One of our previous guests on The Author Hangout was Randy Ingermanson, an author of both fiction and nonfiction. In that podcast episode, he shared a lot about email marketing and why it is so important for authors to have an email list!
In that episode, he also talked about some overarching book marketing strategy.
The Key Components of Marketing
Marketing can be summarized into 3 main processes, that must be done in order. These processes are:
What do these mean and how does the process work?
Attract – One of the struggles that you have to face is that as a new author, nobody knows about you… yet. The initial phase in marketing is “attract”. There are many different ways that you can attract people. Increasing your exposure by doing blog tours, doing a free promotion, and other types of marketing activities allow people to learn about you. They may not be ready to buy yet, but getting them to know about you is the important first step.
Engage – The next step in the process is “engage”. Once you have been able to attract people to you, you need to engage with them. This is where they can get to know more about you, and where you can build relationships with readers. Once you build that relationship, readers become more invested in you and the next step is a lot easier. How do you engage? You can share interesting things on Twitter (not “Buy My Book”), you can connect with readers in communities, you can share your unique story, and more.
Convert – The last step in the process is “convert”. This is where the book sales happen. Many authors try to start at this step (because they naturally want sales) and then they wonder why they aren’t getting sales. If you have not done the other marketing steps to attract potential readers and then if you are not engaging with them, your conversion rate will be extremely low or nonexistent. But, once you have done those steps, you will see it is much easier to sell books to them, because they have engaged with you. Then, you just need to make sure you have setup a mailing list, that your author website has all of the necessary elements, and that you are doing what you need to do to sell more books.
Many authors try to start on the third step and wonder why they aren’t getting sales. It would be like trying to hit “Publish” on Amazon KDP before your book is even written. Attract potential readers first then engage with them, and you will see your attempts to sell books have a much greater response.
Amazon’s Marketing Machine
When you follow these steps, your books start to sell. Then, something really cool happens. Once you start to sell books, Amazon will begin promoting your book in these places:
- the “also-boughts” of other books,
- on top 100 lists for various genres,
- you will rank higher for certain terms in the search functions,
and these things can increase exposure of your book to new readers!
But, since you aren’t the one directly attracting, engaging, and converting these customers, does the process still work? Yes, but you’re passively using specific things to put this process in action.
The question we have to ask is this…
Do people buy your book after viewing it on Amazon?
Unfortunately, Amazon does not give us their conversion rates. What you can do is make sure everything is firing on all cylinders in the Attract, Engage, and Conversion departments on your Amazon book page, to significantly increase the chances of getting the sale.
Let’s look at the first of these processes, to see how it works for you (or isn’t working for you) while looking at your book’s page on Amazon.com.
Attract more readers to your book on Amazon
When your book is on the search results, on the “also-boughts”, and on genre/category lists, only a small amount of information is shown: Title, Author, Cover, and Price. That is all you have to attract people with.
Your title needs to be engaging and attractive, but if you’ve already published your book, that ship has sailed unless you want to make a lot of changes and additional work on your part. Your author name will either attract people or be a neutral element depending on how well known you are.
So, you are left with just your cover and price.
One common myth of self-publishing is that you have to do EVERYTHING yourself. You don’t. Sure, you may be able to edit, and format and publish yourself, but unless you have design skills, you really should hire someone else to create your cover. If it is unattractive, it will not attract people, so even if your book is appearing on Amazon’s lists, it won’t draw people in. So make sure you have a great looking cover!
Price… This is a tricky one as there are many variables and each genre/topic is different. One thing that is a constant is the tendency by self-publishers to over-price their work. It’s understandable and there are 2 things that lead to this:
- You work very hard on your book, so you set a high price point because you think it’s worth that much. Unfortunately, the rest of the world doesn’t think that way about your book. Since they are your potential readers, you need to price accordingly.
- Many self-published authors are not selling many books, so they raise the price of their books, so that they earn more per sale. But, most of the time, there is a direct correlation between the higher price and not selling any books.
Ultimately, most authors want to sell as many books as they can and get their books into as many hands as possible. The best way to do this is to lower your price. Yes, you will earn less per book, but you will be in a position to be able to sell more books, and earn more money overall. Plus, selling books leads to selling more books, so if you can get that engine going, that is the key!
Look at how the mid-range sellers are pricing their books, and price accordingly. These are the buyers you are wanting to reach, and they are proving that they are willing to buy at that price point.
Engage with your potential readers
You have a couple of tools at your disposal on your Amazon book listing to engage with the reader in a passive way:
- your book description/blurb,
- and your “Look Inside” sample,
Each of these will help you to make the sale, as long as they are working for you, not against you!
Your Book Description/Blurb
If someone is attracted to your cover and the price is okay for them, they will probably read your book description. They want to know what the book is about. This needs to be engaging. If this is boring, then they are going to assume the book is boring, and you will lose the sale.
One thing that you can do to help draw attention to the book blurb is to stylize it with HTML. Amazon allows you to use some HTML to bold text, italicize text, create headers, etc. These types of styling will help your book description to stand out.
Other things you should include in your book description area are:
- awards your book has won,
- short excerpts of reviews of your books,
- other books by you,
- and any other credentials that will help to sell the book.
Help to make your description stand out by including some or all of those things so that you can engage the person browsing your books’ page.
Your “Look Inside” Sample
This is another fantastic tool to engage the reader. If they like the description, they may want to start reading the book.
You should include copyright stuff, the table of content, and more in the back of the book. These things all use up valuable space in your “Look Inside” sample.
Obviously, you want the beginning of your book to be engaging, but when it’s going to be the sample that people may read on Amazon, you definitely want to make sure that it engages the reader and makes them want to keep reading (in which case, they’ll buy the book).
You do have ways to engage with the potential reader browsing your book page, you just have to make sure that your book blurb and your sample are optimized to lead to the sale. Take a moment to look at your current description and sample, and see what you can do to make them stand out more and to make them more appealing. Also, if you want more tips on making your blurb better and why it is so important to, watch or listen to our 9th episode of The Author Hangout, “How To Sell A Million Books” with bestselling author CJ Lyons.
Convert browsers into buyers
There is one single thing that truly helps get someone from browsing to buying and this is…
Reviews are so important! They are social proof, and it gives the browser extra details of your book, from a third-party, to help them to make that final decision to buy.
We know many authors struggle with getting reviews, and you can never have enough reviews for your books.
We did a write up on how to get more reviews, which was featured in the indie publishing magazine, The Independent. You can read more about it here: 6 Ways To Get More Book Reviews. Hope it helps you to get more reviews to help you convert those book browsers into buy buyers!
We also put together a Book Reviews service on our site, Reading Deals, which connects your book with real readers who provide honest reviews for your book.
No matter which approach you take, the key is to get more reviews for your book. As people come across your book, they will investigate it, and one of their steps will be reading the reviews, and the more social proof you have, the more likely it is people will buy your book.
Wrapping It Up
While you as the author should be doing the “attract, engage, convert” process with readers you connect with on social media and such, don’t underestimate the power of Amazon promoting your book for you, and how you can set up your book page on Amazon to attract people to your book, providing an engaging experience, and then convert them into buyers by having solid reviews of your book.
Take the time today to make sure that your book’s presence on Amazon is working FOR you, not against you.
This blog post previous appeared as a series of emails to our mailing list. If you want to receive helpful book marketing content like this directly to your inbox, you can sign up for our free Tuesday Tips book marketing email list here.