Dame Barbara Cartland was one of the most prolific authors in the English language. She has written over 720 novels in a span of about seven decades. Barbara Cartland wrote sweet and old-fashioned romance novels, many of which were historical romances. Despite the simple and straightforward love stories she wrote, her books were amazingly popular. Her books have sold over 1 billion copies and have been translated into over 35 languages. She also holds the Guinness World Record for the most novels written in one year (she wrote 23 novels in 1983!).
Any writer could use this hard-working and dedicated author as an inspiration and learn some pointers from her successful career.
1. Create an audience before you publish, and cultivate it carefully
Even back in the early 1920s, Cartland understood the importance of a loyal audience for her first novel. She worked as a society reporter for a year, and built a good following before publishing her first romantic novel. The book was a runaway hit, because she had already proven that she could write entertaining content, and had built herself a readership base. She also wrote the book directed towards her readers, many of whom were ladies who enjoyed the type of society romance Cartland was adept at.
Building an author platform cannot be stressed enough, especially in these days with so many e-books and self-published works. Decide first on who would be your target audience for your book, then use social media, blogs, etc. to develop your audience and create a buzz, and then market your book towards your readers. Creating a good author brand will also help, as was the case with Barbara Cartland. She developed a distinct profile with her eccentricities, her interactions with media, and her active role in society.
2. Develop a formula that works and stick with it
In order to be as prolific as Cartland, it helps to keep things simple. Cartland’s books had a basic outline, and she just changed the characters and story for each book. There were no fancy plots, or twists, or complicated issues. Some even complained that her books were formulaic. However, no matter how basic the plots were, her stories and characters always appealed to readers. Good storytelling doesn’t always require bells and whistles. Develop a formula or idea that works and make the other elements variable, while you keep the central idea the same.
3. Get inspiration but don’t ‘borrow’ or plagiarize
Reading other books is one of the best ways to get ideas and to improve your writing. But beware of placing those ideas or content straight into your book, even unintentionally. It can happen sometimes that after reading several books by an author, you may unconsciously write in the same style or borrow too closely from the story. This happened with Barbara Cartland when she was accused of plagiarism by another author, Georgette Heyer, whose books she admits were her inspiration. Do read other books for inspiration, but use your own voice and words to write your book. Try not to read a romance novel and then sit down immediately to write one. Chances are, you may unintentionally write what you have just read.
4. Keep at it
Barbara Cartland didn’t slow down until her 90s, when she crossed 700 published books, and over 150 unpublished manuscripts. She wrote during times of conflict, through periods of severe criticism, through banning of her plays. She did not let the external world get in the way of her writing. She apparently worked on her books every single day. Most successful authors share this quality.
5. Get some help when you need it
Barbara Cartland did not actually write her books, but dictated them to her secretary, who then typed them up. Her ability to produce a book every fortnight has a lot to do with this collaborative effort. Writing and publishing have many steps, and if you can get someone to help out at any stage: editing, proofreading, formatting, etc. it can help you to focus on your writing and produce your book more efficiently.
Image credit: Allan Warren on Wikimedia Commons and reproduced under Creative Commons 3.0[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’]https://writingtipsoasis.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/02/CS_Rajan.jpg [/author_image] [author_info]CS Rajan is a freelance writer who loves to write on various topics, and is currently working on her first novel. [/author_info] [/author]