Writers long to compose a bestselling novel. A flawlessly written book that sells is a dream for most writers. Let’s acknowledge it – who does not want to sell their book to the widest audience? Writers often envision how composing a bestseller will transform them. Though it is easy to romanticize this, the question “Where do I begin so I can successfully sell my book,” can be a bit overwhelming for most.
Even bestselling authors such as Amish Tripathi, Rudyard Kipling, James Patterson, and Danielle Steel had manuscripts rejected multiple times. In contrast, self-published authors like Fifty Shades of Grey quickly became bestsellers. It does not matter whether a book is literary, romance, sci-fi, crime or any other genre; what matters is the writing style, the story, marketing of the book etc.
Here are specific tips and tricks that can help writers create a masterpiece.
A. Content Strategies to Write a Novel:
Let’s begin with some content strategies:
1. Should I stuff my sentence with high sounding words?
It is a universal misconception that you need a vast vocabulary to write well. Sometimes it can hurt your writing. Writers often get lost in describing things/situations using fancy words. However, successful writers do not prefer words that only a few will understand. They want their writings to be clear and one that arouses a reader’s imagination. Therefore, they work hard to make the content simple and understandable. Since the first language of most people in India is not English, there can be a lack of understanding when there is excessive usage of heavy words. Hence, it is always advisable to choose simpler terms and vocabulary. For example, consider these two sentences :
Which of the two did you find better? Why? Because it is easy to understand and is crisply conveying the meaning in simple language. Hence, it is advisable to choose simpler words while writing a novel.
2. Which voice to use while writing a sentence?
There is a rule in writing that goes like “show, don’t tell”. This is an advice writers receive from other writers or instructors, time and again. It suggests using active voice instead of passive voice because you want to show the action happening rather than reporting what happened.
According to Grammarly, active voice means that a sentence has a subject that acts upon its verb. Passive voice means that a subject is a recipient of a verb’s action. With passive voice, there is no action indicated.
Consider these two examples:
3. How to write crisp sentences?
Constructing better sentences is essential for good writing. When we write a novel, we often find ourselves using words that do not add to the meaning or intensity of the words they accompany e.g., “very”, “really”, etc. Also, the usage of these words tends to make sentences long.
There are several meaningless filler words that we use, such as “that” or “which”. If they seem redundant, they need to be avoided.
Look for possibilities to shorten the length of your sentences. Give the reader more opportunities to flow with the rhythm of words, take enough pauses, and ponder on what they read.
Consider these two examples:
4. How to pick a protagonist for my book?
The underlying principle of deciding on how to pick a suitable protagonist is that your protagonist must line up with the central conflict. He must be the primary person that should exist at all significant times in the plot, and one directing the progress of the story. If he’s not that person, then he’s not your protagonist. A protagonist should have a purpose.
Hercule Poirot in Agatha Christie’s novels. Hazel Lancaster in John Green’s The Fault in our Stars. (purpose: finds new connection despite her terminal illness)
5. Should I self-edit and proofread as I write a novel?
Ruthless, continuous editing and proofreading is one of the best ways to refine and simplify your writing. Various editing/proofreading rounds help clear your views and ideas down to their final product. Even if you are going in for professional editing, first you need to learn to edit the draft yourself, only then should you give it for professional editing. Do research on the various types of editing, before approaching an editor.
6. What is ‘Genres‘ in books?
Genres serve multiple purposes. Categorizing a book by the kind of story/content helps potential readers decide whether your story fits their interest. When a book has an identifiable genre, publishers can also market it to suitable readers more effectively.
Most booksellers and readers recognize the following fiction genres:
- Science Fiction
7. Proper word-count for my book?
When you are writing a novel and the manuscript reaches over 40,000 words, it becomes a novel. Usually, the average word count for a novel is 50,000 words. A novel can also have between 60,000-100,000 words. Here’s a rough estimate of word count as per different genres of writing :
- Adult fiction: 80,000-100,000 words
- Science fiction/Fantasy: 90,000-120,000 words
- Romance novels: 50,000-100,000 words
- Historical fiction: 90,000-100,000 words
- Crime/Mystery/Thriller/Suspense: 70,000-90,000 words
- Young adult fiction: 50,000-80,000 words
- Children fiction: 10,000-20,000 words
Read up on word count that works best for first-time authors. Dig deep into the finer points of word count for your book.
B. Cater to your reader’s needs
If there were a way to know your target readers, you’d be able to reach out and give your book to them right away? So, how do you determine who your target audience is and what they need?
Here’s how you can:
One great way to find your target reader is by locating books that are in the same genre as yours. Research their target audience on their social media accounts. This is an excellent platform to gauge who will be the right audience for your book.
Once you have identified the target audience, try to get to know your readers better.
If your readers start suggesting your book to their family and friends, then you will know that you’ve written a book that resonates with your target readers and you have identified your target readers correctly.
C. Market Effectively
Since there is a lot of competition out there, you need to know how to market your book. Whatever route you choose – traditional or self-publishing, you need to have a proper understanding of the market.
Consider various options :
- Buying route: Online or book stores
- Format: Electronic, hardcover, softcover or audiobook format.
- Type of readers:
A lot goes into a good marketing strategy in terms of time and cost. Investment is required whether you want to promote your book through:
- Book blogs
- Book launch events
- Book signing events
There is a difference between a good author and a great author. Great authors do not just share stories with the world, they make the world fall in love with their stories. Strive to make yourself a great author!