J. K. Rowling has been taking a few hits lately in social media – first because she (or her publisher) decided to change the covers of the Harry Potter books and second because of her decision to publish her mystery novel under a different name.
Changes though, are sometimes necessary. Take that mystery for example. How many people might have mistakenly purchased it and given that book to their children under the notion that Rowling only writes children’s books. How many, having read the Harry Potter books, would have passed it up as “written by that children’s author” as they did with that last novel she wrote? She still has stories to tell, and not all are Harry Potter, how would she get past that bias to write a different kind of book? So, she wrote under a different name, and proved she could write mysteries well.
And then there’s those covers. Personally, I’m not surprised. How long have those books been out? So they wanted to put a fresh face on them.
So what’s the point of all this?
I listen – sometimes daily – to a lot of Indie writers complain about their book sales and/or lack thereof, and I wish they’d do something first… take a good hard look at their books.
First, look at the cover. I see quite a few really awful covers out there. Really awful. No matter how gifted an artist you/your wife/daughter/son/whatever is, unless they have a degree in graphic design, it will look like crap. There are some great pre-made covers out there that are fairly inexpensive. Or you can hire someone.
Are your sales okay, but not great? Maybe your cover isn’t working for you. Try another
Are your sales dropping? Even if your book has a professionally done cover, like J. K. Rowling you’re not off the hook. You need to drawn attention to that book again. Everyone has seen that cover. If they were interested in it once, and wanted to buy it, they may just bypass it again because its familiar, it’s been there for a while, and there are new books out there to try. Maybe they’ll come back and try yours later, they think. You need to catch their attention, help them remember what appealed to them.
That would be your blurb – the book description – and maybe the ‘Look inside the Book’ feature.
So, take a look at your blurb. A blurb should entice, should draw the reader in with just enough information to make them want to read more. The shorter the book, the shorter the blurb – few sentences to a paragraph – the longer the book, the longer the blurb – but no more than two or three short paragraphs. *sticking fingers in ears to block out the screams of “How do I condense my story that small?!” Write it, hone it, take out unnecessary words, and don’t tell the whole story in the blurb. Don’t give spoilers.
As far as the “Look inside the book” feature…I’m not going to go into the value of an editor, however I will say that readers are forgiving, but not that forgiving. More than one error in those first few pages are a fast way to turn a reader off.
So, don’t be afraid to embrace change. Corporations change advertizing all the time. They try something and if it doesn’t work, they try something else. So should you. Change is not your enemy and can sometimes be your friend.