Tag Archives: sales

Writing To Sell: 3 Tips To Help You To Be Original

Writing To Sell: 3 Tips To Help You To Be Original

You’re an author and you’re writing to sell as many copies of your books as possible. However, you want to be as “original” as you can. That’s wonderful, because today, you can publish whatever you choose.

In days gone by, when getting published meant getting a publishing contract via an agent and an acquisitions editor, originality didn’t sell.

Publishers wanted “the same, but different.” If you insisted on originality, you were (everyone shuddered) a literary author, and everyone knew that literary authors cost everyone money, rather than making money.

An author asked me “how to be original” and I though it was a wonderful question. The short answer of course is: be yourself.

Writing to sell? Be yourself

Being yourself is more challenging than it appears.

Even Ray Bradbury (one of the world’s most original authors) had problems with it.

From Bradbury’s Zen in the Art of Writing (a book that’s well worth reading):

It was only when I began to discover the treats and tricks that came with word association that I began to find some true way through the minefields of imitation. I finally figured out that if you are going to step on a live mine, make it your own. Be blown up, as it were, by your own delights and despairs.

Bradbury discovered how to be himself — an original — in his writing via word association.

So, let’s look at three tips you may find useful when you’re striving to be yourself, an original.

1. Try word association to discover what matters to YOU

According to the Collins Dictionary, word association is:

… an early method of psychoanalysis in which the patient thinks of the first word that comes into consciousness on hearing a given word. In this way it was claimed that aspects of the unconscious could be revealed before defence mechanisms intervene.

Word association works. So does listing things, without thinking about it too much. Whenever I get stuck in a manuscript, I make lists.

From Top 70 Writing Tips: Write More, Improve Your Writing, And Make More Money:

Whatever kind of writing you’re doing, listing will make it better and easier.

What kind of lists? Start by making a list of all the things you could list.

Pick one item from the list, and make a new list of what you could list about that.

Writing a report? Write a list of everything you need to mention in the report. Then write a list of what you should NOT mention.

Try it yourself. When you get stuck, make a list of words. Ray Bradbury made lists of nouns; I like to use adjectives as well.

2. Keep a journal: describe people, activities, places and your dreams

According to research, you can only keep around seven things in your mind at any one time — even though you can recall everything that ever happened to you. It’s all locked away in your subconscious mind.

Keeping a journal is a great way to rummage around in the attics of your subconscious mind to find stuff that you can use in your writing. Original stuff, because no one has, or ever will have, your experiences.

You can use a journal in many ways. For example:

  • Describe a problem you’re having in an area of your life. There’s no need to strive for solutions. Those solutions will develop, simply because you described the problem.
  • Take a moment to jot down a few sentences to describe people and places wherever you are — whether you’re in your office, in a store, or in your local park. Most of us have stopped seeing what’s right in front of us. Try sketching what you see, that helps to improve your observation skills too.
  • Write a sentence or two about any dreams you remember when you wake up in the morning.

3. Believe in yourself: write the truth, as you know it, and write fast

From Dr. Frank Luntz’s Words That Work:

… good communication requires conviction and authenticity; being a walking dictionary is optional.

Whether you’re a new author, or are a pro, write the truth as you know it, or perceive it to be. Trust yourself. Your authenticity makes you an original.

Write fast too. Stop thinking so much — do your thinking while you’re writing. Bradbury (from Zen in the Art of Writing again):

The faster you blurt, the more swiftly you write, the more honest you are. In hesitation is thought. In delay comes the effort for a style…

When you’re writing to sell, being original takes courage

As we’ve said, being yourself is challenging.

It’s exhilarating too. Have fun. 🙂

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Resources to build your writing career

Check out Angela’s Writing Classes and Angela’s books for writers.

Write Bestselling Fiction: Your Blurb Needs People (Blurb 2)

Write Bestselling Fiction: Your Blurb Needs People (Blurb 2)

If you’re writing fiction, you hope it will be bestselling fiction. Since that’s the case, your blurb (book description) has just one function: to get its readers to take action.

What action? You want readers to read the book’s sample. Ideally, you want them to go on to buy the book, or at the very least to remember the book and the author’s name.

(By “book”, I mean ebooks too, of course.)

I coach writers, so I read a lot of blurbs. I advise students to focus on people in their blurbs. Readers want to read about people, above all.

If you doubt this, consider your favorite novels:

  • In the Harry Potter books, who’s more important, Harry and his friends, or Hogwarts? (I know that both are important, but go along with me here… :-))
  • In Game of Thrones, do you remember the setting, or the characters?

PEOPLE: who are your characters, and why should we care?

