Friday, March 25, 2011

Writing Rules

There are so many opinions about what it takes to be a successful author. I recently read an article that reminded me of the rules. I’m sure every agent, publisher or author could tell us the “rules.” Here are some, these are basic, can’t argue with them, so here they are:

1). Write a Good Book:
That’s like a no brainer. But what is a good book? I’m not going to knock any successful author but we know the list spans from poor writing to exceptional and everything in between. So I’m not really sure I can define a good book except to say, do the best you can. Find someone that’s anal. Yup, get them to read your stuff looking for gaps in the story, thoughts unanswered and the stuff we miss because we’re to close to the work.

2). Know the Market:
This one bothers me. I think most of us write in the genre we do, because that’s where we’re comfortable. That’s where we can visualize the story. See it like a movie and then write it. For me, to write in a genre because that genre has the biggest sales doesn’t work for me. I don’t see myself writing YA paranormal romance.

3). A Good Cover and Title:
Can’t help but agree with this one. Nick Grabowsky of Black Bed Sheet Books has done my last three book covers. I love them. Color, graphic blended images that at first you might not notice, yeah they’re cool. For $0.99 they’re almost worth buying just for the covers. For titles, I’ve always enjoyed a book that somewhere buried in a chapter, the title is used in a sentence, just kind of like that. No science behind it.

4). Competitive Price:
Here’s the latest thinking on price. If you self publish e-books and you’re a new author, your highest price should be $2.99. This price point gives the author the 70% royalty that Amazon offers. But if you’re new and like all of us, we need to grow our reader base, your first novels should be $0.99. At that price it’s an impulse purchase, but if readers like your style they’ll buy more. There is even an argument for offering your novels for free. This approach is in the hopes that readers will purchase the author’s other works.

5). The Book Description:
It has to be something that draws the potential reader to purchase the book. I’m sure there are better ones than mine. But here we go. For “Into the Spell,” I wrote this:

Hypnotist, deranged…
Ghost, Madame Blavatsky…
Serial killer, female…
Bent woman, Kim Bennett…

Into the Spell is Norm Applegate’s second book. It’s a paranormal thriller about a serial killer controlled by a hypnotist, who speaks to the dead.

The Mayor's daughter is murdered. Kim Bennett and FBI agent A.L. Hague are catapulted into the dark side of hypnosis, paranormal behaviors, ghosts and the occult. The situation gets worse. A .44 caliber bulldog is found. The same pistol used by the Son of Sam. It sets the clock ticking in an adventure of sex and control.

6). Write More Books:
Don’t know if these stats are true, but what the heck even if they’re not, directionally the logic seems sound. Still think that the numbers are over inflated. But you get the point. The more books an author has for sale the more they’ll sell.
1 book published = 10 books sold per month
2 books published = 50 to 60 books sold per month
3 books published = 200 to 400 books sold per month
4 books published = 1,000 books sold per month
5 books published – over 10,000 books sold per month

Here are some other stats I found:
·      In 2007: according to Xlibris's own internal reports, obtained by Writer Beware, 4% of its titles had sold more than 1,000 copies. That means 96% sold fewer than 1000 copies!
·      A Lulu bestseller is a book that sells 500 copies.
·      The average book from a POD service sells fewer than 200 copies

7).  Market:
Even if you’ve done all of the above, how does a potential buyer find you? You’ve got to market your book. Here’s a short list.  You get the idea.
Facebook, Twitter, Goodreads, The Kindle Boards and your own blog.

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