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Recently, a client asked me, "What makes a good book?" Of course, this client is writing a book and she was wondering what elements to include to make sure her book will be a really good read; a page turner. Don't we all want that! My one suggestion was simply to tell a good story.
Click to hear the 6 Elements to include in your story. Telling a good story is the basis for a good book, no matter what genre you're writing in, whether nonfiction -- where you're teaching how to do something -- self-help, memoir, autobiography, and of course fiction. You can always tell a great story to help readers connect with the content in your book. A good story helps you capture the attention of your readers, engage them, and give them something they can connect with. Here are six elements you should include when crafting your great story. Think about these elements as a reporter considers a good news story. After all, with a journalism background, I often approach storytelling from this perspective.
Who = Characters: Even in nonfiction books, there are characters. Perhaps your main character is the narrator, which is most likely you. There might be other characters, such as experts or clients you include in your case studies or examples. What = Situation: What actually happens in your book? Set up a situation that your characters are connected to and that has a beginning, a middle, and an end. When = Timeframe: When does the action happen? What time of year or what time in history does your story take place? How long does the situation take to unfold?
Where = Setting: Does the situation happen in a hospital? Does the action happen in the board room? Does it happen in someone's kitchen? The setting should be very well defined and it should draw readers in so they feel that they are right there in the midst of the action. Why = Motivation: There should always be motivation in your story, either for a main character, for the narrator, or even for your experts. Motivation is the reason characters do what they do, so make it interesting and realistic.
How = Outcome: This is the result or the final "goody," the takeaway, or result of your story. How did everything turn out? What should your readers know now that they've read your book? How should they think or feel, and what should they do with this new knowledge?
Those are six elements to include when telling a great story, which helps make your book a page turner. Happy writing!
Have you ever moved? It can be a massive amount of
work—packing, moving, and getting settled after the fact. You can do it on your
own (mostly), but the process is faster and easier when you share the necessary
tasks with family and friends.
Publishing a book can be even more daunting—especially if
you’re researching, writing, publishing, and marketing it primarily by
A collaborative book may be the perfect introduction to
becoming a published author or as an avenue to rapidly add another title to
your publishing credentials.
these 6 reasons for creating a collaborative book:
Get Published Faster. Each of my
collaborative books has taken three to six months to complete—from concept to
published book. In contrast, I have clients who have been working on their
manuscripts five to seven YEARS before they contract with me for their book
cover design and interior formatting. It’s simple math that thirty authors
writing 1,000 words each will create a 30,000 word manuscript faster than one
author can alone.
Provide a Broader Viewpoint. We each
have a unique combination of experience, knowledge and expertise. The written
perspective of six to thirty authors provides a wider view on a topic than a
single person can contribute alone.
Share Ideas. A quote often credited to
George Bernard Shaw says, “If you have an apple and I have an apple, and we
swap apples—we each end up with only one apple. But if you and I have an idea
and we swap ideas—we each end up with two ideas.” Writing books in
collaboration with others is an excellent way to share ideas.
Reduce Upfront Expenses. To
self-publish, an author pays upfront for editing, cover design, interior
formatting, proofreading, and publishing expenses like an ISBN number and a
printed proof. Your ideal book cover design may require a stock photo (with an
extended license), an original illustration, or a custom photo shoot. After
you’ve completed your manuscript, expenses can easily run $5,000 - $10,000
before you’re ready to print. Self-publishing in collaboration, the expenses
are divided among the co-authors.
Expand Your Marketing Reach. Before
social media made it so easy to connect, it was said that most people had about
250 in their network of contacts. Now it’s common for someone to have 500 –
1,000 contacts. The reach of one person with a 1,000-person list of contacts is
a drop in the bucket compared to the reach of ten co-authors with 1,000
contacts each. Each co-author benefits from the exposure of all their
co-authors’ contacts. This is especially effective for publishing a book as a
strategy for marketing your business.
Build Stronger Relationships. People
like to do business with people they know and trust. One key to building
stronger relationships is to do what you say you’ll do. A collaborative book is
a short-term project that highlights your knowledge and creativity while
demonstrating your ability to follow-through on a commitment—with the added
benefit of a book to sell at completion.
In addition to strengthening
relationships with your co-authors, publishing frequently is a powerful way to
build relationships with potential and existing customers. Becoming a published
author elevates you to the status of an expert and can be the starting point
for a foundation of trust.
Publishing a book is a lot of work, but sharing the load of
writing, publishing, and marketing is like having a group of friends help you
move. You’re tired at the finish line, but you’ve laughed and created memories
along the way.
