I noticed recently that an author I’ve purchased from before has just self-published another book. Although the book is on a topic I’d like to know more about, I didn’t click through to read the Amazon description or to check the price.
Because the first book of this author’s that I read was profoundly disappointing. It was the length of a long magazine article and lacked depth, detail, and specifics.
I should have known better. There were several warning signs, including a do-it-yourself cover. The “product details” noted the (short) length. But the book’s excellent description hit all the right buttons — it promised the specifics I needed — so I took a chance.
Deliver what you promise
I would have overlooked many flaws if the book’s content had matched its description. All I asked of this book was to teach me something new.
But it didn’t.
Instead, the book was a shallow overview that left me feeling foolish for buying it.
Is this the reaction you want from your readers?
Do you want to give them the impression that you don’t really care about delivering on your book’s promises?
Probably not. I think you want to write a great book that readers will recommend to their friends.
To help make that happen, here’s a short list of what I see on Amazon that sends me back to the search bar for another option.
1. The book’s title is a mess.
Punctuation or spacing is missing. Words run together. A cover blurb is included in the title, even though it’s an endorsement, not part of the title.
For nonfiction, there’s no separation between the title and the subtitle. Almost as bad? There’s no subtitle.
2. It’s obvious you designed your own cover. (And that you’re not a designer.)
Nothing shouts “I don’t really care about my book” more than an obviously do-it-yourself cover.
If you don’t care enough about your book to make sure that the cover is appropriate for the category, why would I care enough to read it? You’re telling me that what’s between the covers will be amateurish, too.
(For tips on how to select the best cover, read “7 tried and true ways to make a book cover decision.”)
3. You aren’t letting me “look inside” the book on Amazon.
The “look inside” feature is the online equivalent of flipping through a book in a bricks-and-mortar bookstore. It gives the reader a preview of content and writing quality.
When you haven’t made it possible for me to peek inside the book, I start to wonder if there’s a reason why. That could mean that a preview might discourage people from buying.
That’s probably not the message you want to send.
4. Your book description is written and formatted like an advertisement.
Nothing shouts, “I’m an internet marketer trying to grab your dollars!” like a book description that looks and reads like a website sales page.
Hype might fool others, but it doesn’t fool me. I want thoughtful text that helps me see what I’ll learn from the book, not a huge, boldfaced font shouting at me.
Major publishers don’t use this approach. Minor publishers shouldn’t either. It’s insulting to the reader.
5. The book description is one long block of text with no paragraph returns.
This is a problem for two reasons. First, I can’t read text with no white space. My brain craves paragraph breaks!
Second, it tells me that you care so little about your book that you didn’t even review your sales page before it went live.
If you don’t care, why would I?
On the other hand … authors have been complaining that the system has messed with their descriptions. To be safe, go to your book’s page and make sure it looks the way you want it to.
6. You don’t have an author bio or the one you’re using isn’t relevant to the book.
Until recently, I was guilty of this. My bio just disappeared — poof! — from my Author Central account. One day it was there, the next, it wasn’t.
So, even if you’ve added your bio to your Author Central Author Page, check your book’s sales page to make sure it’s still there.
You’ll find a lot of helpful information online about how to write your author bio (including on this site), but the one thing that most self-published authors overlook is relevance. Novelists write that they’ve fulfilled a life’s dream by writing a book — not relevant — and nonfiction authors use a generic bio that doesn’t shine a spotlight on their best credentials for the topic.
Whether it’s fiction or nonfiction, I need you to connect your life (and personality) to this book so I understand why you’re the right author for it.
Help me love your self-published book
But what I’m seeing tells me that many authors don’t care much about quality.
Here’s what Apple founder Steve Jobs says about that.
“Quality is more important than quantity. One home run is much better than two doubles.” ~ Steve Jobs
When someone tells you that what counts is quantity — when they tell you that you need a lot of books in the pipeline to be successful — look at the quality of what you’ve already written first. If it’s not as good as you can make it, don’t move on until it is.
Quality still matters.
Convince me to read your self-published book. What’s the best thing about it?
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