Laziness = Lost Readers

A couple of days ago I failed to download a book due to laziness. Not mine but the laziness of the author who wanted me to read their book.

I’ll explain in a moment but first – what do you think makes readers buy/download a book: the scintillating prose, fascinating characters or the intricately-woven web of the story over which the author has spent months (sometimes years) sweating blood?

Sadly – unless it’s on the basis of a review or a recommendation – the answer is none of the above.

The story is what you as an author hope readers (buyers) will enjoy once they start on your book. First, though, you’ve got to get them to pick up the book or click on it via their browser.

And that involves several factors: your name (if you have a track record), the snappy title, the stylish and enticing cover… and maybe the price. Other factors like genre, tags and placement may also play a role.

Next comes the first moment when potential readers/buyers will actually begin reading your words. And the first thing most people will read? That’s right – the ‘blurb’.

Now, like many authors I hate writing blurbs. You have to sell your book in just a few paragraphs of sufficient wit/charm/intrigue that they then do the one thing that makes sense of all those months spent shut away working on your magnum opus – to read the damn book!

So it really, really annoys me when I see indie/self-published authors putting poorly-written, lazily-edited blurbs on their Amazon pages.

On Monday I was looking at some books on free promotion and thought the title and cover of one looked fairly interesting and professional so clicked through to the book’s page on Amazon. And my heart sank when I skimmed the blurb and read the following:

‘Tom Bracewell is an economist for an investment bank when he comes home one days to find his Estonian wife Tatyana has disappeared.

But where has she gone?

And why?

Sarah Turnbull is a currency analysts who has just been hired by The Leopard Fund, a vast hedge fund run by the ruthless French financier Jean-Pierre Telmont.’

These weren’t the first lines of the blurb but I hesitated on the first line here as there’s either something wrong with the grammar or something missing from the sentence. Then I spotted the two superfluous plurals and left the page.

Sadly there are two many poorly written, badly formatted and unedited self-published books out there – which is why people like Tahlia Newland are doing such a great job trying to encourage professional standards with the Awesome Indies site.

Which is also why, having been so irritated by the sloppy mistakes above, I thought that if an author can’t be bothered to get his blurb right then I’m not going to waste my time seeing if the book itself is any better.

Sorry if I’m pontificating again and I realise this has turned into a bit of a rant. But I do feel better for it!

There’s also a harsh but simple message for all indie authors. If your blurb doesn’t hook potential readers you might as well not bother publishing.

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8 responses to “Laziness = Lost Readers”

  1. Melissa Bowersock says :

    Huw, you are dead on. I agree the blurb is the No. 1 thing that brings readers in, wanting more, or leaves them out in the cold. As short as blurbs are, there should NEVER be any reason for such mistakes. If the author can’t take the time to get those few short sentences right, then I have no expectation that the book will be any better.
    What I see too often, as well, is too much unnecessary infomation in the blurb. Keep it short, keep it clean, end with a hook. Simple. (But not easy!)

  2. Catana says :

    You’re absolutely right. A blurb will either get me to take a look at the sample or it will turn me away. Even if the blurb whets my interest, if you can’t be bothered to get the spelling and punctuation right, I’m going to assume you didn’t bother inside the book, either.

  3. ioniamartin says :

    Huw, I am pleased to find you on wordpress. Great site you have here.

Trackbacks / Pingbacks

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