"" Rob Parnell's Writing Academy Blog: November 2014

Thursday, November 27, 2014

Writing Your First Bestseller

Dear Fellow Writer,

I hope you're writing and it's going well.

It's been a busy week for us, not much writing done, which is kinda annoying because I'm trying to get another book up on to Amazon soon!

To compensate, my new novel, PURGE, has finally been released. Today in Australia, tomorrow in the US.

Also, as you may have already heard, my movie, FIRST CUT, was selected for the Barossa Film Festival this week, so we'll be going to that screening tonight!

Plus, my latest music CD, MIRACULOUS HEALING, is now selling on Amazon Music.

So all in all, not a bad week, considering!

Thanks for following our exploits.

Keep writing!


Writing Your First Bestseller
Writing Your First Publishable Book

Most new authors consistently make one career-crushing decision – because it seems like the most natural thing in the world to do.

That is, they write a book and THEN look around for someone to publish and buy it.

It's often at this late stage that new writers realize there was never going to be any demand for the book they've spent two to ten years writing.

The same is true for authors who want to self-publish. They assume there is a market for anything they might want to publish, although this is simply not the case.

You need to start thinking like a publisher. Assuming a book will sell just because you publish it is a recipe for disaster.

So how does a publisher think? 

Spending some time wrestling with this question now will save you lots of heartache in the future, and save you many wasted hours, days, months, even years of writing.

Try this: 

Visualize yourself as a successful author.

Get past the fame, glory and adoration, oh, and the money. Now, imagine you're at home much of the time (in your mansion) when you're not making personal appearances. 

You have an agent and a publisher you talk to on the phone or, if you're lucky, you'll go visit. Each time you turn up for a meeting with these people, the conversation inevitably turns to the topic at the top of their minds:

What do readers want? 

Usually, instead of merely encouraging you to write your next book and be your happy writer self, your publishing staff may want to impart advice to you on:

a) What your next book should be about (and not about!)  

b) Which genre it should be in (and advice on which genres to avoid)

c) How relevant will your next book be to the publisher's list 

d) Are you going to give them something they can market effectively, and

e) How will you make sure it will sell more than all your other books? 

Many writers have this abiding fantasy that when they're writing books full time that the publisher will be happy and do nothing more than shower them with compliments, encouragement, and gifts at Christmas time. Uh-huh. This is to completely misunderstand the publishing industry.

Because the more successful you become, the more pressure is exerted upon you to be all the more commercial. 

The last thing your agent and publisher want is for you to start insisting you write books the public won't understand or won't like - or don't expect from you - because that not only ensures your quick fall as a successful author, but often the rapid demise of your bank-ability to the publisher, whose primary concern is, you guessed it, selling as many of your books as possible.

And selling as many books as possible should be your concern too. 

If you want to be a successful independent author, then that requires deliberately positioning yourself as a commercially astute writer right from the get-go.

How do you do that? 

Simple, stop writing for half a day and do some research…

You have at your fingertips the greatest writer's research tool ever invented. Amazon can tell you everything you need to know about books and what's selling with just a few clicks. Use it.

Go to Amazon.com and look at the bestselling fiction list. What do you see?

Eight out of the top ten are action/adventure/mystery or crime thrillers. One is a romance. One is a literary piece. This is all too common for any one week on Amazon. Indeed, in any one week on The New York Times Fiction Bestseller list, this ratio is the same.

What does this tell you?

That people consistently buy a certain type of novel.

You need to ask yourself, right now, Am I writing the kind of book people will want to buy?

Not read – BUY.

There's a huge difference. Because people who want to read books will borrow from the library, or borrow them from friends, or pick them up cheap from book-store sales.

But buying a new book from a current author involves an entirely different mechanism – and often a different kind of customer. 

In order to effectively sell books to people who actually seek out and purchase new books, your story should scream: Amazing!

Is your next book idea up to this?

Don't kid yourself by thinking, of course people will want to buy my book because I think it's brilliant. 

You know that's not how it works.

Bestselling authors already know what type of books will sell: 

Complex, tightly plotted, action-oriented, novel length drama with compelling characters.

You need to know that too. 

You should regularly study the bestseller list, in whatever genre you plan to write, to constantly remind yourself what you're up against.

Plus, you need to study your proposed genre. Learn all you can about it. 

Discover whether the books in your genre sell well - if at all.

Try to work out where you will float in the sea of competition out there.

Don't get fooled into thinking that if there aren't many books in your genre, then yours will stand out as unique. 

That's not how it works. If there are very few books in a genre, that means that genre doesn't sell well.

But if there are lots of books doing well in a genre, that means there's lots of demand.

Therefore it's best to write the types of books that people want to buy, rather than fight the tide and try and create your own genre, and end up selling only a few.

That’s my two cents, for what it’s worth!

Keep Writing!
Rob Parnell



Wednesday, November 26, 2014

My Movie Selected for The Barossa Film Festival


Just heard - my movie is being shown at the Barossa Film Festival tomorrow night at the Tanunda Club. 6pm start!

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Starting Your Author Blog

Dear Fellow Writer,

I hope you're well and happy.

