Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Screw Work!

On a steamy London night, I braved the sweaty masses on the Tube and headed to the London Writers' Club to hear author John Williams speak about his new book, Screw Work, Let's Play. John has had phenomenal success with the recent launch: he's been featured twice in the Sunday Times and even been named as one of the top six self-help books of the summer. So how does a first-time author get a book deal and become an Amazon best seller?

Here are John's tips. While these are mainly for non-fiction, they can also easily apply to fiction.

1. To get a book deal, just start doing it. Start writing, blogging, doing what you love and having fun doing it. Pick something with tangible results so you can see the outcome, and enjoy what you're doing. A lot depends on timing. Put yourself out there, go to events where there are like-minded people, and talk about what you're doing.

(This one really rang true for me. I met my publisher as a result of trying to get myself out there to meet other writers. )

2. Write the right book. It has to be fun for you, and it has to feel natural. Make sure your book solves a problem for people. The title and cover are both worth spending time on - make sure they're eye-catching and memorable.

3. Write the book in a way that feels like play, in a structure that keeps people engaged and in a way that works for you.

(I love this point because it's so easy to forget to enjoy writing!)

4. Get a good publisher who can help you structure your book, do a great job editing and help out with marketing.

5. Play your way to market the book. This goes back to networking and putting yourself out there. Due to social media, authors have more control over how they can market their book. Get on Twitter, Facebook, and start your own blog and website -- you don't have to wait until you have a book deal. Give people incentives to sign up for newsletters (etc - extracts from the book), and keep them updated. Use your contracts, colleagues' contacts and have a co-ordinated campaign to drive Amazon sales.

6. The most important: write a good book!

John's website is here and his book is available on Amazon.

The London Writers' Club has a newsletter full of great writing tips; you can sign up here, follow the hashtag #writersclub or WritersClub on Twitter.

52 comments:

  1. I high five every single one of these points!!

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  2. These are definitely good tips for any genre of writing.

    Mason
    Thoughts in Progress

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  3. Exactly - they are great points and a brilliant a reminder to have fun doing it!

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  4. Great post and great advice!

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  5. Those sound like some great tips. I wrote a How to get your child into commercials and modeling booklet about ten years ago, but never did anything with it. Wish I would have known these tips then. lol

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  6. Mary, it's funny, because as I was listening I was thinking, yes, this all makes perfect sense! But sometimes you just need to hear it aloud before it all clicks into place.

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  7. Thanks for sharing these fab tips!! And more importantly thanks for braving the sweaty masses in the tube (YUCK!!!!! Seriously people - we have such things as DEODORANTS!!!) to bring us such pearls of wisdom!

    I love the write that right book but ensure you enjoy writing it too! I've so tried to write what didn't come naturally to me thinking it was more marketable but now I know not to!

    Thank you!!!
    Take care (oooh footie time!!LOL!)
    x

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  8. JUST SAY NO TO FOOTIE! :)

    Old Kitty, I can guarantee these sweaty masses had never so much as caught a whiff of the idea of deodorant. They reeked! And not only that, we were all jammed together as humanity can only be on the Central Line at rush hour.

    But I'm glad to hear my sacrifice of personal hygiene has not been in vain.

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  9. Some of these points seem so obvious, yet when you're writing you can become bogged down and be unable to see what you really need to do.

    You are absolutely right that it's easy to forget to enjoy the process of writing.

    Great post - thanks. x

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  10. GAH I keep forgetting that this is supposed to be fun. Thanks for sharing!! :D

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  11. The word hitting the nail on the head spring to mind lol great postx

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  12. These are great tips - thank you for sharing!

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  13. I am on the right track then :).

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  14. The tricky bit being 'get a good publisher' - or any publisher!!

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  15. All common sense points. Great interview questions and terrific responses.

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  16. This is great advice. I like the bit about the author taking on a role in how he or she markets their work. Having to deal with the unwashed masses was worth it! (Especially for me, since you had to brave them, not I.)

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  17. Wow, great advice, I especially love his "writing is playing" advice--when I do that is when I do my best writing!

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  18. Very good advice. Check out current non-fiction books so you'll know what's out there. You'll also see that his #3 is right. People think nf doesn't have to be "engaging," but it does.

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  19. Simple, honest recommendations that are great words to write by. Thanks Talli!

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  20. Great tips! And that sounds like an interesting book. But I must admit I should "play" more often, but it's hard for me to set aside my work. But now your post and that book title has gotten my attention, so we'll see... :)

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  21. Sounds like a really cool guy. He makes some really great points and the more I write, the more I want to have fun with it.

    CD

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  22. Rockin' advice Talli!!! A lot of that rings true! I need to remember to have fun while writing!!!

    I'm glad you went... it helped us out!! Ha-ha!

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  23. Great advice Talli (and John)! Thanks both. I was ready to give up before I started blogging and now it's a blast.

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  24. He provided some great tips, Talli.

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  25. These are all great tips. Thanks for stopping by my guest blog at Thoughts in Progress today. What part of London? I used to live near the Crystal Palace.
    Ann
    www.cozyintexas.blogspot.com

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  26. Point no. 1 is so simple but true - I wasted so much time thinking, talking and daydreaming about writing a book (eight years in fact!) before finally I just sat down and started writing it. That was nearly a year ago and I've since finished the novel and signed with an agent. Sometimes you just need to start doing it and everything else starts to fall into place.

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  27. He nailed it for non-fiction (as I've written non-fic as well as fic) but you're right - it applies for both.

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  28. Thanks for sharing this! These are all fantastic tried and true tips and congrats John on all your success!

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  29. John's tips seem not only valid, but fun too! Thanks for sharing his advice here.

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  30. Hmmm, I like this idea of playing! *grin*

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  31. I need to print these points off and stare at them until they're emblazoned on my numb skull!

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  32. Writing- fun! Must remember that today!! Working away on this summer day- thankful I stumbled your way.

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  33. This is especially helpful for someone like me who is social-networking challenged. I have a blog... I sort of expect it to update itself ;)

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  34. I agree w/ all his points as he seems to be doing pretty well.

    He's right about using the social media. It's a great way to get your projects noticed & it's also fun to meet other writers/readers.

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  35. I love his title. And your new look.

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  36. Oh dear, I missed it! And I went out last night. *forehead to keyboard* Must check LWC for the July event, hope its before 21 July.

    These are great tips! - I especially like #1 too.

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  37. Nice blog, and London am so going to move there one of these days haha...

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  38. Love #6 - that's a biggie :)

    Sounds like a great personality with a great book!

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  39. Yes, these tips definitely apply to fiction writers as well. Great post!

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  40. Very cool. Love his point to make sure your book solves a problem for people. I think this could apply to fiction, in a slightly different way. It may even be the key to staying ahead of trends or even being a trendsetter. I can see why John has created buzz about his writing.

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  41. Great tips, Tali and John! I love number three.

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  42. Funny how many books could be written about each of those bullet points!

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  43. Shucks, I was doing OK until number 6! LOL
    Love the post, thanks for sharing.

    PS: Your bag sounds as scary as mine!

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  44. Great post Talli. Its so upbeat and positive and cheerful and full of fun! I totally approve

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  45. Great advice! Thanks for sharing this with us, Talli! (I managed to play my way to an agent and contract, too--It depends on genre, but I think most can be fun)

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  46. Thanks for doing that nice summary Talli!
    The recording will be up soon at LondonWritersClub.com

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  47. He sounds like he's got his head screwed on. Great advice.

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Coffee and wine for all!