I’m going to share with you twelve tips I learned at a recent writers workshop I attended, which was hosted by a professor of English and prolific author, Dr. Dennis Hensley. He has over fifty published books and has been featured in hundreds of periodicals. I really love his short, sweet, and to-the-point helpful hints from which we can all benefit, whether we have been published several times or have just begun our publishing journey only recently.
What about your writing will grab a publisher’s attention? The most common way books sell is still by word of mouth, so make sure your writing evokes the intended emotions through your style and voice.
Do you know your audience? It’s common for us as writers to sort of gloss over our target audience, but this is a critical component to successful professional writing. What is the age range for people who read our work? Are they primarily male or female? What education level do they typically possess? Know who you’re writing for, and you will be more successful in selling more books.
What’s your writing style? Ask people what they specifically like about your writing. Is it the colorful details of your descriptions, or perhaps the engaging dialogue you use to captivate your audience? When you receive specific feed back about what makes your style unique, you will better understand how to capitalize on your natural talents.
How long can your book last? Some authors know their work will only be relevant for a short amount of time, while others truly desire that their literary work becomes timeless and classical. Only you can determine what works for your particular book or writing niche, but truthfully, longevity sells better – and more – books.
This point seems obvious, but many authors overlook it. Be sure to cite your primary sources when you are quoting other people’s work and even when you paraphrase someone else’s idea. This will avoid the inevitable controversies that could potentially entangle you in a messy situation when you are publishing your manuscript.
How many comparable books are on the market? Note catch phrases, terrain, dress, architecture, and food. Be a student of culture. Writers are, by nature, detailed in their description of characters, plots, and emotions. Be cognizant of how you would describe – through your senses – the variety of your life experiences.
7. HONE YOUR MECHANICS:
Review grammar, punctuation, spelling, etc. It may come as no surprise, but most schools do not teach grammar anymore. In turn, many students are graduating high school and even college without proper knowledge of sentence structure or the general mechanics of the English language. Don’t make that grave mistake, because it will drastically hurt your credibility as a professional writer. Always hire a professional editor before you publish your work.
Consider your momentum. What’s your potential – as an author, of your work, as a person? How many ideas do you have? Consider sequels and other pop culture ideas that are associated with many successful literary works.
Do you really need those charts, maps, photographs, and cartoons in your published manuscript? Probably not. A few of these can add necessary detail to your book, but if you use them indiscriminately, it can harm your credibility. Most readers do not want to be inundated with excessive graphics. They want to read your book.
How willing are you to promote your books? Offer interview questions that you want people to ask you about your book. This makes it simpler and likelier that you will land those radio and television interviews, because most broadcasters are too busy to actually read your book. But if you offer them several interview questions ahead of time, they will most likely be happy to oblige you in promoting your book.
How much money can you make? Obviously with self-publishing, your profit margin is considerably higher than through the route of traditional publishing. Think about creative ways you can earn more money: translations into different languages, audiobooks, a study series, etc.
What accolades have you received that are relevant to your book? Is it really that important to include every post-secondary degree or certification you have received if there’s no relevance? People want to consider you an expert based on your knowledge, but also on your experience. Consider this when you are creating your author biography.
Though most of us aren’t entire novices when it comes to writing, editing, and publishing, it is always beneficial to consider certain areas we may overlook from time to time, as well as ways we can improve our approach to writing and self-publishing. We become seasoned veterans over the course of time, but I believe a dose of humility helps keep us grounded and focused, too. Hopefully these tips taught you something new but, if not, drew you back to a renewed focus on your work!
Text Copyright 2015 Jeannie Ewing
Image Copyright 2014 by Condesign on Pixabay and edited in Canva by Jeannie Ewing.
Jeannie Ewing is a writer, speaker, and grief recovery coach. She is the co-author of Navigating Deep Waters: Meditations for Caregivers. Jeannie was featured on National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition and Tony Agnesi’s radio show Finding God’s Grace. She offers her insight from a counselor’s perspective into a variety of topics, including grief, spirituality, and parenting children with special needs. Jeannie resides in northern Indiana with her husband and two daughters, both of whom have special needs. For more information on her professional services, please visit her websites lovealonecreates.com or fromgrief2grace.com.