Before anyone gets the wrong idea, I don’t mean “toughest” in terms of the ability to create. Honestly, we writers have it good in a number of ways. There are no expensive cameras or tablets to worry about. Heck, a copy of Word is our ideal tool of choice, and even a pen and pad of paper will do in a pinch. Selling on the other hand…that’s where things get dicey.
Think about it like this: a customer walks down the artists’ alley at a comic convention. Unsure of what to buy, he scans the booths, ultimately lingering on a few really good pieces on one of the tables. Seeing a binder, the customer flips through the selection of prints, mentally noting several he likes.
Now the customer may buy something on the spot or choose to do a circuit searching for something better, but that’s not the point. The point is that every item that this customer–any customer–is going to look at is going to be judged in its entirety, on the spot. It’s the same with photography. The same with sculpture. And sadly, this is something that no book on the planet is able to accomplish.
No person at a convention where there are books for sale is going to grab a paperback and absorb the hard work put into the several hundred pages it contains. There is no time to judge the quality of the writing. The cover art and the back cover description are all writers have or their side to win over a customer who has never heard of them before (discounting a silver-tongued sales pitch, of course).
I’m not throwing a pity-party here, or saying writers have it the worst of all the creative types (each one faces its own respective hurdles). But I am saying, for the love of God, do NOT skimp on the only two weapons you have in your arsenal to make a sale. Do NOT get a stock photo and make a crappy cover in Photoshop. Do NOT slap a description you wrote in five minutes on the back of your book. And do NOT finalize anything until you’ve run it by a few people first.
Selling anything is hard enough for us introverted types. So please, don’t do the customer or yourself the disservice of hiding a glorious story between two pieces of shit.