Published Authors Can’t Afford to be Shrinking Violets

June 28, 2013 in Articles, Book promotions

There is a natural tendency for many writers to shy away from blowing their own trumpets, but if you are a published author and you want to sell some of your books, then you really cannot afford this luxury. Being a published author and inconspicuous is a contradiction in terms. All the best marketers of books, digital or otherwise will tell you that you need to promote yourself.

Popular recommended strategies for this are:

  • Running your own blog
  • Participating on social media sites, at least one that allows you to engage with people properly
  • If you have a Google account or a Facebook account then there really is no excuse for not having a page to promote your work. If you haven’t got an account, then it couldn’t be easier to get one. This link provides some information on setting up a Facebook page for example
  • Personal videos – that’s a little trickier because you do need to come across professionally, but if you can do it, then it’s definitely worth it
  • Adding a signature to your emails that includes a link to your author page on Amazon for example, this assumes of course you have set up an Author Central Profile. Shame on you if you haven’t and don’t forget there are now 4 Author Central sites where you can add your profile, see below.
  • When joining various online organisations, forums, social media sites etc. include the description ‘Author’ in your user name. At least people will then know you are an author without you ramming it down their throats. It’s subtle but effective
  • On a similar theme, when you are asked to share your biography or to provide a short description of yourself, then don’t forget to mention that you are an author and where possible add that link to your author page or one of your books
  • Remember to join up and register on the most popular book review sites like Goodreads (now an Amazon acquisition), Shelfari and Library Thing
  • Then there are always the Web2.o community websites like HubPages, these are free publishing platforms where you can write and publish articles and even put links to your book pages on Amazon, Smashwords or wherever else you are published. You have to abide by their terms and conditions but they really are a great resource for anyone trying to get a presence on line and come with ready made communities that will typically go out of their way to help you out, especially if you do the same for them

Secret WritersSo are you being too shy and retiring? If you are you could be missing out on well deserved sales. Friends, family, work colleagues and anyone else you communicate with on a regular basis are all potentially promoters of your books. But if they don’t know you have written a book how can they possibly promote it for you.  By not telling them you are taking the decision away from them, why would you do that?

The same applies on social media sites, I think everyone knows that the hard sell does not work with social media, but there is a huge difference between selling and raising awareness.  Treat people fairly and sincereley and that is likely to be reciprocated, if you strike up a genuine relationship then there is a good chance people will genuinely want to help you out. So no it doesn’t work being a one way traffic merchant but making friends, gaining trust and helping people generally does.

Related posts:

Author Central Sites

Creating an author profile on all the Amazon Author Central sites will ensure that potential purchasers on those sites can see your profile and associated information, you would be surprised how many times it is the interest in the author that tips the decision to buy in your favor. No author central profile might just mean a lost sale and will definitely mean no author ranking, a parameter recently introduced by Amazon.

Why Do Some Books Sell & Others Don’t?

May 12, 2013 in Articles, Book Marketing, eBook publishing, Writing & Publishing

Book Selling SecretsI am not going to claim to know all the answers, but I might know a man that does. I have been reading Mark Coker’s (Smashwords) sales analysis of the books published on his site, and it makes very interesting reading.  Of course there are no hard and fast ‘do this and it will sell’ options, but there are some general trends that can be used as guidelines to help you improve your chances of making a sale. Remembering of course that there will be exceptions to every rule and common sense needs to reign with respect to each individual decision you make about your book, what to put in it and how to market it.

So what are the first and most important considerations Mark points out:

  • Most books don’t sell well i.e. very few sales initially and then taper off to virtually nothing
  • Books that sell, sell really well i.e. lots of sales initially and then sales grow exponentially

That is a bit of a wake up call really and could be interpreted in a number of ways. For what it’s worth, my opinion is that once a book is selling the distributors promote it more and generate more sales as a result. Look at Amazon as an example and the way they operate. How many times do you see the statement ‘people that bought this also bought this’ when you view an Amazon product, books or otherwise. Clearly if you are not selling that is less likely to happen.

