Anatomy of the Modern Bestseller
I don’t know about you but during my life, I have spent a lot of time wishing I could create a bestselling novel.
You know what it’s like.
You see a book selling bucket loads. You eventually read it to find out what all the fuss is about. You quite like it but a small part of you is thinking, “I could have done that.”
You don’t mean it in an arrogant way. Just that, it’s got words you know, strung together in a way that’s not dissimilar to what you might do, and there are a whole bunch of characters and a story line that doesn’t stretch much beyond what you could have imagined.
Pretty soon, you see the author’s name everywhere. Next, they’re making a movie and you’re thinking, “Wait a minute, my book’s just as good! Why isn’t my name up there? Why isn’t my book a bestseller too?”
Yep, it's every writer's dream.
To write something that sells millions and pretty much guarantees the author a place in history. Now that's sweet - the idea of it anyway.
I read a US publisher's blog recently that said that it was RARE for ANY author to sell more than TWO HUNDRED of their own books - and only then if they were lucky! This figure is apparently true for Amazon and iTunes authors, as well as traditionally published authors with bona fide book deals.
Yes, even mainstream publishers with worldwide distribution often have trouble selling the first print run (usually less than one thousand copies) of what they call their 'B List' authors - a category which pretty much covers the majority of us!
That's the reality.
Bestsellers have a habit of surprising everyone: their authors, the media, Amazon and publishing companies too.
It's been said often that even publishers are pretty bad at spotting potential bestsellers. If anyone has an inkling of what a bestselling book looks like, it must surely be writers like you and me. After all, it's our job to write them!
It should, therefore be in our own interest to know what a potential bestseller looks like.
In the movie business, there's a whole industry built around teaching writers how to write effective blockbuster movies - to a kind of formula.
(Okay, if you don't like the word formula, think in terms of a set of conventions that are necessary to make a movie work for a large audience.)
The sheer size of the film industry and the lure of the millions to be made have effectively necessitated the need to teach writers how to do it 'properly'.
Why, I wonder, is there no similar resource for novel writers?
(There is now, of course, because I’ve created one for you!)
I mean, it's not as if you need to be a great literary talent to write bestsellers. As the bestselling author, Ken Follett, says, “It's enough to be literate - that is, to be able to string a few sentences together.”
Bestseller writers are routinely criticized for their lack of literary finesse - but surely that's to miss the point.
It's the story that makes a bestseller. The story, the characters, the setting - and the big idea.
Isn't it about time somebody instructed ambitious writers on the fundamentals of writing potential bestsellers?
Yes. I definitely think so.
That's why I put together my latest writing course, Anatomy of The Modern Bestseller.
To teach novelists the basic conventions contained within all bestsellers. And if you think there's no rhyme or reason to these things, then you'd be wrong.
There are glaring similarities between all bestselling novels but as writers, we often can't see the forest for the trees. We get so involved in the writing process, we fail to see the big picture.
The reality is you really can plan, create and manufacture a potential bestseller. (Assuming you are literate, of course!)
There are conventions that always work. There are indeed templates - just like you'd use to write a screenplay - that a writer can use to hang their own novel on - and make their story look and feel and read like a bestseller.
Click below to find out more about my latest writing course: Anatomy of The Modern Bestseller:
I think you’ll find it’s information you need to know!
Your Success Is My Concern
The Writing Academy
Thursday, October 13, 2016
Tuesday, October 4, 2016
I don’t do as many live seminars as I used to but when I do, the most popular topic is my Art of Story course.
I once gave a whole day over to the course with a live audience, slides, and an intense Q&A. It was great fun. Plus I got to go to Singapore to give it, which is a lovely city in the springtime.
The best part about The Art of Story is that it’s a fun way for writers and authors to learn something new. Plus the substance can be easily implemented immediately after the course and turn amateur writers into seeming professionals instantly.
It’s all about structure, you see.
The Art of Story shows you what the greats, the classic literary authors, and modern bestselling authors have known all along: that structure IS story.
That even a bad story well told will be considered brilliant. And that, conversely, a good story told badly just won’t work. Ask any Hollywood producer if you don’t believe this is true!
