Today I have the pleasure of having the FABULOUS Lizzy Ford stopping by for a guest post! In case you missed my reviews, Lizzy is the author of the Rhyn Trilogy – I highly suggest you get these books. They are quick reads and full of plot twists and loveable/hateable characters. In addition to all this writing, Lizzy maintains her blog, husband, dogs and cat. She’s like a writing superhero!
Make sure you read this one the entire way through – especially aspiring/new authors – as Lizzy gives some GREAT advice for how to present your manuscript (as well as yourself, online).
Why Presentation Matters
I’ve written a few articles touching the importance of presentation in the past and thought this was the perfect opportunity to explore the topic in more depth. I’ve been asked a lot by other writers what the most important tip is that I can offer them about marketing their awesome novels. It took me forever to rein in my imagination and verbose habits and boil it down to one thing: Presentation.
What is Presentation? It’s everything from the physical package (cover, blurb, editing) of your book to the appearance and feel of your website to you, the author, and how you brand yourself and manage your reputation. These are all very important factors in selling anything, let alone a book. Let’s start with the easiest.
1. Hook, line and sinker. (Also known as cover, blurb and editing.) I’ve yet to meet an experienced author who didn’t say these three things moved them from selling ok to selling well. The most important thing to keep in mind is that your book is one of MILLIONS of ebooks online, so the first impression must be one that’ll land you a sale.
•Cover. Your cover speaks volumes, not only in how you present the book matter itself, but how dedicated of an author you are. Readers see enough covers that they can pick up on one that looks … cheap. Don’t let your book go out in a paper bag; it should look like you devoted time and/or money into a quality cover. This is how you will first connect with a reader.
•The blurb/summary of your book. Having worked for executives before, I learned that they want two things: 1- a reason to shoot down a project that costs them money they fought tooth and nail with the budget people to get and 2- the bottom line up front. I pretend that my potential readers are the same. Write a short blurb of around 3-4 sentences. Include a hook, a plot summary, and introduction to the main characters and what makes them so freakin’ dynamic, you had to write a book about them. Lead off with this blurb. Include a longer summary (2-3 paragraphs below) for those who like what you’ve written and are interested in more information.
•Editing. Ever download the sample of a book and choose not to buy it because it’s riddled with misspellings and bad grammar? You’ve hooked a reader with the cover, kept them interested with the blurb and lured them into checking out your writing. MAKE IT GOOD! If you misspell anything on the first few pages, you’ve probably lost a sale.
2. The First Date. So, a reader has found your book, decided you’re worth his/her investment, possibly downloaded it or simply decides to check out your website (because as the brilliant author you are, you’ve listed this somewhere in your bio.)
The reader goes to your website and finds an angry blog post about how you’ve declared war on the publishing industry or how badly everyone in your life has screwed you over and you’re waiting for that one moment to turn the tables on everyone.
You’ve lost your reader. Plain and simple. It should be common sense, but you want your website/blog to be a welcoming place. I call mine Lizzyland. It’s where people come to talk to me. It’s filled with book features, links and descriptions for my books, my own bookstore, book reviews, informational articles about what my team is doing or what new cool software/tools we’ve found, author interviews and guest posts … basically, a place people can go to see what’s going on in Lizzyland or who’s dropped by to visit. I’ve had everyone from New York Times and USA Today bestselling authors write guest blog posts to book features of awesome indie reads I’ve found. I also run a ton of giveaways. People always have a reason to come back next week. Your blog should be filled with things of interest to your readers.
Your website/blog is also your home in the online world, so personalize it. Anyone who’s seen my pink camouflage or my logo is usually amused or puzzled. I get asked about those things a lot. It’s a conversation starter. But one thing is certain about my website: you’ll probably remember it if you’ve ever been there. The colors reflect my primary genre – pink for romance –and there’s enough character and content there for people to realize it IS my online home.
3. Lizzy for Life. One of the most successful decisions we made was to brand me – Lizzy Ford – instead of trying to sell my books. The theory is that people who connected with me (as more than someone trying to steal their hard earned cash) would be more likely to become permanent
residents of Lizzyland.
We did this initially by giving away all my books for about eleven months. Yes, you read that right. Last year, my books were free everywhere but Amazon (and many on Amazon) from January through mid-November. Instantly, we created a sense of good will among readers and a huge pool of people who were reading my books. We posted my books all over the internet to pull in international readers, too. I invited everyone to come to my website, Facebook, Twitter, anywhere and talk to me. The goal here was to reinforce the idea among readers that I was accessible – and writing for them.
I became the Readers’ Author. People flocked to my site to download free ebooks or to give me feedback. Which is where we segue into the importance of remaining positive while interacting with readers.
Word-of-mouth spreads faster online than it does in real life. Next to writing, reputation management is the single most important skill that writers should master if they’re going to be successful. I tell people I pretend like I’m a celebrity surrounded by paparazzi at all times. It’s too easy in the online world to say something that never, ever goes away.
This doesn’t mean you can’t discuss having a bad day or you have to pretend to be super-happy-bubbly all the time. I’ve been open with my readers about my struggle with depression and the challenges I face in trying to overcome it. Many of them suffer from something similar, and we talk about it in Lizzyland.
Be yourself but realize there’s no such thing as a smoky backroom where no one else knows what was said. Be genuine, respectful and have fun with your new friends!
Lizzy Ford is the self-publishing phenom, author of the sweet paranormal romance series: “Rhyn Trilogy” and “War of Gods” series; and the young adult fantasy trilogy, “The Foretold,” all of which launched in 2011. She has also authored multiple single title young adult fantasy and paranormal romances. Lizzy’s books have reached the bestseller lists on both Amazon US and Amazon UK in multiple categories. Widely considered a freak of nature by her contemporaries for her ability to write and publish a new book every 30-45 days, Lizzy attributes her success to a team that consists of her editor, graphics artist, I.T. Sherpa, and her rabid readers.
Lizzy released ten books in 2011 and intends to release another ten in 2012, including launching two more series. Lizzy’s books can be found on every major ereader library, to include: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, iBooks, Kobo, Sony and Smashwords. She lives in southern Arizona with her husband, three dogs and a cat.
Thanks so much for the wonderful advice, Lizzy! Be sure to check out her books and website, and if you haven’t read them yet, what are you waiting for!?