Author Topic: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!  (Read 4663 times)  

Offline Sarah Barbour

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Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« on: March 25, 2015, 09:49:58 AM »
If you have the time, I'd love some honest feedback on a novel I published about six weeks ago. It's gotten decent reviews and I'm confident there's an audience for it--I just can't seem to find it.

http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00S1YUR5U/

When it was released, I took out ads in several places and got reviews on several blogs, but it sold only about 30 copies + a couple of borrows. I tried another 99c promo a few days ago with a handful of ads and got 3 sales and a borrow. Otherwise, it's been completely flat.

The story: contemporary romance with a dash of chick lit--boy meets girl, loses girl, gets girl back. Two fairly explicit but not kinky sex scenes, some angst, a little comic relief, some personal growth for both the main characters. It's well edited, and as I said, feedback on the writing and story has been generally positive.

The cover: I love it and have gotten lots of compliments on it--but maybe it doesn't convey the genre well enough? Willing to change if that's what it takes.

The blurb: I've gotten good feedback on that as well, mainly from review bloggers who've said it made them want to read the book, but I'm completely open to suggestions.

The price: I've fiddled with this at 99c, $2.99, and $3.99, and it doesn't seem to make a difference. It's currently at 99c because a good review was published on a blog yesterday and I told the blogger I'd leave it at 99c for her readers, but zero sales have come from it.

What appears in the Look for Similar Items list:
Books > Literature & Fiction > Women's Fiction > Contemporary Women
Books > Romance > Contemporary
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Contemporary Fiction > Women's Fiction
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women's Fiction > New Adult & College
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Literature & Fiction > Women's Fiction > Romance
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Romance > Contemporary

I have it schedule for a couple of free days in early April in conjunction with a GR giveaway, and I'm halfway into the next novel, which is sort of a spin-off of this one. Beyond that, I'm out of ideas. What says the collective genius here?
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 10:14:31 PM by Sarah Barbour »
 
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Offline Kirkee

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #1 on: March 25, 2015, 10:29:12 AM »
Hi, Sarah.

I like the cover, the storyline, etc. It could be nothing more than having
this one book to offer. If you had a few additional titles & were able to make
the first one free and/or perma free (& run ads on Bknights: about $21 for the full
package; freebooksy is another good placeeven though they charge $100.00; & of course,
the "Lotto" of book promo: Bookbub. The last one can be real tough to get accepted by & way more pricey, although not impossible.)

Perhaps other members can offer additional tips. It just seems readers are more eager to
buy when they know other titles are available, either in the series or by the same author.
I won't guess as to the psychology behind it, only to say that this seems to be the case.

It's good that you're working on another book. The truly successful scribes like Hugh Howey, Joe Konrath, Russell Blake, John Ellsworth, Wayne Stinnett, Elizabeth Ann West, L.L. Akers, Joe Nobody & others, have been at this for years. You don't want to be too hard on yourself. It takes time. You'll be fine. Also, don't be shy about PMing folks. Most people around here are glad to help. It's a great community.  :-* 
Best,
Kirkee


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Offline SA_Soule

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #2 on: March 25, 2015, 10:32:50 AM »
I hope you dont mind that I reached out to you, but when I read your post, I wanted to help. If it werent for other writers who helped me and offered me such generous and compassionate advice, my own books wouldnt be selling.

Okay, this is just my personal opinion and advice that really helped me. Other people might have different opinions...

Book Cover: your design doesn't really state "romance" to me. I like it, but it looks more like non-fiction or chick-lit. Whatever genre you write in, I suggest studying the book covers of the bestsellers. There are trends in designs for a reason because a reader can tell at a glance what type of book it is, so I recommend having a cover similar to what is popular. It is a smart marketing strategy and guaranteed to get you results. Readers often judge a book by its cover, so having a stunning  design can be a deciding factor for most readers on whether or not to buy your romance novel.

