Each month, the Nonfiction Authors Association asks a burning publishing question of the industry’s best, brightest, and most innovative experts. Here’s what they have to say!
The beauty of doing a “launch” on Amazon (such as a 4-day Kindle sale for $0.99 or even free) is that it gets your book in the hands of a lot of people, triggering Amazon’s algorithms to subsequently suggest your book under the label “People who bought this product also bought …” Amazon’s algorithms also favor titles with significant launch activity after they are first released. Finally, you can promote your book at a discounted price, achieve a higher sales rank as a result, and then raise your price to capture more profitable sales. Done properly, launch campaigns are the most effective strategy for book marketing on Amazon.
There are many other effective strategies outside of the Amazon ecosystem. Giving books to people in your target market, contacting people who have reviewed similar books in the past, and offering free copies to prominent bloggers are all good examples. In 2016, I gave away 1,000 copies of my book Keynote Mastery at a Toastmasters conference in Washington, D.C., and it resulted in a lot of buzz and a bunch of Amazon reviews two or three months later. The goal is always to build awareness within your target market.
Patrick Schwerdtfeger is a business futurist specializing in technology trends including artificial intelligence and blockchain. https://www.patrickschwerdtfeger.com
- Start using Amazon Marketing Services—the click-and-pay mode. Know your keywords; who your comparables are (and then use their author names and titles as key words); write your “ad copy” using essential key words that grab the reader; and start now.
- Update your Author Central Account—your profile and events, and add videos, plus a link to your blog. Then look at your Book detail page—does it have a headline with a keyword or two in it? Do you have paragraph breaks? Make it easy reading. If you have key reviews—move them into the detail page and use the bold or italic feature to make them pop out.
With 36 published titles and assisting more than 500 authors in creating and publishing their books, Judith Briles, The Book Shepherd®, provides practical author and book publishing guidance to authors globally. Get her free Publishing Essentials via www.TheBookShepherd.com. She can be reached at 303-885-2207 or Judith@Briles.com.
When you are a success on Amazon as an author, you are selling books! Planning and strategizing before your listing appears is key to having the best shot at finding readers (and buyers!) of your new book. First, a killer cover that can catch the eye in the size of a thumbnail picture is key. Your cover should be every bit as professional as one published by a major New York publishing house. Second, be sure that you list your nonfiction book with the right metadata so that readers can find you easily in their subject search on the Amazon website. Third, plan ahead to offer pre-sales of your book (all pre-sales count as sales on the day of release) and to have reviews posted on launch day. Amazon is more likely to pay attention and give you extra “juice” for promotions like, “if you like this book, try this one…”
But, word to the wise: Go for real reviews. Amazon has been highly criticized in the past for allowing “fake” reviews to be posted and the company is on top of that activity now. Ask for honest reviews (all 5-star reviews is a tip that the book is only being reviewed by family and friends—there is no book in the history of the world that would ever get a 5-star rating by every reader) and if the person buys it from Amazon, then the review will be identified as “verified purchase.”
*Tip if you want to support independent businesses: when I review a book on Amazon that I’ve purchased from my local indie bookstore (my preferred method of obtaining books for my collection), I note in my review where I bought the book—even though it wasn’t through Amazon.
Reviews on Amazon drive much of the marketing of online sales today. Since Amazon now owns Goodreads, posting to both sites is good, but Goodreads is no longer the independent review site it once was. Whether marketing on Amazon or promoting your book in the myriad opportunities there are, do it tirelessly, enthusiastically, and in the spirit of being a supportive member of the literary community—generously letting your fans know about books by your author friends. You are not in competition with other books; you are in competition with the time readers have—fighting for time that is eaten up by smart phones, computers, TV, etc.
Julie Schoerke is the founder of JKS Communications, a book publicity firm established in 2000 promoting more than 700 authors in 8 countries. www.jkscommunications.com
Rethink your book keywords. When we think of keywords, we think of singular words like business, self-help, or diet…you get the idea. But this is wrong. Why? Because consumers don’t search that way. Studies have shown that the more keywords a consumer types into any search bar (Amazon, Google, etc.) the closer they are to a buy. On Amazon, readers looking for a book won’t just type in “business book.” That search is a) too broad and b) doesn’t fit their specific need. In nearly every case, a potential reader will type in the keywords that correspond with a problem they are trying to solve or find a solution for. So, consider the pain points of your book—what it solves—and go for those instead. An example of this might be a book that helps readers learn the basics of social media for their business. Let’s say you’ve written a book about social media for beginners as it relates to growing your business. You may want to use keywords such as “marketing a small business” because social media helps you market.
But sometimes consumers enter in different ways. In another example, we worked with a book about Lyme disease and when I did a search on Amazon (to see how popular the Lyme disease topic was), I found few to none. I decided instead to start where people enter, and the key was that they didn’t enter at the disease itself; they entered at the symptoms. Your keywords, aka keyword strings, are important to your Amazon visibility and finding strategic keywords can really help to boost your book to a higher spot on Amazon and greatly increase the exposure to your buyer market. Keywords should be used on the backend of your Amazon dashboard, or wherever you list your book (Ingram Spark allows you to do this, too). You can and should also include them in your book description and even in your subtitle!
Penny Sansevieri is the CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., an adjunct professor at NYU, and the author of How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon.www.amarketingexpert.com
I’ll focus on just one Amazon sales page essential: your book description. I consistently see the same mistakes, particularly with self-published books:
- It doesn’t answer the question “What’s the book about?”Thanks to vague, flowery, and even rambling language, people aren’t sure why they should read it or what they might learn from it.
- We can’t tell if it’s nonfiction or fiction, memoir or self-help.This confuses readers and a confused reader is a lost customer. Make sure your description is focused and clear.
- It’s loaded with spelling and grammar mistakes.Proofread it very, very carefully. I can’t stress that enough. If your book was heavily edited by a professional, your description will need editing, too—don’t go rogue with it.
- It’s one long block of text with no paragraph breaks.Nothing shouts “amateur author” like line after line after line of text that clearly should be two or three paragraphs. Only the most patient and interested reader will wade into a large block of text without white space—and that doesn’t describe most of us.
Make sure your description is as good as your book by asking someone you trust to read it and provide feedback. You want to be certain it communicates the right information in a compelling and intriguing way.
Sandra Beckwith is an award-winning former publicist who now teaches authors how to save thousands of dollars by doing their own book marketing; subscribe to her free weekly newsletter with how-to tips and advice at https://buildbookbuzz.com/gift.
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