Write Right

by Peter Cacciolfi

Okay, it’s time for our next lesson on improving our writing so as to attract our readers to continue on with our story from beginning to end…a happy thought

     * Embrace obsessions or irrational behavior – no one enjoys predictability “He was totally sane when he sat in his easy chair staring out at the neighborhood, put the gun in his mouth and pulled the trigger, as expected.”

     * “He sat there contemplating his time left as he fidgeted with his revolver.  As he stared out the window of his sitting room convincing his mind what was soon to come, he drew up his weapon, placed it into his mouth, his fingers tightening on the trigger, squeezed his eyes closed and then...the doorbell rang, snapping him out of his trance.  He quickly hid the weapon and answered the door, his departed lover staring at him with a pleasant smile on her face.,”

     * Forget about being nice.  You don’t always have to please the reader with sweet thoughts.  Sometimes we have to enter the darkness, no matter how gruesome, to seduce the reader.

     * Big Words: If you must use big words, do so; you might be surprised to know that those readers you might have thought wouldn’t get it are smarter than, and appreciate it just as much as the higher IQ readers.   

     * Make the reader laugh – not necessarily with slap-stick comedy, but when least expected, by the least suspected character.  “I’m a microbiologist, but I asked my girlfriend, which button do I push on this coffee maker?”

     * Make them cry – to laugh and cry in the same story is great - emotional suspense to succeed or fail – to console a friend or not – remember from your readings; emotion is a winner.


More IS Better

You write your book. You publish your book. Now, you’re sitting back, waiting for readers to buy and read your book. The sad thing is if you’ve only written and published one book, the wait to see anything significant in sales is long and frustrating.

That’s not hard to understand if you keep in mind that your one book is competing with millions of other books—well, several thousand, perhaps, in your genre. So, what’s the secret to increasing book sales and books read?  It’s simple really; write more books.

I learned through trial and error that volume is the key to getting increased sales and increased readership. When I only had four or five books on the market, sometimes months would go by without a sale. Instead of sitting around fretting, though, I just kept writing. In the process, I ignored some of the common wisdom that prevailed at the time:

1.      Traditional publishers preferred publishing one book per author per year, or thereabouts.

2.      You should pick a genre and stick to it, so you don’t confuse your readers.

3.      Write what you know (which seemed to be saying, ONLY write what you know.

That’s not the complete list of the ‘shoulds’ and ‘should-nots,’ but you get the idea. If you’re like me and have broad interests, an inquiring mind, and an insane work ethic, rules like this can be terribly restrictive. I don’t like being restricted, so I ignored them. I crank out books about every six to eight weeks, depending upon the length and the amount of research required. I write fiction and nonfiction, and in the fiction, I float across genres like a champion figure skater glides over the ice. As to limiting myself to only what I know, I use libraries and the Internet to school myself on things, from 18th-century British navy ships to what life is like in a retirement community. I write mysteries and westerns, children’s books, fantasy, and thrillers—whatever wakes me up in the middle of the night, and, believe me, I have some really weird, detailed, and technicolor dreams—and, that’s just in the fiction category. In nonfiction, I do tend to stick with what I’m familiar with, but after 20 years in the army, and 30 years as a diplomat, serving all over the world, that’s still a pretty diverse menu of subjects.

When my book count reached 30 volumes, I noticed a strange thing happening. I was beginning to see 4 or 5 sales per month, instead of 4 or 5 per year. I have my books out in paperback and in Kindle version, and that also helped sales. Amazon programs like Kindle Lending Library, Kindle Unlimited, and the ability to offer select books free from time to time on Kindle, along with the sheer number of books available have now enabled me to see over $100 per month in book sales, month after month. In addition, now that Kindle pays authors for pages read, regardless of the number of pages read, I’m getting revenue from that as well. I average 5,000 to 10,000 pages read per month.

Another interesting thing I notice is that, whenever I publish a new book, or when I do my monthly free book offer on Kindle, some of my oldest books are bought as well. That, by the way, is one of the advantages of independent publishing. Your backlist remains on the market as long as YOU want it to, not as long as some suit-wearing drone in a publisher’s office decides.

Okay; I’m not going to bore you with a ton of detail. I’ve given you the essentials. You want to be read, you have to write. If you want lots of people to read what you write, you have to write a lot. Don’t worry about writing what you know. You can always educate yourself with a bit of research. Write what excites you. If it gets your juices flowing while you write it, it’s sure to excite a few (maybe, many), readers.

Now, you’ve finished reading this call to action. What are you waiting for? Get back to that keyboard, and write.