Why They Win
edited: Sunday, June 29, 2003
By Kenny Kemp
Posted: Tuesday, September 25, 2001
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Five Things All Award-Winning Books Have In Common
Because my book "Dad Was A Carpenter" won last year's National Self-Published Book Award, this last March I had the opportunity to read over 50 books entered in this year's competition. A few of my observations:
1. Cover. You have two seconds to grab a reader, so make your cover intriguing. Get blurbs from experts or famous authors. And donít forget the gold seal that announces the awards your book has won.
2. Title. If youíre not famous, you need a great title. I wrote a novel called I Hated Heaven. Coupled with a painting of wilted angel wings, a broken harp and a bent halo, this title did what my name could not: it attracted attention. Consider the titles of your favorite books. The best titles ask questions and prompt thought.
3. Layout. The dos: Lots of white on the page. Large, justified margins. 12-point Times Roman text. The doníts: no flowery acknowledgments, no distracting dingbats. Above all, keep it simple. Copy a book you admire. And do not fear: itís not plagiarizing to use another book layout as inspirationóitís just good sense.
4. Organization. An organized book is a pleasure to read. And metaphors are wonderful ways to organize your thoughts and give depth to your writing. In my book Dad Was A Carpenter, I used tool woodcuts at the beginning of each chapter as metaphors for my dadís life. Find the proper metaphor for your writing and organization of your book.
5. Length. If your story is the Illiad, so be it. But I would wager that whatever you are saying, you can say it more succinctly. Thatís why an editor is so important. A short, concise book says to the reader: Your time is valuable. I wonít waste any of it.
Web Site: Kenny Kemp's Studio
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