Whether you’re creating one or a thousand printed books, or uploading your novel to be sold online to millions of readers around the world, Lulu.com is one of the best self-publishing services that authors can find on the web. They have a wide range of services that authors who have made the decision to self-publish can use, ranging from book cover designer, eBook conversions and the incredibly popular and useful Helix Review.
Lulu market the Helix Review service as “The personality test for your book”, and while that may raise an eyebrow as to what that means, the Helix page goes to great lengths to explain exactly what you are going to get for your $49.99 (or $29.99 if you choose the Helix Lite option, which we’ll describe later).
The Helix Review can also help with the marketing of your novel by detailing the books that are similar in nature or have similar themes, and revealing authors who have a similar writing style of use similar phrases to you in their novels. This can be a huge help to authors who are unsure of what market to approach with their novels and who need a helping hand to show them which direction to take in their writing and marketing efforts.
For an idea of what a Helix review can do for your novel and for your progression as an author, Lulu have put the great novel Moby Dick through the Helix process in order to show what the service can do for an author who is looking to get the best out of their novel – and not just in the writing and editing process too.
In order to be eligible for the process, your book needs to be a scannable document of 10,000 words or more, and come in a PDF, EPUB or Word Doc format. Your book is then compared to over 100,000 published works in the Book Genome Project, which is a database that analyses language, character, and themes across the entire back catalogue.
Let’s take a look through each step of the Helix Review, and what it can do for the marketing of your book:
Understanding what makes you and your book unique
The Helix Review scans your novel and highlights keywords that are used throughout the book that are distinctly yours and not used by any other author. Authors can use these stats as the unique selling point of their novel, pointing to the originality of uniqueness of the work.
This could play a huge part in generating sales for the novel, particularly if your novel is in a well-established genre. People are always looking for new and interesting takes on familiar themes and genres. You can point to your Helix Review stats in blog posts, social media and press releases and build buzz for your unique entry into the genre.
Statistics that hold your work against others in your chosen genre
Once your novel is compared to the other 100,000 works in the Book Genome project, authors will be able to read statistics that compare their own works with other published works in their selected genre. The statistics include:
- Book Length (Compared with the Book Genome Project and the average work of fiction)
- Average word length
- Unique vocabulary (see above)
- Average sentence and paragraph length
- Perspective (Third Person, First Person, etc.)
If the stats show that only 27% of books in your chosen genre are written in the first person and average 75,000 words per novel, the fact that your novel is twice the word count (or half) and written in the third person sets it apart from the usual entry into the genre, and therefore could become part of the marketing strategy.
Comparing your writing style with other books in your genre
There is a rule in writing: If you’re going to break the rules, you have to at least acknowledge that you know what the rules are. The Helix Review compiles the metrics of Motion, Density, Dialog, Description and Pacing in every book and then compares it with the stats from other books in that genre. It is a great way of analysing genre conventions and seeing how your novel makes or breaks those conventions in the right way or in a way that needs addressing. After all, readers have expectations when they come to a novel.
If you’re going to break the mould, you have to at least guide the reader through familiar territory first before taking them on a never-before-seen experience. Using these stats, you can tread the line between tried and tested conventions and something new and interesting without alienating readers who love the conventions. The reviews from readers who were shocked and fascinated by your new direction will prove to be extremely useful in marketing your novel.
Find your audience by detailing the Themes of your novel
The Helix Review uses a function called Story DNA to compile a list of themes that make up your novel. The example below is from Moby Dick, and perfectly lays out the thematic elements that hold the classic together. By using the Helix Review, you will better understand what themes are apparent in your work, and can be used to sell your novel in its marketing campaign. It is true that sometimes authors are blissfully unaware of the themes that lay beneath the surface of their works, so this could bring up some interesting features of your work that you as the author haven’t even considered yet.
Using the Book Genome project and all of the data collated during the entire Helix Review process, authors are given a list of comparable titles at the end, which in turn can give you a great advantage when it comes to marketing your novel. You can name drop the biggest and most popular compared titles in the blurb, PR and marketing materials of your novel, and it can also give you a heads-up as to what books you should be reading as you prepare to put your book out into the world. If you’re going to be the new kid on the block of the ghost story genre, it pays to have read all the great works that came before you. It will inform your work and give your readers an insight into your style and similar works.