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Author Life 4: Concepts

Welcome to the fourth instalment in my author life series, written specifically for beginners starting out on their first book. If you’ve not yet read it, you can start from the beginning here. This week I’m going to talk to you about the very important subject of concept.

Genre

I’ve previously discussed genre, and hopefully, you have an idea where your writing fits in by now. Sometimes it takes a little longer to find your true writing voice, or you may be like me, and enjoy writing lots of different genres. However, if you want to write to market I do recommend sticking to one or two. I began by self-publishing my true paranormal story, and as I was a cop at the time, it felt natural to progress onto paranormal crime. Now I write psychological and crime thrillers. There isn’t a ghost in sight, but they are similar in that they are dark in nature, with lots of twists and turns. You can see all my books and genres here.

Concept

High concept books are my favourite. They are an agent’s dream because they can be delivered in a few lines when giving what is called an elevator pitch.

Example one I describe my thriller Witness in the following lines: Rebecca is forced to witness a crime for every year her ex spent in prison. Worse still, she must choose the victims, or it defaults to the ones she loves.

Had I said it was about a victim of domestic abuse who was tracked down by her ex after he got out of prison, it would not have struck the same chord. There are lots of books featuring domestic abuse, it’s the high concept idea which set it apart from the rest. The moral dilemma of choosing strangers as potential victims to save her loved ones was the real heart and soul of the book. So when summing up your story, forget all the sub-plots and get to the driving force.

Example two is for crime thriller Murder Game: A serial killer meets married women through an online dating site. The countdown begins as he informs their husbands of their infidelities with three photographs: alive, tortured, dead.

Example three is just one line for Truth And Lies: Meet DI Amy Winter, daughter of a serial killer.

Of course, you may not be writing a high concept thriller, but it’s still important that you can sum your book up in just a few lines. It should sound intriguing and make the reader want to know more. Have a play around and see what you come up with. You can read more about concept here.


Advice

I love hearing from newbie authors, and sometimes they come to me for advice. Lately, I’ve heard some horror stories. Usually, those getting ripped off are the ones who can afford it the least. I know of writers who have paid thousands for editorial advice to discover it was not up to scratch. Their qualification? An English degree. Now, having a degree is fine if they can back it up with experience in the writing/publishing field. Have they edited books for others? How are they doing? Authors often make good editors, but check the success of their own work before you pay for advice. The same can be said for ‘publishers’ who offer to sign if you pay them a small fee… Yup, lots of people have been taken in by that scam too. Lastly, if a real-life publishing house offers you a contract, take a moment to get it checked out. You could be tying yourself in for a lot more than you bargained for. If you don’t have an agent then the Society of Authors do a brilliant job. Joining a Facebook group of fellow authors is a great way of getting recommendations and there are lots of them online.

That’s all for this week. If you enjoyed my post give it a like. Comments welcome. Please note the small print: I don’t get a commission for the links that I share. They are external links and have no connection with me. My advice is solely as a result of my personal opinions and experiences, and my willingness to #payitforward Please don’t hold me responsible for any problems you may encounter during your writing journey. Images (except mine) are courtesy of stocksnap.

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