Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 45: How To Find A Top Literary Agent

Welcome to week 45 of Anthony's series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week's post here

What Every Author Needs To Know About Finding The Best Literary Agent

‘A good literary agent is a career builder, rather than just a deal maker,’ says Mark Gottlieb, of the Trident Media Group, a New York literary agency, which represents over 1,000 bestselling authors. ‘A good agent isn’t only booking talent, but creating opportunities for the writer — with a battle plan that’s ready to shock a publisher and impress an author.’

Mark has ranked as high as #1 in Agents on Publishersmarketplace.com in Overall Deals and other individual categories. We asked him about finding an agent.

1.  What do you look for – and avoid – in manuscripts in your role at Trident?
When writing commercial fiction, it’s important to be aware of genre conventions and tropes — either to avoid them or spin them in a new way. For example, in almost every zombie novel, the protagonist wakes in hospital from a coma to find the world’s full of zombies. Nowadays, that trope is just old hat to most readers.
2.  Do literary agents only represent published authors?
The notion isn’t entirely true. I’ll give an example. A recent manuscript I recently took on, and sold, was sci-fi author Christopher Brown’s Tropic of Kansas coming out from Harper Voyager in 2017. What drew me to the project was that Christopher not only had a lot of ‘street cred’ as an award-nominated writer in his shorter work — stories, nonfiction, and criticism — he’d already collected pre-publication blurbs from notable authors for his book and trade review sites.
3.  What do you look for in a query letter?
My advice is to really nail the writing of that query letter. A good query letter that reads well is usually a good indication that the manuscript will similarly read well, inclining the agent to request the manuscript. Often the query letter can go on to become the publisher’s jacket copy.
4.  What value does an agent deliver in return for a percentage of an author’s earnings?
At the Trident Media Group literary agency, we’re a full-service literary agency. Many of our fiction and non-fiction titles have appeared on the New York Times Best Sellers Lists and have won major awards, including the Pulitzer Prize and the Booker Prize.

The value for authors lies in what I call the ‘Trident Advantage’. We’re a diverse group of successful literary agents, skilled in all genres of fiction and nonfiction, and career management. We’re leaders in international sales, audio rights, film and TV sales, and foreign rights. We offer support services, which include contract negotiation, legal review, and much more.
5.  Can an independent or self-published author get an agent?
The bar is quite high in terms of self-publishing to attract an agent or traditional publisher. An author needs to have sold at least 50,000 copies at a decent price to secure an agent.

It’s easy for an author to feel discouraged and turn to self-publishing or small indie publishing. However, many successful self-published authors eventually go into traditional publishing to take advantage of having a team of professionals at a literary agency who help them take their work to the next level.

At Trident, we’ve built a lot of self-published success stories into bestsellers, giving authors a Godzilla-like footprint in the industry.

I’d like to think that a literary agency would save an author a lot of headaches in to order to help them focus on their own writing, allowing them to be more prolific.

6.  How has agenting changed in the era of digital publishing?
The digital landscape has seen our literary agency evolve. Our agency, for example, has a digital media and publishing department, focusing on digital marketing and a publicity strategy for our authors.

Many of our authors have benefited from this service, going on to hit the bestseller lists. As such, we have tremendous resources available to help our authors, especially working with their publishers. We have in-depth meetings with publishers, and encourage them to perform more marketing tasks for the author.

It’s no lie that an author receives a larger share of royalties in the digital space in self-publishing. However, authors sell in smaller numbers than a literary agent and publisher could do for an author.
7.  Does one have to have a completed manuscript before approaching an agent?
Generally, fiction needs to be fully written in order to be sold, since it’s about the quality of the writing. An agent would be reluctant to sell a work of fiction on a proposal basis. Non-fiction can be sold on a book proposal, as it’s idea driven and more about the author’s authority on the subject matter.
8.  How long does an author wait to hear back from an agent?
Depending on the length of a manuscript, and how much is on the agent’s plate already, response times can differ. I prefer to read a submission within the first few days or weeks of receiving a manuscript from an author in order to express my level of enthusiasm rather than just sitting on my hands.
9.  Should an author submit multiple queries to multiple agents?
I always say begin at the top in terms of submitting to literary agents, and then work your way down — that will produce the very best results.

Most literary agencies tend to be small and are inclined to give rights away to publishers – whether because they can’t fend the publisher off, or just don’t have the resources to sell those rights properly on their own.

