The Brand is the Thing
Every writer is a novelist in November. With a few simple steps that one month of noveling can produce a commercially successful ebook. The nitty-gritty on how Nano works can be found here: http://www.nanowrimo.org.
No. 1 Genre. The first step to getting into the top 1% of Kindle books (ranking about 11,000, selling about 5 a day) is to pick your favorite commercially successful genre.
James Scott Bell explains in Plot and Structure that a commercially successful novel is one that meets reader expectations by adhering to a formula. Sound fun? It can be if you think of the formula as nothing more than the skeleton that holds your crazy ideas together. One look at the bestseller list at Amazon.com shows that genre fiction rules the list. Right now Fantasy, Suspense, Mystery, and Romance fill out the top ten. This list is updated hourly and is a great resource for studying what sells well for Kindle.
Nanowrimo requires 50,000 words for a winning novel, so picking a genre that allows for short novels is also a smart move. Mystery, Romance, or Young Adult Paranormal work well. Science Fiction and Fantasy are hot sellers for ebooks, but you need to be willing to put in the time as those readers love epic stories.
No. 2 Brand. Before I had written one word of my first mystery, I knew I wanted to call it Foreclosed. In 2009 there was nothing more terrifying to the average American.
Branding is your chance to let the media advertise your book for you. Hone in on something that is in the news and on our minds. This could be as simple as picking “Christmas” and planning to release over Black Friday. It could be as controversial as Sandosky or as innocent as Tebow. But when considering your brand be sure to pick something you know well and enjoy.
Let’s take “Occupy” for brand. Everyone is talking about the Occupy Movement. The masses of passionate people gathered together make almost any story possible. If this were November, I’d write a romance novel and call it Occupy my Heart: Love in the 99%. Cheesy? Yes, but it tells you exactly what the story is about has two major search terms which would be excellent for future marketing.
No. 3 Pre-Write. Plot your heart out before November. There are many excellent books on plotting, such as Bell’s book and Writing Fiction for Dummies. Using a calendar is an immense help for me, as keeping all the pieces in chronological order is a challenge. Also, as you plan your scenes keep in mind all of them need to move the conflict forward. Ask yourself as you plan, “How would the story change if this scene was gone?” If the scene you potted is a bunch of unnecessary sassafras, don’t write it!.
At just 1667 words a day, your 50,000 word novella is easily achieved. If you set aside two hours every single day you should have no problem meeting your goal.
Next issue: Editing: The Curse of the Indies.
Traci Tyne Hilton is an award winning playwright from Portland, Oregon and the author of The Mitzy Neuhaus Mysteries.
Traci earned a degree in History from Portland State University and still lives in the rainiest part of the Pacific Northwest.
More of Traci’s work can be found at http://www.tracihilton.com