Guest Post: “Four Ways to Make Your Book Stand Out” by Lynn Duncan

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Unfortunately, it is not true that “a good book will sell itself.” In order for your book to sell, people need to believe that buying it is a good investment of their time and money. Here are three ways to convert awareness into sales:

  1. Make it professional: Self-published should not mean amateur. Make sure your book is well written, edited and designed. Invest in your cover – poor Photoshopping, inappropriate fonts and awkward composition all tell potential readers that this is a do-it-yourself effort. If the production values are substandard, many readers will assume the content is too.
  2. Get endorsements: Many potential buyers will be influenced by the opinions of others, especially if that opinion can be considered expert. So, early in the production process, approach individuals who might be willing to write a “blurb” for you. This should be someone with interest and expertise in your subject matter – a teacher/professor, a member of a relevant organization, an author who writes in the same genre, a librarian or an industry professional. It is perfectly appropriate to contact someone you don’t know but be aware that some people may request a fee. After all, you are trading on their expertise, so it is reasonable to pay something for their time. It is also possible that you may not get the endorsement you are hoping for. Ideally, you will want to approach potential “blurbers” several months before the book is printed so that their endorsement, if it is forthcoming, can appear on the cover
  3. Get reviews: Reviews from friends and fans are always welcome but positive reviews from impartial and well-regarded sources help establish a book’s credibility. While some bloggers will review books for free (note that most ask for significant lead times), there is nothing wrong with paying for a review. This is a professional service like many others. Remember, however, that not all reviewers are created equal and prices vary widely. Make sure you investigate the individual or organization offering the service to make sure it will enhance, not damage, your reputation.
  4. Enter contests: Contests have the potential to introduce your book to a whole new audience. If you make a shortlist, you will often receive a short, positive review suitable for promotional purposes. And if you win, you can brand your book accordingly.  As with reviews, make sure you only enter genuine contests with reputable judges. To find appropriate contests, check with organizations like Writers Digest, Canadian Authors Association and writers groups in your area. One organization operating a contest that also provides impartial reviews is the Whistler Writers Festival. This is the second year festival organizers have sponsored the Whistler Independent Book Awards specifically for Canadian self-published authors. The winners of both the fiction and non-fiction categories receive substantial prize packages; every entry receives an impartial review. Entries for this year’s contest are being accepted until April 30.

If you have written a book you are proud of, you owe it to yourself to help it find an audience.  An appealing book, suitably endorsed and recognized, will be well-positioned to generate the word-of-mouth necessary for sustained sales.

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