All posts by Angela Booth

About Angela Booth

Angela Booth is a top copywriter, multi-published author, and writing teacher. She offers many guides, courses and classes to help writers to enhance their skills on her websites. She also provides inspiration and motivation for writers on her writing blogs. Angela has been writing successfully since the late 1970s, and was online in the 1980s, long before the birth of the Web. Her business books have been widely published.

Self-Publishing: Write Today, Sell Tomorrow, With Short Stories

Self-Publishing: Write Today, Sell Tomorrow, With Short Stories

I love writing short stories because I’m a huge blogging fan. Blogging is instant publishing, and short stories are similar. You can write a short story today, and sell it tomorrow.

By the way, our Kindle Short Fiction Domination program is closing for good in a week. We’ve got upcoming releases, so you receive a special offering on our short story program until April 29.

“Yes, but readers don’t buy short stories in my genre…”

I often receive this response from authors when I suggest that they add short story writing to their self-publishing program. My response to that is always: “you will be surprised.”

Writing and publishing short stories is an efficient way to get more from your self-publishing efforts.

In this article, I suggested some of the ways in which you can use short fiction ebooks:

• They’re an easy way to make the switch to writing fiction;

• Short stories will boost your book sales on Amazon and elsewhere;

• You can build an email list, by offering a short story or two;

• Short fiction increases your visibility so you can build your author platform;

• It’s an easy way to develop a profitable career ghostwriting fiction for clients…

Write short stories fast: focus on scenes

The easiest way to write short stories (and novels, for that matter) is to focus on scenes.

My scenes average at around 1500 words. So for a short story, I aim at three scenes. I may write longer, but three scenes gives me a basic outline for a short story.

For more on writing in scenes, read Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction: 5 Magical Tips.

The first scene of a short story is the setup: introduce the story question

Your first scene is the setup for your short story: you introduce your characters, the situation, and the story question.

Your story question is the POINT of your novel. We discussed the story question in New Novelist: Write A Selling Novel With One Simple Strategy:

The point of a novel is often referred to as the “story question”, or “dramatic question.” Although the story question might not be stated overtly, it must exist for your novel to be satisfying to readers. In many genres, the genre itself offers insight to the story question:

  •  In mysteries — will the sleuth find the killer?
  • In romances — will the boy get the girl?
  • In thrillers — will the hero save the world?

Your short story’s second scene: a big obstacle or three

You’ve set up your short story. Now it’s time to add an obstacle.

In your mystery, for example, your sleuth is questioning suspects when the killer strikes again…

The climax — all is lost, BUT… your hero comes through in scene three

Your third scene is the climax. In a mystery, your sleuth has made a huge mistake. The killer has turned the tables on the sleuth, who’s facing death.

Here’s a tip for writing short stories: your climax is everything. Set up the climax from the first line of your story.

After the climax, wind up your short story in a few sentences…

And you’re done.

Kindle Short Fiction Domination closes on April 29

We’ve got a lot of upcoming releases, so we’re clearing the decks. You receive a special offering on Kindle Short Fiction Domination until April 29, when the program will close for good. Enjoy.

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

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What If You Were Twice As Successful, Or Even THREE Times More Successful Than You Are Today? There's No Ceiling On A Writer's Income... You Just Need To Be Prolific. More info →
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New Novelist: Write A Selling Novel With One Simple Strategy

New Novelist: Write A Selling Novel With One Simple Strategy

“I’ve done everything I can think of — bought advertising, did a blog tour, gave away free copies… Why aren’t my novels selling?” My coaching student was in despair, and that’s understandable. If you do everything “right” it’s devastating when a novel doesn’t sell.

Today, every novelist faces huge competition. In 2011, a novelist who could string together 60,000 words could make a great income. Not so in 2017. Authors who quit their day jobs to write are going back to those jobs because their incomes have dropped.

“My beta readers love my novel — I’ve got five star reviews. But no sales…”

My student sent me copies of his novels. I opened the first one and spotted the warning signs of a fatal problem right on the first page. I speed-read through the novel — and yes, the novel was dead on arrival.

Which brings us to…

New novelist: your simple strategy to write a selling novel

Here’s the strategy. Your novel must have a point. All the screaming excitement of your novel can’t and won’t make up for it if there’s no point.

