Reading as Seduction: Writing Romance Novels

If you’re interested in writing a romance novel, that’s thrilling news! Romance is making serious waves in the publishing industry right now, and as the Washington Post calls it, romance has proven to be a “uniquely successful genre” in that it is one of the top performers in sales, across the board. What better time could there be to write that romance you’ve been thinking about? Simply put, there isn’t a better time! Stuck for ideas? We’re here with a few suggestions to help you put pen to paper (or pixels to screen) and bring your ravish read into the world, one step at a time.

STEP ONE: Center the book’s emotional crux.

By which we mean … from the very first page, you have to know what you want the heart of your book to be, and what kind of arc your characters need to have in order to evoke that heart from your novel’s first line to its last dot of punctuation. Readers love the romance genre because they want to be moved, and romances are the perfect vehicle for navigating deep and complex questions of love, relationships, identity, and hardship without leaving readers in doubt as to the final conclusion. Romance is, at its core, life-affirming! Readers know that misunderstandings will be resolved, tragedies overcome, and that love will triumph … most of the time, anyway. Even if there isn’t a perfectly happy ending, romance as a genre reaffirms that there’s more to life than just the mundane, and that change is the only thing we can count on. So, what is the point of your book? What emotion do you want your readers to feel or what emotional point do you want to bring home at the end? Write that down and stick it to the top of your laptop, or set yourself a reminder on your phone every morning when you sit down to write. This is what your book is about, and everything builds toward it … or detracts from your book’s efficacy.

STEP TWO: Center the action.

It’s no understatement to say that romance is a physical genre. And we’re not just talking about the sensual kind! No, romance is a genre which is underpinned by the characters’ ability to do things, and to move through the world in new and interesting ways. And remember that feeling, as we’ve mentioned in step one, is a physical sensation as much as it is a mental one. The quickest way to kill the forward momentum of your book is to stay always in your characters’ heads, describing how they think about various things. Instead of letting the dynamic tension bleed out of your text, follow what your characters do, and focus on building sensible action that builds to your emotional crux and its resolution. We’re not talking about packing in pointless action, because pointless is pointless is pointless, but rather about focusing on your characters as real and embodied people who inhabit real spaces and times, and who have conversations, go to work, battle each other with swords, or know how to bake a mean chocolate cake.

STEP THREE: Consider the formula.

Yes, there’s a formula. It can be rebelled against, reinvented, or responded to, but it can’t simply be dismissed. What’s the formula? Readers expect very specific things from the genre, namely:

  • A hero or heroine the reader can love and sympathizes with
  • A love interest the reader can respect and admire
  • A realistic conflict … something to keep the lovebirds at a perfectly tense distance. This conflict can’t be mindless, pointless, or easily overcome. It has to feel real and significant, something that can’t be dismissed after a couple of pages of rational conversation.
  • A satisfying resolution. This doesn’t have to look like any one thing (a marriage or an engagement, for example) but it does need to provide a path forward for the two main characters, either together or separately. But preferably, together. Statistics seem to indicate that romance readers really do love a happily-ever-after!

Once you have plotted out what you want for each of these points, the rest is … well, it’s the book! And it’s your book, one that we dearly hope you will publish so that we can read all about it. Following these steps may not always be easy, but we hope that they’ll provide that little extra motivation or inspiration to keep going as you write your next romance novel!

Not sure what you need to get started publishing your romance novel? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

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Live Well, Write Well, & Publish Well…ness Related Books!

When it comes to writing and publishing a health and fitness or otherwise wellness-related book, much of the standard jargon and advice doesn’t apply. Some of it does, of course, but many readers and buyers of these books don’t tend to cross categories and buy, say, action and adventure or science fiction or romance books in the same way as those who walk into a bookstore looking another fiction or non-fiction genre. And yet, health and fitness books are HUGE right now. All you have to do is walk into the closest bookstore or library to be convinced of this fact; Misty Copeland, Tina Fey, Reese Witherspoon, and Cameron Diaz routinely grace some of the most prominent displays. But your readers are not the same as other authors’ readers … so how do you write and publish a book that will move them?

