Tag Archives: selling a novel

Writing an award-winning blockbuster YA novella that really sells in 30 days!

By Jenifr M’nchylde (author of “I nearly wrote a book once, it was really good but no one was brave enough to publish it”)

 

My soon to be released epic : Mytosis! First in a series of probably twenty three novels. Depending on whether I get a film deal or not....

My soon to be released epic : Mytosis! First in a series of probably twenty three novels. Depending on whether I get a film deal or not….

We all know that authors are the new pop stars. Every teenager wants to be the next Stephanie Meyer, or whoever it was who wrote “Fifty Shades of Gray”.

But how can YOU get that level of success? And more importantly, how can you do it FAST and without any boring “learning how to do it properly” kind of tedium?

Well, the answer is: You can’t. But let’s pretend you can, and any failure of the scheme is down to someone else being too selfish or shortsighted to recognise your genius!

Have you lowered your IQ and raised your expectations to “Unreasonably High”? Good, then let’s begin.

Step 1: Protagonist.

Yuck! A big word! Ignore it. Try this instead:

Heroine: With the “e” on the end, this means “Girl Hero”, and you’re going to need one! No one buys vapid books like teen girls who have been told it’s the “in” book of the week. Except maybe pseudo-intellectuals when the Booker Shortlist is announced. She needs to be feisty, tough, emotionally raw and red-haired. No, I don’t know what “emotionally raw” means, but cheer up, neither does anyone else. It’s best if she only has one parent. Doesn’t matter which, neither gender stands a chance of understanding her. Why? Because she’s EMOTIONALLY RAW! Pay attention!

Step 2: Plot

This really isn’t very important. I mean, yeah, if you want to write an actual STORY like the Harry Potter series, you might want some kind of actual, you know, character goals, antagonist aims, world building guidelines and conflicting ambitions… But if you’re interested in all that, you’re probably a geeky swot who’s actually going to PRACTISE writing, and develop your craft. So go do that. We’re making money here.

In this case, plot is just “How to get your girl hero to agonise over which boy to choose.” Does she have to fight for the hand of the Rich Boy, even though the Poor Boy Next Door is really hunky? Is she promised in marriage to her proud but shapely cousin, while the evil but seriously pumped stranger crashes into her life when his dirigible collides with her house? Whichever line you go with, the important thing to remember is that there must be two boys, each equally hunky, each with simultaneously no interest in our heroine and madly lusting after her at the same time. It goes without saying that the two boys can’t stand each other. They probably fight at some point. Maybe in the river, their shirts soaked, the wet material clinging to….sorry, where was I?

Step 3: Cover art

This is the most important part of the whole thing. You need the brooding boys on the cover, preferably stripped to the waist. Don’t worry if they never strip to the waist in the story (although, if they don’t, you’re really missing something…) Maybe a moon would be good, especially if you have a supernatural element to the story. Oh, and the title should be in shiny lettering. And just one word. Doesn’t have to be anything to do with the story. One word titles are cool.

Step 4: Selling!

You have a couple of options here. One is “Word of mouth”. Get everyone you know to buy the book and tell their friends it was great. This works really well if one of your friends is Oprah or someone else with their own tv show.

Another option is to buy reviews. There are some unscrupulous folks out there who will return great reviews for cash, but it’s not easy to find them. You may offend a few people on your quest to find ones who’ll take a bribe, but keep looking! This is the hard work part!

Of course, you could submit to a regular publisher and go through their process for new authors, but let’s not kid ourselves : If you were that kind of writer, you wouldn’t have been googling “How to write a YA novel in 30 days” in the first place.

Oh, and I nearly forgot!

Step 2.5: WRITING!

Sorry, yes, keep forgetting this bit. Somewhere along the line you’ll have to actually get some words down on paper about your girl hero, her red hair, the hunky boys and what happens to them. You don’t have to come up with a complete story, just set up some big thing, get the boys into a fight or two, and then leave everything hanging. Do that three or four times and you’ve got yourself a SERIES! You can round it off by having the girl cloned so there’s one for each boy, or if you’re a real downer type, flip a coin and kill off one of the boys.

But the key thing, as all writers know is hooking your reader on the first page. So success could come down to this one question : Are you a good hooker?

Tune in next week for my new blog post on subjects I know F**k all about: Brain Surgery! Make sure the colour of your scrubs goes with your eyes, because it’s all about looking good!

IN ACCORDANCE WITH THE NEW INTERNET GUIDELINES, I HAVE TO POINT OUT THAT THIS ENTIRE ARTICLE IS SATIRE.

Sheesh.

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Still alive…..

I’ve seen a few headlines in the last couple of days about the potential return of the Black Death. If you’d asked me about that last week, I would’ve told you I was patient zero.

