Tag Archives: Creative Writing tips

How to Write a Bestseller

Electrik Inc is always on the lookout for good advice that helps us hone our writing skills. I loved this Ted Talk video with literary agent, Jonny Geller, about what makes a bestseller, and what agents/publishers look for in new writers. Think about his comments when you’re editing your own work because everyone wants to sell their books and the more we get right, the better it is for our readers as well as our bank balances.

There are lots of how-to-write-a-bestseller tips, from Dean Koontz to Matthew Sparkes writing in The Telegraph on how scientists developed an app in 2014 that analysed best sellers. The findings were very interesting but guaranteed success remains elusive. And so the advice is just that: advice. Remember, what works for one author may not work for you.

I especially like how Mr Geller looks for the “space between the sentences” in any piece he reads. There is often a temptation for writers to give too much description, too much information… I’m always advising my clients to trust their readers to fill in some of the blanks themselves.

Mr Geller’s five-word sentence example is excellent too – a fun way of learning the importance of varying sentence length.

Personally, I would add story to the list. Not the plot or pacing (though they’re important too), but the story: is it strong enough to hold the reader. I always think of that in my own writing. Will the reader care enough to keep reading to find out how this story unfolds – and ends. For me, story is vital. Of course great characters, tight prose and sharp dialogue help, but if I don’t connect to the story, I lose interest. Whether I’m assessing manuscripts, reading for a publishing house or writing my own novels, I keep that in mind.

Jonny Geller also mentions how it all comes down to us, the reader. That reading “makes us better people”, that original writing is so often harder to place because publishers find original material “very hard to market”. Yes, some of us have figured that out already. 🙂

The five things Mr Geller looks for are:

The bridge: does it take us from the familiar to the new?

Voice: the unique sound of the writer, which is nothing without the next part:

Craft: writing is difficult. Amateurs and professionals alike do draft after draft to get it right. Does it have resonance? Will it reach as many people as possible, as quickly as possible?

The gap: the space between the sentences. The gap the writer leaves for the reader to inhabit.

There’s lots more. Jonny Geller has a natural style that’s easy to listen to without feeling you’re being lectured. Check it out.

KAY LEITCH   co-founder of Electrik Inccropped-electrikinc_logo3_colour1.png
Author of  Treasure This
kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

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Best-selling Author, Judy Blume

Want an insight into how a best-selling author’s mind works? The research, the rewrites, the editing? The highs, lows and insecurities that most writers feel? There are lots of gems about the individual writing process in this in-depth interview with Judy Blume, via Goodreads. It shows the kind of hard work and commitment that’s needed — along with a bit of luck — if you want to make a success out of writing.

Judy Blume’s new novel In The Unlikely Event draws on her memories of real events: three plane crashes in her home town back when she was a teenager. We may not all have such tragic events happening in our back yards, but I think every writer has their own tale to tell. We can all draw on personal experiences when creating our stories.

This author comes across as likeable, down-to-earth and honest. More importantly, she’s successful and is happy to share her experiences.  I love that she ‘hates categories’, uses ‘security notebooks’ and was discovered from the slush pile. I admire her for saying she’s a much better rewriter than she is a first-time writer. If only more aspiring writers realised that it’s ALL in the re-writing.

I know the world is different now than when she started out, but the interview is well worth a read, so I thought I’d pass it on.

Kay Leitch
Author of whodunit, Treasure This
kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

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Filed under best-selling books, Children's Publishing, creative writing tips, interview with Judy Blume, Judy Blume, Kay Leitch, Publishing

Writing, Editing and Publishing

You know how sometimes you know what you want to say but then you hear someone else say it so much better than you could?

Well, that’s a convoluted way of saying I’ve found three blogs I think are worth sharing in this world of creative writing, independent publishing, traditional publishing and editing.

1) — Paula Hawkins didn’t have much success writing a variety of genres, including frothy romance stories. She wrote them to try and earn some money. A few years ago she decided to stop trying to second guess the market and decided “to try writing the kind of story she likes to read” and so she wrote The girl on The Train. And guess what? It worked. Good for her! She finally wrote what she wanted to write.

http://www.irishtimes.com/culture/books/the-gamble-that-put-girl-on-the-train-writer-at-top-of-bestseller-lists-in-under-a-month-1.2088004

2) — Toby Young, writing at The Telegraph online with the headline These days, writing isn’t a career, it’s a rich man’s hobby mentions that a survey of 2500 professional authors found their median income in 2013 was £11,000, a drop of 29% since 2005.

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/books/11349865/These-days-writing-isnt-a-career.-Its-a-rich-mans-hobby.html

Most writers need another job to supplement their income (that or a private income or an understanding — and rich — spouse). Interestingly, most traditional publishers and agents only need to hold down the one job… They make their money from writers.

So, it seems to me, if you’re going to be paid what amounts to pocket money for doing what you love, and need to keep the day job anyway… then you might as well write what you want to write.

Life. Is. Too. Short.

3) — Mandy Brett at the meanjin.com.au site gives an in-depth analysis of what being an editor means to her. She demonstrates how a good editor works and why they’re so necessary if you want your book to be not only professional, but better than it would have been. And you do want that, right?

http://meanjin.com.au/editions/volume-70-number-1-2011/article/stet-by-me-thoughts-on-editing-fiction

So that’s it. Three blogs that said exactly what I wanted to say. Here’s what it boils down to:

1)   Write what you want to write.

2)   You probably won’t make much money from writing anyway (although a lot of people will make money from you), so write what you want to write.

3)   Hire a good editor; they’re worth it. But write what you want to write.

There’s a theme in there somewhere  🙂

Kay Leitch

Author of  Treasure This

Originally published at kaywritesheretoo.wordpress.com

 

 

 

 

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Filed under Children's Publishing, Independent Publishing information, Kay Leitch, Publishing, Tips for Authors and Illustrators