If you’re just tuning in today, I recommend you read Wednesday’s blog on “Why some ebooks sell and others don’t,” because this post is Part 2.
The goal of promotion is basically to get enough readers to buy your book so that the Amazon algorithms will notice it, and Amazon will market it for you. But how do you sell those initial books? That’s the rub.
At the Romantic Times Booklovers Conference held recently in New Orleans, I attended a number of marketing and promotion seminars. The best seminar, by far, was the very last one I attended on how to develop a digital readership that is “sticky,” or as a presenter Courtney Milan called it, “Half-Assing Promotion (and still making money).” Author MJ Rose who used the internet to market her novel Lip Service in 1998 long before anyone was doing that (I remember her, she was big news at the time), moderated a great discussion on “Buzz Your Book.” I also had the opportunity to learn from Bethany Burke, the publisher of Blushing Books, the go-to spanking fiction publisher, who shared her thoughts on sales and marketing.
Until my Breeder sci-fi romance series, I had mostly learned from my mistakes. But that only told me what not to do. It did not tell me what to do. With Breeder, I instinctively did everything right so I was able to learn what worked. It was much more fun (and profitable) that way. So besides the tips I picked up at RT, I’ll share some of the promotional efforts that worked for me as well.
Keep in mind that these are small things–but if you’ve read The Tipping Point by Malcolm Gladwell, you know that little changes can have a major impact.
13 Ways to Sell Enough Books to Get Amazon to Market for You
Tip No. 1. Get a good cover. Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard this before. *Yawn* But here’s why it’s important: a “good” cover is one that is uncluttered and that stands out as a thumbnail. All that background detail might be pretty when your cover is viewed book size, but that’s not what people see first as they’re clicking through Amazon. You have mere seconds to catch their attention. They are not going to read your wonderful blurb unless they are grabbed by the cover.
This is not what readers see:
This is what sells your book:
Tip No. 2. After the cover, the page after “the end” is the most important. Your book should inform readers about your backlist and future books. If readers have finished the story, chances are most of them liked the book, so tell them about your other books, list your series in order, and tell them what new releases they can expect. Include links to those works. Ask your readers to write a review, to sign up for your newsletter. Include links. Links. Links. Don’t forget the links. Rule of thumb: don’t go over 10 % promo material at the end of your book.
Tip No. 3: Newsletters. Many panels of successful authors said they sent out new release newsletters to their readers. I heard this over and over. A newsletter is an example of “outreach” marketing in which you contact readers as opposed to “inreach” marketing (such as a blog or web site) in which you passively wait for readers to come to you.
Tip No. 4. Spend your promotion dollar on outreach marketing rather than inreach marketing. You can get more bang for your buck out of a newsletter than a static website.
Tip. No. 5. Spend the $5 or $10 to promote your post (not your page) on Facebook. The friends of your friends will see it. (Again, it’s outreach marketing).
Tip No. 6. If you have a series, consider pricing the first book at 99 cents or free. I may have to eat crow on this one (because I railed against this in a recent blog), and the jury’s verdict is not unanimous. Some presenters argued against free and even 99 cents largely because so many authors are doing it that price slashing has lost its impact. But the objective (as I learned from Bethany) is that when gazillions of people “buy” your free or cheapie book, Amazon will then recommend your next book to them. And if you read Monday’s post on “Why some ebooks sell and others don’t” you know why that’s important.
Tip. No. 7 Email your contest losers. When you run a contest, in addition to emailing the winner—email all the participants and let those who didn’t win know that your book is available for purchase and include the buy link. Links. Links. Links.
Tip No. 8. Put your buy link high on the page next to your book cover. Don’t make people scroll through the entire blog or website to buy your book. (I’ve been guilty of this).
Tip No. 9 – Early is better than later. Bethany’s theory is that what happens with sales in the first 72 hours of a release is critical for Amazon algorithm recognition and attention. Pay it forward. If an author friend’s book is coming out and you know you’re going to read it anyway—buy it the day it hits Amazon.
Tip No. 10—An ounce of pre-release promotion is worth a pound of post-release promotion. I learned this with Breeder, the first book in my sci-fi romance series. Many authors are reluctant to release too much info ahead of time because they want to have “news” for release day. Wrong. You want people to clamor for your book so that they are waiting to buy it on release day. Your news is that it’s finally available.
Tip. No. 11. Spoil the surprise (but not the end!) Run excerpts of your book on your blog/web site in advance of its release. Until Breeder, I’d always advised against this because 1) I didn’t want to spoil the surprise, and 2) Running “unedited” material can bite you in the butt. But with Breeder, I ran excerpts of the first chapter while I was still writing the book. My gut told me the opening was the best of any book I’d ever written (there are 14 now) and if I could get people to read it, they would buy the book. But I edited the excerpt to the max before I put it on my blog. If one compares my first excerpt with what was published, you can see that they’re pretty darn close. I believe the posting of THAT EXCERPT tipped the scales for me.
Tip No. 12: Use your Amazon Author Page effectively. If you have a series, list all the books in order on each books listing. Tell them your stand-alones. Give them interesting info about you. Add a short excerpt to your “From the Author” section.
Lucky Tip No. 13: Start a Street Team to help to promote your book. I have a small, but dedicated team that has really helped me lot, and I’m so grateful to them. (Thank you, ladies!).
I could list more, but I’ll save that for another post. Thank you for visiting. I’d would love to know what tips have worked for you.
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