Yes, I’m offering nine free ideas for popular fiction novels (and a couple of longer book blurbs). The only catch – they’re ideas that never made the cut. My deleted scenes so to speak. But if you want to write successful popular fiction and catch the eye of a great agent, read on. I’m a firm believer in learning from mistakes (especially my own!).
I recently gave a six week workshop on writing. On the last day we talked about book proposals, and how to ‘sell’ your book to an agent. I explained that a book (and I was talking about popular fiction here, but it goes for pretty much any fiction) must have a very strong, original story and brilliant characters to make an agent sit up and take notice.
Exactly how strong and original, they asked? How about a sweet story that’s nicely written, will that cut it? Absolutely not! I told them. It has to be brilliant.
To illustrate this I pulled out some of my old ideas that never made it – because the plot or the premise or the characters weren’t strong enough. It seemed to help them understand, so I’ve copied some of them …
So your first book is coming out in 2012. First of all, congratulations! It’s a huge achievement. But no doubt you are rather nervous about what exactly is going to happen once your book is finally published.
Will it be available in Italy, America, Poland?
How much will your publisher do to promote it and how much will I need to do?
How does the whole publicity thing work? Do I wait to be asked to do things or do I make your own suggestions? Will my publishers get annoyed if I visit shops on my own? Should I move books around in the shop? Ask why my book is not in the window?
And these questions I’m sure are only the tip of your own personal book-related iceberg. And I will try to answer them honestly. If you have any other questions do ask in the comment box below.
Here goes – Let’s start at the beginning:
What happens on publication day?
The honest answer is not much!
The pr person in your publishing house may have contacted you some time in advance of publication to talk about your media contacts (if you have any – don’t worry if …
The good news is that every writer can do a lot to market and promote their own book.
The secret – and yes, there is a secret but like most things it’s this – hard work, organisation and determination. A lot of work can be done behind the scenes months before your book reaches the bookshop shelves.
When I started out in books, I had no experience in marketing or publicity, I just used my head, so what I did, you can do too.
But before that some general points.
First things first, don’t worry about any of this unless you have written a book worth promoting. Put your time and energy into the writing first and foremost.
1/ Marketing – Marketing means promoting your book to the market and in the marketplace, ie the shops. It means getting information about your book to the relevant buyers and booksellers, backing up that information with display material – such as posters and bookmarks. And keeping the bookshops informed of any publicity you have lined up for the book.
In general, your publisher should be on top of the marketing, but if they don’t intend to do posters or bookmarks – say for example …
What Do Readers Want From Their Writers These Days?
The answer is – as well as a brilliant book – connection!
Once upon a time you could write a book, then sit back and relax. You might get a few letters in the post from readers and you’d answer them in your own good time.
But things have changed – it’s not enough to write a brilliant book anymore, readers want more. They have high expectations. They expect at the very least a website, complete with some way of contacting the writer directly through a message board, forum or email address. If you are also active on Facebook and Twitter this is a bonus. They want to connect with writers, talk to them about their books, and ask questions; sometimes they just want to say ‘hi’.
But how do writers cope with all this extra ‘work’ on top of their writing commitment? At the Patrick Hardy Lecture recently bestselling teen and tween author, Cathy Cassidy spoke about this issue. She gets over 150 emails a day from her readers and responds to them all. That’s a huge time and energy commitment.
‘I get more e-mails now than when I was an …
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