Apparently some people don’t read the description before buying a book. This became apparent to me when I got some bad reviews based on complaints related to matters that were clearly explained in the book blurb. That shows the importance of your book cover, which also needs to be an accurate representation of what’s inside.
This is the downside of being a writer, the opposite of the euphoria you feel with a good review. Be prepared for both.
Do you know which genre your book fits best? This is not always as simple as it sounds. There are sub-genres as well, which help identify your book’s content. Yours may be a combination of two or more. Some evolve over time, like sci-fa (science fiction-fantasy) or sci-fi romance, while in some cases your book may be so unique it doesn’t fit anywhere. Some of the most original and clever stories I’ve read fit that category and I don’t envy the author trying to figure it out. This also makes it very difficult when you have to categorize it on sales sites or during the marketing phase.
Most readers have a favorite genre, so if you want to target your marketing efforts to those most likely to enjoy your book, then you need to figure it out. If it doesn’t fit one of the existing ones, then figure out the closest combination.
Do you have a “elevator pitch” for your books, i.e. a catchy description you can give someone in the matter of seconds, such as someone you meet briefly waiting in line at the grocery store or in the doctor’s office? As a fellow author, I know these are often harder to devise than your book. Condensing a story’s content into a few sentences is never simple, but essential. If you’re an introvert, having something memorized makes it a lot easier to share your work than being caught unprepared and stammering out a few vague sentences. Be sure to include the genre and if it’s for children, teens, young adults, or adults.
Make sure your book’s description fits its content. If a reader is disappointed it’s likely to result in a poor review, not necessarily because your book is bad, but because it didn’t meet expectations.
I’ve had this happen to me with both fiction and nonfiction. In one case, the blurb was probably misleading while in the other, the reader obviously didn’t even read the book description, which was particularly annoying.
Your “book blurb” is what goes on the back cover and describes your story on sales sites. It needs to capture the essence of your story in such a way that it grabs potential readers’ attention hard enough that they can’t wait to buy your book. These are not easy to write. Most authors have less trouble writing the entire book. Similar to an “elevator pitch”, but a little longer, you can embrace more detail. Don’t say too much, however, and by all means leave them wondering how it turns out! If you’re really stuck writing one, read a few online or in a bookstore to get ideas and also sense what works and what doesn’t.
When going to conferences or book signings, don’t overdo it with swag. You want to draw attention to your books, not distract from them! If it’s clever and useful, it will make a stronger impression that lasts longer than something that’s simply “cute.”
There are exceptions, of course. I was recently at the Space Coast Book Lovers Conference in Cocoa Beach, Florida. Toward the end of the signing period when everyone was getting a little bit loopy, my tablemate’s tiny, LED laser pistols that also generated the expected sound effects were a huge hit. Dozens of people came to her asking for one so they could join the fun, and she had her name and website affixed to them, of course.
It’s not easy to get your book(s) into libraries, but your library-utilizing fans can help by putting in a request. To facilitate such support, be sure to post library request forms on your website, blog, or print copies if you’re at a book signing or other event. Forms must include the ISBN as well as your book’s distribution channels. Library’s cannot purchase the book directly from you, so it needs to be available from one of the distributors from which they can order. Note that many of the larger libraries now have ebooks as well.
Formatting an ebook boxed set requires attention to detail. When you create the bookmarks for each chapter (which will be used to generate the table of contents) they must have unique names or it will crash. Each book needs its own set which operates independently, wherever the reader happens to be in the ebook. This can get tricky, but worth it so the final result works properly and gives a professional impression. If you can’t figure it out, then hire someone who can.
When writing a series, be sure to note at the conclusion of each volume (except the final one, of course) that the story will be continued. Include the title and link, if it’s already written, a potential release date otherwise. Without such information, readers may think you just got tired of writing and quit, leaving them frustrated with regard to what happens if you ended with a cliffhanger. If you didn’t, then readers may not realize that the story will be continued. If you know it’s going to be a series when you finish writing the first book, go ahead and put “Volume I” or “Book 1” (or something along those lines) on the cover, another clue for readers that there’s more to come.
Giving characters a distinguishing feature or mannerism increases your story’s imagery and provides a handy mechanism to remind readers what they look like. This can be something like their hair color or style; other distinguishing physical features such as eyes or nose; or certain gestures.
The more characters your story has, the more important it is to give them each some sort of “tag” so readers can keep them straight. With the possible exception of red herrings in mysteries, everyone in a story needs to serve a purpose and move the plot along. If they don’t, zap ’em, and if they do, make them memorable.