WHAT’S IN A GENRE?

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WHAT’S IN A GENRE?

by Sherrie Clark

What is in a genre? To start, let’s define what a genre is. According to Wikipedia, a genre is a “‘kind’ or ‘sort’ … any category of literature …”

As a new writer, figuring out your genre may not seem to be important while you’re writing your book. But you can’t afford to ignore this type of labeling for a variety of reasons.

Knowing your genre means knowing your target audience. You’ll then know how to speak to them through your writing. You’ll know how to bond with them, and you’ll know how to market your book to them.

Each genre has its own audience, and with that said, each genre can have its unique language or words. If you’re writing a true-crime book, you’re obviously going to use different words, tones, and voices than if you’re writing a children’s book.

If you’re pursuing an agent or publisher, they will want to know your genre from the get go. Agents represent certain genres, and some publishers publish certain genres. It’s like having an ingrown toenail and going to a cardiac surgeon to treat it. So when submitting your query letter to an agent or publisher, make sure you two can be a match. Your first checkpoint will be your genre.

After your book is published, the genre of your book will tell retailers and wholesalers where to place your book and will tell readers where to find your book. If your reader wants to read a romance book, she doesn’t want to rummage through a pile of fitness books, horror books, children’s books, and recipe books to find one.

So now you know the importance of identifying your genre. Which one fits your book–Memoir? Romance? Action/Adventure? Mystery? Horror? Thriller/Suspense? Children’s books? Young Adult? Inspirational? Science Fiction? True Crime? Western? How-To? Self-Help? History? (Look for future blogs where I break down the different genres for you.)

Keep in mind that you have an audience waiting for your book; you just need to know who they are.


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GETTING IDEAS FOR YOUR BOOK

by Sherrie Clark

Do you want to write the next great American novel but just don’t know what you want to write about? Do you find yourself lost for ideas and thus lost for words?

Getting ideas for a book is actually simple and easy. To start, determine your genre, which is your book’s category. For instance, do you enjoy immersing yourself in a good whodunit mystery, visualizing yourself as the hero or heroine in a romantic love story, getting engrossed in the world of science fiction, delving into a sit-on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller, plunging into an adrenaline-rushing adventure, cackling at a side-splitting satire, or escaping in a ride-into-the-sunset western? If you’re an avid reader of any of these genres, you should already have some ideas floating around your imagination.

Another way to get ideas for your book is to pull from life experiences. Maybe you were a single parent who raised a world-renown athlete. Maybe you were the victim of a crime, and justice prevailed…or not. Maybe you were a soccer mom, and you have some funny stories to share. Maybe you have witnessed some heroic event that made an impact on your life. Whatever you’ve journaled or held captive in your memory bank, probably for years, you have some ideas for a story.

Buy a newspaper or magazine or peruse the Internet for real-life stories and articles. Several years ago, I remember reading an article in a popular newspaper that reported a bank robbery. (Thankfully, no one was hurt.) The next thing I knew, my creative juices started flowing, and I found myself creating a fictional story from some of the events within that real-life article.

Bottom line is that ideas for books are all around us. We just need to be observant and preserve them through notes, clippings, pictures, recordings, and such. If something noteworthy occurs but isn’t applicable to your current book, write it down, print it, or cut it out of the paper anyway. Put it in a box or file to reference for your next book.

Just remember that life is full of surprises, memorable events, and experiences that need to be shared or told. Don’t rush through them, put on blinders, or walk through life with tunnel vision because we may just miss out on some great ideas. Learn to capture them in whatever media format you’re comfortable with or is convenient. Just by stopping and smelling the roses, we’ll find that we have a myriad of ideas for a library of books.


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WITHIN AN AUTHOR’S TOOLBOX FOR SUCCESS

by Sherrie Clark

Did you know that a crucial tool in an author’s toolbox for success is self-discipline? Before you slip on your running shoes to skedaddle the other way, realize that applying self-discipline to your writing can make a world of difference between finishing your book and having it sit in your brain collecting cobwebs.

