Over recent months, I’ve been trying to read more, and more importantly, I’ve been trying to expand my book bubble outside of my comfort zone. Not necessarily out of my fantasy comfort zone, but at least out of my current favorite authors comfort zone. To help with this, I’ve signed up for a few daily ebook emails—eReader News Today, Book Barbarian, Book Bub, and Book Shout. These newsletters bring me a daily dose of new authors, usually the first book of a series, for cheap or free. It’s given me the courage to expand.
Not only has it sparked some ideas for my own stories by pushing me to think outside of where I’ve gone so far with my fantasy world and my current novel, but it’s made me realize a few things about what catches my interest as a reader. In turn, this has helped change some of my ideas of what’s important for marketing a book.
Here’s a few of the things I’ve realized through the process of finding and reading ebooks.
Judging a Book by its Cover
We’re told all our lives that “judging a book by its cover” is a bad thing. With people, I totally agree. But with books, there might be something to it at least I unconsciously seem to think so. I’m definitely drawn to a book cover that capture my attention. When I’m quickly scanning these daily ebook newsletters, there’s only a few factors I have to go by—cover image, title, book blurb, and price. Sometimes there’s a rating too, which I also find helpful. But like with scanning anything, the most attractive cover image is going to catch the eye first.
This is what started me reading the last series I started. Eleanor, by S.F. Burgess, has a simple yet beautiful cover. As it turns out, it was so good, I bought the second book.
So whatever lies between the covers of the book, the cover has to be the first thing to captivate the reader’s attention.
A Captivating Beginning
One thing that getting a handful of books per week for cheap or free means is that I have the ability to scan the first half dozen pages (or maybe not even that far) to see if a book feels worthy of my time and attention. If it doesn’t suck me in right away—either because of a lack of action, uninteresting characters, or difficult to read prose (either because of language or typos)—then it’s on to the next book. Some of these free books I’ve downloaded will probably never be read because of this.
Getting PoV Right
Maybe it’s the control freak in me, but I’ve realized I’m a bit particular about point of view, almost as much as I am about a book being polished of typos.
I prefer the same point of view to read as I do write—third person limited.
The book I’m currently reading is Born of Water, by Autumn M. Birt. I’m greatly enjoying the characters and story, but the point of view is distracting. It’s written in third person, kind of half limited, half omniscient. The person’s head it’s in changes within the same scene, sometimes it stays the same for a few paragraphs, sometimes a few pages. Sometimes I have to double back to see who was thinking what. Amazingly, the rest of the story’s elements somehow override everything else and I’m almost through book one.
For my own writing, I’ve become fond of the third person limited, and changing the point of view at scene changes. To note whose point of view the scene takes place, I always start with the first sentence naming the PoV character. ie. “Lakeerae sat down beside the crackling fire.” It allows me to get deeply into the character’s point of view, and it is important to me to know what the character is thinking and why they think they and others do what they do.
How to Write a Series
The sticky part of writing a series is making it work both as individual books and as a whole. Each book should be able to stand on its own and contribute to and move forward the series. I’m very particular about reading books in order, but it’s also important for a reader to be able to pick up the series from any point and know who’s who and what’s going on.
There’s nothing worse than a series cliffhanger that makes you feel like the author is trying to con you into reading their next book.
One problem I discovered with my current way of finding books is that I haven’t been paying adequate attention to how many books might be in the series I’m starting. Or whether all of those books have been published yet.
It results in a wicked book hangover and makes it difficult to start a new book series.
I’m also not the most patient person, particularly when it comes to reading part of a series and then having to wait for the later books. I’ve been burned with this a few times, some series longer than others. I got really into the Cinder series, by Marissa Meyer. Three books in, I discovered the fourth book wasn’t published yet. Thankfully, I only had to wait a few months. I’ve waited much longer for book five and now book six of the A Song of Ice and Fire series, by George R. R. Martin.
I’m always worried I’ll lose track or interest in a series if I don’t read them consecutively.
This has made me wondering if I should reconsider how I plan to release my novels when they’re edited and ready for publishing. Should I spare my (future) readers the frustration of waiting for unknown periods of time for the rest of the series? Should I wait and release them all together?
It’s an appealing idea. I don’t need the money. I have a job I don’t plan to leave anytime in the foreseeable future. I know it would push back the timetables, but it might be less stressful—once I release one, I’d feel pressured and obligated to write the others as quickly as possible.
Conclusion: Publishing Ideas
I know I’ve got some time to consider how I want to go about publishing and marketing my books, but it’s never too early to start thinking about these things. So what have I learned that can help me?
- I need a great cover and book blurb to convince readers to buy my book.
- I need a captivating beginning that makes sure my reader doesn’t put it down.
- I need a well-edited book that is as error-free as possible.
- I need to write in a good and deep point of view for my book.
- I need a complete series that is satisfying both individually and as a whole.
- I need to decide whether I’ll release my books one at a time or all together.
I think these are good things to consider as I write and edit.
Speaking of a good book blurb, I have a first draft of it for my first book:
Jadeflare—an uncommon magic fed by the elements themselves.
Now it is in the hands of a stubborn, reluctant young druid fleeing from a dark creature that is killing others of her kind. With the help of her loyal wolf companion, an aloof hawk, and a sharp-tongued gypsy, Lakeerae must stop the dark creature before it hunts her down. Her journey will take her from the safety of her home to black places ruled by her nightmares.
Will she be strong enough to bring light back to the darkness?
Please let me know what you think. Too much? Interesting enough? Suggestions?