When browsing through self-pubbed eBooks, I come across the same problems over and over again, and all these issues boil down to on thing: a lack of professionalism. So what can you even do to fix that?
I see that cover you created yourself. You bought the stock photos, downloaded GIMP for free, and fooled yourself into thinking you know how to photo-edit when the most you’ve done is create a custom filter for your selfies. You have no graphic design knowledge, but you know the rule of thirds, so you think you can create a good-looking cover. Unfortunately, once you’re done, it looks… okay. But you can be sure everyone will know that you made this at home.
There are plenty of places to get awesome covers that look professional. My personal favorite is Go On Write. It’s where I’ve gotten all of my covers, and all the work is beautiful. You can get an awesome-looking pre-made cover for $40, and no one will know the difference. There are other cheap places to try getting some covers, too, including Creative Paramita and The Book Cover Designer, neither of which will break the bank. Many of these kinds of sites are willing to do commissions, too, for a higher fee. You can also try looking for someone on Fiverr to see what you can get. No matter what path you choose, chances are you’re going to end up with something much better than what you started with.
This might be what most self-published authors struggle with the most. The blurb. How much do you tell? How do you word it? How do you make it sound interesting and mysterious without also being melodramatic and goofy? You had a hard enough time writing the novel, and now the last thing you want to do is summarize it.
But here’s a trick: go to Amazon, look up 5-7 of the “new and popular” books in your genre, and read their blurbs. If they’re well-established authors, ignore them talking about themselves and focus strictly on the bit telling you about the story. What tactics are they using? What forms? What styles? Is there a formula most of them follow? This is what’s going to give you the best idea of how you need to write yours. These are people who are selling successfully in your market, so learn from them.
You need to have an online presence — a professional online presence. That means a website or blog, Facebook page, and twitter, at the very least. Are you selling from your website or Amazon? Either way, you need an author page. On your own site, you can make a page with a little bit about you and a picture. Amazon’s Author Central lets you create a profile for yourself on its website so that when readers click your name, they can see your face, a bit about you, all your work, and even your blog or twitter feed, if you want to add those. Same goes for your Goodreads profile.
So why bother with all of this? It makes you look like you’re serious about what you’re doing. It gives potential readers confidence that if they buy your book, it’s going to be as professional on the inside as it is on the outside (and it damn well better be). It gives you credibility, which a self-published author desperately needs in this oversaturated market.
There are all external, and none of this will help you if you haven’t written a good, cleanly edited book. So once you’ve got the inside the best it can be, remember to make the outside spectacular as well. That includes your presence, your cover, and your blurb. A reader should never doubt that you are a professional.