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It’s all very well writing either for yourself or writing for a small group and ending up dissecting your writing, editing and changing it but how do you know if it is any good – and what is ‘good’ anyway?
Is ‘good’ inherent in the quality of your writing or is it measured by the number of books you sell – in that case JK Rowling is much better than Shakespeare? I’m not sure I go along with that but how your audience like it must come into it somehow so it follows that marketing and promotion will improve the quality of your book, if only because more people will get a chance to realise it exists and perhaps even read it.
So this gives you two options; you can either schlep around writing events trying to catch the eye of someone with influence or send copies of your precious manuscript to various publishers whom you may think are suitable – usually because you like to read some of the books they publish or you could even start winning competitions and hope you get noticed.
If none of this works, and it usually doesn’t and you get a severe case of lowered self esteem because of all the rejections, what are you to do?
If you are the type of person who is a bit of a control freak and likes to do everything yourself rather than trust someone else or who would rather shoulder all the responsibility, how about trying the self publishing route?
This is ok as long as you realise a few things before you start. You will have to do everything yourself. In this case everything encompasses, err…everything; spotting and correcting typos, being responsible for your own editing, formatting your work correctly, designing a cover, deciding on a good title, transferring your book to kindle and checking the formatting works, creating a content or chapter list with active links, go through the whole Amazon self publishing process, and finally, taking responsibility yourself for everything.
Here is where you can start the Amazon self publishing process:
It is simple to use. Every entry of information that it asks for is followed by a drop down explanation box so you really can’t go wrong – and if you do it doesn’t matter as you can edit everything at any stage or at the end – everything is saved for you.
So now you have got your book in immaculate condition, no typos, an excellent relevant title, Kindle format works, all the active links on your chapter page work and you have been through the whole Amazon self pub process without a hitch and your book is now lovingly displayed on Amazon.
You have, of course written a blurb, a plot summary ( synopsis might be a better word ) and then quote a few lines of a dramatic moment from your book.
Next you need to write something about yourself on the Amazon Author’s page.Then you can sit back and watch your sales grow and the shekels role in while you get on writing your next best seller – right? Wrong. You may pick up a few sales but you are not top of any Amazon lists and most people have never heard of you, haven’t seen your Amazon page and have certainly not bought your book.
Have you now realised why a lot of writers say that the writing is the easy bit?
The first thing you need to do is to start collecting reviews, then more reviews. Why do you need to do this? Ask yourself, when you pick up a book in a bookshop when browsing, what attracts you to a book? You are probably looking in your favourite genre section – in which genre would you put your book? This is possibly best decided before you start writing.
So now we have, in descending order;
Genre. This important because most books are sorted in bookshops or on Amazon by genre so you can go along with the crowd and decide in which genre your book belongs or you can stand out on your own in splendid isolation, while no one even knows you exist as an author.
Cover and title. What caught your eye, artistic cover or the hint of a story that interest you?
Blurb on the back. Does it ‘hook ‘you and make you want to find out more about the story?
Plot summary inside the front cover – again, does it hook you and make you want to read it and find out what happens?
Something about the author inside the back cover.
Reviews by people, papers etc. that you respect.
Word of mouth from friends and family.
Ask friends, family, the guy who runs the coffee shop, the landlord of your local etc. to have a look at your book – lend them a copy if necessary but plead with them to write you a review. Reviews are critically important because of the psychology – ‘if other people like it, then I might as well, so I’ll buy it and read it.’ Also Amazon ratings are based partly on reviews I think. I don’t know much about the innards of Amazon so you may need to get a book on this. I wonder where you can find one?
Be careful tho’, because once you admit you are an author – as opposed to a writer, which seems to be socially acceptable if a little eccentric – you may be looked at in a way that people may regard a mad axe killer
I think it is now clear that book sales depend heavily on exposure and visibility to your potential audience. You, of course, have done the research and targeted your book towards a particular audience haven’t you?
If you have done all of this and Amazon do their job well – which is my experience ( No, I am not a shareholder ) then you can sit back and check your daily sales figures and see how much money you are making … (as if!)
The next thing you need to do is…? If I knew that I would be in the best seller list myself – maybe! Just to be clear, I am not in the best seller list so what do I know?
I’ll have a possible solution for you in Part 7 of this memoire.
Part 5 – How I write a novel will follow shortly.
© Richard Kefford Eorðdraca
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