With the year half over, you may be wondering what happened to your book sales. Maybe you started off the year with the best of intentions, and maybe some of your book marketing efforts did well, while others fell a bit flat. The book promotion journey can often be a confusing one. Regardless of where you are in the book marketing process, now is a good time to check in with your efforts and explore how well your book discovery is working out. This will help you realign your marketing efforts and start selling more books.
When you read blogs about book promotion, a lot of them cite “book discovery” as a big issue. Too many books! Not enough book discovery! And, with all the books being published each day that statement seems to ring true. The problem is, it’s really only half true.
Book discovery, in and of itself, is not a problem. For example, you can run Facebook ads all day long and get a lot of discovery. The question really is: are you getting the right kind of book discovery? And therein lies the biggest problem authors face. This is why I thought it would be a good time to hit the pause button on your marketing efforts, however briefly, and take a close look at what you’re doing. All of July will be focused on your core book marketing journey. I’ve created a series of eight posts that will zero in on the most popular ways to promote a book, and then identify how they can be done better. How you can increase or, in some cases, even triple the amount of exposure your ads get. Get more book reviews, and ultimately start selling more books on Amazon?
The New Reality of Book Marketing
If you would have asked me, five years ago, what would be trending in book promotion, I likely would have suggested something to do with social media. While social media plays a big role, it’s only part of the story. The biggest new trend, and the thing that will really help you start selling more books, is just one thing: repetition. The act of seeing a book over and over again is what separates the books that don’t do so well from those that sell like gangbusters. Add to that, that the repetition has to be focused on your core audience. So repetition in, say, a series of Facebook ads, all skewed to the wrong audience is the kind of bad book discovery I mentioned earlier. In bad book discovery, the people who are seeing your book don’t really care.
So repetition is important, and the right kind of repetition could potentially add a significant increase to your bottom line and help you start selling more books.
What Your Price Point Says About Your Book
Did you know that the higher your book is priced, the more you’ll need to spend on book marketing in order to hit your book discovery stride and get readers to find it? This may seem counterproductive if, let’s say, you’ve priced your book high in order to “earn back” what you’ve invested in it thus far. But it’s true. For example, a book that’s priced over $20 needs to get in front of your intended market three times, before they’ll even consider a buy. But books under $3 need half that exposure. So, while there’s nothing wrong with pricing your book at $20, you’d better be prepared to do a lot of book promotion for it and drop the price regularly to $2 to help increase the level of exposure and reduce some of the book marketing work you’ll have to do to get it out there.
The other thing to consider is the time needed to convert a buyer to your $20 book, vs. a book at a lower price point. Books that are priced over $10 are rarely bought the same day, whereas a $2 book can be an instant purchase. I’m not advocating for cheap books, but I think somewhere in between $2 and $10 is definitely a good place to start selling more books, especially if you’re a newbie author. (For more information on pricing, you’ll want to read this article.)
Your Cover, Your Message, Your Book Description
Did you know that your book’s message – title and subtitle will get noticed before your imagery does? And while it’s great to spend some time finding the exact right image for optimal book discovery. I would suggest you spend twice as long on the title and subtitle of your book.
Many times, authors think that readers will buy it anyway. This is so far from the truth, it’s almost scary. Most consumers buy in four, maybe six categories. They’re very focused on what they want, and what they don’t want. Consumers make near instant decisions and, in most cases, use their intuition to assess whether the book’s message is right for them. Your message needs to be crystal clear, or your consumer simply won’t buy. The same holds true for authors trying to break through to a new trend that hasn’t quite hit the mainstream market. You know what you’re writing about is going to change your area of expertise completely, and you want to be the first. Because who wouldn’t right? But here’s the thing: if your consumer isn’t familiar with this phrase, or issue, or whatever it is you’re addressing, it’s going to be a very hard sell.
Instead, in your book promotion, you might consider addressing something your consumer is familiar with that is tethered to your topic and bring them in that way. (Read more about alignment here!)