The point of a novel is often referred to as the “story question”, or “dramatic question.” Although the story question might not be stated overtly, it must exist for your novel to be satisfying to readers. In many genres, the genre itself offers insight to the story question:

  • In mysteries — will the sleuth find the killer?
  • In romances — will the boy get the girl?
  • In thrillers — will the hero save the world?

Oddly enough, when a novelist writes a novel which has no point, it’s often sadly plain right from the first page. I call these novel openings “much ado about nothing.”

My student’s novel started with his hero in bed, waking up. OK — a fine opening, as long as the room explodes, or there’s a dead body beside him. There wasn’t an explosion, or a dead body. Nothing, except a whole heap of excitement about… waking up in the morning.

Readers are smart. When they buy a novel, they want a story that’s a real story. In other words, they want novels which have a point. When a novelist generates false excitement about waking up in the morning, readers are turned off. No matter how gorgeous your book’s cover, nothing makes up for nothing happening in your novel.

3 vital tips you need to write a selling novel, starting today

Let’s look at some tips to help you to write a selling novel.

1. What’s your point? Who wants what? Why can’t he get it?

Your novel must have a story question, and your story question must be concrete — something you can kick. 🙂 It shouldn’t be: “love conquers all” or similar. That can be your theme, if you want one.

The easiest way to decide on a story question (even for pantsers) is: who wants what, and why can’t he get it? Think about your favorite novels. You can identify the story question easily. In Pride and Prejudice, for example, it’s who gets the “young man of large fortune from the north of England.”

You’ll usually find the story question in the blurb (book description) — here’s the story question from the blurb of the bestselling novel, The Night Manager:

At the start of it all, Jonathan Pine is merely the night manager at a luxury hotel. But when a single attempt to pass on information … backfires terribly, and people close to Pine begin to die, he commits himself to a battle against powerful forces he cannot begin to imagine.

2. Write in scenes, and include the important elements of a scene to maintain suspense

In Write Hot Scenes For Bestselling Fiction, we said:

Scenes are the building blocks of your fiction

In the 21st century, every reader understands drama.

TV and movie stories are delivered in scenes. If you want lots of readers, you need to learn to deliver your stories in scenes too.

Readers are impatient. They just want the story. Deliver. Show, rather than tell. “Showing” means writing in scenes.

Want to write great fiction? Devote time to learning how to write scenes. Include these elements in your scenes to maintain suspense:

  • Setting;
  • Character development;
  • Sensory details — sight, sound, and more;
  • Plotting — movement on the story question.

3. STOP IT! Stop with the backstory junk already — readers don’t care about the past

In Writing Fiction Made Easier: Get Out Of Backstory Hell we discussed the pitfalls of backstory (that is, the history of your characters, before the story starts.) We said:

Important… Don’t worry about backstory in your first draft. Just write.

Remove ALL backstory when you’re editing.

You can add backstory into your novel/ novella/ short story, very carefully after your “slash and burn” editing fury. Restrain yourself. Only a sentence or two at a time. And only if you must add it for the story to make sense.

Backstory stops your story dead. Readers DO NOT CARE about what happened before the story starts. Occasionally backstory is necessary, because it makes character motivations clearer, and reveals something that readers must know. At those times, drop in your backstory in a sentence or two… please.

“Does it make sense? Is it important/ exciting/ fun to know?”

One of the definitions of “novel” is interestingly new or unusual.

This particular definition is a good guide to knowing what to write about in a novel. Keep it interesting, above all. For a new novelist, a big challenge is “writing” their novel. Bestselling novelist Elmore Leonard said:

My most important rule (for writers) is … if it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.

A very good rule. Be wary of anything you think is “good writing.” New novelists tend to fall in love with words, and that leads to horrors like writing about their characters waking up in the morning. There’s nothing interestingly new or unusual about that.

Keep your wits about you. When you’ve written a scene, or are about to write a scene, ask yourself if your idea for the scene makes sense. Logic counts.

Wondering about my coaching student? He’s fine. He’s happily rewriting, after we developed story questions for each of his novels. He tells me that he feels a lot more confident, and knows that his revised novels will sell.

