Tuesday, August 17, 2010

Writing Wisdom: Richard Paul Evans

I’ve worked with New York Times Best-selling author Richard Paul Evans now for around three years, and because of that I’ve had the opportunity to hear him given many, many presentations. Although some of the content is familiar, I still leave each and every presentation having learned something new. And Rick is someone worth listening to. After all, every one of his books has hit the Times list, and what newbie author could have a better mentor than listening to someone who has already been there multiple times.

Rick spoke at the Bookwise conference this weekend in Salt Lake City. This is an organization he began with the intent of helping people who wanted to become authors find their book inside them and have the chance to actually see that book on paper, ready to sell. Although Rick no longer owns the company, he is always there to present at its conferences gratis. Wow! Do other authors of Rick’s status continually support new authors, completely free? Somehow I doubt it.

Rick’s topic this time: The Power of A Book.

What makes a book something that someone wants to read? His philosophy is that the book must somehow connect with the common man. Books start revolutions, they bring about change. Its our turn to be a part of that. He considers it a privilege to be an author, and he is touched by the feedback he gets from his fans.

One means of obtaining that feedback that Rick really loves is through Facebook. “Facebook has brought me closer to my fans and given me a way to respond directly to them. I love it,” he says. It you want to be an author and you’re not one of Rick’s FB friends, I suggest you go over and sign up. You will learn not only about Rick’s writing, but also the craft of marketing. When it comes to marketing, Rick is the master.

He suggests three things that will make you a best-selling author. Without these three elements, you will be sure to fail.

1. Write about what matters to you. Stop chasing things you don’t care about. It doesn’t matter that everyone this year is publishing vampire books, or dystopian, or whatever the latest trend might be. Write what means something to YOU. Those books that are on the shelf today were likely bought by the publisher as much as two years ago anyway, and those publishers and editors are already onto something new, seeking the authors who have the vision to see into the future.

2. Remember: your book is a PRODUCT. Your purpose is to SELL. Know your market; understand your customer. If people aren’t willing to put money down to buy what you’ve written, the neither will a publisher.

3. Take chances! Rick likes to tell the story of how he once ‘crashed’ an autograph table at a big booksellers conference. The security person almost threw him out, but relented at that last minute when she saw the hope in Rick’s eyes. The next year, Rick was the #2 seller at the same show. He was an invited guest, and The Christmas Box had hit the New York Times. He believed in himself enough to get there. “Pay the price to make it,” he says. “Don’t be afraid to fail or you will.” He says to be grateful for the No, because that might simply be part of the process. He would never have gotten to where he is today if Deseret Book hadn’t told him No on that first book.

In his concluding remarks he says, “You need to write the book. It will change your life.”

Speaking of which, I’m signing off right now because I’m hard on work my own new book, and I’m setting the goal to make this one a best-seller.

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