We have a couple of ideas!

The first step to writing a successful health and fitness book is to know your competition, and to know your competition you’ll need to read widely in the genre. What kind of health and fitness books appeal to you? A celebrity lifestyle book, like those mentioned above, tends to read as equal parts memoir and dietary regimen. That’s great … but there are lots of other models! There’s an entire subgenre dedicated to lifestyle books written by doctors (actual practicing medical doctors, that is) and they are entirely different. So too are the more topical, exploratory works that blend creative non-fiction with self-help elements. Run your hand along a library display or the health and fitness shelf at your local bookstore, and you’ll find dozens of models you might consider for your own book. Find one that feels right, and start taking notes on how it’s structured, on its tone and style, and how it treats graphics and pictures.

Next, you have to consider how to plan for the long haul. After all, health and fitness is a lifelong pursuit, and it is fitting for the genre that writing one of these books will take a while. Gather your information, put it into practice, and live the experience you’re writing to endorse. Your readers will find your book compelling and authentic if they feel convinced that you’re not simply posturing but embracing the lifestyle you advocate that they too should choose! As much as or more than any other genre, health and fitness books require the reader to believe that what they’re seeing on the page belongs in their life, and can be achieved by tenable, easy-to-replicate steps. Once you know how the strategies you’re writing about feel from the inside, a process which is bound to take a while, you’re in the perfect position to write about them!

This is a niche genre and in order to reach your audience, you’ll need to know exactly who they are. You can’t rely on general feelings of affinity (“I love all fiction!” “I love all romance books!”) to sell a health and fitness book, as picking one of these up and trying it on is less like buying and trying on new clothes and a lot more like completely changing everything you eat or think and do. Most people who love science fiction are perfectly happy to buy twenty or thirty books in the genre a year, but people don’t tend to experiment with their lifestyle with remotely the same frequency. They do, however, tend to give other people health and fitness-related books as gifts on a regular basis. Knowing this is half of the battle later on down the road when it comes to marketing, but in the short term it’s helpful for determining what does and does not make it into your book. What would you want out of a gift? Something purely functional, or something with bright and glossy images to catch the eye?

Lastly, find a publisher who knows how to market and sell health and fitness-related books. We mean specifically, not just as yet another generic addition to their non-fiction publications. Take a look at their online catalogues or bookstores (ours is at www.OutskirtsPress.com/bookstore!) and check for a variety of non-fiction subgenres, including health and fitness, cookbooks, memoirs, and more. The more subgenres are represented, the more likely it is that this publisher knows how to appeal to those small, targeted audiences and can help you along the way!

To see our staff picks of amazing health and fitness books from many of our authors, visit our Pinterest page by clicking here.

Not sure what you need to get started publishing your health and fitness book? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

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Make Some New Plans for Your Book in the New Year!

Even though a small part of us cringes at the thought of yet another to-do list, we can’t help but recognize that the recoil is somewhat a consequence of semantics: we may not have had much success giving up sweets or processed foods or otherwise accomplishing resolutions of years past, but we fully acknowledge the fact that structured and manageable goals are important and sometimes even necessary. They’re especially necessary to moving a book from ideation to final publication. If we divorce the word “resolve” from its holiday baggage, there’s no denying its powerful potential for instigating personal transformation. Just think of its straightforward and simple definition:

noun | re-solve |
: firmness of purpose : DETERMINATION

With a firmness of purpose firmly instilled in our hearts and minds, here are fourteen resolutions we propose to start off your New Year’s resolutions list. But don’t panic! While most of them are fully self-explanatory, a few do require a little more explanation, which you’ll find immediately after the list. So here it is!

The first four resolutions are designed to enrich yourself first. After all, you have to be in a good place if you want to publish a good book, right?

1. Set goals.
2. Facilitate goals.
3. Make writing a priority, and
4. Read, read, read.

The next seven resolutions have to do with your relationship to the outside world. How do you relate to it so as to make a strongly-rooted, deeply affecting book? Part of the answer may lie in being a strongly-rooted, deeply relational human being.

5. Master at least the basics of social media.
6. Research deeply.
7. Connect with other authors.
8. Embrace a good critique.
9. Learn to love rewrites.
10. Try something new, and
11. Stop comparing your achievements with others. (It’s just not life-affirming.)

And the last three resolutions? They have to do moving your book forward from manuscript to the printed (or pixeled) page. These are some of our favorite resolutions, too!

12. Seek help! Get that writing consultation.
13. Learn about self-publishing, and
14. Embrace your style!

We’re going to pull out the brass tacks and take a closer look at those final three points.

What is a writing consultation, and how can it help me? Have you ever been stuck in a rut? Is the dreaded “Writer’s Block” a regular or even constant companion of yours? There are untold untapped resources out there to help jump-start or fine-tune your writing and get your book back on track, such as the writing consultation service from Outskirts Press. A number of other indie, hybrid, and self-publishing companies offer similar services, and there are all kinds of free websites dedicated to the same thing — and the only downside to these free services is the fact that they can be hard to navigate. When you have thousands upon thousands of web pages to filter through for relevant bits of information, where do you get started? Herein lies the benefit of an actual, honest-to-goodness sit-down session with a live human being and professional: a consultation session gives you time with a skilled writer who is also an industry expert in order to address any writing issues you are experiencing. You should also emerge with a great deal of valuable advice and a plan of action for moving forward.

And what’s this about learning about self-publishing? Simply put, the more you know about the self-publishing industry and the options available to you, the author, the easier it is to find your way forward. You can’t afford to not know what you’re getting into, and if you find yourself overwhelmed, don’t hesitate to get in touch with the self-publishing community through web forums or even the experts that your prospective self-publishing platform keeps on hand for just such a moment. They’re there to help! And while we can’t speak for all experienced indie authors, the ones we have had the pleasure to meet and work with are unfailingly kind and generous with their time, advice, and feedback. So: do your research and learn what you’re getting into. Odds are it’s not nearly as scary a process as you may imagine.

Finally, embrace your style! As a writer, you may do things a little differently from the next writer at the imaginary conference table, but that’s what makes you so special … and it is also what sets you apart and what will help you sell books later on. Never give up. Never surrender to self-doubt. Your style and your choices as an author are valid. Not only are they valid, but they’re your greatest strengths and your greatest selling points. And selling points have everything to do with your success as a self-publishing author! If you’re doing things your own way and you feel like you’re writing the book you want to write, then we guarantee you that you’re writing a superior book. A book we can’t wait to help you publish!

For more information, call a Publishing Consultant at 1-888-672-6657 (OP BOOKS), or chat with us using the live chat option on our website (www.outskirtspress.com).

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Write, Finish, Edit: A Writer’s Guide to Moving Forward and Finishing

We’ve all pictured the cloistered writer hunched in solitude over a notepad or laptop, furiously scratching out word after glorious word well into the wee hours. The brilliance flows faster than he can capture it on paper until the day he triumphantly types “The End” …

Well, that’s how we imagine it, but it rarely goes so smoothly! Writing a book is a big project and a long process, and the direction is not always obvious or easy. It’s common — even normal — for an author to hit roadblocks. Call it writer’s block, brain cramps or something else, but it gets us all at one time or another.

