If you want to write stories and sell them, there’s something you already know, or if you haven’t gotten that far yet, you will eventually learn: writing is a business. Books are a business. More specifically, it’s the entertainment business and you’re going to have to learn all the extra things that come with that. It’s not enough, at least at first, to just write stories and have them published. You also need to sell your work.
What I mean by that is, you have to show off, be a salesman and a pitchman at the same time, and hope to God someone notices and more importantly, cares.
Even if you land with a publisher, most often they want you to write the description of your book that will go on the cover and be used to advertise. The people in the marketing department might change it a bit, or offer suggestions, but they want you to write it, along with things like taglines, teasers, and other descriptions that will be used in marketing. This is because, mainly, no one knows your book better than you do and knows what needs to be mentioned in the description. If you’re self-publishing, of course, this is entirely and completely on you anyway. The problem is, it takes a lot of practice to write book blurbs and taglines and also make them catchy, sensational, and interesting enough to hook readers.
How can you learn to sell your book in a way that will make people want to read it? Here are some tips for when you’re trying to get noticed in a sea of a million books:
- What makes your story unique? What’s the thing in this story that readers haven’t read a thousand times before? The thing that makes it different, interesting, and dynamic? It’s true that originality is difficult to come by, but pick something in the story you think is a new twist and at least give it a glancing mention.
- What DOESN’T make your story unique? Readers of your genre expect certain things from the books they read. Make sure you focus on that aspect of your story, too. People who want to read mysteries will be looking for a mystery plot. People who read romance want love and relationships in your book. Make sure you clearly define why your book fits in your genre, too.
- Try to be snappy and yet descriptive. Book blurbs, and especially taglines, are brief and succinct. They get right to the heart of the matter and say only what’s important–but remember, you’re selling a product and trying to get people to read it, so that description needs to be engaging as well.This doesn’t mean slathering the adjectives on like spackle, though. Instead of saying a character is terrific, brave, or smart, instead show us why they are those things. Here is a romance novel example: Instead of saying “Jane meets John, a smart, sexy bachelor with a heart of gold,” say “Jane meets John, a single guy with a PhD, a body straight out of the gym, and a love for children and animals.” Instead of listing traits, tell us WHY.
- Where’s the tension? Make sure you outline the main conflict–and every story has a conflict, from something as extreme as a literal war to a kindly grandma who wants to win a knitting competition. Let the reader know what sort of ride they’re about to go on, and what’s at stake. This can pique interest better than anything else.
- Why should we care? You’re literally one voice shouting in a gigantic gymnasium full of shouting voices, so it’s very hard to be heard. As we know, luck plays a big role in getting heard, but you should also be genuine. Do you truly believe in your story and love it? Do you think it’s good and interesting? Make sure that shines through in the way you talk about it. Don’t be shy. Don’t be modest. Now is not the time. That way when the right person walks by and happens to hear your voice, it won’t be weak.
Selling yourself is hard, and selling your product in a show business way might be even harder for you–but it’s part of the game. To get noticed, you have to sparkle.That means learning how to make your book sound like the greatest book that has ever been written. Hopefully, someone agrees with you.
How do you sell your work?