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The Wicked Writing Blog

Welcome to the home of writing award ideas and practical advice for story contest success. Fun and sheer tomfoolery are never far away. Feel free to add your comments. (To comment on a post, or see the comments there, simply click on its title.)

 

How I Created A Totally New Book Genre - And You Can Too

December 11, 2014

How do you create an entirely new ‘novel’ of a kind that has never been seen before? One that’s so new that Amazon has no category for it? And that literary agents run away from, howling?

But that’s potentially more profitable than any other work of fiction?

The last author who did that was Miguel Cervantes when he wrote Don Quixote and pioneered the novel genre
in 1605.

But I had to do it.

I couldn't let Cervantes upstage me, could I?


For three years, I’d been running a coaching program for fiction writers, the Writers’ Village Academy. Sometimes, rude people would ask me: ‘if you know so much about fiction writing how come you’re not a best-selling author?’

Good question.

I could riposte: ‘I have a PhD in creative writing.’ (I do.) ‘I’ve been a highly successful commercial writer for 42 years.’ (I have.) ‘Across 15 years I ran Britain’s largest self-publishing business, which earned me up to $1.4 million annually from my own living room.’ (It did.)

To which the answer came: Blooey.

Yes, I had to do it.

But I didn’t want to self-publish a debut book, at vast labour (and indie publishing is a steep learning curve), only to see my work of years die in the ‘200 Club’. What’s that? The abyss that 99% of debut novelists fall into when they’ve sold their book to their family, friends, writing group and postman. And their sales stall, never to recover.

That’s what happened to a friend, an Irish barrister who published a brilliant debut thriller in 2012. In two years, it gained just 11 reviews. Its Amazon sales rank is around 177,000. That means he’s lucky if he sells one copy a day. An abyss.

I didn’t want to join that club.

Could I somehow produce a work of fiction that was totally proof against agents, fickle reviewers and Amazon ratings? Yes!

But it meant reinventing the fiction genre. (As one does.) Please allow me to digress…

In 2002, I’d self-published an odd paperback book, Gardening Secrets That Time Forgot, that was part novel, part gardening manual. It introduced a 15th century farmer, coincidentally named John Yeoman, who kept stumbling on clever ways to grow more food in his garden.

With every ‘Eureka!’ moment his helpful modern editor, coincidentally named John Yeoman XVIII, would explain in a footnote how the modern reader could use that ingenious idea in their own garden.

The book did remarkably well. It netted me £60,000 ($96,000) in its first year,
sold through off-the-page ads in gardening magazines.

True, it bemused some readers.

‘I don’t understand it at all,’ one moaned. I sent him a refund. He then bought three copies for his friends. ‘It’s growing on me,’ he said. (True.)

Hm, I thought. I’ve got something here, a new concept in literature. But it took me 12 years to realize it.

And now I have.


The Cunning Man
. It’s the world’s first ‘fictorial’. An anthology of historical mysteries that show you, while you enjoy the stories, how to write a story. In any genre.


Just touch a Footnote marker in Kindle and a helpful panel opens up that reveals exactly the writing techniques I used in that scene. So it delivers (I hope) a great read plus, behind the scenes, a master class in fiction writing.

A world first? A great read? A master class? I leave it to you to judge. (And even cry Blooey, if you wish.) You can now buy The Cunning Man at a token $4.71 (£2.99) or thereabouts at:

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

If you’d care to leave a review at Amazon, I’d be most appreciative. Please make your review honest and impartial. Even a one star (‘I hate it’) review is helpful, provided you tell me constructively why you didn’t like it.

But even if you don’t buy or review it, it doesn’t matter. If the book never gets beyond the ‘200 Club’ of paying readers, it doesn’t matter. Even if it sinks into the Amazon mud, it doesn’t really matter. Why?

Pause for roll of drums...

Because I created this book as a ‘loss leader’.

I simply want to get it into as many loving hands as possible, provided those hands write fiction. Any money I gain from the book itself is a bonus. Why?

Because the first page invites people to click into my author’s web site and sign up to my email list. If folk never get past their free 10% Amazon sample, and never buy the book, they’ll still get that link and invitation. And when they sign up, they’ll gain a further free story at once. That story is yet another ‘fictorial’, a mini master class in how to write a story.

Once they’re on my list, which delivers them a wealth of free writing ideas, I’ll gently and politely invite them to upgrade to membership of the Writers’ Village Academy, my paid-for subscription program.

That’s where I coach them, one-to-one, in writing great stories. And it’s where the profit lies. For myself and my students.

How do I know it should work?


My first fictorial novel, Gardening Secrets That Time Forgot, had a tear-off page at the back. It was an invitation for readers to sign up to the Gardening Guild, a newsletter subscription service. Around 10% of my readers did sign up - and that’s where the profit lay.

Will it work for The Cunning Man?

