company book club

How To Run A Company Book Club (And Why Every Company Should Have One)

You saw the book on the shelf at the bookstore, or maybe you bought it online late one night, and couldn’t wait for it to arrive.

It finally gets to your house and you read the first and second page. Maybe you even get through the first chapter.

But then you get busy with work. The book becomes a coaster for your third coffee.

The topic you’d been so excited about is soon forgotten as the book collects coffee stains and becomes more clutter on your desk.

What if we told you there was a way to grow your work culture and read a book at the same time?

Sound crazy? Actually, it’s very doable.

Books create history, and history creates culture. When it comes to work culture, it’s easy to bypass the importance of books. However, here at Self-Publishing School, we believe in the power of writing books and reading books. 

Sitting down to read a book can seem a little intimidating to some people. But with a little guidance, purposeful reading can bring you and your company great results.

Starting a book club is the first step in this process.

There are four core steps to creating a successful book club:

  1. What Are The Benefits Of A Company Book Club?
  2. How To Choose The Right Book
  3. How To Run The Book Club Itself
  4. Book Club Ground Rules

How to Run a Company Book Club Successfully

Not only will reading a book help you learn about new topics, but it will also widen your interaction with coworkers and deepen your relationships.

That’s why we want to share not only why every company should have a book club, but the practicalities that will make a book club possible for you.

#1 – What are the benefits of a book club?

Not only are book clubs a key part of building culture, but depending on the book list you choose from, conversations will result around topics that are meaningful to you and those you work with.

At Self-Publishing School, we usually host a book club once a month or every other month. This results in roughly 6-12 clubs throughout the year and has greatly impacted our company culture.

The purpose of a company book club is to develop and train employees to be better employees, leaders, and people. Let’s break that down.

Better Employees:

When employees are spread out over different tasks and each person has a different job scorecard, it’s easy for a team to feel disjointed.

But the definition of a team is one of unity and collaboration.

When a team comes together to read a book, the result is a central focus on the same topic. No matter what part of the company individual team members work in, their mindset shifts to the same general theme. This ups team morale and ultimately, team productivity.

The benefits of having every member of a team focused on the same topic is transformational, and something we’ve seen at Self-Publishing School.

Better Leaders:

It’s said that influential people read quite a bit, and this statement has been proven true through the success stories of entrepreneurs, business leaders, and thought leaders.

The same can be true for your company.

The more widely read your team, the more likely they are to step up in leadership. Regardless of whether you choose a book on leadership, personalities, or another topic timely to your team’s needs, the result will be the same: the more educated your team is, the more they will step up in different situations of leadership.

Every business desires leaders, and the secret is, every business can grow leaders. Maybe your business is a startup or a younger company. That’s ok. It doesn’t always take leadership seminars to grow leaders.

Simply gathering your team around a book with a needed theme can grow your employees from followers to leaders.

When leaders are in the details of a company, the company flourishes.

Self-Publishing School Virtual Company Book Club

Better People:

In today’s world of social media, self-care, and me-time culture, it’s easy to become self-obsessed without trying.

Reading about other people and other topics, universal themes, and the thoughts of leaders around the globe greatly impacts the actions of individuals.

The world is so much bigger than the company you or I work at, or even the company we may run. There are people outside the walls of our homes, neighborhoods, and workplaces that can bring meaning into our lives.

You don’t need to fly your team overseas to learn from world-renowned leaders.

Simply purchase several copies of a book they’ve written. Some white pages with black ink can go a long way in influencing company culture.

When we read we open our minds. When our mind is open we become more aware of others. And when we are aware of those around us we become better people.

Alright…

We’ve talked about three results of a book club, but how do you actually choose a book? If you’re going to devote company time and the time of your team into the reading and discussion of a book, it’s important to choose the right one.

#2 – How To Choose The Right Book

Here at Self-Publishing School, we usually spend about an hour a week on our book clubs (not counting reading time). At the end of the year, combining reading, meeting time, and time spent scheduling it all out, that’s a good chunk of time.

Some might say, “That time could be spent investing in the company.”

True. But from experience we would argue investing time in a book club is investing time in your company.

Good companies are run by good employees, good leaders, and good people. All these factors result from well-run book clubs.

So back to our original question – how do you pick a book?

Not every team will benefit the same from every book. Choosing a book to fit your company’s current needs is key to making the most out of your book club training time.

Here are a few important questions to ask yourself when choosing a book for book club:

  • What’s the key message I want my team to understand?
  • What area do we most need help with as an organization?
  • What’s a must-read for your team and team goals?
  • What’s an area your team has been struggling in?
  • What particular interests does your team have?
  • How can you encourage your team/how might you be encouraged through a particular book?
  • Do you know of any authors who can do a Q&A at the end of book club like we do for

Once you pinpoint an area of improvement/focus for the team, search for some book club picks or reading lists online.

A simple way to do this to pick the top three most relevant books from a book club recommendation list or reading list. Determine the most relevant book for your team, then use it as the material for your current book club.

We’ve read topics from leadership books to sales and marketing books.

Currently, we’re working through The Five Love Languages. This has not only helped our company grow in teaching us how we can best work together, but also brought the focus back to the spouses of our team members.

company book club book

This has grown team relationships as well as their relationships with their spouses, which all contributes to a better team member.

As a company, we love growing our team, but when we can also help our teammates’ personal lives, it’s a win-win.

You know why to have a book club and how to choose a book…

#3 – How To Run The Company Book Club Itself

While we may not read as much as previous generations, reading is still very important, not to mention it comes with the benefits mentioned earlier.

When running a book club, using shorter books help.

What you don’t want are stressed out team members trying to complete a marathon read before the deadline.

What you do want it as low pressure a schedule as possible.

When it comes to the meeting itself, it’s helpful to lay ground rules and then break the meeting down into three parts.

#4 – Book Club Ground Rules

Be sure to create a reading schedule and meeting dates. You can do this in batches where you create all the due dates at one time. You can schedule book club meetings over the course of a calendar month, and meet weekly for 45-60 minutes.

Here at Self-Publishing School, we use Asana to structure not only our company book club meetings, but all our meetings.

You’ll see tips for the following book club meeting structure:

company book club schedule

Ask team members to prepare ahead of time by thoroughly reading the chapters and taking notes for reference during the meeting.

To cut down on spoilers, ask book club members not to read ahead of the assigned readings.

As far as running the meetings smoothly, assign a meeting leader for each meeting. Be clear that the purpose of the leader is to facilitate discussion by asking questions, keeping everyone on time, and guiding the conversation. Allow the meeting leader to rotate each week.

If you’re wondering how to effectively choose the next team leader, simply ask the current team leader at the end of the meeting to pick the leader for the next week.

This can be done in “popcorn” fashion.

If necessary, divide book club participants into groups. Try to mix groups with people from different departments and people who don’t often communicate with each other.

This will not only bring the company together but also potentially forge new working relationships and potentially even friendships.

Now that the ground rules are laid, let’s talk about the three aspects of an effective book club meeting.

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 1: Stories From Out in the Wild – 10 minutes

We like to call this part “stories from out in the wild.”

This is a time designated for team members to share how their real-life reminded them of what they’re learning from the book. Be sure the meeting is open flow and open dialogue. You want this to feel different from other team meetings, more relaxed, and very open for discussion.

The examples/stories should consist of how you’ve seen what you’re learning play out in your work and life over the last week. They are intended to be conversation starters.

During the week feel free to jot down any funny or impactful stories or application of the book playing out in your life.

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 2: Lessons Learned/Topics For Discussion – 30 minutes

This part can be defined as simply asking what stood out to the team as individuals.

Here are some questions to prompt the book club discussion:

  • What paragraphs did they connect with?
  • What resonated?
  • What point/points stuck out to them?
  • What were the biggest takeaways?
  • What did you learn?
  • What would you like to talk about with the team?

Again, keep this open for discussion and input from all team members. Remember that this doesn’t have to be done in order or turn-by-turn, either.

If someone has something to add, just speak up!

Book Club Meeting Agenda Part 3: Takeaway/Application – 15 minutes

Ask the team based on the week’s reading, what their next steps are.

This doesn’t need to be too stringent, as you don’t want this to become another task to check off the to-do list! Include only one or two things you plan to personally put into action from your learning in the book/the meeting itself.

Bonus Step:

As a bonus, we’ve brought in different authors to do a short, thirty-minute Q&A. This helps our team connect on multiple levels because they’re already excited about the topic.

Experiencing a live Q&A with the author brings that excitement full circle.

You can check out another one of these we did here:

book club q&a

Book Club Meeting Agenda Final Checks

Here is a reminder of the few points to keep in mind when launching your first book club:

  • Choose the right book for the book club based on your team’s needs
  • Schedule all meetings in advance (this can be done in “batches”)
  • Pick first meeting leader in advance
  • Open discussion with real-life examples from team members

Remember that book you bought online late one night (or thought about buying) but never actually read?  

You just purchased several copies of that book.

Together you and your work team read through the first and second page. During your first meeting, you even have a discussion about the entire first chapter.

Work gets busy but the book your team is reading becomes a central, unifying theme for the company’s busy season.

The topic you’d been so excited about begins to influence your work culture. You even met someone who works in a completely different department and you have plans for next Friday. This coworker will likely become a friend.  

Your company’s work culture is growing, and so are you.  

Sound crazy? Actually, it’s very doable.

how to make an audiobook

How to Make an Audiobook Step-by-Step [With Video]

Not having an audiobook version of your book might, quite likely, be the death of your success. Which means you must know how to make an audiobook to fix that.

We’re in the age of podcasts, radio apps, and audiobooks, and now couldn’t be a better time to convert your eBook into an audiobook. But many writers get scared off by the thought of creating an audiobook.

“Isn’t it expensive?”

“Won’t it take a ton of time?”

“How do I even do it?!?”

Thankfully, self-publishing an audiobook now is as easy as self-publishing your book. It has become cost-effective and approachable for self-published authors, and there is a range of options depending on the budget you want to spend on it.

Here are the steps for how to make an audiobook:

  1. Prep your book for audiobook recording
  2. Decide who will record it
  3. Hire an audiobook narrator
  4. Record the audiobook yourself
  5. Work with an audiobook producer
  6. Create the audiobook at home
  7. Upload your audiobook to ACX
FREE TRAINING: How You Can Publish a Book in 60 Days  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!  YES! GET THE TRAINING!

Here are the exact steps you need to follow, and our suggestions for turning your book into the next big audiobook.

How to Make an Audiobook Step-by-Step

Audiobooks are on the rise, and if you’re an author who’s not pursuing this book format, you’re missing out on an entire audience who could be enjoying your story.

Here are our top steps for creating an audiobook.

#1 – Prep Your eBook Content for Audiobook Recording

If you’re starting from the beginning, you may have no idea how to convert your manuscript from writing to audio. Your first step will be to prep your eBook content for audiobook recording.

This creates a script you can read as you record the audio version of your book. You don’t want to get tripped up while you (or someone else) is reading through the manuscript, so you need to remove everything that won’t make sense in the audio version.

These are the pieces you should go through and look for to cut out:

  • Delete hyperlinks
  • Delete captions
  • Delete visuals
  • Remove any calls to actions or click here prompts

Once you’ve created your new script, read through it one last time to make sure it all makes sense in audio form.

#2 – Decide who will record your audiobook

The next step in the creation of your audiobook is actually recording the book. But before you can do that, you have to decide who will record the book.

Here are your choices when deciding who will record your audiobook:

  1. Hire someone to record it for you
  2. Record the book yourself in a studio
  3. Work with an audiobook producer
  4. Do it yourself at home
  5. Hire an ACX narrator

You now get to pick which option to take.

If you’re writing nonfiction, particularly a story about your life, you may want to record the book yourself. However, if you aren’t confident in producing the best quality audiobook, you can still hire a narrator.

For those of you writing a fiction novel, you’ll likely want to hire an audiobook narrator, as these stories often need a narrator with an acting skillset.

#3 – Hiring an audiobook narrator

Most authors find that hiring a professional to record their audiobook is the most expeditious and least painful route. You may be concerned about the cost of hiring a pro for voice work, but you may be surprised to learn that the cost of this service can be quite reasonable.

In fact, converting your self-published book into an audiobook using a pro can cost less than half the price of doing the work yourself.

Many freelancers will quote a price of under $500 for a full eBook to audio conversion; so don’t let the perceived high cost deter you.

If you’ve never worked with a freelancer before, you might not be familiar with the steps necessary to find the right talent. First, you’ll need a proposal.

The purpose of your proposal is to help delineate the work that’s needed. You’ll want to make sure to include the scope of the work and terms of your offer in your proposal. Your second step is to create sample audio content to share with potential freelance narrators. This is your “retail audio sample.”

The purpose of your retail audio sample is two-fold:

  1. It can be shared with potential narrators during the freelance-hiring phase, and
  2. It can later be shared with your future audience on Amazon to pique their interest in your book.

