Writing a book isn't a monumentally difficult task. Just ask one of the authors of the some 2.3 million self published books last year.
But writing a book that will actually make you money, and possibly crack the bestseller list is something else entirely.
So, here are 5 Tips for writing a book that has serious potential to make some serious sales - and make you a self-published literary rock star in no time.
Writing a Book That Cracks the Bestseller List Tip #1: Develop a Series
Your ability to catch Amazon kindle sales fire with a SINGLE BOOK is about as good as the chances of my wife getting me to watch "Fifty Shades of Grey." (Practically non-existent.)
This is because:
a) There's a lot of damn competition out there. (Tough to get discovered.)
b) Readers WANT epic narratives, not one-off author musings
c) It's hard to MARKET just one book with any effectiveness.
But...break up your 1200-page vampire western book into a trilogy and you suddenly have three marketing vehicles instead of one. (And readers will be much more willing to take a chance if there's the promise of a continuing series to look forward to.)
Quick Tip: Whatever length book - or genre - you're working on, try to break it up into a multi-part series.
Writing a Book That Cracks the Bestseller List Tip #2: Have a Title That Takes Chances (and Makes a Serious Declaration)
Now I know titles are one of those things, like baby pictures or favorite Stephen King novels, that are very personal and subjective and hard to quantify. But here's the thing the title has two jobs:
1) Stand out in a super crowded marketplace
2) Make a promise that the book will fulfill a promise (provide tips on how to rebuild a 57 Corvette; offer an entertaining Western tale)
And in my opinion it's the FIRST item that is the MOST important.
Now this doesn't mean you should name your romance novel "Spaceship Ultar X" or give your how-to church-based marketing book "Your Church Marketing Sucks."
You do need to confine to the expectations of your given genre. But TOO OFTEN many self published writers will play it "safe" by doing what everybody else does with titles. (If I see ONE MORE thriller title with the words "heat" or "darkness" or "steel" I'm gonna lose it.)
Remember, your book title is not a billboard blasting its message 45 feet up in the sky. It's an index card in the library shelves. Something that readers see WHILE scanning. (And unless you are able to GRAB people in the 1.3 seconds or so you have their attention...you're toast.)
Now title creation is a delicate art. But I can tell you the times that I've:
a) Been bold
b) Been outrageous (and borderline offensive)
c) Established clearly who the book is NOT for.
...the higher my sales have been.
Quick Tip: Go big with your title. And don't be afraid to ruffle some self published feathers.
Writing a Book That Cracks the Bestseller List Tip #3: Write Short (and Then Edit Even Shorter)
So, I know the first two tips didn't actually have anything to do with writing the damn book. (Just another sign that "marketing" your book is as important as "writing" your book.)
But in tip #3 we dig into the construction of your book. And this principle will tip over some sacred cows. (Especially my 10th-grade English teacher.)
But, in my experience of publishing some 40 books I have found when I write shorter books, and shorter chapters - and by extension shorter paragraphs - my reviews are higher, my sales are bigger and my overall reach and influence with my readers is mucho grande.
I can't tell you WHY this is. I could speculate that it's the fact that reading on an electronic device, while getting better each year, is still akin to staring at a TV screen ten inches away.
Or I could also say with attention spans shrinking faster than a supermodel's waistline that people simply don't have the focus or motivation to read LONG paragraphs. (And long chapters.)
I don't really care WHY. I just know it's true.
I know you will disagree with me. You will think I'm an idiot. You will read your Anita Diamant novel or Stephen King epic and tell me THEY don't do that.
But when you are getting $20 million advances for your books you can write them in Klingon and you'll probably have sales. Until then...trust me (and not Mrs. Grear from 10th grade) that if you constantly write shorter you'll be rewarded with a very LONG career.
Quick Tip: Keep everything in your book short. (Always focus on readability.)
Have you got a tip about writing a book? Think I'm a complete moron/idiot? Leave a comment below! (And don't forget to SHARE this column with the world!)