In the web design business we have a saying, “Don’t make me think!” Basically, it means that all interfaces should be as easy to use and intuitive as possible. Web designers who try to be “too cool” are really saying,”This is all about MY VISION of DESIGN and I don’t care about you!” I wonder, if when we make things difficult for readers, we are inadvertently saying, “My ART is so wonderful, it’s worth struggling to discover”?
… and that’s kind of horrible and narcissistic. It really should be the other way around. I am honored when anyone spends time and/or money to read my books, and I think I need to make sure it shows. (Not saying I always succeed, but I TRY, darn it!)
Recently, I was reading a self-pubbed writer bemoaning that her series (and she has multiple series!) don’t sell well, despite good reviews, and the fact that she has been traditionally published in the past and has industry cred. I was curious how someone with so much going for her could be floundering. So I went to her author’s page on Amazon. I couldn’t find which of her 20 or so books were part of a series, and which were one-offs. I wondered, how many of her readers couldn’t find the next book in their favorite series either? How many clicked away in dismay, and how many sales were lost?
So here’s three tips–two easy, one hard–to make sure your fans know your series has continued.
1. Put the series name in the title not just on your cover in the actual metadata when you enter the title on Amazon. Your book cover is going to be postage stamped sized in the browser window until someone clicks on it. No one can read “Diary of a Wimpy Teenage Vampire Part II” on a postage stamp!
Make sure the title next to your book cover reads, “Life Sucks (Diary of a Wimpy Teenage Vampire Part I)”
2. Put the sequential number in the metadata.Make sure it’s “Bloody Sunday (Diary of a Wimpy Teenage Vampire Part 7)”. You don’t want to frustrate readers, they’re your customers. Love them. Make things easy for them–and let them know which book to buy next. Their lives hard, and they worked hard to spend the money and time to read your story.
3. Make your covers match! Anyone who has followed me for a while knows that this is something I, ahem, struggled with. (For a hilarious peek at my cover attempts check out my Goodreads page and the old editions there https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/18299288-i-bring-the-fire).
It can be hard to make covers match and expensive! When I first started out, I did something as quickly and cheaply as I could. Was unhappy, so did something that took several days worth of work to produce. (Couldn’t afford stock art at that point!)
When I hit “Monsters”, Part II in my series, I realized making an artistic masterpiece for all of my covers was going to bankrupt me in either time or money. So I simplified. I went to iStock and picked out some lovely background textures, and then used Fireworks to superimpose images and Viking-themed patterns on top of those textures.
You can see my covers in my signature. It’s obvious all except “Murphy’s Star” belong to the same series. “In the Balance” is a novella that wasn’t part of the original plan. I tried to use the slight variation in the theme to reflect that. “Murphy’s Star” is a genuine stand-alone.
To be honest, I could probably make the covers even simpler and cheaper and sell as well. But I’m pleased with them, and will continue the theme.
I’ll try to hit on “Simple Covers that Sell” at some point. I’ve noticed having a masterpiece for a cover really doesn’t do much in the long run. It’s more about keeping things clean…but for now, back to editing Part IV! (Almost done! Almost done! Almost done!)