You’re writing a book. Congratulations!
Right now, you’re probably feeling motivated, committed, exhilarated.
Still, you’re smart enough to understand what’s waiting around the corner.
When you finish this draft, you’ll face countless additional responsibilities: revising, editing, formatting, publishing, marketing…
But you’re committed to the process, aren’t you?
Whatever it takes, right?
Despite your enthusiasm and commitment, you can feel something else brewing in the background.
While writing, it’s easy to outrun that nagging little voice, to push it back to some remote corner of your mind, far enough away to keep you hammering out your word count.
But a little bit each day, as you move closer to the finish line, the voice keeps getting stronger, demanding more of your attention.
Sooner or later you’ll have to give in.
After all your hard work and dedication, you’re gonna’ have to face the fear.
You’re afraid of the innumerable variables, of the unknowns accompanying a book release.
Despite giving birth to this wonderful new book, you’re plagued with questions:
- Will my book sell?
- Will anyone read it?
- Will they like it?
- Will I receive favorable reviews?
- Am I wasting my time?
Before indulging these difficult questions, you need to think about two things:
- What you can control
- What you can’t control
No one can guarantee you an audience, books sales, or critical acclaim. But you can stack the deck in your favor. You can prepare yourself for success.No one can guarantee you an audience, books sales, or critical acclaim. But you can stack the deck in your favor. You can prepare yourself for success. Click To Tweet
You can begin by asking yourself the million-dollar question:
What’s the real reason behind someone downloading, reading, and finishing your book?
The good news?
There’s no single reason, so it doesn’t have to be complex.
It comes down to a combination of elements, many of which you can begin crafting and controlling right now.
So give yourself a break. Stop worrying, and accept that you can do this.
Finish your book, knowing that amazing resources exist. You don’t have to figure it out by yourself. You can write and release your book. You can also direct your destiny.
Continue reading to discover 13 reasons why someone buys, reads, and finishes your book.
Your Book Title
How can you stand out among the more than one-hundred million books in circulation?
How can you hope to establish a following for your hard-won story?
You can grab your audience with a compelling title.
Your title is often your only chance to make a good impression.
For a moment, forget about your expensive book cover, your characters, your plot, your thoughtful book description.
Readers need to resonate with your title before looking deeper, before reading your bio or synopsis. More than any other detail, your title performs the heavy lifting. Your title should intrigue and mystify. It must impinge upon potential readers, selling the story between the pages.
Rather than giving too much away, pull your readers in. Make them wonder what your story’s about. Like a good headline, your title should pique your readers’ curiosity, prompting them to read the back cover, to begin the first chapter.Rather than giving too much away, pull your readers in. Make them wonder what your story’s about. Like a good headline, your title should pique your readers’ curiosity, prompting them to read the back cover or to begin the first chapter. Click To Tweet
Play around with the themes or the subtext of your story.
If you need a little help getting the juices flowing, check out this fun, interactive, book title generator from Adazing. And don’t settle for a single option. Come up with a list of 10 or more titles before committing one to print.
Consider joining a writer’s community. Ask your peers for their favorite title on your list. Test and tweak each title before choosing a winner.
Your Book’s Subtitle
A catchy title can’t explain everything about your story.
The title acts as bait, holding your reader’s attention long enough to entice them to continue reading. A subtitle provides you with an additional opportunity to hook your reader. Here’s your opportunity to add vital information, to provide just enough detail to arouse curiosity.
Your subtitle can add depth and interest by pushing the reader in a particular direction, creating further intrigue about the nature of your story.
Keep it short and captivating; make the reader want to know more.
Your Book Cover
You’ve heard the saying, “don’t judge a book by its cover,” but the truth is clear: someone looking over hundreds or thousands of books will be swayed by the cover.
And you never get a second chance to make a good impression.
If your cover looks cheap or amateurish, you’ve lost your opportunity for a click.
Without that click for more information, they’ll never get the chance to explore your writing. And you may miss your single opportunity to make a connection.
Mark Coker of Smashwords says, “Our brains are wired to process images faster than words.
When we see an image, it makes us feel something.” A great cover can “help the reader instantly recognize that this book is for them.”
So, what can you do? How can you make the best impression?
Hire a professional, even if it’s an inexpensive design from a cover artist on Fiverr.
Resist the temptation to design your own cover. Spend some time studying indie and professional book covers.
After an hour, you’ll be able to see what works and what doesn’t.