And I find it odd that you use the publisher's name as a tagline on the cover. I have never seen a book cover that advertised the publisher. It makes the book appear self-published, which you don't want. (PM or email about cover design, I'd like to offer you a free cover makeover. ;) )

Genre: Be careful what keywords you use. I noticed that you have "New Adult" and "College" listed, but from the book cover and blurb, this is not an NA book and it does not take place in a campus setting. You do not want to mislead readers and get 1 star reviews.

Blurb: The blurb is pretty good, but there is no hint of what the conflict is. And the print version is different from the Kindle version. You might want to fix that because it looks jumbled together without any spaces.

I feel that the blurb needs more revision to entice readers to want to know more about your wonderful story. After you tweak yours, please feel free to send it to me, and well work on it until it shines. ;-)

Bio: I think your author Bio needs to be more polished. In my opinion, your Bio should be interesting and have some personality."
I can help if you want to PM me.

This post is some of the best advice Ive read about writing one: https://www.createspace.com/en/community/docs/DOC-1871

Bio Pic on Amazon: I strongly suggest that you ditch any pics with sunglasses on. To readers it seems impersonal, and Ill be blunt, it looks unprofessional. You want to appear professional and personable.

Well, I have a lot more suggestions on book reviews and promotion if you want to PM to discuss.

I wish you every success in your writing journey.

Offline SA_Soule

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Re: Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #3 on: March 25, 2015, 10:36:40 AM »
This post on kboards is awesome! And it should help give you some great ideas on what you might do to boost your sales: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topic,210126.0.html

Offline Augusta Blythe

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Re: Flatlining--please help
« Reply #4 on: March 25, 2015, 10:41:54 AM »
I'm sure you already know that contemporary romance is really competitive.  Have you tried NetGalley for a month to increase the number of reviews?  Personally, I would focus on getting the next book out before doing any more promos for book 1 (and then you'll have more reviews in place when it comes time to promote).

Also, I like the cover but it doesn't say contemporary romance to me.

Offline Sarah Barbour

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #5 on: March 25, 2015, 01:29:22 PM »
Thank you, everyone. This is really helpful. It sounds like the cover is probably the biggest problem (sigh! I really like that cover). Sherry, I'll pm you. I'd love to talk further.

I'm fiddling around with the key words. I had "college" in there as the first part of the book takes place in college, so it's no surprise that it's ended up in NA (where it doesn't belong). I'm trying to angle it towards some less steamy women's fic categories instead.

I'm reluctant to go the NetGalley route at this point, partly because it's a substantial investment (though I believe you can "rent" space by the month...?) but also because I've heard mixed results from other romance writers. I'll probably hold off on any big investments until I have at least one other book out.

I very much appreciate the feedback!
 
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Offline Scout

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Re: Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #6 on: March 25, 2015, 01:29:39 PM »
Hi,

I will offer my reader perspective. I like the blurb. As a reader, it would be enough for me to make a decision on whether to buy or not. I don't know if the cover fits your genre, but it looks professional and conveys enough for me to move on to reading the sample. I love your author page - it conveys a fun, carefree vibe that I dig. The pic is absolutely adorable. I like pics where people look like they are just enjoying life. That's just me. My thing is I don't want to fall in love with a writer that doesn't have more than one book to offer. When I find someone I love, I just work my way through all of their books. That's my *only* sticking point. Everything else seemed professional and fun and inviting. Good luck on your journey.

Offline Kirkee

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #7 on: March 25, 2015, 01:33:30 PM »
Took a look at your 'Zon page. I think your author photo is just plain wonderful; maybe
even perfect. What could be better than a happy woman, obviously traveling (in Asia somewhere?)
with a smile on her face? Sunglasses? Don't bother me. In fact, never have I bought a book because
of the author photo. Better yet, I think more authors would sell more books if they left out the author photo. Let's face it, very few writers are photogenic.

