First things first: Write a compelling story

We’re swamped daily by the need to keep our social media pages popping; engage to push our numbers forward and expand our audience. We’re encouraged to hold our books high and exclaim: read this! This is the way to have true success in selling books or so I’m told. We can literally plan our day around  posting and reading Twitter and Pinterest and Facebook and be drowned in several hours of liking babies in funny hats and our friends’ pics of summer vacations and all those unforgettable sayings we forget as soon as we logout. But I’m convinced that the number one way to boost our numbers is to write a compelling story. Never dismiss the importance of a well-written fictional story

The eight-year-old daughter of the chairman of the publishing house which published J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter loved it because it was a compelling story; New American Library smacked down 400,000 bones  for the paperback rights of Stephen King’s, Carrie, because it was a compelling read. The editor who signed Mary Higgins Clark, read her debut novel, Where Are the Children in one night because it was a compelling story.  Once the smoke clears and the hype dies, readers want to know that the book they were talked into buying, is a well-written story.  How do we make sure of this?

Take time to edit  

This is especially true for self-published authors. There’s nothing quite like reading a book, after you have put your money and invested your time and find it riddled with errors; plagued with story lines or dates that don’t line up, grammatical errors, names and timelines that are off. It will turn a reader off just as soon as you’ve turned them on.

Don’t drag out the story

Have you ever read a story and had that feeling that the writer was stalling to get to the meat of the story? You’re annoyed and peeved and you feel like you’re at a magic show but you see the strings holding up the elevated lady.  I’m not talking about building suspense. I’m talking about dragging. Building suspense is a slow and steady progression; the key word is progression. The story is moving, building, increasing. Dragging consists of rehashing, or telling that which is not relevant to the matter at hand, adding elements, in the name of suspense which add no value to the scene or the story. A compelling read makes me want to read it on the bus, train or in the doctor’s office. It causes me to forfeit T.V., stop answering my husband and kids, turn off the phone or shut off my computer; read it by flashlight when I they call “lights out.” You know what I mean.

Tell the World

There’s so much to be said for good ‘ole word of mouth. You remember that, right? It’s when you tell two, friends and they tell two friends and…yeah you get the picture. Find a way to casually bring up the fact that you’re a writer: Say, I’ve got this book out… And if it is worthy they will tell others. I cannot tell you how many books I’ve picked up, with no intentions of doing so beforehand because someone said: You’ve got to read this…There’s something about the excitement in a person’s voice and in their eyes when they’ve stumbled upon a good read. You want to feel it too. They tell you: man, I read this book in like two days or you’re gonna cry at the end. And actually, I don’t even mind when they say, it started off kinda slow, but once you get into it, you’re going to love it. The thing is when others say they’ve experienced something good and it’s accessible to us, we want it too. People talk about what they are adamant about; whether it’s love, love love or absolutely hate. What they don’t mention is the mediocre.


About Dorcas Graham

I have been a professional writer for more than 20 years; primarily technical writing and freelance journalism. My passion for fiction writing brings me here. Now I have the opportunity to pursue what I love! My debut novel, In Three Days is now available on and I'm happy to share this exciting journey with you. In addition to updates of what's happening, I will also add tidbits of information and writing tips I have learned along the way. I welcome your comments. Enjoy!
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