It’s a strange publishing time to be alive.
Just over ten years ago, one of my first clients self-published her debut novel. Her goal was to sell 100 copies of the novel to real readers (aka: not grandma) in her first year. She hit that goal quickly and sold a number she never could have expected.
The upward trajectory of her authorial career was inspiring. It still is inspiring. Success like that I hope for most every author.
While Publisher’s Weekly reminded writers last fall that Writing Books Remains a Tough Way to Make a Living, Jane Friedman presented a powerful reminder this week that Author Platform is Not a Requirement to Sell Your Novel or Children’s Book.
Though, regardless of industry metrics and analytics, regardless whether you’re established or debuting, through thick and through thin, writers write.
So, what is a writer to do in this bizarre, yet hopeful, publishing landscape?
This week, Cathy Yardley for Writer Unboxed brings us The First Rule Of Write Club (and if you got Tyler Durden vibes, that was definitely intentional), an article that brings some serious reality hit points to the publishing conversation.
In the article, Cathy describes the publishing world as having gone “from High Noon to The Hunger Games in six seconds flat.”
The amount of information people are exposed to every minute of every day has left us culturally attention-deficit and slurping up the dopamine dregs of instant gratification.
And Cathy points out that readers have far too many choices for even the most ambitious of to-be-read lists. In 2022, there were 4 million new books published — nearly 11,000 books per day.
Reader choice and a preference for instant gratification means readers want hooks right away. A meandering opening simply won’t cut it.
But hope is not all lost.
Cathy’s article shares practical wisdom about how to hook your readers and usher in an emotional connection to those readers.
And, of course, the hook comes quickly — in the first sentence.
PeggySue Wells for The Write Conversation writes a reminder that The First Paragraph Leads To The First Chapter. Hook the reader. Then, compel the reader to keep going, hopefully to finish the book and tell others about it in a positive way that brings new readers into your space.
But just as you want readers to like your book, readers want to like your book. PeggySue’s article reviews several reader-focused questions to get you thinking from the reader’s perspective and searching for the expected elements of a satisfying read.
What’s in it for them?
While you’re thinking about the answer to that question, you may ask yourself, What Are Obligatory Scenes And Conventions? Savannah Gilbo for Fiction Writing Tips has an expansive answer and lots of additional resources to help.
Find the genre you’re writing in, grab your resource, and do a quick check just to see if all those literary ducks are in a row. You may be surprised at what you find. Avid readers in every genre has certain underlying expectations, even if they don’t articulate them — though you can be certain that if there’s a missed expectation, readers will articulate that.
And at the very basic structural level of most stories are the turning points of characters and their corresponding plots. For a refresher on turning points, see Mastering Turning Points In Relationship Plots by September C. Fawkes for Writers Helping Writers. While the article focuses on relationship plots, the turning points are widely adaptable to most any plot type so long as the story is largely driven by the characters and their trials.
- A point of no return? That’s your inciting incident, the catalyst that pushes your protagonist into their own story.
- The closeness or distance between characters? That’s the contexual shift that occurs around the midpoint.
- That moment of vulnerability? That’s your lesson learned when all the cards are finally on the table.
September uses examples from well-known stories — Pride and Prejudice, Harry potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Star Wars III: Revenge of the Sith — to show how these turning points function within those stories.
And regardless of genre, regardless of turning points, regardless of characters, plots, and circumstances, every story has movement of some kind. For movement-focused pieces, Killzoneblog.com shared two articles this week.
How To Write A Dance Scene by Sue Coletta stresses the importance of bringing in the physical and emotional to relay the character’s actions to readers. The goal is to show, not tell. And you can do this by describing not the movements themselves but how the character responds to and senses that movement.
And The Choreography Of Violence by John Gilstrap, who takes a dance-like analysis of point of view to communicate the power and effectiveness of violence in an action scene and where and how best to focus the reader’s attention on what they need to see and experience to be in the right mood and mindset for your story.