We all agree that writing a book sounds like an awesome idea, but if we don’t actually make ourselves sit down and write it, then it remains just an idea. Some of us don’t realize that what we’re missing is self-discipline; we simply know we can’t make ourselves write that book. Others know we need it but don’t know how to acquire it. Then there are some of us who have self-discipline but somehow when we need it to write our book, it’s M.I.A. Why? Perhaps it’s because we don’t quite know what to do, so like a deer caught in headlights, we become paralyzed and do nothing. Writing that book now becomes drudgery instead of fun. We’ve forgotten why we want to write our book and why we need to write it.

What’s a writer to do? Start off by reminding yourself why you wanted to write your book in the first place. Then take a look at your schedule. What times do you have available where nothing is planned? Is it Monday, Thursday, and Saturday nights between 9 and 11? Maybe those are times you should spend writing your book. Perhaps you only have one hour a week to write. Take advantage of it. Use those open times to write, write, write as if your life depended on it. Pick a quiet place away from interruptions. Tell everyone that’s your time to write and not to disturb you. Treat your writing as a job. Stick with it because you’re now developing (or strengthening) your self-discipline, and it’s all good. In sticking with it, you can write your book in less time than you think.

What happens if you fall off the boat, so to speak, and you have to break your writing date because something has happened? Remember, life happens to all of us, so don’t beat yourself up. Give yourself some grace and pick yourself back up and get back to writing. Your book, your future readers, and you will appreciate all of your efforts when you see your book published.

So be disciplined about your self-discipline. Get organized. Get determined, and get ‘er done!


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READING HELPS YOU BECOME A BETTER WRITER

by Sherrie Clark

Ask any writer, and most will tell you they love to read and have since they were a young child. So the bottom line is that to be a good writer, you need to read.

For instance, do you know any musicians who don’t like to listen to music? Just the contrary. Frequently, you’ll hear them refer to other musicians, bands, songs, and albums, revealing that they listen to music quite a bit. They’ll mention the artists who influenced them in their choice of genres and how they had bought and listened to their albums and CDs.

As writers, we’re no different. We have certain authors we favor, certain books we devour, and certain genres toward which we gravitate. The kind of books you read is really the kind of books you should write. Maybe your pick is mysteries or romance or inspirational books about faith. Then those are the topics about which you want to write. Maybe you’ve read lots of books about nutrition and have applied them to your life. In fact, you’ve become an expert on the subject. As a result, you’ve come up with an easier nutritional plan, a different perspective, or information that can supplement all of the other nutritional books you’ve read, and you want to share it with others. Health and Nutrition may be your genre.

Whatever your interest and passion, read as many books on that topic as you can. You’ll be better informed on the topic, especially if nonfiction. You’ll pick up the specific words used in that genre and see how the authors address that market. Also, read books in other genres as well. Expanding your territory is a good thing. Some books combine genres, so it’s good to be familiar with them and their writing. Oddly enough, but read really bad books too. Why? You’ll learn from their mistakes.

Don’t forget to read books about writing. You’ll pick up some valuable tips on what to do and what not to do. After all, if you wanted to upholster your couch, wouldn’t you want to read a book about how to do it correctly before spending a lot of time and money and putting a lot of effort into it? Otherwise, you may not get the results you wanted. So it goes with writing.

Also, reading increases your vocabulary. As writers, we want to have a large pool of words to communicate our message. So read for the enjoyment, and read to learn.


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WHAT MAKES A BOOK SO DIFFERENT?

by Sherrie Clark

These days, there are all sorts of ways to tell a story, share a message, or teach a lesson or lessons, from podcasts to YouTube videos to talk radio to television talk shows. You can hear the messenger, and you may even be able to see the presenter. So what is it about a book that makes it different, compelling, and extremely important?

With the other mediums like radio and TV, you hear the presenters. You ingest their tone and inflection, and if through a visual medium, you watch their body language. You receive the message in the way they convey it through their voice.

With a book, however, receiving the message is different. A book is something you read where your inner voice speaks to you through the words. You interpret it on your level and many times, based on where you’re at in life.

A book allows your imagination to run freely. It allows you to picture perceived images in your mind about the message, the setting, the characters, the plot, and the story. If you’re reading a cookbook, you can envision yourself cooking the meal in your kitchen. If you’re reading an inspirational faith-based book, you can visualize yourself walking the path to reach the spiritual fulfillment you seek. If you want to get healthy and lose weight, you can see yourself in skinny clothes. If you love a good whodunit novel, you can picture the gumshoe detective, the cold dark alley, and the insidious murderer lurking in the shadows. However, if you watch this crime thriller on television, you see the characters and setting through the eyes of the director and screenwriter. If you hear a radio host tell you how to lose weight, you use their voice to visualize the effects. Basically, writing a book is a powerful tool to tell a story or share a message because it allows the readers a lot of freedom in the privacy of their mind.

