When it became easy to publish, people published crap. Buckets and boatloads of it. A gate was opened, which was previously closed to just anyone dreaming of becoming a published author. Whether because of budget or ignorance, people published within days of finishing writing and screamed from the rooftops, “Look at me, I’m published!”
The public did not react well. Paying similar prices for books untouched by experienced professionals and for their favorite best sellers equally often resulted in scathing permanent consumer review public records, dooming that sales listing. Indie published books quickly became widely known for, and disregarded as, unreadable because of the reputation established just from that initial flood of unprofessionally published books. That reputation continues to fester in large part because people are still flooding the marketplace with crap. It is much better than it was and with Amazon’s preview mode, a well packaged indie book has a better chance these days. Your topic or genre, overall branding, product packaging, and marketing also gives you a leg up because, let’s face it, they probably didn’t invest in any area of the business of being an author.
You truly only get one opportunity to make a great first impression.
You have to take a side in this industry-wide problem before anything you do becomes public, or published. Either be committed to providing professionally packaged products, or be one of the short sighted, “do it my way” writers who’s ruining it for everyone else. By the very nature of the issue, your decision forever marks you one way or another in the consumer’s eyes, becoming a permanent part of your brand’s recognition.
You can’t unpublish and you can’t remove bad reviews no matter what you fix after publishing.
First, you have to fight that inner urge to act now. Instead, plan…and planning anything starts with learning.
- Learn how to plan, what to include in the plan, what a successful plan should look like.
- Learn when and how to hire the right person to provide a service that you can’t do because some things just do require an expert.
- Learn how to do what is reasonable for you to do yourself, but be warned that there will be “subject matter experts” coming at you from all directions.
I see authors all the time telling other authors any particular advice that they just swear is so perfect for selling books. I look that author up on Amazon: 1 book, no/few/bad reviews, just published or been published awhile, and nothing else about it makes me want to click that buy button.
Always consider the source of any advice or information when your success depends on it.
I surveyed a pool of 300 readers this past summer, learning that some 75% said they end up reading 1 out of 10 indie books whether they were free or not. The other 9 turned them away because of errors or odd layout/design choices, or both. And if they took the time to click a buy button, whether it was $0 or more, 50% of them said they would give a bad review because they invested time and were disappointed. Only 30% said they would leave good reviews when warranted, indicating the number one reason as too busy. This survey was limited to authors who are also avid readers, so I’d say that 30% is higher than if the survey looked at readers who do not know the pain of being an author.
You have 15-30 seconds to make the sale and 3 pages to keep the consumer happy.
Consider if neither window of opportunity converts a lead into a sale, or if you disappoint the consumer who does buy. These things are directly impacted by your decisions to invest or not invest time and/or money into publishing professionally.
Authors tend to want creative freedom over every aspect of their book and that’s just not a good idea, as these results clearly show. Unless you have experience or an innate tendency to excel in something, you are not automatically good at every aspect of publishing just because you want to share the story you wrote with the public. This is often overlooked because when the writer’s job is done, in order to fulfill the purpose for which they wrote in the first place, they find themselves with a limited budget, trying to live out that dream of being published. And like parents excited for their child to go off to college but scared and apprehensive about them leaving home, so it is with publishing your baby—it’s hard to let go.
Total control, YES! Total creative carte blanche, NO.
Consumers need certain things to be standard in their books. Formatting is typically where this goes way wrong. Odd layout/design choices beyond what a consumer is used to seeing won’t make sense to them and will distract from the more important things. In a discussion on LinkedIn recently, some one said “excessively clever” and that couldn’t be more accurate when referring to going too far in design.
Successful corporations excel in packaging their products and services because they hire the right people to make those decisions. If you are asking why you, as an author, shouldn’t have creative carte blanche for every aspect of your own book, I say to you, “Why would you? What experience do you have in marketing?” Everything after writing is directly impacted and influenced by marketing choices, from formatting to cover design to book description to trim size choices to the color of the background in your author photo.
Are you willing to risk sales by not making sure you always make a great first impression?
~~~~~>Debra L Hartmann, Author, Publishing Consultant with Indie Author Publishing Services, Managing Editor at The Pro Book Editor, Admin for https://authorshelpingauthors.wordpress.com/ and http://booksauthorsandpublishing411.com/