Let’s face it: We need more than an imagination and determination to get to the finish line. Sometimes we need outside intervention, and it comes in many forms. Here are some writer’s block-breakers you can seek out next time the creative juice stop flowing:

  • Inspiration. It can be as simple as a walk or a favorite song, or as stimulating as a brainstorming session with another writer. Enlist someone you trust to motivate you to think about your story in a different light.
  • Advice. Sometimes the inspiration is there but you just need specific, practical guidance to iron out the wrinkles in your plot, character development or story arc.
  • Unbiased feedback. Enthusiastic cheerleading feels good, but it’s not always what you need. If you’re relying on friends and family for feedback, you’re better off with brutal honesty … but how many people you know are willing to provide it?
  • Editing. Leave this one to a professional. While it’s fine to lean on friends, family and fans for the final proofread for typos, hire or trade services with a professional editor to do the heavy lifting. They’ll not only whip your grammar, syntax, punctuation and spelling into shape, but will also make sure your story is organized optimally for clarity and enjoyment.
  • Help finishing. There’s no shame in handing off your “baby” to another writer. Ghostwriters are a poorly kept secret in the literary world and extremely common. Odds are some of your favorite bestsellers were penned — either wholly or in part — by a ghostwriter. A talented ghostwriter is adept at adapting to your voice and creating a finished work that is everything you envisioned, or even better than you pictured!

When writer’s get stuck, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution. Writing consultants, editors, Publishing Consultants, proofreaders and ghostwriters all fulfill different needs, so figure out how extensive your manuscript issues are before deciding on a path to getting it back on track.

Not sure what you need to get over that writing hump? Visit us online at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant or call us at 1-888-672-6657 to find out how to finish your manuscript and get it ready for publication.

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Capture the Magic in Your Next Children’s Book!

You’d be hard pressed to find anyone who might claim that writing children’s books is easy; in fact, most people in the know will tell you exactly the opposite. Publishing professionals, editors, and authors alike must face up to the peculiar challenges of the genre, which include writing a captivating story, generating eye-popping illustrations, and creating a marketing strategy which will appeal to both the children who make up your primary audience—and the adults who must pay for its purchase. And here’s a fun fact: sometimes children and adults like different things!

There is no other book genre out there which has such a division between its readers and its purchasers … but don’t let that get you down! There are ways to write and publish children’s books which will sell well to folks of all ages, and here we have put together a top six tips list to help you create your own.

  1. Mind your length. As any preschool teacher or children’s librarian can confirm, reading with children is most enjoyable for both parties when the book in question contains just enough text to carry the story along without exhausting their attention. The amount of text you can get away with per page will lengthen as your target audience grows older, but a general rule of thumb is to start with two lines of text per page for toddlers and to go from there.
  2. Pick a timely subject. Picture books are more likely to be picked up by parents, teachers, and librarians on the prowl if they tackle subjects which these adults want to prepare their children to face. In 2014, for instance, one of the most popular subjects was bullying. In 2015, diversity and Civil Rights spiked in popularity. In 2016, picture books featuring public service and leadership frequently hit the bestseller lists. One of the strengths of self-publishing is the fact that books can respond to current events, go to press, and hit bookshelves much more quickly than their traditional counterparts. Take advantage!
  3. Don’t dumb it down. You heard right—baby talk doesn’t carry as compelling of a story as a book which treats its younger audiences with a rich vocabulary and sophisticated sentence structure. Embed what some writers call “gift words” throughout your book, and elevate the beauty of your lines the same way you would for adults. After all, it’s very likely adults will be reading your book aloud to or alongside their kids, and this will transform your book from pure entertainment to a learning opportunity.
  4. Voice morals carefully, and cleverly. Young children will often miss the meat of your agenda, and adults may be turned off from purchasing your book for their kids because it strikes them as “too preachy” or because they disagree with your point. Many of the most successful picture books are indeed rich with moral material, and few will argue otherwise than that picture books are prime tools for teaching sound decision-making skills, but most of these success stories find clever, quiet ways to do so without alienating readers.
  5. Think about those end materials! Many of today’s best picture books include a few pages at the end which include notes for adults on how to make best use of the book in teaching a skill or an idea to young readers. These thoughtful additions often help parents and educators to recognize the care which went into writing and publishing the book, and to put it to work in a more intentional way.
  6. Humor me. Or rather, humor them! Children have a keen sense of humor, and are particularly sensitive to farce and comedy. Adults are more attuned to situational and other forms of irony. A good picture book will entertain everyone by tapping into intersectional forms of humor, just as a good children’s movie usually has some sort of mature subtext embedded within it to keep parents awake in the theater. You can also use humor as a teaching tool, so everyone wins!

