We’re authors. So for all of us, at some point, it became a dream to write the next great American novel. Some of us have been writing for a long time, and maybe some of us weren’t originally writers by craft. But we had a story to tell and knew it had value to others. A great story, maybe the next great best-seller. Just like in the movie, “Field of Dreams,” we thought “If you build it, they will come.” If you wrote a great story, people will buy it. We had to get it out there.
Now, you’ve written that book and you have boxes of it sitting in your garage. Now, you know it’s not that simple.
Today, the publishing world is different. You would think that with the Internet it’s easier to get the word out, at a lower cost and directly to your reader. But your readers and the media are getting a glut of information about other “great” books and products. Yours isn’t getting through. And because of self-publishing, there are hundreds of thousands more books for readers to choose from – not all of them as good as yours, but they’re sitting right there next to yours, just as available as yours.
Clearly, today, writing a great story isn’t enough. That will be nice for your friends and family, but it won’t necessarily be marketable. So what goes into writing today’s Great American Novel? There are more components beyond writing.
1. A Memorable, Attractive Cover
Believe it or not, your cover is critical to your book’s success. It’s the first thing the reader sees. It’s your packaging. You’re more likely to open a beautifully and uniquely packaged gift than one wrapped in yesterday’s newspaper, and you’ll probably place more value on what’s inside. If you’re house-hunting, no matter how great the house is inside, you’re less likely to consider it if the outside (curb appeal) isn’t good or looks just like everyone else’s. Cover templates may look nice, but it means someone else out there has the same cover. That’s like two women showing up at a party wearing the same dress!
Readers won’t hear my sermon if I can’t get them into my church. They won’t read my “great” story and get my valuable message, if I can’t get them to pick up my book. You’ve spent lots of effort, heart and soul in writing your story, so give it the packaging it deserves. Yes, you can judge a book by its cover, and readers do that every day.
2. A Unique Message
Not just a valuable message – a unique one. What makes your message or story different from others of its genre? If you’ve written a thriller, why is your story better than those that are already out there? Or you’ve got a great inspiring story, why is it different than someone else’s inspirational experience and story? Is it told differently? Is the message itself different? It’s not good enough anymore to just be a good story. What makes yours unique and special? What should the reader buy your book instead of a similar book by an established author?
3. A Benefit to the Reader
People don’t read books for the words or the story itself. It has to have a purpose, a benefit to the reader. What’s your benefit? Do you inform? Wonderful, but make sure your information is constantly relevant and necessary. Do you entertain? That’s nice. But if that’s all you do, your book will end up in tag sales and library book sales. You have to create a benefit that offers deeper emotion. Make them laugh or cry, offer hope and comfort, challenge their beliefs, inspire, or scare the pants off them! Make them feel so much that they keep your book because they want to feel that way again! Your book should make them feel profoundly and deeply. If not, it’s just words.
4. A Well-Written Story
We would think this is a given, but it isn’t always the case in today’s self-publishing world. As authors, we would also think the craft of writing is the most important piece of a great book. But, the reader doesn’t get to this piece if the other components aren’t in place. No matter how well written a book is from a craft standpoint, it’s the last thing the reader notices. But – it can make or break a book. You have to have a great cover, a unique message, and offer a benefit, but if the craft isn’t solid, this book will also end up in tag and library sales. The cover and message will get the reader to buy your book. The benefit and craft will get the reader to buy your NEXT book.
But there’s more. You’ve now written and produced a great book, but it’s still sitting in boxes in your garage. You have to market and sell it – that’s what makes it the next Great American Novel – getting into lots of readers’ hands where it can create the benefit you wrote it for in the first place.
Part 2, reviewing sales channels, will be posted tomorrow.
As a MindBody Coach, Certified Hypnotherapist, Reiki Master and award-winning Author, June Hyjek offers extensive experience in helping clients manage their pain and stress, working with them to move through life’s transitions with grace and peace. She is the author of “Unexpected Grace: A Discovery of Healing through Surrender” and a meditation CD, “Moving Into Grace.” Her book and CD offer hope, comfort and insights to help us move through the difficult times we all face in life.
Personally, June deals with debilitating complications from Scoliosis and has moved through the physical and emotional pain of seven spine surgeries, finding healing through mindbody approaches and the loving support of others. Her personal experience provides the passion for her work and her speeches, which offer inspiration and hope for achieving and maintaining wellness.
June is a graduate of the Advanced Training Program with the Center for MindBody Medicine, and is certified with the American Alliance of Hypnotists. She also holds certifications in traditional fitness and Pilates with the Aerobics & Fitness Association of America and Body Balance University, with specializations in chronic disease, spinal stabilization and orthopedic disabilities.