Trident has nearly 50 full-time employees, and handles contract review, foreign rights, audio books, film and TV, within our own company walls. We help authors properly exploit those rights with other publishers.
10. What’s the difference between a literary agent and a literary advisory service?
Unfortunately, the world of literary agenting is full of a lot of people who appear to have died on the inside and are just waiting for a bestseller to hopefully float on down the river.

Short of finding a literary agent that can actually produce results, an author might have to turn to somewhere else. However, I see no difference between a literary agent that covers what a literary advisory service ought to provide.

I don’t see the need for a literary advisory service in an author’s life once an author finds a proper literary agent.

Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

If you enjoyed this post, read:
  1. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 44: White Hot Writer – 7 Tricks To Write Faster
  2. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 43: 3 Ways To Finish Your Draft Before The End Of The Year
  3. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 42: 12 Easy Ways To Find A Title For Your Novel

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 42: 12 Easy Ways To Find A Title For Your Novel

Welcome to week 42 of Anthony's series that aims to help you write a novel in a year. Read last week's post here

Goal setting

  1. Choose a title for your novel.

Breaking it down

Character comes first

You could use your main character as the title of your book. A Man Called Ove by Fredrik Backman is a simple but intriguing way to use this approach.  Girl, Interrupted a coming of age story by Susanna Keysen is a good example. Note also how the comma in the title gives it an extra edge.

The Woman In Cabin 10 by Ruth Ware capitalises on the trend started by The Girl On The Train by Paula Hawkins. (But be wary of trends — by the time you latch on to them, they’re usually over.)

Sneak peek or billboard

Alternatively, you could have a titillating phrase from your book as the title – like Now You See Her by James Patterson, or A Girl Walks Into A Bar by Paige Nick. Or it could be the blatant encapsulation of the plot, like Missing by James Patterson or Betrayed by Maria Barrett.

③  Role Play.  

What is the catalyst or role your main character or antagonist plays in the story? Would this make a good title? The Trespasser by Tana French is a good example of this. 

The 1980s drama/romance movie, The Idol Maker, also does this very well. To add an element of poignancy, consider The Last Tycoon by Fitzgerald.

Classic update

Why not play with the classics, not just for your title but perhaps also your plot? Graeme Aitkin’s Vanity Fierce is a wonderful modern update on Thackeray’s classic Vanity Fair.  Seth Grahame-Smith’s Jayne Eyre and Zombies does something similar.

⑤  Colour it in

The use of colour in a title creates enormous visual and emotional resonance, if used right. Think of the crime-noir novel,  Devil in a Blue Dress by Walter Mosley. Think of 50 Shades of Grey by EL James.

⑥  Less is more

Understatement can be a great way to bring some irony into your title. In A Quiet Drink by Deborah Moggach, a simple drink at the bar has far-reaching consequences for a married couple. Similarly, in Eric Rohmer’s film, Claire’s Knee, a young girl’s need becomes a metaphor for morality, sexuality, and other dangerous choices.

A foreign affair

A phrase from another language is sometimes a great approach – as it adds in some exotic flavour. Saraband by Patrice Chaplin is a great example of this. Using the name of a slow, stately Spanish dance for the inexorable sexual obsession the heroine, Kay Craven, finds herself in is a perfect metaphor.

⑧  Quote unquote

A snippet from a song or poem can work well as a title, especially if it relates your plot, character, or theme. For example, John Clare’s poem I Hid My Love has some great phrases that tie the sensation of summer to the sensation of love.

Ray Bradbury’s collection of short stories, I Sing The Body Electric, is taken from a poem by Walt Whitman. Just remember that the Bible and Shakespeare have been exploited to death.

⑨  Opposite attract

Placing two contrasting words or images next to each other can create a powerful title. The Stone Boudoir, a memoir by Theresa Maggio, is a wonderful example of juxtaposing two opposite images or objects. A boudoir is meant to be soft and sensual, why is it made of stone? My favourite is probably Fabulous Nobodies by fashion journalist and novelist Lee Tulloch.

⑩  Rhyme in time

A run-on or rhyming title is a nice quirk to add to your book – especially if your book is a bit quirky. Me, Earle, and the Dying Girl by Jesse Andrews is a perfect example of this approach.  The Divine Secrets of the Ya Ya Sisterhood by Rebecca Wells also adds a bit of sass and rhythm to the title.

⑪  Double Trouble.  

