How to Lose Readers Before Your Book Comes Out

It’s been an interesting two weeks. Because of this self-publishing journey, I’ve found myself walking around in both the traditional publishing world and the indie-publishing world. And yet, some things remain the same in both worlds.

One of those things is that you can lose a reader…even before you’re published.

Are you doing any of the following?

Tell the reader she’s not your reader.

This has happened in several places over the last few weeks. I’ve seen an author (often after asking for people’s opinions) explain that since you don’t like his cover/blurb/tagline/website you must not “get” it and so you aren’t his reader.

There’s a couple of problems with this.

The first is that you’ve just told someone not to buy your book. Lost sale, your own fault.

The second is that you’re not realizing the actual problem. You’ve gone into offensive-defense. It’s everyone who doesn’t love its fault. They just don’t get it. They aren’t smart enough or well-educated enough or “in” enough to understand why my cover/blurb/tagline/website is genius.

Ok, that MIGHT be true. So, obviously, if you’re willing to play that game, you’re also willing to not sell very many books. You’re willing to only sell to what you’re idea of “elite” is…. good luck with that.

The third…and probably the one that’s true most often is… the cover/blurb/tagline/website is not genius and it’s not doing its job.

Its job is to sell your book. If it needs to be explained OR if you need to read the book to get it, its job is definitely not being done. So often writers say “It’s perfect for my book.” Maybe that’s true. But if it’s not perfect to SELL your book, then it doesn’t matter. Those things work BEFORE the reader has read/bought the book.

So, if you want to be elitist, an obscure niche, or just plain stubborn, continue on as you are.

Assume the person is not your reader and ignore her on social media.

Let’s start off with this: Last year I read at least 428 books. People who read a lot read a lot of different genres.

Yes, the book right there *points left, shameless plug for a funny, light-hearted, quick read* is a romance. But, I didn’t even read my first romance till about 4 years ago. I read a lot. I read a lot of different things. I’m not odd. I’m just a reader.

So, when you see that someone is interacting with your group on social media, but she’s a *fill-in-the-blank* so you don’t think she’s your reader… DO NOT ignore her.

You just never know. I have someone who I was absolutely dying to get his book. It doesn’t come out for another 10 months. He interacts with a lot of my social media buddies and friends. He has never responded to me… Not to direct statements. Not to group discussions. I am invisible to him.

Someone in the industry said they could get me his book since I was so excited to read it.

You know what? I lost interest. There’s a lot of other great readers out there.

Reading is personal. You want to connect with the story and the book. If the reader already has a bad taste in her mouth because of the writer, that connection isn’t going to be there…and she’s not going to buy your book.

There are only two options for social media as your author persona: Do it OR Don’t do it.

Insult the genre you’re writing in.

Seriously, if I hear one more  talk by a certain writer about how she doesn’t write romance again, I’m going to throw things. It’s not even that she has an opinion about her book that I disagree with (although, I’m sorry, WHO exactly does she think is reading her books that isn’t reading them for the romance? No. Really. Who? I would love to meet that person.)

It’s the disrespectful way I have personally heard her talk about romance at her talks.

She made it big because she was put on the romance shelf and romance readers bought her in huge numbers.

Hello hand that fed me *shark attack bite*

I’ll never buy her again. Will I read her again? Maybe. I have this great library 2 blocks away that will let me read her without putting money in her pocket. Just like everything else, I vote with my wallet.

Don’t bite the hand that feeds you. Pat it generously. It’s a circle and growing your genre grows you.

Insult a respected, successful, well-known author of the genre you’re writing in

This goes for individual authors in that genre.

I reallllllly don’t understand dissing the guy who made your genre what it is. But, for some strange reason, that seems to be a sport with writers.

It’s so junior high to rip someone down to look smart. And, since you’re about to sell that book, maybe acting like a junior higher isn’t in your best interest. I mean, you remember junior high, right? No one liked junior high.

So, don’t forget, even before your book comes out, you’re in charge of the image you give to the world.

Readers can be fickle… they’re human. And, there are now uncountable books available at the click of a mouse. Yours is just one. If you turn a reader off before that click is even available, how are you going to win them back when it is?

That’s easy: You’re probably not.

So, go forth and be a good writerly citizen, because there is such a thing as author karma.


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