10 Things To Do Before Buying A Novel

by: Jill Brennan

OK, you don’t get much time to read novels anymore. You used to but that was another life. Before you could pick up something that appealed and because you read so much, you weren’t too disappointed if it didn’t grab you like you thought it would. Things have changed. Now when you pick up a novel to read it has to get you in quickly or it will collect dust on your bedside table. There are too many other things demanding your attention…like sleep!

And when you go to the bookshop sometimes its hard not to be overwhelmed by the sheer number of books on offer, especially with the big mega stores becoming the norm. So what to do?

I’ve put together a checklist that with a little bit of preparation can help you wade through
the sea of books and help you pick a surefire winner: a novel that will captivate YOU.

1. The best place to start is to look out in magazines, newspapers and online for book reviews – see what is being billed as the latest must read. Even if you don’t have time to read the whole review, jot down the title and author as one to look out for.

2. Ask friends for the best book they have read in the last few months or this year or the last few years if like you they really are struggling with the whole when-am-I-going-to-find-time-to-read-a-novel?-thing. Don’t just ask them what book was their favourite; ask them why they liked it. Was it an unusual story, was the pace so fast they needed a crash helmet, did it have edge of the seat suspense, did it remind them of growing up? You want to know what exactly made it a great read for them. This will help you to refine your search, especially if they say they liked the quirky twist in the ending and you don’t do quirky. Just because you’re close friends doesn’t automatically mean you like the same books.

3. Ask the people behind the counter at your favourite bookshop what they enjoyed reading and get them to take you to it or give you a specific reference number so you can find it easily yourself.

4. When you get the book in your hands look at the cover. Is it a catchy title? Does the cover appeal to you? Despite the old saying about not judging book covers, publishers put a lot of time and effort into creating a captivating cover and title. Does it work for you?

5. Turn it over and read the back. Does it still appeal? Do you only like reading modern books and this is set in the 1800s? It’s important to be fairly ruthless at this stage. If the premise for the story doesn’t leave you wanting more, chances are the writing probably won’t either.

Books
Book Selection (Photo credit: henry…)

6. Look at the size of the book. I know this isn’t something for the purists but if you don’t get time to read many novels, don’t launch back in with a 700 page tome or it will probably take you all year and then you’ll be frustrated and annoyed at wasting time and money on something you haven’t enjoyed.

7. The next step is crucial. Read the opening – does it get you in straight off? Novels have a bit more time to seduce you than a short story but not much these days. A good opening is like someone placing a thread around your finger and gently tugging on it. They’ve got you but can they keep you?

8. Has the author mentioned 10 characters and 5 different place names in the first 3 paragraphs? You want to be captivated not confused, remember? If your main reading time is before you drop off to sleep, books that have lots of characters and places or even a family tree at the beginning are a warning that it gets complicated and you need to keep track of who is who and what they’re up to.

9. Are there lots of long sentences or are they short and sharp? Lots of short sentences usually mean action and pace. Something. Is happening. Right now. Usually it’s best to go for a story with a combination of both – one that suits your preferred action/background information mix.

10. If you still think the book in your hands is worthy, randomly flip open the book in 5 places and see whether it is densely packed with text. Is there dialogue at each page you stop? No dialogue usually means that a book is more descriptive rather than direct scenes. If you want a compelling read then go for something with a fair amount of dialogue; if you don’t mind a slower pace then bits of dialogue here and there is probably enough to keep you going.

If it all stacks up, buy it and enjoy. Just one more tip though. If it doesn’t captivate you in the first 100 pages and you find reading it a chore, give it up. Don’t keep persisting just because you don’t like leaving things unfinished. The book won’t feel hurt if you don’t finish it. And the author will never know.

About the Author

Jill Brennan, an experienced writer, editor and mother of 2 young boys, created espresso Fiction to help time-poor fiction lovers get a regular hit of quality fiction that they could read in 15 minutes or less and still feel satisfied. To learn more about getting great fiction home delivered, go to http://www.fastfoodforyourmind.com

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Book Marketing 101

by: Jeremy M. Hoover

Francine Silverman. Book Marketing from A-Z (InfinityPublishing.com, 2005). Trade paperback. 400 pages. $18.95 US.

For beginning authors, book promotion is the key to success. Whether an author self-publishes or is published by a major house, most often that author needs to market her book herself if she wants there to be any chance at all of it being successful. Large publishing houses are too concerned with promoting the next blockbuster to focus even on mid-list titles, and smaller publishing houses usually don’t have the resources to commit to marketing their titles. Even worse off are those who self-publish, because when they receive their books, they are on their own. Any marketing that happens, happens because of their efforts, and their efforts alone.

What is a new author to do? He can sit back and hope that his book sells somehow, or he can put money into a marketing plan and hope that plan is successful. But without a marketing background, that money can be wasted quickly. As a result, many authors don’t market out of fear of loss and uncertainty, and sell far fewer books than they should.

