A couple of things we shouldn’t be doing. Sometimes you’ll see an author comparing their writing to a famous writer in the actual blurb of their book, or worse still on the cover. Doing this in a blurb is actually against Amazon policy, so it’s not a good idea to begin with. Some Indies seem to think that by the mere presence of a bestselling author’s name, readers will be more inclined to buy their own book. Speaking as a reader all I can say about that is that if I want to read a book by J K Rowling I’ll buy one of her books. If a reader or reviewer on the other hand compares a book to the work of a famous author I’m a fan of, I might be tempted to buy it – that to me is a genuine compliment, but if it’s the author making the comparison it always comes across as a little desperate to me.
Desperation doesn’t sell well, and readers aren’t stupid. We prefer authenticity in the books we read. Why on Earth would any writer want to hang on to another writer’s coattails? I’ve heard that copying famous writer’s styles can be a good writing exercise, although I’ve never tried it myself. I’d much rather stick to my own style, whatever that may be, than to try and sell anything on the back of someone else’s success. Every time a book makes it big there are suddenly thousands of copycat versions dumped onto the market, and none of them will ever have the impact of the original. Every writer has their own unique writing voice, and we should always be true to that – even when we’re selling our wares.
Another thing I’ve seen is #1 BESTSELLER plastered on the cover of a book. Then I’ve looked at the book’s ranking, and it’s at two million and odd. That’s not a bestseller and I don’t appreciate the attempt to con me. I’ve read several comments from Indie authors saying that it’s the truth because at some point their books have been number one on a free list. That’s just way beyond wrong so don’t do this. We’ve all been in the paid bestseller lists at some point or another, but if you honestly want to put that on your book it must have been number one on the main list, and if it reaches that beautiful spot everyone will already know what it is.
I always use the Look Inside feature on Amazon before I buy any book. A huge mistake some Indies make is to put pages and pages of reviews in their front matter. Often you haven’t got to the end of them before the preview ends. No book purchase from me in that case. I don’t have a problem with a few lines from good reviews on a single page, but more than that – yes – again seems desperate to me. Readers will read the book reviews anyway, both the good and the bad, so the reviews in the front matter aren’t going to mean anything except that they’re taking up too much space. The last thing about using reviews in your book is actually using them on your book. Fine for if the book has reviews from Kirkus or something like that, but putting one of the three reviews that the book has on your actual cover is not a good idea at all. The last time I saw this I cringed in shame on behalf of that author.
As self-published authors we have to act professionally, respect our readers, and credit them with the savvy to spot things like this. We should trust in our own authenticity and have the patience for it to be seen for what it is, and hopefully enjoyed for its own sake.