With self-publishing being so easy nowadays, anyone can publish a book. However, the fact that there is no quality control over self-published books creates a problem for readers, with so many authors who think it’s okay to write the last word, slap together any old cover and then publish. While this may be perfectly legal and there is no one to stop anyone from doing this, no self-respecting reader will purchase a second book from these authors, and, with the free preview option most distributors now offer, may not even purchase the first book if the writing is too bad. This defeats the entire purpose of publishing, doesn’t it?
Here are three ways that indie authors can improve self-publishing, with the aim of keeping readers happy and thus creating sales.
1. Write an interesting book
It doesn’t matter if it’s fiction or non-fiction, your book should be interesting to those who enjoy the topic/genre. Don’t waffle with too much back story in one go, or with details that aren’t important to your plot or characters. Don’t write your life story if it’s going to be all about the sports you did in school and every girl/boy you ever dated – it’s boring and no one will find this interesting, except perhaps your friends and family. A ‘life story’ is only interesting to readers in general if you were on board a sinking ship, were kidnapped by terrorists, battled a killer disease and won, grew up in a cult environment or experienced something else that most people don’t. Also don’t copy from existing books or movies – it’s a cop out that most readers will spot immediately, and, in my opinion, is borderline plagiarism. For example, I’ve lost count of how many books there are out there with a sword in a stone. Even though these books might be totally different to the original Sword in the Stone, they still copy a key element – rather, invent your own ‘sword in the stone’ to keep readers interested.
2. Write and publish better books
Let’s assume you have an interesting book. Once you’ve written the last word, you need to read it countless times until you’re certain you’ve picked up every little inconsistency – was your character holding something important that he/she didn’t put down, yet, a few paragraphs later, he/she picks it up again? Make sure, too, that you edit for grammar and spelling mistakes, and typos. If you aren’t sure about something, never assume it’s right – do some research to find out what the language rule is for whatever you’re unsure of. Make sure that all your facts are right, even if you’re writing fiction – for example, you can’t have a character juggling old, unstable dynamite without it exploding; it’s unrealistic and will put off any intelligent readers (and most of them are quite intelligent, I assure you). Once you’re 100% certain that you can’t better the book anymore, hire a professional editor. No writer can edit his or her work completely efficiently, and an editor is vital for picking up those mistakes that you didn’t during your self-edit, and thereby preventing your readers from thinking you’re an illiterate fool (in many cases).
3. Make your books cheaper
Research has shown that readers have a tendency to purchase cheaper books, especially if the book is by an author they haven’t read before. Sure, the free sample might be enough to hook them and convince them to spend money on the book, but the reader still risks the fact that your overall story might be boring or have a terrible ending. Also keep in mind that most people only have a certain budget for books, and an extra dollar could, therefore, mean the difference between a reader purchasing your book or that of another author.