Friday, November 12, 2010

Writing To Sell: Knock ’Em Dead!

Intrigue
Captivate
Thrill
Enthrall
Grip

What do these words mean? In this case, they’re synonyms for “knock ’em dead.”

Of course, you don’t want to literally eliminate your readers. Writers need all the fans (aka readers) they can get. But the idea of “knocking” them into a chair with your book in their hands and holding them in place with your compelling story does have considerable appeal.

A man who read my latest novel recently said to me, “I want to talk to you about your book.” Looking me straight in the eye, he offered no hint of a smile. Oh, oh, I thought, here it comes. Then he continued. “I started reading it at one o’clock one afternoon and finished at one o’clock the next afternoon. I couldn’t put it down.” I let out the breath I’d been holding. He went on to say that he’d stopped reading only long enough to eat and sleep and he absolutely loved the story.

My first novel had been aimed primarily at women readers. This one, a psychological drama, targets a wider audience. I wanted to appeal to the men as well as to the women who read that genre.

When writing non-fiction, you may have an obvious niche—health care workers, organic food enthusiasts, pet lovers, travelers, retirees, sanitation workers—the list goes on and on. This “built-in” readership can guarantee sales if your book is well-written, fills a need, and is effectively promoted.

Fiction, on the other hand, appears to be another animal…but is it really? What if your protagonist or other main character is a retiree, traveler, sanitation worker, etc.? You, too, have a “built-in” audience. And what if you offer to speak to groups of these people, putting together a well-planned program that addresses their needs/concerns/interests and even includes a little humor? You can encourage audience participation, and you definitely want to have plenty of books on hand to sell. My novel features three lawyers, who, like doctors, intrigue readers. This approach is a bit different from the typical niche, but it never hurts to observe the professions that interest people and include a character or two who works in one of those fields. Whatever route you choose to capture readers, be sure to “knock ’em dead” with the power and quality of your book. Keep ’em in that chair, reading!

The publishing industry has undergone dramatic changes. In the past, it promoted writers and their works. Now book promotion falls on the shoulders of writers themselves. How do you address that new responsibility? When you start to plan your next book, do you consider your audience? How do you slant your writing to appeal to that audience? What do you do to garner sales when you have the finished product in hand? How do you “knock ’em dead”?

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Linda Lane is first and foremost a writer. After she published her first book, she was approached by others who wanted their books published. She reviewed their manuscripts and realized they all needed to be edited, so she tapped into the skills she learned as the editor of a small regional journal, she became a publisher. You can visit her at www.penandswordpublishers.com.

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9 comments :

  1. Considering our readers is a must, especially, as you said, in this age where writers more and more must do the marketing. If you don't consider them before you write, once you're done, you have to analyze your book to see what areas or topics there are that you could appeal to different groups of readers.

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  2. Congratulations on that wonderful affirmation of your writing, Linda! That's what we all dream about.

    I gave a talk to a writer's group on Wednesday, "Those Critical First Pages." As I always do, I got a question from a writer struggling to understand the ground rules: "I hear first person POV is overused by beginners. Should I stay away from it?"

    My answer: Even if an agent or editor made up that rule herself she would forget all about it if she is intrigued, captivated and enthralled. So I guess you could say the opening of this post captivated me.

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  3. Great post and better advice. We all strive to achieve these goals.
    N. R. Williams, fantasy author

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  4. It's so much fun when you find someone who really enjoys your book. That's what it's all about.

    Morgan Mandel
    http://morganmandel.blogspot.com

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  5. I needed to read this. The market for my novels is so small (hip hop lit/street lit), and that makes it easier to engage them, but this is still a great info.

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  6. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

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  7. You have given something to everybody on this blog stop... both to readers and writers...i.pearson@comcast.net

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  8. Something to think about
    Candy
    dragonfly1976@gmail.com

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  9. Great thoughts about markets and connections your characters bring you.

    Enjoyed your post!

    Monti
    NotesAlongTheWay

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The Blood-Red Pencil is a blog focusing on editing and writing advice. Some of our contributors are editors, some are authors, and some are writing sheep. Yes, sheep.

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