7 Ways To Make Your Book More Appealing
Grow Your Business, Not Your Inbox
You're reading Entrepreneur India, an international franchise of Entrepreneur Media.
Every one of us has an author inside of us. Just ask your incessantly chattering brain which keeps telling itself tales of fiction, of life, of trifles all day long. Many of us manage to commit those ramblings to electronic paper in hopes of communicating our thrills to the wider world, either in story forms or an online platform or even instant chats. Here are a few ways in which you can make those thoughts a better bait for the world around us, though there is one very important reminder at the outset which you as a writer really don’t need: it is the book’s substance which forms its inner core, its raison d’etre. That is what will sustain it in the long run; the tips below are enhancements, interior decoration to what should already be a beautiful room you have built...
The Reader’s engagement is amplified if she is able to detect multiple interpretations and purpose to the writing. Are there metaphors to be fished out of the story? Are the characters complex? Does the plot or narrative offer something novel to pique interest? Is the next chapter unpredictable? Does the writing provoke a desire to do further research and enrich the experience? Is the genre fresh and interesting? Cross-examine your writing for new passageways and tunnels to delve deeper into the text your craft.
Greater than the Sum of the Words
It is a cliche to observe the power of pictures over words, but it is a cliche well worth remembering. Depending on the context, it can be very refreshing to see an illustration or picture that accents your words. It doesn’t need to be too elaborate, but a little flourish here and there can make the overall feel of the book more engaging. A war scene with an illustration of a battlefield, or a poem with an accompanying charcoal sketch, can pull in the reader’s attention and enhance their reading experience.
Another little tweak is the addition of quotes from famous figures and characters. These could be inspirational, humorous or deep, but in all instances, they should have relevance to the writing. You can also annotate the book using footnotes or a glossary, providing commentary which is demarcated from the main text to convey extra information without hindering the flow.
It is important to note, however, that the reader picking up your book came for the book. Though illustrations, pictures, quotes, etc. are nice additions, they shouldn’t be overused and should be woven in naturally.
An Audience Wooed
Know your target audience; it will help you craft your book with better precision. Is it a cookbook for amateur chefs? A sci-fi novel for alien enthusiasts? A marine manual for the professional sailor? Knowing who is most likely to pick up a copy of your book will help you tailor its assets (such as the title or front cover) to gain readers. One way of figuring out a target audience is focusing on the genre of the book, and the maturity level of the themes and your writing. Fast-paced action that is easy to understand typically aligns with teens whereas a book explaining complex mathematical equations is normally picked up by adults or students with an interest in higher studies. You can also look at reference points by seeing who is buying a book similar to yours. If you are writing a classic whodunnit, you can start by looking at Sherlock Holmes, or one of Agatha Christie’s mysteries.
The God of Small Things
You know how we’re always taught to never judge a book by its cover or size? The truth is that most of us do exactly that. It may seem unimportant if the colour of the paper is white rather than cream, or if you’re using a Times New Roman font instead of Playfair Display, but these subconsciously influence a reader. If you’ve created a small book with microscopic print, it’s likely that people won’t buy it. If you’re unsure about what to choose, think about what your preferences are and those around you. What are the books that you are currently reading like? You can always try out different fonts and sizes online, and choose the one that you think best suits the book. Pay attention to the taglines you have used in the title (and the quality of the title itself!), whether the first letter of a chapter should be a baroque large-font, the quality and substance of chapter titles, whether you need an index at the end of the book, a table of contents, etc. A book is much more than just its story.
Love At First Sight
The first few things that a potential reader looks at is the title, front cover and blurb. So, naturally, these should be as polished and appealing as possible. If you have figured out your main audience, it will make it much easier to design a front cover, such that it draws in your target readers. Younger readers typically prefer bright colours and flashy titles (such as the Percy Jackson front covers) whereas a book of poetry might have a symbolic front cover with a meaningful, deep title. You want your title and blurb to outline the main topics of your story, but leave it suspenseful enough so your reader wants to find out more. For example, your blurb can end in a pivotal question, which immediately triggers the reader to want to find the answer. For example, a book will grab a child’s attention with, “Will Jack be able to crack the code and escape ... before it’s too late?” Or, you may want to hit specific points that you know will impact your target audiences, such as racism or global warming, or even something as simple as an everyday annoyance.
Spread the Word!
It’s a fool’s dream to hope that people will stumble across your book, pick it up and spread the word about it. Libraries are losing customers, and the idea of lazy Saturday morning scouring bookshelves for new books is fading - it’s been replaced by online videos, movies and social media. This isn’t a bad thing; you can leverage your book online by posting on social media, asking your friends and family to add reviews and hyping it up by telling everyone you know. Your first book will probably never sell to the masses, but it’s a dead-end if you don’t try. Who knows? You may just be the next JK Rowling, waiting to happen. Capitalize on small achievements and build your way up to recognition by acquiring reviews, spreading it online, starting a website, making promotional videos, anything to get people to take notice of you and your book.
Back to the Roots
Sometimes, it’s not enough to just embellish a book. If you’ve done the things above (and literally every other tip and advice you’ve found on the Internet) and still think your book is unsatisfactory, re-read what you’ve written. The first line makes a big difference. Is it boring? Too wordy? Not wordy enough? Or just not worthy enough? You can try out multiple first lines and first chapters to make it punchy and interesting. Look over the entire material. Is the storyline something you would be interested in? If not, then you don’t have to chuck the whole project. Add little tweaks here and there to make it more complex. Make sure you have the right amount of dialogue, and that you’ve varied your sentences. Don’t start every paragraph with, “Then, I did this, and then this happened, and then...”. In the end, it’s your writing that will make or break the book, and therefore, it’s your writing that needs the most attention.
It would serve well to remind again: these tips will ultimately serve as crutches, not the actual leg. If you want your book to sell, you need to have solid material that people will want to read and share with their friends. Don’t get sidetracked by gimmicks; they can only get you so far. It’s the actual writing that will get you places, not the little frills that adorn it.