The internet is a remarkable place in that it provides the greatest resource of knowledge ever to exist. The sheer amount of information readily available at my fingertips never ceases to amaze me. This is partially due to the equally simple process of adding to that wealth of data via forums, blogs, and, you guessed it, ebooks. It has certainly never been easier to write and publish your book with absolutely no cost for the world to view. Whether good or bad (certainly a debate for another time), I believe it is safe to say no one would argue that almost every nook and cranny has been explored through the written word.
As a result, we authors, both seasoned and new, understand from the beginning that from the moment we submit our work to a traditional publisher or hit publish on a digital retailer such as Amazon, it becomes one drop in a sea of titles for readers to peruse. Success, particularly in terms of sales, requires a special combination of marketing, networking, and research. But something is missing, isn’t it? Oh yeah, a good, quality book.
I don’t know about the rest of you, but I did my research and felt wonderfully overwhelmed by all the different ideas as to how to successfully break into the ebook world and get my work noticed. It wasn’t until I took a step back to breathe that I remembered my initial purpose: to entertain others with the story I loved inside my own head. I believe it is easy to forget that the most important component of gaining readers is the quality of the book we produce. (This is despite the incessant reminders on every blog I read such as this, and this, and this, and this…)
Though “a good book” was mentioned in every example above either in terms of putting forth your best work or planning exactly how to enter your niche, I still let all the little nuances of how to sell my book consume me. Amidst this whirlwind of brainstorming it dawned on me that I was doing this for myself and anyone who would enjoy my story. With this purpose in mind, I made up my mind to remind myself daily of my true goals, which brings me to the purpose of this article (longest intro ever, right?).
In a medium saturated with articles from writers coaching others how to emulate their success, I chose to instead write about how to approach your ebook from another angle. Here, I would like to remind you how to critique your odds of success from a perspective that we are all experts in: the eyes of a reader.
Why would I buy this?
The same question posed in the title of this article, but now it is yours. I’m sure everyone who reads this has asked themselves exactly the same question in some form or another when deciding if a prospective title is worth their time, energy, and emotion. Each of us has a myriad of ways to answer, but I would like to attempt to narrow it down into three overly broad categories.
- I can relate to the characters or story setting.
- I am a fan of this type of story.
- I am left needing to know more about this story.
I Can Relate
What I’m referring to here might not be exactly what first comes to mind as you read this heading. Though an initial reaction of “OMG! I totally know exactly what he/she is dealing with!” certainly sells your title, those of us with a young inventor as the main protagonist who is attempting to stop an inter-species war while dealing with his own newly discovered ability to shapeshift typically aren’t so lucky.
No, what I am talking about is after only a few pages you have bonded with one or several characters due to some individual characteristic that you either see or would like to see in yourself. Example: For me while reading Harry Potter for the first time (I know you’ll all get sick of me referring to my favorite read, but it shaped my life, ok!), I couldn’t say I was orphaned or that I was mentally abused in my home life and looking for some escape. What I latched onto was school was a home for Harry just as it was for me. His morals and willpower in the face of peril were the aspects that I wanted to emulate.
In my own book, Shifter, I don’t expect for people to relate to Alex in his situation or even home life. Instead I hope they find his ideals noteworthy or his view of the world in that it needs something new. I want for them to find that they were more amazing in themselves all along than they ever realized, not due to some newfound ability but because they find their own self-worth. Just that one single piece of a story where a reader can see his or her self is enough for them to find they’ve entered the world you’ve written in the place of the protagonist.
I Love Stuff Like This
This section is important for two reasons, the first of which we will quickly gloss over. Amazon clumps together titles to try to sell buyers more stuff they might like, so if you haven’t already utilized those keywords to put your work in a category where it belongs and can compete well, get on it! More importantly, readers are drawn to stories with plots, settings, and character types that they are familiar with and enjoyed in other books. Take the post-apocalyptic setting, for example. Numerous titles that became movies over the past few years took advantage of this hype and were extremely successful in more ways than one.
If your idea is to enter the world of zombies, do it right! You most likely adore zombies yourself and have read and watched hundreds of titles featuring the brain-hungry creatures. Just be sure that you are clear in your description as well as any preview that you provide for your book so that readers can immediately recognize “oh, this is just like ___! I loved ___!” As I love Harry Potter and Artemis Fowl due to my addiction to teen fiction, I wanted it to be very clear that the protagonist was a teen and the tone would entertain readers who enjoyed the same works I always have.
As a bonus, this means you will already have something in common with all of your readers which helps you with blogging and any kind of interaction to have a talking point. Like I said in Aspiring to Aspiring Writer, I believe first and foremost that writing is all about loving people and interacting with them. Hence, this is one of my favorite reasons to have put my own title out for the world to read.
Here is where previews or free books really get to shine. Having a great hook in your description or even the first few pages that Amazon likes to offer will work just as well, however, if you are willing to put in the work and really grab the attention of prospective readers. In my mind, the greatest compliment someone could offer me would be to say “I finished your book because I just couldn’t put it down!” This shows me that my writing, my characters, and my world are so compelling that a reader can’t get enough and is left craving more.
It is here that every successful title shines and draws people back for more and more in series or even just to get more of an author’s mind. If you have a specific scene or moment in your own work that you yourself repeatedly return to just to enjoy again, then this might be a sign that you’ve done a great job. Remembering what I said above about attracting like-minded readers, those same pages are certain to capture a reader’s attention and have them begging for more!
So, Why Buy?
Because I simply have to have this book! Because I enjoyed the work and want to support the author entirely for the selfish reason that I need to be fed more from their mind! Because the characters are so amazing that I want to know every aspect of their lives before and after the story ends! Because this world can go on and on, and I must know all the untold stories hiding within! Because this book is worth my investment!
As always, I hope this encourages you to either finish your masterpiece or to share your work where I can read it. There are so many untold stories out there just waiting for me to dive in and enjoy while finding new inspiration from amazing writers. Don’t lose yourself to the marketing side of things. Instead, stay true to your reasons for writing and try to approach your work as the fan you already are.