I don’t know. Tell me. Please go to one of these links and buy my book. The cost is trivial. Then, at your discretion, tell me what you truly think by leaving an impartial review at Amazon.

Amazon.com
Amazon.co.uk

Yes, I’d love to be able to refund your purchase money - I don’t need $4.71 (£2.99) that badly, honest. I'd even
happily send you a teddy bear, a kitten or a Hershey bar as a thank you. But I daren’t. Because Amazon might deem my refund or gift as an inducement to purchase, and delete your review. (It happens.)

But if you leave a wholly candid review - even a one star review -and email me that you’ve done so, I promise to email you a Thank you. (I don’t think that will breach Amazon’s terms of review. But who knows? Let’s grit our teeth and see…)

Of course, you’re free to recommend the book on all your social networks and I’d be delighted if you did. Amazon loves recommendations. So it says.
BTW: Thank you if you were kind enough to take part in my survey two weeks ago, in which I promised you a review copy of my upcoming books in return for your opinion on their cover or title. Be assured that I’ll come back to you soon.

I’ve taken everyone’s views into consideration. I have four books in the works. Those books - fully reflecting your views - are now in production. So the survey is now closed.
Meanwhile, please enjoy The Cunning Man by John Yeoman at:

Amazon.com

Amazon.co.uk

Or have I said that before?

I would sincerely value your opinion of a totally new literary genre, the world’s first ‘fictorial’ stories!

Before you go, why not leave a comment below? Could some variation of this book marketing strategy work for your books or stories? What do you think? I promise you a fast, helpful response!
 

A Little-Known Way To Be Paid While You Write

December 5, 2014

Here’s a wicked way to be paid while you write - and to fund your next book or writing project before you even start it. Few debut authors have stumbled upon this clever idea but it offers great potential for anyone who needs to pay the rent while fumbling to complete their work.

Even if that’s
not you, please read on. There might be more profit opportunities in your writing than you thought…

We’re being got at!

The latest James Bond thriller, The Vanishing Game - a 17,000-word nov...

Continue reading...
 

Why I Quit Writing And Started Living

November 28, 2014


Have you ever felt that fiction writing is hard work? Are you tired of its petty rules. ‘Do this, do that’? At times, have you wanted to just walk away from it all - and rediscover your life?

That’s what writing coach Renee Vaughn did. No, she didn’t stop writing. At least, not for good. She simply switched her head in a whole new direction - and it gave her back her life!
Here’s how you can do it too.

Why did you want to become a writer? Here are a few reasons why I did.

Books!...
Continue reading...
 

How To Get Your Story PUBLISHED - Advice From A Contest Pro

November 22, 2014

Ever tried to win a story contest or even get your stories published? Of course, you have. And you've cried, ‘My work is good!’ (It probably is.)
‘So why aren’t I published more often?’ Chris Fielden runs one of the world’s biggest story contest directories. In this guest post, he reveals precisely how to win a major competition or sell your stories. And the answer may be simpler than you think!

Notice my use of capital letters in the title? I used them for good reason.

Many wri...

Continue reading...
 

A Clever New Way To Bring Your Characters Alive

November 7, 2014

Here’s a powerful - and clever - way to bring your characters alive, as flesh and blood creatures. It's 'new' in the sense that few authors seem to have heard of it. Sure, we can characterize our people as unique by the different ways they think and speak. Every author does that. But is there a better approach? One that gives our characters a wondrous depth?

Yes! says author Josh Bertetta. It’s called ‘narrative voice’. And here’s how you can use it.


As writers we want to tell ...

Continue reading...
 

How To Make Great Money In Freelance Writing - 3 Surefire Ways

October 31, 2014

Do you love the idea of making a cool 4- or 5-figure income from home? But you hate the fact that it all seems so hard. What's the secret? Pooja Lohana is a successful freelancer and now she teaches other writers, step by step, how to make a major income - doing what they love and do best. Writing! In this guest post, she shows us three proven ways to take the first step towards our dream.

Admit it.

The thought of becoming a freelance writer has crossed your mind many times.
In fact, you...

Continue reading...
 

Ten Ways To Find A Great Writing Community On The Web

October 24, 2014

You’re a solo writer and it’s a lonely life, isn’t it? Can social networks help? Could online groups and communities help you share ideas and sell your books? How do today's writers, especially those newly published or pursuing publication, benefit from building communities of virtual friends? Author Sally Ember, Ed.D, is an avid user of social media and gives us ten proven tips for getting the best out of online groups.

There are now thousands of online communities a writer can j...

Continue reading...
 
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John Yeoman

Dr John Yeoman, MA Oxon, MPhil, PhD Creative Writing, FSRS*  is a UK university tutor in the short story. He has 42 years experience as a successful commercial writer, newspaper editor and one-time chairman of a major PR consultancy.

He has published innumerable works of humour, some intended to be humorous.

* Founder, the Society for the Rehabilitation of the Semi-colon