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!

Sunday, 16 July 2017

Authors — do you know about Emotional Marketing Value?

What is Emotional Marketing Value (EMV)?

Communication is the key of effective marketing. And the key to communication is being able to reach the reader at an emotional level. Involving them in your words and invoking their deeper thoughts.
While many authors 'guess' how people will react to their words,  researchers have determined a test which  gives an actual rating that can be used to judge how well received your copy will be to others.
Effectively, by using emotional words in your titles, subtitles and book description your book will have greater impact and you'll get more sales.

So how do I do this?

Here's the first draft of the cover of a book I've been working on for some time Let's see how it can be improved:
There are four key areas of text here where EMV can have a dramatic effect:
  1. The title and subtitle
  2. The first line of the description on the back cover - 'Author John Chapman shows what is involved in getting your book published.'
  3. The phrase '…the choice is yours and it's not as difficult as you might think.'
  4. The section 'Getting sales is not quite so simple though. John walks you through editing, cover design, book descriptions and book promotion.'

First we need to measure the impact of these areas

There are two free online tools for this. I find that titles and headlines are best measured with the CoSchedule headline analyzer tool at https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer. Entering the text of the heading and subheading there gives a score of 64. Not perfect but what I wanted here was a big impact made by the first three words and last three words. As CoSchedule point out—that's what people tend to see first.

The description text on the back cover is best analysed for it's EMV using the free tool provided by The Advanced Marketing Institute at http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm

This tool handles a maximum of 20 words at a time so the three sections of text were entered one at a time using 'media and communications' as the type.
'Author John Chapman shows what is involved in getting your book published.' got an EMV of 16.67%
'the choice is yours and it's not as difficult as you might think' got an EMV of 15.38%
'Getting sales is not quite so simple though. John walks you through editing, cover design, book descriptions and book promotion.' got an EMV of 20%
Considering that average language has an EMV of 20% these are not good scores.

The results of tweaking the words

Phrase
EMV %
the choice is yours and it's not as difficult as you might think
15.38
the choices are yours and it's not as difficult as you might think
23.08
the choices are yours and it's not as difficult as you might believe
30.77
the choices are yours, and it's not as tricky as you might believe
38.46
the choices are up to you, and it's not as tricky as you may believe
46.67
the choices are up to you and are not as tricky as you may believe
53.33
According to the Advanced Marketing Institute most professional copywriters' headlines will have 30%-40% EMV Words in their text, while the most gifted copywriters will have 50%-75% EMV words. I'm happy with a score of 53.33%
In the same way I tweaked the other phrases and ended up with:

Author John Chapman leads you through the intricacies of getting your book to readers. - (EMV 50%)
      • Conventional publishing
      • Independent - Print on demand
      • Ebooks
…the choices are up to you, and are not as tricky as you may believe. - (EMV 53.33%)

John directs you through cover design, book descriptions, keywords and book promotion because, unfortunately, getting sales is not so obvious. - (EMV 55%)

As you can see changing a few words has left the meaning the same but the impact is far greater. A few minutes exploring these tools and your book descriptions can have a dramatic effect.


…and the book?

It was published on 20th December 2017. You can find it at most retailers use this link to find it at the retailer you prefer  https://books2read.com/guide2publish If you sign up to my email list and mention 'Illustrated Guide' in the comment area, I'll let you know when any changes are available. That's at http://bit.ly/avilist



If this post has helped you find free ebooks will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our books 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or/and Raging Storm http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Sunday, 21 May 2017

Vertical page alignment in MS Word

Here's three pages from the front of a book I'm writing (the image will expand if you click it):

I've turned on 'Show/Hide' so you can see where Return has been pressed to get a new line.Those of you with an eye for detail might notice that these pages used have three different layouts. The half title page on the left was vertically aligned at the top, the title page was vertically aligned at the center and the copyright page was vertically aligned at the bottom.

It’s not immediately obvious how to do this in Word. To achieve it each page must end with a section break.

