detective skills to trace their food back to its source to solveThe Case of the Wilted Broccoli.

It’s available as a paperback and on Kindle and Kobo. If you’ve got a kid in the right range (or know someone who does), please pick up a copy.

All writers, whether indie, small press, or large traditional publisher, must learn how to market themselves and their books. If they don’t get the word out about their book, no one will buy it. (This is also true of musicians and businesses, and I think there’s a lot that can be learned from these seemingly disparate areas.)
Eliot Peper is a friend and the author of Uncommon Stock a thriller about a tech startup. I really liked the book, but I also enjoyed watching Eliot’s path to publication. Eliot graciously offered to share his lessons learned about the book launch, the all-important first month that helps establish a book on bestseller lists and get word-of-mouth going.
Without further ado, Eliot:

On March 5th my first novel, Uncommon Stock debuted at #8 in its category on Amazon. Will is one of my favorite indie authors and his advice, codified in Indie and Small Press Book Marketing played a critical role in shaping my launch plan. He generously offered to let me share some of my lessons learned along the way. I hope you can use some of these strategies to help launch your own bestsellers! I look forward to reading them.

Here’s what you need to do to launch in the top ten:
  1. Write a good book. Without one, none of this matters. It’s tempting to try to think up devious ways to growth hack your book but at the end of the day, it’s all a wasted effort if your content isn’t truly awesome. My perspective on successful titles is really simple: write a book good enough that people who don’t know you will recommend it to their friends. If you can do that, you can probably ignore the rest of this list anyway.
  2. Don’t ask people to buy your book. “Buy my book” sounds like a used-car-salesman. “Read my book” sounds like an author.
  3. Influence influencers. If you already have a million Twitter followers and an oped in the New York Times then this won’t matter much to you. But if you’re a regular guy like me, then you’ll need help from people with platforms of their own to share your title. Brad Feld, a well known venture capitalist and tech blogger, shared Uncommon Stock via his blog and social channels and even temporarily switched his profile picture to the cover of the book. Why? Because I had been sending him drafts of the book since I finished writing Chapter 3. Will sums up the right approach to take with influencers of any kind (this includes media): give, give, give, give, ask. Do as many favors as you can think of for people and worry about the ROI later.

  4. Leverage your network. On/around launch day I sent ~200 individual personal emails, 2 email blasts to my list of ~600 members, published 3 blog posts, and flooded my social channels with content (you really only have an excuse to do this on Day 1). You need people to R3 your book: read, review, and recommend it. How can you inspire them to act? Create a sense of urgency (it’s launch day!) and tell them why their help is important (books that start strong snowball up Amazon’s algorithms).
  5. Cultivate gratitude and humility. Publishing is the path of 1000 favors. Every single person (including your mom) is doing you a solid by taking the time/money to purchase, read, and review your book. Think about how incredible it is that anyone at all is getting a kick out what reading what you write. Never stop telling people how much you appreciate their help, every little bit counts.
  6. Do something cool. It’s easier to get coverage and social media amplification if there’s more to talk about than the simple fact that it’s launch day. I created a Twitter account for Uncommon Stock’s protagonist (@MaraWinkel) and incited a Twitter battle with a few people with large followings. Heck, we even built a website for Mara’s startup and a major venture capital firm announced an investment in the fictional company.  This introduced new people to the story and was a talking point in itself.

  7. All format release. Make sure your book is available in digital and print formats on launch day. I didn’t do this because we were slow getting the print version through typesetting and I know it resulted in significant lost sales. I’ve also had a couple dozen people reach out to ask where they can get the print copy (so there must be many more that didn’t reach out). That sucks. I want to DELIGHT my readers in every possible interaction they have with me.
  8. Recruit a cadre of advance reviewers. The more reviews you can get on Amazon as soon as possible the better. I sent advance review copies out to ~50 people a couple of weeks before launch. Then I pinged those people shortly before launch day reminding them how useful an honest review from them would be. Then I reminded them on launch day that now was the time! We debuted with 28 reviews.
  9. Be strategic. Choose Amazon categories that are specific and not too competitive. Reach out to your alma mater and try to get in the alumni newsletter. Pitch low-lying bloggers or reporters with concise, compelling stories. Snag some endorsements from folks that have actually read your book. Etc.
  10. Write another good book. There’s nothing more important than building a backlist. It gives fans more of what they want. It gives prospective readers a new path to discovering you. Plus, writing books is why you’re doing all of this anyway!
There are more details available on how launch week went for Uncommon Stock here. If you’re interested in an adventure through the world of tech startups, read it!

For further reading, I highly recommend Will’s Indie and Small Press Book Marketing. He shares extensive detail on his various successes as an indie author and it’s the only book you need to read in order to prepare for your own release. I’m particularly impressed by how he’s applied growth hacking techniques like A/B testing to optimize his reader funnel. You should also check out the following three posts. I’ve found them insightful and actionable throughout the launch:

Oh, and one final thing. Don’t forget to take time to celebrate! It’s all too easy to get caught up in all the noise on launch day. Make sure to take a moment to appreciate how friggin’ cool it is that readers finally have your book in hand.
Eliot Peper is a writer in Oakland, CA. His first novel, Uncommon Stock  is a fictional thriller about a tech startup and the lead title for a new indie publishing company, FG Press  You can find it on Amazon and most major retailers. You can even download a free ten-chapter excerpt. When he’s not writing, Eliot works with entrepreneurs and investors to build new technology companies. He also blogs about writing, entrepreneurship, and adventure.