Collection of Marteting books
Collection of Marteting books (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Into this void comes a wonderful book – Book Marketing from A-Z by Francine Silverman. The sub-title explains it all: “More than 300 authors share the peaks and pitfalls in promoting their books.”

Silverman hasn’t so much written this book as she has edited it. She is the successful author of two books, as well as the owner of a very influential book promotion newsletter (http://bookpromotionnewsletter.com). Over a couple years of publishing her newsletter, she has collected marketing success stories from many authors, and, combined with her own expertise, has put it all together into an excellent resource.

This book contains everything a new (or even experienced) author needs to begin marketing. Authors might be surprised to learn that there are many free things they can do to market their books! For example, I was surprised at how many authors related that something as simple as handing out bookmarks or pens stamped with their website and book name resulted in much publicity and many sales.

The book is comprehensive—arranged alphabetically, Silverman covers such topics as the importance of good reviews, what to do (or not do) at book signings, how to brand yourself, how to tie-in with holidays or movies, how speaking engagements can help a career blossom, and how to send out press kits. There are two huge sections on using Internet technology (web sites, ezines, e-groups, etc.) and newsletters to build a following. In my view, these two sections are the most informative sections of the book.

Silverman has produced a timely, comprehensive, and very helpful book that new and expert authors will return to time and again as they build their writing careers.

About The Author

Jeremy Hoover is a proofreader and book reviewer. He proofreads and reviews religion books, poetry, and most fiction. Contact him at jeremyhoover@gmail.com or Hoover Reviews (http://hooverreviews.blogspot.com) for proofreading rates or to request a review.

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7 Steps to Successful Publishing

by: Ink Tree Ltd.

The decision to publish a book is very exciting! It causes the creative juices to flow and the eyes to light up. But wait – before you begin the publishing process, know about the seven most important steps you need to know before publishing your book. Make sure that you take every step into careful consideration so that your road to success is an easy one:

1. Know why you are writing a book. Are you writing your memoirs for the family, are you writing a community cookbook, are you writing a book of regional interest or are you writing a national bestseller? All of these goals are valid, but each goal has different implications for your business plan. Know why you are writing and know that you can create that bestseller if that is your goal.

2. Treat publishing as a business. You are passing beyond the realm of author into the exciting world of publishing. You are not just a writer, you are about to become a publisher who wants to produce a profitable book, and you want to keep the profits for yourself.

3. Write a business plan. Being aware of the business aspect of publishing is not an end in itself – you need to formally write your plan. It does not need to be a fifty page document with every accounting possibility recorded, but it should outline all of the costs that you will encounter from obtaining the necessary funds to knowing the price of mailing a book. The business plan needs to account for future expenses as well as pre-publication expenses.

Business Planning with Plan-Too
Business Planning with Plan-Too (Photo credit: plantoo47)

4. Plan for publicity and marketing. You must plan for the publicity and marketing of your book. You can have the best book in the world, but if no one knows about it, no one will buy it. You don’t want to print books that sit in your garage. You want to print books that will sell, sell, sell!

5. Write about a subject that you know well. Don’t write about something that you can’t talk about without effort. Write about a subject with which you are very familiar and that excites you. Writing the book will establish you as an expert in your field, so choose the topic that causes everyone you know to come to you for advice. The publicity will then be so easy that you will love being the “star”.

6. Know who will buy your book. So many authors think that “everyone” needs and should buy their books. Not so. Perhaps “everyone” needs their books, but not “everyone” will want to buy. Research and know WHO will actually WANT your book and market, market to them. They will buy!

7. Look for non-bookstore markets and do not be afraid of the large discounts. Bookstores are a hugely important market for most authors, but they are far from being the only place to sell books. There are many non-traditional markets that buy books in large quantities with no returns. This is a great market – sales made are guaranteed sales not consignment sales. Do not be afraid of the larger discounts when you make those large volume sales. The books you sell are actually SOLD.

Think how much more pleasant a journey is if you know which fork in the road will lead you to smooth driving and which fork in the road will lead you through potholes. Knowing the most effective publishing steps before you print will make your publishing career fun and profitable.

Copyright © 2003 Ink Tree Ltd.

Ink Tree Ltd. Helping writers publish, market and sell books! If there is a book inside you – profit from it. Learn everything you need to guide you from Idea to Book… to Success – the fast, easy, simple way. Publish your own book with one-on-one expert help from publishing professionals who have created numerous bestsellers and sold hundreds of thousands of books.

Phone: 1-866-500-8733 or 403-295-3898 Email: info@inktreemarketing.com

Web: www.moneyinpublishing.com or www.inktreemarketing.com

Ink Tree Ltd. is a book marketing firm that helps writers publish, market and sell books. Learn everything you need to guide you from Idea to Book… to Success – the fast, easy, simple way.

www.moneyinpublishing.com  or www.inktreemarketing.com

info@inktreemarketing.com

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