Risk – What Is it?

I’ve been seeing a lot of discussions online (in several different places) about the “risks” writers are taking and most of the time I wander away shaking my head.

I finally broke down and tweeted it: There is no risk in not selling.

I got a few Exactly!s and a few What does that even mean??s.

This is what I mean: The writing is the risk. Everything else is just what you do to get the word out. And, that’s the point of everything else.

When you say, OH. I’m going to take a risk on this cover that is exactly my image of my book even though it doesn’t tell the reader anything until they’ve finished the last page… That’s not risk. That’s a marketing decision that may or may not lead to sales.

We like to pretend a book is this whole artsy package. Take it or leave it. I’m not going to bow down to the gods of marketing to sell my book.

Well, then. There is zero risk in that. You won’t sell your book.

It’s hard enough to get people to take a peek at your writing and see if it’s something they’ll enjoy. When you throw up potential road blocks for your “art” – you aren’t helping the reader. If you’re not helping the reader, you’re not helping yourself.

It’s getting harder and harder to find books you’ll enjoy. Amazon just got rid of tags (which, trust me, I feel another blog post coming on because of this soon.)

My point: Don’t make things difficult for your reader.

Covers should be easy to read and fit in with your genre. I see the word “blend” used negatively when discussing covers and genre. No. Just no. It’s not blending, it’s marketing. Ensuring the reader roughly knows what she’s going to get.

From statements around the web, it seems some writers think people will magically click on their cover because they don’t know what it is and then read the blurb to see if they might like it and then… if the reader is still not sure, she’ll read the reviews. And then, when she still might not even know what the book is about because of all those “risks” she’ll read the excerpt.

So, what you’re saying, is you expect a reader who doesn’t have any clue based on your cover if your book is something she MIGHT want to read to waste 8-15 minutes figuring it out.

Not risk. Bad marketing. There’s a difference.

Pretend everything I just said about covers I basically say about blurbs also. Your blurb should match the format and feel of your genre while getting its spice and voice from you.

If you want to take risks, do it in your story. In your writing. Push the envelope, try something new, stretch your voice, play with POV, time hop, twist genres, mix things up. Whatever it is that you want to try. THAT is risk.

Everything else, it’s just marketing.



  1. I completely agree about making it easier for potential readers by having a cover that fits your genre. A vague and undefinable cover will not cause browsers to pick up (or click on) your book out of curiosity: they will move on to a cover that suggests to them a book that belongs to a genre they know and enjoy.

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