In an ideal world, you would be able to focus on the act of writing your picture book, and not have to worry about the complicated minutiae of publishing and marketing your book which you may or may not feel prepared enough to tackle. Luckily, we already live in that world! At Outskirts Press, you can turn to us at any stage of the publishing process, whether you’re reading this newsletter and finding tips on how to move forward with your writing, or using our One-Click Publishing suite to publish your next children’s book, or exploring your options for illustrations and interior formatting. We offer a comprehensive list of services which we hope you’ll take advantage of as you work to translate your vision to the page!

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Love is in the Air! Tips on Writing a Successful Romance Novel

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If you’ve ever considered writing a romance novel…what are you waiting for? Romance is one of the best-selling genres and has a built-in audience addicted to the drama, intrigue, and complex characters created specifically for them. Danielle Steel is one of the highest paid authors in the world with Nicolas Sparks as a close second.

Maybe it’s time to add your name to that list.

But romance writing, unlike many other genres, usually follows a pretty specific set of rules; there are methods that make some authors more successful than others. Here are some tips to consider as you embark on your career as a novelist:

READ

As with any genre, it’s important that you read anything you can get your hands on, but with romance it’s even more crucial. As you examine more and more books by different authors, you might see patterns that work for you and some that don’t. By reading the works of others, you’ll get a better idea of your own voice and, because romance is so personal, the result will be a book that will engage your reader and leave them begging you for more. And if you truly don’t love what you’re reading, then romance might not be the genre for you. Romance readers can tell when an author is not completely invested.

WHAT’S THE PROBLEM?

As with most fiction, there needs to be a conflict or problem that your characters must overcome, but with romance you really need to think about what the issue is going to be because this will be the central theme of your book. It needs to be believable to the reader and something that falls somewhere in the middle of complex and simple: it can’t be a simple misunderstanding that could be solved in a short conversation, but on the other hand, it can’t be so complicated that it will get in the way of the couple’s happy ending (which is an important facet of romance writing).

FOCUS

Of course your book will have secondary characters, but be careful how much you develop them. With romance writing, the focus should really remain with the hero or, in most cases, heroine. Generally speaking, most romance novels are told in first-person so that the reader will be truly invested in their story. Developing this point-of-view allows the reader to feel the emotional response you’re looking for when it comes to romance.

FIND YOUR VOICE

Yes, romance novels are all similar in some ways (for example, they generally all end with a happy couple). And while you should follow the general guidelines, make sure that your book is…well…YOU. While there might be comparable conflicts throughout many romance novels, you need to include your own twists and turns along the way that the reader doesn’t see coming. Be daring. This will keep the reader engaged and your novel moving at the perfect pace.

CONSCIOUSLY COUPLE

While romance always includes a physical relationship, pay attention to how this plays out in your book. Yes, you can include knee-weakening physical scenes, but an emotional connection between your characters is a must. This should be carefully developed which will only add to the reader’s emotional experience and response to your book.

So, off you go! It’s time for you to face that blinking cursor on your screen and start writing the romance novel you know you have inside of you. And if you’re not quite ready to start, maybe it’s time to just settle on the couch with a novel that just might spark your own ideas.

If you would like to talk to an Outskirts Press Publishing Consultant about publishing your romance novel or other book, call us at 1-888-672-6657 or visit our website at www.outskirtspress.com to chat with a Publishing Consultant.

We can’t wait to publish your work!

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