In part one, we saw how finding your audience helps to raise the likelihood of indie success. In this post, we’ll focus on how to produce a work that sells.
If you have been able to build a good audience on your blog, you probably already write high-quality work that others want to read. But this can be a problem for many writers. They cannot seem to build their audience, even though others writing on the same subject have many subscribers.
The beauty of a blog is, it allows you to practice. Your elementary school teacher was right when she said, “Practice makes perfect.” Blogging regularly helps you refine your ideas and test them out. It gives you feedback. Listen to your subscribers. What do they like about your blog? Pay attention to the questions they ask. Are you being too vague or talking past them?
Sometimes it looks like successful authors are just “lucky.” In reality, most successful authors have lots of practice and often lots of missteps (even “failures”) in their past. In my twenties and thirties I was unable to find a traditional publisher for three novels I wrote from a Christian worldview. I set them aside and began writing nonfiction. Will I self-publish those novels some day? Maybe. But even if I don’t, the experience of writing and trying to publish them was invaluable.
Don’t expect instant success. And don’t give up.
While writing my novels, I devoured writing magazines and books from Writers’ Digest. I studied, I learned, I grew.
Revisions and edits
While we as indies know that many great books have been self-published, we also know that the stigma against indie books is not wholly unwarranted. I have started reading many books that I put down in frustration because of the poor quality. Most of the mistakes I see can be fixed by a good revision and editing process.
In writing Trusting God with St. Therese, I had the Catholic Writers Guild non-fiction critique group look over chapters, one at a time. When the manuscript was finished, four beta readers gave me their opinions. I made many changes, then turned it over to my editor.
I am blessed to be married to a nonfiction editor. But even though editing may be your greatest cost, I urge you not to pass this step by. Check out the list of Catholic editors and other service providers on our site.
My husband always has macro and micro editing suggestions. The process is painful. I complain. I nearly pull my hair out. But I also do most of the edits he suggests. My books are always much better for it.
After editing, you need to proof the book over and over. The first time, I did this myself and nearly went crazy. The second time, I paid a proofreader and was not very satisfied with the results. I think I will try a different proofreader for my fourth book. Again, it costs a little money. But you must have a well-proofed book if you want it to sell.
The importance of covers
As indies we are primarily selling our books online. If you want people to click on your book on Amazon, you need a professionally made cover. I confess I create my own covers, but I do many things to make sure they are top-quality:
- I read about design at the book designer.
- I buy templates from Derek Murphy.
- I spend a few dollars for professional microstock photos.
- I study the best covers in my genre and try to exceed them.
- I study secular book covers.
- I use professional fonts.
- I use the same fonts and a consistent design and color scheme on all my covers to create my brand.
I usually design a cover early in the writing process, mostly for a change and for fun. Then later I decide I don’t like it and come up with something drastically better.
Along with good covers, consider good interior design. If you work in Word or Scrivener, book templates are handy for your paperback layout. I designed my first paperback interior and will never do it again. Now I use templates from Joel Friedlander.
Some writers have a hard time writing their Amazon book description and back cover sales copy. The book description can make the sale for you, if you do it right. There are many blog posts about how to make your description work for you. This is your reader’s first taste of your writing. Get it right!
I have never had trouble with this step. If you are struggling and would like some help, I’ll write your description and sales copy for $10 per book. You just provide some basic information. Contact me at crossini4774 at comcast dot net for more details.
Sometimes mediocre books sell. But who wants to write a mediocre book? Take your time, practice, do your best work, and have it professionally edited. Then add a great cover and compelling sales copy and you’re on your way to success!
In Part 3, we’ll look at marketing for success.
Connie Rossini gives whole families practical help to grow in holiness. She is the author of Trusting God with St. Therese, A Spiritual Growth Plan for Your Choleric Child, Is Centering Prayer Catholic? and the free ebook Five Lessons from the Carmelite Saints That Will Change Your Life. She writes a spirituality column for The Prairie Catholic of the Diocese of New Ulm, Minnesota, and blogs at Contemplative Homeschool. She is also a columnist for SpiritualDirection.com. She owns the Google+ Community Indie Catholic Authors. Connie and her husband Dan have four young sons.