Showing posts with label 2014. Show all posts
Showing posts with label 2014. Show all posts

Wednesday, December 31

10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

10 Most Popular Posts of 2014

Happy New Year! I’m going to celebrate the upcoming new year by looking back at my most popular posts of 2014.

Coming in at number ten we have:

10. How To Write Like Agatha Christie

Agatha Christie is the best-selling novelist of all time and one of my favorite authors. I've spent many a night curled up in front of a roaring fire, cocoa close at hand, reading her familiar tales. 

Although no one can write exactly like she did—nor would we want to. The goal of each writer is to develop their own voice—time and again I have wondered which elements of her stories contributed to her phenomenal success. I'm not suggesting she employed any sort of formula, but I believe there must have been certain characteristic regularities to her work that contributed to her becoming the most read mystery writer in the world. (Continue reading: How To Write Like Agatha Christie.)

9. How Michael Moorcock Wrote A Novel In Three Days

Yes! Moorcock actually did write many short novels (45,000 words to 60,000 words) in only three days. (Continue reading: How Michael Moorcock Wrote A Novel In Three Days.)

I had intended to continue this article on Moorcock, to make it a series, but that didn’t happen. That said, I think Moorcock’s method was similar to Lester Dent’s and I did write a five part series on Dent’s Master Story Formula. Here are the links:

8. How To Write a Terrifyingly Good Horror Story, Parts One and Two

Want to write a story chalk full with thrills and chills? A few months ago I reached a point in my WIP where I had to kill off one of my antagonist's minions and was curious what tips other writers had for creating a gross out scene. Then I thought: Hey! I should blog about this. That's how this post began, but it turned into a series on how to write a terrifyingly good horror story. Here are the links:

7. 7 Tips From James Patterson For Writing Suspenseful Prose

Did you know that, since 2001, James Patterson has sold more books than any other writer? Apparently 1 out of every 17 hardcover books sold has Patterson's name on it.

Regardless of what anyone thinks of Patterson's writing, there is no arguing with his popularity. So, how does he do it? Here are Patterson’s tips for writing suspenseful prose. (Continue reading: 7 Tips From James Patterson For Writing Suspenseful Prose.)

6. 4 Ways To Write Every Day

After years of writing, I've noticed certain things about myself, my writing routine, and I thought I'd pass them on in case you're one of those people who's a bit like me. Here are suggestions for ways to write every day: (Continue reading: 4 Ways To Write Every Day.)

5. How To Write A Murderously Good Mystery

Lets revisit one of my favorite topics and examine how to write an engrossing murder mystery. To do this I’m going to take an in-depth look at a classic: "The Guilty Vicarage: Notes on the detective story, by an addict," by W.H. (Wystan Hugh) Auden. Auden writes that the "basic formula is this: a murder occurs; many are suspected; all but one suspect, who is the murderer, are eliminated; the murderer is arrested or dies." 

Generally speaking, mystery stories conform to the overall structure of a genre story, which is ... (Continue reading: How To Write A Murderously Good Mystery.)

Other articles in this series:

4. Jim Butcher On How To Write A Suspenseful Story Climax

Someone once said to me: The first few pages of a novel sell that novel, the ending of the novel sells the next novel.

I believe that.

Endings are important. If I like a book but hate the ending I probably won't read another book by the same author. (Continue Reading: Jim Butcher On How To Write A Suspenseful Story Climax.)

3. George R.R. Martin On The Art And Craft Of Writing: 9 Tips For Writers

Have you read George R.R. Martin's interview in Rolling Stone magazine? I was amazed and a little shaken by the depth of Martin's innate, intuitive, grasp of storytelling. All the more so because this wasn't an interview conducted with writers in mind. He didn't set out to give writing advice—at least, I don't think he did—but, nevertheless, the advice was there.

Here's what I've taken away from the interview ... (Continue reading: George R.R. Martin On The Art And Craft Of Writing: 9 Tips For Writers.)

2. Best Fonts For Genre Book Covers

One of the most difficult things about creating a book cover is selecting a font. I'll try Impact and maybe Engravers MT and then reach for Lucida and then ... you get the idea. It's a hodgepodge of guesswork. Eventually I'll trip over something that works, but there's got to be a better way.

