Getting people to take their work seriously is a challenge for all self-published authors.
When readers have to sieve through hundreds, even thousands, of poorly written self-published books, it can be very difficult to stand out as one of the good ones. But there are things you can do to get your self-published novel taken more seriously.
Excellent Cover Art
You can pout all you want that people shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but they do. Covert art is not an area to scrimp on money or time.
Invest in a great cover that adequately represents the genre and story. Provide suggestions to whoever you hire to create your cover, but also respect their expertise. Make sure the designer has a good track record and solid examples of covers in your genre.
If you want a book to sell to more than just your close friends and family, then you absolutely must hire an editor. Not a proofreader, but an editor, someone to find plot holes, character inconsistencies, point of view errors, etc.
There are lots of good and lots of not so good editors. Make sure whoever you choose (*cough cough* pick me) has a proven track record, testimonials, and can provide a sample. You want a developmental editor (also known as a content or substantive editor), NOT a copy editor (that comes later).
Competent Proofreading or Copy Editing
In the majority of cases, proofreading and copy editing are essentially the same thing so choosing either is fine. This is just a check for spelling, grammar, punctuation, and correct word usage. Readers will tolerate a handful of errors across an entire book, but if there are typos on the first page, they’re unlikely to read past Amazon’s free preview.
This is absolutely vital: NEVER EVER have friends or family members write reviews for your book. NEVER EVER pay for a book review. Readers are smart. They’re savvy. They can absolutely tell when the reviews on your book are not authentic.
There are hundreds of blogs that will review self-published books. You can also give your book away for free for a period of time in order to (hopefully) get a flood of reviews. There are lots of tactics to use, but stuffing your Amazon or Goodreads page with fake reviews (I consider friend and relative reviews to be “fake” too) is not one of them!
Nobody is going to take your book seriously if the presentation is not professional. Check over your book blurb/synopsis as well as your author bio and make sure they read as professional and error free. Read through some traditionally-published book blurbs and author bios to get an idea of what to include.
Posting a professional looking author photo is also an absolute must. If your Amazon author page has a pic of you on the sofa in your basement, readers will not take you seriously.
Readers have plenty of reasons not to take self-published books seriously. Some of it is based in stigma and some of it is based in fact. The bottom line is that readers will only take you as seriously as you take yourself. If you’re willing to invest in your book, readers will be willing to as well.
Crappy cover art, poor editing, typos, fake reviews, and an unprofessional presentation show readers that you don’t think your book is worth investing time and money into. If it’s not worth it to you, why would they want to invest time or money into your book?
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