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

Plot Hot-Selling Fiction The Easy Way

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Author:
Series: Selling Writer Strategies, Book 3
Genre: Writing
How To Write Novels And Short Stories Readers Love: You're about to discover the easiest, fastest, and most fun plotting method ever. You can use it for all your fiction, whether you're writing short stories, novellas or novels. Take control of your fiction now, and publish more, more easily. More info →
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Indie Author: 3 Tips To Manage Anxiety And Doubt

Indie Author: 3 Tips To Manage Anxiety And Doubt

You’re an indie author, and you’re sinking in a swirling stream of doubts and anxieties. Are you wasting your time? What if your new book won’t sell?

Every author has doubts. Some authors are continually anxious, and there’s a good reason. Research shows that creative people are more susceptible to anxiety than others; the upsetting emotions are just the way your brain works.

Several months ago a friend told me that she was giving up writing. She hated her current novel; she said it was a mess. She was in the middle of an acrimonious divorce. Her writing was another source of stress, so she was cutting it out of her life.

I made commiserating comments and silently made a small bet with myself — I was convinced that she would be writing again within six months.

You’re an indie author: kudos to you!

It took three months. She rang me last week. “I’m working on a new novel. I’m not giving up on the one I was stuck on, I’m revising — I’ve got some good ideas of where I want to go with the revision.”

When there are other things happening in your life, the stress of writing seems too much, so you give it up. That doesn’t mean that you’ve failed, or that you’ll give up writing forever. It just means that you’ve put your creativity on hold for a time. It will return.

Now let’s look at the tips, but do remember that as an indie author, you deserve kudos. You’re doing something that takes courage, faith, and trust in yourself, and at times, finding those things is hard.

1. Anxiety and doubt are normal: expect and accept

As we’ve said, anxiety is normal for creative people. I’ve often told the story of what happened when I got my first book contract from MacDonald Futura. Every morning when I sat down at my IBM Selectric typewriter to work on my novel tears streamed down my face. I was beyond anxious, but I wrote anyway.

I thought that there was something horribly wrong with me; obviously I wasn’t meant to be a writer. Years later, I learned that my emotions were completely normal.

The solution to dealing with them was simple: I learned that I needed to expect to be uncomfortable for ten minutes or so when I started writing.

You can accept the discomfort and write anyway. Within a short time, the discomfort will fade. Until the next time you sit down to write.

Over the years, my discomfort when I sit down to write has almost completely vanished. I need to look hard for it, but a tiny fluttering of anxiety is still there. I ignore it; I’ve learned to expect it, and to realize that that’s just the way our creativity works.

2. Write down what you’re feeling: you’ll feel better

Occasionally, you can’t write. The anxiety is too much. You’ll do anything rather than sit down at your computer. One writer I know painted his house, inside and outside, to avoid writing. Another took up sky-diving.

There’s a simpler way.

When you can’t write, take a pen and paper (this process seems to work better if you write by hand), and write down what you’re feeling. Write for ten minutes.

You may need to repeat this exercise every time you sit down to write for a week or two. Eventually, you will have made all your unconscious doubts and fears visible. You’ve unmasked the terrors and tamed them, so they’ll lose their power over you.

3. Meditate: ten minutes a day puts you in control

If meditation sounds a little too trendy for you, give it a chance. Meditation has been used for thousands of years because it’s powerful. I first started meditating in the 1970s. Although I may not meditate for months, when I start to feel anxious, I start meditating again.

Ten minutes a day will make all the difference. Here’s a simple meditation from Tara Brach that’s both a wonderful introduction to meditation, and an easy meditation you can do every day once you learn the body-scan process.

An indie author strategy: when you’re feeling overwhelmed, take a break

Are you putting too much pressure on yourself? You’ll know if you are.

Slow down. Review your deadlines, and give yourself a little breathing space. I give myself one day a week when I take a break from writing fiction. On that day, I blog, and I work on nonfiction, so I’m still writing — over the years, writing has become my default setting. It’s just what I do.

Writing fiction can be more anxiety-making than writing nonfiction; you’re working with your imagination. This creativity leads to anxiety, so take a break occasionally. You may find as I do, that your little breaks are helpful. After a break, you’ll write more easily, rather than struggling to find words.

Doubts and anxiety are the price you pay for being an indie author. They do fade over time. You can handle it. 🙂

Resources to build your writing career

Get daily writing news and tips on the blog’s Facebook page.

Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out our ebooks for writers.

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

Short Fiction Secrets: How To Write And Sell Short Stories

$5.99
Want to write short stories? If you answered yes, that's excellent… Here's why. Today, you can make money writing short fiction. More info →
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