Sometimes a title has double meaning or hints at a double entendre. For example, if you called your book ‘Killing time’ — it could be about filling up idle time or, quite literally, a time to kill your enemies.

For example, the movie The Deep End, starring Tilda Swinton, is about a drowning victim – but also the emotional deep end the characters find themselves in.

Setting is king 

I’m thinking of using the setting of the beach house in my novel as a title. A setting is a great way to ‘anchor’ your title. The Little Paris Bookshop by Nina George is a charming example of this approach. In A Dark, Dark Wood by Ruth Ware. Notice how the repetition in the last title works to great effect.

Timelock — 1 to 2 hours

Take a few hours to brainstorm the title for your novel.

5 Quick Hacks

  1. Create or draw a mock-up of the front cover of your book – see if the title ‘pops’.
  2. Look at Amazon top sellers and examine their titles etc. – see if you can spot any similarities or trends.
  3. Keep in mind people love the idea of ‘exclusivity’; they love the word ‘club’ and so forth. Think The First Wives Club by Olivia Goldsmith or Hollywood Wives, by Jackie Collins. The Serial Killers Club by Jeff Povey is another.
  4. ‘Secrets’ are powerful reader-attractors.  Think of The Secret Life of Husbands by Kirsty Crawford or The Secret Life of Bees by Sue Monk Kidd. Donna Tartt’s The Secret History is another.
  5. Try to find 3-5 lines or phrases from your manuscript that may make a great title.

Pin it, quote it, believe it:

‘That’s a fair gloopy title. Who ever heard of a clockwork orange?’ — Anthony Burgess

Look out for next week’s instalment of Write Your Novel In A Year!

 by Anthony Ehlers

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

If you enjoyed this post, read:
  1. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 41: 7 Questions You Need To Ask Of Your First Draft
  2. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 40: 3 Rules You Can Break To Start Your Story
  3. Write Your Novel In A Year - Week 39: 3 Big Questions That Demand An Honest Answer

Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

6 Ways To Publish A Book - Everything You Need To Know

Jane Friedman says she is always asked if authors should self-publish or traditionally publish. 

She writes, "This is an increasingly complicated question to answer because:

  1. There are now many varieties of traditional publishing and self-publishing—with evolving models and varying contracts.
  2. You won’t find a universal, agreed-upon definition of what it means to 'traditionally publish' or 'self-publish'.
  3. It’s not an either/or proposition. You can do both."
As authors, we have to choose a route that suits our personality type. We should research the options and decide what we want to achieve with publishing. 

Since 2013, Jane has annually updated her informational chart about the key publishing paths. 

This chart divides the field into three identifiable forms of traditional publishing:
  1. Traditional Publishing: Advance and Royalties
  2. Traditional Publishing: No Advance
  3. Traditional Publishing: Digital-Only or Digital-First
And three identifiable forms of self-publishing:
  1. Hybrid Publishing
  2. Self-Publishing
  3. Social/Community Publishing

Here is the chart. You can magnify it or view it full screen using the icons on the top right hand side of the chart.

Friedman says, "Feel free to download, print, and share this chart wherever you like. Download the PDF version—ideal for photocopying and distributing—or read the full text version of the article here."


If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

 by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Pinterest,  Google+,  LinkedIn,  and on Twitter:  @amandaonwriting

If you enjoyed this article, read:


Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

Your Book Is A Business – You Need To Invest In It

One of the biggest decisions you will have to make regarding your manuscript is how to publish. Do you want to approach a traditional publisher or self-publish? 

Both have merit and writers have strong feelings and opinions about both. This post is not a discussion of what you should or should not do. How you choose to publish is a personal decision and only you can make it. There is no right or wrong, there is only you and your book.

A Writer’s Piggy Bank  

But whatever route you choose you will need money. This is something most writers don’t plan for. Even if you want to approach a traditional publisher there can still be costs involved. 

If you choose to approach a traditional publisher, you may still need to pay for:
  1. Manuscript appraisal
  2. Editing and proofreading before submission
  3. The wait 
It usually takes anything between six to 12 weeks to get a response from a publisher or agent, although this varies from agent to agent and publisher to publisher. If they reject your manuscript you start the process over and wait another 12 weeks. If the book is accepted, it still takes months to get it on the shelf. An advance is nice, but it’s still going to take a while. 

