When deciding what book to purchase, consumers can search through hundreds…scratch that, thousands…actually, millions of online ebooks. Authors may want to believe that the majority of those millions are poorly written, with low-quality production in the form of cheap covers and unattractive formatting, thereby giving their own books a better chance of discovery. Yet the reality is that there are unlimited numbers of high-quality books available. You are competing in a very competitive field. So how do you make your book stand out?
Here are tips for competing in a competitive field.
Start off with the obvious — editorial, art, formatting.
Editorial: Make sure your book is well-written, properly edited and proofread. This means once you think you have your final draft, get it read at least three more times by three different people in order to find grammatical errors, typos, and factual inconsistencies within your story. Don’t skimp on professional editing. A beta reader is great for catching typos, but most aren’t going to be able to suggest ways to improve the readability of your book — the nuances that make for a compelling character arc, a plot that unfolds and tantalizes until the last page, and language that is indicative of each individual character, not to mention the style of the author.
Art: Don’t simply find a stock photo image and layer over some typography using a free, online tool. Contract a qualified graphic artist to do your cover. Additionally, encourage your graphic artist to look for unusual stock photos or view the photo in a different way. Don’t simply take it at face value. Consider using only a portion of the photo for an interesting result. And graphics aren’t just for book covers. You’ll find that they more than double your engagement on social media when you add a graphic to a post. You can find out why in this blog post on the subject.
Formatting: Think about it. Once your book is in the hands of a reader, you want their reading experience to be enjoyable. That means, you should pay close attention to the font size and style. If your audience is comprised of older readers, don’t have your book formatted in a small font size. If your book falls into the romance genre, consider having your professional formatter add decorative wingdings under the chapter headings. Enhance the reader experience with beautiful formatting.
Remember, I said the above were the obvious ways to get your book noticed. It may be more accurate to say that the above focuses on your craft and ensuring that it is produced to the best of your abilities. But you also have to focus on marketing.
With regards to the proliferation of ebooks in the marketplace there is good news and bad, the cup being half-empty or half-full. Mark Coker, Founder of Smashwords agrees that you could lament that there are too many writers out there. Those who have been in the game longer seem to have an advantage because they have had longer to build an audience. True, but you’re in the game now. So start playing. Here’s an article from the Smashwords blog on how to bring your book back from the doldrums.
It’s easier to build your readership now, then it will be a year from now when even more people are peddling their books.
Don’t wait another day, not even another minute after you finish reading this post.
Determine where your audience is most likely to spend their social media hours. In building your audience, you have a number of choices: Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. All worthy and each one comes with its own set of rules and preferred demographics. Take time to learn where your efforts are best spent. If your audience is older, you probably are wasting time on Instagram. But if you’re seeking a teen or twenty-something audience, then start snapping pics for your Instagram account. For that matter, take some cool video footage that conveys the essence of your novel or author branding and get it on Snapchat.
However, no social media channel is as valuable as your own website and email list. Why? Because that is something that you alone control. Facebook limits the number of people who view your posts. Your Twitter feed is fleeting with every passing minute. But your own email marketing? That’s golden. You create news and send it to your subscriber list and guess what…they’re going to see it!
That’s how your book gets discovered. And, you repeat my mantra to yourself every day…A Writer Writes!