The story-telling structure that is used is simple yet profound and if you begin to use the structure yourself, you’ll find it immensely helpful when you’re trying to get published and when you’re selling your own books, perhaps on Amazon - which just about EVERYONE is doing these days!
Structure is crucial when you want to look professional and inspire trust in readers, fans, and industry people like literary agents and traditional publishers.
I have revisited The Art of Story for my new Writing Academy. It’s now in four parts, lessons if you like, with a couple of bonus ebooks to help with your creativity.
Plus this one’s a bargain. Robyn, my beloved wife, (and resident mystic) recently told me that eight was currently my lucky number.
So what better way to celebrate that fact than by releasing this course at the one-time special offer price of $8 - normally $197.
That’s a huge discount!
Go here to enroll:
Your Success is My Concern
Rob Parnell's Writing Academy
Thursday, September 29, 2016
|Purge by Rob Parnell|
Recently I met an editor online by the name of Peter Wilson.
I can’t quite remember how we began talking. I think he emailed me a question about one of my Academy courses and we hit it off. We got to chatting.
I was interested in what he had to say because he said he’d been editing a detective thriller that had just been released on Kindle.
It was a genre piece and I wondered if he might be interested in editing my next detective thriller, at the moment called, All The Right Reasons.
Peter said he’d be interested and where was the manuscript?
I had to break it to him that although I’d finished the first draft, I wasn’t ready to hand the story over to him yet.
You see, that’s the thing with work in progress manuscripts.
The author has to do everything he can to make the story AND THE TEXT perfect BEFORE he hands the MS over to an editor.
That’s the way of the professional: make your manuscript PERFECT before you even think about letting anyone else read it.
Never show people work in progress!
Not even family members.
Not even writer friends.
NEVER anybody associated with publishing books!
Now, sadly, a lot of lazy new authors don’t think this way. They think they can write any old crap and just get an editor to fix it.
Admittedly this phenomenon is a lot more common in the modern nonfiction publishing world where many would-be writers - who are actually more like salespeople disguised as authors - write very quickly to produce often very short e-booklets - and then release them on a weekly basis.
This may seem like a strange way to make a living but I kid you not.
I’ve read blogs produced by these people and they say that it’s the only way THEY can make a living on Amazon Kindle: they have to release a lot of short (crappy) e-books on a continual basis.
Why would you want to do that?
Because that’s not my experience. I’ve found that if you take your time and write longer, quality books, then they tend to stay in the book chart for much longer, sometimes AGES.
For example, some of my books are still in the top 100 of their category TWO to FOUR YEARS after their initial release. I believe in creating the best possible books I can. Whether fiction or nonfiction, no matter how long they take to write and GET RIGHT!
But this article is actually about fiction.
Fiction is generally a much harder sell these days because there’s so much more competition than there used to be.
In the old days, traditional publishers were able to effectively hold back the tide of new novels by rejecting 99% of all author’s books. Now, authors don’t need to bother with these self-appointed gatekeepers.
I read recently that about TWENTY new novels are appearing on Amazon and Kindle EVERY DAY.
That’s a seriously huge amount of authors vying to be read and taken seriously.
And in a world where only the cream will rise to the top, the only trick necessary for a new writer is to remain consistently good.
It’s tempting to be cavalier about such things, especially when you’re starting out. Plus it’s all too easy to get so scared of putting something online that you never get around to it.
That’s why you need to engender a nice balance between courage and skill.
Plus, get yourself good beta readers and especially good editors.
As much as you can do yourself, you can NEVER catch all the typos. For some reason, the brain can override what you see and actually put in words that aren’t in the manuscript.
You literally CAN’T SEE your own mistakes. It's a very strange phenomenon.
Hence the need for a great editor.
All of which is a preamble to announcing the re-release of my crime thriller novel PURGE.
Considering it’s fiction, the book has done pretty well. It floats in and out of the charts all the time and the reviews are great.
To cut a long story short, Peter - from an editing company he’s calling Grizbokkit Editing Services - offered to edit Purge because, as he put it, it would help him get to know my writing style in preparation for the follow-up novel, All the Right Reasons.
