The Writer's Station
Atlanta, GA

IndieRecon: HM Ward Shows Authors How It’s Done

three-legged-stool-hm-wardIndieRecon, the online conference for indie-authors, is officially over. The conference was jam-packed with live interviews and presentations. Good news if you missed the conference: they’re posting everything on their website. I’m still working my way through the list but after watching HM Ward’s presentation, I was chomping at the bit to share a few things I learned.

If you’re not familiar with HM Ward and you’re interested in the indie publishing scene, you should definitely check out her blog,  Ward is a New York Times bestselling indie author who writes “sexy awesome books.”  In fact, since 2011 she’s sold over 10 million of them. That’s not a typo. That’s 10 million books in under 5 years, all without using a traditional publisher. It doesn’t hurt that Ward writes in the hottest indie-publishing genre. But if you’re thinking that her advice won’t be relevant because you write in another genre or because you write non-fiction, you’re wrong. Ward’s advice is practical and applicable no matter what you’re writing. In my opinion, these are the top takeaways from her talk:

Price is no longer the big determining factor it once was in the eBook game

Makes sense when you think about it. With the glut of free titles being made available on a seemingly daily basis, readers who like free and cheap books now look at other things to help them make a choice. The key is understanding what makes a reader choose one book (in their preferred genre) over another. Which brings us to Ward’s second point…

Time is the new obstacle

With so many free books available to readers, time (not money) becomes the real obstacle a new author has to surmount. And the question then becomes, how do I show the reader that my book is worth their time. Ward believes there are three things that get readers to buy a book. She calls it…

The Golden Trifecta

Ward used the image of a three-legged stool where the book was the seat, and the blurb, cover, and sample were the three legs. She argues that if you don’t get all three right, your sales will be hindered. Covers are a no-brainer. If you have a horrible cover, your book will barely get a look. A few highlights about blurbs and samples:

Blurb – Look at your query letter and use that as a guide. Provide a clear hook and give them just enough to want to read the book. The blurb isn’t a summary, either. Keep it short, tight, and interesting. I liken it to a movie trailer. Put in all the exciting stuff, leave out everything else.

Sample – Your cover was awesome, your blurb fantastic. The reader liked both enough to download the sample. Don’t give them backstory or a beginning that doesn’t deliver any excitement before the sample concludes. Give them conflict, action, and empathy.

Here’s a suggestion. Go back and revisit a book in your genre that you loved. Study the cover. Reread the blurb and the first few pages. And then figure out what it was about those things that drew you in, that turned you from a browser to a buyer to a reader, and maybe even a fan.

I encourage you to head straight over to the IndieRecon site and watch Ward’s entire presentation. You can find it here.

Image attribution: Steve Baty Flickr

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