My writing – going back to basics 5)

scifibooks2I’m nearing the end of the James Patterson Master class set of videos.  I have a routine for them now, I watch them in two’s.  I watch the second one I watched the previous time and a new one.  The first time I watch one of them I take notes, yes to refer to, but for me it also helps plant what I consider those important nuggets in my head.  The second time through I try to just listen and it’s amazing how you then latch onto new words of wisdom.  I’m now onto his thoughts on the thing that we writers must consider besides the actual mechanics of writing (some are perhaps more relevant than others – you’ll understand).  I’ll skip over working with a co-author, only because at the moment I’m not even remotely considering it.

The next three are all things that are perhaps the most difficult for the new/self-publishing author: Getting Published, Book titles and Covers, Marketing i.e. marketing yourself and your treasured work.   There are a few points here that stand out to me.  The first is persistence.  I know we are told that all the time, but it doesn’t do any harm to be reminded.  However, we then need to make the best use of that persistence i.e. when we contact agents and publishers we need to think about those letters and e-mails in the same way we think about the first lines, paragraph and chapter of our book.  We need to grab their interest immediately, we need to be clear and concise in our outline.  We have to make them want to read the synopsis and those first fifty pages.

When it comes to selling – ‘Nobody buys a book they don’t pick up’ and that applies just as much, if not more so, to the self-published e-book.  There has to be a reason for them to get past the cover and title.  The Cover has to say something about the book and the genre.  The tag line has to entice them to look further and then the blurb has to suck them in.  As self-published authors perhaps most of us devote too little time, energy and thought to this.   The same goes for any advertising and social media activity.  Perhaps even more so as here we are potentially trying to interest people who are not looking for a book, so we’ve got work even harder to persuade to follow that link.  I’m not saying I know how to do all of this, but I do know I need to do it better – my last campaign sold precious few books.

In one of the final videos he talks about Hollywood and how the final film, in his experience may bear little resemblance to the book.  A problem I’m sure most of us would love to have (in my house it’s Sky Atlantic, as in “everything will be fine when Sky Atlantic buy the rights to my book”).  However, one little nugget that does ring true and that I think applies to anything to do with writing and publishing your precious books – you must have a sense of humour about it all!

launchplanSo overall was it worth the $90?  For me most certainly.  Will I change the way I work, yes.  I’m not saying it’ll turn me into a best- selling author.  However, I now understand what goes into getting there, some of the tricks of the trade as it were.  Will I use all of them, perhaps not.  But as I produce my next book I’ll have many of them at the back of my mind.  As James Patterson says in the wind up video “take what’s relevant”.  He also says don’t get to hung up on the ‘so called’ rules.  I think the key here is to know you are breaking them and why.

So finally, my thanks to James Patterson.  I enjoyed his masterclass.  It was invigorating, informative and inspiring.  I’m sure I’ll return to some of the sections from time to time.  As to how much of a difference it will make, I guess only time will tell.

As always comments are welcome

Ian Martyn

For the other blogs in this series:

My writing – going back to basics

My writing – going back to basics 2)

My writing – going back to basics 3)

My writing – going back to basics 4)


Author: Ian Martyn

Science Fiction Writer

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