When you stop and think about the number of books being released, you’ll soon realize it’s a crowded marketplace.
Between the traditional and indie publishing worlds, there is a glut of new titles coming onto the market. Readers are spoiled for choice and exciting new voices and genres are emerging all the time.
While the abundance of new books is a wonderful thing for readers, there is no denying it makes it a little harder for authors to stand out.
With so much choice on the market, not to mention on-demand options like Kindle Unlimited, it takes no time at all for a reader to get bored and move on to something else.
So how do you stop readers from overlooking your work?
By focusing on quality.
Easier said than done, right?
If you’re not sure how to focus on quality self-publishing in 2021, read on! Here are five tried and tested ways.
Don’t overlook editing
Too many authors either overlook editing entirely or attempt to self-edit their book.
Just to be clear, editing isn’t optional! Even the most talented writers on the planet make mistakes or have stylistic weaknesses that only a talented editor can improve.
While the temptation to self-edit is understandable, it’s almost always a mistaken approach. Self-editing can be a valuable first pass at cleaning up text. However, we all have certain blind spots and weaknesses that we aren’t capable of noticing in our work. We need an objective set of eyes to find them.
But what if you feel you are unable to afford the costs of professional editing?
First of all, try and see the money spent on editing as an investment. It will keep your readers happy, leading to better reviews and establishing a springboard for future success.
Second, consider ways to make editing cheaper. Could you trade your writing services in exchange for editing?
At the absolute minimum, use a professional self-editing tool to get an AI take on text improvement. It’s no substitute for a talented human but is better than nothing.
Invest in visual quality
While we can avoid jokes riffing on the old cliche of books being judged by their cover, we can’t avoid the fact that visuals and design matter.
This is especially true for relatively unknown authors publishing online.
Put yourself in the shoes of someone browsing through a bookstore. They might be scrolling through their phone, half paying attention while Netflix is on in the background.
If your book cover is bland or unprofessional, it will be skipped over instantly. On the other hand, if it’s well-designed and uses eye-catching graphics, it stands a chance of grabbing the potential reader’s attention and inspiring them to take a closer look.
Book covers aren’t the only area where aesthetics make a difference. Promotional images on social media and even the quality of your author photos all make a difference in creating a positive impression.
The bottom line is you can’t afford to skimp on visuals. If you don’t have skills related to graphics yourself, invest in a pro to create quality images for you.
Test your ideas
If you’ve read Stephen King’s ‘On Writing’, you’ll know that he advocates “killing your darlings”, even when it damages your ego as a writer.
Just as we become too absorbed in aspects of our fiction, we can make the same mistake with almost every other element of our author life. Just because something seems like an appealing or worthwhile idea to you, it doesn’t mean a reader would see it the same way.
When in doubt, always test your ideas. But that doesn’t mean just asking anyone what they think. A lot of people will either tell you what you want to hear or won’t know the right feedback to give.
Instead, test ideas with an appropriate audience. This could involve polling fan groups or seeking out specialist feedback on social media and writing websites.
Some things to consider testing include your book’s title, subtitle, ideas related to your cover, marketing slogans, and promotional material. In fact, anything at all that relies on the reaction people have to it is well worth testing.
Tidy up your book’s sales page
A lot of factors that determine your success as an author are outside of your direct control.
For example, you can put your heart and soul into creating a quality book that readers will love, but that doesn’t stop someone from having a bad day and leaving a horrible review.
However, one thing that you can directly control is your book’s sales page.
If you’re selling copies of your work on Amazon, and you haven’t paid careful attention to your sales page, you’re overlooking a valuable opportunity.
You can directly rewrite your book description and polish its formatting until it stands out in a positive way. When you browse through competing books, you’ll notice that many authors don’t bother to do this. It’s therefore an easy way to gain a quick competitive advantage over other titles.
Don’t underestimate the impact that tidying up a sales page can have. Most people who click on your book won’t end up buying it. Why not do everything in your power to make sure as many as possible do? Unless you have an attractive sales page designed with potential readers in mind, you’re leaving money on the table.
Polish your online presence
One final way to focus on giving readers the impression of quality is by polishing your online author presence.
The way you come across online is something that should be carefully cultivated rather than being left to chance. If people are on the fence about buying your book, and Google you, you want to make sure they like what they find.
At the very minimum, you should make sure that any presence you have on sites like Goodreads, or on social media platforms, is up to date and reflects the current image you want to put across.
Things like ‘coming soon’ graphics for books that were released a long time ago create a sloppy first impression. You also want to make sure your author bio reflects your current achievements and the brand you want to put across.
You don’t have a choice on whether readers will form an impression of you based on what they see online. That’s a given. But you can choose to be proactive about your online presence so it represents you in the best light possible.