Have some fun creating your retail audio clip—it can be anything you want it to be! You may opt to read a full chapter, or simply condense a summary of plot highlights.

The ultimate goal of your retail audio sample is to intrigue both potential narrators and your potential audience. If you can capture their collective attention and pique their interest in your book, they’ll want to hear more.

If you’ve never worked with a freelancer, check out Voices or Upwork for a list of narrator pros.

You can also do a simple Google search to find those who have a career in narrating audiobooks.

#4 – Record the audiobook yourself

Your second option for creating an audiobook is self-recording in a studio. Realize that self-recording may be more costly in terms of effort, time, and money, especially from the paid time to use a pro recording studio.

We recommend that you block out a significant amount of time to complete your self-recorded audiobook.

Here’s a good timeline for self-recorded audiobook production:

  • Book your recording studio three weeks ahead of time.
  • Record your book in-studio. Plan for up to sixteen hours of recording studio time.
  • Plan for at least two weeks of post-recording editing.

Of course, these times are just guides; the time-frame may change once you start your project. Obviously, a longer book will take longer to record and edit.

Plan accordingly, and give yourself plenty of time to polish, edit, and finalize a professional product.

#5 – Work with an audiobook producer

The third path to creating an audiobook is to hire a professional producer. If you have never recorded an audiobook before, working with a producer would help you through the technical difficulties.

For example, when Joanna Penn did the recording for her own book Business for Authors, she hired a professional producer, Andy Marlow.

A producer for your audiobook can ensure the quality of the audio tracks as well as mastering the file for the final production load.

You can find audiobook producers [audiobook engineers] on freelancing sites such as Fiverr or, again, Upwork.

Simply log in to Fiverr or Upwork and type “audiobooks” in the search bar, as seen in the example below.

hire audiobook narrator

If you go on Fiverr, select the “mixing and mastering” option on the left side. This will give you plenty of choices for finding audio engineers, editors and producers.

#6 – Create an audiobook at home

Many authors feel very close their work and would rather the content be told in their own voice. This is particularly true if the book is focused on personal stories or a family memoir.

There are many books that do sound better when told from the voice of the author.

Do you have the confidence and the voice to create your own audiobook at home? If yes, then here is what you need to know to get started in doing that.

Equipment for Making an Audiobook:

If you are a podcaster or music recording talent, you may already have access to the necessary equipment for recording your audiobook.

Here’s what you need to make an audiobook:

  1. A good USB mic. The Blue Snowball condenser mic or the Samson Meteor Mic USB Studio Microphone are recommended.
  2. A pop filter. The Earamble Studio Microphone Pop Filter is recommended.
  3. Audacity. Audacity is a free, open source cross-platform audio software for multi-track recording and editing. You can download Audacity here.

You could go fancier and get higher-end equipment, but these tools should be more than enough to get the job done.

microphone stand with audacity logo

Location and Space for Making an Audiobook:

You want to find an isolated, padded room or recording box. “Room Tone, or “Noise Floor” can bring in all sorts of sounds from around the environment.

Recording in your room is an option but make sure your space is set up for recording and that it is “silent.” If this is difficult, hiring a producer, in this case, would be a recommended option.

Audiobook Recording Tips:

Next, you need to make sure you avoid any random noises that might pop up, and any variances in the recording quality.

Here are some tips to help make sure you do that:

  • Turn off all fans and machines.
  • Read in a small, carpeted area
  • Stay a consistent distance away from the microphone.
  • Be prepared to make mistakes and record sentences over when necessary.
  • Read the chapter through from start to end.
  • Keep your voice at a similar level and tone across recording sessions.
  • Modulate your breathing and don’t hold your breath.
  • Read from a Kindle or device. No page turning sounds.
  • Schedule sessions several days apart. Avoid sounding exhausted.

With the Audacity software and your mic, you should be able to get a decent quality recording of your book. But keep in mind that, recording you own audiobook is an exhausting process and it isn’t for everyone.

You have to set yourself up with the proper environment, and set aside the time for recording. If you have never used Audacity or any type of recording equipment before, there is a learning curve that adds weeks to the audiobook production.

For these reasons you may decide to hire someone for the first audiobook, learn what you can, and then try it for your next book.

#7 – Upload your audiobook to audiobook creation exchange

Now that you’ve recorded your book, either by yourself or with the help of a freelancer, you’ll need to upload your book to Audiobook Creation Exchange, also known as ACX.

 When you publish on the ACX, your audiobook will be made available on Amazon, Audible, and the Apple audiobook store.

It’s the only place you need to go to make sure your audiobook gets heard by as many people as possible. You retain all of the audio rights, while ACX handles all of the distribution for you, similar to how the Kindle Direct Publishing platform works.

While there are a lot of steps, uploading is a user-friendly and self-explanatory process.

Here’s a step-by-step guide of how to upload your audiobook on ACX:

  1. Go to the ACX website.
  2. Log in to your account at amazon.com.
  3. Click “Add Your Title.” [Note: You must have a Kindle ebook published]
  4. Search and find your book then click on “This is My Book” prompt.
  5. Click on the “I have this book in audio and I want to sell it” prompt.
  6. Choose your territory and distribution.
  7. (Note: We recommend the “World” rights options with 40% royalties for the best results.)
  8. Choose the language(s) you’d like to sell the book in.
  9. Agree to the “Audiobook License and Distribution Agreement” terms
  10. Complete the “About My Book” section.
  11. (Note: You can duplicate the content from your Amazon page or create original content.)
  12. Complete the proper copyright information.
  13. Complete the info about the narrator, audiobook publisher, and any reviews.
  14. Click the “add audio file” prompt.
  15. Go to browse for the first section of your audiobook to ensure it was added.
  16. Continue this process until your entire book is uploaded.
  17. Don’t forget to change the chapters and section titles as you go.
  18. Finally, upload your book cover.

Make sure all info from your printed book matches that of your audiobook. Your author name should be the same and the book cover should be the same as appears on your eBook.

ACX will not allow you to continue if there are discrepancies in identifying information.

FREE TRAINING: How You Can Publish a Book in 60 Days  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!  YES! GET THE TRAINING!

What are audiobook royalties on ACX?

When you publish your audiobook on the ACX, you’ll earn between 20%-40% of their title royalties. If you work with a producer, then you’ll have a royalty share with them, and the rate that you receive is dependent on how your producer is compensated.

If you work by yourself, you keep the whole 40%, if you split it with a producer, you could each earn 20%.

It all depends on how you decide to share it, and you can read more details on the ACX site or check out this directly from their site:

audiobook royalties

Also, a quick heads up: Your audiobook will not post immediately. ACX will hold your submission to confirm that all is in order before it posts you audiobook.

Don’t be alarmed if you see an ACX note telling you “This title is: Pending audio review.”

That’s a normal part of the process and not something wrong on your end. When ACX approves your book, you’ll then have the green light to sell the audio copies online.

For a detailed, step-by-step explanation of the entire process—from production to distribution—check out ACX Author’s page.

Even if you’ve never done it before, technology makes the process of creating your audiobook easier than you can imagine.

A well-produced audiobook can help you expand your fan base and earn you new readers.

Don’t be deterred by the idea that creating an audiobook is outside of your wheelhouse—we promise it’s not!

With pro help (or even a little elbow grease on your part), you can have a completed audiobook within weeks, and be on your way to boosting those book sale numbers!

How to Make an Audiobook: Resources for Help

author advantage live

5 Easy Ways to Get the Most Out of Author Advantage Live

Chandler Bolt and the rest of the Self Publishing School team are excited to meet you at Author Advantage Live AGAIN this fall! And this year, 2020, we’re going VIRTUAL!

COVID-19 has shaken the in-person gathering world, and that means we had to adjust. Instead of simply canceling the event, we decided to go VIRTUAL with this 3-day experience.

All the same information, from the comfort of your HOME!

We had a ridiculous amount of fun with everyone who came last September, so we’re doing it again. Except this time it’ll be bigger, better, and we’ll have even more for you to learn!

If you’re ready to join us, we’ve got your ticket waiting!

Click right here to get your Author Advantage Live Virtual Experience 2020 ticket!

#1 – LET TIME WORK FOR YOU AT AUTHOR ADVANTAGE LIVE.

[Here’s how] Most people get caught up the One Day Attitude. “One day soon I’ll finish my book” or “One day soon I’ll launch my business to $10,000 a month.” Having a time constraint for a goal is one of the best ways to ensure it gets done. Parkinson’s Law states “work expands so as to fill the time available for its completion.”

Time is on your side right now.

Action Step: Commit to one goal from now until we meet you at Author Advantage Live.

Use the form below to send in your goal so we can best hold you accountable & celebrate your success at the event.

Self Publishing School Student

“I plan to get through my 2nd draft and have it professionally edited.”

Brittany Thomas

VIP & Launch Your Book Accelerator Student

Self Publishing School Student

“Publish my second book & finish my course content. “

Mike Acker
VIP & Course Building for Authors Student

You are more likely to accomplish a goal if you write it down. You are also more likely to complete your goal if you have someone holding you accountable. Let’s do both!

#2 – GET THE DISTRACTIONS OUT OF THE WAY.

[Here’s how] You have the opportunity to make a lot of progress during the event.

Most will get more out of 30 minutes at the live event than they would for weeks on their own.

In some ways, the amount of focus you will have at Author Advantage Live is equivalent to 30 minutes a day for 6 months.

Action Step: Tell people ahead of time that you will be “off the grid.”

Let your friends and family know that during the dates of September 20-22nd (or September 18-22nd if you’re coming to the Launch Your Book or Launch Your Course Accelerator) that you’ll be focused on your book(s) and your business.

For those that matter most, set a check in time at night so they know when to expect you and you won’t have to task switch throughout the day from your phone to the conference.

Use every moment you can to implement and connect with other authors and experts that will help you move forward. The more you can stay immersed during the weekend, the better you’ll set yourself up for success after the event for years to come.


#3 – UTILIZE THE BRILLIANT EXPERTS ONSITE AT AUTHOR ADVANTAGE LIVE.

[Here’s how] Often we get in our own pattern of how to do things, that we forget there are people who have already solved and conquered the problems we are facing. One of the questions we ask frequently at Self Publishing School is, “who do we already know that has solved this problem?” in order to avoid wasting time and money.

The more you are aware of your challenges the faster you can get real action steps from real experts in person.

Action Step: Create a list of the biggest challenge(s) you are facing as an author or a business builder.

At the event there will be numerous opportunities to get direct feedback from others who have already solved the challenges you are facing.

(Especially if your challenge is something massive, like I don’t like doing sales and marketing for my book.) Start your list now … so when you have the opportunity you will get the feedback you need.

#4 – BUILD UP YOUR NETWORK.

Yes, ESPECIALLY if you don’t love networking 😉

[Here’s how] A woman I spoke with last week was very excited about the event, but was freezing up by the idea of making connections with other people at Author Advantage Live. We always say, “Extroverts love live events, but introverts need them.” Building up a community of other authors and impactors is crucial to continue to challenge you to elevate to the next level.

Action Step: Show up physically & mentally. Instead of dreading the thought of networking, simply focus on being present.

Bonus: Get a head start. Mark yourself as “Going” on the Author Advantage Facebook Event & post that you are looking forward to meeting everyone (even if you’re terrified).

Author Advantage Live is structured in a way where you don’t have to be a good networker and you don’t have to be an extrovert to get a lot out of it. Simply showing up and being present, you will leave with real connection and real people to support you on your journey.

You deserve support. Be ready to show up and you will experience it.

#5 – CREATE LIFELONG ACCOUNTABILITY.

[Here’s how] Having your Accountability Buddy to hold you accountability is one thing, but it’s also powerful to bring someone from your inner circle.

Action Step: Bring a friend to Author Advantage Live.

When we go after our dreams, sometimes the people around us don’t understand. Or even if they understand, sometimes we find ourselves having to explain things over and over again.

Having your life accountability partner at Author Advantage Live will build instant accountability and make this life journey as an author, impactor or business builder so much more enjoyable.

Good family options: Spouse/Significant Other, Child or Parent Great friend options: Best Friend or someone you see daily
Great business options: Business Partner or Personal Assistant

Haven’t got your ticket to Author Advantage Live yet?

Join us this September!

Click here to get your Author Advantage Live 2020 Ticket!

Buy now before the price goes up and get ready to have your life drastically change as an author, impactor & business builder.

Can’t wait to meet you in Austin, Texas!

character archetypes

14 Character Archetypes to Help You Build a Strong Character Cast

Using character archetypes in your book is a great way to ensure you have a diverse cast with specific roles.

Because without good characters…your readers won’t find a good reason to keep reading…

The character development of your story can make the biggest difference in hooking real fans for life…and losing readers for good.

We’ll help you discover some character archetypes you can use to ensure your readers are ensnared in the grasp of your story from start to finish.

