Sunday, 2 May 2010

On Becoming a Bestseller (6)

I want to answer a question recently asked by a member of The Writers' Well: What does it take to write a "good" book let alone a bestseller? A very relevant question indeed. After all, for a book to be a bestseller, it has to be a good seller, and for a book to be a good seller, it has to be a good book.

A lot goes into writing a good book. The first, in my opinion, is vision. Your vision and purpose for the book you want to write should be clear. If it is non-fiction, it will help if you first write an outline, even if it just the chapter titles (which is how I start). If it is fiction, your plot should be clear. How does your story begin? How does it end? Of course, this written roadmap is flexible and subject to adjustment.

A clear vision should translate into a good title (and subtitle where appropriate). Titles make or break books. They give readers a clue about what to expect in the book. Activate your creativity when crafting a title. Don't be too fixated on a title that you cannot change it when it makes sense to do so.

Now, writing. The secret of writing a good book is... writing. Just get down to it. Let your in-built "creator" flow without much interruption for a while before engaging your in-built "editor". If you are analytical of your writing too soon, you are not likely to get too far and may soon become discouraged. Write regularly each day for a week or two before engaging your "editor". You'll be surprised how much you've written.

Engage your "editor". It must get its turn to make the writing better. Writers sometimes are not objective enough when it comes to their own writing - a weakness that affects their ability to edit themselves. Do be open to other people editing your work (and every written work needs some level of editing - "every written work"). Every written work would need some amount of rewriting. Only make sure that the quality of the finished work is improving all the time.

Sharpen your writing gift by learning from those who are good at it. Is there a style you admire? Study it. Your unique style will emerge sooner or later. You can learn a great deal through reading the writing of others, learning from blogs (Cec Murphey's "Writer to writer" is a good one), attend Writers' seminars/workshops (we hope to host one soon).

Write with your readers in mind. It is not enough you like your book. Your book is not good enough if your readers are not excited by it. If your book is intended to provide a solution to a problem, then your readers must feel that their questions were answered by the end of your book. If it is written to entertain, readers should not be bored. If you are writing to inspire, engage your readers from the very first page. Don't just write for yourself; write for your readers.

Finally, please be thorough. By this I mean do your homework and know your subject. Spend time researching. Be creative with words. Be grammatically correct. Use a thesaurus. Be expressive... and believe you can do it!

PS - If it will help, I can give you some feedback on your written work. Contact me via facebook or through


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