First place your cursor on the page you wish to change.
Next from the layout tab (1) select the small icon (2) at the bottom right of the Page Setup section of the ribbon.
Select the Layout tab (3) in the window which opens.

In the Page Vertical alignment section (4) select the alignment you want. 

‘Justified’ incidentally will space out the paragraphs of a page to fill the entire page.

If this post has helped you will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our books 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or/and Raging Storm http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Friday, 31 March 2017

The answer to "Where can I download free ebooks?"

Strangely, the best place is where you buy ebooks from. All of the big retailers who sell ebooks also offer free ebooks. Of course they don't make money on those so you are unlikely to find them advertising them or even making them easy to find. For years I found doing a search on Amazon for 'free ebooks' produced an impressive list of books with prices. The same was true for Apple, Barnes and Noble (Nook), Kobo and others. They've got a little better now and you can find some freebies with that search but not many among the millions which are there.

Amazon is the biggest ebook retailer and it has a free app which allows you to get books on non-Kindle devices. PCs, iOS computers, Android tablets and SmartPhones. You can even read on Linux and Ubantu using the Cloud Reader and read offline by using the Cloud Reader's 'Download and pin book' option.


Where can you find free ebooks at Amazon?

Try going to one of these links which will take you to the lists of the top 100 free ebooks:

If this list doesn't include the genre you want, use the links at the left of any of the pages to select the genre you want but make sure you select the 'Top 100 free' tab.

Of course if a book isn't in the top 100, it won't be shown. In that case you'll have to get a link from one of the many book promotion websites. The best known is Bookbub. My personal favorite is Book Barbarian because I like Science Fiction books. Both of these sites will send you a daily email of the genres you like. There are many others. Try a Google search for 'book promotion sites'.

Kindle books are in MOBI or AZW3 format.

What about free ebooks at iBooks?

On a Mac, launch iBooks (if you don’t have it, it's a free download). Click on iBooks Store. On the right, you’ll see a list of 'Quick Links'. Click or search for 'Free Books'.

On an iOS device, tap 'iBooks', tap 'Featured'. The ones marked 'GET' where the price is normally shown are free. Again, if a book is not 'Featured' you'll need a link or the name of the book to search for it. Here's two of our free ebooks at iBooks - Immortality Gene (a technothriller) and Raging Storm (a paranormal romance).

iBooks are in EPUB format.

Other free ebook sources

Barnes and Noble and Kobo also have free ebooks. Kobo supply ebooks to many other retailers. In the UK that includes Tesco, Sainsburys and WH Smith

Smashwords is a great site for ebooks. 

Find Smashwords at smashwords.com

Its advantages are that:
  • You can pay via PayPal and for free ebooks you don't have to provide any financial details. 
  • It has a price section which includes a prominent FREE area. 
  • It's ebooks are available in multiple formats. MOBI, EPUB and others.
  • It's also often a fraction cheaper than other retailers for paid books.
  • You can actually earn money by promoting ebooks there.
  • You may find an author will give away coupons which let you have free or reduced price ebooks there.
  • Unlike other retailers Smashwords ebooks don't have DRM copy protection built in so you can move your ebooks onto other devices.

What about Google Play ebooks?

Project Gutenberg offers out of copyright books

Find it at gutenberg.org. It offers more than 53,000 free, out-of-copyright books in multiple formats.

What if I have a Kindle Fire and want to read an EPUB ebook?

It's not surprising that Amazon don't offer an EPUB reading app in their store but that doesn't mean you can't install one. You'll need to 'sideload' the app. Get instructions here.

What if I have an e-ink Kindle and want to read an EPUB ebook?

You can't do that. You'll have to convert the ebook to MOBI format then email the ebook to your Kindle device email address. An open source (free) program called 'calibre' can do that if the file is not protected with DRM (all Smashwords ebooks are DRM free).

What if I want a PDF ebook?