Character Development Worksheet!  Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully  customizeable and printable character development worksheet designed to make  your characters shine!  YES! GET THE WORKSHEET!

Here’s a list of 14 character archetypes:

  1. The Leader
  2. The Outsider
  3. The Caregiver
  4. The Rebel
  5. The Mentor
  6. The Professor
  7. The Warrior
  8. The Hunk
  9. The Wise
  10. The Orphan
  11. The Hero
  12. The Jester
  13. The Seducer
  14. The Bully

What is a character archetype?

A character archetype is a typical character that represents specific actions, nuances, and characteristics, and can also be known as “character tropes.” These characters have well-known qualities that shape their narrative and the story.

There are many characters that have similar and recurring qualities that are easy to recognize in stories.

Take mentors or professors for example. This can include any “wise one” that is a resource for support and knowledge for the main character.

We’ll cover more of this in that section below, but Albus Dumbledore is a great example of this character archetype.

Character Archetypes List of the Top 14 You Need to Know

Not every story needs a character archetype, and having a few doesn’t mean your characters aren’t well-rounded or unique. At the same time, your characters can also have multiple qualities of these archetypes, which adds to their complexity.

Character archetypes are used in order to ensure your character cast is diverse, while also fulfilling plot and story structure needs.

There are certain elements every good story needs in order to satisfy readers and character archetypes are a big part of what does that.

That’s why we’re covering 14 character archetypes to think about when writing a novel.

#1 – Character Archetype: The Leader

The leader is a well-known and widely used character archetype for a number of reasons.

Firstly, this archetype is always active, meaning they don’t allow things to happen to them but rather, they move the plot forward through decisions and their own actions.

You’ll often find that main characters often possess the qualities of a leader, which makes for an alluring book.

Qualities of a The Leader character archetype:

  • Active and not a passive character
  • Makes decisions for other characters
  • Leads the “charge” in almost all scenarios
  • Is the go-to character for advice
  • Can grow into the leadership role if they’re not there right away
  • They are typically a key-player in the plot and overall story

Character Archetype Examples: The Leader

For more clarity, here are some recognizable examples of this character archetype where you can easily identify these traits.

Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series by J.K. Rowling – Throughout the series, Rowling paint Harry as a leader in several ways. We first see him as less than a leader, living under the stairs but as the story progresses, his leadership shines in several ways. Firstly, he decides to forgo friendship with Draco Malfoy because, well, he doesn’t believe him to be a good person. This sets the stage for even more leadership characteristics as he stands up to Snape, and ultimately takes on Voldemort in the end. His leadership continues to grow as he leads his friends and classmates through difficult times in the series.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins – The first act of leadership we see from Katniss is the very beginning of the story. She is hunting for her family…so they can eat. It’s a very basic form of leadership that’s necessary due to her mom’s state after her father passes away. We continue to see her leadership flourish as she volunteers as tribute, sets a precedent of distaste for the games, and ultimately saves both her own and Peeta’s life by the end of the first book.

Tobias Kaya in The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci – Tobias begins the book as a provider for his family. This leadership role is necessary due to his sister’s disability. As the book progresses and Tobias enters the deadly tournament, allies seem to be his only means of survival. He bands together (somewhat reluctantly) with a few key competitors and soon finds himself as the voice of their group, making decisions out of instinct without even realizing the position he’s in.

character archetypes leader

#2 – Character Archetype: The Outsider/Wildcard

This character archetype serves a very distinct purpose. Oftentimes, this is a character that adds a layer of mystery and intrigue to the story.

For example, this character won’t be “close” to your main character or even other secondary characters. They often come into the story to aid or solve a specific issue, but can also be seen as untrustworthy.

Character Archetype Examples:

Johanna Mason in The Hunger Games trilogy – Johannah Mason meets Katniss and Peeta during the opening of the 75th Hunger Games. Wild, unpredictable, and untrustworthy is our first reactions to her, solidifying her character archetype as the outsider or wildcard. Because her character is so unpredictable, we’re both worried and interested in what she’ll do next, which increases the tension when she appears on the page.

Luna Lovegood in the Harry Potter series – Luna Lovegood is a very important character in the Harry Potter series but is often seen as an outsider not only from her own perspective but from others. We don’t really know what she’ll do next and this adds to the intrigue of any scene she’s in.

#3 – Character Archetype: The Caregiver

This character archetype speaks for itself. The caregiver is essentially the character who serves to take care of others.

They often have qualities that are “parently” and can be the voice of reason when the plot thickens. This character is one others often turn to for help, reassurance, and even encouragement.

Characters may also wonder how they’d get through what they have without this one character ensuring their safety and wellbeing.

Character Archetype Examples:

Louisa Clark in Me Before YouThe main purpose of this character’s role is to be a caretaker. Her job in the story is to care for a disabled man. The characteristics she possesses in the story are directly in line with this character archetype of being a voice of reason, encouragement, and caring for others in the story.

Hermione Granger in the Harry Potter series – While Hermione’s character serves several purposes throughout the story, a major contributing factor to her narrative is the care she takes of both Ron and Harry. How many times throughout the series do the two of them even say, “What would I do without you?” This is a common reaction to the caretaker character archetype.

#4 – Character Archetype: The Rebel

Many main characters can fall under The Rebel character archetype because this trait often leads to interesting and intriguing conflict readers latch onto.

Keep in mind, however, that this is also a great archetype to use for villains or antagonists.

The qualities that make up The Rebel archetype are exactly what you’d expect; the characters often go against the grain, resist rules, regulations, and orders, as well as follow their own paths.

Character Archetype Examples:

Fred and George from the Harry Potter series – While Fred and George, twin brother of Ron Weasley in the series, are also known as The Jester character archetypes (which we’ll cover below), they’re primarily rebels as well. The most infamous instance that showcases this is in book 5 when Delores Umbridge takes over. They drive her out with their own invented pranks, “sticking it to the man” in the way they know how best.

Katniss Everdeen in The Hunger Games trilogy – Katniss may not have thought herself a rebel at first, but her actions quickly showcase her natural rebel side. From threatening to eat Nightlock berries at the end of the first book to actually leading the rebellion as a whole, she’s The Rebel through and through.

#5 – Character Archetype: The Mentor

One of the most iconic (and sometimes clichéd) characters in stories is The Mentor.

I’m sure many examples are already popping up in your mind for this one. A classic example of this is Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series.

The Mentor character archetype is someone who serves as a source of information, motivation, support, and encouragement usually for the protagonist or that group in a novel.

This character is also commonly used as an exposition element in the sense that they can provide information to the protagonist that the audience also needs to know, but in a natural way that doesn’t feel like “info-dumping.”

Character Archetype Examples:

Albus Dumbledore in the Harry Potter series – As mentioned above Albus Dumbledore is a prime example of a mentor in this series. He guides, teaches, supports, and encourages not only Harry, but several students he grew close to throughout the series.

Haymitch Abernathy in The Hunger Games trilogy – This may be unclear at first, but Haymitch is literally and figuratively The Mentor in this trilogy. His character literally mentors Katniss and Peeta in the games as his duty but later mentors them in ways unrelated to the games by offering advice and taking on their personal conflicts.

character archetypes mentor

#6 – Character Archetype: The Professor

The Professor and The Mentor are very similar character archetypes. However, with The Professor the emphasis is on their role as an educator and teacher instead of just a mentor.

Therefore, Dumbledore can be seen as The Professor, though another character occupies that role in this series.

This character archetype is usually a teacher or educator the main character grows close to. The key defining factor is that The Professor both teaches in a formal way, but also takes an interest in aiding your character’s personal life and journey. They offer guidance and help when the characters need it most and can be a go-to for information for your characters.

Character Archetype Examples:

John Keating in Dead Poet’s Society – In this iconic story, Professor Keating guides his students on a journey through poetry…and adolescence. Not only does he teach his students poetry in a way they can understand and appreciate, he’s also instrumental in developing Todd Anderson, the main character and student.

Professor McGonagall in the Harry Potter series – This archetype is evident in Professor McGonagall as well. Her role is to be an educator and to hold students to the highest standard, pushing them and even creating conflict within the story.

Mr. Bruner in The Edge of 17Mr. Bruner is Nadine’s teacher and also someone she goes to for guidance in her personal life. He not only serves as her educator in school, but he’s a confidant for Nadine’s personal problems and helps her get through them.

Character Development Worksheet!  Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully  customizeable and printable character development worksheet designed to make  your characters shine!  YES! GET THE WORKSHEET!

#7 – Character Archetype: The Warrior

When you think of this character archetype, it’s very evident which characters fall under this category.

Think of the best warriors in any movie where they appear. Those characters are often tough, confident, and skilled in combat. Many army officers, commanders, and persons in charge of armies will occupy this archetype.

But a character doesn’t need to be in a role of combat or military in order to be The Warrior. They can possess qualities of a warrior without the title.

The Warrior can also be both a good or bad character.

Character Archetype Examples:

Gray Worm in the Game of Thrones series – Chosen to lead the Unsullied under command of Daenarys Stormborn in this series because he “has no fear,” his character is the epitome of The Warrior. He is fierce, skilled, battle-ready, and willing to do whatever it takes to accomplish what he wants and needs to.

Cinna in The Hunger Games series – This might be a very underrated quality of Cinna’s in this series with The Warrior traits not evident upon first glance. But we later learn how instrumental this character’s role is to rebelling against the Capitol, marking him just as deserving of the title “warrior” as anyone on the battlegrounds.

#8 – Character Archetype: The Hunk

Also known as “The Adonis,” this character is the stereotypical “hot guy” in stories.

While he may also serve other roles, this character is a distraction (often to the main character) and is usually the love interest in stories.

This character can go one of two ways. You can have the stereotypical hunk who is unintelligent and only gets by on their looks, or he can be the hot guy who is misunderstood and has more going for him than people believe.

Either way, the main factor is that he’s very handsome to the point of distraction.

Character Archetype Examples:

The Adonis in The Savior’s Champion by Jenna Moreci – In the Sovereign’s Tournament, a competition to the death to win the hand of The Savior, there are several competitors, one of which is nicknamed The Adonis. This character is very much the stereotypical hunk with no brains, and it serves a very distinct purpose in this novel. He’s a fan-favorite of the spectators and stirs up jealousy amongst the competitors.

Christian Gray in 50 Shades of GrayOn the other hand, this character is more in line with the second version of The Hunk, a hot guy with more to him than meets the eye. Christian Gray is written as being so attractive, it turns heads when he walks by. But he’s also a billionaire businessman with a lot more than meets the eyes. He’s very smart while being a hunk, and then some.

Cedric Diggory in the Harry Potter series – This character serves as a mix of both types of The Hunk. He is a competitor in the Triwizard Tournament, and the ladies love him. He’s handsome, charismatic, and also a highly intelligent and skilled wizard. All of these add to the conflict of Harry competing because others root for Cedric and not him, creating issues at school and in his personal life. Not to mention the fact that Harry’s crush ends up dating Cedric.

#9 – Character Archetype: The Wise

This character archetype is someone who often serves as a destination for characters in adventure or epic novels.

You may recall stories of characters needing to travel to meet this “Wiseman” who could tell them what to do or where to go next.

With a character like this, their role in their personal life is also in line with being The Wise in the sense that they also serve as aid, advice, and intellect outside of your main character’s needs.

Character Archetype Examples:

Gandalf in the Lord of the Rings Series – While this character also serves as The Mentor, it’s important to note that he’s a very wise, all-knowing character as well. Throughout the series, he proves himself a source of information for several characters.

Yoda in the Star Wars franchise – We can’t talk about The Wise without mentioning Yoda, one of the “wise man most in books.” He knows the most, aids anyone he comes by in their efforts, and is a classic example of The Wise character archetype.

character archetype wise

#10 – Character Archetype: The Orphan

While many authors aren’t bad people, we do tend to put our main characters through the wringer and orphaning them is one of the top ways to create sympathy for the character…and we all know that doing that makes readers love them more.

There are so many examples of characters whose parents passed away shortly after they were born or even later, into their teen years.

The most distinguishing factor for this character archetype is that the loss of their parents, whether it when they’re a baby or adult, has to add to the conflict of the story, including internal problems. If the story can exist as-is without their deaths, it’s not useful for the parents to be dead.

Character Archetype Examples:

Tony Stark from The Marvel comics – Although Stark loses his parents at the age of 21, this plays a big role in who he is in the franchise. After they pass, he has to take over his father’s company, where he grows into the person we really know him as: Ironman. Their death also plays a pivotal plot point in storylines later as well.

Harry Potter in the Harry Potter series – Harry’s parents died when he was a baby but they left before something so important, the series could not have been written as-is without it: Harry’s scar and connection to Lord Voldemort. Their deaths catapulted the entire conflict of the story, and it also causes him internal conflict in that he struggles with his identity due to their absence.

Snow White – We all know this story. Because her mom dies, her father has to remarry, which puts her in the path of Maleficent, the villain of this story.

