If anyone could pull a book out of their butt, they would. That’s why writing a book is hard. Harder still is writing that good book that will sell to the top of bestseller lists. Everyone wants that. What is the formula?
Well, I can’t say that I’ve got a book on the Top Bestseller list, yet. I’ve had my books pop up on the smaller bestseller Amazon lists for different categories with a different genre. They helped spur my sales for a few days. But that could be another blog post in the future. Plus, my other books are Middle Grade novels. I love writing children’s books, but they just don’t sell as well as adult books. So, I’ve been waiting for the right recipe. Something to gel.
What I’m going to share today is how to write a good book to get on those lists. You can get people to buy your book with a good cover or write up. What will get them to tell others to buy your book? The secret is write a good book at the start. The secret of writing the “good book” is every writer’s dream. I’ll share what I’ve learned so far, and let you pull what you need.
My current project is a Time Travel Romance. I’m feeling a need to share this since making the magic of a book click together is so difficult. I should know. I’ve tried for almost 3 years to write Young Adult or even New Adult. They are bigger markets, and really are the areas that are doing well in self published ebooks.
I’ve also heard that sometimes books do write themselves. I never knew until over the last few weeks, I’ve started to churn out not one, but two Romance Novels. How? I let myself “Just Write”. I stopped telling myself that the book had to be with a certain character, setting or plot. I’m just letting the book be. Here is the process I am using to write them.
Recently, I pulled a Romance Novel introduction out of my butt. I woke up, grabbed my laptop, and wrote the intro to what seemed to be a Romance Novel. It felt good to just have the scene roll from my mind to my fingers typing. When I was done, I thought to myself, “Well, it’s not crap.”
But the day went forward, and the next day, I kept writing. The day after, I finished Chapter 2 and kept writing. Wooh. This was unusual. I’d tried so hard to write a YA or something for the adult market that might sell a bit better than Middle Grade novels. After a failed YA about Mary, Queen of the Scots, this Time Travel Romance novel was just flowing from my fingers. Why was it working this time? Why was it gelling?
I do write Middle Grade Novels. In fact, I’ve now written three MG novels in a fantasy/adventure series. I’ve got a system down for writing a book. I have a freelance editor, a support group of friends and family, and I hang out a lot on Kboads.com/writerscafe which is essentially my writer’s group online. I also joined a children’s writing organization (SCBWI) when I wanted to learn the genre. Note these four things: 1) Family and Friends 2) Join a Writers Organization for Your Genre 3) Find an Editor 3) Writer’s Group. These are the first four steps to gain a stable writing environment that will drive you to write the good book.
The first step you may already have. But I recommend not showing your first draft to anyone until it is done. Sit butt in chair and finish the book. It could be absolute crap, but it needs to be done to be a book. Remember, you can always change the ending, add plot devices, or as the phrase says, flesh it out. You need the bare bones of the first draft.
To get that done, I’ve promised myself to write for at least one hour a day. Just get the butt in the chair and do it. The rest is just details. Then, I read back as I’m writing and fine tune as I go. A good first draft should be reread at least twice before letting others see it. At least, that’s how I feel. Some people might enjoy more feedback as they are writing. I do ask people questions and research things that come up. But in the end, it’s better to keep one cook in the kitchen, and get it done.
Step Two is find a writer’s organization that can help you with the genre. If you have been writing already for awhile or belong to a group, I’ve gone the option of just studying the new genre. I found out that the type of Romance I am writing is Time Travel. I also started a new project a few days ago that is clearly a Paranormal Romance. I’ve been downloading examples and getting advice from other Romance novelists on what books to look at from my writer’s board. It’s almost like researching for a term paper. But a lot more fun.
Step three is finding a good editor. There are great freelancers out there. I think the best thing to do is go to a place you know people could recommend a good, reputable editor. I found mine on my writer’s board by simply posting, “I need an editor” and explained the project. But I asked for a sample edit first. This is crucial. You want to see if their style of writing/editing will work with yours. It is usually just a few pages.
I had one editor that was recommended through my writing group that wanted to charge $250 for a sample edit. I ended up going with the editor willing to work to see if we fit before shelling out cash. So, find out if they have done previous work in your genre and if they can work for you. I loved chosing my own editor. I think it was a better fit that way.
Step Four: Get that writing support you need by joining a writing board or writing online group. Really. This is crucial. Writer’s are lone creatures, but very delicate. If you have a problem with your draft, questions, or a shoulder to cry on from bad reviews, this is the place you need to post to feel safe and vent. I go to kboards.com in the Writers’ Cafe. It’s great to post if you are an Indie Writer starting out, a hybrid author self-publishing older manuscripts, or what ever might be writing related. It’s kept me from throwing the computer through the window several times.
After these steps are in place, give yourself no limits. I recently had my third MG novel, The Lost Secret of Dragonfire, win an honorable mention in the children’s category at the 2013 San Francisco Book Festival. At the ceremony, the winning overall book was called The Power of Starting Something Stupid by Richie Norton. The whole premise of the book is that when you have a stupid idea, and you got all these reasons maybe not to do it; that’s the time you should follow through. Don’t put up a wall or limit yourself because it sounds stupid. That probably means it’s the best idea in the world.
So, the last and final step is don’t limit yourself. If it’s stupid, but it’s working, do it. There will be a reason why you’re writing it later. Get it out of your system and figure how it fits in later. In the end, it might be your best writing of all. It could be the good book that becomes a bestseller. Remember, no limits, and keep writing.
**This post is part of the monthly
“Indie Life” posts linked on the Indelibles Blog.