Not to beat about the bush, the following Kindle books are currently on 99 cent special:

The Easy Way to Write Thrillers That Sell

The Easy Way to Write an Autobiography That Sells

Make Your Writing Sparkle: Self Editing for New Authors

The Easy Way to Write Picture Books That Sell

The Art of Story: Writing Fiction That Sells

How to Write a Great Children's Book

Easy Cash Writing

The Easy Way to Write Crime Fiction That Sells

The Easy Way to Write Romance That Sells

This is a short Kindle Countdown Deal, so you'll need to act quickly.

By the way, the specials are on the Amazon.com site. If they don't appear as specials in your country, it's because you're viewing Amazon through your country's Amazon subsidiary. To take advantage of the special price, try coming out of your country's default and going back into Amazon through the US site.  

Keep writing! 


Starting Your Author Blog

I speak with many new authors who are literally terrified of revealing themselves online. I completely understand that blogging can be nerve-wracking. But actually the hardest part is having something new to say each time you blog. 

This is where the image of your ideal fan comes to the fore.

This person - just this one - absolutely loves you and can't wait to get another message from you, especially if it's about something you're passionate about. 

We all feel comfortable with someone who loves us because we can be ourselves and say what we want without fear. That's what your ideal fan is like. And so, when you write a blog, imagine you're writing just for him or her. Then, the process begins to get a lot easier. 

Your journey as a writer is probably going to be your starting point for most author blog posts. This is good - because this is precisely what will make your blog engaging.

As a writer trying to promote yourself, you’ve an advantage. You don't have to extol the virtues of a product or service. You don't have to construct a thesis on moral philosophy or a manual on Ethics in the New Millennium. 

Most writers' first blog post is about the writer constructing their first blog post - and that's fine. That's engaging, sweet and honest - all good qualities to begin a blog with.

Later you can talk about whatever you like. But try to always bring your topic back to the writing. You can write about any experience, event or circumstance - but then try to make it relevant to either you, your reader, or your writing, or their lives. 

Blog posts can be short too. 200 words is fine. More than a 1000 words and you're pushing the envelope. Less is often more, as the saying goes.

If I'm stuck for things to say - which rarely happens - I'll make a list of ten possible titles for blog posts. Then I'll pick one the next time I need an idea. Generally I prefer to wait until the last minute and come up with an idea on the spot - and write that. 

I find this latter approach helps if I want to say something about a piece of news or something a subscriber asked me - or whatever else has been creeping around my head that week. I think the trick is to be constantly on watch for topics to blog about. It becomes a habit. The more you do it, the easier it gets.

Pick a day during the week for your blog post - and stick to it. At various times in the past I've written blog posts every day. Personally I think that's too often - but I know that for some authors, daily posts work well for them. 

For the longest time I’ve written just one a week, every Friday morning. 

There are certain rules it's best to abide by if you want your blogs to become popular and 'follow-worthy'.

After all, the primary reason why you're blogging is to attract followers, readers and potential buyers of your books. What you don't want to do is annoy folks, insult strangers or be so controversial you become some hated enemy of the people. 

Be light, fun, and informative. That's really the style you should adopt. Being angry and bitter can get you some notice - but it's generally short lived.

Funny is great. If you have a talent for writing humorous stuff, go for it. 

Most times you'll just want to be interesting, and educational. That's where most successful bloggers excel: imparting information that is helpful to the reader, that solves a problem for them or offers a solution or two.

The important thing is to be giving. You're not in competition with other authors. We're all in this together. And other writers can often become your strongest and most passionate advocates.

I read an book by a well known writer the other day (I won't name him) which said he thought that having lots of other writers as your subscribers was a waste of time. I don't agree. 

While I agree that ideally fiction authors want readers and book buyers as subscribers, it would be a mistake to regard other writers as superfluous. Far from it. Writers are often the most voracious of readers of all. Plus, having another writer as a fan is pretty much the greatest compliment you can get.

Blogging is dependent on your unique personality - and how you come across. 

If you're open and honest you'll attract the readers and subscribers that respond to your mojo, your values, and your integrity.  

The thing to remember is that if you're writing for readers, you don't want to dwell too heavily on the writing process. Fiction readers are often more interested in the stories, your characters and their relationships with those characters. 

I see much advice around these days that asserts that you should try to be different.

I'm not sure I totally agree. 

I believe that unique is good - but that is achieved by being yourself.

If you're just deliberately trying to be different - as in obtuse, obscure or by playing devil's advocate, I'm not sure that will do you any good. Having been online for over a decade I've noticed one profound fact: 

Most people don't want different.

They more consistently want reinforcement of what they already believe.  

Plus, if you're a writer of a particular genre, readers have certain expectations as to how you should act, think, and what you might aspire to. If you write children's books, for instance, I don't think your average reader will want to read about your drunken orgies in Cancun…

Do this now: go to www.blogspot.com and get yourself a FREE blog. Use your own name as the blog title and send out your first blog post about being an author. 

Connect your blog to your Gmail account (I think you have to do this anyway) and then get on to Google+. Invite all the friends in your address book and start following other writers.

Within half an hour you'll be on your first step to independent authorship.

Keep Writing!

Rob Parnell



The Writing Academy

Welcome to the official blog of Rob Parnell's Writing Academy, updated weekly - sometimes more often!