Self-publishing and standing out from the crowd

Posted by Simon Alison

Michael Leese on self-publishingAnyone who follows the indie-author, self-publishing route is going to have to consider how best to get noticed. One leading writer has come up with an observation that sums up the problem. Mark Dawson, who has sold more than a million books on Amazon, has observed that the best book ever written may well be on the site – but no one has noticed.

OK, he may have had his tongue slightly in cheek, but there is a lot of truth in what he says. You only have to look at the numbers to get a sense of why this is so.

It is said there are currently five million books on Amazon, and more arrive by the day. Yes they are broken down in genres and then into different sub headings, but the chances are that, as a self-publishing author, you are going to have a lot of competition.

Especially if you write in one of the biggest genres like crime, mystery or romance. So the secret is trying to find a way to get noticed.

I wish I could tell you that there is an easy method of doing this, but if there is, I don’t know it. Even changing your name by deed poll to J.K.Rowling might not be enough.

Luck can play a part. For some reason your book is the right one at the right time and word spreads so before you can say it you are a bestseller.

But even when it seems that someone has been really lucky, look again. I know this is stating the obvious but take one example. Girl On A Train. What a great title, easy to say, easy to remember and it makes you want to find out more.
There are loads of examples like this, I am sure you have your own favourites, but often they have things in common. The authors are on their second or third books and have started to nail the process down.

They have also started to develop a bit of a reputation. So likes on Facebook start to build up into hundred, or even thousands. You just don’t get that when you are starting from scratch.

For my books I focus on the Amazon site and again you start to build up your reviews, which does make a difference when people are choosing between you and another offering.

In my opinion two key factors are your cover and the blurb. The book cover art is important because it might just persuade a prospective reader to take a look. If you read my first blog you will know that I am a firm believer in using professional designers, but you do need to shop around.

Use people who can demonstrate they have done this before. Decide what sort of relationship you are looking for. I don’t want to work with someone who regards returning messages as an optional extra, you may not be so bothered. But if you do care make sure you have found a cover designer who shares your views.

Don’t be afraid to ask questions (if like me you have the design skills of a house brick you may need to choose your words carefully) But a good, professional book cover designer will sigh slightly, then explain why your big idea is wrong.

OH, and don’t forget – make sure you see the cover design in the size it will be appearing on the site. Something that looks fab in A4 size may not be the same when it reduces to a thumbnail.

With the book cover design sorted out think really carefully about the blurb or promotional copy that appears alongside your cover. You’ve grabbed the attention of a potential reader now you need to make the most of it. Make the first sentence count. There’s no point in writing the best second paragraph if your opening one is rubbish. See what other authors are up to and judge the style that best suits you.

This sort of copy writing is different to writing a book. Some people argue that you should never start a book until you have written couple of paragraphs that sum it up. That may not work for you, but you will need to hone your words as much as you did with your novel.

Micheal Leese is the self-published author of the Jonathan Roper series. Book one is Going Underground, book two is I Can See You and the third is The Long Reach. All three are published exclusively on Amazon. Read his other guest post on self-publishing here


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