Here’s a question. Do you want to be a succesful self-published author? Do you want to sell thousands of books with very little effort? Because I can tell you how, but you might not like it. Are you ready? Are you ready to learn the secrets of success? Are you brave enough? Are you shameless enough?
All right then. First of all, you have to understand something. Something important, something that you’re probably not going to like; you don’t get to pick your genre. Sorry, but if you want to succeed there’s only one genre; paranormal romance. You might think that this is an overcrowded genre that’s already dying, but in fact you’d be wrong. The demand for new paranormal romance is only growing stronger.
Now, keep in mind that this is all based on literally hours of research. I don’t claim to be an expert. But I believe that if you follow these steps, you will find a potential audience of millions.
Are you sitting comfortably? Then let’s begin. Here are the eleven steps to becoming a bestselling independent author:
1 – Tell, don’t show. Seriously, forget ‘showing’. Your audience doesn’t want to think, they want things clear and simple and easy to follow. Spell everything out and leave no question unanswered. Make sure everything is clearly defined, if a character is a bad guy then tell the reader that in their introduction. If you want to be subtle you could put this in dialogue, have your sexy dangerous bad guy come walking in and have one character tell another about how bad he is. Tell them who the good guys are too, and which characters are smart, which are stupid, which are bitchy, which are nice–you get the idea. Just make things clear. You can try to be clever and have, for example, a strong smart character or a bitchy ‘good’ character, but don’t overcomplicate things.
2 – Simple, clearly defined characters. For characterisation, just remember to keep telling the reader–don’t show, remember we’re not showing–how sexy and dangerous your characters are. Tattoos and piercings are mandatory, except don’t call them tattoos, you have to say ‘inked’. Make sure to describe all of the ‘ink’ and piercings the character has in detail. Remember to keep reminding your readers of the ‘roles’ all of your characters are playing, who the smart one is, who the sensitive one is etc. Don’t bother describing your characters’ inner thoughts; if you’re doing this right your characters won’t HAVE any inner thoughts.
3 – Plot. This is the trickiest part. You do actually need a plot, but it doesn’t really matter what it is. Steal one from a movie if you’re having trouble, or better yet mix-and-match from a couple of different movies. Some suggestions for basic plots would be that the main character is cursed by one love interest and the other love interest knows the ‘cure’, except he won’t give it to her for some reason, or maybe both love interests are brothers and they need the main character’s blood/essence/hair to perform a ritual to keep a demon portal closed–don’t overthink it, literally anything will do here. Just make it personal to the main character, make her important to whatever’s going on, make her special. Aside from that, just make sure to keep it fast-paced so your audience doesn’t get bored, split it into dozens and dozens of tiny little chapters so they feel smart for reading so fast, include lots of sexual tension and scenes where people’s clothes get ripped or dirty, throw in some compromising situations, make sure that all of the love interests for your main character are equally dangerous and sexy, and then (this is vital) match up your MC with the love interest that the majority of your audience will be rooting for. This is probably the hardest choice you have to make, if you mess this up you could lose a lot of readers.
4 – Paranormal content. It doesn’t really matter what this is, just make sure that your characters are vampires or werewolves or ghosts or demons or angels or pixies or elves! Or wizards or psychics or secret warriors–you get the idea. If you’re feeling saucy, why not mix it up a little? Spirit elves! Vampire wizards! Were-demons? Why not! Hey, what about a vampire … who’s also an angel? You might not believe me, but there are thousands of people out there who would read the words “Vampiric Angel” and instantly lose themselves in a frenzy of “Buy Now” clickery. I am 100% serious about this.
5 – Guy on guy or girl on girl never hurt anyone’s sales. Don’t worry about handling gay characters sensibly or with sensitivity, because trust me, your audience doesn’t care. If you stir up controversy with this, so much the better–more exposure means more sales.
6 – Sex. Sex sex sex sex sex sex sex. Again? Sex. Once more? SEX. This is absolutely, positively, one hundred percent vital to the success of your bestseller. It’s the difference between a hundred sales and a million sales. The sex scenes–plural, you’re going to want to put in at least three–are going to be what you spend the most time on. Get them right and your success is guaranteed. Why? Because the sex in your book, aside from ‘who the MC ends up with’, is going to be what your readers talk about, it’s going to be what gets their friends interested in your book. Remember your audience here, 90% of them will have no sexual experience whatsoever. Write it hot, write it good, write it as realistic as you can, keeping in mind that your characters are superhuman were-vampire ghosts. Get the sex right. Nothing else matters.
7 – KISS. Keep It Short, Stupid! I’d say 40,000 words is just about perfect. Your readers don’t want anything longer and if you keep it to this length you’ll be able to knock out at least six a year, more if you write fast. Every book you put out there is another earner!
8 – Editing and formatting. Forget it, your audience doesn’t care. Wasted time you should be using writing the next in your series–which brings me to:
9 – Series potential and pricing. 99 cents for the first, $2.99 for the rest. And write at least six or seven in each series. Don’t worry about story arcs or anything like that, just put in some big bad guys and maybe a sinister organisation, and keep changing up the love interests. Use basic tropes like face-heel turns to keep your audience on their toes, don’t bother telegraphing or foreshadowing, and even if it doesn’t make sense that doesn’t matter so much, just so long as your main character flips between love interests constantly and convincingly. This is the important point to keep in mind; the story doesn’t matter, the plot doesn’t matter, all that matters is giving your main character new love interests in each book. (Are you remembering to make them both sexy AND dangerous? If you want to change it up a bit, you could also tell the reader that they’re sensitive and maybe tortured, and give them some scars that aren’t too disfiguring–just make sure not to repeat any scars, or ink or piercings, these are the things your audience is going to be looking out for. It’s okay to make your characters ugly, too, just as long as they’re also sexy.) (Another tip is to distinguish them by giving each love interest some kind of verbal tic, like maybe one says “Y’know?” a lot, and another could hardly say anything except “Hm”, and then another one could maybe even be mute–but now I’m just doing your work for you.)
10 – Main Character. This is another tricky one. Probably the best idea is to make it a girl with no real personality, but keep TELLING the reader (not showing, no no!) how awesome and funny and clever she is. You’re also going to need at least half a dozen bitchy girls as her enemies, and a couple of idiot guys she can one-up to give your audience those ‘yeah!’ moments they’re looking for. Your main character shouldn’t be perfect, and you should remind the reader of this often. But she should always win anyway. Making her good at fighting is a decent idea, so is giving her a cool motorbike (your audience will know it’s cool because you’ll tell them every time it’s mentioned, and other characters will make comments like “Hey, cool bike”).
11 – Thick Skin. This is vital, because you’re going to be getting a lot of bad reviews from people with taste. Ignore them and concentrate on all the five-star reviews from your real audience. The thousands of dollars you’ll be making every week might also be some small consolation.
And that’s it! Follow these steps and you’ll find success. Also shame, loss of self-worth, depression etc. but if success is all that matters to you, these eleven simple steps will see you there.