Listen to these Write Here, Write Now radio archives for
more on collaboratively publishing:
Contact Vanessa to discuss the possibility of being a
co-author in one of her upcoming collaborative projects.
Lowry is a marketing consultant, graphic designer, author, radio host and
speaker. She leverages nearly 30 years of design and marketing expertise to
support book authors who are self publishing. Her books, including The 28-Day Thought Diet, are available on Amazon. www.connect4leverage.com
You’re ready to sit down with your
computer for another exciting adventure of writing your book. But first, you
scroll back a few pages to re-read what you wrote during your last writing
session, just to make sure that what you’re about to write will flow well with
the previous text. You find several misplaced commas, a few dangling
participles, and an entire section that needs to be rewritten. So, you fix,
rewrite, and re-read what you corrected. By now, two hours have passed and you
haven’t written any new content to move your story
forward. You’re frustrated
If you have experienced this scenario,
you’re not unlike many authors who write backward, instead of writing forward.
It is very easy to get caught in review mode when you’re creating your manuscript.
You want every word to be the right word and every sentence to flow seamlessly
into the next. You want to be completely satisfied with your last paragraph
before you create the next one. But that method is a surefire way to remain
stuck and never get your book finished. This self-editing is a form of
perfectionism that you must keep at bay if you plan to complete your manuscript
during this lifetime.
Put a stop to your backward writing by
trying this approach:
As much as possible, set a start and end
time for each writing session. Arrive at your “writing cave” well fed, well
rested, well hydrated, and well focused. During your writing session, write
with reckless abandon. At the close of your writing session, resist the urge to
review what you’ve written. Trust that you’re on the right track (a detailed
outline will help immensely with this, but that’s another post altogether).
Instead, on a separate page from the text you just created, jot down several
bullet points for what should come next in your story. This will be your guide
for the next writing session. With these bullet points visible and on a
completely different page, you should be able to pick up at the next session
where you left off at the last, without reviewing what you’ve already written.
This will save you time and frustration, and help you get to “The End” much
sooner than your previous attempts.
By the time you reach the end of your
book, you should have covered everything in your outline. Only then are you
ready to review what you’ve written and begin the self-editing process. Start
this process too soon and you’re sure to remain stuck there. Remember that you
will enlist critiquers, reviewers, and editors to help sharpen your manuscript,
so don’t stress over fixing everything while you write. You are creating a
masterpiece; this takes time and process. So create, then fix. Write forward,
not backward, and experience the joy of completing a manuscript you’ll be proud
Although it has rained for half the summer here in Atlanta, summer time still means festival season! And if you’re publishing a book, you may be thinking about selling it at a festival, such as the Decatur Book Festival, in Decatur, GA, the largest independent book festival in the country. Festival selling may not be the right strategy for every genre of book, but for some it’s a great fit. Keep in mind, however, that festival goers aren’t there just to buy a book, and usually they don’t even know that your book exists, so it’s up to you to stand out from the crowd ... and I do mean crowd!
Bring more than just your book
Remember the last time you went to a festival for fun. You stopped when something caught your eye, right? That’s your goal when planning your booth or table setup. You want to create a display that will catch the eye of a potential reader (book buyer). Take a theme from your book and extend it. Have a giant poster printed, get someone to dress in a costume, have someone doing the hobby of your main character, use props. Have something, anything other than just sitting the books and some postcards on a table! You may have to check with the festival organizers to get the okay on bringing certain items onto festival grounds.
Do a drawing or giveaway
What better way to attract people to your table than by having a contest or prize drawing? Your giveaway can be something as simple as one free copy of your book. Who doesn’t love the sound of the words “Win” or “Free”? A large event like a festival is a perfect opportunity for you to start building a mailing list, and a great way to do that is with a giveaway. Keep in mind that if you plan to add people to your subscriber list, some contact management programs require subscriber permission (also known as “opt in”). Simply have an entry slip requesting the name and email address of those entering your drawing, and be sure to mention that they will also be added to your electronic mailing list.
Don’t just sit there
The authors we see selling the most books at book festivals are not the ones sitting quietly behind the table. They’re up, moving around, approaching people as they walk by, greeting, talking, smiling, waving, and making a connection. If you’re sitting behind the table, looking shy, staring down, looking at your phone, or you seem uncomfortable, why would someone want to approach the table and look at your book? The worst that can happen is that they might say “No thanks” and keep walking, but at least you’ll have reached out. Hiding behind the table all day is a big a waste of your time, especially if you’ve paid to be part of the festival! Talking to strangers about your book in brief exchanges helps you focus your message. So take advantage of the opportunity to test out your book talk skills.
You might also want to take a few minutes to greet other authors who are there.