#11 -Character Archetype: The Hero

The Hero is one of the most common character archetypes there is in stories, and this is because good stories often have a “triumphant” character who prevails over evil and save others.

Many heroes also embody other character archetypes as well.

The best defining factor for The Hero is that they save others through their actions against the antagonist.

Character Archetype Examples:

Here’s a long list of The Hero character archetypes:

list of character archetypes
  • Harry Potter
  • Katniss Everdeen
  • Marvel Superheroes
  • Matilda Wormwood in Matilda
  • Huckleberry Finn
  • Beowulf
  • Atticus Finch
  • Neville Longbottom
  • Hermione Granger
  • Ron Weasley
  • The entire Order of the Phoenix
  • Peeta Mellark
  • Tobias Kaya

#12 – Character Archetype: The Jester

If your favorite character in stories is ever the goofball who’s really funny, they’re likely The Jester character archetype.

This type of character has a few jobs, the main one being comedic relief. They can serve as a strong literary device to cut the tension in order to give characters a relief, or to distract from something worse coming up.

A couple of key identifiers of The Jester in stories is that they cut tension either with what they say or do, are the butt of every joke, or make others the butt of every joke. The Jester’s job is to elicit laughs and keep the scene and mood light.

Character Archetype Examples:

Fred and George Weasley in the Harry Potter series – We’ve already talked about these rebels but they’re also very much Jesters for this series. They make jokes and even pull pranks, both of which lighten the mood of a story that’s very dark.

Fat Amy in Pitch PerfectThe story of Pitch Perfect is made hilarious by Fat Amy, one of the main characters. She adds jokes, comedy by the way her character acts, and generally brings the story to a new level of funny.

Dory in Finding NemoWe’ve all laughed at Dory in this story. Because of her short memory, there are plenty of moments for jokes and laughter, not to mention her character’s general demeanor.

#13 – Character Archetype: The Seductress/Seducer

With this character archetype, there’s a very specific goal of the seducing behavior.

Most often, this character is someone who’s attractive and can seduce someone in order to get something they want, or even to subdue them in order to do this.

The main point of The Seducer archetype is to trick someone into being vulnerable in order to gain the upper hand in any type of situation, whether that’s life or death or simply getting out of a speeding ticket.

Character Archetype Examples:

Dominika Egorova in Red Sparrow – This character archetype for this movie is quite unique. While her character, with the alias of Katerina, may not have been this type to start, she is taught this very specific skill in order to achieve her goals as a spy.

Black Widow in the Marvel comics – Similar to the previous example, this character was trained in many art forms, seducing being one of them. Her character often has to seduce men, playing to their deepest desires, in order to extract information for the intelligence agency she works with.

Character Development Worksheet!  Keep your characters feeling REAL and organized at the same time with a fully  customizeable and printable character development worksheet designed to make  your characters shine!  YES! GET THE WORKSHEET!

#14 – Character Archetype: The Bully

We all know a bully in real life and stories have no exception to their presence. Of the character archetypes, this one is easy to stop.

It’s is often used to make your main character’s life a lot harder. They can be a bully physically or even emotionally. As long as they belittle your character to the point of increasing conflict in the story, they’re The Bully.

Character Archetype Examples:

Draco Malfoy in the Harry Potter series – From the get-go, Draco Malfoy has bullied Harry Potter and his friends. He puts them down, tries to disrupt them with their plans, and even tries to have Harry killed (and kill him himself) later in the series.

Regina George in Mean Girls This character is the epitome of a bully. She puts others down and makes them feel like less than, so much so that the climax of the movie comes to a head with her “burn book,” which consists of a diary of bullying comments about others.

Patty in Diary of a Whimpy Kid –There are several bullies in this story, the main character’s own brother being one, but Patty indeed holds this title as well. She consistently bullies Greg throughout the story.

book endorsements

5 Simple Steps to Snag Book Endorsements from a Marketing MBA

Growing you book sales isn’t easy. In fact, you’re probably doing it incorrectly already.

This post will show you how to market your book for growth.

But if you want to know all the ins-and-outs of self-publishing a book, including how to write, market, and publish your book within 90 days…we highly recommend watching your free training first.

Here’s how to get book endorsements:

  1. Find the right influencers
  2. Deliver value first
  3. Prepare to ask
  4. Ask for the book endorsement!
  5. Follow up

Free Book Marketing Training  Learn how to make a consistent ($4000 / month) income from your books, sell  more, and market your books for sustained sales and success!  YES! GET THE TRAINING!

How to get book endorsements

Endorsements are a very powerful form of social proof and trust-builder for potential readers of your book.

Endorsements alone might not make your book a bestseller, but they’ll give you an advantage over other books that don’t have them.

I was able to leverage my endorsement by a top influencer to promote my book on social platforms, on my website, and even on webinars and speaking engagements.

Where do endorsements go in a book?

You could place endorsements or “blurbs” on the back cover of your book, the praise sheet, or even the front cover, as you can see from my endorsement example below.

book blurb location on page

But, how do you get top influencers to support your book? Here are five simple steps to get endorsements for your book.

#1 – Find the right influencers for your book endorsement

The most powerful endorsements are those given by people who are well-known in your field.

To select the right influencers, find out who your ideal readers admire. Post the question on targeted social media groups or ask them directly.

Also, ask yourself what top influencers you follow and respect. Add their names to the list.

Focus on quality over quantity, but if you don’t have enough names, search for bestselling books similar to yours and check out who endorsed them.

It’s important that the influencers have a style and values similar to yours. That way, your ideal reader will be likely to be attracted to them and be familiar with their work.

How do you figure out the style and values of potential endorsers? Start by visiting the “About Me” page on their website and pay attention to their branding and message.

Then, visit their pages on social and focus on the style of their posts and the content they share. You’ll get a good idea of whether the person’s values and style might be a good match for you or not.

#2 – Deliver value first

Because it’s much easier to get a yes from someone who has already received value from you, it’s important that you start planning your request for endorsements in advance.

For blurbs by top influencers, you might need to start the outreach process several months ahead of the publication of your book.

Regardless of where you are in your journey, there’s always a way for you to bring value to the influencers and start a relationship with them.

Something as simple as sending them a handwritten note about how much their message means to you, posting a video review of their book on Amazon, or recommending them on LinkedIn will help you stand out.

Here are other examples of powerful ways to stand out:

  • becoming an active member on the influencers’ social media groups
  • attending one of their conferences
  • joining one of their paid programs

You should do this because you truly enjoy their message and not just because you’re seeking endorsements. Your true intentions will come through in your communications and behaviors.

Avoid going straight to the ask without having taken the time to deliver value first.

#3 – Prepare to ask for a book blurb

Before you reach out to potential endorsers, do everything you can to make it as easy as possible for them to say yes.

Prepare well in advance so you can find the best opportunities to ask for the endorsement, and give yourself enough time to get through gatekeepers.

book endorsements example

For example, if the influencer will be speaking at an event in your town, you could grab a ticket and introduce yourself.

However, local events aren’t your only choice. One of my friends was interested in building a relationship with an influencer who would be speaking three thousand miles away. But that didn’t stop her.

By following the influencer on Instagram, she learned that this person loved brownies and would be attending the event with her husband.

My friend ordered a dozen brownies to be delivered to the event with a customized note that read, “Best wishes during your presentation. Hope you and your husband enjoy these treats!”

That was the start of their friendship.

How long is a book blurb?

As part of your preparation, write a sample endorsement for each influencer. Blurbs usually hover around 50 words (never more than 100). If you know their work well, you will be able to create blurbs that closely match their writing voice.

#4 – Ask for the endorsement

It might feel nerve-wracking to ask, but never wrong. If you’re hesitant, it might be too soon in the relationship, especially when it comes to top influencers.

If you ask too soon, they will either ignore you or reject your proposal.

Rushing might mean that you’ll have to start the process all over again and find someone else to endorse your book.

Never send a mass request to a group of influencers. You’ll waste your time, and hurt your chances of ever building a relationship with them. Customization is key.

Send the influencers a copy of your book along with a well-crafted message asking for the endorsement.

Ideally, you’ll send them a physical copy. It doesn’t have to be the final version, and it doesn’t have to be perfect. It can be a printed PDF.

That said, you must ensure that whatever you send to the influencer is professionally packaged.

If sending a physical version of your book is not possible, you can send them the PDF or ebook, but you’ll have to ask in a way that stands out. You could achieve this by customizing your message in a unique way, creating a video specifically designed for them, or preceding your email with a handwritten note.

Think outside the box! A video card or a note written on a balloon would be clever ways to stand out, too.

Be succinct. Remember that time is a high-price commodity for influencers (for everyone!) so you don’t want to make it a chore to understand what you’re asking.

Start by expressing why you feel they’re the right person to endorse the book and why you respect them so much. Be sure to mention that you’re eager to make your readers aware of their work.

Next, specify the length of the blurb you’re seeking as well as by when you need it done.  

When should I ask for a book blurb?

Don’t make your deadline too far in the future so that it’s put in the back burner, but don’t make it so soon that the influencer will immediately say no. I personally chose 3-4 weeks to collect the blurbs.

Be prepared to negotiate an extended due date, and allow for extra time in your planning.

When you share the blurb that you wrote, explain that you’re just trying to make things easy for them.

Express how much you appreciate their time and attention, and close with the promise to follow up in a week or two.

When should I ask for a book blurb?

#5 – Follow Up for Book Endorsements

If you don’t hear back from the influencers, it’s easy to assume they’re not interested in writing the endorsement and be tempted to give up. However, it’s important to realize that they might have not received your message yet. 

Emails go to spam folders. Gatekeepers delete emails and toss out mail. You never know!

When you follow up, try a different way to reach the person. If you used email first, follow up with a handwritten note or a message on social media.

If you find out the name of the influencers’ gatekeepers, reach out to them directly. Build a relationship with them as well, and you will have a great chance of success.

My rule of thumb is to follow up three times. If you don’t hear from them, it might be time to move on.

As you can see, with a well-written manuscript, proper planning, and a great dose of authenticity, it’s possible for you to get endorsements from top influencers in your field.

The most important step is to take action.

how to get book endorsements

It’s easy to be sidelined by fear of rejection, but if you think about it, the worst thing that can happen is that they’ll say no. If you’re confident in the quality of your book, you have nothing to fear.

Take the first step today to gain powerful social proof and make your book a success!

how to write a short story

How to Write a Short Story with 11 Easy Steps for Satisfying Stories

You probably don’t think short stories are very hard to write.

In fact, you might be the type who assumes short stories are even easier because, well…they’re short.

But that’s just not the case (there’s an art to writing an amazing story)—and I’ll tell you why in just a minute.

Short stories, and getting good at writing them, can actually set you up for success in other writing ventures as well.

They may be difficult, but we’re breaking down how to make them much easier, and what makes for a good one to begin with.

FREE Ultimate Fiction Writer Tutorials  Gain access to 5 lessons of high intensive writing training on ideas,  plotting, stronger writing, and even the technical side (grammar) with  examples, and more!  YES! GET THE TUTORIALS!

If you want to learn how to write a short story, you’ll have to go through these main steps:

  1. Know your character
  2. Outline your short story
  3. Start with something out of the ordinary
  4. Get your draft done as soon as possible
  5. Edit your short story
  6. Title your short story
  7. Get feedback about it
  8. Practice often
  9. Write a short story every day
  10. Define your core message
  11. Write a satisfying ending

But before we dive into these exact methods for how to write a short story, let’s talk about why any and all writers should learn how to craft solid, captivating short stories, even if your end writing goal is to write full-length novels or even nonfiction.

Why All Writers Should Learn How to Write a Good Short Story

There’s a lot more to writing short stories than you may think. Just because they’re shorter in length doesn’t mean it takes any less skill to execute a good one.

In fact, being able to tell a full story in such a short amount of time arguably takes more skill than writing a full-length novel or nonfiction book.

That being said, why is it beneficial for all writers to learn how to write a short story?

#1 – You learn the skill of showing

When you only have a few pages to hook readers, paint a clear picture of the character, and tell a story, you end up mastering the skill of showing instead of telling.

The reason for this is because, in order to accomplish a successful and good short story, showing is a major part of that.

It’s far too difficult to write a great short story without showing the details and using strong verbs to paint a clear image of your character’s life.

Those skills will transfer into anything you write, automatically making it that much better.

#2 – You’ll strengthen individual chapters

No matter if you’re a fiction writer or if you prefer nonfiction, the idea here is the same.

A chapter is basically a short story that’s a part of a bigger whole. The same skills you apply to write a great short story will also help you write stronger chapters.

Each part of your book should be polished, strong, and enticing for your readers. Using short story writing methods will help you achieve that within your chapters.

Why is writing good chapters important if there’s a whole book available for someone to read?

Because it hooks readers and keeps them turning that page.

And when readers look back on an entire book filled with incredible chapters, the entire book as a whole will be seen as being that much better.