If you choose to self-publish you foot the entire bill. Here are some of the things you may have to pay for:
  1. Manuscript appraisal
  2. Editing and proofreading
  3. Cover and book design
  4. Typesetting, formatting and layout
  5. ISBN application
  6. Barcode generation
  7. Printable PDF creation
  8. Printing
  9. EBook conversion and publishing
  10. Marketing stuff 
Self-publishing has a bad reputation because many authors neglect the editing and proofreading side of things. Please don’t do that. Make sure you offer a quality product. 

A black and white, type-only, soft cover book will obviously be cheaper than a hardcover, full colour, glossy coffee table book with huge photographs. Prices vary and it’s always good to ask for samples. Look at the quality of the printing and binding. Cheap, is after all just that: cheap. Remember your book is a business. What does your product say about your brand? 

I came across this in an article recently: “In its first study on author income since 2009, the Authors Guild delivers some jarring, if unsurprising, data. The survey, which will be released next week, indicates, among other things, that the majority of authors would be living below the Federal Poverty Level if they relied solely on income from their writing.” 

Depressing, but if you look at your bank account, annoyingly true, right? And if you read this article about the latest author earnings you’ll also see some interesting information. It may help you make some decisions. 

Whatever route you decide to go, you will need to build up reserves. Start today. Save as much as you can each month, if you treat it like a business and invest in it like a business you will prosper. Remember if you're failing to plan you’re planning to fail. Good luck. 

If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

 by Mia Botha

If you enjoyed this post, you will love:

  1. Why Repeating Yourself In Dialogue Can Be A Good Thing
  2. Why Adverbs Are The Tequila Of Writing Dialogue
  3. All You Need To Know About Punctuating And Formatting Dialogue


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

    18 Things Writers Need To Know About Editing And Proofreading

    Although editing and proofreading are often mentioned together, they are two different things. Editing means improving writing to put the writer's message across in the best way. Proofreading means checking to ensure the writing is technically and aesthetically sound.

    What is editing?

    Oxford Dictionaries defines it as to ‘prepare (written material) for publication by correcting, condensing, or otherwise modifying it’'.

    Editors edit copy. They are responsible for the overall consistency in meaning and accuracy in a piece of writing. Once a writer is finished with a draft, it is sent through to an editor who will read it and make changes. 

    1. Correct spelling and grammar.
    2. Check the logical flow of ideas.
    3. Check consistency of language, tone, and style.
    4. Check facts and figures.
    5. Ensure that the writer is getting the intended message across.
    6. Ensure that the work is readable.
    7. Ensure there are no obvious errors.
    Editors send their corrections back to the writer who fixes problem areas. After the writer and editor are happy with the work, they will send it to a proofreader. (Fiction editing can be broken down into even more specialised areas as you can see in this post - Four Types of Book Editing.)

    What is proofreading?

    Oxford Dictionaries defines it as to ‘read (printer’s proofs or other written or printed material) and mark any errors.’

    Proofreading is the final stage of the writing process. It can only be done once the writer finishes all other revisions, rewrites, and edits. Imagine it as the final quality check before writing is published.

    Because first impressions count, checking for consistency in usage and layout is important. The words we use to promote or provide information should look professional and they should be error free. 

    1. Correct inconsistent formatting in layout, which includes margins, page numbering, italics, alignment, headers and footers, quotes, paragraphing, spacing, tabs, and fonts.
    2. Correct usage of language, which includes spelling (British or American English), punctuation, grammar, hyphenation, capitalisation, abbreviations, and acronyms.
    Proofreaders read through the final copy of the text to highlight and correct errors. Once the errors are identified and marked with the appropriate symbols, the proof is corrected. Remember there is no rewriting done at this stage. Proofreaders polish the finished product.

    If you are looking for good editors and proofreaders, they should:
    1. Have a detailed knowledge of the language in which they work.
    2. Be computer literate.
    3. Be good at research.
    4. Read widely and have interests in a number of subjects.
    5. Have sound analytical skills. 
    6. Be able to identify facts that need to be checked.
    7. Pay attention to detail.
    8. Be able to understand writing in various fields, even if they know little about the subject matter.
    9. Be capable of critical thinking.

    If you are looking for an editor or a proofreader, you can find one at the Professional Editors’ Group. If you are looking for a publisher, visit The Publisher's Association of South Africa.

    If you want to improve your business writing, join us for The Plain Language Programme. If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

     by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

    If you enjoyed this post, read:


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    The 17 Most Popular Genres In Fiction - And Why They Matter

    What Is Genre?