Too many fonts, colors, graphics, and effects make a cover look cheap, telling your reader you don’t know what you’re doing. This poor impression could spill over into your artistry, making potential buyers link your cover quality with your writing skills.
Less is more.
Opt for a simple, understated cover. Arouse curiosity. Avoid busy, complex designs.
Make sure your cover design and fonts are clear and legible when reduced to the size of a thumbnail image.
Your Book Description
Your book title grabs a browser’s attention while the subtitle and cover piques their interest.
Your book description will reel them in or lose them entirely. This is where you sell the story. Excite readers with this description, but leave them craving more; make them desperate to find out what happens.
Keep your description short– under 160 words.
Treat it like a marketing elevator pitch. Don’t worry about divulging all of the twists and turns of the plot; tell your reader what matters most.
Focus on the primary struggle of the main character, on the big-picture view.
And think deeply about the reader experience, what the book can and will deliver. Remember, you’re selling the experience.
Your Book’s Star Ratings
Even well-crafted stories can fail, so readers are careful.
Your star ratings can make or break your book.
Today, we rate everything, from bars and restaurants to barbershops and day care centers. When you’re an unknown writer, a handful of bad reviews can ruin your book’s potential.
Audiences are sophisticated, thanks to Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and sites like Goodreads.
Readers expect to see reviews, and they often seek out the negative reviews first, looking for common threads, for reasons to set their sights on a different title.
An article from Author Marketing Ideas underscores the importance of reviews:
You are not sending a positive message to your viewers if they see a bare book detail page with no reviews. You are not instilling confidence in them that your book is worth the effort of buying if there are no reviews. This being said, the more positive reviews your book has, the more likely Amazon users are to buy it.
If a book is poorly rated, a reader will need substantial convincing to spend their time and money on a risky purchase. Consider the cover-to-cover reading time investment for completing a book.
Your book must also be able to compete with other interests and demands: newspapers, magazines, family time, TV, Netflix streaming, or a night out with friends.
Quality reviews, however, can make all the difference in the world.
Soliciting reviews can be difficult. Consider offering review copies to a preselected street team, a group of trustworthy peers who understand and enjoy your genre, folks who also appreciate the time and effort involved in writing.
The Book Sample
Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature allows readers to access your writing immediately. This “try before you buy” option gives the reader the chance to become familiar with your content, style, message, and quality.
If the browser has reached this point in the process, they’re on the verge of buying the book.
You really need to sell it here.
You want to select an interesting area of the book, one that pulls them into the action. This sample should also create suspense while highlighting your best prose. And it goes without saying: this sample better contain perfect grammar and punctuation.
After getting your potential reader this far, you can’t afford to drop the ball.
Include a link to your website or blog. Offer a free gift (another sample chapter or bonus material).
Take advantage of any strategy to get the reader onto your mailing list. You want to capture this momentum! There’s no better time to establish a relationship.
Often, a trip to your blog or the opportunity to read another compelling chapter is enough to make the difference.
Your Book’s Genre
Genre can be a touchy subject.
Many new and developing writers discount it’s importance, choosing to take artistic liberties before appreciating existing conventions within the genre.
What they don’t understand is that genres have histories, and those readers have certain expectations for elements like style, plot, and book length.
It’s like music. Imagine promoting an easy listening album to a sophisticated avant-garde jazz listener. This will only turn off potential readers who could have become buyers and loyal fans.
Conduct some research.
Read the most popular books in your genre, and look for common denominators.
Reverse engineer the successful elements.
After all, you want to build a readership, a group of loyal fans who understand your work and how it fits into a particular book category. These readers are hungry for new material to consume, for new authors to follow and enjoy.
This group will be receptive to spreading the word about your new memoir, your time- travel fantasy piece, your latest sci-fi adventure.
Make sure to list your book in the correct genre. Proper classification will aid in marketing.
Your Author Bio
Here’s something to think about:
The number of people who read your author bio will likely dwarf the number of people who actually download and read your book.
It’s important to make a strong impression.
The author bio represents your chance to convince the reader you’re worth the risk on the book purchase. People want to know who you are, where you came from, and why your voice is important.
They need to find you credible, professional, and likable.
For credibility, site prior accomplishments and/or appropriate credentials. To establish a professional tone, write your author bio in the third person. When appropriate, highlight what connects you with the topic of the book.
To foster a likable persona, add personal details that speak to your unique qualities, qualities that parallel the themes in your book
Your Internet Presence
If you don’t currently have an Internet presence, start one today. You’ll need a website.
