Why do customers put your book down?

How is your hook?

Hello fellow readers, writers, and humans…  If you are none of the above and reading this, um, is your planet more evolved than this one? 

I will assume that only humans are reading this, so on with the reason for the blog.

Firstly let me tell you folks in the states, Happy Thanksgiving.  I hope that you had an excellent quiet time with your bird of choice.  Yeah, it was different this year.  Crazy uncle, whoever was not at the table poking his fingers in the air telling us how stupid we were for voting a certain way.  That might be a COVID blessing.

I read a lot.  I write a lot.  I spend more time in front of the keyboard than I care to admit.  One question that comes up often regards marketing their book.  They have the best novel ever written.  After years of trying to get an agent, they stopped wasting time on query letters and just published on Amazon, where Jeff and company make more money than the author if it sells.

The problems are many.

Firstly because of programs like KDP, people don’t value books like we used to.  I could have lived in a bookstore.  When half-price books came into vogue, I came close to living there.  Spending $20 on a book was nothing, especially when you are used to spending a lot more on college textbooks that were hardly ever used.

Along came Kindle and Kindle Unlimited.  Before we knew it, people who still read would not dream of spending $20 on a book when they can find something for free that is close.

KDP and others have programmed the reading community to value the written word as nothing.

Do you remember when Napster and similar music streaming services were online?  Musicians much like authors, should be paid for what you enjoy or consume. I won’t confuse you with too much more of the music industry. I will say that price is one reason your novels do not sell.

Statistically speaking, a new independent author earns $10 the first year. If you knew that going into a book project, would you still do it?

The numbers are sobering, but they put things into perspective.  Writing is hard.  Anyone can tell a story, but can you write the story as a real novel? 

Confusion on the reader’s part is one reason many books get placed back on the shelf. They are standing at the bookshelf in a major book store, and they see the spine of your book.  What is on the spine?

Your pen name, and the Title.  There might also be some color in the artwork.

Let’s assume that by magic, you picked the right fonts, colors, and Title intrigued them.  I am not going to lie and tell you the size and feel of the book doesn’t matter; it does.  Not very much but in the physical bookstore, everything matters. Suppose you could incorporate a certain scent in the pages that would be cool.

When the cover is opened, what do they see?

Her breath was haggard from the nightmare.  The tangled sheets must have been why she felt as if the trees in the forest had captured her—falling to the floor, pulling herself from the fabric, Priscilla headed to the bathroom.  Had she looked behind her, she would have seen the muddy footprints on the carpet from the forest floor in her dream.

Meh, never start a story with a dream scene but, I kind of like it.  Would that cause you to read further?

How about this one:

Silence filled the cabin of the craft as the engines ceased to function.  The gauges warning low fuel were still flashing an amber warning.  Steve knew they would be cutting it close, but, he never dreamed he would be tens of thousands of miles from his rendezvous with the space station, and no fuel. 

The asteroid that pulled them off course was not detected by the agency. Laden with supplies for the station, the one thing they did not have was fuel.  They had a week to figure out if they were still on course. Then they had to figure out how the space station stops them from heading out into the void between galaxies.

Hmm, I like that hook too.

Yes, the hook, as in fishing, is essential.  The hook is your bait.  Once you know who your audience is, you write for them. 

In our critique group, we have several different authors who write in other genres.  The second hook would not be well received by many of them as science fiction is not their thing.  In the first hook, we can guess that magic of some kind is involved.

A strong hook and a non-confusing story is only a small part of the process.

From POV to story structure, we are only scratching the surface of writing a novel that will sell.  My advice to writers is this.

Sit and write your story. Don’t worry about any of the ‘stuff’ that must be part of your novel to be any good.  Just tell the damned story.  Too many overthink it and never get the first story published.

Once you get the story on paper, stuff it into a drawer and start something else. Come back at it with fresh eyes months later and edit it. I always have what I call a manifest right after the title page. It includes all the pertinent information about the characters, places and so on.

I am close to 40 novels published, and I keep going.  Why?  Practice.  The story is the easy part.  Think of something that excites you, put yourself as the MC, and write the blooming story. Vomit it out until you wretch, and nothing more comes out.  Store that manuscript in a safe place and then write another. Don’t think about publishing an unvarnished attempt at a story.  Let it age.

When the next novel is finished, put it in that drawer and then read it as if you are seeing it for the first time with a fresh look at it.  Yes, have your red pen handy and make notes, lots of notes.

Wait, her eyes are green in this scene and blue in this one…  The list of issues will be mind-boggling.

Tackle them one at a time.  You will learn that you have to flesh out other characters and scenes that were very clear in your head.  Now a few months later, you have no idea what you wrote.  That is a good thing.

I had no one to assist me when I started this journey.  I made all the mistakes, and yet I am still here, still writing.  I am attempting to lift others on the same road as I travel. Why?

Why not?  I know many who are so competitive that they would not lift a finger to assist another writer.  That is sad. When you draw that last breath, what will others say about you? 

Some will say…’ it matters not.’

With as many novels and works of art that I have out there, I hope to be more than a footnote in history. Would I change anything that I am doing now if I knew nobody would care?  No, I care.

When I write you my lovelies, and I am not just spitting niceties into the wind. If I can lift you up in some small way either by my words, works, or actions, then that is a life well-lived.

One of my characters in one of my novels said. “When I slide into the grave, I want to have left it all out there on the field of life.” 

That was one of my early novels I need to go back and re-write.  I loved it, but I know I can do better.

I hope you got something out of this blog.  Take care, and have a great weekend.

Much love -TW

Author: AuthorTWScott

Author, Writer, Artist, Graphic Artist ... Over 32 published novels crossing many genres. www.authortwscott.com

2 thoughts on “Why do customers put your book down?”

  1. Good points, all. Like you, I read a lot, or used to until the Rona hit. Now I write more. The past few books I have attempted to read were stinkers and I lost interest. Today’s authors-writers tend to fall in love with their studied vocabulary. Why use a $5.00 word, when a .25 cent one will make the point. I may never publish a book because of the mountain of work it requires, but I will write short stories. Write like people speak. Nice read.

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    1. What you say is true and in a way some of it unfortunate. I am rather well read and I have a vocabulary to match it. In the process of writing I use whatever word fits. Sometimes they are .25 cent words and sometimes they are not. Here is the sad part. Once upon a time we were told to write for a seventh grade education. An agent friend of mine tells me to dumb it down to fifth grade if you want to sell. That is mind numbing. The editor frequently takes my vernacular down to a fifth grade level and I must admit, it makes me cry. Not for me, but for thee, or in our case our readers. Thanks for the reply and best of luck on your short stories. When I finish this novel I most probably will pen a book of short stories. -TW

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