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Write a Bestseller - Book Review

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by KJ (subscribe)
Published August 29th 2016
Practical tips and advice from literary agent, Jacq Burns

Jacq Burns is an author and literary agent with over 25 years' experience in bookselling and publishing.

Her 2014 book, Write a Bestseller is full of tips, advice and insider information that she's gathered throughout her career. The book takes the reader through the whole process, from the early stages of coming up with ideas and plotting, through to writing, publishing and marketing.

Write a bestseller, Jacq Burns, Writing tips, Contents
Table of Contents

Write a bestseller, Jacq Burns, Writing tips,
In the introduction, Burns lists icons that appear throughout the book, to indicate various exercises, along with key ideas and focus points.

The first two parts of the book are devoted to the planning and writing stage. Burns discusses what bestselling books have in common, and includes a list of 'The 10 Characteristics of a Bestseller'

As well as offering insight into what makes a book successful, Burns offers solid advice on:

The technical aspects of writing, such as plotting, developing strong characters, and the setting.
Developing structure, creating deadlines and setting writing goals
Common problems, such as writers' block, plotting problems and lack of discipline...and solutions for overcoming them.

Write a bestseller, Jacq Burns, Writing tips, three act structure
The book covers the technical aspects of writing, including a description of the standard three-act structure

Write a bestseller, Jacq Burns, Writing tips, Writers block
Burns discusses common problems faced by authors, such as writers' block

I really enjoyed this section. The information on each topic was concise and the chapters were broken up by quotes, key points and exercises, which worked well. Burns provides plenty of good advice on the writing process, particularly for those who might be struggling to get started or finding it difficult to make progress.

Here are a couple of her tips that I found particularly useful:

The latter part of the book is focused on the post-writing stage, and includes information on all the things to do once you've finished writing your book, such as pitching, publishing and marketing/publicity.

In this part of the book, there were two topics that really stood out to me:

I enjoyed the inclusion of information about self-publishing, as I've noticed an increasing number of new authors choosing this path instead of following the traditional method of trade publishing. In this section, there is information about:

The benefits and drawbacks of self-publishing, to work out whether self-publishing is for you,
The potential costs involved (eg. cover design, ISBNs, an official website etc)
Whether you should publish in print, digital or audio (or all three)
Advice on Cover Design, Text Design etc
How to get discovered
A Self-Publishing Marketing Strategy
Hybrid Publishing (Combining self-publishing with trade publishing)

There's also a number of profiles on successful self-published authors.

Write a bestseller, Jacq Burns, Writing tips, the pros and cons of self-publishing, reasons to self-publish a book
A table listing the pros and cons of self-publishing

Write a bestseller, Jacq Burns, Writing tips, Self-publishing
Burns includes a list to work out if self-publishing is an option worth pursuing

Becoming an 'Authorpreneur'
This section also seemed particularly relevant, with many modern-day authors actively promoting their work through a variety of methods, such as an official website, social media, email lists, promotions etc. As Burns states, "An authorpreneur is an author who thinks with the mindset of an entrepreneur" (p. 242).

Some of the points the author raises are:

"Authorpreneurs regard their author brand as a micro-business and they apply business techniques to building their brand, quite separately from their writing" (p. 242)
"The most successful authors are those who write good books, are passionate about writing but who also acknowledge that it is a business" (p. 245)
"If you want to make a decent income from your books, you must become an authorpreneur, applying a businesslike approach to your writing and publishing" (p. 239)

Burns offers advice on how to get started, and a list of items all writers need in their 'Authorpreneur kit', such as a website with an up-to-date blog, a Twitter account, an email list and a regular email newsletter, and a Facebook page.

Overall, this is a very informative book, with a lot of good, solid information for anyone wanting to make a career out of writing.

While the author is based in the UK and there are some references to UK resources, this is the type of book that writers worldwide could still get a lot out of.

I recommend it for writers who are planning on making a career out of their writing, either by taking the traditional path of seeking a literary agent, or by going down the path of self-publishing (or for those who may decide to do both).
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Why? To get some tips on writing a book that will hopefully become a bestseller
When: Any time
Where: Anywhere
Cost: RRP $26.99, however some online booksellers have it listed for between $16 to $26 (at the time of this review being published)
Your Comment
Thanks for writing this article. I ordered the book and it just arrived today, so I'm looking forward to reading it and may be one day, will hit the 'big time'. LOL
by Janice Williams (score: 3|1211) 2273 days ago
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