Game Of Thrones, Goodreads, self-publishing, target audience, Writing your Book

Writing Your Book, Part Three: Author! Author! Audience! Audience!

Let The Fun And Games Begin…
Deciding who will be your audience is a vital first step.  It affects everything, from the tone of your writing to whether you’ll aim for publication, or write simply for the pleasure of producing a finished piece of work.  

ONE IS ONE 
If you write only to please yourself, your audience may be small, but you’ll satisfy one hundred percent of it.

Always write what you want to read.  Then you’ll write from the heart. That’s the quickest way to appeal to other readers, too, if you decide to expand your market. It’s a great help when the going gets tough, too. As long as you’re enthusiastic about your work, you can get through the tough times. 

If you really can’t face cobbling together any more of the Game Of Thrones fanfic you’re only writing in the hope of selling a million, your writing life will become a living hell (dragons optional).

Befriend A Bookseller Today…
TWO’S COMPANY
Identify wider markets using the same process you used to decide what to write. If you love your work, it’s more likely to be appreciated by people like you. Keep your ear to the ground at your place of work, and any clubs, societies and social media groups you belong.  You’ll discover the subjects, people and places they enjoy, and the authors they like to read. 

Pick up on what’s popular in your circles. Read the books that are recommended by word-of mouth, which is always the most powerful selling tool. You’ll discover how to pitch your language and style to appeal to your prospective readers. Make use of your local independent bookshop. Keep them in business. One day you might need them to sell your book.  

Join online sites like Goodreads, to discuss with others what makes a book enjoyable, rather than just readable. Check out the best seller lists to get a feel for genre and length. Become your local library’s best customer.  Read as widely as you can, and try writing in different genres to find out where you’ll find the best fit.

Do your research into all possible markets beforehand. Write your own book, but with half an eye on what has worked for other people.  When you get to the stage of trying to sell your book, you’ll be tapping into a ready market.


The end result…myBook.to/HisMajestysSecret
THREE’S A CROWD
This is where you head out into the wide, often dangerous waters of aiming to catch an agent, or a publisher. Once upon a time publishing houses had huge advertising budgets, and handed out advances like chocolate at Christmas. All the author had to do was turn up at catered events, sign a few books, and smile. 

Those days are gone. Now you have to be prepared to work every bit as hard at promoting and selling your own work as if you were self-publishing. That’s an option I’ll discuss in a future blog, but there are big advantages in being published by a firm with enough staff to take some of the responsibility off your shoulders. Writing is more fun than selling, but you’ll have to do a fair bit of that even if you’re published by one of the big international publishing houses.  These days, they’re risk-averse and won’t take an author on unless they can guarantee a return on their investment. 

If you follow my tips for researching your market beforehand, you’ll be ready to sell hard, and sell well.  

books, Creative Writing, publication, self-publishing

Getting Published – The First Steps…

By Antonio Litterio

Getting published used to be a case of catching the eye of a respectable publisher, or delving into the murky depths of vanity publishing. The first often meant jumping through a lot of hoops, then signing away some or all of your rights. The latter involved paying a lot of money to see your hard work turned into books – you hoped. The explosion of online possibilities means  you don’t need to develop the skin of a rhinoceros before you get to see your name in print. The curse of rejection is no longer a threat. Anyone with a computer can create, upload an offer an ebook for international sale. 

The downside of all this easy access is that the market has been flooded.  Everyone who can switch on a computer has gone into print. Some might turn out to have the staying-power of Shakespeare, while others should never have been let loose on a keyboard. The more books on the market, the harder it is to make your own book stand out. 

Coming soon – sign up here for details
The most important thing is to write a book of which you can be proud. Pour your heart and soul into your work, and you’ll have the satisfaction of knowing you’ve written the best book you can.    Before you decide whether to publish it yourself, or send it out to a publisher or agent, get a second opinion. Your mum might say she loves it, but it’s better to get an unbiased view from a friend you can trust to tell you the truth–however hard it might be to hear. Professional editing will turn your text into a flawless read, but it can’t do anything for your story-telling skills. 

