I’m currently in the process of putting the finishing touches on a book that I’m writing. The content of the book is based on the Catholic faith. My plan is to publish the book later this year. Because this is my first book, I’ve been trying to set aside time each week to learn the best way to publish and market the book.
There are thousands of authors who have written books that have never achieved wide distribution. According to Nielsen BookScan, a company that tracks most bookstore, online, and other retail sales of books, on average, less than 250 copies of U.S. nonfiction books are sold per year, and less than 3,000 copies are sold over the lifetime of a book.
If I’m going to spend the time and energy to publish a book, I want to make sure that there is an effective marketing plan in place to get it into as many hands as possible.
While my book is going to be nonfiction, as I was doing some research, I stumbled upon an interview of R. E. Vance, an author of a popular fiction book series. In the interview, Vance described the story structure of a good fiction book, which consists of five milestones. Vance provided a fascinating summary of what goes into the writing of a good fiction book. Here are the five milestones that were described by Vance:
The five milestones of a good fiction book fit within the framework of what Joseph Campbell, an American mythological researcher, called “the hero’s journey.” All of the great fiction writers whose books were later turned into successful movies have been masters at incorporating the five milestones within their stories.
One example of a great fiction book that was later turned into a successful movie was “The Hunger Games.” In the book, the author, Suzanne Collins, did a masterful job of incorporating the five milestones into the story structure of her book.
The introduction set up the story by introducing the eventual hero, 16-year-old Katniss Everdeen, who lives with her sister and her family in the slums. The community that she lives in is controlled by the ruthless government of Panem.
The inciting incident occurs when Katniss steps forward and takes her younger sister’s place after her sister (Primrose) has been chosen in the reaping to take part in the Hunger Games. After that, Katniss’ life is never the same.
The perilous event occurs when the Games begin. Of the 12 girls and 12 boys who have been selected to compete in the Games, there will only be one survivor. The objective of each of the teenagers who are competing in the Games is to kill all the other teenagers. As the story progresses, we have no idea how the hero (Katniss) is going to survive.
The light at the end of the tunnel occurs when it is announced by the authorities that the rules have been changed. Instead of only one winner (survivor), there can be two winners, as long as they’re both from the same district. The announcement creates hope, because Katniss has developed feelings for the boy from her district (Peeta) and does not want to kill him.
The awesome climax occurs after all the competitors are killed except for Katniss and Peeta, and the authorities revoke the rule change that there can be two winners. Katniss then figures out a way to deal with the authorities: she and Peeta will commit a double suicide by eating poisonous berries. Katniss’ plan forces the authorities to concede and allow both of them to live.
Now that you know the formula for creating a great fiction book, next week I’m going to tell you how that formula was modeled after a “story” that was created by God Almighty — a story that changed everything for all eternity.