Friday, April 4, 2014

Self-Publishing Tip #8 – Review Everything and Reassess Your Book


You wrote a great book, finished editing it, released it, and have been marketing like a crazy person.

Family and friends love your work. You're even getting reviews from people outside your personal circle.

There's something to be said for this surge in early sales!

So what happens when all those people already have your book and you're not seeing new people connecting on your networks or buying your book? Are your sales doomed to flatline forever?

Not if you take charge!

Mistakes happen but they can be fixed

If your sales have sputtered out, you should reassess everything and make any changes necessary to rev the sales engine again.

Ask yourself the following question and be prepared to answer it in total honesty:

Is there something about my book that doesn’t fit, something that doesn’t feel right, that I need to change so it connects with a bigger audience?

If sales and traffic have stalled despite consistent marketing, chances are, even though it may be really hard to admit out loud, the answer to the question will be yes.

Despite how hard it was to admit it to myself, I got there with my book. I got there so hard with my first novel that I actually removed it from the market entirely.

No lie.

If you get to this point, stop worrying about it because many self-publishing authors go through this reassessment. Hell, even traditionally published authors release second and third editions all the time.

Changes are made to better fit with this ever changing book market and they get a resurgence of interest.

What do I need to fix?

As self-publishing indie authors we're the only ones who can decide our books need something new. Admitting what that is might be tricky so here's a list of few things you can look at while you contemplate:

Price. Is your book 125 pages of fluff but listed at $19.99 as an eBook? Sure you can make up to 70% of the royalties on some sites but listing a short eBook at $20 is unlikely to bring too many readers. It might be time to do a little more market research and adjust the price to reflect your findings.

Layout or format. Those pages didn’t organize themselves and poorly formatted pages can kill even the best of stories. Make sure page numbers, chapter order, headers/footers and font are correct and consistent throughout so readers aren’t confused or put off by inconsistencies.

The host of your book. Is your book for sale on some obscure site that only you've heard of? I made that mistake with my first book and it cost me some early sales. Look into the biggies – Amazon / CreateSpace, Lulu, Smashwords – to determine your best positioning. You might need to reformat the document to meet the new site’s guidelines (or for a pdf if you decide to sell on your own site) but the time investment is always worth it if you can garner more readers.

Jacket copy. I always think of the movie Forces of Nature. Sandra Bullock’s character calls Ben Affleck’s character a "blurboligist" because he writes jacket copy for a living. His character has made a career of writing this type of copy. Why? Because getting a 300 page book synthesized down to about 100 words that hook a reader is a true art form. Should you hire someone who specializes in this style of writing to write yours?

Cover art. Perhaps the most critical of all elements of a book is the cover. Everyone says not to judge by this piece but let’s be honest, we all do it and with good reason. Historical shouldn’t feature modern technology on the cover. And if your book is about a murder the cover should tell that story too.

Your story. I apologize in advance for sounding harsh but, does your story suck? Do you have plot holes? Do all the characters sound the same in the dialogue? Is the writing stiff, grammatically challenged or full of spelling errors? Pay attention to your feedback and then go back to read your own book. Redline anything that feels wrong or reads poorly. Rewrite and re-release if need be. That's what I had to do and my book is still down because it just doesn't feel right yet. 

Your marketing efforts. Don’t waste time talking up your book in the wrong places. You’re not going to connect with your audience if you go somewhere they aren’t. Research in this area is highly underrated and should be started the moment you have a draft. Connect and network in the right places for you and your book.

This is the last tip post but it isn’t the end for you and your book

It’s hard to believe how much information we’ve covered over the past 8 posts! I hope you’ve found this series useful and that these tips help you to get your book together and ready to sell.

Check back in when your book is going live, I'd love to hear all about it!

Image courtesy Stuart Miles on freedigitalphotos.net

In the meantime, sign up for my monthly newsletter here for more fiction and self-publishing tips. You'll get a copy of my eBook Does My Book Suck? - a self-publisher’s guide to finishing your book - free just for signing up!

Earlier posts in this series:

Tip 1 - Write the Book

No comments: