All – there are a lot of independent authors who read this blog. While this post is primarily geared toward them, I’m sure some of you will find it a little bit interesting!
Many people have asked me how I pick the free books I tell you about on the blog – I used to do a lot of manual (and a little bit of automation) work with some scripts I wrote that would tell me what the new freebies were each day on Amazon. I’d wake up pretty early and slog through it, until I finally admitted that was too much for me to do – I still have a day job – when I realized I was pretty tired some days.
Why not have the authors tell me about their freebies, then I could pick and choose which ones I thought people wanted to hear about each day? So, I did, and if you are an independent author or publisher and have a free Kindle book promotion coming up, you can tell me about it if you give me a lot of lead time and fill out the short form at the “For Authors” section of the blog’s website.
Generally speaking, I pick books I think (a) I would like, (b) books my friends and family would like, and (c) books that wouldn’t offend my mother or make her feel embarrassed in discussions with her friends back in my hometown or at church; no matter how old you get, your parents are still your parents (hi, Mom and Dad!).
Despite numerous requests and demands from various blog readers, I refuse to promote titles in the erotica category or those of an overly sexual nature (you can read my thoughts on that subject if you click here into your web browser to read a post I wrote about this in 2010).
There are three things that can quickly have me not promote / tell others about your book: this post talks about the #1 annoying thing that will make me avoid your book. You can take what I am going to say below with a grain of salt – you’re not going to hurt my feelings if you tell me to stuff it and go back to blogging. However, if it helps one of you have increased sales of what you have spent hours creating to the detriment of all else that is important to your life (i.e., that book or those books you have written), then I consider that a win.
After doing this for almost 8 years, I believe I have a pretty good idea of what is going to work and what is not in terms of reader interest. Most of my readers are not hesitant to tell me what they appreciate and what sucks (“suck” being a purely technical term sent to me in several emails or comments to posts by readers, often closely associated with respected literary criticism). That being said, I started developing a “Top Something” list of things to avoid promoting because either (a) similar promotions tell me it won’t be that successful because few people click on it – despite a book being free, (b) my blog readers tell me what they didn’t like about a certain thing or feature, or the somewhat reliable, but not purely empirical evidence, gauge of (c) my gut tells me not to do it.
I receive over 50 notifications each day of independent authors’ books going free on Amazon wanting me to publish it on my largest blog. I’m more than happy to do it, as I have been called lazy at times in the past and having someone else tell me about a free offer decreases the amount of time I have to run my manual methods of seeing what is free for a particular day. I reject a large number of the book submissions for about half a dozen reasons – if I’m rejecting them from a promotion standpoint, you can certainly bet potential readers would do the same if they saw most of the books being submitted to me.
Tonight I’ll leave it with what I believe to be the #1 mistake of the independent author: a very short or just plain-ole bad and sloppy book description.
You’ve spent months – or longer – writing the next Great American Novel, avoided your friends and family, paid for an editor (maybe), paid someone to create a snappy cover to grab a potential reader’s attention (maybe), but the book’s description on the Amazon or whatever site your selling on is about three sentences long and really doesn’t provide a hook to compel someone to try out the free Kindle sample or, gasp, purchase your book.
And here’s the really sad thing – of the literal thousands of books I look at each year to see if I will promote it on one of the blogs, I can’t tell you how many times I’ve rejected books because misspelled words are in the book description, or in the description the author has simple errors like their vs. there or two vs. too (no, I didn’t go back and proof the sentences and words in this post!). If you can’t spell or demonstrate you have a reasonable grasp of the English language in your book description, should a potential reader take that leap of faith your book will be any better?
You’ve spent a heck of a lot of time, effort, and energy into writing your book so why not do the same thing for the book’s description? Give the draft description to someone who has read your book – not a friend or family member but someone who will tell you the truth – does it make sense to them? Does it accurately describe your book’s contents? Give the draft description to someone who (a) doesn’t know you, (b) hasn’t read your book, and (c) has an appreciation for your genre of writing – does it make that person want to learn more about the book and possibly read (i.e., purchase) it? If the answers to any of those three questions is “no,” you might want to consider a revision. If you don’t have that kind of support group or don’t feel comfortable having friends and family telling you the truth, go to one of the numerous author-support discussion boards out there and get their opinion: a good one I like is called Kindle Boards. If you do go to Kindle Boards, go check out the Writer’s Café section.
Enough of the soapbox for tonight – I’m certainly not perfect in any of this but I am interested to hear your thoughts and suggestions so if you are on the blog’s website feel free to use the comment section below.
Have a great night-