Here is part 2 of the five part series with tips on successful indie publishing. Read part 1 here.
First, I’m not going to tell you how to write a book. Each author has their own style. I do strongly advise getting feedback on your story and writing. New authors might need more help that more experienced authors, but there is such thing as too much feedback which leads to paralysis in moving forward, but that’s a topic for a different day.
Many readers use Amazon’s “Look Inside” feature to determine of the book hooks them. Pay special attention to the first chapter, otherwise, even if the book is fantastic, readers will never get past the first few pages. Typos in chapter 1 are a big no-no.
Do yourself a favor and hire an editor/proofreader/or whatever fits your style.
But that all is common knowledge. What secret I learned with my newest series that I’m rapidly releasing right now, The Quarter Witch Chronicles, is writing an ending that makes your reader want to read more.
I’m not talking about a big twist or a happy ever after. I’m referring to what people hate–but sells more books–a cliffhanger. Keep reading, there is a fine line between making a cliffhanger that leaves readers angry versus one that hooks them on the series.
As a reader, I love it when a book wraps up in a nice, tidy package, so I had been writing all my novels that way. When I’d compare my series read through to other authors, mine was low. For a while, I simply thought I wrote bad books…that was until I heard one author’s success story and she said the cliffhanger was the key.
I decided to incorporate this little detail into my Quarter Witch Chronicles trilogy. I plotted out the overarching story that ran through all three books, then plotted out each individual book, making sure each book wrapped up with that happy ending I (and my readers) loved as well as dangling a small carrot (incentive) for them to go on to the next book.
And guess what?
It seems to be working!
Reviews are coming in good with comments like, “I can’t wait to read the next book.” Nobody says anything about a “cliffhanger” which is exactly what I wanted. Just something small that makes them want to read on, but still leaves them satisfied. Also, I’m receiving pre-orders on future books every day, which confirms the read-through.
Overall, I will be utilizing this small cliffhanger model with all my books moving forward. I might even go back and adjust ones that are already written to give a small hint on what’s to come in the next book.
The next key component to successful publishing having a fantastic cover.
I’m going to use my newest release, Quarter Witch Chronicles, again as an example.
I found a cover artist I loved. She has multiple covers in the top 100 of the amazon charts. I also found a premade set I fell in love with, but when I bid, I was too late. Someone else had bought it.
So, I commissioned her to make the same type of cover with a few tweaks to match my story—like putting a dragon on the cover.
Well, she made my entire trilogy and I loved it. My family loved them…but, when I started getting random feedback, people wished you could see the main character’s face, andthey thought that the focus on her body was more erotica style.
Not what I wanted for my sweet new adult romance!
But, I had already spent quite a few dollars into the covers, and I’m currently sticking with them. I still love them. They make me read the title and the blurb—and I’m not an erotic reader.
We’ll see how it goes with my launch (that continues through June.) I am selling books with these covers (nearly 800 books over the past two weeks.)
My advice: You want to look at the top 100 books in your genre and make a cover that looks exactly like them…but a little different. Don’t try to do anything creative, unless you have a giant fan base and they follow you no matter what.
I should have just stuck to the exact same as other books in the genre with an entire female’s body, including her face. Oh well. I thought I was close enough—yet a bit different. Turns out, they might be too different. Time will tell.
Here’s what this series looks like:
And to the blurb. I suck at blurbs, but learned a few things writing the blurbs for this trilogy. I sought help from my reader group and other authors in a Facebook group. The key is this structure:
- One line hook with as few words as possible to draw readers in and make them read more. Make sure the entire blurb has a “voice.”
- Define the PROBLEM ASAP. Don’t spend time setting up the problem, dive right in, but keep it interesting and “hook-y.”
- Make sure to include a question that makes the reader purchase the book.
- End with a call to action. Remind them to buy the book.
I also learned less is more. Each of my blurbs is less than 200 words. Some as short as 150. This goes for my other books as well. I notice a correlation with the shorter the blurb, the better the book sells.
Here’s how I set up Book 1:
On the outside, Ruby’s a normal college student.
On the inside?
She’s something else completely.
Magic runs through her veins, tempting her to use it, but Ruby isn’t sure how to control her new powers…until Ty, a dangerously handsome man from another world, spots her and identifies her as a witch. He offers some answers, but they come with a cost.
Not only does using her powers make her a target to others trying to steal her magic and slay her pet dragon, but each act of magic must be balanced—and magic takes whatever it wants.
Is all the chaos caused by casting a few spells to ruin her ex-boyfriend’s perfect skin worth it?
You’ll love this new adult urban fantasy series because it has everything you want to read about: magic, witches, dragons, romance, and a bit of good old-fashioned mischief.
My blurbs aren’t perfect, but they’re not terrible either. They’re easy to read and (hopefully) leave the reader wanting to learn more. Plus, they’re true to my book. The goal is to find the RIGHT readers and get them hooked on the series. Not just sell book one and hope they like the series.
Next week, we’ll switch gears to a new releasing strategy for me: Rapid Releasing.
Thanks for reading,