    Genre is a style or category of art, music, or literature. As an author, genre controls what you write and how you write it. It describes the style and focus of the novel you write. It is the blueprint for different types of stories. 

    There are general rules to follow, for example, manuscript length, character types, settings, themes, and plots. For instance, certain settings suit specific genres. These vary in type, details, intensity, and length of description. 

    There are often sub-genres within genres, for example, a fantasy story with sinister, frightening elements would belong to the dark fantasy sub-genre.

    Why Does It Matter?

    Genres are great because they fulfil reader expectations. We buy certain books because we have enjoyed similar stories in the past. Reading these novels gives us a sense of belonging, of sitting down with an old friend and knowing we're on familiar ground. There is also a camaraderie between readers who follow the same genres.

    Writers can use this to their advantage because their boundaries are models on which to base stories. Genres reflect trends in society and they evolve when writers push the boundaries. Readers ultimately decide if the experiment has worked by buying these books. 

    The most important part of genre fiction, though, is that it fulfils our human need for good old-fashioned storytelling. We sometimes need stories we can rely on to blunt the harsh realities of life.

    17 Popular Fictional Genres 
    1. Romance. These stories are about a romantic relationship between two people. They are characterised by sensual tension, desire, and idealism. The author keeps the two apart for most of the novel, but they do eventually end up together.  There are many sub-genres, including paranormal, historical, contemporary, category, fantasy, and gothic. 
    2. Action Adventure. Any story that puts the protagonist in physical danger, characterised by thrilling near misses, and courageous and daring feats, belongs to this genre. It is fast paced, the tension mounting as the clock ticks. There is always a climax that offers the reader some relief. 
    3. Science Fiction. This genre incorporates any story set in the future, the past, or other dimensions. The story features scientific ideas and advanced technological concepts. Writers must be prepared to spend time building new worlds. The setting should define the plot. There are many science fiction sub-genres.
    4. Fantasy. These stories deal with kingdoms as opposed to sci-fi, which deals with universes. Writers must spend plenty of time on world building. Myths, otherworldly magic-based concepts, and ideas characterise these books. They frequently take cues from historical settings like The Dark Ages. There are also plenty of sub-genres here.
    5. Speculative Fiction. These stories are created in worlds unlike our real world in certain important ways. This genre usually overlaps one or more of the following: science fiction, fantasy fiction, horror fiction, supernatural fiction, superhero fiction, utopian and dystopian fiction, apocalyptic and post-apocalyptic fiction, and alternate history.
    6. Suspense/Thriller. A character in jeopardy dominates these stories. This genre involves pursuit and escape. There are one or more ‘dark’ characters that the protagonist must escape from, fight against, or best in the story. The threats to the protagonist can be physical or psychological, or both. The setting is integral to the plot. A Techno Thriller is a sub-genre. 
    7. Young Adult. Young Adult (YA) books are written, published, and marketed to adolescents and young adults. The Young Adult Library Services Association (YALSA) defines a young adult as someone between the ages of 12 and 18, but adults also read these books. These are generally coming-of-age stories, and often cross into the fantasy and science fiction genres. YA novels feature diverse protagonists facing changes and challenges. This genre has become more popular with the success of novels like The Hunger Games, Twilight, and The Fault in our Stars
    8. New Adult. New Adult (NA) books feature college, rather than school-aged, characters and plotlines. It is the next age-category up from YA. It explores the challenges and uncertainties of leaving home and living independently for the first time. Many NA books focus on sex, blurring the boundary between romance and erotica. 
    9. Horror/Paranormal/Ghost. These are high-pitched scary stories involving pursuit and escape. The protagonist must overcome supernatural or demonic beings. Occult is a sub-genre that always uses satanic-type antagonists. 
    10. Mystery/Crime. These are also known as ‘whodunits’. The central issue is a question that must be answered, an identity revealed, a crime solved. This novel is characterised by clues leading to rising tension as the answer to the mystery is approached. There are many sub-genres in this category.
    11. Police Procedurals are mysteries that involve a police officer or detective solving the crime. The emphasis rests heavily on technological or forensic aspects of police work, sorting and collecting evidence, as well as the legal aspects of criminology. 
    12. Historical. These fictional stories take place against factual historical backdrops. Important historical figures are portrayed as fictional characters. Historical Romance is a sub-genre that involves a conflicted love relationship in a factual historical setting. 
    13. Westerns. These books are specifically set in the old American West. Plotlines include survival, romance, and adventures with characters of the time, for example, cowboys, frontiersmen, Indians, mountain men, and miners. 
    14. Family Saga. This genre is about on-going stories of two or more generations of a family. Plots revolve around things like businesses, acquisition, properties, adventures, and family curses. By their nature, these are primarily historical, often bringing the resolution in contemporary settings. 
    15. Women’s Fiction.  These plot lines are characterised by female central characters who face challenges, difficulties, and crises that have a direct relationship to gender.  This is inclusive of woman’s conflict with man, though not limited to that. It can include conflict with things such as the economy, family, society, art, politics, and religion. 
    16. Magic Realism. Magical events are part of ordinary life in this genre. The characters do not see them as abnormal or unusual. They are a natural part of the story. One Hundred Years of Solitude is a classic in this genre.
    17. Literary Fiction. This genre focuses on the human condition and it is more concerned with the inner lives of characters and themes than plot. Literary fiction is difficult to sell and continues to decline in popularity.

