Saturday, January 29, 2011

Copycat! Who to copy and how to ride the wave.

I speak here and there on eBooks and if you follow this blog you will see that I am a pusher. I am pushing to try to dump the Traditional Publishing boat over. The Big 5 need a wake up call and I am one on many willing to stick a long neck out there. This being said I am going to talk about something completely different... hee hee.

In my talks I get one well meaning person ask the question. The one most assume I don't know or won't acknowledge.

The question goes something like this: "Don't you think some of your success has to do with your last name?" This is said with the idea that I will discount my last name. James Patterson being the popular author that he is must be the reason I sell so many ebooks.

To this I say: "Well Duh!" Well, maybe not like that but I might say, "Momma didn't raise a dummy."

I call this the art of the Copycat! Now don't go and get all up in arms filled with your own sense of artist blah blah... If you have a brain, and if you want to make it in this market, you have to do the best with what you have.

What do I mean?

First is your name: Mine is easy, Patterson. I just happen to write in a similar genre so I got lucky. If your name is not close to any other bestselling authors in the same genre as you write I would think of maybe a pen name that is close. A good example of this is Joshua Graham. He writes legal thrillers. Guess who his fans are?

I bring this up because it is hard to break into the book world. Do whatever you can and once you get readers hopefully some will become fans.

Now the next stage is your book cover:
Readers see a cover and make a mental note and connect you with something. For example James Patterson has a style that carry's through his covers. Big font for the title and it takes up most of the page. His name most of the time is on the top and Patterson is big and James is small on top. If you look my covers do the same thing. Why? Because when they see my cover they make that snap connection.

"If I like James Patterson I will like this too." This is not cheating only being smart. I want his fans, that is the reader base that are more likely to like what I write. Who is your fan base? Who do they read? What kind of covers do they connect with you?

Again Joshua Graham is a good example of this concept and it has served him well. Here are some examples.

The last thing is marketing and Tagging: Once you have the the name and the look, (Now be smart about the name, don't go crazy and the most you might want to do is have the same letter in your last name the same so you are on the shelf in the same place) it is time to attach you book.

Amazon has a tagging system. It is where you can connect your book to another author or other titles. This helps the reader to make the connection to you and to your wave runner. Live in the shadow, don't feel bad, you have a good book and in order to make it you must do all you can to find and reach out to readers.

In the tag area type in your full name and your last name in every title of your author. Now add in his or her name under your book. Once this is done you will find that when you look at your title below it will say something like: customers who bought this product recommend: You should see your authors books listed. Now you are on your way.

The big thing to remember is not to outright copy, just look, and do all you can to look and feel the same so it makes that connection. I know I keep saying that word connection but we all do it. I do judge a book by its cover, and so do you.

The three things you must have to make it in the eBook world are a Amazing cover, Good book and reviews. The things you need behind the scenes is a Good cover, Author name and Tagging.

Some may take offense to this, but ask yourself. If Dean Koontz was going to review your book would you take it? Would you try to use it for all it was worth?

If you want to use my book cover artist you can email him at: his name is Fiji.


  1. Thanks for this common-sense post, Aaron. Anyone who's browsed in a bookstore will be aware that they tend to pay more attention to the books shelved around those of their favourite authors. The cover "trick" makes perfect sense, too: it says, "My book wants to be like this book, which you like." My book better make sure it delivers on that promise! ;-)

  2. I loved the info about tags. Totally went to my amazon page and youtube trailer and started adding like crazy.

  3. I think it is smart, Aaron, to not re-invent the wheel as far as cover art and marketing. With respect to writing, though, if you try to write like someone else, it will suck. I tried writing like Mitch Albom when I worked as a sports writer. There's only one Mitch it wasn't me.