How not to sell me a book…

If you’re a novelist, and I’ve never heard of you, the fastest way to get knocked off my maybe-read list is to include anything in parentheses or after a colon that even hints that this is not a standalone novel. Saga, Series, Trilogy, Book N, A something something, whatever.

A series title that’s significantly longer than the book title guarantees that free is too much to pay for your work. Also, price over $7 for an ebook; I’m willing to go over that for writers I like, up to a limit of $9.99, but that’s it, and only if that’s not higher than the paperback/hardcover price.

A colon followed by the words “A Novel” is a no-shit-sherlock way to guarantee that I’ll cross you off my list, except in the extremely rare case of the moronic publisher who puts it on recent Tim Powers novels. But you’re not Tim Powers.

I read a lot of SF and fantasy novels, but you need to remember that when you put your book up on Amazon, you’re not just competing with this week’s best-sellers. You’re up against decades of novels by Ray Bradbury, Gordon Dickson, Gene Wolfe, Patricia McKillip, Robin McKinley, Andre Norton, Clifford Simak, Poul Anderson, Tim Powers, Diane Duane, Lois McMaster Bujold, Vernor Vinge, C. J. Cherryh, George Alec Effinger, Barbara Hambly, Patricia Wrede, Larry Niven, Robert Heinlein, Robert Silverberg, John Varley, and Doris Piserchia, to give a partial list of whose books I’ve bought on Kindle over the past few years. And I’ve left out a lot of lower-tier names.

Admittedly, some of their publishers are imbeciles who think that a badly-OCRd thirty-year-old novel is worth $12.99 despite the easy availability of used paperbacks for $0.99 plus shipping, but enough of the stuff is out there for a decent price that I can afford to assume that your ambitiously-titled series is crap.

Update: Amazon has started showing a lot of recommendations that include a new warning label, the use of LitRPG in the subtitle. If your work is so weak that you need to call out its obscure genre in the listing, I want no part of it.

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