Writing 101: Presentation

For hundreds of years, clever salesmen made a great living by selling water in bottles and telling people to rub dirt on their wounds. Scoff if you will, but this is the absolute truth. You see, it usually isn't about what you're selling. It's about the presentation...and that goes for self-published books, too.

Snake Oil and Novels

We've all heard the jokes and seen the satires of the old-fashioned hawkers and hucksters who used to sell people magical potions and miracle medical remedies, when really the bottles are filled with things like cow dung and cat urine. You've probably heard of the expression "snake oil" and "snake oil salesman." Well, that used to be a real thing.

People will buy snake oil if the presentation is right, so they should certainly be willing to buy your books. It's all about how you present those books to the rest of the world. Once you get past the obvious factors, it comes down to salesmanship. How good is yours? 

  • Cover.  A great cover is a given in self-publishing. You want to catch the eye and you want to stand out, but you also want a book that looks like a readable book. Remember to check the cover on several device sizes to make sure it's easy to read across platforms.
  • Price. Set the right price, or all the salesmanship in the world won't help. You've got to price your books according to their competition, not necessarily according to their worth.
  • Trailers. If you want to present your book in an exciting way, create a trailer. Visual imagery works better than text, and this medium allows you to combine them. Tell the story in the trailer, just enough to make people want more.
  • Tweets. Tweet about your books every day, at least once. But don't tweet "go buy this book" because that won't work. Give readers a reason to click that link. Ask them a question, give them a compelling quote, write something shocking -- compel them to buy, and they will.
  • Extras. Give your book even more depth by offering extras. Start giving out free samples, create images and maps to show off, write blog posts about it and present

The way you present is important, but remember it only matters if you're actually doing it. Promote, and keep promoting, and you'll get better and better at it.

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