- Have a story to tell. It doesn’t have to be complicated, but you need a plot so that your reader wants to keep turning the pages to find out what happens at the end.
- Make your central character clear early on. Your reader latches onto and engages with that character to travel through your book – make that easy to do.
- Make your characters credible and interesting. Your reader has to feel that he/she relates to the character, but also that they have character strengths and flaws. Make as many other characters as multi-faceted as possible, too.
- Ensure readers of both gender can latch onto your central character, or else you cut your potential readership in half.
- The story is more important than the research. If the background information overburdens your plot, leave it out. That can be very hard, sometimes. Many professional writers write their stories then do the research, adapting the plot as necessary. It saves a lot of time, too.
- Make your first novel short. Look up the internet and you’ll be told that a debut novel should be 80,000-120,000 words long. That’s rubbish. 60K – 100K is more like it, and don’t be afraid to dip down to 50,000. A reader who’s considering trying one of your books for the first time will reach for a thin one rather than a daunting tome. Thin books are also cheaper to print. Each of the books above and below is genuinely short – under 50,000 words, some well below that – yet incredibly successful. (Whether you like them or not is for you to decide.)
If you're about to set off writing your first book, or even your first successful book, it might be worth taking a step back and asking yourself what you need to do first. In our experience, too many first-time authors (yes, that included most of us at Comely Bank Publishing) just launch in and start writing without having a clear idea of what they're trying to achieve. So, here are our six top tips for debut authors. You've nothing to lose by reading them. It might even save you a lot of effort...
So there you go, now you can get writing. What are you waiting for?
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