If after all this, you’re still unsure about today’s publishing landscape no matter how many reader expectations you hit, metrics you meet, and goals you crush, head over to Career Authors for The Secret That Can (And Should) Change Your Entire Approach To Publishing by Brent Hartinger. Because it’s possible that your perfect publishing path looks a little different than the average smattering of options presented.
As always, there were so many great nuggets of writing wisdom in this week’s advice that I didn’t have room for all of them. Check out the links at the bottom of this article to find what you need.
And I’d love to hear your thoughts on this week’s curated writing advice article. Was there a piece of advice you loved? Hated? Something you have lingering questions about? Leave a comment below and let me know how I can help you meet your writing goals.
More Productivity Advice for the Week
- 10 Ways To Overcome Writer’s Block by Vincent Mars for A Writer’s Path
- 5 Great Things To Do For Your Writing by Victor Salinas for A Writer’s Path
- A Conversation With Dean Koontz On Giving Yourself Five Years To Make It As A Writer by Clay Stafford for Writer’s Digest
- A Practice And Resistance by Steven Pressfield for Steven Pressfield
- Burned Out On The Business Of Writing? 6 Insights To Rediscover Joy And Passion by K. M. Weiland for Helping Writers Become Authors
- Conquer The Fear Of Failure by Rochelle Melander for Write Now Coach!
- Embrace The Suck by Tiffany Yates Martin for FoxPrint Editorial
- Embracing Connection: The Joy Of Returning To In-Person Conferences by Carrie Pearson for Writers’ Rumpus
- Finding The Right Emotional State For Writingtheryanlanz by Doug Lewars for A Writer’s Path
- Video: Get Motivated To Write by Jenna Moreci for Writing with Jenna Moreci
- How A Writer’s Feelings Feed Into What We Write by Sarah Sally Hamer for The Write Conversation
- How To Break Free And Live A More Authentic Life by Shannon Talbot for Women Writers, Women’s Books
- How To Overcome Perfectionism by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- Video: Prioritizing Personal Goals with Erik Fisher and Michaele Weissman by Debra Eckerling for Writers On The Move
- Video: Revealing A New (Surprisingly Simple) Strategy To Figuring Out How Much I Can Write In 2024 by Bethany Atazadeh for Bethany Atazadeh – YA Fantasy Author
- The First Rule Of Write Club by Cathy Yardley for Writer Unboxed
- Why Networking Is So Important For Aspiring Authors by Monique Hall for A Writer’s Path
- Why Writers Should Be Their Own Valentine This Year by Angela Ackerman for Writers Helping Writers
- Writers Self-Care ~ Taking Time Off by Joan Hall for Story Empire
- Your Unique Writer Proposition by James Scott Bell for Killzoneblog.com
More Craft Advice for the Week
- How Do I Fit Lots Of Characters Into My Travel Story? by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- How To Write A Dance Scene by Sue Coletta for Killzoneblog.com
- Avoiding The Dreaded Adverb In Dialogue And Everywhere Else by Carolyn Howard-Johnson for Writers On The Move
- Podcast: Writing Dialogue That Brings Complicated Characters To Life With Author Karen Outen by Julie Kingsley and Jessica Sinsheimer for Manuscript Academy
- Video: I Took Harlan Coben’s Creative Writing Class by Sara Lubratt for Sara Lubratt
- What Writer’s Should Know! Part Two: Editing by D.L. Finn for Story Empire
- Active Search: Because by Philip Athans for Fantasy Author’s Handbook
- How To Write Outside Your Cultural Experience Without Harm by Paulette Stout for Women Writers, Women’s Books
- Mastering Turning Points In Relationship Plots by September C. Fawkes for Writers Helping Writers
- The First Paragraph Leads To The First Chapter by PeggySue Wells for The Write Conversation
