Writing is truly a unique art form. A good author must be part psychologist, part poet, part conversationalist, a powerful observer, and a talented story weaver—all rolled into one person. While writing may come in many different genres and styles, the general practice of writing can be divided into seven secrets. Once you know how to make use of these ideas, your writing will greatly improve.

Secret # 1: Know Your Audience

Believe it or not, one of the most overlooked ideas in today’s writing world is the audience itself. As an author, you must ask yourself, whom exactly are you writing for? Is your book directed at teenagers, or a senior citizen? Is it for people who love to puzzle things out for themselves, or for those out there who needed detailed instruction to boil water? Whatever the case, learn as much as you can about your potential audience. After all, the inspiration may come from inside you, but the eventual goal is to write for the enjoyment of others. And don’t say your audience is, “everybody.” Every book’s audience can be narrowed down. The narrower it is, the more successful the book can be.

Secret # 2: Know Your Competition

Believe it or not, the idea that you want to write about is probably not unique. There will be other books, articles or essays out there on your subject. The trick is to make sure that you can present it in a way that is relatable, understandable, and somewhat unique. If you can accomplish all that, any subject is within your grasp. So do some research and see what else is already out there. Then figure out how you can make it different—a different perspective, spin, voice, etc.

Secret # 3: Remember Real Life

For a reader to want to buy a book or read an article, the material inside must be relatable. That means the reader has to either use the book to escape from their reality, or be able to empathize with the character (or you, the author) because of the realism presented. In either case, it is imperative that the material written has some aspect of the real world in it. Even if your setting is filled with dragons and elves, something about your writing should speak to the reader on a fundamental, personal level. Remember your real life, and write accordingly. That way, when someone picks up your book, they’ll be more inclined to read it.

Secret # 4: Read More than You Write

Some authors feel that they have found their voice, so there is no real need to listen anymore. Unfortunately for them, nothing further could be from the truth. As any successful writer will testify to, one of the most important things an author can do is read. Read to do research, read to find out about your competition, or even read to find inspiration. The bottom line is that the more you read, the more information you have, and the better, more believable writer you will become.

Secret # 5: Know Your Market

Like the idea of knowing your audience (yes, the market is different than the audience), the ability to know your market is often overlooked by some authors. This is an extremely bad mistake to make, and very few, if any successful authors make it. You may have a unique and promising idea, but if it is written and released during a slow time in the market for that subject, your sales will suffer. Also, it is important to be aware of backlashes in the market, or times when markets have been saturated and readership become hostile to certain subject areas. For example, Chick Lit has run its course. The market got so saturated that readers stopped buying Chick Lit books. Vampire books are quickly spiraling in the same direction. Please don’t misunderstand though; there will always be a time for your subject matter. Just as one market turns down, another raises up. Watch the trends and plan accordingly. The trick is determining when the right time to release your book would be.

Secret # 6: Don’t Be Afraid of What You Don’t Know

From day one, most writers are told to “write what you know.” Unfortunately this advice, although well meaning, has led to countless boring books or articles. Many times if a writer focuses on only what he or she knows, the end product will be lacking in detail and vision. Simply put, since they are so familiar with the subject, they unconsciously assume that people around them know the same things, even if the audience might not. Instead, try to choose subject areas that are slightly outside your comfort zone. For example, if you’re confidant writing a classic whodunit, consider working on a police procedure manual instead. This will allow you to look at the subject with new eyes, and be reminded of what the reader needs to understand to get the full picture. Plus, you get to do the proper research and learn more.

Secret # 7: Humor is Your Best Friend

Without a doubt, humor is perhaps one of the easiest ways to relate to your audience. Even if you are writing a suspenseful horror novel, interjecting a little comic relief is a great idea. It relieves tension, offers a bit of levity, and allows the reader to occasionally breathe a sigh of relief. What could be a better way to win over the hearts and minds of your potential audience?

If you make use of these seven secrets in your writing, there is little doubt that your prose will get noticed a lot sooner. Keep them in mind, and the people taking notice will begin paying attention for a prolonged period of time.

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Photo courtesy Shutterstock, Photo Art Lucas

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy

Kristen Joy Laidig is the founder of The Book Ninja. She has authored over 40 books, started over 50 publishing companies, trained over 10,000 authors worldwide, has her black belt in karate, and eats way too much chocolate. She currently changes lives through her students… one published message at a time, manages her two retail stores Toy Box Gifts & Wonder® and Nerdvana Outpost in the heart of her newfound hometown, Chambersburg, PA, is in the start-up phase of at least three new businesses at any given time, and generally causes anyone reading this bio to be out of breath. On her “off” time (what’s that?) she brainstorms business ideas with her awesome husband, the great Public Domain Expert himself, Tony Laidig, and hangs out with her two ragdoll kitties. She’s even been known to sleep... occasionally.

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