Wednesday, March 8, 2017

The night of the zombie book cover - The W(o)ndering Writer

"It was a calm evening; the sun was setting and she was working in her room.
A brief glance at the clock and she sighed, knowing that, for that day, her job could be considered over. She needed some rest for a whole day work in front of her computer.
She was a writer and her first novel, regardless was a good material and gather good reviews, didn't seem to attract the deserved, or hoped attention.
She switched on the lights and suddenly, from the living room, a strange noise attracted her attention. Her husband was supposed to return in about one hour, so it couldn't be him.
Her mind raced with the possibilities and without moving a single muscle, she remained listening if the noise repeated itself.
Again, that same noise, like someone or something was trying to open the door, or perhaps someone was searching for something on the shelves.
Her heart started to beat faster, yet she repeated to herself that it couldn't have been a thief, and perhaps the noise came from outside.
Trying to be very silent, and going against the voice that screamed inside herself, begging to go and hide somewhere, calling for help, she climbed down the stairs, stretching to have a better view.
The living room was in the semi darkness, but she could see the silhouette of something or someone near the bookshelf.
With trembling legs and shaking hands, she switched on the light as her heart pounded in her chest and the most horrifying creature turned itself looking straight in her eyes...
"AAAHHH" she screamed as she finally realised the horrifying truth behind the poor sales of her novel... A zombie book cover!"

Indeed, a poorly designed book cover can put down the best novel in the world, and I suppose that every now and then, there is a self-published author, who, just like me didn't give the right importance to that detail.
We all know that, we all have been walking along the shelves of a bookshop, looking for the next book to read, discarding those books whose cover didn't attract us.
Yet, we made the same old mistake, choosing the book cover that really didn't sell.
The problem is that we are all so much in love with our new born novel that we are confident that people will go beyond the cover to discover the great adventure inside it.
However, whether this is true to some extent, and perhaps it works better on non-fiction books, for fiction the first thing that sells is the cover, second the blurb (this short description on the back of the book), and then the novel itself.

I have to admit it, the original book cover, was absolutely a disaster, but I have learnt from that, and much probably I am not too late to fix that mistake. Oh well, since it has been ignored, I think it won't make any difference, and much probably, that bad cover is already forgotten by potential buyers who passed by discarding it. After all, they discarded the cover art, not the novel itself. To do that they will need to read it.

I hope that by sharing my mistakes, people who are going to self-publish will find my advice helpful, (of course, ignore this if you have a contract with a good publishing house that will take care of everything on your behalf) and summarizing the necessary steps for a winning fiction book:

1. Write a great story, but this nobody can help because you, the writer, have already in your mind the greatest story ever, and you will know how to put your heart in the paper.

2. Read it through to check for spelling, time frames, consistencies, missing parts, and changes you would like to have.

3. At this stage, you can also ask someone of your friends to be your beta reader, and he/she will go through your story, and give you an honest review on what she liked or not, or where there is something unclear that made following the story difficult.

4. Hire a professional proofreader for the proofread-copy editing of the manuscript. This is a very important stage and you should never miss. The duty of this professional figure is to take your manuscript and make it shine.

5. Hire also a professional to write the blurb. That is a very important presentation card and should be done by a professional who knows how to make sure that the reader, will be intrigued enough to buy your book.

6. Hire a cover artist, This is an extremely important step, as a potential buyer will be first impressed by that cover, and it will mark the difference between turning the book to read the blurb, and eventually buy the book or walk away.

7. Choose a catchy title for your book, ask friends, Facebook groups, other professionals to help you choose the right one.

8. Last, but not least, don't forget that the sales start before publishing. Start your marketing campaign way before the release date. Create a buzz and offer a pre-release sale. This will help your novel to stand out before being released.

9. After the release, market your book as much as possible, and remember that in self-publishing, reaching the success is not a sprint, is a marathon, which lasts forever.

Anything to add? You will tell me your experiences and every comment is more than welcome.

Oh... Are you curious to have a preview of my new cover? Of course, here is it:

Better, isn't it?

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