This is the story of how a girl who recently lamented the impending death of the bookmark came to read a book on a screen.
A self-published book.
A few words on Mr. Wendig:
His blog on writing, Terribleminds, is not to be missed. Since my space here is generally rated G and Terribleminds is…not, I can’t disclose the details of the uproarious analogies and word foreplay that you will encounter there. But I will say that Chuck creates catch phrases by coupling body parts of the nether regions with things like, um, waffles. And, they are brilliant. And possibly illegal in some countries. Oh, and his writing advice is tops.
He’s also an agented novelist, screenwriter, and accomplished freelance penmonkey. This guy is a writerly rock-star, and that’s not even including my assumption that he would perform the moonwalk upon request.
Still, I didn’t immediately buy his book.
Sorry to say, but with self-published books I need a lot of convincing. Even if the book is only $0.25, or free to the first fifty callers. Especially then.
Whether fair of me or not, the fact remains that brick and mortar books have been validated in a way — they’ve already jumped through the vetting hoops.
No, not everything that’s traditionally published is great, or even good. Not remotely. However, those authors have met at least one gatekeeper along their publication journey — one who has granted them safe passage. And, hopefully, it was because of above-average writing, and not just promises of wish-fulfillment and unlimited whiskey.
Anyone can self-publish.
So, what rules did Chuck Wendig follow to get me to finally press that PayPal button?
1) The street cred thing. I must trust that an author is a professional, and not just some random writing civilian who is about to elicit frustration of the my-best-friend’s-unborn-child-can-write-better-than-this variety. Please cite your writing credentials. Please also make your book look pretty.
2) Give me options. If you decide to only offer a digital version of your book, first I will weep, and then I’ll take a look at the mediums. I don’t have an e-reader, and even though I know you can download apps for this, I prefer to go with the familiar — I ordered the PDF. Like a thin crust cheese pizza in Chicago, I know it will never fail me.
3) Do not forcefully wedge your sales pitch into every crevice of my unwilling brain. I realize that you’re trying to increase sales, BUT, if every tweet and blog post is about your book, or if you “casually” bring it up at inappropriate moments — “Talking about your grandmother’s leprosy reminds me of my book, which is currently for sale, BTW…” — you’ve lost me. Gentle or humbly hilarious reminders are appreciated.
4) Respect my reading choices. Please don’t feel slighted or chastise me for not supporting the writing community because I’m not interested in an illustrated epic fantasy featuring an elephant/alien romance filled with side-splitting hijinks, yet devastatingly beautiful prose. If your book is not my thing, it’s not my thing.
5) Unleash the positive buzz. Share your reviews. And not just the ones from your neighbor, your best friend from high school, and your in-the-doghouse husband. (I can tell.) Provide legitimate links, quotes, and interviews.
6) The words, man. Assure me that I will love your writing style through your blogs, tweets, comments and other writing samples. Post a (SHORT) excerpt. Make me unable to resist your story-telling genius in all of its chocolatey-coated (digital-only) goodness. And then deliver.
There you have it — concrete ways to woo the wary reader. And really, number six is what matters the most. It all comes down to the words. Always the words.
So, choose wisely.
What say you, readers? If you’re the traditional type, what does it take for you to read a self-published or digital book? What’s the last digital or self-pub title you purchased? Click over to Chuck Wendig’s post on Why Your Self-Published Book May Suck a…well, just go read the rest of the title there and the post, too, for more on this topic. And, don’t forget to check out Irregular Creatures — it’s definitely worth some screen time!