Hello, 5-star reviews!

#3 – It makes the story sections of your nonfiction book more captivating

Every nonfiction book has portions where stories must be told in order to get the point across.

This is what allows people to relate to you as an author, which pulls them in deeper and makes the core message of your book resonate with them more.

But if those stories are weak, not well-written, and lackluster, it’s unlikely someone will enjoy them as much.

It’s also likely that your message will get lost because the book doesn’t carry the same impact.

How long are short stories?

Short stories should remain below 7,000 words in order to be considered a “short story.” They can be as short as only one sentence, as this is known as flash fiction.

You already know that short stories are…shorter than your average novel but do they have any other difference?

Here’s a chart detailing the main differences in how many words are in short stories, novels, novellas, and nonfiction works.

Type of WritingWord CountPages in a Typical BookExample
Short story100 - 15,000 1 - 24 pages"The Gift of the Magi" by O. Henry
Novella30,000 - 60,000100 - 200 pages"A Clockwork Orange" by Anthony Burgess
Novel60,000 - 100,000200 - 350 pages"Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone": by JK Rowling
Epic Novel120,00 - 220,000+400 - 750+ pages"Game of Thrones" by George R.R. Martin

As you can see, the main difference is length, but that’s not all. When you write a short story, you’re only writing a very impactful snippet of your character’s otherwise full life.

You don’t have to unpack your entire character’s life story in a few hundred words in order to write a great short story.

How to Write a Short Story

If you’re ready to tackle this avenue of creative writing or you just want to learn how to write a short story to strengthen the overall quality of your book, here’s how you can do that.

#1 – Focus on Character Development

In order for a short story to be impactful, you have to know your character well. Having good character development is essential in short stories, since your characters often drive the story.

You only have a certain amount of time to show your readers who that person is and you can’t do that if you don’t even know who they are.

Think about it.

If you write a short story about your best friend, whom you’ve known for many years, versus writing one about someone you just met yesterday, you’ll be able to craft a much stronger story about your best friend because you know them so well.

The same goes for your fictional characters.

You don’t have to spend a ton of time on your main character, but know their history, age, personality, family life, friend life, love life, and other details that shape the way someone sees the world.

how to write a short story characters

Above is an example of what a character arc typically looks like in a full novel.

Keep in mind that since your short story is, well, shorter than a novel, you may remove a few steps. Knowing the overall character journey, however, can be helpful for character development within short stories.

#2 – Outline

Thankfully, the outlining process for a short story is much easier than a full novel, but I do still advise creating one in order to have a cohesive flow throughout the story.

This is definitely useful for those of you who prefer outlining versus just writing by the seat of your pants.

Here’s what your outline should encompass for a short story:

  • The point of view you’ll use
  • How you’ll start the story
  • How you’ll get from the beginning to the main issue
  • What happens at the “climax” (yes, even short stories have one!)
  • Resolution of the main issue
  • The very end

Keep in mind that your short story can end very abruptly or you can flesh it out until there’s a satisfying ending.

This is really up to you as an author to decide.

#3 – Start with something out of the ordinary

In order to hook readers with a short story, you should start with something that’ll catch someone’s attention right off the bat.

Take Hannah Lee Kidder’s example from the video above. One of the short stories in her anthology, Little Birds, opens with a woman collecting roadkill.

Odd? Yes. Attention grabbing? You bet!

Because we’re automatically intrigued by the fact that people don’t normally go around collecting roadkill.

Now, you don’t have to start your short story with something as strange as that but you do want to give your readers a sense of who your character is by depicting something different right away that also has to do with the core focus of your short story.

short story writing

Take this short story called The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry, for example. This author starts with a very low money amount and then hits you with the fact that it’s Christmas the very next day.

This is out of the ordinary because many readers understand that having such little money (scraped up money, at that) right before Christmas isn’t typical. It’s odd – and also hits their emotions right away.

#4 – Get the draft done ASAP

Done is better than perfect. We’ve all heard or read these words time and time again – and that’s because they’re important; they’re true.

This is especially the case when it comes to short stories. Once you have your outline and know how to start writing, drafting the short story in full comes next.

Don’t worry about editing or polishing the story up in any way right now. After all, you can’t possibly make good edits until you know what the story looks like in full.

That would be like matching your earrings to your pants without first having the full outfit put together. You don’t know if those earrings work well with it until you see what else you’ll be wearing.

It’s the same for writing. Focus on getting your draft done so you can move on to the next step.

short story writing quote

#5 – Edit your short story

Editing is where the real magic happens when it comes to writing. We all have this idea in our minds that we’ll get it perfect the first time and that’s just not how writing works.

Most of the time, your first draft is just the bare bones of what’s to come but through line editing, developmental edits, and proofreading, it will transform into something better.

Think of the actual writing as the wooden structure of a house and the editing as the drywall, paint, windows, light fixtures, doors, and anything else that’ll make the house complete.

These are a few things to keep an eye out for when editing your short story:

The editing process for short stories is pretty much the same for novels. The only difference is that short stories tend to focus more on imagery and exposition than they do full character and plot development.

FREE Ultimate Fiction Writer Tutorials  Gain access to 5 lessons of high intensive writing training on ideas,  plotting, stronger writing, and even the technical side (grammar) with  examples, and more!  YES! GET THE TUTORIALS!

#6 – Title it!

This can be one of the most difficult things for any book, let alone a story that’s only a few hundred to a few thousand words.

The good news? Short story titles are a little less important than titles for novels. They can also be very abstract.

What you want to think of when titling your short story is this:

  • What’s the overarching theme?
  • Something unique about the story?
  • Sounds intriguing but not explanatory?
  • What makes sense after reading the short story?

These questions will help you develop a title that not only makes sense, but is also intriguing enough to pull readers in while staying true to what the story is about.

#7 – Get feedback

No matter how experienced (or inexperienced) you are as a writer, you need feedback.

In order to learn and improve and ensure your message is coming across as desired, you need someone else’s fresh eyes on it.

Here’s an example of what feedback might look like if you’re using Google Docs to write your short story:

how to write a short story feedback

We need this help because the simple fact is, we’re too close to our writing.

It’s impossible to read your story with a critical eye when you’re the one who came up with and wrote it in the first place.

Allowing others to read your work and offer feedback is one of the best ways to improve and make sure your story is exactly how you want it.

#8 – Practice by writing short stories often

The number one best way to learn how to write good short stories is by writing them often.

When you’re writing regularly, your brain falls into the habit of being creative and thinking in terms of short stories.

The more you do it, the easier it will get and the more you’ll improve. So focus on writing a certain number of short stories per week and stick to that – even if they aren’t your favorite.

#9 – Write one short story every day for 30 days

This is separate from writing short stories often. If you really want to kickstart your progress and get really good quickly, then create a challenge for yourself.

Write one short story, whether it’s 500 or 1,000 words, per day for an entire month.

When you’re done, you’ll have 30 full short stories to review, edit, and improve upon. Doing this not only builds a habit, but it also gives you a lot of experience quickly.

After those 30 days, you’ll know more about how you like to write short stories, which mean more to you, and how to write them to be good.

how to write a short story quote

#10 – Focus on a single message to share

Short stories are known for being impactful even though they’re not novel-length.

And that means they have to have a core theme or message you want to get across. This can be anything from loving yourself to ignoring societal expectations.

In order to do this, think about what you want people to walk away from your story feeling.

What is the desired outcome?

If you just want people to enjoy the story, that’s great. However, what makes a story impactful and enjoyable is what readers take away from it.

Brainstorm some themes that are important to you and work your short story around them. This will not only make you care about your story more (which means it’ll be written better), but it’ll also make ti more satisfying for readers.

#11 – Tie it up with a satisfying ending

Nobody likes a story that ends on a major cliffhanger.

It’s okay for your short story to have an unresolved ending. In fact, that’ll likely be the case simply because the story is…well, short.

But you do want to tie your story up in a way that leaves the reader feeling satisfied even if they didn’t get all the answers.

Many times, this means circling back to an idea or element presented in the beginning.

This structure often allows readers to feel as though they’ve read a complete story versus just a snippet of a larger one.

Short Story Ideas

Now that you know how to write a short story, it’s time to put these new skills to the test with some short story ideas guaranteed to produce something interesting and intriguing.

Here are 20 short story ideas to take your writing to the next level:

  1. Your character opens the mailbox to find their biggest fear inside.
  2. After a devastating fall, your character is learning the hardships of healing after an accident.
  3. Character accidentally insults their company’s CEO – right before a big promotion.
  4. The character lost a child years ago but lives as if it just happened the day before.
  5. Your character’s village wise woman tells the story of how magic was lost due to abuse.
  6. Your character lives in a space pod traveling space, and they’re also claustrophobic.
  7. Ash floated from the mountaintop and awoke your character from their night’s sleep.
  8. Your character hasn’t eaten in days and stumbles upon real berries, and so does a starving bear.
  9. When your character’s heart is broken, they must find a way to heal it – any way.
  10. Your character is an orphaned 7-year-old who hears voices.
  11. Your character just found out they have a rare disease…that hasn’t been detected anywhere in centuries.
  12. After a fight with their ex, your character decides to go on a trip to the neighboring town that hosts very…unusual tales.
  13. Your character accidentally runs into the wrong person on the street…and now they can’t sleep at night.
  14. When your character moves schools, they didn’t expect to find a secret lurking throughout the school…that all the teachers know about.
  15. It’s your character’s turn in their culture’s ritual of fighting a lion barehanded. They’ve never been good in fights.
  16. After extreme weather conditions plague your character’s town, they finally leave home to find everybody has gone missing.
  17. Your character is in the back of an ambulance, trying desperately to revive someone who’s apparently dead…so why are they still away and breathing?
  18. After a short stint at a hospital as a nurse, your character decides to take their skills to the mountains as a wilderness medical professional. They just didn’t expect to find odd and interesting injuries among campers.
  19. An apple appears at your character’s front door every morning and they can’t figure out who’s putting it there.
  20. When an avalanche quakes the mountains in your character’s town, it unveils something that’s been hidden for…millenia.
how to write a short story

Tips for Writing with Short Story Ideas:

Sometimes short story ideas are enough but if you want to utilize them effectively, keep these tips in mind:

#1 – Keep it simple and focus on a single portion of a character’s life

#2 – Make sure the reader has a clear picture of your character right away

#3 – Focus on the theme and message you’re trying to get across

#4 – Let the short story idea create a life of its own

#5 – Be unique and think of many possible endings to the story before outlining

Now you know how to write a short story! It can seem a little scary, but with these tips, you’ll be off to creating some really captivating stories.

paassive voice

Passive Voice: What Is Passive Voice & How to Improve It with Examples

Passive voice has its purposes. It really does. In fact, it can be the politically correct way to phrase something.

Imagine…

The setting: a public school library

The players: a librarian (OK, I’m the librarian) and 15 first graders

The scene: The librarian is reading aloud nonfiction books about sharks.

The question: “Why do sharks _______________?” (some intriguing behavior too complex or gory for me to explain or possibly even understand)

The passive voice answer that keeps me employed in a public school: “That’s the way they were made.”

The active voice answer that I would tell my grandchildren: “God made them that way.”

FREE Ultimate Fiction Writer Tutorials  Gain access to 5 lessons of high intensive writing training on ideas,  plotting, stronger writing, and even the technical side (grammar) with  examples, and more!  YES! GET THE TUTORIALS!

Here’s what you’ll learn about passive voice:

  1. What is passive voice?
  2. How much passive voice can you use?
  3. How to choose to use passive or active voice
  4. Active voice examples
  5. How to vary your sentence variety
  6. How to find your percent of passive voice

What is passive voice?

Passive voice is when you write a sentence in which the subject receives an action. For example, “The ant was helped by the human.” is passive voice because the subject (ant) receives an action (help). The active voice of this sentence is, “The human helped the ant.”

Typically, passive voice is seen as weak when writing a book and in most cases, this is true. However, passive voice can serve its own purpose in writing.

One instance to use passive voice intentionally is when you don’t know (or care) WHO created the action.

It was so long ago, so obscure, so common, or so…something that the point is not on the subject performing an action; the focus is on the result.

Most of the time, though, active voice is the way to go. It’s more direct (less wordy) and commands more interest. You use strong verbs in active voice, so the entire sentence is (usually) stronger.

Active voice sentences are easier to understand.

what is passive voice

How much passive voice can you use?

The English language has melded far too many linguistic influences to have any absolute rules.

Therefore, the frequency of using passive voice versus active voice is a judgment call on how you would like to balance out your active and passive sentences, particularly when you can actually use passive voice intentionally as a literary device.

The key is to understand the difference between the two.

How to Choose Between Using Passive Voice or Active Voice

In general, active voice is preferred. Below is an explanation that I used with English students.

Active voice shows direct ACTION; passive voice is more ho-hum and wordy with unnecessary prepositional phrases.

