There are certain books (and cars, and foods, and vacations) that somehow demand to be talked about. You know what I mean.
Obviously, as authors, all of us want to get great word of mouth advertising. It is easily the least expensive form of advertising—since it costs you nothing—and the most productive form of advertising, since it comes in the form of testimonials from people that you know, and trust, and who are more or less a lot like you.
So how can you get it?
If you look at books that have gotten great word of mouth, there are a few things that they have in common.
1) Story is more important than style. Most bestsellers aren’t stylistic masterpieces. Instead, the authors offer prose that is merely workmanlike. The prose doesn’t interfere with the story. Many great stylists are actually challenging to read, and their stories become opaque and obscured due to overwriting. Bestsellers on the other hand are usually easily understood.
2) The primary emotional draws, along with the age and sex of the protagonists, are well fitted to their audience. For example, young readers crave a sense of wonder, humor, horror, and adventure. So Harry Potter worked beautifully for them. When Dan Brown wrote The Da Vinci Code, he hit strong beats of adventure, intrigue, and horror—which worked well for a middle-aged male audience. (See my book Million Dollar Outlines for more on this.) The stronger the emotional power of the tale, the more that readers will feel the need to talk to others about it.
3) The story has heart. What I mean by this is that something in the tale shows that the author didn’t just write this, he or she wrote it out of love. The author has to be emotionally committed to making this work great. Tolkien loves languages and history, and it showed in his work. John Grisham loves tales about the law. I’m convinced that you need to be in love with your work, too.
4) The story transports the reader. It may transport them to another time or another place, but it also needs to transport the reader emotionally and intellectually, make them feel things that they want to feel, think about things that suddenly become important to them.
I have sometimes said that a story needs to be “remarkable.” By that I mean, that when people are in conversation and a subject comes up that is tangentially related to the tale, one of the speakers will feel compelled to say, “You know, that reminds me of. . . .” The need to talk about a story comes about naturally when the reader has a profound emotional experience with your tale. So be remarkable!
Live Writing Workshops
Fyrecon Master Class
Explore the writing process step-by-step over three days (four hours each day) and see exactly how it is done. Each hour we’ll cover a new step toward completion and beyond.
Hour 1–Brainstorming, “1001 Ideas in an Hour”
Hour 2–Brainstorming Settings
Hour 3–Create Your Characters
Hour 4–Weaving the Plot
Hour 5–Focus on Writing (Cleaning your palette, creating a writing space, focus)
Hour 6–Drafting Your Opening/Hooking Your Reader
Hour 7–Enchanting Your Reader Image by Image
Hour 8–Adding Complications
Hour 9–Powerful Endings
Hour 10–Editing to Greatness/Working with Editors
Hour 11–Sending it Out, Dealing With Editors and Agents
Hour 12–How to Make a Living as a Writer
12 Hour Master class $239
(includes general admission)
Class is limited to 30 students
Thursday, June 21st, 9am – 1pm
Friday, June 22nd, 9am – 1pm
Saturday, June 23rd, 9am – 1pm
Register or learn more here.
Quick Start Your Writing Career
Please join David for his new workshop, Quick Start Your Writing Career, held on June 30, 2018 at the the Provo Marriott Hotel and Conference Center at 101 W. 100 North, Provo, Utah 84601 USA. Ph. +1 801-377-4700.
The workshop will run from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. with a one-hour break for lunch. There are numerous restaurants near the hotel.
The workshop costs $99 for the day and lunch is not included. There is space for 80 attendees.
Dave will speak about the following subjects:
- Breaking onto the Bestseller Lists
- How to Get Discovered
- Defining Yourself As an Author
- Plotting Your Career
- Going Indie vs. Traditional Publishing
- Multimedia–Your Most Indispensable Asset
- How to Reach a Vast Audience
- Dealing with Agents, Editors, and Movie Producers.