I am a voracious reader and there’s nothing more satisfying than coming across a book which I’ve absolutely loved, and then discovering the author has penned a whole raft of other titles. Yippee! My reading list for the next few months is found.
Recently I discovered an email list that offers daily deals of free eBooks, and the marketing strategy of the authors was obvious. Hook the reader and they will buy your other titles. Indeed, many of the eBooks were part of a series, with further books either involving an ongoing story line, or part of a themed set of related titles. Engage the reader with book 1, and they will spend money for book 2!
Alas, so far, I have only gone on to buy ‘book 2’ once. So, what were the turn-offs, are there solutions, and just what did that one author do that saw me going on to buy her next two books?
Plot holes –The ‘baddie’ locks up an unconscious warrior-woman in his dungeon, with plans to rape her later. Yet when she wakes-up she finds herself not only unshackled, but her weapons are “neatly stacked in the corner”. Hello? Plot holes you can drive a Mack truck through drive readers nuts.
Inconsistencies - even speculative fiction requires an internal logic that makes sense. A book involving time travel had ever changing reasons about the how, why and ramifications of the time travel and its effects on the characters’ lives. The author seemed to be making decisions on the fly as he wrote. I gave up reading halfway through as it was just not making any sense.
Too many typos – a typo or two is forgivable, even books produced by major publishing houses can have a typo slip through during the book production process. But when I’ve lurched though typo #15 (most commonly a missing word) and I’m only up to chapter 3, the book is getting annoying.
Get your facts right – an Australian book where the main character spent an evening “binge watching Scrubs on Netflix". I was so excited to read this I immediately tapped on the iPad to add Scrubs to my Netflix watch list . Ahem – Scrubs is not in the Australian Netflix library. Call me petty, but I was bitterly disappointed. Even made-up ‘facts’ need an internal accuracy.
Solutions: Writers’ workshopping groups can be useful (and free) for spotting plot holes and inconsistencies – but only if the group is totally honest in their (constructive) criticism. However, you might not want to share the entire manuscript with a group. Commissioning a reader’s report for an early draft can help with offering advice as to direction and plot errors. For your final draft, you might consider engaging an editor who can fix up any grammar and spelling as well as offer suggestions to improve the text. A free alternative to this is to put the manuscript in a drawer for a couple of months, and then come back to it with fresh eyes for a self-edit. And once the book is typeset, it is time for a final proof check – either engage a professional proofreader or get the typeset copy read by someone you feel is up to the task, but who has had no previous exposure to the book.
All this advice is basic housekeeping that should be taken care of before you hit the launch button.
And what did that one author do that saw me buying her books?
Firstly, she didn’t fall into any of the traps I’ve just listed. The book (an historical family saga) was engagingly written with well fleshed-out characters and the period detail was spot-on. It was just the sort of ‘comfort food’ book that is nice to curl up with on a winter’s evening.
At the end of the book she offered, still for free, a portion of book 2. Now all the other free books I had read did this, but it was only ever a ‘sneak peek’ first chapter. This writer, and this was the clever bit, gave the entire first half of book 2! Having committed that far into the narrative, and still enjoying the read, it’s no wonder I went on to buy the entire book, and then proceed to buy book 3.
A shrewd and smart marketing strategy, but I would never have been tempted had her first book not been the ‘tidy’ package that it was.
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