Am hoping someone like Bluebonnet, or L.L. Akers, will come in & take a look at your blurb. It probably is a bit longish & reveals too much info. The middle section/paragraph might be the culprit, actually. You start out with her, then switch gears by describing Jason, then switch back to her. I'm no blurb doc, but something appears "amiss/cumbersome" here. I just prefer a briefer blurb, I suppose.  My feeling is: reveal too much of the story& there is no need to buy the book.

The goal is: hook 'em with just enough info, and leave 'em wanting more.
(Note: Dr. Lummox, Jr., is the resident blurb genius around here. Alas, he has been AWOL for a while now. However, the two mentioned above are very capable.) Oh, then there is Marina Finlayson. Also quite good. You can PM members & see how things go, etc.
(Reason am mentioning this stuff is because folks have helped me out in the past. My way of giving back/ paying it forward.)

I took a second look at the cover. Still say it's nice & classy, but Augusta is probably right here: it does not say "contemporary romance." Real nice re-mades can be had for $30 to $40, should you decide to go this route. Melody Simmons designed my Fifty Shades of Tinsel & The Hard Bi*ch, just to give you some idea.

Best,

K


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Offline Sarah Barbour

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #8 on: March 25, 2015, 01:41:45 PM »
Thank you, QT and 7Seasonsgirl. I'm writing a new book as fast as I can! :)

It sounds like both the cover and the blurb may need to converge a bit better as far as conveying the genre goes. It's a fairly light-hearted story and there's some funny dialogue in it, but I wouldn't want it mistaken for a comedy. The end goal is to get the reader a little teary over the love story aspect.

Kirk, thank you for the feedback. Lummox, Jr. actually ripped the blurb to shreds (and helped put it back together) a few months ago, but I'm not sure if he ever saw the final version. The book itself switches back and forth between Jason & Monica's perspectives, so I wanted to get both POVs in therebut I'm happy to change it around if it'll sell more books!

Thanks again, everyone, for the feedback!
 
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Offline Scarlett_R

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Re: Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #9 on: March 25, 2015, 01:46:21 PM »
Others have already given some great advice and set you in the right direction, so I'll focus on the cover design:

As Sherry pointed out the cover doesn't quite capture your genre or demographic quite enough. As the first book in that genre for you, you really need to make it as close to industry standard design for chick lit/romance as you can. Readers like reaching for books that look familiar to what they already enjoy and like, so they know what to expect.

Also, the round glasses, beret and sepia tone really give me a 90s vibe! LOL. Here are some examples of my work done in the chick lit/romance genre so you can see the variety available to you:



It's about bright colours, contact of people, using typefaces that accurately portray your story and genre (while some romances demand a beautiful script font, others require a sweet serif instead). Look at other books like yours, in your genre, that sell well. What do their covers have? What images do they use? What works, and what doesn't?

Keep at it. The best thing about covers is that they can be changed, and remember: the change in a book cover can take you from a few cents of income a day to becoming a full time writer :)

Offline Leslye Penelope

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Re: Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #10 on: March 25, 2015, 01:58:40 PM »
I agree with Scarlett - though the blurb makes it sound more like a contemporary romance than women's fiction to me. As a romance reader, I stay away from chick lit, personally. There is a difference. I think a more romancey cover would fit the blurb better and position you for more sales. The blurb worked for me, and though the cover is really cute, it's sending the wrong vibe, IMO.

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Offline Atunah

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #11 on: March 25, 2015, 02:10:37 PM »
There is a conundrum for me as a reader when something is described as both romance and chick lit or womens fiction.

I read romance, including contemporary. But I do not read chick lit or womens fiction. I stay away from those genres. For me they are different genres. When I do pick up romances that tend to lean more to the womens fiction side, I don't enjoy them as much. I have no clue what the cover says to me. Its a pretty cover, but it does not say contemporary romance.
I couldn't say though what it says. Just that I would not look at it closer for that.

A couple of the reviews I read  kind of cement the chick lit side and others sound more like its a romance. So if I am not sure what I am getting, I don't tend to go any deeper. Cause I just don't enjoy womens fiction.