Yes, it's possible BUT you need to be aware of the risks.
  • PDF files are designed for printing not for e-reading. Although most e-reading devices will read them, it's a clumsy process involving lots of scrolling since the text won't flow as it's enlarged.
  • PDF files are frequently infected with malware. Why do you think so many pirate sites are out there offering free ebooks? They want to infect your computer. If you MUST have a PDF file, get it from a non-pirate site which won't infect you such as Smashwords.
  • PDF pirate copies of ebooks are stealing from the author. 
If this post has helped you find free ebooks will you help us? Download a FREE copy of our books 'Immortality Gene' from http://smarturl.it/avi or/and Raging Storm http://smarturl.it/botr
Even if you never read them (but we hope you will) - it will help our rankings.
Look - a FREE e-book

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Social media accounts for authors

What social media accounts does an author need and what should they post on them?

Set up accounts at Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+, Goodreads, Tumblr, Youtube and if you are an author of non-fiction, LinkedIn
Here's what to post on each:

Facebook

Set up an author page and a personal page. Facebook frowns on users having multiple personal pages and now asks for a phone number to verify accounts. In both pages you'll need a suitable page header. Here's the sizes you need:

On the author page post news about the books you have written and are writing, what you are researching, ask questions about reader preferences and what problems you've had as an author. Ask readers to review books. Tell them about any special offers and brag about any awards you've earned. Of course you should also respond to reader comments and questions. I suggest you turn off the 'Shop' link (That's Settings > Edit Page > Scroll to 'Shop' and edit it to turn 'Show Shop tab' off.) Include a link to your mailing list. Here's how to do that with MailChimp

  • Log in to your MailChimp account and in a separate tab to your Facebook page
  • On Facebook, search for MailChimp and 'Like' the page.
  • At the top right, select from the profile dropdown 'Account' then 'Integrations'.
  • From the integrations directory select 'Facebook Add a signup form to…'
  • In 'Page to use' select the author page you've created.
  • Select the appropriate 'List to use', select the 'Yes' of 'Use signup form tab' and save the choices
On the personal page join author groups—not to promote books to other authors but to interact. Facebook is a great place to get help and ask questions. It's also possible to give advice and opinions to other authors. Your personal page is a place to socialize with others, play games to relax and talk to relatives. It's a poor place to sell books but great for collecting contact email addresses but don't do this too often. Infrequently make announcements. If you have a blog - link to it here.

Twitter

You can have several Twitter accounts but two are essential. One should be your author account and the other should NOT be associated with you as an author in any way. Don't even follow each other.
On your author account - Twitter allows you to write 140 characters per tweet. In addition you can post a video or picture and a link. You can actually post four pictures and multiple links but each takes from your 140 characters.
Get the aspect ratio of any pictures you use right. Each should be twice as wide as it is tall or it may be cropped. You don't see this cropping but other tweeps will! Here's an example of a tweet image which created the wrong message because it was cropped.
What tweeps saw

What the original poster expected them to see
Video has proved more effective than static images but keep video short. Originally you were limited to 30 seconds. You can use longer video now but that 30 second limit is still worthwhile. Here's one I did using MS Powerpoint
Always pin a tweet to your twitter account. This makes it easy for someone you have helped and who wishes to respond to re-tweet what you want people to see.

What else should you tweet?

When and how often should you tweet?

As an author your market is global. You won't find a 'best time to tweet'. Even if you were to find most of your followers were online at the same 2 hour slot then that would mean a busy time with there being little chance of your tweets being seen. Quiet times of the day can often  be just as productive.
An average Twitter user will check their Twitter stream for just a short time each day. If they have lots of followers then each tweet is shown for just a short time. Most of your tweets won't be seen! Twitter is very much a numbers game and only becomes effective when you have thousands of followers. 10,000 seems to be the magic number here. You need to tweet often to be seen. The more often the better. You can't do that by sitting at your computer 24/7 so you must automate.
Here's what I do:
  1. I collect items to tweet—none dating news, comments, interest items, humor, quotes, images, facts, trivia, video, music. Currently I have about 5,000 in a spreadsheet.  I constantly add to this list and remove old items.
  2. To this list I add 9% promotional tweets.
  3. Periodically I randomize the list of tweets and produce a text file of them.
  4. I use a Java program on an old laptop to tweet from this list at random intervals of 2 to 17 minutes. It works 24/7 and takes about a month to get through the list before repeating. This means any follower is unlikely to see the same message tweeted too often.
  5. Every day I spend about 30 minutes responding to people who have re-tweeted me, replied to me or mentioned me. I'll also spend some of that time scanning my Twitter feed for interesting items to re-tweet and interesting books other authors have tweeted about.