Your Busy, Busy Amazon Book Page
Have you looked at your Amazon page recently? If you haven’t you should, because it’s pretty busy. Amazon does everything they can to push people to things they want them to notice. Yes, it’s your book page, but the competition for other stuff is fierce. The reason I mention this is that you’ve absolutely got to make sure that your page is tight and focused. Your book cover has to be outstanding, and your book description has to be compelling enough to keep shoppers engaged, rather than scrolling past it to visit some enticing Amazon offer.
If you aren’t sure if your book page is tight enough, ask yourself some hard questions. Starting with the most important one: Who cares? Who will care about your book based on just the description? This is what translates into book sales. So here are some things to look at:
- Is there a blurb you can lead with in your book description? Remember people like what other people like.
- Did you leave space in between paragraphs to make your book description scannable? This may not seem like a big deal, but it is. Consumers don’t read, they scan. Use short paragraphs, and bullet points when possible. All of this helps to open up your book description, so it’s breathable and easier to read.
- Does your book description lead off with the most important, key element of your book? If your first sentence isn’t specific or doesn’t zero in on why readers would love your book, you should consider a redo.
We’ll cover this more in-depth in another post, but for now note that your book page needs to be crystal clear, enticing, and keep consumers from clicking off to something else.
The Importance of Knowing Your Reader
It has been my experience that authors spend a lot of time agonizing over things like their book title, and book cover. Editing is hopefully right up there, but not always as top of mind as you might think.
But the biggest misstep that authors often make is not knowing who they are writing for. Sure, you should first write the book that you want to write, but if you aren’t focused on your specific market and fulfilling their needs in some way, then don’t expect to see any book sales, either.
Do you know your reader, really? Do you know what your reader likes, dislikes or gravitates to when it comes to your specific market?
As I mentioned earlier readers are pretty particular, when it comes to the books and genres they gravitate to. The importance of knowing the “look” your reader gravitates to, as well as book specifics will be key to selling more books and acing your book discovery.
One way to get to know your reader is to read a lot in your genre. Get to know other books and authors is a good way to knowing your reader, too. As well, check out some top best-selling authors in your market and look at their also-boughts on Amazon. This will help you dig into your genre even further and maximize book sales.
This is one element of knowing your reader, the other is a reader profile which we are offering to our authors who want to dig into more reader demographics. You can download your own reader profile here, and we’ll dig into this topic more in the next couple of weeks.
The Real Key to Advertising Your Book
I generally dislike running book advertisements. Mostly because authors tend to not run ads as effectively as they can. Ads, in and of themselves, have less direct power these days – unless they are connected to something specific like a specific book promotion, event, or something else. Or they are run in a very specific niche, like Amazon or Bookbub ads. When I say “less direct power,” what I mean is that they don’t have the wham factor they used to.
Facebook ads are a great example of this. While they tend to be a go-to for authors, they aren’t often as effective in boosting book sales as we’d like – and often because they are used wrong, aren’t specific enough to the demographic, or aren’t promoting something hyper-specific like a book promotion discount. Consumers seeing an ad for a book will rarely take action, just because they see this ad. Sure, having repetitive market exposure can help to increase consumer awareness to your book. But Facebook ads can get expensive, so you’ll want to use them the right way and for the right purpose.
Amazon ads are fabulous, but again they need to be run in a specific fashion. For example, taking the Amazon suggested keywords rarely, if ever, works well. In order to do these effectively, you’ll need to start by doing your own research. We’ve got a piece coming on ads, and I also wrote this article on Amazon ads recently, too.
The key to running ads, is not just to run them, but run them smartly. While the New York Times might seem like a great market, and certainly impressive, does running a pricey ad there make sense? Often it does not translate into book sales.
The other kind of ad is an eBook ad for your pricing promo. I love these, in general they are always great as a boost to your book sales. And this is a case where even if you aren’t selling a lot of books during the promo, these kinds of boosts can help your book discovery and visibility as well as your overall Amazon algorithm.
The month of July is dedicated to finding the right kind of book discovery, to help lead your reader to visibility and finally sales deliberation (should I buy it, or no?) Because if you can get them that far and your book cover is awesome and your book page is tight, you can likely make the sale.
I hope you’ll continue following us down this book discovery path, and I hope that at the end of this, you’re not only selling more books, but seeing the fruits of your book marketing labor return to you tenfold.
What have you learned about book discovery and what techniques and strategies are working well for you?