Even better, you don’t have to wait for the replays and reruns. You can just pick that book back up and reread it or sections anytime you like.


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WANT TO WRITE A BOOK? WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF?

by Sherrie Clark

Most of us want to write a book, but in actuality, very few do. So
why don’t more people do it?

Sometimes the answer is simple and can be summed up into one major cause. Sometimes it’s a combination of several reasons. The cause could be justifiable, or it could be a bit more complex where the inhibitors go deeper with fear as the root. Regardless, chances are that the reason or reasons, fear or fears that you may be experiencing are probably shared by others, including professional writers. So let’s address what could be preventing you from writing your book because once you determine your reason, you can confront it and win.

I think the top reasons why people don’t write their book are that they don’t know what to do, where to start, and find the process intimidating. Taking something from your head and turning it into pages for readers to turn may seem overwhelming, but take heart because those days are now gone. The AuthorShip can help you through every step of the process.

Maybe you’re afraid that you’ll disappoint people and that no one will like your book, but how will you know if you don’t write it? You may just have a best seller that no one’s had to privilege to read. Don’t discount your story or message.

Maybe you’re afraid you can’t write a book and that you’ll fail at the process. Although writing a book is a process, it’s a very doable one. When you have someone help you who know what they’re doing, the journey can be much easier, quicker, and the results more professional.

Maybe you don’t know what you can write about, but you just want to write a book. This is something that I can help you figure out so you can move forward with your dream. Maybe you’re putting it off because you’re afraid to start. If so, then defy that fear and start writing your book.

Maybe you feel that you don’t have the time to write a book. Time may be a real issue with which you have to contend, but there are ways to push through the time problem.

The bottom line is, you don’t have to be paralyzed anymore. You can write that book, and it’s easier than you may think.

Whatever you’re reason or fear for not writing a book, discover it, define it, overcome it, and get ‘er done!


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WHY DO YOU WANT TO WRITE A BOOK?

by Sherrie Clark

While growing up and into my adult years, I remember hearing my mother frequently proclaim, “I want to write a book.” Sadly she never got around to it. When she died of cancer at the early age of sixty-five, she literally took that book to the grave with her. As a result, no one will be able to read the message that she had always wanted to share.

The facts are that just about everybody has a book inside of them, but very few actually write it. Just like my mother, so many people have taken their books to the grave with them, and we’ll never know what we missed from not reading their words.

So why are people not writing their books? There are many reasons, and one reason I think that sits at the top of the list is fear…fear of not knowing what to do, fear of not be able to complete it, or fear that people won’t like their book.

I once heard someone say that when the passion, desire, need becomes larger than the fear, then you’ll be able to push through and prevail. In other words, when the reasons underlying your desire to write a book become greater than the fear of writing your book, then that desire will overcome that fear, and you will succeed in getting your words into the hands of readers.

So think about it. What’s your reason for wanting to write a book? Is it to share a testimony of what has happened to you? Do you want to establish yourself as an expert and/or build credibility in a certain field? A book is a great way to do this.

Do you have a business, ministry, or organization and feel a book will compliment it? It will. Furthermore, a book is a great way to brand yourself in any field. Are you passionate about something, maybe a craft or losing weight, and you want to teach others how to do that craft or how to lose that weight? Have you learned a lesson(s) in life that you feel compelled to teach others so that they don’t make the same mistakes and will know how to help themselves?

Have others been telling you that you need to write a book? Do you want to make extra money to either supplement or replace your current income? A book can do that, and sometimes can do it substantially if done correctly, and there’s nothing wrong with having that aspiration.

But whatever your reason for wanting to write a book, focus on it, dwell on it, and get ‘er done!


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DESCRIPTIVE WRITING 101

by Sherrie Clark

We all love to read those books that are hard to put down, those books that compel us to turn the next page even when we should be doing something else. Then when we’re away from it, we can’t wait to pick it back up again and read more.

So what can we as authors do to write our book in a way that has the same kind of effect on our readers? How can we take our book from good to great?