I think he’s done a superb job of editing the story, especially improving the references to Boston, where Peter used to live.
Now if you don’t know already, Purge features my hero character, Matt Johansen. He’s a young cop who keeps getting passed over for promotion and is eager to prove himself to senior management.
He wants everyone to know he’d make a great detective. Problem is, his behavior and his youthful temperament doesn’t sit right within the Boston Police Department.
So, he goes it alone when he discovers a serial killer has caused the death of his long lost sister. Purge is a story about redemption because not only is Matt trying to rid the streets of crime single-handedly, he’s also trying to purge some inner demons that keep him from powering ahead in his career.
Of course, there’s an autobiographical strain to Purge - and the follow-up.
Yeah, Matt is a bit like me, well, more like the way I used to be when I was his age.
Okay, simply put, in the spirit of constant improvement and giving my readers the best possible experience of my novels, I have updated Purge, probably my best novel.
And I’d really love for you to get it. It’s only 99 cents for the next couple of days. Feel free to grab it while you can especially if you’re intending to read the follow up when I release it - probably before Xmas this year.
Your Success is My Concern
Thursday, August 4, 2016
As part of the roll out of my new Writing Academy, I want to give you access to a FREE fiction writing course.
It's HERE. And it's FREEEEEEEEE!
If the above link isn't working use the one below - click or copy n paste:
Your Success is my Concern
Your Success is my Concern
Thursday, July 28, 2016
You've finally made your pile.
People respect and admire you.
You've got the cars, the house, the kids' education is taken care of, you're taking your holidays in all the best places and... what then?
Most people don't think past the 'getting'.
They just assume their lives will be so fulfilled by being rich that it won't matter what they do with their time when they get there.
Common sense should tell you that it's not going to be like that.
It's human nature to always want more.
So what's the answer? Well, here's a rough guide to living life AFTER success!
1. Move On Up
You're gonna have to set bigger goals.
Achieving what you want is good yes but, guess what, only for about 3 seconds.
Life can only be fulfilling when you're in need of something - when you want something so much it pulls you out of bed every day.
2. Move On Out
You've got to take bigger risks.
Ask anyone who stays rich and happy, they'll tell you, we all take risks with money - it's how we got rich in the first place, right?
That buzz associated with risk is life enhancing.
Some things work, some things don't. How will you know unless you try?
3. Give It Away
There's no point in hoarding all your money to yourself - or even saving it for your kids - they'll only end up like Paris Hilton, or worse.
Give at least 10% of your money to people who need it, can use it well and deserve to be helped.
It all comes back in different ways anyhow, so why not?
4. Bring It On
Educate yourself continuously.
Find out new things and keep interested in everything - the news, politics, science, history, the arts, whatever gives you a kick and makes you excited and happy to be part of this great big beautiful world.
5. Feel the Burn
Become more creative.
Stretch yourself into arts and crafts you've only ever dabbled in.
Like films? Then make movies!
Like music? Write songs and form a band!
Enjoy traveling? Get a boat.
Buy a club, start a new business every year - even if you don't want to work there!
Employ others to help.
6. Play With Money
As often as you like, analyze your investments and savings and move things around to maximize your net worth.
Regularly liquidate assets and invest in new things.
Enjoy working with money and stay informed of opportunities.
7. Be Careful
Beware of fair-weather friends - and con men - lots will appear once the word gets out you've got money!
Always investigate business and personal ventures thoroughly, using lawyers and the like to help you.
I can only stress that you'll likely end up very sorry if you don't.
8. Have fun
Whether it's ballooning across the Sahara or just keeping in touch with friends - don't forget that you're here to have fun.
And enjoy the simple things - the love of a good partner, playing with your children and keeping your mind and body healthy.
It's all too easy to imagine life at the top as glamorous but it's rarely what it seems to be.
Best that you prepare now, before you get there, or the reality may come as a shock.
Plus, preparing for success will obviously help you condition yourself for it - and, I believe, better attract it!
Thursday, July 14, 2016
There's really only one duty a writer has - and that is to constantly strive to improve.
Ask any seasoned writer and he or she will tell you that getting better at the craft is probably the most fulfilling aspect of writing.
