How do you write and market a novel?

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WHETHER YOU ARE A PLOTTER or a pantser or somewhere in between, it always helps to know where you’re going. This is especially important if you have a deadline or are trying to finish a novel in a month. I’m the founder of the Romance In A Month method and have successfully taught over fifteen authors how to write faster with deeper characters and tighter plots. I recently wrote a 20,000 word novella,Christmas Stray, in forty-eight hours. Here’s how I did it.http://www.rachelleayala.com/2015/01/how-i-wrote-20000-word-novella-in-48.html

Six Plot Markers

1. Hook – first scene. Introduce main character (MC) and provide a story question right away. It doesn’t have to be the MAIN question, but it should hint strongly at the conflict and provide a spark to get the reader to ask “Why?” [Juliette attacks a Christmas tree.]

2. Inciting Incident. Something out of the ordinary happens to propel the MC toward facing the issues exposed by the Hook. [Juliette and Gabe find a stray dog and lost child behind the woodpile.]

3. Lock-In. [roughly twenty-five percent mark]. The MC is committed or forced to move forward with the story, i.e. working through the conflicts you set up. [Juliette and Gabe are snowed in without power with the stray dog and lost child.]

4. Midpoint Reversal, Half Time, or James Bell’s Mirror Moment. [50% mark]. Everything changes. MC goes from meandering and exploring to realization of the seriousness of his problems. Clueless to enlightened. He knows the enemy. Stakes are raised. [Juliette realizes she is the one ruining her marriage.]

5. Dark Moment [seventy-five percent), but can be earlier or later, depending on how suspenseful and tight you want to set up the climax]. Everything falls apart for the MC. The tentative victories are all busted. Everything she tries fails. [Juliette’s husband rejects her clumsy seduction attempt.]

6. Climax [last ninety percent] The final fight or the big reveal. MC overcomes hurdles and has clawed his way back out of the dark moment to confront his greatest fear, challenge, or enemy. Big truths are revealed. [Power comes back on Christmas morning. Juliette and her husband find out the truth about the two little strays.]

One last point. Show a satisfying finish. Rewards earned, and all questions answered.

Mark Coker offers advice on producing and marketing eBooks.
Mark Coker offers advice on producing and marketing eBooks.

Mark Coker: Ebook Self-Publishing and Best Practice

Guest Speaker Mark Coker then spoke about the state of Self-Publishing. The first graph he showed was the growth of ebooks. Unlike the graph he showed a few years ago, the exponential growth in ebooks is leveling off. However ebooks still offer many advantages over print books, and Mr. Coker went through those in detail: they are lower cost, they are eternal, they can be read on many devices and with large or small font size, and they are portable.

Mark emphasized quality over quantity. He admits that there is a glut of quality ebooks in the market today. The Ebook Gold Rush is over. Unlike back in 2011 when a writer can throw an ebook up for 99c and gain thousands of sales a day, now, many ebooks garnish little or no sales at all.

He put up a telling chart – The Long Tail. A few ebooks do extremely well, selling millions where as the median most likely outcome is way, way, way, lower and far to the right on the graph. The average you hear bandied around [average number of copies sold per book] is heavily skewed by a small number of huge bestsellers. The median is much more telling and more meaningful to most authors.

As before, he reiterates that the sweet spot for pricing is $2.99-$3.99, and that readers prefer longer books. He showed a graph of rank versus average word count. The best sellers averaged 109,414 words and it drops off sharply as word count gets shorter.

A lot of time was spent on horrible book covers versus good ones. And while giving away free books is no longer a ticket to discovery, he presented a graph showing that when an author gives away the first book to a series, they sell much better than series where the first book is not free.

Key takeaways:

  • Quality over Quantity
  • Word of Mouth is Best Marketing
  • People Judge Books by the Cover
  • Ebooks are Eternal, if you don’t get it right, don’t despair, change the cover, rewrite a few scenes, try another category to put your book in.
  • Distribute widely to all ebook vendors and internationally. You never know which market or geography your book will catch on at.
  • Go to http://www.smashwords.com for more information on the tools available for you to publish your ebook and distribute it worldwide.

Please click the book cover image to read more about Rachelle Ayala and her novels.

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