When in doubt, grab a poll.

Published on Author templewms4 Comments

One of our greatest faults, as independent writers, lets us turn self-deception into certainty. We know something we wrote sounds great. We think the book cover we chose looks great. Yet for some extraordinary reason, the audience forgets to applaud. They take their wallets elsewhere.

As a contact sport, being an author can be a spirit-crushing game. It can turn the best of us into believers in the “no-think” magic of great Zen masters. But while the enlightenment of emptying your mind with “no-think” might slip a smile on your face, it will not put words on a page, unless you’re a legendary Zen Buddhist writing a memoir.

What can Indie authors do to harness their self-deceptive tendencies?

When in doubt, grab a poll.

Back in May 2015, I wrote a blog post about choosing the right cover for a book. I used a polling device called PickFu to reduce my powers of self-deception. Although I never discussed the end result of those efforts, I can do so now.

The new cover helped the book become a 2015 Gold Medal winner at the Reader’s Favorite Book Awards,Giveaway02 and it also just received a B.R.A.G. Medallion. I believe that my book cover polling had something to do with this (hopefully, that’s not self-deception).

As I write this blog post, I am within weeks of publishing a new novel, called Wrinkled Heartbeats, and I polled my way to its cover with over 500 opinions from potential readers.

I compared five different covers. My favorite did not make it past the second round. The eventual winner won by a hefty margin. I also polled my way to the initial blurb that I will use on the book’s back cover, and also in the e-book’s back matter. That poll was based on 200 potential readers and compared two different blurb possibilities. The winner was a combination of both. The final blurb says:

A great war hero stumbles into a web of money-laundering, lies, and deadly secrets, including the Gator Pole, a painful way to make people disappear in the Florida Everglades.

An overly-generous offer to buy his luxury home includes an expiration date on the decorated veteran’s life. The only person who can save him is the person hired to kill him.

For the warrior, one of the bloodiest battles in the history of the United States Marine Corps becomes a life-threatening allegory in the tropical paradise of the Palm Beaches.

The 200 comments that readers made in the blurb comparison give me a little more confidence as I approach the publication date. That does not mean the book will succeed or fail, but it does mean that I have entered the game with my eyes wide open.

When in doubt, grab a poll.

4 Responses to When in doubt, grab a poll.

  1. Hi,
    I have looked at PickFu, but it costs and only allows one to post two choices. Is there somwhere (hopefully free) where I can get opinions on my shortlist of three cover designs for my forthcoming book?

    Alan A

    • Yes, it does cost. And when you have more than two you must play winner vs winner until you arrive at the final decision. I know of no freebie for polling, at least not professionally. My experience with building polls myself (which is free) has been that very few people take the time to respond, and then rarely with useful advice. Like it or not, money oils the machine. All the best.

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