Thanks, I Hate It

My rabbit likes the snow, so that’s something. And I do mean my literal rabbit; this isn’t some thinly veiled attempt at telling you about my sex life with my husband. We live in the middle of nowhere, sure, but next to a major metropolitan area and one that isn’t supposed to get blizzards in May. I’m sitting here, writing, in front of a fire and with most of the animals silently willing me to fix this. Well I can’t, just like I can’t fix my cover design.

An inability draw in readers, an act of nature…why do they feel like the same thing? The only answer I can come up with is that both feel inexplicable. If anything, I understand this weather better. At least I know what snow is. Readers’ tastes, meanwhile…. A lot of things get called a “black box,” but figuring out why the average reader picks one cover over another or indeed does anything at all is impossible. The best we can do is guess, and guess, and guess again. Deciding what’s “right,” without reader input, would be like me spending an unholy amount of money on a papaya as “rabbits are supposed to love them,” only to discover that Lucie doesn’t like fruit.

One of these covers is going to be a sweet potato: unexpectedly successful. Because when it comes to personal tastes, among rabbits and human beings, logic is about as useful as lecturing Lucie on why she shouldn’t climb up to the top of my son’s bookcase and poop there. Rabbits are smarter than they look, like most of us. Unfortunately, though, intelligence doesn’t always manifest in logic. “Supposed to” has never been the rallying cry of the truly excited, and pushing a book no one wants is about as useful to the cause as chasing Lucie around the house with this stupid (and, now, somewhat overripe) papaya.

A sweet potato, literary or otherwise, needs about as much introduction as the one ring. Rabbits might think that peeing into your ear while you’re asleep is fun, but they’re great sniffers. No sooner does one cross the threshold than Lucie attacks the relevant bag. I could, I suppose, keep buying papayas in the hope that eventually her tastes change…but why? Isn’t our goal, here, to make each other happy?

Having a good book is where we start. It’s not enough, though. You might’ve written the next Twilight, but no one will ever know if your packaging sucks. Your cover, title, and blurb are the difference between being discovered and dying a slow death in the same pile as a million other quasi-urban fantasy romances. No, a pretty wrap job won’t do shit for a bad book–but the fact that no one is reading your book doesn’t mean it’s bad.

The great thing about being self-published is the nearly limitless amount of tools at your disposal. Wattpad in particular is full of active, engaged readers who are specifically on the site looking for some new material. Most stories are 100% free to read, meaning that there’s no financial disincentive in taking a risk. Make things exciting enough, and you will find an audience.

Says, of course, the girl with no (current) reads. In the before times, with my original account, several of my stories got well over a million reads. Maybe Wattpad was less competitive, then, but don’t kid yourself: you’re in training, right now. The harder the challenges you set for yourself, the better off you’ll be in the long run. What’s the point of succeeding on Wattpad, or any platform for that matter, if you’re not building anything real?