I accidentally learned something really pivotal in the last couple of days. On a reviewing site on Facebook I said I download free books that catch my fancy, and always post a fair review if I do; anyone wanting me to look specifically at one could send me a private message.
(To digress very briefly, when you send a private message on FB to someone you’re not following, it goes to their ‘other’ mailbox and FB doesn’t tell you about it. You need to check regularly, as shown below. Inbox (12), Other (2))
Back to what I was saying. I got a LOT of private messages, most of which had completely ignored what I had gone on to say about my tastes. It was an interesting crash course in instant reactions. If the cover had entwined bodies or gushing blood, I knew immediately not for me. So cover really is that important at identifying your book to your target readers. Two seconds yes/no.
If the cover looked okay, I clicked on the link to read the blurb, i.e. what the author thought summed up their book. One sentence led, or didn’t, to me reading another. Ten seconds yes/no.
In one case, although the cover looked right, and the blurb seemed to cover my interests, it didn’t really grab me. Purely because I was slightly disappointed, I went on to look at the reviews, and they were very upbeat. Hmm. Then, and only then, did I start reading the sample, and it was great, and I downloaded the book, enjoyed it very much, and will be giving a good review. I’ve also fed back to the author that her blurb isn’t working for her, because that’s the sort of thing I’d want to know.
But what a learning curve – faced with twenty seven messages about twenty seven books, I rejected fourteen immediately on their covers, and five on their blurb which made it clear that we weren’t, you should pardon the weak pun, going to be on the same page. That’s a maximum of fifteen seconds of attention.
Eight of the submissions got me as far as reading the sample. I gave up at the second editing glitch on three of them, got bored on two, got puzzled on one, took the one I mentioned above, and took another which started really well but I’m halfway through and we don’t seem to be getting anywhere. It’s fun, it’s easy to read, but every other page is a new character and no central plot. Many of the characters have similar names and I’m getting confused. I’ll probably give up soon, it seems to be the book equivalent of Love Actually and you either like that sort of thing or you don’t. The blurb suggested a tight dynastic theme and named two characters who have so far (halfway through, remember) appeared fleetingly twice, a paragraph each time. Eh?
I wish I’d known all of the above before I wasted my own promotional window, because my blurb is (rightly or wrongly) a snatch of conversation between characters and I WASTED the window by repeating it there. The window should have been much tighter and brighter, that few seconds of attention that the cover won for me. Damn. I love my books, but I’m not helping them. Wearily pushing them into the light and effectively saying ‘there you go, darling, off and sell yourself’ is not productive.
I’m toying with the idea of starting a Facebook page just for those first impressions, for writers to try out different options on each other before taking them into the big wide world. If there’s a page for that already, please let me know, otherwise keep an eye out for the next blog.
As for those wondering how the promotion learning curve is going, here’s the latest learning. If you sign up on a promotion option, especially one which requires participants to share and retweet and that sort of stuff, first check what time they’ll be doing their thing. I’m annoyed with myself for not checking – Kboards do their promotion at 4pm Pacific time. That’s midnight here in the UK, I did one weary share and retweet and crawled off to bed! Their FB page has nearly 60K followers and the post got 88 likes (8 books were being pushed at the same time). They’re quite small on Twitter, 1600 followers, and it looks like the tweet only got retweeted once (by me). (and I’m even smaller). No way at this point of judging if I got a personal benefit. Both of the Kboard links direct viewers to their blogspot. http://kboards.blogspot.co.uk/