Wednesday, 18 April 2018

Getting your book description right - Two examples


Let’s take a look at the keywords and descriptions of two best-selling ebooks

Here’s what a reader would see if they looked at Amazon’s page for ‘My Sister's Grave’ by Robert Dugoni which on 18th October 2016 was number 6 in Amazon’s best seller list.
Would that description inspire you to click the ‘Read more’ link? No? I wouldn’t either. Checking I found the full description was 778 characters, none of the nine keywords the book uses are in the description. Eight of them are Amazon categories but one ‘United States’ isn’t and seems rather pointless.  I suspect this ebook appears in Amazon’s top listings because of the reputation of the author (Ranked #40 at Amazon at the time of writing) and because of the publisher paying to have it promoted. If I was the author, I would be upset at the publisher (Thomas & Mercer) for doing so little. You can see Amazon’s top 100 authors at:      https://www.amazon.com/author-rank#1

My second example is ‘A Shade of Vampire’ by Bella Forrest. Here’s what you would see before that ‘Read more’ link:
Notice the use of bold text? You can use HTML to do this in a description. Notice also the writer has appealed to Twilight, The Mortal Instruments and Vampire diaries fans also. Be careful here that you don’t mention other author’s names or copyright items since this is likely to get your book a lower ranking. In this case, especially since the description stops mid-sentence, I would read on.
This time the description is 3,070 characters long and includes short review statements. Bella Forrest appears to be self-published. She uses 17 keywords/tags. Here’s how she uses them:
·         One appears in the title (vampire)
·         Romance and fantasy are keywords used in the description
·         Romance, vampire, werewolves, shifters, coming of age, romantic, angels, ghosts, psychics are compulsory keywords for specific Amazon categories
·         Werewolves & Shifters, Science Fiction & Fantasy, Paranormal & Urban, Teen & Young Adult, Demons & Devils, Witches & Wizards, Paranormal & Fantasy are Amazon categories
Seems to me Bella Forrest has done a pretty good job of her keywords and description.
No description is ever perfect though so it’s always worth revisiting and tweaking the next time you produce a new book edition. This is what Bella Forest's description looks like now:
It's certainly worth mentioning those extra 2 million sales and the 5-star reviews but that extra text has pushed out of visibility 'she cannot wake. A quiet evening walk along a beach brings her face to face with a dangerous pale' It's still effective though but perhaps that blank line could have been made narrower using embedded styles in the HTML.


Wednesday, 7 February 2018

Book Marketing for Beginners

On Quora a new author asked the following:

What's the most effective way for a person with a limited budget to market his e-books which have just been listed on Kindle, Nook and Smashwords?

Here's my answer:

What you really need is a magic button which will find all your books, work out things like the best titles, keywords and description, produce an astonishing book cover and then find low cost ways of promoting it.
Unfortunately no such button exists (but I am working on it) Instead, you’ll have to make do with some of the advice from the answers here.

I would agree with Tom Corson-Knowles - a new author with limited books available is probably best sticking with Kindle Select because of the boost that gives. If you are already published elsewhere that’s not an option though. Select has its disadvantages too—especially Kindle Unlimited which has been infamous for it’s ability to be scammed by unscrupulous ‘people’ (who don’t deserve the title ‘author’.

There are numerous book promotion sites. BookBub is the clear leader but it’s out of the question for someone on a limited budget. There are other cost effective sites too and unfortunately a great many which charge money but offer little in the way of a return. Try the list at List of 100+ Book Promotion Sites & Free Submission Tool

Remember that each time you promote, the spike in sales will quickly dissipate so it’s a mistake to target lots of promotion sites on the same day. Instead spread your spikes from promotion over a whole month. If you can do that - it’s almost impossible - then your sales will become self-sustaining.

Social media can be very effective but you need a LOT of followers and shouldn’t post promotions more than 10–15% of the time. Social media is all about interacting and that can eat up your time. Beware of fake followers on Twitter though. You will need to check each new follower for signs that they are fakes. Never auto-follow. Twitter can be automated but still needs personal interaction each day.

Advice given to join Goodreads is worth following too. Your book at Goodreads will raise it’s ability to be found by a Google search. Personally I hate the place - it’s full of trolls. Be very careful not to offend anyone there.

Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) can be effective for marketing but it's a frightening place for an author on a limited budget. There you have two options - a book advertisement or to pay for your book to appear when a reader at Amazon searches for keywords. This last option is the best bet. The frightening bit is that this is a 'pay-per-click' service. You have no guarantee that your keywords will generate a click and no guarantee that a click will lead to a sale. Do a LOT of research before you get involved with AMS. The same is true for using paid Google keywords.

One effective tool is to make use of email lists. At the end of each book invite readers to subscribe to this and make them an attractive offer to entice them to do so. You could offer a free book/short story. I offer a way for them to make money from ebooks—even though they didn’t write it. Smashwords works best for this and I see you use that.

As others have said the most important factors are:
Got a website/blog? Use it/them to promote your books and make sure they can be found.

There are lots of things you can do but none of them will prove to be your magic solution. What you REALLY need is luck. The secret of getting that is persistance,  searching the web for good advice and of course reading books on the subject such as the one on the right.
So get it!