Not only is writing fiction fun, today it can be very profitable indeed. You don’t need to get your book onto any bestseller lists to make a nice income. All you need is ebooks which are read.
Readers in genres like romance are voracious. They’ll read everything you write, if your books excite them.
Get read, make money
Your aim in writing short stories and novels is to be read right through to the end, particularly if you enroll your ebooks in Amazon’s KDP Select. Enrolling in Select automatically makes your ebooks available to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. In KU, you’re paid for every page which readers read.
How do you get readers, and keep them reading? Let’s look at some tips.
1. Spend time on your hook — and keep up the suspense
Ideally your reader finds your hook so amazing that he must start reading… and can’t stop. A “hook” hooks readers’ attention. To keep readers reading, you need to embed your hook, and make sure that you keep hooking readers, right through the ebook.
Spend time studying the hooks in bestselling fiction. Your hook doesn’t need to be outrageous; just something which intrigues readers.
I just checked Amazon’s Top 100 bestsellers in Literature and Fiction. Currently the top ranked book is The Good Neighbor, by J.A. Banner.
From the description:
“Shadow Cove, Washington, is the kind of town everyone dreams about—quaint streets, lush forests, good neighbors. That’s what Sarah thinks as she settles into life with her new husband, Dr. Johnny McDonald.”
Can you see the hook? It takes just two sentences, and your curiosity is aroused. Simple as it is, it’s a hook which works.
2. Keep readers guessing, and surprise them in every scene
You know that readers hate info-dumping — that is, telling too much in an indigestible lump. Info dumps stop your story dead. And there’s a bigger problem with info dumps too. When you info dump, it’s like piling all your storytelling ammunition into a heap, and then ignoring it.
Information is valuable. Dole it out sparingly. Keep readers guessing, and see if you can embed a surprise in every scene.
3. Ensure that your main character has a problem he can’t ignore
Every popular short story and novel is the story of change in the main character, or characters. If there’s no change, readers stop reading. Your characters need to grow.
We’ve talked about character flaws. In your fiction, your characters must have flaws, and they must overcome them. Your main character’s flaw can’t be trivial. It needs to be crippling, so that if he doesn’t recognize the flaw, and overcome it, he’ll be destroyed.
Genre comes to your rescue here. Most genres have tropes, which give you your flaw. In historical romance, the hardened rake is a trope, with a built-in flaw. As Maya Rodale suggests, you can turn that trope on its head, and create a virgin hero.
4. Up the ante: make everything WORSE (or better)
If your readers aren’t reading, chances are that you’re letting your characters off too easy. Don’t do that. When you write a scene, ask yourself how you can make the character’s situation WORSE.
Let’s say that you’ve written a scene in which your main character loses his job. Well done — now make it worse. Not only does he lose his job, but he’s also arrested for fraud. His fiancee calls off the wedding.
While you’re busily making things worse, make sure that your character never, ever sees himself as a victim. Disaster brings out the best in him, not the worst. (Unless you’re writing a comedy.)
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