Thursday, July 4, 2013

Creating Great Content – Selling Great Stories.

Mid last year there were a few self-publishers in Amazon's children's categories selling ebooks about daughters and girls that had great messages but were illustrated with mismatched free stock images, including rather well-endowed female characters.  I picked up a few for free and totally related to the negative reviews readers had been giving the ebooks.  The story ideas were good, the message lovely and meaningful for parents with daughters, but the execution was terribly poor.  I don't think these books are selling any more due to the many one-star reviews they received.
The thing with writing and publishing books is that they take a HUGE amount of time, energy, emotion, and coffee!  They are your life's work, your creative outlet, your secret regret, your deepest joy, your greatest wish.  They take so much of yourself to create and infuse life into that a simple thing like poor grammar shouldn't be the problem that lets your project down, not when it was within your power to resolve.
You are a writer!  Even if for just one day, you are still a writer.  And as a writer you need to make it your top priority to gain the necessary skills to write with excellence.  That takes time, practice, research, and a whole lot of reading.  You need to know your trade, and know it well, because if you don't, just like a plumber who fails his clients, you will get bad reviews and no one will take you on again.
Ok, that aside, here are some things to consider when writing something that is going to sell.  Have a think about your genre and then write to that genre:
Genre is the term for any category of literature or other forms of art or entertainment, e.g. music, whether written or spoken, audial or visual, based on some set of stylistic criteria.
It's a given that you are going to write a type of book that fits into a category of similar types of books.  Certain types of books sell better than others, even within genre.  Chick-lit, Romance, Erotica (blek!) and Romantic Comedy are some of the top-selling books online.  Indie romance novelists earn more per annum than self-published writers in any other genre.
You need to ask yourself if your story fits best in that genre or if it is too unique.  Unique is good, but if your story is too unique, it may put people off and it won't sell.
At the other end of things, you don't want to sell a story that is same-old, same-old.  Who really wants to read another teenage dystopian story about star-crossed lovers...  oh wait, most of the teen population in the world...
There are a few things that I always look for in a book.  Setting the scene – creating the world of the character.  If this is done well, then as the reader I can believe anything.  And yes, I do love sci-fi!  :)  I love when the character development takes me on a heart-journey with the characters to the point that I begin to worry about them when I've had to put the book down to, say, go feed the kids.
I hate plot holes, issues that could have easily been resolved with duct tape and a 'suck it up princess' attitude.  It really annoys me when there is a great antagonist whose role is to force the protagonist into life-changing decisions, and creates great friction and suspense, but then that same antagonist gets squished without any climatic clash of wills.
I'm not great on loads of internal dialogue, nor hours of monologue.  I love witty humour, and creative characters.
But that is me.  I don't write what I read, but I know what I love.  And dag-nab-it – I get so frustrated when I'm reading the end of a fantastic novel only to discover that it's part of a series and the next instalment isn't due for another whole year!!! 
So how do you ensure that what you are writing and publishing is quality content and a polished publish?  We'll, you're just going to have to wait until the next post!  Ha ha ha – I can't believe I just did that!  Crack me up!
Love and peace,
~ Joy

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