- The Future Lies: Writing Artificial Intelligence As A Character In A Novel by John Be Lane for Writer’s Digest
- How To Stop Torturing Your Readers With Boring Writing by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- Point Of View Vs Perspective: The Difference And Examples by Jason Hamilton for Kindlepreneur
- The Choreography Of Violence by John Gilstrap for Killzoneblog.com
- Don’t Step On Your Surprises by Nathan Bransford for Nathan Bransford
- What Are Obligatory Scenes And Conventions? by Savannah Gilbo for Fiction Writing Tips
- Video: The 8 Crucial Pillars Of Story (Storytelling 101) by Jason Hamilton for The Nerdy Novelist
- Video: How Can A Bestselling Book Make You A Great Writer? by Tim Grahl for Story Grid
- Video: Unveiling The Secret To Great Politics In Worldbuilding Kingdoms by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- One Amazing Perspective Shift To Make Scene Writing Easier by Sandy Vaile for Writers In The Storm
- Writers, Outliers Are Your Friends by Doug Lewars for A Writer’s Path
- How I Became A Reformed ‘Pantser’ by Renee Roberson for WOW! Women On Writing Blog
- How To Avoid Explaining Your Novel by Kathryn Craft for Writer Unboxed
- Diagnosing Characters To Write Them Like A Doctor by Marschall Runge for Writer’s Digest
- Video: Bad Rom-Coms Vs Good Rom-Coms by Brandon McNulty for Writer Brandon McNulty
- Video: Don’t Wait Too Long To Get Writing Feedback with Jenna Adams by Rachael Herron for Rachael Herron YouTube channel
- Video: 3 Ways A NYT Bestseller Transforms A Bad Book Opening by Shirley Jump for Write Better Fiction with Shirley Jump
- Video: Writing With AI: Mixed Cadence vs Varied Sentence Structure by Nicole Broussard for Nicole Broussard
- The Secret To Using Secrets In Your Writing by Kelley J. P. Lindberg for Rocky Mountain Fiction Writers
- What Is A Character Arc? by Scott McCormick for BookBaby Blog
- Tone Words — Ultimate Guide For Writers by P.J McNulty for Blogging – The Write Life
- Character Type And Trope Thesaurus: Starving Artist by Becca Puglisi for Writers Helping Writers
- Ways To Know Your Characters, Part 2- Personality by Ellen Buikema for Writers In The Storm
- The Making Of An Antihero by Stavros Halvatzis for Stavros Halvatzis
- The Writer’s Eye: Enhancing Situational Awareness by Susan Watts for The Write Conversation
- The Politics Of Character (Or How To Write About Politics Without Writing About Politics) by David Corbett for Writer Unboxed
- Putting The ‘Com’ In ‘Rom-Com’ by Brian D. Kennedy for Writer’s Digest
- 21 Popular Romance Tropes For Writers by Robert Lee Brewer for Writer’s Digest
- Why Flawed Heroes Are Essential To Modern Literature by Joseph Macolino for Live Write Thrive
- Podcast: Adding Novelty To Classic Genres by Oren Ashkenazi, Chris Winkle and Adam Wik for Mythcreants
- Five Ways For Heroes To Defeat A Distant Villain by Oren Ashkenazi for Mythcreants
- Five Prose Essentials For First-Time Fiction Writers by Chris Winkle for Mythcreants
- The Black Sheep Of The Short Form—The Novelette by Dale Ivan Smith for Killzoneblog.com
- Video: Write A Book Outline With AI Tools by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Video: How To Set Up Your Story For An Unforgettable Ending by Stavros Halvatzis for Get Writing
- Video: How I Write A First Chapter and Opening Mistakes To Avoid by Nicole Wilbur for Nicole Wilbur
- Video: Crafting A Fantasy World: Create The Right Magic System For You by Marie Mullany for Just In Time Worlds
- The ‘Bathtub Story’;: Why It’s A Problem, How To Fix It, When To Use It by September C. Fawkes for September C. Fawkes
- What ‘Pantsing’ Really Means And Why Most Writers Have It All Wrong by Lauren Sapala for A Writer’s Path
