How to Get People to Take Your Self-Published Novel Seriously

6752495881_13a7149697Getting 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.

Quality Editing

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.

These are not real reviewers.

These are not real reviewers.

Real Reviews

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!

6188273990_fed79f91faProfessional Presentation

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.

Conclusion

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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What (Not) to Say When People Ask Why You Self Published

6753518501_1ea26e8e87There are lots of reasons to self publish a book.  Some of them sound better than others.  So it’s a good idea to premeditate your response to the question: “Why did you self publish?”  Because, rude or not, people will ask  and they will judge your answer.

What Not to Say

“I tried to get an agent (or editor) but everyone rejected my book.”

Even if this is true, it makes you sound lame.  No one wants to read a book that no one wanted to publish.  If you attempted to go through traditional channels, just keep that to yourself and pretend like self publishing is what you wanted all along.

“The publishing industry wouldn’t know a good book if it smacked them in the head.”

Whether or not this statement is true isn’t the point.  It makes you look arrogant and delusional.  It also makes you sound like a sore loser.

“I don’t want to give royalties to an agent or publisher.”

This just makes you sound money grubbing.  People want to support artists who love their art, not ones out to make a quick buck.

“I don’t need an agent, editor, cover artist, [fill in the blank].”

Again, even if this is true, it just makes you sound arrogant.  Everybody needs help of some kind to make their book a reality.

“I can sell more and get rich on my own.”

The odds of this happening are infinitesimally small. Around 50% of self-published authors (including those with multiple books released) make less than $500 in royalties per year.  So this statement makes you look both delusional and arrogant.

4598279025_8921d3dcf2So What Should You Say?

Whatever you say, keep it humble and sincere.  Focus on your passion for what you do.  Try to get people excited that you’re following your dreams.

Here are some examples:

“Publishing is something that I’ve always wanted to do so I’m making my dream come true.”

“I just want to tell my stories.  For me, it’s not about all the bells and whistles of traditional publication.”

“I love writing and I wanted to share my passion with the world.”

Whatever you say, just remember to avoid sounding critical or judgmental towards traditional publishing.  It won’t prove any points you have about the industry, but it will make you look petty and arrogant.

Need help with your self-published book?  Or need help landing an agent or publisher?  I’m a professional developmental editor for both self publishing and traditionally publishing authors. Check out my editing services.

Is Self Publishing Right for You?

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It’s never been easier to publish your own novel, but is self publishing right for you? Here are some questions to consider before taking the plunge.

Have You Written a Great Book?

Self publishing should not be seen as an alternative to writing and thoroughly editing a great book. I’ve seen a number of self-published authors bragging about how quickly they churn out books or how they wrote it in a single draft without editing. Yikes!

Self publishing is not an easy way to avoid the hard work and high standards of traditional publication.   Self-published authors rely heavily on word of mouth and good reviews.  So if your product sucks, you wont be successful. And if you want to earn an income from your self-published books, you need to build up a fan base, which can’t happen if your work is riddled with errors.

Do You Have Time to Self-Promote?

If the thought of an active presence on Twitter makes you cringe or if you can’t find a spare moment to post on Facebook, self publishing is definitely not for you. To be successful, you must be willing to do all the marketing on your own, which means a constant presence on social media and a huge time investment.

Has Anyone Else Read Your Book?

If you want a stellar book that will turn heads and get people talking, you need feedback on your work before you publish.  There are many ways to get feedback, such as utilizing beta readers, a freelance or independent editor, or posting excerpts on a writing forum. Whatever you choose, make sure that more than just one set of eyes has looked over your work.

Are You Happy With Non-Traditional Publication?

Do you want to self publish because it’s something you feel passionate about or because your query was rejected by all the top agents? Agents and editors (usually) won’t touch a book that’s already been self-published.  So if what you truly want is traditional publication and you give up too soon, you may regret taking your book off the market, especially if your writing improves later on.

Self publishing can be a great experience, but it’s not right for everyone. Before jumping in, make sure it’s the right choice for you!

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