It comes as a bit of a shock to some people that after sweating over your pride and joy, biting your fingernails down until you draw blood, tearing your hair out with frustration, the pain, the angst of bearing your soul ...nobody really wants to read your book other than a few kind friends.
Everybody seems to be selling their book...(or so you think)... so why isn't yours?
Indie publishing has boomed over the last couple of years and now there is a seemingly endless supply of reading matter that's just one click away and so much of it's free. How do you claim your place in this bustling and aggressive market place?
Like everything else in life there's no easy answer, there's no quick fix because the hard work actually begins after you've written your book. Whenever a group of writers get together the issue of sales is always the elephant in the room. I wouldn't be polite to come straight out and ask and would anyone tell the truth anyway?
Looking at Amazon sales doesn't tell a true picture either. I know that even a couple of sales can send one of my books scooting up the rank!
For what it's worth, here's some hints and tips all gathered from a few years of experience and constantly being amazed at the simple errors that some writers make. Please feel free to add any of your own suggestions as a comment - let's be honest...writers would try anything once for a sale!
1. Is Your Book As Good As You Think?
OK - I know you think it's wonderful and going to set the heather on fire but before you click that upload button, have you asked anyone else for their opinion? It's so important to find someone that you can trust to read your work to give you an honest - no matter how much it hurts - opinion. Go find that person because another pair of eyes is invaluable.
Here's the type comments I've had to suck up, lick my wounds and then sort because you know...he was right.
• It's good writing but...boring, nothing happens
• It's too safe
• I don't get the ending
• I hate that character!
• Where is this story going...anywhere?
• You could have made so much more of this story.
• You've missed a great opportunity...
• You've explained too much to the reader - make them work for it!
• Cut out the padding!!
And it goes on...but I need that kick up the arse to help me focus.
Everyone makes typos, let's be honest, and I'm a forgiving kind of person but sometimes (Ok quite often) when I've taken a punt on an indie author I've been dismayed by the quantity of errors that I wouldn't even expect the eleven year olds in my class to make. (Oops broken cover, yes I teach.) Here are a few examples:
• to, too and two
• their, there and they're
• commas - to enclose words or phrases within a sentence, are often missed
• apostrophes - oh dear!
• repeated words that haven't been spotted spotted (See what I did there?)
• missed words
• words that have been replaced with a similar word while typing
• tense - AAAGH!
• direct speech - where do those pesky little blobs go?
Here's an example, I've changed the name to avoid any embarrassment:
John beamed even more brightly. "Good." He said, leaning forward and kissing her gently on the forehead.
Poor punctuation spoils the story and starts to become annoying, even to a very forgiving reader!
I could go on ... and yes, you will find that I make mistakes too, but just promise me you will make the effort. Find some pedantic and grumpy soul to check over your manuscript, they make the best proofreaders. It's also very difficult to proofread your own work because by this time you will be sick of the sight of it. Someone else with a 'red pen' mentality will just love to point out your mistakes!
3. The cover - Does it shout, 'READ ME!' ?
I love looking at book covers and I'm probably more influenced than I'd care to admit. Even though I mostly read eBooks, I can't start reading before I click back and look at the cover. To me, it's part of tuning into the book and sets the scene for what's to come. If I start by liking the cover, then, chances are, I'm going to like the book too. Stupid? Maybe, but that's how my brain works so maybe it's the same for other people too.
Here are my tips for getting the cover right:
• If you don't have the graphic skills, get someone else to design your cover. Paying a reasonable amount of money may even pay dividends when it comes to sales.
• If you are designing your own cover, only use graphics that you are allowed to use - no stealing...
• Make your name and title stand out. I see too many covers where the title is camouflaged by the background image.
• Use the image to start telling the story but keep it simple and clear, not too many different colours.
• Add some text to explain the genre and generate interest - but make it punchy
• Ask for comments from a trusted few before deciding to go with a design.
Here's an example of an excellent cover for Paul D Brazill's new novel GUNS OF BRIXTON:
Get the above three elements right and you may just...maybe, have a chance of selling some books.
Coming next...Marketing and Social Media!
Meanwhile, go buy Feeling It and let me know how many of my own tips I've not followed...get your red pen out!
Please add your own tips or feel free to disagree with anything above!
Silence is not an option!