Try this exercise.

Choose your three main characters, and write a one-sentence summary of each one. Yes, just one sentence. Include each character’s major flaw, as well as his biggest virtue.

Here’s an example. “At just 26, Demetria Jones had already had 26 jobs, and she was proud of that.”

Demetria’s flaw: she can’t hold a job. You sense that she’s slightly out of step with the rest of society — and she doesn’t care. Her virtue is that she’s willing to keep trying job after job.

Are you interested in Demetria? Many readers will be interested enough to keep reading, and that’s what you want your blurb to do — keep readers reading. Then you want them to read the ebook’s sample too.

Craft your one-sentence summary while you’re writing your novel

Here’s why you need to craft your character summaries while you write: so that you remember what you’re writing. It’s all too easy, when you’re writing a novel, to wonder off onto weird tangents.

Sometimes this works. You start a scene, and you don’t know quite where you’re headed with the scene, but it seems interesting, so you keep going. If you’ve crafted a one-sentence character summary for each character, that acts as a compass, and you won’t wander too far off track.

With parts 1 and 2 of this series, you now know enough to write excellent blurbs. Have fun. 🙂

Read the first part of our “write a blurb which sells” series

This article is the second in a series.

In Writing Fiction To Sell: Your Blurb’s An Advertisement, Part 1, the first article in this series, we talked about the importance of clarity in writing your blurb. We also gave you a template, and some exercises.

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

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How To Entice Readers, And Sell More Ebooks

How To Entice Readers, And Sell More Ebooks

Authors want to sell more ebooks. They search for a magic secret. While there are secrets, you don’t need them to sell many more copies than you’re selling at the moment.

Little things can make a big difference.

Little things: big sales

As you may know, I coach writers, and I’ve discovered that it’s NOT the super-secret marketing strategies that 80% of authors need. They just need to get back to the basics. You know: cover image, title, book description….

Today, with 80,000 ebooks flowing onto the Kindle store every month, you need to give your ebooks everything they need to be indexed correctly, and catch attention.

Tip: you can always improve. For example, check the genres into which Amazon’s placed your ebooks (scroll down the product page). Do they seem appropriate?

Let’s look at the basics.

1. Genres (categories): choose the most appropriate

How much time do you spend on the Kindle store each week? I hope you’re spending at least a little time there. Aim to familiarize yourself with the genres in which you’re writing. (Or the categories, if you’re writing nonfiction.)

Who’s in the Top 100 in a genre? Read the Look Inside excerpts for the top sellers. Ask yourself WHY they’re selling. Make lists of the top sellers. In some genres, the best selling titles change frequently.

One of my students wasn’t familiar with genres at all. She’d put her two ebooks into genres which just weren’t right. We shoved the ebooks into the genres for which they were most suited, and fixed the descriptions. Then I asked the student to spend an hour a week studying her genres on Amazon.

Her next ebook sold 145 copies on the day she published it. Her genre study wasn’t the only reason it sold — she’d started a mailing list. But she told me that more than anything else, browsing around Amazon gave her confidence. Why? Because she knew more that she did before, and she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she could sell.

2. Titles — try adding the genre

We talked about title tips here; read that if you need a little help.

Many authors add keywords to their titles on Amazon. I hate this with a passion. I hate hashtags in blog posts too, and for similar reasons. I hate it because: it looks stupid, devalues the title, and it’s a crutch.

That said, I’m all for adding your book’s genre to the title. Sometimes titles are ambiguous. Adding your book’s genre: a tale of romantic suspense, or a romantic comedy as a subtitle HELPS readers. (Hashtags in titles don’t help readers. Readers aren’t search engine robots.)

3. Use your descriptions: make them count

Pun intended on “count”. Amazon gives you 4000 characters for the description. That’s around 800 words. Use them. Make your descriptions enticing.

FWIW, be aware that your ebook’s description is advertising copy. Hire a copywriter, if you can afford it. (And NO, I’m not touting for work, perish the thought — I’m overbooked as it is. ;-)) Seriously, to repeat, your description is an advertisement.

Few authors create good descriptions. I include authors published by major companies in that group as well. If anything, traditionally published authors’ ebook descriptions are less inspiring than indies’. I’m not surprised at that.

Take this to heart, and to repeat once more: pay attention to your ebook’s description; it’s an advertisement.

4. Increase readers’  familiarity with a mailing list

Marketers are fond of saying that a buyer needs to see your name seven times before he buys. I think it’s many more times than that. The only way to appear on buyers’ radars regularly is to develop a readers’ mailing list. So — create a list, if you don’t have one.

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, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.