Archive for June, 2013

Can “I Use 50 Shades Of…” in My Book Title?

June 25, 2013

Here’s a question I am frequently asked:

“If I decided to write a book inspired by ’50 Shades of Grey’, and called it ’50 Shades of X’ – the only similiarity being a similiar sounding title – is that possible without a big law suit, or would it be better to write ’69 shades of Y’?”

The answer to this applies to all ‘spin-off’ books you may wish to allude to.

First of all check if the phrase is trademarked. If it is, then the answer is clearly: “No, you can’t”.

If it isn’t then, yes, you can go ahead.

Perhaps more important though is the next step. Check to see how many OTHER people have also thought of your idea.

A quick bit of market research reveals:

50 Shades of Nylon
50 Shades of Dash Diet
50 Shades of Green
50 Shades of Gravy
50 Shades of Classical
50 Shades of Red Riding Hood
etc etc etc

These titles cover everything from books to DVDs to MP3s. The topics range from Irish songs, to dieting, to social media marketing, to cookery. So there is very little scope here to establish your own special brand or unique selling point.

This isn’t to say that you shouldn’t ‘piggy back’ off another author’s great idea – especially if you can put your own unique spin on the subject.┬áIn fact, imitation of an already successful brand is in many ways an incredibly smart move. Someone else has already tested the market before you and proved a formula to be successful. There is a clear readership and a clear target market – a publisher’s dream. So in many ways, it makes sense to mimic what other successful authors have done before you.

If you’re the very first person past the post, or you have something new or original to add, then I take my hat off to you and so will everyone else. Such a step may also prove incredibly lucrative.

However, when too many others have trodden the path before you and the market is already overcrowded, then you are veering into the territory of cliche – the world of outworn words and phrases which lose their impact. In this case, it may be time to rethink.

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‘How Can I Write My Book Faster?’ – A Quick and Easy Guide

June 24, 2013

Words I often hear from clients are these: “I’m slow at writing and frequently get stuck. I wish I had a magic want to enable me to concentrate on writing and improving and work faster!”

This is an incredibly common problem – slow writing and getting stuck – even for experienced authors. This is because self-doubt creeps in for so many writers and they start wondering if they are writing a ‘good enough’ book.

The trick is to set aside thinking time and to plan out your book out before you start writing. I strongly recommend you do this for any type of book. This is because it’s so much easier to alter a one-page outline than a 300-page book if you suddenly decide your hero should be a heroine or that your book should be written in first person rather than third person!

Jeffrey Archer, for example, lays down on his bed for a while before starting his writing each day. This helps separate from his daily life and allows him to submerge in his fictional world.

It might feel slightly uncomfortable setting aside ‘thinking time’ as you may feel like you’re doing ‘nothing’ or may be keen to get cracking with writing your book. But it really is worth setting aside time for planning before you get started and even when your book is underway.

You can plan out your book in a simple way using post-it notes and a series of bullet points. Or you can do it more comprehensively. Barbara Taylor Bradford wrote a 100-page outline before she event started ‘A Woman of Substance’ for example. John Gray (author of ‘Men are From Mars, Women Are From Venus), on the other hand, always tries out his ideas for at least a year on his clients before putting them in his books.

Conflict is the motor that drives any plot. So, if at any point, you are wondering why your story has ground to a halt, just think of a fresh challenge for your characters to get the story rolling again. This can be a small internal challenge, such as conflict in a character’s mind, or it can be a much more dramatic external conflict.

The same applies to non-fiction books. If your plot grinds to a standstill, ask yourself if there are enough challenges, problems or conflicts to be overcome.

Also try to set yourself a writing target each day if you can – such as 1000 words or 3000 words. A standard book is approximately 70,000 words in length. So by setting yourself a target of say, 1500 words, you will reach your goal in under 28 days. This will give you a solid first draft that you can then edit and re-edit to your satisfaction.

I have a number of clients who have written their entire books in two to five days using this approach. However, one of the wonderful things about breaking down a book into a 28-day writing plan is that the ‘impossible’ suddenly seems much more achievable. You’re not trying to tackle the mountain in one go which would be exhausting. You have a clear strategy – with achievable daily goals – that will get you to where you want to be.

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I’ll also be uploading my new FREE guide ‘How To Sell a Million Copies of Your Book: 7 Strategies You Can Use Today’ in the next couple of weeks.