- Comedic Writing: How To Write A Funny Story by Jordan Kantey for Now Novel
More Business Advice for the Week
- Your Author Brand With Isabelle Knight by Joanna Penn for The Creative Penn
- Social Media Best Practices For Authors In 2024 by Kathryn McClatchy for Writers In The Storm
- Tips For Writers To Keep The Relationship With Social Media Strong & Healthy by Edie Melson for The Write Conversation
- The Secret That Can (And Should) Change Your Entire Approach To Publishing by Brent Hartinger for Career Authors
- Video: Targeting Trad Readers with Michael R. Miller by James Blatch for Self Publishing Formula
- Money Management Principles For Indie Authors: Self-Publishing Money Basics Part Three by AskALLi Team for Self Publishing Advice
- Podcast: Publishing Predictions For 2024 And Beyond With Clayton Noblit by Sacha Black for Sacha Black
- Why You Need A Press Release In The Digital Age by Claire McKinney for Jane Friedman
- Podcast: Unraveling The Mysteries Of ISBNs And Book Distribution by Sacha Black and Michael La Ronn for Self Publishing Advice
- Author SEO: Grow Your Book’s Online Presence by Lauren Davish for BookBaby Blog
- March Book Promotion Opportunities: 23 Surprising, Unconventional, And Goofy Holidays by Sandra Beckwith for Build Book Buzz
- Top 5 Blogging Tips For Success by ARHuelsenbeck for A Writer’s Path
- Make Your Author Website Work For You by Jenni L. Walsh for Career Authors
- 100 Irresistible Logline Examples For Movies And Books To Inspire You by Bryn Donovan for Bryn Donovan
- Social Media For Authors: 7 Ways To Succeed Without It by Penny Sansevieri for Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
- The Secret Rules And Most Common Myths Writers Should Know About Querying Literary Agents by Lucinda Halpern for Writer’s Digest
- Video: Amazon Ads Not Profitable? Why Authors Should Still Run Amazon Ads by Julie Broad for Book Launchers
- Podcast: How To Market With No Money by Thomas Umstattd Jr. for Author Media
- Video: 2024 Ingramspark Step-By-Step Self-Publishing Tutorial by M.K. Williams for M.K. Williams
- Video: Does My Book Cover Make The Grade? by S.D. Huston for S.D. Huston
- Author Platform Is Not A Requirement To Sell Your Novel Or Children’s Book by Jane Friedman for Jane Friedman
- Amazon Profits, Pro-Tips…And Personal Shoppers by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- Why Is Book Marketing So Damn Hard? by Lainey Cameron for Women Writers, Women’s Books
- Video: Build A Membership Website On Uscreen by Dale L. Roberts for Self-Publishing with Dale
- Europe’s AI Act And UK Parliamentary Report Shows Net Is Closing Around AI’s Use Of Copyright Material by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- Children Are Driving A Reading Revival by Dan Holloway for Self Publishing Advice
- A New Era Of Pulp Fiction? by Larry Kahaner for A Writer’s Path
- How Charles Dickens Influenced The Self-Publishing Industry by Kelsie Engen for A Writer’s Path
- How To Pitch Your Book To Broadcast Media by Paula Rizzo for Writer’s Digest
- Video: How To Evaluate A Publishing Contract by Daphne Gray-Grant for Publication Coach
- Launching Two Books In Six Months, A Case Study by Dan Blank for WeGrowMedia
- Video: How I Use AI For Self Publishing by Dale L. Roberts for Self-Publishing with Dale
- Video: 12 Social Media Idea Post For Writers by Shaelin Bishop for Reedsy
- Video: How Cross Promotions Can Supercharge Your Subscription by Michael Evans, Anna McCluskey, Arielle Bailey,Lindsey Pogue, and Ana Ross for Subscriptions for Authors
- Why Kickstarter Is The Most Creative Way To Launch Your Book by Orna Ross for Self Publishing Advice
- Video: Tiktok & Instagram Updates You Should Know by Shelby Leigh for Marketing by Shelby
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