The terrible thing about sick leave is having all this time off work and being completely unable to enjoy it. I have several books remaining in my stack of romances that I thought I might read, and I also had some new Script Appraisals to work through. Unfortunately for me (and my customers) I wasn’t able to raise my head off the pillow for the whole of that first week. The doctor did examine me and confirm I’d had some kind of chest infection, but he was reluctant to administer antibiotics, instead giving me some nasal steroids. “A couple of weeks of that,” he said ” and you’ll be fifty percent better…” And have a terrifically muscular nose into the bargain….

So it’s only now, in my second week of leave, that I’m feeling up to sitting in front of the computer and catching up with my workload. Time’s ticking by, so I’m not going to go on with my reading. I’ve learned from the eight books that I’ve read that there is no magic formula. Romance novels are like any other novel, with the exception of the love story being central and irrevocable. The two romantic leads always end up together (something that doesn’t always happen in other novels).

Thanks to Mrs Dim sacrificing some of her time for work, I’ve been able to rest, and I may be able to start the actual writing this week. We have Tiniest Weasel’s birthday coming up, and there are preparations to be made for that, so I don’t have a lot of time, but I do have a story in mind.

I’ve also decided that, success or not, this will be my last e-book for a while. I think I’ve spent somewhere near two years publishing e-books, and while it’s been fun (and I won’t withdraw the books from sale) it’s proved that selling books is not my strongpoint. Writing the book is only the beginning – you need to package it well, and then you need to sell the book, and keep on selling it, over and over again. That’s not a process that happens by itself, even in this age of social media and mass-communication. The answer is not having a blog, or a certain number of Facebook friends, or reading a particular book. The marketing needs to be well thought out and continuous. Mine hasn’t been.

TLC have started the year with a video conference and agreed we have some ground to make up. Plans are being laid for two pantomimes and other projects have been raised as well. I’m sure there are some plays I can write if I try hard enough, too, and those already have an outlet in the form of Lazy Bee Scripts.

Almost time to try being a playwright again.

Writing for profit…

Ask yourself - are you in it for the booty?

Ask yourself – are you in it for the booty?

Ransom notes.

That’s how the old joke goes: “What kind of writing makes the most money?”

“Ransom notes”

The truth is that no one really knows the secret to making piles of cash from writing. When Bloomsbury were accused of somehow influencing people to buy the Harry Potter series, they were openly scornful. One spokesperson said “Really, if we could do that for JK Rowling, we’d do it for all our authors”. Of course they would, it’s their financial success too.

One thing a lot of writers agree on, though, is that setting out to write something because other things like it are selling is a huge mistake. For one thing, by the time you’ve completed YOUR dinosaurs-on-a-spaceship novel, everyone might be rushing out to buy Zombies on a Bobsled fiction instead. For another, it’s hard to write well when you’re not interested in your subject matter, and if you’re writing it with dollar signs in your eyes, then you’re not interested in the story and the characters, you’re interested in the money.

There’s one crucial point to make here, though. You CAN write books with the intention of making money. In that situation, you are organised about the way you write. You work to a schedule, you have an overall plan for the book you’re writing and where it’s going. You negotiate with an editor and a cover artist to produce the best version of your book that you possibly can. You create a network of friends and writers and readers who read and review for you, and who spread the word about the completed book. You keep that book hovering in everyone’s consciousness while, in all probability, you are  writing the next book. And you keep going, even though those first two, three or four books have not catapulted you into the ranks of the mega-rich.

The sections above are dealing with fiction writing of course. Writing non-fiction is a different thing altogether, and it’s a matter of finding a subject in which you are something of an expert, and tailoring the book to your experiences OR having access to other experts who will contribute to the book. But unless you’re working from a commission for the book, you’re still going to be the one pounding the virtual pavement and banging the drum for people to buy it.

The other way to make money from writing (WARNING, CYNICISM AHEAD!) is to write books on how to make money writing books. Do a little research, and you will be amazed, staggered and eventually a little sickened by the number of people telling you how to write best selling books, when the only best selling books THEY have written were about…writing best-selling books.

I believe that your first reason for writing, the first person you should be trying to impress, is YOU. Write because you must, because that story demands to be told. If it’s good, or if it can BECOME good with some polish and judicious surgery, then pursue it. Get help, take a deep breath, take advice and take the plunge.

DON’T rush out and write a story about sparkly vampires.*

I’m wondering if I wrote this piece because my latest book is a zombie novel, and I’m worried that I’ve not just missed the boat on that genre, but that the boat has sunk and sent a Tsunami towards the shore that is threatening the town…. Nonetheless, I have to see the story through, and since I’m enjoying it and people have liked the preview (available in “Troubled Souls“) I’ll self-publish again.

 

 

 

*This should be generally considered as good advice regardless.