How Long Do You Wait to Ask for Help?

Kboards’ Writers’ Cafe forum is a good source for information about writing and publishing. It’s also a treasure-house of inspiration for blog posts. A common saying is that if you’re smart enough to write a novel, you’re smart enough to learn how to give your book the best possible chance of being bought and read. I wish that was true, but some of the questions that writers ask on Writers’ Cafe and elsewhere almost disprove it.

So we have a writer who’s published one book and seen zero sales. For close to a year. And he now asks whether anyone buys books in his genre. Kboards is a pretty supportive place to bring your troubles to, but members don’t hesitate to tell you exactly what you’re doing wrong. Naturally, this became a very active thread. After reading through it, then taking a quick glance at the book on Amazon, it would be appropriate to ask what mistakes the writer has not made. He seems to have hit every possible one right on the mark.

First, the cover. Not only is it unmistakably self-created, it could serve as the definition of a “nothing” cover. It is bland, boring, and completely uninformative about the genre it’s covering. By the way, the same could be said for the writer’s web site, but that’s a side issue. Just listing the problems commented on by board members, we have: a blurb so short and generic that it conveys absolutely nothing about the story. An unnecessary introduction, and writing that is barely adequate, with punctuation and tense errors. poor pacing, and too much exposition.

To add to the problems, the novel is the first of a series, by an unknown author, and the second volume still hasn’t appeared after almost a year. The writer has also failed to make use of keywords that would place the book in as many appropriate categories as possible.

Promotion has apparently consisted of giving away copies. Period. And the website I mentioned has nothing on it to attract readers or tell them what the book is about. It’s difficult even to find sales links.

Here we have someone who wrote and published a book, waited nearly a year to ask what was wrong, and wanted to blame it all on the genre. In that amount of time, he could have read any number of books and articles on writing technique, publishing, promotion, etc. How smart is that?

Has the writer come back to the forum to comment, to thank the people who offered help, even a free cover, or to ask for specifics in some areas? Not so far, in over 24 hours.

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