Four Essentials In Writing a Successful Book

Have visions of your book literally flying off the shelves? You can do four essential things to make this happen:

The first three are all on the outside.

First is the title. It must be catchy, exciting, edgy, and unique. It needs to capture the essence of what the writer is trying to portray. It needs to give the reader a hint at what’s inside without giving everything away. (I am speaking of FICTION books. Non-Fiction books need to hit on the very topic to be covered. Non-fiction readers have a certain bit of information they are looking for. The title is their first clue they have found what they are seeking.)

Dave Barry’s BIG TROUBLE is probably one of the funniest books I have ever read. The title had me hooked from the “get-go”.  The spine told me just enough to get me to pluck it from the shelf. 

Then I saw it—the second essential—one of the most creative and unique covers I’d seen up to that point. The closeup of a crocodile’s face, bumpy and wild-eyed. Who wouldn’t want to read a book about a crocodile that caused “Big Trouble”? 

I turned it over and then I read it—the third essential—the back cover blurb.  Amazing. Captivating. Hilarious. Irresistible.

The fourth essential is inside the book— the writing. And, Big Trouble did not disappoint.

If a book’s cover, title, and back cover blurb can get me to shell out my money, THE WRITING HAS TO DELIVER. PERIOD. If it doesn’t, it is just a big promise not kept. It’s a marketing ploy and nothing more.

If the book doesn’t live up to the hype, a reader won’t feel satisfied. And an unsatisfied reader will NEVER PURCHASE A BOOK FROM THAT AUTHOR AGAIN. 


You’ve probably heard that you only have one chance to make a good first impression.  That statement was originally said about face-to-face meetings, but it is never truer than when said in reference to a book.

So, target all four essentials. Make sure that the writing on the inside lives up to the title, cover, and back cover blurb on the outside.

Because you never get a second chance to make a good first impression!



Sharing Good Advice

Uruguay, Montevideo:   Inside a bookstore.

I recently went to another writing conference. One of the speakers, best-selling author Jennifer Ashley, offered her perspective on what sells books (and she should know because she has written more than 100 of them). I’ll share her TOP THREE ideas:

First, connect with your readers. She says the best way ISN’T Facebook, Twitter, etc. It is, in her opinion, good writing. So, she says to focus on your writing 90% of the time. The other 10% can be devoted to marketing.

Secondly, you must have an Intriguing Premise, so followers will want to read/learn more.

Finally, write about iconic characters, such as firemen, policemen, and cowboys.

I hope these little nuggets are useful to you, especially to those of you who may be choosing characters for a new book, considering the message you want to get across, or facing a marketing vs. writing crisis.

Leave Them Wanting More




People often find it hard to pick a book to read. If they have already read and enjoyed one book in a series, they are often likely to purchase the second. This is especially true if they like the characters and enjoy the writing style of the author.

Authors who write a successful first novel with promises to continue their characters, already have a readership that will come back for more. In fact, if they keep their writing fresh, they are likely to come back again and again.

Publishers love books that promise a sequel. If a book sells well, then it follows to reason that the sequel is going to sell just as well.

So what makes a successful series? 

Characters. One—preferably more—that the reader can root for.

Study the successful ones, such as Stephen King’s The Dark Tower, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Long of the Rings, J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter and see how they do it.

I have enjoyed  A Series of Unfortunate Events by Lemony Snicket—smart and humorous—as well as a number of Amish books in series by Beverly Lewis.

Go to the bookstore and find the section where you want your book to be some day. Research a popular series and ask yourself what makes them good. Then develop your own character you know readers will want to follow.

While you’re writing the first book for your series, keep in mind things you want to save for your second book, and so on.

So, what are the key elements in writing a series that will keep readers interested in reading book after book?

 *Believable, engaging characters.

*A fascinating world or universe. 

*Great writing!

*A plot that has definite direction…not just stretching the story out so you can get another book published.

Reward your audience for sticking with you by giving them new and fresh content—not just more of the same.

And, at the end of the book, or movie, the consumer should feel satisfied and, as my grandfather used to say,

left wanting even more.