The passive verb usually needs helping verbs.  Sometimes it even sounds stilted.

Active voice has movers and shakers; passive voice is like being a couch potato. Do you want to be the one DOING the action or be passive? Be an active leader, not a follower! Start with the main subject and go from there.

Passive Voice Examples:

ACTIVE:  I love reading.

PASSIVE:  Reading is loved by me.

ACTIVE:  AC/DC Thunder won the game easily.

PASSIVE:  The game was won easily by AC/DC Thunder.

With students, the focus is on active voice; with a professional writer like yourself, you will most likely have a blend of both active and passive sentences, but active should still far outweigh passive.

Active VS Passive Voice with Examples

From Billboard’s “The Biggest Hits of All: The Hot 100’s All-Time Top 100 Songs” I selected songs that used active voice in their titles. (WHO selected them? I selected them. That’s another easy example of active voice.)

Here are song titles along with a rewrite in passive voice:

  • “I Love Rock ‘N Roll” * Rock ‘N Roll Is Loved by Me
  • “I Gotta Feeling” * A Feeling Was Gotten by Me
  • “You Light Up My Life” * My Life Was Lit Up by You”
  • “We Found Love” * Love Was Found by Us
  • “I Want to Hold Your Hand” * Your Hand Is What I Want to Hold
  • “Another One Bites the Dust” * The Dust Was Bitten by Another One
  • “I Will Always Love You” * You Will Always Be Loved by Me
  • “I Heard It Through the Grapevine” * It Was Heard Through the Grapevine by Me

Sentences with the understood subject (you) have an imperative active voice which is much more authoritative than passive tense:

  • (You)” Un-Break My Heart” * My Heart Should Be Unbroken by You
  • (You) “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole Oak Tree” * A Yellow Ribbon Should Be Tied Round the Ole Oak Tree by You
  • (You) “Let the Sunshine In” * The Sunshine Should Be Let In by You
  • (You) “Play That Funky Music” * That Funky Music Should Be Played by You

Conversely, this next song title has a passive voice that works: “That’s What Friends Are For” (better than Friends Are for That).

With the rewrites changing active voice to passive, did you discern a pattern where many of them ended with a prepositional phrase containing the person doing the action?

Think of gossip.

People want to know who is doing what! (They really did that? You’re kidding!) Put the subject right at the beginning so everyone knows whom you’re talking (writing) about and what they did!

How to Vary Your Sentence Variety Using Passive Voice and Active Voice

If you have the same subject over and over and if the object is more of the point anyway, passive voice allows for sentence variety.

Furthermore, if it doesn’t matter who did the action because the result is the point, passive voice works.

what is passive voice

The chairs in the old high school library were refinished and moved to the new library weeks before the tables were moved. Temporary chairs were in the high school library.

I needed the tables from the old elementary library to sort the genre boxes, so students had chairs, but no tables for a while. The elementary students enjoyed sitting at the “invisible” tables and joked how they didn’t have to push in their chairs when they left.

After class, a first grader told his teacher very sincerely, “The tables really are invisible!”

I smile whenever I think of his endearing comment.


Passive voice rationale: It didn’t matter who had refinished and moved the chairs or who had put temporary chairs in the high school library. I hadn’t done those things, and those details would not have added to the book.

Nonetheless, I had completed the genrefication project (where the library was totally reorganized by book genres). I didn’t want to start almost every sentence with “I + action verb + direct object.” It would sound awkward to repeatedly start sentences with “I did this, I did that, I, I, I….”

FREE Ultimate Fiction Writer Tutorials  Gain access to 5 lessons of high intensive writing training on ideas,  plotting, stronger writing, and even the technical side (grammar) with  examples, and more!  YES! GET THE TUTORIALS!

Passive Voice Checker & How to Determine Your Percent of Passive Voice

Beyond the basic spelling and grammar check (which can be helpful with tools like Grammarly or even Hemingway Editor) is Word’s readability feature.

It tells you various details about your writing, including the percentage of passive sentences, the Flesch Reading Ease, and the Flesch-Kincaid Grade Level.

For example, the segment about the chairs and the invisible tables scored an 8.8 Flesh-Kincaid Grade Level, which means it was written at a reading level where an 8th grader in the 8th month of school should be able to comprehend the text.

Many teen and adult fiction books are written at 4th – 6th-grade reading levels (based on Accelerated Reader scoring) because the writing flows at those levels for recreational reading compared to reading to learn new information. Newspapers may rank more at a 10th-grade reading level, depending on the complexity of the information.

If you are using Word and would like to know your percentage of passive sentences and readability scores, here’s what you do:

  1. Go to Review at the top of Word.
  2. Select Spelling & Grammar from the top left.
  3. Select Options… from the pop-up.
  4. Select Settings… at the bottom of the next pop up (next to Writing style:)
  5. Then scroll down until you see Passive Voice and check the box
  6. Select “OK” and you’ll now be able to check your passive voice in Word
passive voice checker

In case you were wondering (and even if you weren’t), this article was written at a 6.7 reading level with 6% sentences being passive.

Now check some of your writing and see if you agree with your results.

By the way, I just took my own advice here and checked my children’s picture book, The Flower Fairies Meet the Talking Rainbow Rocks. It contains 4% passive sentences (acceptable to me) but has a 4.1 reading level, which is higher than I would have guessed and higher than I had planned for a picture book.

My book’s science-related terms increased the reading level. Word’s readability tool actively helps with various writing considerations beyond passive voice. You may use it purely for passive voice, but it will tell you even more.

Active writing is lively writing. It is aggressive in the most positive sense. It burrows in there and zooms straight to the point.

Stay active with your writing, and stay active in your writing.

self publishing realities

10 Surprising Realities of Self-Publishing Your Books

I know it seems easy.

You’re probably thinking that self-publishing a book successfully is nothing more than uploading a document to the web and hitting an all-powerful “PUBLISH” button.

You’re far from the truth…

In all honesty, self-publishing is certainly a process. There’s a reason big-name publishing houses have been around for so long; they take care of a lot of the work.

You do all the creative thinking while they do the other heavy lifting.

But that also means they get a (very) big cut of your earning. Your hard-earned income. But all of that’s already been discussed with self-publishing versus traditional publishing.

Instead, we’ll talk about what you can actually expect when you decide to put yourself first and commit to self-publishing.

And believe me, I know it’s a hard choice to make.

FREE TRAINING: How You Can Publish a Book in 60 Days  Learn the exact step-by-step methods 100 of our students have used the last 60  days to publish their books--and how YOU can do it too, just as easily!  YES! GET THE TRAINING!

Here’s what you’ll learn about the realities of self-publishing:

  1. You’ll become tech-savvy
  2. You’ll bring in more income
  3. You’ll learn about yourself
  4. You’ll make connections
  5. You build instant credibility
  6. You’ll have more opportunities
  7. Your business with grow
  8. You’ll want to write another book
  9. You’ll generate new ideas
  10. You’ll develop a writing routine

Taking that leap can be difficult, especially if you’re not sure what to expect. Let us do some decluttering of your mind by cluing you in on some of the unexpected realities of self-publishing your book!

#1 – You’ll become a tech-savvy self-publishing whiz

A lot of technical coordination needs to happen in order to self-publish your book.

You’ll have to:

  • Write the book
  • Get it formatted
  • Get a cover designed
  • Combine into one product
  • Create online self-publishing accounts
  • Upload materials to the accounts
  • Coordinate your launch team in a single place

There is more but I think you get the idea.

Self-publishing involves a number of different technical capabilities you probably don’t know of before starting the process.

And because you’ll be responsible for the entirety of your publishing journey, you’ll learn a lot about all of the different platforms you’ll need to make it happen – which is made a lot easier with a program that shows you exactly what you need to do, when to do it, and how to get it done.

#2 – A lot more income

You probably think of self-published authors as the “starving artist” type, forever playing catch-up with bills and life in general.

In reality, that couldn’t be further from the truth.

In fact, check out this book profit calculator to determine just how much money you can make depending on how you price your book, the royalty rate, and how many book sales you acquire.

STEP 1

Enter Your Information Below To Calculate Your Potential Book Sales

STEP 2

Want to receive personalized tips on how to sell more books right in your inbox?

CONGRATULATIONS!
Here\'s What You\'d Earn:

Your profit per book:

In 3 months, you\'ll make:

In 6 months, you\'ll make:

In 1 year, you\'ll make:

That fact is, self-publishing gets a really bad reputation for bankrupting those who pursue its path. And sure, some people may have spent a lot of time and money on their book only for it to tank.

But those people often decide to go it completely alone instead of using a program or guideline of sorts to ensure they succeed.

If you do work hard and pursue self-publishing by learning from those who have done it before, you can actually expect some cushy additional income.

Why is that, you ask?

Because you don’t have to fork over a chunk of your earnings to a publisher. Because you are the publisher.

#3 – You’ll learn a lot about yourself

This is especially true if you’re writing non-fiction but it’s just as meaningful for fiction authors as well.

Writing a book takes a lot of your own experiences, values, and meaningful content to you. That means you get to do some digging into your psyche to uncover the very core of who you are. And if you’re writing a memoir, be prepared for a lot of this.

That’s a bit deep, but I really want you to understand just how much you can learn about yourself from self-publishing a book.

And it’s not even all about the writing itself, either.

Self-publishing takes a lot of drive, ambition, and a very determined individual.

It’s a challenge and whenever we enter into challenging times in our lives, we learn more about ourselves than ever before.

Self-publishing a book is the same.

Through your writing, editing, rewriting, marketing, and self-publishing journey, you can figure out more of who you are and what you want out of life.

And that alone is worth it.

#4 – You’ll make amazing connections

Networking isn’t really something many people think of when they consider self-publishing.

In fact, most people assume self-published authors are shut-ins who spend all their time shrouded in thick blankets with a steaming mug of spiked coffee between their hands.

But when you have to market and ask others for advice or even if you become a member of a powerful self-publishing group, you meet all kinds of people.

And knowing talented, hardworking individuals will only help you reach your goals faster.

The point is, self-publishing helps you build those connections you might not otherwise get. After all, self-published authors stick together.

what to expect self publishing

#5 – You build almost-instant credibility

The crazy thing about self-publishing is how much other’s view of you changes.

Before, you may have just been a blogger with a business that just wouldn’t take off. After you have a book available, others will see you as an authority figure in your field.

They will feel more comfortable paying for your products or services simply because you wrote a book.

It might seem a little silly because your knowledge base is the same, but when a potential customer can purchase your book, they instantly see you as someone with expert knowledge and this increases the likelihood that they’ll buy from you.

Even if you’re not a business owner, self-publishing a book will still give you a boost in the eyes of strangers and even people you know well.

#6 – Opportunities will come knocking

We like to refer to self-publishing a book as opening the door to Narnia. Once you go through with the process, you will throw yourself into an entirely new world where opportunities basically fall into your lap.

By this I mean that you might be contacted for speaking gigs, bring in more high-value clients, get requests for interviews, and more.

Because publishing a book places you as an authority figure and heightens your credibility, more people will want to hear what you have to say on the subject.

This could lead you down new roads, offer new business ventures (like this entire company!), and change your entire life – just because you decided to take action and self-publish a book.

self publishing chandler bolt

#7 – Your business will flourish

This is the amazing thing about self-publishing a book. When your credibility sky-rockets, so will your business.

In fact, most aspects of your life will flourish but a book will directly aid your business (and even your side-hustle!).

Take our alumnus Ashley Emma, for example. After the launch of her book, her business generated $24,000 specifically from her book Fearless Author.

So if your business is struggling and you need a new way to bring in sales, writing and self-publishing a book is a fantastic method to do so.

#8 – You’ll want to write another book ASAP

The process of self-publishing can be a long and arduous one – and you’ll still want to publish another book as soon as you can.

Why? Because of everything you gain from it.

Many of our students love what having a self-published book offers so much that they dive into the program again in order to write another one.

In fact, one of our alumni (and now one of our Coaches!), Lise Cartwright, has self-published 26 books simply because of the opportunities she’s gained through doing so.

One of the (arguably) best opportunities granted was becoming part of the Self-Publishing School team behind the scenes by teaching and helping other students find the same success she did.

Bottom line: you might become addicted to writing books.

#9 – You’ll generate tons of new ideas

Writing a book forces you into a quicksand-like imaginative headspace. The more you write, the more you understand what else you can be writing and you end up in a pit of creativity that releases your mind and allows you to think outside the box.

You practically get sucked into creative thinking.

Meaning, you’ll come up with so many new ideas for other books, blog posts, or even business ventures.

Think of your creativity like a muscle and self-publishing as the gym. Each time you sit down to further your self-publishing progress, the more creative you will become.

#10 – You’ll become a routine-writer

Before you learn the real process of self-publishing a book, you probably only ever wrote when you were inspired.

And that’s not always useful.

You’ve always had this book idea and would spend bursts of time typing out so much content…

only to lose that inspiration the next day…and the next…and the next, until you basically forget all about it.

