Wednesday, April 15, 2009

The madness continues...

What sells a book?

I’ve been following a few threads on this discussion. The consensus seems to be three things:
1. The book cover
2. The story blurb
3. The opening page

The book cover seems a pretty subjective way to judge a book, especially given that the author has zero control over that aspect of marketing. The epublishers I write for ask for suggestions for cover art, but the final product is completely their baby. The only possible change, once done, is if the artist made some glaring error such as misspelling the author’s name, and that and only that will be corrected. I’ve read that market research shows that book covers sell fifty percent of all books.

The author has more control over the blurb, though the editor has the final say in this, too. Concentrate your efforts on writing the most succinct, catchy blurb you possibly can.

The opening paragraph, or the hook, should be equal in your efforts to the blurb. This is where the writer’s voice will make itself heard. You’ll either hook a reader with it, or not. And authors can work a great hook -and blurb - by posting them on their blogs, on blog tours, on email loops.

But even openings can be misleading. Some books that start off slow end up with fantastic twists, such as the Life of Pi, although I suppose literary novels are allowed a little more leeway in this area. Still, it’s good to remember the most critical piece: the actual writing. It’s the hard, simple truth. If asked: How can I get published?, most agents/publishers will answer: Write a great book. And to do that, my friends, you must practice your craft. Write a great book, and your marketing efforts may turn viral. Readers will generate a buzz for you. And less time marketing means more time writing!

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