Making Your Book Sell

15.02.2017 |

Episode #4 of the course How to write best-selling, award-winning fiction by K.C. Finn


Here’s an important fact that you need to acknowledge: people buy your book before they read it. It may seem obvious, but it’s a fact that some writers seem to ignore. It doesn’t matter if you’ve written the new Pride and Prejudice, because nobody will know about it until they read it, and doing so requires them to purchase the book first. So today, we’ll look at pre-sales techniques to make your book stand out at first glance.



I’m going to come out and say it—there are a lot of bad books out there. In both the world of mainstream writing and the world of digital indie fiction, I’ve often bought a book and been really disappointed with it during the reading stage. Think about books that you personally think are awful but that are considered to be high-quality best-sellers. Some of the highest-selling books of all time have been poorly written and with questionably weak storylines. So why did they sell? Why did we buy them? I’ll attempt to break this down for you into some of the key component parts.


In Practice

Once I became a writer, I started to look more critically at books I had bought but hadn’t enjoyed and attempted to discover exactly why I’d purchased them. There are a few key factors that influence buyers, both in the bookstore and online:

1. The Cover. This goes without saying, and cover design is a jungle of its own that we won’t be addressing in great detail in this course. Suffice to say, an attractive and eye-catching cover will often make readers stop and stare at your novel.

2. The Tagline. Once you have them hooked with a snazzy cover, the tagline comes next. This is generally a single sentence, set aside from and preceding the blurb, which encapsulates the idea of the story in one line. It features a sense of location, the main character, and the general idea of the story. Here’s one of mine from the award-winning The Mind’s Eye:
“A girl with a telepathic gift finds a boy clinging to his last hope during the war-torn climate of Europe, 1940.”

3. The Blurb. The blurb explains the story in a little more detail, fleshing out the concepts and characters while also teasing some of the twists that may occur later in the plot.
The Genre Mix. From these preceding elements, it should be clear to your audience what genre or mix of genres your book fits into. The Mind’s Eye, for example, is clearly young adult, romantic fiction, paranormal fiction, and historical fiction. This impression helps your audience to decide on whether they will like your book or not, and ultimately whether they purchase it.


Now It’s Your Turn

There are a lot of things to think about here, and you might not be at a stage in your story where you can complete a successful blurb. You can, however, determine your genre mix and work on that crucial tagline. Think about location, characters, and the main idea that you want to get across, and suggest an element of intrigue that will draw your readers in. Spend a little time working on that hook. It might even become the way you answer that dreadful question: “What’s your book about?”

In lesson 5, we’ll address the deeper issue of going 3D with your stories—a fundamental quality of literary, mainstream fiction that can easily cross over into indie and genre-based formats. Once your concept is set and saleable, it’s time to do some work developing the world in which your readers will have their adventures!

Keep calm and carry on, you’re doing awfully well so far!


Further reading

If you need more guidance on what constitutes a catchy blurb, check out Author Society’s excellent tips. They helped me a lot in my early days.


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