When you actually self-publish a book, you learn that becoming an author isn’t just about writing when you want to but writing anyway.

The best part about this?

You write faster, become better, and can publish much sooner than if you waited around for inspiration to find you.

story structures

Story Structure: 3 Main Templates for Structuring an Unforgettable Story

Your story structure does matter.

Not only was Rome not built in a day, but it also wasn’t built without a plan. London was built without a plan.

Hit some Google maps and look at an aerial view of both cities. You will see the difference.

And your readers will definitely see the difference if your book doesn’t have a cohesive structure…and they will not be back for more.

The three main types of story structure we’ll cover are:

  1. 3 Act Structure
  2. Hero’s Journey
  3. The 5 Milestones

Fully Customizeable Story Structure Templates  Download your FREE story structures templates and formulate your story based  on proven bestselling tactics readers LOVE!  YES! GET THE STRUCTURES!

What is story structure?

There are a few main types of story structure but overall, the structure of your story is how the events are laid out with an emphasis on using each part to further the story in an intriguing and cohesive structure.

Structure, suffice it to say, is important. The structure makes all the difference in creating a narrative that is poignant and satisfying.

More importantly, structure helps you, as the writer, keep track of all the events so that characters and story elements don’t fall through the cracks.

Keeping track of story elements makes writing a lot easier. Like following a recipe, it keeps you from leaving out important bits or putting in too much of others. Even simple stories contain numerous smaller nuances that, when forgotten, lead to disaster.

Watch any B movie from the 80s and you can see places where the editor, the script, and the director all lost the plot…don’t allow that when writing a novel yourself.

Furthermore, readers expect certain structures within story. They have an emotional attachment to certain pacing. They start to feel anxious if an element they are expecting hasn’t yet occurred, or never occurs.

Depending on the book genre, manipulating these expectations is a part of the style.

If you want to keep track of all of this, we’ve put together all three of these methods into story structure templates for you.

To gain access to all three, fill out the form below:

Why focus on the structure of a story?

Much like the streets of Rome, you want your story to get somewhere.

You might enjoy meandering through London’s sprawling game trails turned roadways, but you want to get somewhere eventually.

That is why a story structure serves as a map to guide you, the characters, and the reader to an eventual, and hopefully rewarding, destination.

Some of the most famous stories out there have a very specific, replicable story structure that has served them well.

That’s why we always recommend outlining your book using these methods for planning your novel.

Story Structure: 3 Templates for Getting it Right

Now that we’ve stressed the need for a story structure its time to learn about your options. Story structures don’t have to be confining, rigid, things.

They work best when used as signposts and tentpoles, holding up the scaffolding and guiding you on your way.

Note that a story structure is somewhat different than a story shape. The shape is more about the feel and thrust of a story over its arrangement.

Story Structure #1 – The 3 Act Play

The most basic of story structures, very popular in Hollywood style films, is the 3 Act Play.

Many world-famous novels use this structure, including:

  • Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir
  • Twilight by Stephenie Meyer
  • The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins

This structure relies on a total of five elements which includes the acts themselves, composed of various scenes, and two key transitions, referred to as “pinches” here.

Here is the three-act structure broken down:

  • Act 1: Setup – We’re introduced to the main players as well as the main conflict. We understand the voice, tone, and direction of the story.
    • Pinch 1 – This is when the initial conflict arises (sometimes known as the inciting incident).
  • Act 2: Confrontation – We’re in the thick of the main conflict here, along with some secondary conflicts. We’re faced with difficult (seemingly impossible) odds to overcome.
    • Pinch 2 – The conflicts addressed in Act 2 come to a head, and decisions need to be made. This is often the moment where all hope is lost for your protagonist.
  • Act 3: Resolution – Everything boils down to this act. All of the conflict, subplots, and challenges arise and the climax kicks off, shortly followed by the resolution of the story.

In the past, plays were structured with five acts, with two of the acts serving as long-form versions of the modern transitional elements of Pinch 1 and 2.

These have faded, partially because audiences have adapted to storytelling tropes and don’t need them spelled out. Also, stage tech, at least in plays, has advanced, requiring less busy work on the fringes to enact scenery changes for the more crucial acts.

Act 1 – The Setup

The first act introduces the characters with some mild character development and sets up the conflict. Take Romeo and Juliet (a fine example because we can discuss both the play’s 5 act structure and the films 3 act version).

The major players are all introduced in the first act and then attend a party. This gives us further information about each character in how they rep and participate in the party. We also see their conflicting social dynamics.

We set up an additional set of character dynamics between Romeo vs Paris as parties interested in Juliet and Mercutio and Tybalt as loyal but antagonistic figures.

Pinch 1 occurs at the end of the first act, introducing the conflict of the young couples’ love for each other. 

Act 2 – The Confrontation

In the play this is developed through the second act as the stakes for the lovers is spelled out. They marry in secret and that forms the end of the major plot point, the star-crossed lovers are not just passingly at odds with their society.

Within the 3 act structure, this is a single plot point. We get that they love each other, and that love means marriage.

Then, the middle act is the apprehension of their actions bringing about unintended, but not unforeseeable consequences.

The second act is often the longest as it is the place where elements move and forces muster. Everyone has to get into further trouble, further develop their roles, and gain power toward a resolution.

Act 2 ends shortly after a complication that brings the elements to a head. No longer able to maintain the secret, Romeo is confronted with a duel and his actions result in the death of his friend which then results in his banishment once he kills Tybalt.

Act 3 – The Resolution

Act 3 then begins with the fallout of these actions.

With Romeo headed to banishment, Juliet seeks a drastic plan to keep him around. She fakes her death to bring out the true feelings of the interested parties.

Since it is a tragedy, Romeo to get the clever reveal of the ruse and kills himself rather than being alone, though your story structure doesn’t have to follow this specific tragic ending.

Juliet then has to kill herself in turn and we end up with a high body count to bring the story to a close.

Fully Customizeable Story Structure Templates  Download your FREE story structures templates and formulate your story based  on proven bestselling tactics readers LOVE!  YES! GET THE STRUCTURES!

Story Structure #2 – Hero’s Journey

While the 3 Act structure works well for simple, straightforward stories, it doesn’t have the necessary oomph to underpin more nuanced tales.

When the good guys and bad guys are less black and white, you need to reach for the ancient wheel that is the Hero’s Journey.

The journey typically consists of 12 steps. It is the backbone of traditional storytelling, except it works and is a joy to take part in.

Older versions of the structure had more steps, the Tarot stemmed from an early understanding of this story structure starting with the fool (our hero) and ending with the world (resolution or complete understanding).

novel structure

Here are the 12 steps of the hero’s journey:

  1. The Ordinary World
  2. Call to Adventure
  3. Refusing the Call
  4. Meeting a Mentor
  5. Crossing the Threshold
  6. Tests, Allies, and Enemies
  7. Approach the Innermost Circle
  8. The Ordeal
  9. Seizing the Talisman
  10. The Road Ahead
  11. Resurrection
  12. Return with the Elixir

These steps explain, in detail, the trajectory of the story while leaving room to put in differing characters and pursuits of different ideals. While many contemporary stories still follow this structure, it is easiest to see it in the light of an epic.

We’ll use Lord of the Rings as an example of this story structure. While the entire story follows the structure multiple times, we’ll stick to Frodo’s arc.

Step 1 – The Ordinary World

The Lord of the Rings story begins, rather appropriately, in the most banal land in Middle Earth. The Shire is a pure ordinary world where nothing too much happens, and everyone lives without any idea that better or worse things exist outside its borders. (Well, they have some idea, but go the cognitive dissonance route to ignore it.)

Step 2 – The Call to Adventure

The Call to Adventure comes when Gandalf shows up in search of the One Ring.

He tells Frodo a quest needs to be taken up but doesn’t give the full details. This bleeds into Refusing the Call as Frodo accepts part of the responsibility, without understanding the rest.

Step 3 – Refusing the Call

Refusing the Call is about seeing what has to be done and deciding there has to be someone else.

A good hero, like a proper Platonic philosopher-king, needs to reject the call first to be more worthy of it. Frodo will finish Refusing the Call later in Rivendell as he tries to bargain that others are more capable.

Step 4 – Meeting a Mentor

Though Gandalf served as a Mentor in The Hobbit, Aragorn (as Strider) is the Mentor here.

Meeting him gets the four hobbits along the correct path and out of the shying away into the real journey. The Mentor often brings insight, training, or purpose to a hero.

Step 5 – Crossing the Threshold

Crossing the Threshold reflects the hero facing a challenge and realizing they can make a difference.

For Frodo, this occurs twice, the first time as he faces the barrow wraiths and rescues his friends, the second is surviving the orc attack in Moria. Both thresholds show the power of gifts he received from Biblo but also hint at how friendship will play a role in his other tests.

Step 6 – Tests, Allies, and Enemies

Tests, Allies, and Enemies is a larger middle section of the Hero’s Journey which winds through other elements.

The gathering of the fellowship is a gaining of allies, their journey is a test, the fellowship mirrors the numbers of the enemy Ring Wraiths.

This step might not necessarily be a solid, definable moment, but rather something that has been happening throughout the story until this point.

Step 7 – Approach the Innermost Circle

Approach the Innermost Circle is a great danger, if not the greatest danger, a hero faces.

Within Frodo’s journey, this is when he attempts to leave the rest of the group behind, going alone on the river because he fears what will happen if he keeps with the group.

This moment in your story should be high tension, with consequences that impact the overall plot.

Step 8 – The Ordeal

The Ordeal is what takes place inside the Innermost Circle.

In the wastes of Mordor, Frodo must hold out against the weight of the One Ring. It is a prolonged Ordeal but well within the idea of the step.

This is another step that can fall within a previous step.

Step 9 – Seizing the Talisman

Seizing the Talisman is about gaining an object of power that will turn the tide for the hero.

Tolkien has many of these for other characters, usually in the form of legendary or magical weapons they acquire. For Frodo, the specifics of the talisman are in his pity on Gollum.

Step 10 – The Road Ahead

The Road Ahead takes the hero from the talisman to a final conflict.

In this case, Frodo is betrayed by Gollum and nearly killed by Shelob, saved only by the friendship with Samwise.

The consequences of Seizing the Talisman are usually a downward turn, comparable with Pinch 2 from the 3 Act structure.

Step 11 – Resurrection

Resurrection often involves a person, or entity returning after being thought dead.

Gandalf becomes the white, Luke comes back with a mechanical hand, Frodo fails to discard the ring and has to be attacked by Gollum.

Frodo’s resurrection is being saved at the last moment by his previous good decisions, often a resurrection succeeds because of past decisions by a hero and rarely the actions they take in that moment.

Step 12 – Return with the Elixir

Finally, the hero must Return with the Elixir, taking everything they have learned and accomplished back to the Ordinary World they once inhabited.

Frodo and Sam arrive to take on Saruman, showing their knowledge and skill acquired through the Journey to return the land to peace.

This is often the last chapter, showing your character/s returning to their life or beginning to create their new life.

Story Structure #3 – The 5 Milestones

structure of a story

If the previous two structures seemed restrictive or overly elaborate (the Hero’s Journey is 12 freaken steps, after all) then the 5 Milestones structure is for you.

This structure keeps it simple by focusing on five plot points, usually one or two scenes each, that create the scaffold of the story. These Milestones have to go in order, but the space between them can be adjusted quite a lot.

Here are the 5 Milestones for this story structure:

  1. Setup
  2. Inciting Incident
  3. 1st Slap
  4. 2nd Slap
  5. Climax

We’ll use the Hunger Games to rundown this structure.

story structure milestones

Milestone 1 – The Setup

The first Milestone works just like the 3 Act and the Ordinary World. It shouldn’t be surprising as beginnings all need to do the same thing.

Collins sets her premise up by explaining the reason there are districts, why the Games exist, and introducing Katniss as the protagonist.

We know, rather quickly, that the world is dystopian and unfair, and we know the main character has the skills to make an impact.

Milestone 2 – The Inciting Incident

This leads to the Inciting Incident, the kickoff to the main plot and conflict in your novel.

In this case, Katniss’ own sister is chosen to take part in the Games. A task she is not ready for and will likely not survive. Not only that, it will spell disaster for the rest of the District if or when she fails.

story structure inciting incident

That specific moment is the inciting incident because it leads to Katniss’s next decision, which kicks off the entire point of the book: Katniss volunteers to be the tribute.

This sets the rest of the plot in motion while also anchoring the reader to the motives of the hero.

Milestone 3 – The 1st Slap

The 1st Slap, much like Pinch 1, sets the stakes and introduces the larger plot.

The Inciting Incident is often character motivating and motivated. The 1st Slap is usually external, a factor within the world that must be overcome.

The opening of the Games sets the stakes and shows the danger Katniss will face.  This parallels Crossing the Threshold in the Hero’s Journey story structure, where first blood is drawn and the hero, as well as the reader, see the reality of the dangers.

