That pure Cane Spirit since 1848.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

How to sell books and open the door to fabulous wealth.

Here is my theory.

Total book sales in the UK have grown on average at 4.5% annually for the last 30 years. It’s 6.5% for the last 10. A phenomenal compound growth when you think about it. The market’s mental!

Check all the top selling stuff. What have they got in common? I’ll tell you. A formula.

That bloke Bernard Cornwell who writes all the Sharpe stuff, was on the radio the other week, and he said that he gathered all the books that he liked and went through them with a highlighter, marking out all the exciting bits that he liked, all the necessary bits, and all the slow bits that irritated him. Then he wrote his story with more good bits. It’s all lowest common denominator stuff but it works. It works because we expect a formula whether consciously or not. He said he was amazed no one had thought of it before.

There are I believe, only five stories. Everything is a variation on those. Is this right or total bollocks? I heard it somewhere.

It’s actually better if you’re not well read. Then you don’t compare yourself with the impossibly high standards of the classics. You’d never live it down. How can Dan Brown sleep at night, and him an English teacher? I’ll tell you. He stuffs his mattress with crisp tenners. That’s how.
Where was I? Oh yes, all the top sellers couldn’t hardly string an sentence right. Did it stop them? Did it buggery.

So that’s my theory. Analyse a couple of formulaic bestsellers a la Cornwell, and set to work changing the story to suit. After a while your own stuff will take over.

Then rewrite the whole thing.

Stephen King, (worth a bob or two) in his book ‘On Writing‘, reckons you should trim it down by 10% every pass. Also the rewrites flag up the clumsy bits you didn’t do right. Or the bits where the same word or phrase keeps cropping up. (amateurish).

That is my theory. I shall now test it to destruction.

According to FMC and I believe her, I should concentrate on the manuscript (great word that). This is good news, it frees up time for me to find a literary agent. I will make use of the publisher’s editor, they can smarten it up.

You all think I’m taking the piss don’t you?

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