Derek Murphy has come to the rescue. (Continue reading: Best Fonts For Genre Book Covers.)

1. How To Write A 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Story

Choose Your Own Adventure stories are making a modest comeback thanks to tablets and smart phones. Let’s look at the structure of a Choose Your Own Adventure story and examine how to write one. (Continue reading: How To Write A 'Choose Your Own Adventure' Story.)

That’s it! I’m looking forward to another year of blogging about writing. Have a happy, and safe, New Year!

Photo credit: I altered the photo and added text. The photo I used was: "Cannes - Firework 2014 (China)" by ludovick under Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.

Monday, July 7

Mark Coker's Tips On How To Sell More Books

Mark Coker's Tips On How To Sell More Books

Let's talk about book marketing. 

I prefer to concentrate on writing so I tend to shy away from marketing. That said, writers need to make a living wage if they are to keep writing, so marketing--learning how best to present our work to readers--is important.

Each year Smashwords founder, Mark Coker, shares the most significant factors in a book's sale on Smashwords[1]. Here is his analysis for this year: 2014 Smashwords Survey Reveals New Opportunties for Indie Authors

Even small changes can have big effects.

It will come as no surprise that, as Coker writes, "A few titles sell fabulously well and most sell poorly." But what Coker takes from this is worth thinking about: "An incremental increase in sales rank is usually matched by an exponential increase is sales."

The takeaway: Do those things that "give you an incremental advantage so you can climb in sales rank."

What follows are a few ways in which you can give your book an incremental advantage.

1. Longer ebooks sell better.

In the 2014 survey, as in earlier surveys, it was clear that longer books sell better. 

When I read this I wondered: How long is longer? 70,000 words? 80,000? 100,000? But Coker doesn't put a wordcount on this. All he says (see below) is that a book that has fewer than 50,000 words, all things being equal, would be at a disadvantage.

2. Price points: books priced at $2.99 and $3.99 sell best.

Mark Coker writes:

"The highest earning indie authors are utilizing lower average prices than the authors who earn less, but this doesn't mean that ultra-low prices such as $.99 are the path to riches.  $2.99 and $3.99 are the sweet spots for most of the bestsellers."

"FREE still works great, but it's losing some mojo [...]."

3. If you offer your book as a pre-order, it will sell more copies.

Mark Coker writes: 

"I think preorders today are where free was five years ago.  The first authors to effectively utilize preorders will gain the most advantage, just as the first authors to enter new distribution channels gain the most advantage.  Five years from now once all indies recognize that preorders are a no-brainer essential best practice, the effectiveness of preorders will decline."

4. Books in a series sell better than standalone books.

Not only do books in a series outsell standalone books but the best performing series have longer books.

5. Books under 50,000 words sell fewer copies.

Mark Coker writes:

"Also interesting, we found series books under 50,000 words are especially disadvantaged.  This is not to say that you can't become a bestseller writing shorter novellas.  Multiple Smashwords authors have had success here.  But what the data does tell me is that successful novella writers might achieve even greater success if they write full-length.  The data appears to suggest that series books under 50,000 words might create friction that makes readers incrementally less willing to buy."

6. Offer the first book of a series free of charge.

Mark Coker writes: "We found strong evidence that series that have free series starters earn more money for authors than series that do not have free series starters." 

To sum up:

- Longer ebooks sell better.
- Books priced at $2.99 and $3.99 sell best.
- Books offered as a pre-order sell more copies.
- Books in a series sell more copies.
- Short books (books with fewer than 50,000 words) sell fewer copies.
- Series sell better if the first book is offered free of charge.

Question: What works for you? If you have a marketing tip to share, please leave a comment.


1. Mark Coker's survey is based on "over $25 million in customer purchases aggregated across Smashwords retailers including Apple iBooks, Barnes & Noble, the store, Sony (now closed), Diesel (closed), Oyster, Scribd, Kobo, public libraries and others." In other words, it is based on books offered on the Smashwords platform as well as on platforms owned by Smashwords' publishing partners. As a result, this data may not apply to those who sell on other platforms. That said, I have heard many of these points echoed by people who sell primarily on Amazon.
Photo credit: "June 2014" by *Light Painting* by Creative Commons Attribution 2.0.