April 4, 2015

Writing about Writing: The Three Chapter Rule

In the beginning, it all seems so easy.

Have you ever read a book and thought you could do better?

I love to read. Some books are hard to get into at first. The story has a slow build up, the characters are unrealistic, the editing is atrocious... Whatever the reason... I always respected the time and effort of all those involved in creating the precious commodity we call 'book'. I used to force myself to read every book in its entirety whether I liked it or not. Sometimes it would take me years. Literally. I would read about 100 books in between, but I would finish it. Now I have a three chapter rule. I will give every book I pick up an honest chance to 'wow' me, but my time is as precious a commodity as the effort expended to produce the book. Not every book is for every reader. Just because you don't like it, doesn't mean it's a fail. It just means you don't like it.

The written word is as subjective an art as an abstract painting. Every reader may see something different, quite possibly even a different version of what the author originally intended. The author is omnipotent. The reader is not. The writer's challenge is to string together the words required to inspire the same images in the reader's mind.

What makes a successful writer? The ability to sell millions of books? To achieve celebrity status? The answer is as subjective as the art itself. I define success by the achievement of my goals. I like quantification. I want to be able to measure something to gauge the magnitude of my 'success'. As a novice writer, my goals are simple and modest.

I published my debut novella Dream Hunter in December and my first year goals include:
- obtain 50 reviews on Amazon
- keep sales rank above 500k

Are these achievable, relevant goals? Notice I did not set a goal for sales.

There is a direct correlation between my effort and obtaining reviews. I can send out review quests, I can query book bloggers, I can blast social media, in other words, there is action I can take to achieve this goal.

What is the relevance of sales rank? It is a statistic I can monitor to help determine the efficiency of my efforts to market and promote. Can I make readers buy my book? Of course not. But I can ensure my book is out there, just waiting to be discovered.

Writing a book is not a simple exercise. It takes a lot of hard work and a very labor-intensive process to create a book. I loved creating Dream Hunter and I'm really enjoying the challenge of book marketing and promotion. I bounce ideas off my writer friends. I read articles. I run with every idea I have. It's my new hobby and I've thrown everything I have into it! I am dedicated to the 'success' of my book... However success is defined.

What I really want is my book to be read. And enjoyed. And I would consider Dream Hunter a success if the reader liked it enough to get past the third chapter.

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