Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Look within and what do you see?

Have you ever thought about what people see when they view your book page on Amazon or Smashwords etc? If not, you owe it to yourself to conduct this basic piece of research at the earliest opportunity as it's an essential piece of research for any author. Let me include a spoiler - this is how it goes for most people.

Having chosen a genre and found your book, a buyer’s attention is drawn by a catchy cover and title. Assuming you've done that homework (and it's likely that you have), the next thing that's essential if books are to be bought and then not returned is that your 'Look Within' section is up to scratch. This is the portion of your book which is freely available for any potential buyers to browse within and thus assess your style and ability as a writer.

With that in mind, what does make a good 'Look Within'?

Here are five things to bear in mind if you want to sell as many books as possible:

Blank or virtually blank pages

I know e-pages don't cost anything to produce but including them only serves as an obstacle between your buyer and your book and that translates to an obstacle between them and a purchase. Edit your book carefully to remove any blank spaces at the beginning. Don't waste time on repeating the title in text - you've got the cover for that.

A contents page which goes on and on

It's an unfortunate feature of the mobipocket (Kindle) format that it doesn't allow any versatility in the field of setting out. If you've written a book with lots of chapters, these chapter links (often oversized because they match up with the chapter headings) will occupy pages and pages of links which any potential buyer has to scroll through.

Loads of reviews

The world and his dog may think that your book's the best thing since sliced bread but let me as a reader be my own judge. Given that the whole reviewing process has been devalued beyond the point of worthlessness your 'Riveting Read, Daily Sycophant' is mere suspicious clutter. If you must include it, put it below the blurb description and not in your actual e-book.

About the author

I've not decided that I like your book yet so why should I want to see your grinning face and read about how much you love croquet and trout fly-fishing? If I've enjoyed the book, then I'd like to know more about the author and his/her other books so save your self-advert until the end.

A summary of the book

Either this serves as one big spoiler or a mere repeat of the blurb in the 'product description' area. Either way I don't want to read it now. I don't know why some authors think that it is going to be persuasive but it's only another obstacle for a buyer to overcome.

Just like the Grand National where a few horses will fall at every fence, you'll lose a certain percentage of buyers with every obstacle you construct for them. Given how hard it is to find buyers in the first place, don’t fall into these traps. Maybe it's time you looked within your 'Look Within' sections. You may be surprised.

Got a book in you? Looking for a publisher with the personal touch? Find out more on our 'Writers Wanted' page.

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