Wish you the best.  :D

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Offline Kirkee

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #12 on: March 25, 2015, 02:19:05 PM »
Scarlett: Your three cover samples are absolutely stunning:-*
You have a style that stands out, captivates.

Sarah, would you happen to have the link to the Doc Lummox version?
I get a kick from seeing what he does with blurbs. If we're ever going to learn
how to do this stuff...might as well learn from the best. 





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Offline Sarah Barbour

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Offline Silly Writer

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #14 on: March 25, 2015, 03:10:20 PM »
Thanks, Kirkee, for the kudos... But I'm not sure I deserve them, lol.. My own blurbs are rather (too) long on my main series. I've learned a lot about tightening them up on my last six books I published (under my pen name), and I'm much happier with those.  I'll be re-visiting my main series blurbs when I upload my new updated covers... Squee! (Love a full cover re-branding!)

Sarah,
I see HM Ward liked your intro. That's hard to argue with  8). I haven't read the rest of it, but maybe throw it up here and tell us which genre we should be focusing on? Women's Fiction? I'm sure someone will take another stab at it.
~L.L.

Offline Jena H

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #15 on: March 25, 2015, 03:16:16 PM »
From the cover alone--the first thing to catch a potential reader's eye--I would think that a coffee shop, or coffee in general, has a lot to do with the story.  I get no sense of romance or "chick lit" from it.  If I had to guess (without looking at the blurb) I'd assume it's probably sort of a personal journey story, a woman travelling and finding herself, etc.  Since that sort of thing doesn't interest me, I probably wouldn't read the description to find out what kind of story it actually is.
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Offline SA_Soule

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Re: Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #16 on: March 25, 2015, 03:19:22 PM »
Sarah, I sent you a PM.

I'd be happy to help you revise the blurb and I'll even help you re-design your book cover. Right now, I'm in-between writing books, so I enjoy helping other writers whenever I can. ;-)

Offline Sarah Barbour

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #17 on: March 25, 2015, 03:23:53 PM »
Thanks, L.L! Here's the blurb as it currently stands. Overall, I think the book fits best in the contemporary romance category, though there's some emphasis on the personal growth of both the hero and heroine.

Quote
Monica Prescott, writer and world traveler, has everything she wants except a man whos free-spirited enough to join her for a life on the road. But when she bumps into Jason, the guy who broke her heart in college, she lets him think shes engaged. It wouldnt take much to fall for him againand thats one road she doesnt want to go down.

Jason Moretti has a job he hates, and hed like nothing better than to tell his boss to shove it. Then he runs into Monica, the girl he never got over. Thinking shes settling down with a wealthy fianc, he reinvents himself as an ambitious career man in a desperate bid to impress her.

Old feelings start to resurface, but Monica has trust issues and Jason doesnt like risks. To top it off, Monica is leaving for Bangkok in two weeksand she wont be back anytime soon. Time is running out for them to come to terms with the past and embrace their wanderlust.
 
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Offline Silly Writer

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #18 on: March 25, 2015, 03:32:35 PM »
Here's something to start with... Stole a bit from one of your reviews. Anyone feel free to tear it apart. Grammar is not my thang  :P


After a tumultuous ending to a beautiful romance back in college, years later Monica Prescott and Jason Moretti run into each other by chance.

Monica, now a writer and world traveler, has everything she wants... except a man who's free-spirited enough to join her for a life on the road--but she won't admit that to Jason, the boy who broke her heart. Jason has a job he hates, and he'd like nothing better than to tell his boss to shove it. But he won't admit that to Monica, who he believes is already engaged to marry a successful, wealthy man.

Hope is nowhere to be found as they both become tangled in lies and misunderstandings, and time is running out for them to come to terms with the past and embrace their wanderlust.
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 03:40:20 PM by L.L. Akers »

Offline Silly Writer

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #19 on: March 25, 2015, 03:35:00 PM »
One things I wanted to point out. Kirkee is right. You tell too much! You've given the readers almost the whole story. Hint about 'he believes' she's engaged. Save the whole truth for the reader if you can.