Rather than simply being told “there be dragons”, they see one firsthand.

The 1st Slap also makes good on the promise of adventure by putting the hero into the middle of a peril that they must escape. There is no turning back, only moving forward.

Milestone 4 – The 2nd Slap

This takes us into the 2nd Slap. Here, we see things get worse like a Pinch 2, but we see the hope on the horizon.

We know the Talisman, as seen in the Hero’s Journey story structure, is out there to be seized.

In The Hunger Games, this is seen by Katniss working out a plan to fake a relationship with Peta to get support from the outside; a means of survival.

She needs to keep him alive for his sake, and for hers. He is dying from an infection and she is told there will be an item she needs at the feast.

The feast is a huge risk, but it offers hope. She must take the chance. Things go badly, of course, and the hope teeters her on ruin.

story structure example

Milestone 5 – The Climax

All of this creates the landscape for the final Milestone: The Climax.

With the Games coming down to just Peta or Katniss, we go back to the events of the Inciting Incident and loop that motivation into how the hero wins.

Frodo helped Gollum, who saves him in return (not out of good intent, but it gets us there). Katniss has a need to protect others, all her actions follow that desire.

She sees a way to save Peta by threatening herself. This kind of character-driven resolution makes for a rewarding story and makes it easy to weave the details of your final victory throughout.

Your readers stay looped into the triumph because they root for the character because they like them, not because the plot says that they win.

The secret to making a story kickass is to make it come from within. A good reader can smell a set up a mile away. A good reader also loves to see a Milestone achieved.

There you have it, three ways to get a story from ‘In the Beginning’ to ‘The End’ that will keep you focused and organized. The reader will know what you’re doing, following along through the peaks and valleys, the twists and turns, confident that your roadmap will lead somewhere promising.

romance novels

10 Best Romance Novels That Have Gone Underappreciated

There are many romance novels out there. Some better than others, granted, but what makes some the best of the best?

What gives them that je ne sais quoi factor we’re all craving, some of us even trying to emulate when writing a novel ourselves?

I could go about this list in many different ways, but I’ve decided not to make this one a common, boring, cliché list. No.

This is not that kind of list; this will give you the best romance novels in different categories and the reasons why you’ll fall in love with them!

Here are the 11 best romance novels:

  1. Slammed by Colleen Hoover
  2. Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
  3. The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks
  4. The Hating Game by Sally Thorne
  5. The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo
  6. Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens
  7. Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen
  8. Me Before You by Jojo Moyes
  9. Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
  10. It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover
  11. Simon vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Side note: you’ll need a big box of tissues for most of these, so be sure to grab one before you dive in!

FREE Fiction Training! Learn the craft...  Learn how to write a strong fiction story readers love and launch your fiction  career...without compromising on quality (or taking YEARS to make it happen)!  YES! GET THE TRAINING!

Best Romance Books Per Category

The answer is for pulling novels from specific categories is simple: there are far too many amazing books out there to choose from and if you’re mapping out a list of the best, you’re going to miss a few important ones.

Categorizing them makes sense because you’ll be able to decide for yourself which type of book you’d enjoy more.

Consequently, you’ll find the best one in each category here. Once you finish it, you’ll be able to say if you enjoy that theme or not. And if not, you’re ready to jump into one of the other picks.

11 Best Romance Novels

If you’re looking for a quick read for a weekend or want to learn in order to write your own book, this list can give you some inspiration.

#1 – Slammed by Colleen Hoover

Category: Poetry, specifically slam poetry

Romance Novel Summary: Layken, an 18-year-older student meets her new neighbour, Will. Will is 21. They have an instant connection based on their similar likes, which gives Layken hope for happier days.

Once their connection is deep within you and you love them, there’s a revelation that shocks them and us, and they can’t be together. The problem is, they really want to.

Why You’ll Love It: If you’re not reading it because you love slam poetry, don’t worry. You’ll love slam poetry once you’re finshed! You may even want to try your hand at writing poetry afterward.

I had heard a few poems before but with this book, I became totally obsessed with slam poetry. It takes the novel to a higher level and forces us readers to connect with it a lot more. It becomes personal.

It’s also easy to identify ourselves with this story because it discusses topics that we’ve all had to face, including death and grief. Colleen is a brilliant writer and she just knows how to pull your strings.

Quote: “Question everything. Your love, your religion, your passion. If you don’t have questions, you’ll never find answers.”

#2 – Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell

Category: Young Adult Romance

Romance Novel Summary: You’ll meet Cath Avery, who has a total opposite twin sister, Wren. When they both start college, Wren tells Cath she doesn’t want to be her roommate and they should live their college experience separately.

Then, one day, between her awkwardness and fan-fiction stories, she meets Levi. And then everything changes. Slowly. But it changes.

Why You’ll Love It:This is not only a young adult romance, not only about love. It’s also about making decisions at a young age and growth. The story is beautifully structured, and you won’t be able to put it down before you finish it.

Besides having a really solid love story, you’ll also have a good laugh when diving into Rowell’s world.

Quote: “In new situations, all the trickiest rules are the ones nobody bothers to explain to you. (And the ones you can’t Google.)”

#3 – The Notebook by Nicholas Sparks

Category: Greatest Love Story

Romance Novel Summary:This is the story of Noah Calhoun and Allie Nelson. It is set in North Carolina after the Second World War. Noah thinks of Allie, a girl he had met 14 years prior. And one day, she shows up in his town.

Nicholas Sparks is the master of twists and turns in love stories and this one does not disappoint. This is a book of surprises that will test Noah and Allie’s love until the end.

Why You’ll Love It:I mean, do I really need an explanation here? Everyone knows Nicholas Sparks and that his books are amazing and will leave you in tears!

If you’ve watched the movie, read the book. If you haven’t watched the movie, read the book! It’ll break your heart in the most beautiful possible way.

Quote: “Every great love starts with a great story…”

#4 – The Hating Game by Sally Thorne

Category: Modern Romance

Romance Novel Summary:Lucy Hutton is a nice, sweet girl; Joshua Templeman is her opposite: cold and grumpy. They meet when the publishing houses they work at merge. It’s hate at first sight.

But everything changes with a kiss…

Why You’ll Love It:Two opposites attract… isn’t it just brilliant when you have a love/hate relationship in one of your books?

Because this is a modern romance, the storyline is also modern, which is the reason why many, many people love this novel. It’s easy to relate with it and Lucy is like the next-door neighbor, you just adore her.

And with this title, how you could NOT want to read it?

Quote: “It’s a corporate truth universally acknowledged that workers would rather eat rat skeletons than participate in group activities.”

#5 – The Light We Lost by Jill Santopolo

Category: Loss and Grief

Romance Novel Summary:Lucy is a senior in college at Columbia University when she meets Gabe, also a college senior. They meet on an ill-fated day that will shape their lives and the lives of those around them forever.

They meet throughout the years but there’s always something in between them, there’s always something preventing them from being together.

And in the end, Lucy has a very important decision to make. What will she decide to do?

Why You’ll Love It:If you’ve read and love PS: I Love You by Cecelia Ahern, this book should be next on your list.

I think it’s beautiful the way Santopolo deals with loss and grief, which are two themes so close and tangled with the subject of love.

Even though they can be difficult to approach, the message is important and not every romance needs a stereotypical happily ever after.

Quote: “Maybe it’s the act of opening yourself up, letting someone else in—or maybe it’s the act of caring so deeply about another person that it expands your heart.”

#6 – Dance Until Dawn by Berni Stevens

Category: Fantasy Romance

Romance Novel Summary:This is the first book in a series called “Immortals of London”. Ellie Wakefield has been saved from death by William Austen, a 300-year-old vampire.

Ellie has to learn about this new world and together they face unexpected challenges.

Why You’ll Love It:

Who doesn’t love a good-ol’ vampire story? Add to that a little old banter, and there you have it, the perfect novel!

Fantasy and romance are just like peanut butter and jelly; there’s no reason why they should go together, but they do, formidably.

This book is full of mystery and Stevens has written it in a way that you just crave for more. It’s fresh, well-detailed but very easy to read.

Quote: “I understand that this is rather a lot to take in,’ he said. ‘But I would appreciate it if you would stop referring to me as either psychotic or perverted.’ ‘Well I’d appreciate not being kidnapped and shut in this filthy hole.’ ‘Touché’.”

#7 – Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen

Category: Feminism and Classic Literature

Romance Novel Summary:The story revolves around the Bennets, a noble family that doesn’t have a lot of money because of Mr. Bennet, the father.

It all starts when two single noblemen arrive to town and, as it is custom, meet the single women, because ain’t it universally acknowledged “that a single man in possession of a good fortune, must be in want of a wife”?

When Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy meet, it’s not all rainbows and flowers, but would it be a real love story if it was otherwise?

Why You’ll Love It:Classics are important for a reason, and that reason is mostly because they’ll teach you something about the past, which most often than not, still has some truth in the present day.

You’ll love Pride and Prejudice because Jane Austen wrote it for everyone to dream about it. It’s an important story that needs to be read.

Elizabeth Bennet was born way ahead of her time and she’s here to teach you a lesson in sarcasm and feminism – you just cannot not read it!

Quote: “He is a gentleman, and I am a gentleman’s daughter. So far we are equal.”

FREE Fiction Training! Learn the craft...  Learn how to write a strong fiction story readers love and launch your fiction  career...without compromising on quality (or taking YEARS to make it happen)!  YES! GET THE TRAINING!

#8 – Me Before You by Jojo Moyes

Category: Illness and Loss

Romance Novel Summary:Louisa Clark loses her job and desperately needs to find another one. When the opportunity of taking care of Will Traynor, a young man that is wheelchair bound, knocks on her door, she doesn’t jump of happiness.

It’s a slow start and their relationship doesn’t seem to evolve, but as any other love story, there are twists and surprises along the way for both Louisa and Will.

Why You’ll Love It:This is a story of poor meets rich, good meets bad, but not at all as you’d expect it to be.

It’s not even about these pairs at all. But you’ll connect, at first, with the main character, Louisa, because of this. She’s simple and relatable.

You’ll read it in an afternoon and you’ll still be crying months later.

Quote: “I will never, ever regret the things I’ve done. Because most days, all you have are places in your memory that you can go to.”

#9 – Gone with the Wind by Margaret Mitchell

Category: History, specifically the Civil War

Romance Novel Summary:Scarlett O’Hara has a hard task at hand: she’s fighting for her family’s plantation and for the love of her life – if that wasn’t enough, this is amid the Civil War.

In the end, will she get it all or lose everything?

Why You’ll Love It:It’s History holding hands with a love story, what more could you need?

It has the charm of the south in a very troubling period of history; it’s family and love struggles. It’s one of the most popular books ever written, and you just need to find out why!

Quote: “It was better to know the worst than to wonder.”

#10 – It Ends with Us by Colleen Hoover

Category: Abusive Relationships

Romance Novel Summary:Lily is a determined, successful woman. She had a difficult life growing up, but she never stopped fighting for what she truly loved. She meets Ryle who has a no-dating rule, but they quickly become close.

She thinks he had a difficult past too, but she can’t figure out what happened exactly. When things start changing, she’s put in a place she never wanted to be back again.

“Sometimes it is the one who loves you who hurts you the most.”

Why You’ll Love It:If you’re looking for strong-minded, determined women, this book is for you. Lily is written in a way that you’ll be rooting for her from page 1.

It’s a book that will touch some of you deeply and will haunt you for many years after the last page was turned. A beautiful love story that has more to it.

Quote: “Just because someone hurts you doesn’t mean you can simply stop loving them. It’s not a person’s actions that hurt the most. It’s the love. If there was no love attached to the action, the pain would be a little easier to bear.”

#11 – Simon vs. The Homo Sapiens Agenda by Becky Albertalli

Category: LGBTQ+

Romance Novel Summary:Simon is 16 and very much homosexual, however, no one knows. When his secret is about to be revealed, a series of events lead him to being blackmailed.

He’ll try to navigate high school without anyone finding out his secret while not messing up his friendships nor his own life.

Why You’ll Love It:This is a fun yet serious book. The characters are well-created, and the dialogues are hilarious.

The topic is an extremely important one nowadays and the lack of novels about the LGBTQ+ community make this one a success.

The hardships of being teenager and on top of that, one with a secret, are well played in this novel and you’ll easily fall in love with Simon (and Blue).

Quote: “Why is straight the default? Everyone should have to declare one way or another, and it shouldn’t be this big awkward thing whether you’re straight, gay, bi, or whatever. I’m just saying.”

Romance novels are unique in many ways…

If you’re looking for a happily ever after, maybe you won’t find it in all these books.

However, aren’t stories closer to our reality a whole lot better? They allow us to think of our successes and failures and give us hope for a better future.

If you’re looking for page-turners, refer to this list. I promise you these are novels you won’t be able to put down once you’ve read the first page!