There’s really no secret formula. It’s about telling a story that engages readers, and in so doing, provoking their senses so that they experience the sensations you desire. One way to accomplish this is through descriptive writing.

Sound a bit overwhelming? It doesn’t have to be. When writing a scene, consider everything in your setting. What is the year, the season, the month, the location, and/or the time of day that it takes place? For example, does the scene take place on a cold, blustery February day? Does it take place in the middle of the night on a dark deserted road? Is the setting on a plantation in the deep south during the Civil War? Does it take place in the mountains of Colorado, or in the middle of rush hour traffic in New York City, or on a cruise ship in the Caribbean? All of these are external influences that set the mood.

Now think about the influences that internally affect your character. What does he or she see, feel, smell, hear, and taste within your setting? For instance, is your character taking a midnight stroll on a beach?  Does he feel a cool breeze coming off the ocean and sand between his toes? Does he see stars in the sky? Does he smell the salt in the air? Does he hear the waves lapping upon the shore?

Maybe your character is sitting in a hot classroom taking a test. Does she feel anxious? Is she hot because the air conditioner is broken? Does she taste the sweat on her upper lip? Does she smell the musky wood from the old desk? Does she hear the clock ticking in the silence?

Becoming aware of your own sensory perceptions helps you understand your characters’ senses. When you do, your readers can’t help but feel what the characters are feeling. Even better, after sharing the same sensory experiences with your characters, they can’t help but bond with them. They’re hooked, and if you don’t let up, there’s no turning back for them.

Once that happens, sit back and smile because you, my friend, have just accomplished what all authors strive to do: you have created a bona fide page turner.


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THE MIDDLE COUNTS TOO

by Sherrie Clark

The beginning of your book should be the set up where you explain characters, relationships, the setting, and the situation or the conflict. Your first words are the ones that are going to grab readers and hook them. But don’t let up. You still must strive to keep them glued to the pages of your book and reading them.

Pay attention to the middle of your book. It should be the longest part and can sometimes be the most difficult to write. Make sure the middle of your book sustains your beginning and your hook. You don’t want it to disappoint as you develop your story but instead inflict a sense of urgency. It needs to compel the reader to need to know what happens next.

Pack it full of conflict. This is crucial because if you don’t have conflict, you don’t have a story. Give it a series of complications and challenges, and give your readers some surprises along the way. Make sure you insert important events, topics, and other things that keep readers turning page after page. Take them on a ride where they don’t necessarily know where they’re going, but they should have fun along the way.

The middle is the part of the book where you can lose your readers, but it’s also the place where you can shine. If you make it powerful, then you can hold your readers’ attention, and isn’t that what we all want as authors?


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Hook ‘Em with a Hook

by Sherrie Clark

When you’re deciding whether or not to buy a book, what is it that tips the scale and converts you from a potential reader to a reader? Chances are there was something about that book that hooked you.

What is a hook? It is something that compels someone to say, “I’ve got to know more about this book.” Think of it as a shepherd’s crook that uses its hook to pull someone in the desired direction. In this case, the desired direction is buying your book, reading it, and grabbing hold of your message or story.

Your hook can be your title, your book’s cover, the back cover blurb, your book’s Introduction, and even your chapter titles. These are your chances to grab their attention, so make sure you apply a lot of effort on each. If you’re not a graphic artist, I would suggest hiring a professional book cover designer because this, along with your title, will be your readers’ first impression. These components will either cause potential readers to take the time to pick up your book and read the back cover. At this point, you’ll need to keep tugging on that shepherd’s crook.

This may require the employing of an editor. Your back cover blurb is a great tool to keep potential readers captivated. Your opening lines should knock their socks off and make them want to know what happens next. Once they’ve come this far and are still showing an interest in your book, don’t let up and disappoint. Make sure each chapter opens with a hook. Disperse hooks throughout so that you can make sure you’re keeping readers sucked into your story or message.

You have lots of opportunities to toss out the bait. With each one, entice them enough so that they want to take a nibble. The nibble can then turn into a bite. Then we want them to want to proceed to the next step in the process: swallowing and digesting. This is basically their buying your book, reading it, and learning from it or being entertained by it. After all, that is the purpose of writing and publishing your book—to share your message or story with others.


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