In my previous post, we looked at the lessons writers can learn from successful movie loglines, to help us plan (and pitch) our own work. But if the whole point of a logline is to convince a funder to cough up the cash, a better measure of the logline itself (as opposed to the film as a whole) might be to examine those loglines which were successful in attracting major funding.Continue reading “More Lessons from the Biggest Movies”
In The Novel Project, Graeme Simsion, who started out writing screenplays, recommends authors look to the movies for inspiration in summarizing their books.
While a tagline is a sort of punchline or pithy statement which can be used at the end of an advertisement, like on the back of a book or in a Smashwords or Amazon description, loglines are defined as “a very short summary of a script or screenplay”, and were originally designed more for busy Hollywood executives a writer might be pitching to than the final audience.
With the advent of streaming services and increased use of platforms like IMDB and JustWatch, however, one-line summaries which encapsulate a story’s central conflict, summarizing the plot and providing an emotional “hook” are becoming more visible to movie lovers.
So, why would an indie author want a logline?Continue reading “Logline Lessons from the Movies”
A strong tagline was the one thing all of the New York Times bestsellers examined in my analysis of bestselling book descriptions had in common. Taglines were also the feature shared by the majority of the bestselling satirical novels I examined. And yet, just one third of the less successful novels in the same category included a tagline in their descriptions.
Of all of the ingredients of a book description, the tagline has to be one of the most accessible. Your book doesn’t need to have won a major prize or sold a million copies or had a celebrity endorsement or a write-up in a well-respected journal to have a snazzy tagline. So it’s worth spending a few minutes learning how to craft a tagline that will set your book apart from the less successful books in your genre – and may even catapult it into more exclusive company.Continue reading “Taglines”
Years ago, I loved eating at a restaurant called Secret Recipe, famous for its home-style food from a variety of locations across the globe. When work and financial constraints meant I couldn’t travel, Secret Recipe was a way to experience a little exotic flavour in my day-to-day life.
The variety of dishes was certainly one of its best features, as far as I was concerned. You could eat at Secret Recipe with almost anyone, and they’d be able to find something on the menu to suit their tastes. Yet, in spite of the variety, each dish was of consistent quality.
Bestsellers are a little like that. Each book has its own distinct flavour, but the professionalism with which it is presented, and the quality of its ingredients – cover, spine, blurb, formatting – do not differ wildly from book to book.
So it is perhaps unsurprising that, in my analysis of the blurbs of bestsellers, I uncovered something akin to a ‘secret recipe’ which all of the NYT bestsellers had in common, and which was largely replicated across the satire bestsellers I analysed.Continue reading “The Secret Recipe of Bestselling Book Descriptions”
What do 85% of the bestsellers on Amazon’s Top 100 Satires list have in common?
If you’ve read my previous post, you might have answered “they’re actually romances”. And you’d be right.
But there’s something else those books have in common: they were all published by indie authors.Continue reading “How to Succeed in Any Genre”
Back when I was doing my ‘due diligence’ for my debut novel, Number Eight Crispy Chicken, researching the cover designs and blurbs of other satirical novels, I noticed something strange. Many of the top novels in this category on Amazon weren’t really what I would have considered ‘satire’.
In fact, they screamed ‘romance’.
At the time (in late 2019), I thought to myself, ‘I’ll bet these savvy authors have targeted ‘satire’ as an ‘easy’ category to break into’. But the invasion of satire by romance novels wasn’t significant enough at the time for me to mention it on my blog.
Fast forward a little over eighteen months, and the invasion I noticed back then has become almost a complete colonisation: Of the top 100 ‘satire’ books on Amazon in late July, 2021, as I was preparing Propaganda Wars for publication, just fifteen (15%) were satirical novels.
The rest? Romance.Continue reading “The Romance Invasion”
I’ve never been a big fan of book-related merchandise, either as a reader or as a writer.
Most of the ‘merch’ I have owned, I did not buy, but received as prizes or gifts from fellow indie authors – stickers, bookmarks, even a mug and coaster. In other words, items which are cute, useful, or both.
As an author, however, I have never been tempted to produce any myself, which, to be fair, is probably a genre thing as much as it is a sign of fiscal responsibility on my part. It would be rather odd, not to mention grossly offensive, for a novel criticising the government’s immigration policy to come with some sort of branded flotation device, or for a book critiquing capitalism and advertising to have a section at the back hawking, well, any sort of consumer goods.
To my recollection, I have only ever purchased two book-related products, and, as luck (or more likely, statistical odds) would have it, both were Harry Potter related.Continue reading “Book Merch: A rant about literacy, capitalism… and foul-tasting beans”
In the previous post, we revisited some of the blurbs I analysed in late 2019, to see how these books have fared 18 months on. Those which were successful tended to share nine key features in common, while those which were less successful adhered to few – if any – of the guidelines I identified. And as our revisit revealed, the extent to which blurbs seemed to follow those guidelines appears correlated with their success.
Of course, a sample size of 12 “successful” and five “unsuccessful” novels is too small to draw any hard and fast conclusions. It is also possible that a book with a poorly written blurb may be poor in other ways as well (although, care was taken to select only those books with professional-looking covers to ensure this wasn’t the weak link). Additionally, trends change over time, and what worked well almost two years ago may not work as well today. So, I thought it might be fun to do another round – pick another group of “successful” blurbs, and another group of “unsuccessful” ones, and see how they compare.Continue reading “Another Round of Blurbs!”
In late 2019, shortly before the release of my 2020 debut novel Number Eight Crispy Chicken, I wrote a pair of posts on the art of blurb writing. One focused on successful blurbs, in order to discover what they have in common. Then, I examined the blurbs of less successful books – in an attempt to see to what extent a book’s blurb may be the driver of its success.
No experiment is truly reliable unless it is replicated. And with my second novel Propaganda Wars in the works, I thought it was time to revisit those books I examined a year and a half ago – and to discover whether the bestselling books of 2021 adhere to the same guidelines I identified.Continue reading “Blurbs Revisited”
Cover design is important. Although we’re told not to judge a book by its cover, the truth is, we do. Just last night, a friend sent me a link to a collection of hilariously bad book covers (my favourite is probably Kim. Or Little Women. It’s hard to decide…)
I’ve already done a series on book cover designs here on the blog – but that message – and the fact that I have a new book coming out on August 30, 2021 – prompted me to continue the story with an update on the importance of cover design.Continue reading “Continuing the Story…”