I know this is earlier than expected, but I spotted a post from another blogger about ‘reverse engineering’ and thought I’d give it a spin.
The basic steps: –
1.Select a group of writers in your genre that you admire, or you believe are a few rungs up the ladder from you. I went mad and chose NINE! Three ‘greats’; three well-known indie crime thriller writers and three who specialize in Vigilante Justice series.
2.Compare and contrast your covers. Produce a photo collage. Is there anything you can learn? In my case, I noticed Ian Rankin’s Rebus series uses very similar covers across its range, quite basic in design, but easily identifiable as part of a series. As you know, I elected to keep the same Phoenix image throughout the series. Tim Stevens and Jon Mills use almost exactly the same cover image.
The font size for titles and author name on many of the people I chose is far larger than mine. Colour though, isn’t that important to the group. My cover stands out from the rest because of the bold orange I used. Or is that just me being protective?
3.Check out the ‘blurb’ for the book. I deliberately cut off where Amazon states ‘Read More’. If you haven’t captured their interest in the first half-dozen lines, why would buyers delve deeper? If you do read on, some of the ‘big’ names have reams of information, mini-reviews from other ‘big’ names and prestigious publications. Although we can’t all add in that much detail, there are tips and tricks to learn from what they say & how they say it.
4.Look at the huge variety in the author bios! Claude Bouchard tells you about his writing, but there are lots of personal insights too; he gives the impression of being approachable. The sort of guy you might want to know? Jon Mills tells you zip about himself. Decide for yourself what works best and try to match the content and flavour of your bio to which you think is the best. I’ll let you into a secret: – when I re-vamped mine last year, I visited Ian Rankin’s. Apart from all the accolades and achievements he’s got in his, it contains some personal background followed by a list of all the books he’s written in chronological order. I used his as my template; thinking I could add in the accolades if/when they came along!
5.Analyse their social media output. Where are they? What do they tweet about? How do they use their Facebook page? How interesting is their website? Do they have other ‘footprints’ to help them sell books in greater numbers than us? My chosen authors were a mixed bag, but a couple had websites that were awesome (when compared to my own) and yet Tim Stevens, who is prolific and successful doesn’t have a dedicated website. Peter James has a YouTube TV channel (another box I can now tick) and Karin Slaughter posts dozens of trailers, interviews and other items through YouTube on her website.
6.Some writers suggest you should read books by your ‘favourite’ or ‘successful’ authors and then use what they wrote about & how they did it to improve your own writing. I think that’s rubbish! Be your own person. The world doesn’t need another Ian Rankin (sorry Sir). Your stories have to be unique in some way that sets them apart from the crowd. You’ll never achieve that if you follow the template laid down by another writer, no matter how brilliant they might be.
There’s nothing really new in this approach is there? I remember reading articles from other bloggers and book promotion site owners telling me pretty much the same things over the past four years. I agonised over my covers, my blurb and my bio twelve to eighteen months ago and re-vamped everything. I think it had a positive effect; but you can’t afford to sit still. It’s time to re-assess. I’m going to sift through the data I’ve gathered and I’ll tweak those areas of my set-up I think will benefit from ‘learning from the best’. If you want to try it out yourself (I suggest on a more limited number of writers!) it might help; if it does come back & tell me all about it.
This was a bonus post. There are lots of newsworthy items left over for another day. I’ll be back in a fortnight. Happy Autumn!