Wouldn’t you just love to come up with one of those ebooks that becomes so popular that it actually is published into real books? Pretty much in the same way that 50 Shades of Grey started out as a Twilight fan fiction. That would be a dream come true.
It is easy enough to self-publish nowadays. All you need to do is sign up for a free author account in Amazon or CreateSpace and you can pretty much put in anything you want. However, there is no guarantee that people will actually read it or even buy it. How unfortunate is it that you can’t even give it away?
The competition for attention on self-published books is just as fierce compared to anywhere else on the Internet, and it can be very hard to stand out in the crowd. To succeed in the cutthroat industry of publishing, you need to go the extra mile. Here are 5 incredibly useful tips to help you improve your writing skills.
Ensure readership by writing on a topic that clicks
Famous writers usually advise aspiring ones to write what they know and talk about what they are interested in or passionate about. While this can certainly make you a good writer, it does not mean it will make you a sellable writer. If you want to be published, you have to think about whether your topic or subject will click with the readers.
Before we explain further, it is important to understand your motivation for writing. If you simply want to express yourself (and never mind the reader) then you should stop reading this article. The whole point here is to get published, and balance that with the need to appeal to readers. If you decide that catering to what people out is not selling out your craft, then read on.
In a series of observations by behavioral scientist Susan Weinschenk of what you should know about people, she says that we not only make decisions unconsciously, but our “old brain” (the part that ensures survival) dictates what we should be interested like food or danger. She said, “’Can I eat it? Can I have sex with it? Will it kill me?’….As animals evolved they developed other capacities (emotions, logical thought), but they retained a part of their brain to always be scanning what is going on for these three critical questions.“
If you want to write something that will click with the readers, focus on two or three of these elements in your story and highlight it in your title. You want people to check it out at least so that you can wow them with your brilliant execution, and hopefully they will follow through with actually reading it through. Speaking of which…
Paint a picture with your words using straightforward language
There are as many writing styles as there are writers. You have the freedom to write any way you like. However, writing is a form of communication. If your writing style makes it hard for people to understand the message you are trying to get across, you would have failed as a writer. You may admire the convoluted or stream-of-consciousness style of some famous writers, but chances are, it doesn’t work for most people.
The best way for your work to get published is to describe what you mean in as few and as simple words as you can manage appropriate for your target readers. Paint a clear picture with your words, so people can “see” what you mean.
Ernest Hemingway once said to F. Scott Fitzgerald, “Write the best story that you can and write it as straight as you can.” Novelist Tom Clancy followed this up when he said, ““I do not over-intellectualize the production process. I try to keep it simple: Tell the damned story.”
Leverage the power of a good editor
We cannot emphasize enough the need to get an objective pair of eyes to check the work. As Hemingway humorously put it, “Write drunk, edit sober.”
People tend to scan anything quickly that catches their attention to validate if it is worth any more of their time. The first thing they will notice, and probably cause them to move on, are spelling and grammar mistakes. That is unforgivable in a published work.
Many writers will advise you to just write and worry about form later, but you still need to go back and proofread to make sure you are not confusing your verbs or misspelled “tomorrow” yet again. BestEssays editor Paula Gibbs observed, “Many writers find this the most tedious part of the writing process and tend to just scan the material instead of really looking, and subsequently miss many obvious gaffes.”
To ensure you publish error-free work, get someone else to proof and edit for you. Better yet, get a professional editor to not only check for mistakes, but polish the product to a high gloss.
Take a break from writing to get a fresh perspective
Sometimes you need to break your focus to keep your writing interesting. Do something else and forget about the work for a few hours. When you come back, you will have new ideas and fresh eyes.
Hemingway said in A Movable Feast, “I had learned already never to empty the well of my writing, but always to stop when there was still something there in the deep part of the well, and let it refill at night from the springs that fed it.”
Forget about rules and follow your heart
British novelist and playwright W. Somerset Maugham said, “There are three rules for writing a novel. Unfortunately, no one knows what they are.”
It is true that you need to follow certain rules of form when writing a novel, but writing itself cannot be confined by rules. If the passive voice sucks for your narration, then by all means use the active. If using superfluous words bring home a point much more forcefully than a simpler sentence, then plug away. If you feel compelled to work straight through from beginning to end, forego your breaks.
These tips are meant to guide, not dictate. If you want your work to be published, you can get there relatively easier if you follow these tips. In the end, however, you can only write the way that works for you. No one can tell you otherwise.
About the Author: Paige Donahue is a blogger and social media specialist. A bookworm, she wins people over with her creative imagination and charming personality. You can connect with her through Twitter @verylastpaige.