    Genre Changes

    With the advent of self-publishing and ebooks, these genre guidelines have become less strict. This is because a publisher does not have to produce thousands of physical copies of the book. However, if you want to publish traditionally, you should still consider genre requirements. 

    How To Become Generic 

    Isolate your target market, research it, and adapt your story if necessary. Look in bookshops – they are generic, sorting books into categories to make it easier for their busy readers to choose and buy whatever will guarantee them a good read. 

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg. 

    Writing prompts are an excellent way to exercise the writing muscle. If you want to receive a free daily prompt from us, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za with the word DAILY PROMPT in the subject line. We will add you to our mailing list. 

    Source for image

     by Amanda Patterson. Follow her on  Pinterest,  Facebook,  Tumblr,  Google+,  LinkedIn, and  Twitter.

    If you enjoyed this post, read:


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate.

    Four Different Platforms for eBook Publishing

    Source: InstaScribe

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

    If you enjoyed this post, read these:


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

    How To Create A Compelling Book Sales Page

    Guest Post

    Your book is written, edited, formatted, designed and ready for distribution. Time to put it up on Amazon, right?

    Not just yet...

    While Amazon is a great platform for selling books, it's not a great way to market and spread the word about your book. Unfortunately, a lot of authors throw their books on Amazon hoping they will sell. It's not surprising, then, that one third of authors make less than $500 a year.

    If you're wondering if there must be a better way, there is. The first thing you can do is take the marketing of your book into your own hands. The fastest way to do this is by creating the perfect book sales page for your book.

    In other words, instead of sending people directly to Amazon to buy your book, you should send them to a customised book sales page - one that will present your book in the best light possible (not be subject to the unfortunate-for-authors-design of Amazon's book sales page).

    In this free infographic, you'll see the template that many bestselling authors use to develop a compelling book sales page. It is one that turns readers into buyers and fans.

    If you want  to download, share, or embed the original infographic on your site, visit Tom Morkes

    You can build a book sales page that mimics this template using a basic Wordpress website (or equivalent). Alternatively, for those less tech savvy, you can invest in premium software like Leadpages or Optimizepress to create a page that can be customized to your heart’s content (without needing to know CC or HTML).

    If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.

    If you enjoyed this post, read these:


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

    The 12 Best Tools To Use Before Self-Publishing A Book

    Guest Post

    Publishing a book using traditional publishers can be intimidating for new and established writers alike. They are known for rejecting even the best of plots (take Harry Potter for example!). However, with the rise of the ebook and the availability of publishing tools, it is possible for any author with a great book to make sales. Here are some of the most useful tools available on the internet to help you with self-publishing your novel.

    Writing tools

    Though you may be comfortable with software such as Microsoft Word or Apple’s Pages, there are other products intended solely for writing novels. Writing tools such as Scrivener provide a more intuitive solution that can really simplify the most important part of your self-publishing venture: your book. It has a versatile interface that offers the ability to edit more than one section at once, preview your entire novel, create a corkboard brainstorming area to record all your ideas, and a drag and drop planning area. Subplot is another great, inexpensive app offered on the Mac App Store. It is s useful tool for organising the characters, settings, events and plot of your novel. It encourages productivity by allowing authors to set goal deadlines.


