Here are 16 problems I’ve spotted with indie Kindle books I’ve seen promoted on Twitter in the past couple of days. And by problems with “books,” what I really mean is problem with the authors’ choices.
No. 16: Serial novels. “Star Captain, Book 6.” “Bleeding Jungle Chronicle, IV.” If you’re selling lots of books and people want the next in the series, great. But if not, ask yourself: How many people who didn’t read books 1-5 are likely to start with 6?
No. 15: Thinking posts on Twitter and FB will sell your books. It might help, but don’t count on it.
No. 14: The cover doesn’t clearly signal the genre/content. This likely stems from people relying on stock art for covers. Well and good, but a photo of tropical island does not telegraph that the subject matter involves human trafficking and sex slavery.
No. 13: An off-putting, often off-topic subtitle: “Braving New Frontiers/Recovering From Hemorrhoid Surgery.” A more straight-forward main title would be an improvement, and it would line up better with the sub head.
No. 12: Failure to know, and use, the right keywords for your book category in promotions. There’s a lot of information about this on the web. You might think this is a boring thing to research. It is. Do it anyway, and put what you learn into use.
No. 11: Publishing some variety of porn, soft-porn, romance-porn, S&M-porn. Kindle porn, in this era of being able to find free photos and video of almost any sex act you can imagine? Fail.
No. 10: Relying on hackneyed, cliched words/concepts in titles. Like: Chronicles, Hitler, Saga, Nazi, fill-in-the-blank Code, Codex. It may seem like good marketing, but it’s not. Be original. You don’t want readers to think your book sounds like that other book they’ve already read.
No. 9: Weak premise. No all ideas for books are good ideas. Some are too small. Some are too big. Some are just plain boring. Instead of counting on people reading everything in your category, which of course includes your book, maybe you should ask yourself what you need to do to make your book the only book people will want to read in your genre.
No. 8: Lame book descriptions on Amazon. Read yours. Is it good, or does it suck? Spending time writing a good book summary is boring and seemingly pointless, except that it’s not pointless. Do it.
No. 7: Cheesy typography on the cover. Hire a graphic designer. A computer and lots of fonts does not turn a writer into an artist.
No. 6: Too much faith in genres. You need to know your category to connect with your readers, but does category alone sell books? It’s a romance? It’s fantasy? It’s a western? OK, that’s a start, but it’s only a start.
No. 5: Category drift/ambiguous category. “Bad To The Bone.” Horror? Mystery? Anthropology? Title, cover, subtitle need to narrow the focus and remove any ambiguity. Nothing is worse than buying a book you don’t want to read because of a misleading title. Actually, there are plenty of things worse, but this is bad enough.
No. 4: Cover subheads and tag lines that don’t logically relate to the main title. Title: “Raging River.” Tag: “Chasing Moonrise.” Potential reader: “Huh?”
No. 3: Mystery-less, no-hook, ho-hum titles. “Change of Status.” Bet you can’t wait to pick up that book!
No. 2: Weird, hard-to-pronounce titles that confuse readers and make it difficult for them to recommend the book to a friend because they aren’t sure how to tell them what it’s called without risking looking stupid and being corrected. “Plan 7 From Iblis.” Is it “Eb-liss”? Maybe “Eye-bleeze”? If you want good word-of-mouth, give readers titles that fit into their mouths.
No. 1: Boring cover art. A picture is worth 1,000 words, except when it isn’t.
Are you guilty of some of the above? I am. One of the fun things about self-publishing is you get to make the mistakes instead of your publisher (and trust me, they make plenty). Take solace in Tim Fargo’s advice: “Analyze your mistakes. You’ve already paid the tuition, you might as well get the lesson.”
If you want to have a go and seeing how many of my own points I naively violated, check out my new book, “Telluride Blood.” http://amzn.to/1NE15tk