book suck

Does Your Book Suck? 6 Common Problems to Avoid

Salmaan Ahmad

Salmaan Ahmad

April 3, 2024

You have done the hard work of writing, proofing, printing, and marketing your book, but sometimes the retail sales are lower than expected. Authors who self-publish their work have to tend to a lot of details to take their work from concept to manuscript to printed book, and often a new author has to learn the ropes as they go.

But when you have seemingly checked all of the boxes to make sure your book is ready to get into the hands of readers, that doesn’t guarantee that it will sell. So when sales are unexpectedly low, one of the questions self-publishing authors usually ask themselves is, Does my book suck?

Does Your Book Suck? Your Book Might Suck If…

From the way it looks to the way readers learn about the book’s contents, many details can contribute to your book sucking or being fantastic. Let’s look at the six ways your book might suck and how you can fix them so it will be appealing to potential readers so you can increase the odds of higher book sales.

1 The Book Cover Appears Unprofessional

The way a book cover appears plays a role in whether or not potential readers will be interested in picking up a book. Self-publishing authors are tasked with designing a front and back cover as well as a book spine that will reflect their work’s content, match the genre expectations, connect with current trends, and stand out from the rest of the books on the shelf.

And each of these takes significant time and effort to accomplish, but many authors without training in graphic design or experience in creating a professional book cover do it themselves. As a result, readers might think that their book sucks because they can’t get past a cover that looks unprofessional, mismatches the genre or just doesn’t give readers enough of a clue about the book’s contents for readers to feel compelled to pick it up and give the book a look.

How to Make Your Book Suck Less: One of the easiest fixes is to hire an expert book cover designer to create one for you. They will use graphic design skills and experience crafting covers to develop a few options for authors to choose from or work with, giving you a few different directions to go with your book’s cover. Utilizing a graphic designer with book cover expertise will ensure that your book cover will catch the eye of a potential reader, contain all of the necessary content in a visually appealing way and also reflect the book’s contents through a unique design, making your book suck less.

Authors who want to do it themselves should first survey other popular books in their genre to note what readers expect to see on the shelves. Then, develop a plan for the graphics that bring out some part of the book’s contents like the main character, setting or plot elements so readers will see a glimpse of the book’s contents on the cover. Then, select a title font that looks appropriate for the genre as well as a color palate that will work within genre expectations.

2 You Skimped on Editing

Another way your book might suck is if you didn’t put in quality time or effort toward the editing process. Even the most talented writers utilize objective feedback to improve their work, from the content to the grammar. Readers will be turned off by a book with continuity issues, misspelled words, and grammar mistakes or formatting mishaps.

How to Make Your Book Suck Less: Hiring an expert editor is an easy way to make sure that your book looks professional. Self-published authors can engage the services of the three main types of editors to review and improve their manuscripts before they are sent off to the printer.

  1. Copy editors look for stylistic errors and missteps within a manuscript. Copyeditors focus on details like word choice, tone and sentence structure, and how well the book sticks to MLA, APA or the Chicago Manual of Style rules for writing.
  2. Developmental editors look at the big picture of a manuscript to help authors present a cohesive work that makes sense from beginning to end. Developmental editors consider the structure of the story, how the themes are developed in the book, and the overall flow of the story.
  3. Proofreaders provide the critically important proofing process that uncovers small errors in punctuation, spelling, and formatting once the book has been typeset but before it is printed. A proofreader’s job is to catch the tiny mistakes that eagle-eyed readers will notice, making your book suck less.

3 If The Blurb is Boring

When readers see an interesting book cover, one of the first things they do is flip it over and scan the blurb on the back cover. If your book’s blurb doesn’t instantly snag their attention and make them want to read more, you have just missed out on a potential reader.

How to Make Your Book Suck Less: Focus on crafting a blurb that reveals enough about the book’s contents to pique a reader’s interest without giving away the whole plot. Just like a movie trailer, a book blurb should leave the reader with questions they can only answer by digging into the book. Consider testing out different blurbs with beta readers to see which ones create the most interest in potential readers, making your book suck less.

4 The Book Does Not Match Industry Standards

Readers in love with a genre often voraciously search for the next new book to enjoy, perusing genre lists with a keen eye. These types of readers will have a good idea of what a book in their genre looks and feels like, quickly observing when a book’s cover, blurb, formatting, and book quality don’t fall in line with other books they typically read.

How to Make Your Book Suck Less: Do your research on current titles within your genre before finalizing your book. Track the book cover colors, graphic elements, title fonts and styles, formatting choices, blurb content, and overall writing quality of the top books currently on the market that readers already love. Then, review these genre expectations so that your book will feel familiar to potential readers right from the start and make your book suck less.

 5 The Book Content Is Not Engaging

Readers expect to be pulled into a book with compelling storytelling, interesting characters, and creative twists. Characters that feel flat, stories that don’t feel authentic, or stories that take too long to get started all can result in readers losing interest in your book.

How to Make Your Book Suck Less: Authors should get feedback from readers who closely resemble their target audience to help them craft the best possible book they can. Called beta readers, these readers found through professional channels review books in different stages of the writing process to help authors make key changes and shifts in their work. They provide authentic, candid suggestions, but they are not proofreaders or editors.

6 The Book’s Formatting Is Wonky

Self-editing a book allows authors to create a book exactly how they want, including making all formatting and style selections. But what looks appealing and unique to one author may be off-putting or strange to a potential reader, leading them to conclude that the book sucks when it really doesn’t. Authors may be skilled in character development or dreaming up a brilliant plot, but they may not have the graphic design skills required to create a beautiful format for a self-published book.

How to Make Your Book Suck Less: Traditionally published books benefit from the services of a graphic design department that lays out dozens of books every year. Self-publishing authors can ensure that their book looks just as great by working with an expert book formatter or a professional graphic designer or by utilizing a book format template to make their manuscript look polished and perfect when it goes to print.

Partner with a Quality Printer So Your Book’s Appearance Won’t Suck

As a self-published author, you have a choice where you invest in the transformation of your idea into a printed book. Working with a trusted printer like Publishing Xpress means that you know that all of the hard work you put into coming up with your book, editing, revising, working with editors and graphic designers, and reviewing feedback from beta readers will result in a gorgeous book, ready to get into the hands of your readers.

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