Invest in some great cover art to make your book stand out. Get names from The Society of Authors, the RWA (US) or RNA (UK), or by asking online in places such as writers’ groups on LinkedIn. Approach several artists, and ask to see examples of their work. Before you decide which one to choose, get some quotes and make sure both you and the artist know what to expect from the transaction. You’ll need to know what rights to the artwork you’ll have, and they need to know your demands will be reasonable and that you’ll be a good payer. Like writing, art is a time-consuming skill and nobody wants to waste precious hours and resources.

There are more tips on my website, and you can sign up for my newsletter here to receive news of my next release, Jewel Under Siege
Creative Writing, E L James, J K Rowling, self-publishing, Top Tips, Writing for Profit

The Three New Categories Of Writing

The Power of Words by Antonio Litterio, via inversehypercube/wikimedia commons
By Antonio Litterio

WRITING FOR PLEASURE
This is how we all start. Telling stories is a compulsion as old as time. Once we discover our ideas can be made semi-permanent through the fascinating marks made by fat wax crayon, there’s no stopping us. Whether you keep a diary or create a best-selling series, the simple pleasure of opening a clean file or feeling a new page under your nib is unbeatable.
WRITING FOR PUBLICATION
This used to be a case of either catching the eye of a respectable publisher, or delving into the murky depths of vanity publishing. The first often meant jumping through hoops, then signing away some or all of your rights. The latter involved risking a lot of money to see your hard work turned into books – if you were lucky. The explosion of online possibilities means you don’t need the skin of a rhinoceros any more. The scourge of rejection is no longer a threat. Anyone with access to a computer can create, upload and offer an ebook for international sale. The downside is that an already crowded market has now been flooded with the type of writing publishers used to reject, together with self-published gems they will wish they’d been offered.

Vanity publishers may have competition now, but the need for deep pockets hasn’t gone away. It’s a good idea to invest in great cover art to make sure your book stands out from the millions of others, all clamouring for attention. Professional editing will make sure your text is a flawless read, but be warned – it can’t do much for your plot, or story-telling skills. Even poop can be polished until it shines.

WRITING FOR PROFIT
This is the Holy Grail of many writers. Seeing your name in print or on screen isn’t always enough. The newspapers love winners like Rowling or James, but most writers don’t hit those heights. If you’re making a thousand a year, count yourself lucky. That’s a good average. Unless you’re contracted to a major publishing house with a multi-book contract, writing is usually a lucrative part-time job, at best.
Of course, these three categories aren’t mutually exclusive. The walls are permeable. Commercially published writing may not sell. A privately published book might take off like a rocket. Something written with nothing but profit in mind may never recoup its costs, while a work with a tiny initial print run may find itself the centre of international attention. In the end, the only sure way to success is the same as it always has been – write from your heart, for your own pleasure. That’s always going to be the best way to appeal to your readership. And if you decide the only reader will be you, then you’ll have satisfied 100% of your audience–and that’s something not even William Shakespeare has ever managed to do.

What type of writing are you doing at the moment? Would you like to switch to a different category?  
Christina Hollis author, ebooks, Harlequin Mills and Boon Limited, Historical Fiction, Lady Rascal, self-publishing

Self Publishing – The Story So Far…

Back on 4th August, I wrote a blog called “Smashwords – the future of Ebook Publishing at RWA 2012”. This created such a lot of comment both here on my blog and via my mailbox (christinahollis@hotmail.co.uk), I did some more research. Much as I love browsing in bookshops and handling real books, I couldn’t resist trying it out myself. The process was really easy, and led to the release of Lady Rascal, an historical romance set in Paris and the English countryside during the French Revolution. Over the next few months I’ll be reporting regularly on what happens. If there’s interest in a conventional version, I’ll release it as a paperback title, too. Lady Rascal was originally published as part of the Harlequin Mills and Boon “Masquerade” line, so I’ve already had a lot of feedback from readers of the original hardback and paperback versions.
The new ebook version is now widely available on Amazon, iTunes, Kobo and elsewhere. And remember – if you like Lady Rascal, please don’t keep it to yourself! Word of mouth recommendations and on-line reviews are great ways to let other people in on the secret.  They give a writer a real boost, and I’ll be delighted to hear what you think.