How do you collect items for your Twitter list?

I use a program called Buffer to collect things to tweet. It's available as a browser plugin and each time I find something interesting when I'm browsing I can click a button and add it to a list of items to tweet. At various times in the day Buffer will post these items to Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Google+, Pinterest and Instagram. You can re-order the posts, post at a specific time and edit posts. Buffer also keeps a record of what went out and how successful it was. The most successful posts get added to my Twitter list.

What about that non-author account?

Let's face it, sooner or later you are going to see something on Twitter which you simply have to respond to angrily. Use use your non-author account for that and you can respond safely without trolls descending on your author pages and writing bad reviews because they don't like you.

Pinterest

Pinterest is the visual equivalent of Twitter. You can post videos and images there and comment on these. Your Pinterest account is split up into boards which you can use for different purposes. Boards can be public or private. These are the boards I've created for my Pinterest account:

Checking for Fake Followers on Twitter

Don't Buy Fake Followers

I'm sure you've seen those 'Buy Twitter Followers' posts. Perhaps some are tempted to use them. Don't be! You would be wasting your money. The chances are these 'followers' are not real people. They will never read your tweets and never re-tweet anything. They may also send out spammy messages and suddenly disappear when Twitter realises that they are fake.
People who post these tweets are breaking Twitter's terms and conditions also and when reported - they will disappear too.
Now—if you are tempted, how are you going to pay for these? Are you going to part with your credit card data? If so say goodbye to your bank account. I wouldn't give my details to someone who is a crook!

Is it possible to get fake followers by accident? 

Certainly. Just use an 'autofollowback'. Anyone who follows you will automatically be followed back and that includes fake followers. Strangely, there are thousands of fake followers out there who look for 'I follow back' or '#followback' in user bios and follow all they find. Since they include that autofollow statement in their own bio they are blindly following each other and growing their lists that way! If you follow them and you've got that 'I follow back' statement in your bio, you can be sure that you'll become a person on their list even if you are real.

What's the harm?

If you have a high number of fake followers you are going to look foolish. "Look at me I have 20,000 followers, I must know what I'm talking about!". People may also see spammy posts and replies by the fake follower addressed to you. There are people on Twitter who offer their services promoting your tweets to fake followers. To call this dishonest would be putting it mildly.

How do I get rid of fake followers?

First you have to identify them. With a little experience you learn to spot them and avoid following them in the first place. Often you'll find:
  • They don't have a profile picture or have one of a scantily clad person.
  • The don't tweet often or retweet the same thing many times
  • Many more people follow them than they follow
  • They never respond
  • They duplicate the tweets of another account (probably also fake.)
  • Their bio tells you little about them, may be missing or be a quote.
  • They have that 'follow back' statement in their bio.
BUT
If you were not aware of this, fortunately there is software available which will help you identify and remove them. There are several of them but you should remember none are perfect. They can only give you a guide.
I use ManageFlitter - a paid solution costing $12.00 per month. They have a tool which identifies likely fake followers and will allow you to remove them and block them. How to do this is detailed at http://blog.manageflitter.com/identify-remove-fake-twitter-accounts-3-simple-steps
Once you've done this, wait a few days and check your Twitter account by entering it at https://www.twitteraudit.com/ or at http://fakers.statuspeople.com/ These are  free services which can be used to check for the percentage of fake followers. When you are following someone and are doubtful if they are real try running their Twitter name through those. If they have more than 10% fake followers, you might want to give them a miss. 

Incidentally you can use ManageFlitter to grow your twitter account but remember—don't automatically follow everyone who follows you. Check them out first.