The Book Designer . com has released their list of eBook cover award winners. Some of these are very well done. I cannot stress the value of a good cover. Looking over these I saw some that I might not have chosen but then again I saw many that gave me ideas for covers for some of my future work. Click on the link to check out the story. http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2016/02/e-book-cover-design-awards-january-2016/
Something that I think independent writers overlook is the possibility of getting their books in their local library. Whether or not this results in future sales is open for discussion but at this point it simply comes under the topic of affirmation. I have my books available in the Avondale Public Library and at the Estrella Foothills High School Library and get a warm feeling when I see them on the shelf. The link below is an interesting article with some tips on getting your books on the shelf at your local library.
I do not know which can be worse when someone asks you. “Oh you’ve written a book? What’s it about?” You stare back at them as though they had just sprouted tentacles with little teeny tiny eyeballs on the ends of them from their ears and nostrils as your brain links words and phrases together. Or worse, you answer them with such a long convoluted description of your epic work that you doubt the English language will have evolved enough words to convey it all. Oh and the person who asked the question is now certain they will never ever ask that question again.
Coming up with a good blurb can really help you through that situation and spare you the fate of either scenario. A blurb isn’t a micro summary of your plot. Nor is it a restating of the hook. Don’t even touch the underlying philosophy behind the work. No, the blurb is a little seed. A seed that when planted has no other option but to take root and compel the person who asked you the question to buy a copy. The blurb has to not only describe the story for the reader but also sell it. I could tell you my book is about garden tools. But if I tell you my book is about how to defend your family from the zombie apocalypse using only garden tools, well, you know you want to check that out.
You could pull your blurb right out of your query letter. That would be a mistake. While they perform the same function and have the same requirement of brevity, a blurb is even more concise. Think of your blurb as the tweet of query letters. The good news here is that one will lead you to the other. Just remember that Rome wasn’t built in a day and your blurb is not likely to pop out of your head. Instead, the words will roll around and coalesce into blurby greatness.
For more tips on creating the drop dead hydrogen bomb of a blurb take a look at this post from Anne R. Allen’s blog. http://annerallen.blogspot.com/2014/03/8-tips-for-writing-that-killer-blurb.html
This week while going through my RSS feed I came across this little gem over at the Book Designer Blog. http://www.thebookdesigner.com/2014/03/how-to-keep-your-fiction-marketing-lean-and-focused/
There are so many great tips in this post that I do not have much to offer. Having a clear focus on what you mean to accomplish is important. Are you drawing attention to yourself? Your latest book? How about keeping interest in all your works going? The strategy for each of these is just different enough that you cannot do it with just one activity. You need a strategy that incorporates your blog along with other social media.
Target the right audience. Letting your friends and family know you have written a book is easy to do and will probably net you the most sales. The challenge is building your audience among the reader’s you do not know. To do that you have to start somewhere. You have to find some common ground. That is where local fan or reading groups and communities come in. Join a writing/critique group. Sure they will help you before publishing. They can also help afterward by getting you some sales.
Keep the excitement going after the book has been out for a while. This can be the most involving and for me involves soliciting reviews and or offering to talk about my work in front of various groups. This is a long process and you may find yourself feeling like you are just banging your head against the wall but you still have an audience to reach and develop so stick with it. Having said that I should also mention to leave yourself plenty of time to work on your next book. As you know the greatest thing you’ll ever write is always the next thing you write.
So you spent the last eight, twelve, eighteen, thirty-six months, working, slaving, sweating and bleeding into your manuscript pages. Your characters are so real they are now a part of your life. The plot is honed, buffed and not a hole in sight. Your style is so well crafted that the prose dances off the page. The book hits Amazon and only your mom buys a copy. Houston we have a problem. What the fudge could have gone wrong? What could these people be looking for? What could you possible have forgotten? What does a writer have to do to sell some books in this crazy digital tromping traditional publishing environment?
I chose my first two books on Amazon primarily because they were never going to find a home with an agent or traditional publisher. They don’t really fit into a clear genre and would have a small audience no matter what. So they were my experiment and I did not have really high expectations. That being said, my sales have have lived up to those expectations. I have since raised them for my next book, Undead Heart, so I eagerly read this article when one of my fellow writers shared it with me. Thank you Gale. The article is from The Creative Pen and I urge you to add it to your RSS feed, as it is a great resource.
I flirted with some of these ten tips previously but for my next book I am working my hardest to use every single one. Some of these will involve spending money and that is the hardest thing to wrestle with. How much is enough to spend and how much is too much? You must always be aware of the return on your investment. They key to being a professional is to think like one. Spending more than you can or should reasonably expect to make is just bad business. But as the saying goes it takes money to make money. I think I might append that to say, “it takes money to make money and treating your work as a professional is the first step to being professional.”
Who am I kidding? That bit of news from my title is older than the hills themselves. Still every once in a while it is necessary to hear the obvious from fellow authors. While we all have visions of our books igniting the next big literary trend the reality of it happening is just below getting struck by lightening while riding a pony and yet still above winning the lottery. I have been a Kindle author for over a year now and can say without hesitation, platform building takes time. Here is another post on that very same topic from Novel Publicity.com. It is a worthy ready for all authors just wading into the independent pool, cannon balling into the deep end or thinking about putting on their swim trunks for the first time.
Or how about 99 pennies? The little nugget from the net below hit my RSS feed today from Gizmodo.com. Authors’ services are now offering reviews. Create Space already has an option to pay for a professional review but unlike that this is for favorable reviews. So much for that whole critical assessment thing. I have often wondered about many of the books with strings of 4 and 5 star reviews. The optimist in me wanted write it off as really positive people being really positive. Knowing those stars didn’t necessarily come cheap helps alleviate my confusion. At the end of the day, I will remember a poorly written book that came caught my eye with a bunch of 5 star reviews more so than one I happened to try on my own. Be wary of what you ask and or pay for.
http://bookmarketingmaven.typepad.com/book_marketing_maven/2012/07/why-book-marketing-is-like-gardening.html This is a great post from The Say Book Marketer. In the on and off debate on how much marketing can help a writer I like this analogy. I think many writers are in danger of either paying too much attention or too little attention to the marketing of their works.
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One of the harder parts of getting my books ready for the shelf was coming up with a good blurb for the back of the book. I am still experimenting with different ideas. You want to entice the reader to pick up the book. A good cover certainly helps but once they flip the book over or scroll down to the description there has to be something there that convinces them to buy your book. A simple plot summary won’t cut it, nor will over the top hyperbole. Somewhere in the middle is the sweet spot and with some effort you will find the right combination.
To that end there are many articles online to guide you I came across this article from the Savvy Book Marketer and found many of the points very useful.
Last night I took part in the City of Mesa’s 2nd Friday Steampunk Street III. Myself and fellow author Michael Bradley set up a table for our latest novels right on Main Street. We met a lot of interesting people and I think found some new fans. I even sold some books, and that is always a good thing, right. Even better than that, I managed to talk to several readers looking for something new and I could tell their interest in my works was genuine. That makes it all worthwhile. You can talk about six figure advances and million sellers but when you connect with a reader on a personal level it makes all the rest seem rather small. Now mind you I am not one to turn down a six figure advance should one come, but it is so good to get out there and have your work validated by someone who says nothing more that, “you know, I would like to read that.” A big thank you to everyone who stopped by the table, the City of Mesa and Evermore Nevermore for a great night.