Find out what other authors have done that works, and what mistakes they’ve made that you can avoid. Events like these can be as much about networking as about selling.
Most importantly, smile
Yes, smile! Have fun, you’ve published your book and you should be proud to show it off to the public. Potential readers/buyers are much more likely to approach an author who’s smiling and having a great time than one who looks unhappy to be there.
Angela DeCaires is the Marketing & Communications Manager for BookLogix Publishing Services.
She oversees corporate communications for BookLogix, and also assists
BookLogix’s authors in the publishing process. Angela’s background
includes experience in public relations, writing, broadcasting and
journalism, having held positions in public relations and as a news writer/TV news producer.
Let's play a little game. Let's pretend
there really is such a thing as a time machine. We could go back 12 months ago
when you were thinking about writing your book. You were so ready to get
started and get it cranked out. You were ready to produce your manuscript so
you could soon have a book in your hand. Where are you today with that book? Do
you have a book in your hand or are you still thinking about writing your book?
Now, fast forward 12 months from now;
where will you be? Will you still be wishing and hoping you had a book? Will
you still be thinking about starting to write your manuscript and wishing you
had that book in your hand?
It is completely up to you what happens
between now and the next 12 months. As The Author's Midwife, I suggest that you
can write the first draft of your manuscript in 90 days or less.
And you really can have your book in your hand within nine to 10 months as an
independent published author.
So you decide what's going to happen in
your time machine. Will you be back 12 months ago when you were wishing you had
your book and you still don't? Or will you be fast forwarded 12 months from now
and you actually do have a book that you're proud of, that is leveraging your
platform, and that is helping you brand yourself as the expert you know you
I suggest you get out of the time machine
and just decide to make it happen: write the book! If you need help, get in
touch with me. I have really easy programs. You can do our self-study program
or we can talk about coaching. If you think you need the accountability, the
support, and the instruction from an author's coach, get in touch with me. Our
team can help you develop your content, get your book produced, and further extend that content into other leveraging opportunities for your
So enough with the time machine. It's
time to get your book done!
Finley, best-selling author and self-realization teacher says, “The only
barriers between yourself and a life without limits are the powers you’ve
mistakenly given to your doubts and fears.”
it’s not until you read something that you become tuned in to just how much
you let your fears determine your actions, or your inaction in many cases. Once
I decided to write a book, I thought just making that decision was enough of an
accomplishment to put it aside and wait until the next wave of inspiration hit
me. Or was the delay in starting simply due to the fear of what to do next? Or
better yet, what if ...?
if I don't have anything worthy enough for an entire book? What if my writing
doesn’t sound interesting or compelling enough to keep the readers’ attention?
What if nobody buys my book? And on, and on, and on I went. Now, looking back,
I see how I gave that fear enormous power. It sounds silly, but I’m sure this
kind of thinking is common. In fact, ever since you made the decision to
write your book, you’ve experienced some of the very same thoughts.
that you've made the decision to become an author, don't put it off one minute
longer. Create a timeline starting with a completion date, and then work
backwards to schedule weekly deadlines from there. If you are writing 10
chapters, how many are you committing to write each week to get to your
completion date? As with most things, the first step of a project is the
hardest. If you break it down into bite size pieces (week by week), the project
becomes much more manageable.
you have a writing plan? Getting organized and setting yourself up for success
will close the gap between where you are and where you want to be. In this
case, that gap is the chasm between wanting to write a book and being an
are my top 5 resources that fear can rob you of:
1.Joy/Happiness – Keeping you “locked in your
2.More Income or Revenue – Keeping you from
expanding or seeking opportunities around you
3.Time – Keeping you from not getting
assistance or making smart choices
4.Fulfillment – Keeping you from experiencing
success or accomplishment
5.Healthy Relationships – Keeping you from
reaching out and being more open
you have a plan in place for completing your book, your next step is to remain
focused on your goal and committed to the process of getting there.
reason we are all good at something is because whatever that something is, we
practice it and do it enough that we become good at it. Staying organized
and focused can help you become good at writing your book. The more you do it,
the better you get at it, and the better you get at it, the more you like
it. Then it becomes second nature because it is linked with feeling right
and feeling good.
get on a roll with your writing, and before you know it, you will feel a sense
of accomplishment like never before. I promise you!
shares her insights into living a productive and organized life with humor, a
twist of irreverence and a level of passion that motivates her audience to TAKE
ACTION IMMEDIATELY. Her approach to training is engaging,
interactive, and with a “let’s make a difference in your life” attitude.
She talks about real challenges that we all experience on a daily basis, such
as excessive clutter, email overload, being on time (or not), reasonable
expectations for getting things done, over-committing, and much more.