The Interview

Imagine for a moment that you are a businessperson conducting interviews of two candidates for an important position in your company.

The first candidate shows up for the interview on time. She is appropriately attired. She is clean and well-spoken. Her resume is well-organized and provides you with the information you want. She seems well-prepared and handles your questions with poise and professionalism. At the end of the interview, she thanks you for your time and leaves you with a very favorable overall impression.

The second candidate shows up late. He is dressed in a slovenly manner. He mumbles a lot. He brought a sort-of resume on some crumpled paper that leaves a lot of questions unanswered. He looks like he might have forgotten to shower this morning. He seems unprepared and disorganized. His answers are rambling and indirect. At the end of the interview, he leaves and you hear him say as he skulks away, “Man, this company sucks.”

Unless you’re looking for a way to sabotage your company, you’d hire the first candidate.

When you publish a book, you are sending it out on a job interview. Prospective readers will decide whether to “hire” your book. Even if your book gets the job, the performance evaluation may not go well. That may make it harder for your book to find another job. All this is avoidable with a little preparation.

Understand that your book’s cover is the first impression it makes. That is how your book dresses for the interview. We know not everyone can afford a professional cover designer, but we have lots of tutorials on Indies Unlimited about how you can make your own covers. Don’t send your book out into the world with its shirt untucked and mismatched socks. A reader will just pass your book right over unless the cover has some eye appeal. In their minds, amateurish covers will equate to amateurish writing.

Your book description is like your book’s resume. It must be clear, concise, and grammatically correct.

The book itself needs to be proofed and beta-read and edited mercilessly. Perfection may be unattainable, but improvement is always possible. Always proof your own work. Get other eyes on it. Find some beta-readers who can read the manuscript before you publish. Join a critique group. Get an editor—if you can’t afford a professional, find a skilled friend who will be brutally honest with you. Get someone who grades tough.

We can’t do all that for you. We can give you our honest assessment of whether your book is ready. Sometimes, we can point you to some resources or helpful articles that can get you on the right track.

We do this because we want you and your book to succeed. That can mean we will tell you we think your book is not ready yet. We would not be doing you any favors if we promoted your book, knowing it had correctable flaws.

If you submit a book for promotion here and we get back to you with some concerns or questions, it is because we want to make sure you put your best foot forward. There are plenty of sites that will promote any book that comes along. Indies Unlimited is not one of those sites. We trust you care at least as much about your book’s success as we do. Don’t send it out into the world unprepared, and don’t get upset at us if we tell you your book’s shirt is untucked.

Author: Stephen Hise

Stephen Hise is the Evil Mastermind and founder of Indies Unlimited. Hise is an independent author and an avid supporter of the indie author movement. Learn more about Stephen at his website or his Amazon author page.

15 thoughts on “The Interview”

  1. Right on. Not only is this all excellent advice, but as a group, Indies Unlimited also has a reputation to think about. What’s good for writers is also good for us. It’s mutual.

  2. What Yvonne said. An important and timely reminder that we have to keep on our toes if we want satisfied readers who come back for more.

  3. Great post. I completely agree.

    It’s important to put your best foot forward. You only get one chance to make a first impression. Once a reader finds someone they love, they’ll keep coming back. You want to be that author they come back to. Readers may even recommend you to others. But, if you give them a bad product, they stop reading. Even worse, they may badmouth your book. People always talk about the positives of word of mouth, but there is negative word of mouth also. When your reader’s friends ask them about the book, they will say it was awful and not worth the bother if that’s what they feel after getting a book riddled with errors.

    I’m certain no one wants to be there (not for things that could be avoided–like a book with tons of mistakes, bad formatting or confusing passages. All of those things can be avoided with beta readers and editing).

  4. Brilliant as always Stephen. I don’t understand why so many indies are still fighting these basic facts and then get upset with bad reviews and poor sales.

        1. Thanks Tasha. We’ll see if we can come up with something. I am not a fan of velvet rope organizations, but I do understand the forces behind their genesis.

  5. Such a timely post Mr Hise. I’ve been following some groups on Goodreads and one of the discussions focuses on indie quality. I’ve pointed readers to IU as a place to find indie writing they can trust. We may not hand out formal seals but I think everyone who comes here knows they will find quality.

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