Monday, December 16, 2013

5 Writing Tips by Ben Galley @BenGalley

Tip 1: Write a great book

The future of any author rests on none other than a great book, as it always has.

Of course – ‘great’ means many different things to many different people. Not every bestseller is a work of genius, but they sell because they are popular with masses of readers. They could be popular great because they engage, or challenge, or cross boundaries, or inspire. That is the mark of a great book – not just its literary quality, but what it does to the reader. Great books make people talk, and those are the books that sell and will keep selling.

So how exactly do we write a great book? Well, that’s the hard part. Firstly, through practice. Even the best writers on the planet are still writing and practicing, every day. And when you write, you should always strive for the best quality of writing that you can, and strive to engage the reader. Aim high. Do something different. Have a solid and airtight plot. Create deep and varied characters and worlds. Spend time thinking about what you want your book to do and say.

Tip 2: Get a great cover:

So once you’ve finished your book, it’s time to start polishing it – making it into a professional and sellable product.

The cover is the packaging of your book, and therefore the first point of contact for a reader. Contrary to the old adage, readers will judge books by their cover. They make up their minds about a book’s genre, price, quality, and therefore whether they want to buy it, in the first few seconds. This is why it is important to get not just a good cover, but a great one. You want it to match all the effort you’ve put into its contents.

Cover design is an area where many indie, or self-publishing, authors fall down, mainly due to the fact that good graphic design costs money, and also due to the fact that people assume they can DIY it. Unfortunately, unless you are a professional designer, this simply isn’t true.

I always recommend outsourcing a professional. Anything less simply won’t cut the mustard. In today’s market, indie books need to be indistinguishable from traditional books, both to shrug off any preconceptions and also to rise above the huge volume of poor-quality books now on the market.

Tip 3: Editing it to perfection:

Editing is as important as cover design, and another area that a huge amount of indies get wrong. What’s vital about editing is that it affects your marketing.

Unfortunately, there’s a certain stigma about indie books. A large amount of readers expect them to be full of errors and mistakes, due to the fact they haven’t been through a publishing house. We need to shrug off that stigma. Bad editing can mean bad reviews, scuppering your sales. As with cover design, we should be aiming for a professional standard. You need to do that great book of yours justice.

There are two ways to edit your books – either hire a freelance editor, or DIY. The first is expensive, while the second is difficult, as few authors are professional editors. I would always recommend the first – shelling out for a good editor. Or, like me, if you don’t want to shell out for an editor, you can use beta readers.

Beta reading, or crowd-editing as it is sometimes known, is a way of using multiple semi-pro editors. You ask a number of people (I recommend avid readers, honest fans, English teachers, professionals etc) to proofread and give detailed feedback on your manuscript. You get your book edited to a professional standard, and in return your betas get a sneak peek of your book, a free copy, perhaps even a mention in the dedication – whatever you want to offer!

Tip 4: Market it, and then market it again:

So, you’ve published yourself a great product, now you need to sell it. How? Well, gone are the days (if they even existed!) when simple availability resulted in sales. Due to the sheer volume of books now in the market, a book (even a great book!) that isn’t being marketed will be drowned out and make few, if any, sales. Marketing is a must for today’s indie author.

As we discussed, people spread the word about a good book, and this is the biggest key to marketing – Word of mouth.

A good website is paramount, followed closely by good blurbs, bios, and a professional appearance. Next up is getting readers. Social media is a good place to start. Twitter and Facebook, don’t convert very well into sales but are good for being, you guessed it - social. By following and engaging with people on a social level they will be more likely to read and recommend your books.

Customer reviews are also very important. Readers put a lot of stock in reviews, so having a lot of positive reviews will really help sales. Source as many as you can from the readers you meet on Twitter on Facebook, and also contact book blogs and ask for reviews. Comments from respected and well-known sites will also add a little validity to your book.

Basically, get talking!

Tip 5: Give it time and effort:

Lastly, you need to give it time and effort.

Simply having a book on a shelf will not make you millions overnight. Skill can gain you some success and income, but effort and time is also needed, as we’ve seen above.

Perseverance is needed too, and I urge everyone to keep working and keep trying. It will seem like you’re getting nowhere fast at first. It may seem overwhelming, but marketing is a day by day, reader by reader process. Keep at it, attack from every angle, and trust me, you will have a shot at success.

Good luck out there.

Ben Galley is a young indie author from sunny England. The author of the epic and dark fantasy series – The Emaneska Series, he has published five books so far, and has many more on the way. Ben is very zealous about helping other indie authors, and provides self-publishing advice and services via his website Shelf Help, which can be found at


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Genre –  Epic Fantasy

Rating – PG-13

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