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Summary: If you want to sell your writing, you need to get ideas
Getting ideas that sell
Copyright (c) 2002 by Angela Booth
(This article is an extract from my new writing workshop, Writing
to Sell in the Internet Age.)
As the old saying goes, you can lead a horse to water, but you
can't make it drink. You can offer your writing too, but if no
one wants it, you're stuck.
You've got to train yourself to come up with saleable ideas, for
specific audiences. Somehow, someway, you've got to discover what
people want, and give it to them in your writing. The more
successfully you do that, the more you'll sell.
==> To get more ideas, write more
In an article, the prolific thriller/ horror writer Dean Koontz
said that when he wrote more, spending six to eight hours a day
at it, he got more ideas. He frequently found himself writing one
book, while making notes for another two or three.
It's true. If you're not writing, you won't get ideas. Your
subconscious mind is lazy. You haven't convinced it that finding
ideas is important to you, so you don't get them.
Start a program of writing every day. Write anything, but make
sure that you're doing it for at least an hour, and that you
force yourself to write. Get your fingers on the keyboard, and
move them. Let whatever wants to come out, come out.
Sounds like work, right?
Sure. At first it is. Then it's fun. And easy. The first couple
of days you do this, you may feel that it's pointless. But I
promise you, keep at it, and within a few days you'll start
coming up with more ideas that you know what to do with.
==> If you want to know what people want, ask them
One way to find out what people are interested in is to read the
bestseller lists. What are people buying? Extrapolate from these
lists. Can you find any new trends?
On the other hand, the best way to discover what people are
willing to buy, is to ask them. Go to the online places where
they hang out, and ask.
For example, let's say that in your day job, you're a
nutritionist. You know that diet is a perennially popular topic.
You advise dieters on how to eat, and you've garnered a lot of
experience in how and why people put on weight, and ways that
they can safely dump the lard.
You decide that you need to learn what people really want to
know. So you subscribe to a few discussion groups, and after
you've read the postings for a few weeks, and have posted
responses to some questions, you ask your own questions.
Be straightforward about this. Just admit that you're doing
research, and ask for help. Post a questionnaire for people to
fill in. (Assure them that their privacy will be respected.)
After a month of this, you'll get ideas for products (articles,
books) that will sell.
==> The sure-fire formula for winning, instantly saleable ideas:
combine entertainment and information
You need to be clear about what you're selling. With non-
fiction, you're selling information. With fiction, you're selling
The best way to sell either fiction or non-fiction is to combine
both in your writing.
Mix a dash of entertainment with your information. That is, when
you're writing an information product, an article or a book, even
though it's non-fiction, don't be dull. Check out the wildly
popular For Dummies series of books: good information, delivered
with an entertaining style.
On the other hand, if you're writing fiction, ground it in real
life with good information. I'm a fan of Diana Gabaldon's
Outlander series. Definitely fiction, but Ms Gabaldon grounds her
time-travel historical novels in their era with fascinating facts
that make the unbelievable plots credible.
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About the Author
Australian author, journalist and copywriter Angela Booth
has been writing professionally for over twenty years. She writes
business books and copy for businesses.