First-time authors quite regularly ask me for my advice. What do they ask? They want to know what they can do to make their books better. They want to know what they can do to improve their writing. They want to know what I recommend. I have two standard answers I give all first-time authors, and I wish more of them would listen! It makes a huge difference, and I can almost immediately tell if they have taken my advice or not. If I can tell then I promise them readers can tell too.
What is my advice?
1. Hire An Editor
Please, please, please hire an editor!! I know it costs a lot, but I promise it is worth it! Spelling and grammatical errors are an immediate turn-off to readers (and reviewers). I knock my ratings way down for spelling and grammatical errors; they are VERY annoying! Editors can also help with other aspects of your book. Please! I promise it is worth it!
2. Hire A Good Artist Or Graphic Designer
Once again, I know it costs a lot. And I know that "You Should Not Judge A Book By Its Cover," but people (and reviewers) DO judge books by their covers. I have received books from first-time authors that I didn't even want to open because they looked so cheesy, cheap, and unprofessional. Unfortunately, that knocks my ratings down as well, and it gives me a bad taste in my mouth before I even open the book. Please don't let your uncle's neighbor's best friend's cousin design your book cover! Please hire a professional; it's so worth it!