Friday, July 22, 2016

#WritingTip - Checklist to help your book sell.

Wow. The post I did the other day (#WritingTip - "Why won't my book sell?") really seemed to hit home for a lot of people.


That was kind of the point. I see so many stupid mistakes in book listings, especially by self-pubbed authors, that it's really to the point it's become ignored "noise" to most of us now.

Let's focus for a moment on some things that you MUST nail to help your book sell. And, to be honest, you might have these all perfectly crafted and still won't sell many copies.

But I guarantee you, if any of these points are lacking, you'll have a problem. Over the next several weeks, I'll put together some posts about these points individually and in detail.

1) Editing. Do NOT finish your rough draft, run it through spell check, and toss it up on Kindle. Do. Not. Do. It. There is no, "Well, I'll go back later and upload a revised copy after people read it and tell me what's wrong with it." The massive logic flaw in your thinking is that you want people to PAY YOU to edit your book for you. In other words, to do YOUR JOB for you. No. That's not how it works. The other massive logic flaw in that thinking is because people will look at the preview, see it's shit, and not buy it. Or read it, see the issues, and then never buy another one of your books again. "Well, they'll download the updated copy!" Uh, no, they won't. Trust me on this one.

2) Formatting. If you don't know how to format an e-book, RESEARCH IT, or hire it out. I write in Scrivener, and it gives flawless .mobi, .epub, and .pdf exports. Ready to go. There are other programs you can use, you can manually format it, or you can hire it out. If it looks like crap in the preview, people WILL NOT BUY IT.

3) Cover. It goes without saying that if your cover is one of the default, crappy covers built from the default Kindle cover creator, it will hurt you. You could have the next great masterpiece, and it won't sell for shit with a crappy cover. Look at other covers in your genre. LOTS of them. Scour the bestseller lists. Find the good ones for books that are ranked well. Study them. Study font type and placement for the title and the pen name. Remember that your cover needs to look good in a thumbnail size, so if it's too busy, or you get too creative with a fancy font that people can't read, you've failed. If you can't afford to have it done and you can't do it yourself, then save up the money to have it done because seriously, it WILL tank your sales.

4) Blurb. Let's list first of all what the blurb is NOT: is it NOT an excerpt, it is NOT reviews, it is NOT a lengthy treatise by the author about why the book should be bought, and it is NOT the author's bio. The blurb IS a short, succinct hook to draw the reader in. PERIOD. It should also be EDITED. Typos in your blurb lead to readers passing you by.

5) Title. The title needs to draw people in, and preferably NOT be used by about a gazillion other books already. Also, stop it with the keyword stuffing, you KU scammers. Just stop it. The subtitle space isn't so you can tell people OMG SPACE MONKEY MMMMF MENAGE HOT SEXY FIRST TIME. No. Just no. STOP IT. Put that as a top line in your blurb if you want to to quickly identify what the book is about in terms of genre and romantic pairing (if applicable) but do NOT make it your freaking subtitle. That's just farking stupid. It really, really is.

I know I hear some of you already whining, "But editing and covers and formatting are expensive..."

Um, yeah. That's because to put a quality product out there, you need to either know how to do it, or have the money to hire it out. If you put crap out there, and then complain about your book not selling, and I look and see any of these points messed up, I'm not going to feel an ounce of sympathy for you. I just won't.

Too many people treat writing like a get-rich-quick scheme. It's not. Like any other product out there, time and effort has to go into putting out the best product you can. And even then it's still a crapshoot. But lowering the collective IQ of readers by flooding the market with a cesspool of crap is not helping.

You want to stand out as an author? Put out a quality product. Yes, it takes time/money/effort to do it. But you know what? Over time, you will build a reputation for QUALITY and your readers will give you word-of-mouth praise. It will take a while to build your platform, I won't lie to you there. But get one book out, then start working on the next one. And the next one. And the next...

Pretty soon, that person who sees one of your quality books will go looking for more and buy your backlist. Or, they stumble across your backlist and pick up your frontlist at the same time.

See how that works?

If you write one book and hammer the shit out of it, you won't do very well. Forget the freaking lotto-hit/lightning-strike success stories. Most of those came after years of hard work anyway, and the few that didn't...well, buy yourself lotto tickets, because you have better chances with that.