Last week I wrote about six things to avoid if you want to write a good e-book. As difficult as writing a book is, any self published author will tell you that the writing isn’t the hardest part. Now that it’s finished, you have to market your book. I’m not a book marketer, there are many talented people out there who can tell you the right ways to market your book, but I do work enough in the industry to recognise the warning signs of when a book isn’t going to sell.
The good news is that if you followed the advice in my last post and have written a great book, then you’ve already given yourself a huge advantage. Read on and you’ll find out why.
- Assume the cover alone will sell it.
A good looking, professionally designed cover is essential for your e-book sales and it goes beyond sticking on a stock image of a sexy lady or a shirtless hunk (or whatever does it for your target audience). If you hope people will just pick up your book thanks to the cover and not bother to take a few moments to read the first page then you’re assuming your readers are idiots. Don’t think that you can sell an inferior product if it comes in nice packaging.
- Believe you can sell sand to the desert.
If you’re stuck with a hastily written book with a tacky cover, you might hope you can use your savvy sales skills to move copies. Any marketing professional will tell you that no amount of marketing plans and expensive advertisements will sell something that is terrible. You’ll save yourself a lot of hassle by putting the time in to write a decent book.
- Bug people online.
Social media is a great way to gain a following for your written works but you have to do it in the right way otherwise people will know you’re just trying to flog something to them. Sending hundreds of friend requests on Facebook will get you banned and mass following on Twitter won’t get you any genuinely interested readers. Also, don’t send hundreds of annoying messages asking bloggers to review your book, especially if they say on their website that they don’t review self published books.
- Order 2000 paperback copies.
Many self publishing services offer printing options but these should be taken frugally. If you had a new product you were trying to sell, wouldn’t you test it first to see if there was a market for it before you set up a factory and made a huge batch? Similarly, would you order 2000 copies of a book when you don’t even know if it’s going to sell a single copy?
It’s disheartening to order lots of books only for them to either take up room in your shed or be pulped. Instead, use a reliable short run printer that can print a few dozen books at a time so you have enough to sell at your book launch and can give one to your granny. Or alternatively wave one in the face of your old maths teacher to prove that all those years of daydreaming in class weren’t a waste.
- Ask anyone you know (or don’t know) for a review.
It’s still true to an extent that one of the best ways to move books off the shelves is to have an endorsement from a famous writer somewhere on the cover. That said, I’m not the only reader who’s becoming annoyed with the blurbs on the back of books being replaced with quotes.
Unfortunately, it’s near impossible for a self publisher to get one of these celebrity endorsements. Margaret Atwood wrote an entire poem about why she doesn’t provide blurbs, so under no circumstances should you ask a famous author for one, unless you’ve actually saved their life and they owe you a big favour.
Even worse is asking anyone you know who’s even remotely well known to give you an obviously fake quote. This becomes awkward when you see a former mayoress saying how much she loved a gory zombie horror book.
- Write in a genre because it’s popular.
It’s becoming depressing to walk into a bookshop and being surrounded on all sides by rip offs of whatever happens to be popular at the moment that were obviously put out quickly and cheaply to cash in on that book. It’s especially disturbing that currently that book is 50 Shades of Grey…
Once again this comes down to writing just to make money. If you genuinely enjoy reading and writing in that popular genre then go for it. But if you don’t, it would be a waste to try.
The best thing about self publishing is that you don’t have to worry about what’s currently selling down at the supermarket. You can be as niche as you like without having to worry about appeasing your agent or publisher. Your time is free for impressing the most important people in the publishing industry – the readers.