Because you are effectively getting better at communicating your ideas - and placing your world view into the minds of others.
To me, this is an almost magical concept.
So - constant improvement - how does one achieve it? Here are nine short tips:
1. Read Like it's Going Out of Fashion
You've heard it a million times before. You can't love writing without first loving to read.
Read a lot.
Analyse writing and writers.
Study what works, and what does not, wonder why and learn from it all.
Realise too that the published writing you see has probably been worked and reworked over and over to appear effortless.
Don't assume professional writers get it down perfect every time.
Their work, too, has been analysed, edited and beaten into shape by themselves and other editors.
2. Study Your Own Writing
Study every word, every sentence, every phrase.
Are you maximising the effect of your words?
Could you say the same thing a different way?
Don't just blindly accept your words as perfect.
Professionals know there is always another way of stating something, setting a scene, explaining an emotion.
Too many novice writers fall in love with their words, refusing to accept there might be a better way to get to what is true.
3. Learn to Love Criticism
When we start out, criticism hurts - big time.
We've bared our soul.
We've agonized over our words and are proud of what we've said.
Off-hand comments about our work can feel like a body slam, an attack on our capabilities, our character, our integrity.
But that's not what is going on.
People love to criticize - it's human nature.
Even the best writers are criticized.
The point is to learn from criticism and use it.
Listen to what is being said, make changes if necessary but do it for yourself.
You are the final arbiter - but don't be blind or sulky about criticism.
Take it on board.
4. Read Aloud to Others
Reading out loud can highlight the strengths and weaknesses in your writing.
Especially in the areas of rhythm, wordiness, and dialogue.
It's a great test.
Read to friends and family, yes, but also read to other writers.
Let them make comments.
Enjoy the process.
Read a short piece to a group of friends/writers.
Make note of how your writing sounds to them.
Listen to suggestions.
Make changes, read it aloud again.
Keep doing this until everyone involved thinks the writing - every word, every phrase - is perfect.
5. Try Different Styles
It's too easy to get stuck in one area of expertise.
If you're a fiction buff, try writing magazine articles or screenplays.
If you're a journalist, try free-form fiction.
If you're a literary type, try writing advertising copy.
Don't limit yourself.
All types of writing are good in their own way and experimenting with them can teach you little tricks that help you become a more mature, fully rounded writer.
Novice writers tend to think they shouldn't experiment, that somehow it might taint their art.
Nothing could be further from the truth.
6. Take Courses, Read More Books on Writing
The process of being taught, of exposing yourself to the ideas of others, cannot be underestimated.
Even if you disagree with what is being said, it all helps stretch you and give you a deeper understanding of what is good and right for your writing.
When you take lessons in writing, study hard, do the exercises, listen to the feedback, act on it and write some more.
Your writing will improve the more you do it.
Don't sit and fret over your writing.
Just do it.
7. Seek Out Good Advice
I often hear novice writers complain that they're learning nothing new about writing from the various authorities they consult.
They sound disillusioned as if there's more pertinent information out there if only they could find it.
Odd. considering I've never met a seasoned writer didn't love to debate the absolute basics of word-play, grammar, sentence structure and all the other little things that novices seem to grow weary of hearing.
You can never hear good advice too many times.
8. Give Back
Share your knowledge.
Teach what you have learnt about writing to others. Too often novice writers can feel there's some sort of clique of professionals who don't want to talk to them or associate with them.
We writers, whatever our abilities, must learn to see ourselves as a community with similar aims - to actively enhance all our writing - to raise the bar and to act for the betterment of all writers.
9. Constantly Want More From Yourself
Stretch yourself continuously.
Find new ways of expressing yourself.
Writing is sometimes a strange past-time.
A writing project that begins like an adventure can quickly become an obsession that ends up feeling like some self-inflicted curse!
But all writing experience is good, whether it's fun or not.
Not all of your writing is going to be fun and fulfilling.
Some of it may be a hard slog or a nuisance.
This is okay.
If you want to succeed in writing, it should become your life, your passion, even your reason to be.
It's a fine and noble way of life.