    No matter how many times you proofread your novel, you’re never 100% sure of its accuracy. Websites like Proofreadingpal can provide a quality proofreading service. This website runs your work through two proofreading experts and corrects any errors concerning grammar, spelling, punctuation, sentence structure and tense. Hiring online freelancers is also an option.

    Checking for plagiarism

    You know that your novel is entirely your own. However, checking for unintentional plagiarism is a good idea. Although there are free tools available, they often do not have a database as large as some paid, higher-quality websites. Unplag.com is a plagiarism detection engine that is an easy to use, accurate tool for writers. It can perform checks in less than four seconds across billions of pages and documents on the internet. It can scan all kinds of documents: DOCX, PDF, HTML, the list goes on. This means you can check for plagiarism before formatting your work.

    Publishing with Amazon

    With a proliferating amount of Kindle-users and Amazon Prime subscribers, Amazon now offers the largest market for authors to publish and sell their work without the need for a third-party publishing company. With regards to ebooks, Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is an all-in-one solution for self-publishing authors. It allows anyone to upload a free PDF (in a specific format, see below) and earn revenue in royalties. Although ebooks are becoming popular, there are many readers who are interested exclusively in print copies. Amazon’s Createspace is a convenient solution for authors who do not want to take the risk of pre-ordering print copies. It is an on-demand service that only prints a copy if one is ordered. It also allows the author to have control over the pricing, since Amazon will only take a fixed commission from every sale; the price of the novel is entirely up to you.


    In order to upload files to websites such as KDP, your novel needs to be in a certain format. Even if you are competent with HTML, formatting an ebook can be a complicated and daunting task. Jutoh is a website that is a flexible formatter for any ebook. It provides formatting for Kindles, iBooks and Google Play. It is easy to use for beginners to formatting. If you are looking for an even cheaper route, there are websites such as elance.com and fiverr.com. These are platforms for freelancers in all fields to offer their skills. Many freelancers are able to edit novels to fit a variety of different formats.

    Cover design

    Books, and ebooks, are being judged by their covers. It isn’t a secret that better covers deliver higher sales figures. There is a website that saves you from having to learn graphic design from scratch: DiyBookCovers.com. You are able to design the cover you have in mind if you take the time to familiarise yourself with the set-up. Making use of this resource is a significantly cheaper route to take. If you do not have the time to make your own cover, look for services on the freelance websites mentioned above. Freelance cover designers are able to complete jobs for a lower price than professional designers.


    Without a traditional publishing company behind you, it can be an intimidating task to increase the awareness and popularity of your novel. There are a number of useful tools on the web for Amazon-registered self-published authors. Firstly, there is Amazon Author Central. This provides authors with the all-important social media presence that every entrepreneur must have in the digitalized world of today. It features a ‘Facebook profile page’, offering the ability to upload photos, videos and updates. At Amazon Author Central, you can promote all of your books in order to boost sales in all directions. Readers can subscribe to email notifications for new books: this feature is essential for building a loyal fan base. If you choose to offer your book free for a small period in order to promote sales, there are websites such as Bookbub that will advertise your offer to its millions of subscribers. Though you will not earn anything from these ‘freebie promotions’, it will contribute to the popularity of your book and these high sales will remain even after your book is no longer free. 

    [If you want to learn how to write a book, join our Writers Write course in Johannesburg.] 

     by Lynn Usrey. Lynn is a freelance editor and proofreader. She also teaches writing in Orlando, Florida.


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. Writers Write - Write to communicate

    Demystifying Self-Publishing - A Writers Write Event

    Join us for breakfast when one of our Writers Write graduates, Per Ostberg, talks about his exciting and exploratory journey from attending our Writers Write course to self-publishing his memoir PERspective.

    Per will outline the eight simple steps he took to get a book from idea to launched. These include demystifying self-publishing platforms and online tools, talking about the challenges he met on the way, as well as how he realised the author had become a publisher.

    When? 18 April 2015
    Where? Winehouse Restaurant, Ten Bompas Boutique Hotel10 Bompas Road, Dunkeld, Johannesburg (GPS)
    What Time? 08:00 for 08:30 - 10:30
    How Much? R240 per person (This includes a delicious breakfast and the self-publishing talk by Per Ostberg)
    RSVP? news@writerswrite.co.za


    Writers Write offers the best writing courses in South Africa. If you want to learn how to write a book, write for social media, and improve your business writing, send an email to news@writerswrite.co.za for more information.

    Writers Write - Write to communicate