People ask me all the time, “Which book that you wrote is your favorite?” That’s difficult to answer, but honestly, it’s typically whichever book I’m currently working on. The correct answer isn’t the title of one of your books, it’s enthusiasm. You need to be excited about your stories. If you are not, no one else will be either.
- You’ve got to be excited about your book—not just the fact that you wrote it, but it has got to genuinely be a book you would buy. To test this, you’ve got to let it simmer… once your final draft is done, let it sit a few months in a drawer or on a hard drive… go do something else, start a new book, even… then come back and read it with fresh eyes. If it doesn’t excite you, then it’s time to reevaluate the book (even a final draft isn’t necessarily a final draft).
- Great Cover Copy. Your blurb/elevator pitch has to be on point. I write about this elsewhere with sample formulas. Aside from your opening page, this is your opportunity to set a killer hook. An amazing tagline is also great tool (a one sentence summary).
- Amazing First Page. What comes up when you click Amazon’s Look Inside feature—or what does a reader do when you put a book in his or her hand (besides read the cover copy)? People default to the first page. Give them some irresistible bait. Don’t be hokey, cheesy, or overly gimmicky. Be good. Incidentally, this is also a critically important piece for literary agents who are deluged with read requests every day.
- Superb Cover Art. Maybe this should’ve been higher on the list since it’s practically sequential, but the cover is the very first thing a reader sees. If it reeks of sub-par quality or feels amateurish the reader isn’t likely to be receptive to your enthusiasm and might not even bother reading the cover copy.
- Know Your Reader. People are meant to be in community, so find out where your reader are and what they like—engage them on familiar ground. I write mostly SF/F and there is little surprise that I do well at comic conventions. If you write something similar to Chicken Soup For the Soul, a scrapbooking or quilting club is a great place to talk about your book and engage readers. I would terribly at a historical society meeting, but a nonfiction author who writes on regional interests could do well. Identify your target audience; go to your target audience.
As much as I wish there was a magic bullet to make your book irresistible to consumers, there is not. No special formulas or methods, just pure, unadulterated hard work, enthusiasm, ability to sell, and drive to keep promoting your book. When your energy runs low, take a break. If it doesn’t come back, fake it. Push through until something breaks—if your book is good and if you’re present with your prime target audience, persistence will always rule over resistance.
Be tenacious. Be excited. You’ve got this.