If you want it, embrace it, and your writing will benefit enormously.
Go for it!
Best of luck and - whatever you do:
Thursday, June 30, 2016
You don't need me to tell you that self-publicity is a writer's secret weapon.
Bear in mind that when you decide you want to be a published author, it's most likely going to take you anywhere between two to five years to see your books in print - that's the reality of the traditional publishing world.
Even if you go the faster route - by self-publishing, then it's still a good idea to give yourself a two to three year period to really get to grips with your new career.
So why not use that time to build a following?
Why wait until the last minute to start your promotional activities when the Internet is a perfect place to get people reading your writing, and getting to know and like you through a regular blog?
It's not as if it costs anything - except your time - so you have no real excuse, do you?
Where to Start
Go immediately to Blogger.com and register a blog spot for yourself, either using your own name or some other phrase that means something to you.
Don't use Wordpress unless you're a complete masochist - and have time to waste on readme files.
I have no idea why people use Wordpress at all - it's the most complicated interface I have ever come across and requires a degree in engineering just to install.
I have one Wordpress site that I come back to every now and then but each time it just seems to get more complicated for no good reason!
In contrast, Blogger.com is easy.
It does everything for you - and the dashboard where you can add your own stuff is beautifully simple to understand.
The only drawback (if you can call it that) is that you need a Gmail account to get started.
What to Say
You don't need to have publishing credits to start talking about writing.
It's your blog.
You can say what you like.
That's the beauty of the Net.
Your opinion, your worldview, is just as valid as anyone else's.
In fact, that's the trick I think: to be as honest and as frank as you can be.
That's what will make you unique.
Don't just trot out the standard lines on writing issues.
Get in touch with how you really feel about your craft and state it, boldly, with pride.
Blogs become popular over time because people dip into them, enjoy what they read and remember you.
And they remember sincerity for a lot longer than you simply trying to sell yourself, your books and your writing.
How Often You Should Blog
The major search engines trawl the Net at least once a week. Their spiders are looking for new content.
Therefore, in order for a blog to start appearing in search listings you need to keep updating it.
Once a week ideally - but that's not always practical.
Regularity is the key - and relevance.
Add topicality to your blog by mentioning world events, personalities, and contemporary issues.
These all raise your blog's profile - and its popularity.
Building a popular blog can take around a year or two - there's no getting around that.
But that's why you need to start yours now.
Think of your writing career as a long term investment.
In a couple of years from now, wouldn't it be better to know that you've had blog readers - and loyal subscribers over that time?
Make sure you sign up for all the RSS feeds on offer - and you'll find, over time, you'll get more and more visitors.
Find an Angle
If nothing else, the media teaches us one thing: it's the angle that grabs attention.
Start a blog that details your week by week journey through your book or novel, for instance.
Write about a cause you believe in.
Save the Whales, Obesity, Cancer Cures for example.
Take a religious or political stance (and get ready for vociferous responses!)
Or simply write about where you live, or the history of a place you love.
You'll find like-minded people attracted to your site - and, one day, maybe a news service will contact you to use you as an authority in an interview.
These things happen.
Can You Get Paid to Blog?
Put Google Ads on your blog.
Blogger.com shows you how to do this.
It's free and whenever anyone clicks on an ad within your blog page, you get paid.
Easy. Money for jam.
You should also put an email catcher on your blog.
Getresponse.com is free - as are many others.
Do a search on 'free autoresponders' - and most will integrate seamlessly with Blogger.com.
I use Aweber.com - they've been around forever.
After a few months, when you've built a small list, you can offer ebooks you've written to your subscribers, maybe through Kindle - which is a very easy way to publish yourself.
Or you can offer other writer's book and courses as an affiliate.
Why not? Everyone's doing it - why leave money on the table?
In the Future You'll Wish You Started Now
Because when you do have your own published books out there in the real world, you'll have people you can tell about them.
Publishers and Amazon will like you for being able to say you have readymade fans to whom you can promote your work.
Book sales don't just happen nowadays.
You have to find avenues of publicity and ways of increasing the probability you'll sell your books on the publisher's behalf.
And every little helps.
Till next time,