Scenario number 2, Amazon give a product a ‘best seller’ rank, based on sales of course, and the results returned first on searches are the ones with the better ‘best seller’ rankings. In fact even when you search for a product based on ‘most relevant’ criteria, higher ranking products will appear above exact match descriptions. You could ask, how does that work? But it is clear Amazon like to promote best selling products because they are more likely to sell than closer fit low selling products, I think this is especially true of books, Kindle or otherwise.

eMail campaigns, Amazon send a lot of recommendations to their customers via email, based primarily on the things you say you like, put in a wish list or have a look at when you are on their site (yes they do track your very move). Of course they will often remind you of what you said you liked, but they will also offer alternatives of a similar genre or type and guess what, these will again be best sellers.

I could bang on about this forever, but I am sure you are getting the point, popular or best selling products get promoted consistently and frequently by the distributors while poor sellers get left to languish in obscurity. So it seems to me when you first introduce your new product/book on Amazon or any of the other major distributors, you need to be sure you have your ducks in a row and your marketing campaign ready to roll.

Does that mean if you have had your book published for a while then it is already too late? I think the answer to that is ‘no’ it’s never too late but if I am honest it will, I think, be more difficult to get that spark. What I am sure about is that if the book does suddenly start to sell, it will then be treated like any other best seller and it will start to be promoted. The reason I think it will be more difficult, is that I believe that there is an initial period after publication where the book is given the benefit of the doubt and is promoted in a similar fashion to products that are selling. A testing of the water period if you like, and that is a statement based on my experience of publishing books.

What are the characteristics of Books that Sell

This is the $64 question and one that is very hard to pin an answer on, but this is what Mr Coker has discovered:

  • Longer books sell better than shorter books, that is books with an average 115,000 words sold best
  • Shorter book titles are slightly better than longer book titles the best average number of words for a title was 4.2
  • $3.00 to $3.99 seems to be the price that brings the highest reward on average i.e. books sell well at that price and in sufficient quantities to return a better yield than books at any other price
  • $1.00 to $1.99 seems to be the price that provides the least reward on average

What Books SellBut before you get too excited, Mark goes on to temper these findings by pointing out that each book is unique (or should be) and that these findings are based on averages that may or may not work for your particular book. In fact the best way to find out is to experiment and see what works for you. So what I would add to his conclusions is that these figures can be used as a starting point, something to aim for in terms of content, title length and price. But as with all things subjective you probably need to go with gut feel and if you think your book is finished at 100,000 words then stop likewise if you think you have more to say, then say it. It is your book after all and the same applies to the title and the price, a little tweaking along the lines of something you think is more fitting probably won’t do any harm and you can always adjust a little later if things don’t quite seem to be working.

If you want to see the full report and the other things Mark points out then you can find the full article here Smashwords Survey, I found it very interesting and read every word, so you probably will as well.

What Can You Do to Try and Get Those Elusive Initial Sales?

There are a few things every author can do to try and promote their book after initial publication, simple things that actually don’t take a lot of effort and a few that do take time and effort:

  • Ask for the help of family and friends, give them a free copy of your book and ask them to do an honest review
  • If family and friends like your book ask them to indicate that by liking it, rating it or giving it a thumbs up on the distributor sites
  • Use tools like wish lists and listmania on Amazon and other sites, where they are availabe, friends & family can do the same
  • Register on sites like Goodreads, Library Thing and Shelfari and make sure your books are listed there
  • Tell people about the book through social media sites such as Twitter, Facebook, Google+ and LinkedIn
  • Set up your own website/blog to promote or even sell your book
  • And finally try and get your local paper, or even better a national paper, to feature you, your book or both

Getting sales often leads to getting more sales and of course when you publish your next book you can have an existing fan base sitting waiting for it to arrive so they can purchase immediately. If you don’t believe me take a look at the best seller listing on Amazon and make a note of how many are actually one in a series by the same author and very often not the first book they published.

Interesting Book & Book Marketing Resources

Marketing and Promoting a Book Online

November 26, 2012 in Articles, Book Marketing

marketing and promoting a bookThere are many ways any self published independent author can start marketing  and promoting a book on line. But unfortunately for many that means either learning how to do it, or paying someone else to do it for them. Either way there is a price to pay, the first is payment in time and the second one means parting with hard earned cash. Of course you could do a balance between the two and take on some of the work yourself and just pay someone to do the trickier bits for you.

So lets assume that you have at least some time available and are prepared to use that time in order to market and promote your book or books. Doesn’t really matter whether they are printed book or whether they come in a digital format, marketing on-line at the end of the day will be virtually the same for both. Here is a list of ways to market a book on-line: Read the rest of this entry →

Get Adobe Flash player