If you’re an author, don’t you wish you were reading a post entitled, “Wow, What an Amazing Book,” that was about your book? Don’t you wish people were telling this to their friends, family, acquaintances, and coworkers? Don’t you wish the reviews were saying this? Don’t you wish readers were contacting you to tell you this?
(Well, of course, you want more than this. You want them to explain why it’s amazing, not just say that it’s amazing. But that’s not the point of this article.)
There are tens of millions of books out there. People aren’t going to think that they’re all amazing. Amazing is relative. To amaze people, your book must do something much better.
Only the top couple hundred thousand books sell once a day or more on average.
There are two ways to have a top-selling book: (1) Market your book effectively and (2) write an amazing book.
It’s important to realize that these points go together. People won’t realize how amazing your book is if they don’t discover it. And no matter how well you market your book, if the book isn’t good, it won’t matter much.
If you take the extra time and effort to make your book amazing in some way, this should help give you some motivation and confidence in your marketing.
What makes a book amazing?
What will cause readers to slam your book on the table and dance around, thinking, “Wow! That was unbelievable! Where can I get more of that?”
Let’s begin with what won’t make your book amazing:
- It won’t be amazing simply because you hope people will be amazed by it. (You need to work for it, not just hope for it.)
- It won’t be amazing just because your name is on the book, and you think you’re amazing. (You probably are amazing, but people won’t judge your book by judging you.)
- It won’t be amazing merely because you completed the monumental task of writing and publishing a book. (This is worthy of my applause, but isn’t enough to impress readers.)
- It won’t be amazing only because you have a talent for writing. (There are millions of talented writers. You need to stand above the crowd.)
- It won’t be amazing solely because you put much effort into preparing a very good book. (This is what readers expect. To amaze readers, you must go beyond their expectations.)
Self-publishing isn’t a lottery. In a lottery, every ticket has an equal chance of winning. In publishing, some books are simply better than others. (Furthermore, some books have a wider audience than others, some books are packaged better to help the audience find them, and some books are marketed more effectively than others.)
So how can a book amaze readers?
- Highly creative problem-solving. For example, the protagonist gets in a jam, the readers think there is no possible way out, and the author does something creative to get the protagonist out of it. The bigger challenge is pulling this off in a way that satisfies readers. You don’t want them thinking that it’s unrealistic or broke the rules of the game, for example.
- Incredible characterization. This includes heroes and supporting characters that people will fall in love with, but also includes villains. Think about characters that amaze you and especially why they amaze you, and how you can achieve this effect in your own writing.
- Crowd pleaser. Study the kinds of things in books and movies that tend to please crowds. The better you understand people – especially, your target audience – the greater your chances for amazing them with your book.
- Impressive formatting. I don’t mean avoiding formatting mistakes or knowing about things like widows, orphans, and rivers. Good formatting is expected, not amazing. Maybe the book is beautifully decorated with little professional touches that fit the theme of the book and don’t distract the reader. Impressive formatting (combined with good editing) helps to put the reader in a good mood. If people know you’re self-published through your marketing efforts, yet your book looks highly professional, they will be amazed that you’ve produced something beyond their expectations.
- Unique and creative in a pleasing way. If you write a romance that’s very similar to countless other romance novels, that’s not going to amaze anyone; it may please many readers, but this meets their expectations, rather than exceeding them. Do you want people saying, “That’s another good book,” or, “That book is incredible”? But let me warn you that this is both challenging and risky. Much of the time, novelties displease readers. They won’t be amazed by anything that’s different. You have to really know your audience well (focus or writing groups may help). Will people love this change, or will they hate it? If you have a gift for answering this question correctly, you can write an amazing book that will sell well. (Warning: Something new that doesn’t fit into a well-defined genre or that doesn’t have a significant audience will be a very hard sell.)
- Eye-catching cover that clearly identifies the genre and content. This helps to attract your target audience, create interest in your book, and put them in a good mood every time they see your cover. You don’t want the cover to be the only impressive feature of your book, but if your book amazes readers in other ways, a great cover can really pay off.
- Make their dreams come true. First, you have to know your audience. Many teenagers, for example, wish they suddenly discovered that they had special powers and that their lives had much more meaning. There are many books that fill this need, however, so you must pull it off in an amazing way.
- Do something better. Research similar books. Can you make a book like those, only do something much better? It’s not easy. In nonfiction, there are many books written by renowned experts. But maybe you can explain things more clearly in layman’s terms. In fiction or nonfiction, if you can find a way to do something better, this may amaze readers.
The more your book seems amazing to readers, the much greater your prospects for the most valuable sales of all – word of mouth referrals.
Your book has to have the goods, not just the advertising. If you advertise that it’s better in some way, but it doesn’t live up to the expectations that you create, readers are likely to be frustrated and disappointed. You want a book that delivers beyond the readers’ expectations. This will amaze readers and lead to referrals and good reviews.
Think of how you can put a wow-factor in your book.
Chris McMullen, self-published author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon
Awesome post, I have been thinking this very thing. Word of mouth is where you’re going to get the majority of sales. It’s very true in the box office as well. If sales are above or below projection for opening weekend it’s almost always attributed to strong or weak word of mouth. The initial advertising is to get the enthusiasts to read your book or watch your movie. If they like it they’ll pass it along. Most of the books I’ve enjoyed have been recommendations.
That’s a great analogy with movies. 🙂
This is so true! I can’t speak from experience (having published approximately nothing yet), but as a reader I see many self-publishers who are doing a lot of promotion and not selling, and they wonder why it’s not working. Then I look at what they’re selling and there are typos in their blurbs (or the descriptions are just not enticing at all), the Look Inside isn’t appealing (poorly written or edited, or just not a compelling story), or it looks like they’re marketing the life out of a first draft with a slapped-together cover. Yes, marketing is vitally important if you want to find your audience, but it’s not going to help is there IS no audience for your book because it’s not up to/above standards. People seem to think that if you just do the right marketing, you can sell anything. Not so. I don’t care how many blogs a book is featured on or how many tweets I’ve seen about a cover reveal if the book isn’t good.
That’s NOT to say, of course, that everything that’s being marketed but overlooked is crap. Not at all. There are great books being marketed but not selling like the authors expected. But I do see this a lot. I have the same expectations of a self-published book that I have of any book, and everything you’ve listed up there is bang-on. Great post.
Definitely, it’s worth thinking about what we like to buy as readers when we write as authors. Thank you for taking time to comment. 🙂
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