advice for authors
Today we are featuring an article by Amber, owner and co-creator of Me, My Shelf and I blog, MMSAI Designs, and Book Nerd Tours. Amber has a lot of great insights about the art of marketing and selling eBooks, and the eBook self-publishing world in general, so we’ve asked her here to shake some sense into you. She wants to share some wisdom, gained through years of experience with Independent Authors, hopeful that it will rub off on at least a few of you.
WHY YOUR COVER MATTERS
I’m going to tell you something that might come as a shock to you, and maybe sound even a little harsh. But it’s the truth and frankly someone needs to say it. No matter how well your book is written or how intriguing your synopsis is, no one is going to even think about buying your book if you have a poorly crafted cover.
No one is going to even think about buying your book if you have a poorly crafted cover.
I know, I know, we constantly spout the phrase ‘Don’t judge a book by its cover’ but let’s face it, when it comes to using this phrase about actual books, and not as just a vague mantra about life, everyone really does judge a book by its cover. Book Buyers. Book Readers. Book Bloggers. Book Sellers.
Think about it, it’s the books first impression. When someone is scrolling through an eBook store, what do they see? Not the synopsis, not an excerpt. They see the cover. Your cover is the difference between someone clicking on your book to see that masterfully crafted synopsis, and them scrolling past and never thinking another thought on it again. First impressions are everything and if you are not using the cover to your advantage, you have no one to blame for poor book sales but yourself.
Independent Authors have a wonderful opportunity that traditionally published authors don’t – they have 100% full control over their cover art. Do you know how many traditionally published authors would kill to have even a tiny say in their cover?
Independent authors constantly waste this opportunity by looking at their cover as a way to save money. Instead of spending a few days looking around the millions of able bodied and extremely well priced graphic designers on the internet, they blow the dust off that version of Paint Shop Pro that hasn’t been used since Madonna had her last top 40 hit, and put something together themselves.
Independent authors constantly waste this opportunity by looking at their cover as a way to save money.
These very same people who would never consider doing heart surgery because they weren’t trained as a doctor. People who wouldn’t even entertain the idea of teaching an advanced English class because they do not possess an English degree. These very same people are more than willing to jump into the shoes of a Graphic Designer without batting an eyelash and think they can do that job, maybe not as well, but well enough. In any job, “well enough” is never a good option and it never works.
Not only can this be detrimental to your book sales, but quite possibly to yourself personally. Did you know nearly all photos on the internet are copyright protected in some fashion? If you’re just grabbing things willy-nilly you could get sued. And that if you are buying stock images, you could be wasting money. A designer already has accounts with all these stock places, they get the images for far less than you would and generally they come as part of the cost you pay said designer!
I know you believe you book is great, and if people could just read it they would love it. I don’t doubt you – but let me share with you something to think about before you dismiss the thought that the marketing that comes along with a book cover isn’t as important as I make it seem. Before you fully subscribe to the idea your writing style alone will carry your career remember this: JK Rowling, author of the Harry Potter Series published a book under a pen name recently. Even her fantastic and multi-award winning writing could not sell more than 1500 copies of that book in 6 months. When it was leaked she was in fact the author her sales jumped 500,000% in 48 hours. That day JK helped prove that writing doesn’t sell books – marketing does. You’re not JK Rowling, yet. Your name alone won’t sell your books, and it’s not ever going to if people don’t want to read them in the first place.
That day JK helped prove that writing doesn’t sell books – marketing does. You’re not JK Rowling, yet.
And make sure to stop by the Art Writers group if you need help with your cover!
As writers, we are constantly looking around us for inspiration. For me, one of the best places to find encouragement, is from other writers. Author quotes, interviews, and advice are always there for me when I need them.
Recently, I read a really great article on the Huffington Post website about a book called “Why We Write: 20 Acclaimed Authors on How and Why They Do What They Do” – where bestselling authors share advice and tips about their success. The Huffington Post shared an excerpt by Jodi Picoult (most famous for “My Sister’s Keeper).
Here is a little taste of her wisdom:
A lot of writers think of the publishing contract as the Holy Grail, but it’s not. It’s a huge mistake to think that just because your book is being printed, your publisher will publicize it. If you’re a new author, it’s much more likely that they won’t. You have to stump yourself and find book clubs to talk to and go to book fairs and set up signings at bookstores and libraries—anything to get word of mouth going. Your publisher’s more likely to pay attention to your book if it starts magically selling. Then they might put some money into promoting it. It’s a vicious cycle.
Take a writing course. It’s how you’ll learn to get and give feedback, and it’ll teach you to write on demand. There’s no magic bullet that’ll make you a success. If you write because you want to be rich, you’re in the wrong business. Write because you can’t not write, or don’t write at all. Write even when you don’t feel like writing. There is no muse. It’s hard work. You can always edit a bad page, but you can’t edit a blank page. Read. It’ll inspire you to write as well as the authors who came before you.
To read the full article, click HERE.
Another great article shares some tips from Kurt Vonnegut, from his book “Bagombo Snuff Box”:
Use the time of a total stranger in such a way that he or she will not feel the time was wasted. Give the reader at least one character he or she can root for. Every character should want something, even if it is only a glass of water. Every sentence must do one of two things — reveal character or advance the action.* Start as close to the end as possible. Be a sadist. No matter how sweet and innocent your leading characters, make awful things happen to them — in order that the reader may see what they are made of. Write to please just one person. If you open a window and make love to the world, so to speak, your story will get pneumonia. Give your readers as much information as possible as soon as possible. To heck with suspense. Readers should have such complete understanding of what is going on, where and why, that they could finish the story themselves, should cockroaches eat the last few pages.
To read the full article, click HERE.
If you’re having writer’s block, losing faith in yourself, or feeling like the only writer out there, just take a look around and you’ll see all the amazing writer’s who are there, ready and willing, to help you along your way. There are lots of great books your can read, such as the one mentioned above in the Huffington article, Stephen King’s “On Writing” (is hugely popular), “Zen in the Art of Writing: Essays on Creativity” by Ray Bradbury, and many more. And finally, here are a few great quotes, to help you feel inspired and keep you from losing your mind:
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