In life, everything is constantly changing. This applies to books and their current trending genres. One week, fairies are topping the charts, but the next, Greek goddesses have taken over. Depending what genre those examples delve in, the writing is different. Gone are the days when Tolkien’s style of writing was popular. Now, stories told from a First Person POV and leaning heavily towards romance are selling the best. Those two elements can be applied to any setting and genre, but only if you know how to execute it.
Reading in your genre is the best way to see what readers are looking for. As the saying goes, readers want to read the same exact thing, but with minor changes and some originality. Once they pick up a book by you, they expect the others to be similarly written.
If you’re expecting to sell a lot of books, it’s best to stick with the current writing styles of authors topping the charts. It’s a personal decision to attempt getting a book into all of the current trends. Sliding into even one of them will drastically boost your ratings and get the attention of new readers.
At this point, you may be getting a bit defensive at the fact you should improve your skills. There is a vast difference between style and skill. Style is the art of the storytelling. Your style may always be changing or you may have nailed it down earlier on. The skill is the execution of the writing and should always be improving.
In order to succeed, your writing skills will need to constantly be advanced. There’s not enough room for the famous “show, don’t tell” speech here, but you can find our previous articles for reference: Pitfalls to Avoid: Showing vs. Telling and Show, Don’t Tell.
Why You Still Need an Editor After Multiple Books
A question that often comes up for seasoned authors: “do I still need an editor? I have x number of books under my belt now. Surely I can self-edit to save money and time.”
Famous authors like J.K. Rowling, R.A. Salvatore, Stephen King, etc. still use their editors. Why? They’ve written multiple books and have been writing for years. Shouldn’t they be self-sufficient by now?
Writing a book and editing a book is not the same thing. That’s why an extensive process has been created for publishing. Yes, your work will definitely improve over the years if you continue honing your skills and pay attention to some of the things your editors suggest. There will still be mistakes that another pair of eyes need to catch.
You may be thinking at this point of the article that “It’s okay. I’ll have my best friend or family member read over it and it’ll provide a professional result.” This is often not the case. Even someone who reads books extensively or has an actual college degree in English won’t be able to catch all of the mistakes. Degrees are a piece of paper awarded to someone who completes courses. It doesn’t show their experience or dedication to the work.
Normally, there are three stages to editing: Structural/Developmental, Line Editing, Copy Editing. Laid out like that, it looks easy, but it’s far from simple. A manuscript is normally read through and edited a minimum of five times. Professionals who have studied current genres, story structures, sentence structures, etc. are worth having edit your story and getting it to a traditional publishing level, whether you are attempting that route or self-publishing. Readers expect professionalism and will stop reading after finding mistakes in the book.
“But that’s okay. I’ve already established a reader base.” It’s extremely easy to lose readers once they realize your future books are not up to par with the others. The more books you release, the better they are expected to become. Not the opposite.
Why You Shouldn’t Withdraw Your Submission Early
To be continued in a later blog post called
Why You Should Keep Improving Your Skills…
After being in the business for so long, one ends up seeing multiple dreams being squashed or coming true. One of the worst things is getting in your own way and causing everything to crash and burn. This has occurred many times and as such, has warranted this article.
Many publishers have the option of manuscript and anthology submissions. When someone submits to both outlets and one gets rejected, the automatic response is to withdraw all submissions from that publisher. This is the wrong way to do things. Just because one thing was rejected does not mean everything will be.
There are so many possibilities as to why it was refused. Some of the most common reasons is it needed more editing or that story didn’t fit in that particular anthology. No matter the reason, none is cause to withdraw all of your submissions. More often than not, the publisher is planning on accepting one even though another was rejected.
The reason many authors are not successful with traditional publishing is because they don’t follow submission guidelines and once refused, they automatically give up. “Self-publishing is such an easier way to go” has been a saying going around writing communities. It may be easier, but you will never have the same opportunities that traditional publishing gives. And so, the story that was rejected due to poor editing is uploaded for self-publishing without further improvement and gets nowhere with sales.
The worst of all is that, more often than not, the author never continues improving their writing. Critique is the most important way to continue honing your writing skills. If you think you’re already the best and have nothing further to improve, then you’re already in the wrong mindset.
To be continued in a later blog post called
Why You Still Need an Editor After Multiple Books…
When done right, a plot twist can infuse the story with a whole new level of drama that keeps the reader reading. There are different types of plot twists, and each one has its own function for moving the story forward. But remember, just because plot twists exist, doesn’t mean you have to use them. Putting in a grand reveal just for shock value will only make the story you’ve worked so hard on, feel a little cheap.
Just like the name suggests, this comes about when one character is presumed to be on one side of the conflict, but then later betrays their loyalties. It is one of the more common plot twists used. And typically, this kind of plot twist happens when the traitor is someone on the protagonist’s side. However, it can be just as interesting if not more interesting when the betrayal occurs on the antagonist’s side.
This plot twist is an exposure of a truth about the world that has been hidden from the protagonist. The main character gets a reveal of the “true state” of the world around them, which then challenges their fundamental idea of their place in the world and how they fit into it. It’s a great starting point for them to go on a hero’s journey.
The Different Identity
This is a plot twist that happens when one character is revealed to not be who they said they were. This can either have a positive or negative impact on the plot, so be wary when using a different identity.
Giving a character a backstory is essentially making them a more well-rounded character. It’s allowing your audience to get a better picture of who they are and what their motives might be.
Backstories are important to all characters – not just the main characters. Side characters, and especially villains, can greatly benefit from having a backstory of their own. It makes them much more real and grounded characters that have layers. Backstories allow you to write characters rather than caricatures.
But how do you write a backstory without it coming across as cliche or an info dump? There is a trick.
I like to think of a character’s backstory as an iceberg. You’ve got the top 5 percent that you see, while the other 95 percent is hidden beneath the surface. Much like Hemingway’s Iceberg Principle, if you tell the important parts of a character’s backstory, the whole thing will be easily inferable for the reader.
That is why, it would be a good idea to write out your character’s entire backstory – just get it all out there on paper. However, the trick is to not take everything from the backstory and dump it straight into your novel. Be strategic. Give the audience only the important or relevant backstory pieces that will help to propel the story forward. Your protagonist being an introvert might not be as necessary information to the story as them being an orphan. But if you write their backstory well enough, the reader will be able to infer the bits that are left out.
Basically, you should always make a backstory for your characters, but don’t feel the need to dump it all into the book. It is okay to leave some stuff out. That is what makes for a well-developed character.