Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Reasons your book isn't selling: Poor Book Packaging

Welcome back to Reasons your book isn't selling, where every Wednesday I discuss common mistakes I see authors make that are hurting their book sales. Last week I talked about paid reviews.

Today's reason your book isn't selling: Poor Book Packaging

Packaging is one of those areas that is more relevant for the indie author. For the traditional author, the final product of your book is mostly determined by your publisher. That said, I am seeing more and more publishers ask for, and utilize, input from authors when it comes to book packaging. So, this is something everyone should be paying attention to.

Many authors equate book packaging to the cover. And while the cover is a crucial element, the reality is that there are several aspects to a book's package. Everything from the cover font to the retailer description.

So let's talk book packaging.

1. Covers
Honestly, so much has been said about covers that you'd think this is a dead horse, but apparently, bad book covers still have a bit of life in them. Every week I see another obviously homemade cover pop up on an book site. Bread, quilts, and Grandma's Toot's spaghetti sauce. All things that are wonderful homemade. You'll note that book covers were not on that list.

Look, unless your day job is book cover designer, you should not be in charge of your books cover. The cover is the most visible part of a book's package and can turn your book into an automatic pass if done poorly. Please, please, for the love of all things holy, don't design your own book cover.

2. Formatting
Formatting is actually one of those things that most indie authors can handle on their own. It's tedious and if you don't have an eye for detail, it can make you want to rip your hair out. But, with a little effort, you can DIY this part of the package.

Where I see authors heading straight for the cliff is when normal people seem to think they are God's gift to clip art. Then, instead of a normal, basic book interior, we have a runway show of fonts, odd formatting and random pictures that have no place inside your book. When it comes to formatting, less is more. Keep it simple. Your interior format should make it easier for a reader, not get in the way of the words. And if you absolutely must have drop caps and fancy scene breaks, consider paying for a professional.

3. Retailer description
There are some really great books out there, with some really bad book descriptions. I mean, really bad. Length is often a culprit, with the book description going on for paragraph after paragraph. You don't need that long to give us a snapshot of your book. Keep in mind, this isn't a summary. Reader's don't need to be instructed, just enticed.

Another frequent offender is the convoluted description. We've all seen the one that names half a dozen character, at least three fictional locations, and multiple words that don't currently exist in the English language. By the time we get to the end, we have no idea what we've read. You're book might have more plot lines than a George RR Martin novel, but your description should be laser focused.

Your book description has only one goal. Get a reader to plunk down their hard earned money to read more.

4. Format options
This is another critical mistake that make me want to scream, "It's almost 2016, people. Get it together." There is no reason why your book should be only ebook or print. There is no rule that says you have to pick one and only one. Here's the fun part, you can put your book out in multiple formats. And no your book is not an exception. I actually saw an adult coloring book last week that had an ebook option. If they can figure out a way to make it work, so can you.

And don't stop with just ebook and print. Audio is become much more popular and is growing substantially in some genres. If you don't have an audio book up yet, I highly suggest looking into this option.

5. A crappy book
Look, you can have the best cover design and a killer Amazon description, and none of that will be worth a hill of beans if your book isn't up to snuff. Traditional publishing isn't immune to cranking out some stinkers, but this is much more common among indies. Don't be that indie that rushes to publication instead of taking your time to put out a great book.

Rite of Revelation was originally scheduled for a November 5th release. But I pushed it back. Not because I couldn't have made it work, but because I knew rushing it would result in mistakes and a book that wasn't my best. This extra month has allowed me to take my time to make sure I get quality editing and a book I can be proud of.

All the packaging in the world can't help you, if your book doesn't deliver on its promise to readers. So take your time, invest in your book, and package your book right. Cutting corners here is likely to cost you big time in the long run.

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