Less. Is. More.

Offline Olivia Jaymes

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #20 on: March 25, 2015, 03:41:03 PM »
You have two character arcs here and you reveal them in the blurb.  I think you might want to keep at least one of them under your hat.  The reader wants to root for someone.  Cheer them on so to speak.  So I'd keep the entire blurb from your heroine's point of view.  She's back in town and meets her old flame who seems like he's the complete opposite of her. 
Something like this:

Monica Prescott, writer and world traveler, has everything she wants ... except a man who's free-spirited enough to join her for a life on the road. But when she bumps into Jason, the guy who broke her heart in college, she lets him think she's engaged. It wouldn't take much to fall for him again--and that's one road she's already been down.

Because Jason is everything she's not and doesn't want to be.  Ambitious.  Driven.  Settled in his home and career.  They'd make a terrible couple.

Or would they?  With each passing day, Monica is loving every single moment with her ex-boyfriend.  He's everything she remembers but so much more.  She's never been this happy. 

Kind of.
 
After all, she still hasn't told him the truth. 

 ----  Well, I'm no blurb doctor.  I do think you have an intriguing story here.   :)
« Last Edit: March 25, 2015, 03:45:52 PM by Olivia Jaymes »

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Offline Crystal_

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #21 on: March 25, 2015, 07:59:43 PM »
I don't think your sales are all that unusual. I have a similar experience when I published my debut last year. I would get sales when I promoted, but a few days after promotion, sales dropped to zero. Literally zero. It's rare that an author bursts out with one book and holds onto that momentum.

Good luck!

Offline Caddy

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #22 on: March 25, 2015, 08:13:52 PM »
I agree the cover doesn't say romance.   But neither does the title. The title doesn't work for me at all.
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Offline Sarah Barbour

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #23 on: March 25, 2015, 10:20:45 PM »
I don't think your sales are all that unusual. I have a similar experience when I published my debut last year. I would get sales when I promoted, but a few days after promotion, sales dropped to zero. Literally zero. It's rare that an author bursts out with one book and holds onto that momentum.

Good luck!

Thank you, Crystal. It's not like I expected to hit bestseller lists my first time out, but I've had enough positive reviews on enough blogs that I'd have thought there'd be SOME sales here and there. But literally, I think there have been two that weren't related to a promo, and one of those was my mother.*

The feedback so far has been great. Changing the cover is a priority. I'll try to post a revised blurb too tomorrow when I'm thinking clearly.

*who now knows I write sex scenes. Eek.
 
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Offline anniejocoby

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Re: Is it my cover? My blurb? My categories? Pls help!
« Reply #24 on: March 26, 2015, 12:02:02 AM »
You're in a competitive genre that's tough to crack. I know, I'm in the same genre.

I'm going to agree with all the posters who say that the main problems are 1) lack of other books out and 2) cover. I love the cover, but it screams "chick lit" to me. Which isn't bad, but your book isn't chick lit, and, from what I understand and see on the charts, chick lit is kinda over right now. I personally hope it makes a resurgence, because I would love to write a chick lit book myself, but that's really besides the point.

The biggest thing, though, is lack of other books. Personally, I think that when you're writing in competitive genres, the only real way to get traction is to have a bunch of books and a funnel. The funnel being a low-priced or free book that readers can sample with little to no investment, to see if they like you, at which point they buy more of your stuff.

Also, standalones are tough. It seems like the only writers making standalones work in romance are those with already huge names. But I could be wrong.

Hang in there. I barely sold anything at all for my first four months or so. It's still up and down for me, alas, these days, but I make a pretty decent living even in the down months. You're off to a good start - you just have to publish more and not worry so much about your first book taking off. You have the accolades and the talent, now it's time to just keep producing, so you can get your name out there.

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