In over 16 years in this book marketing business and as an indie author myself, I’ll admit I still get surprised. Almost weekly.
Some books that you’d swear are a sure thing, never take off. Others that publish on a wing and a prayer, end up being cult favorites.
But I can tell you that there are 5 characteristics of a bestseller that every indie author should take note of in prep for publication.
Already published? That’s okay. The beauty of being an indie author is that you get another chance. It’s like the movie Groundhog Day. You learn from your mistakes (or lack of success) and you get to do it better with the next book.
So here are the 5 things you need to nail in order to even hope to be a bestseller.
A movie poster-worthy book cover
According to AuthorEarnings.com audiobooks, eBook and 43% of all print books were purchased online in 2016.
What does this mean for your cover?
It means people are viewing and deciding whether or not to buy your book based on a tiny, thumbnail version online.
So your cover needs to be powerful. The title needs to be bold and clear. Overall, the cover needs to speak to your genre and reflect what those readers like.
Yes, your book cover may look great in person, held in your hands. I even get how attached we get to the design process as an indie author. But if it doesn’t catch people’s attention online, you’re screwed.
An irresistible title
Your title needs to be good, but even more important in today’s market is the subtitle.
As an indie author, we are lucky in that they get to play around with subtitles. You should aim for something that really sells your book.
We’ve written more about subtitles here.
A description that leaves them wanting more
If you’ve written non-fiction, your description must solve a problem. It must succinctly express why your approach is unique. Finally, it should include bullets that draw a potential buyer’s eye to the strongest features and selling points.
If you’ve written fiction, your description shouldn’t be a summary. It should touch on the most exciting or entertaining aspects of your story line without revealing too much. Imagine you’re pitching the next blockbuster to movie executive in 250 words or less!
Smart keywords and super targeted categories
I’ve written a lot about keywords so I won’t go into the strategy here. I want to remind you what effective keywords are.
Effective keywords mimic what buyers use to find books. So they won’t be single terms.
A shopper on Amazon isn’t going to search for “mystery.” They’re going to search for “murder mysteries crime thriller series” (which is actually a really hot term right now if it fits your book!)
Book reviews that prove you’re a sure thing
Amazon’s algorithm is designed to take notice of books that are getting purchased AND reviewed.
So be sure you have a solid book marketing strategy to remind people to review when you launch, and at regular intervals through other channels like email or social media for the life of your book.
Plus, people like what other people like, so when an Amazon shopper sees a bunch of good reviews for your book, they don’t have to think as critically about buying. So never stop, there’s no such thing as too many reviews.
And I’ll tell you, the less thinking a buyer has to do, the easier it is to make the sale.
So take the guesswork out of it for your potential readers by having a really fantastic, easy to read cover, make sure you have a subtitle that sells, a description that proves you stand out from the competition, smart keywords and categories, and a boatload of reviews.