Better yet, start a blog, and let your readers sample your writing without committing to a book purchase.
A blog provides insight into your thought processes, into your values and your worldview.
It will allow people to get to know you on a personal level. While your book is professional, a blog is more personal. You can share your insights, struggles, and everyday events with your fans.
A blog can be an invaluable tool for selling your books and building your personal brand.
If you want to start your blog cheaply and easily, head over to Blogger.com or WordPress.com.
These sites will allow you to begin blogging immediately. There’s also an existing network of bloggers on the platform. You may gain recognition for referrals from other bloggers on the site.
Another added bonus is security. Blogger and WordPress scan the sites on their platform against malware and hackers.
If you opt for one of these platforms, just make sure you purchase your own domain name. It’s worth the extra money establishing a domain brand from the beginning, so you can own your own piece of Internet real estate.
Better yet, host your own blog where you’re not subject to the rules and limitations of a free site. If you take this route, implement security measures from the beginning. Make sure to install security plug-ins.
An author without a website is hard to take seriously. Make sure you can offer a clean, easy to navigate site highlighting your writing, your products, and your contact information.
Remember to include links to your social accounts, to keep your name in circulation among your fans and potential readers.
Ever wonder why so many websites advertise the size of their email lists, the size of their social following, the size of their product catalog.
People want to see proof of your popularity. And yes, for better or worse, popularity can translate into credibility.
It’s called the bandwagon effect. People tend to follow the crowd. They’re looking for proof that your cause is worth exploring.
Social proof demonstrates how the world sees you.
It shows you have a viable following and that “people like you.” It shows how many people have read and enjoyed your book.
Potential buyers and readers rely on others with similar interests to help them make an informed decision about whether to purchase your book.
Start building a social following. When you’ve reached five figures on a particular network, begin posting those figures on your website and promotional materials. When you’ve gained traction on a particular network, begin building up another.
When you’re starting out fresh, you can’t predict the best platform for growing your author brand .
Twitter, Instagram, and Pinterest can be especially helpful to writers. And don’t underestimate the power of other writers’ social accounts. Make friends and connections with other writers.
Share articles and book blurbs from other writers. Many will be happy to promote you and your work.
Your Book’s Price
Price is important.
For many writers, it’s a touchy subject.
Some writers spend years on a book, and they can’t imagine giving it away for a few dollars (or less).
While you’ve no doubt spent significant time and energy on your book, you may not be able to charge the same price as a well-known author.
At the same time, undervaluing your book may frighten people away, causing some to devalue your work. Some will think, “If it’s that cheap, it can’t be that good.”
Price it in line with similar books in your genre, and don’t be afraid to experiment with temporary price changes. Finding the sweet spot will take time.
Experiment with countdown deals or special launch prices. Many writers have found success with a low-priced launch, bringing in reviews as a consequence.
Robert Zajonc, the social scientist responsible for “the mere exposure effect,” found that repeated exposure to something caused humans to change their feelings about it, to view it more favorably.
Marketers used to say a person needed seven exposures to an advertisement. After this threshold, a person would view it positively, becoming more likely to purchase.
As a new writer, you can’t be everywhere all of the time, but you can make your presence known by the strength of your blog posts and the quality of your regular social media updates.
Over time, people will become familiar with you and your products, and they’ll be more likely to buy.
You can also increase familiarity by positioning your work alongside similar, popular books in your genre.
Pay attention to the ways popular books are marketed in your genre. From the cover art to the common themes, find ways to make your products familiar to your audience.
People love to know they’re receiving a special deal, but that special deal means nothing without an expiration date.
Urgency pushes buyers off the fence, forcing many to move forward with their purchase. This time-bound, special offer minimizes buyer’s remorse, the feeling that you’ve made a mistake, that you’ve spent too much money or have chosen the wrong product.
With thousands of books published every day, urgency can make all the difference, especially if you’re a new, unknown writer.
Everyone has been swayed by an urgent, special price. It’s worked for centuries, and it’s unlikely to become ineffective.
As you can see, there are many aspects influencing buyers in their book choices.
Luckily for you, it comes down to polishing these interconnected elements. One feature isn’t likely to make or break your publishing career, but the right combination gives you an edge, the power to make a positive impression on potential readers.
Now, over to you:
What influences you to purchase a book from an unknown author? What flips the switch, taking you from prospect to owner?
Tell us about it in the comments section.