It’s officially autumn and you know what that means. Yes, pumpkin spice and everything nice. But also, time to check in about those book marketing resolutions you made way back in January — the holidays will soon be upon us, and now’s a great time to get your bookselling house in order.
Maybe you started off the year with the best of book marketing intentions. Maybe some of your efforts did well, while others fell a bit flat. Regardless of where you are in the book marketing process, you should be able to use today’s post to explore and evaluate how well your book discovery is working out.
Doing some self-assessment in this area will help you realign your marketing efforts and start moving the needle to really sell more books.
When you read some of the best book marketing blogs, 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 only half true. Book discovery, in and of itself, is not the 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. To answer that question, you must ask one more: are you really utilizing the best book marketing strategies for your genre, market, and author brand? Read on to learn more!
The New Reality of Book Marketing
The one thing that will really help you start selling more books is repetition.
The one thing that will really help you start selling more books is repetition.
See what I did there?
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 one further tweak: the repetition must be focused on your core audience.
So, repetition in, say, a series of Facebook ads, to a too-broad audience who isn’t already seeking out books JUST LIKE YOURS, is the kind of bad book discovery I mentioned earlier. In bad book discovery, the people who are seeing your book aren’t the ones who are most likely to buy.
But strategies that create the right kind of repetition could potentially add a significant increase to your bottom line and help you start selling more books.
Consider Your Price Point
Did you know that the higher your book is priced, the more you’ll need to spend on book marketing 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 to “earn back” what you’ve already invested in it. But it’s true. A book that’s priced over $20 needs to get in front of your intended market nearly a half dozen times before they’ll even consider a buy; books priced at $3.99 or less need half that exposure.
There’s nothing technically wrong with pricing your print book at $19.99 or higher or your eBook at $9.99 or higher. If you do choose a higher price point, be prepared to do a lot of book promotion to increase the level of exposure you’re going to need to translate impressions to sales.
Consider the Clarity of Your Message
Did you know that your book’s message — the title and subtitle — are just as important as its cover? And while I always encourage authors not to skimp on a book cover designer, I would also suggest you spend twice as much in sweat equity determining the title and subtitle of your book.
Most people who purchase books 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 will not buy your book.
Typically, non-fiction subtitles very much describe what the book is about and what it intends to achieve; that’s just the nature of the non-fiction. But I see a lot of fiction authors who don’t utilize their subtitle option on Amazon to make it clear the book’s genre, reader market, and amazing hook; this is a seriously critical missed opportunity,
Consider Your 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.
You’ve absolutely got to make sure that your page is tight and focused. Your book cover must be outstanding, and your book description must be compelling enough to keep shoppers engaged so that they don’t scroll right past it to click on one of the other enticing offers that Amazon has plopped in front of them.
If you aren’t sure if your book page is currently in optimal shape, ask yourself some hard questions. Start with the most important one: Who cares? Who will care about your book based on just the description? Book descriptions translate into book sales. Want to make yours better? Here’s a short checklist of potential upgrades:
- Is there a blurb you can lead with in your book description? Remember people like what other people like.
- Did you leave space 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 will open up your book description so that it’s breathable and easier to read.
- Does your book description lead with the most important and key element of your book? If your first sentence isn’t specific or doesn’t zero in on why readers will love your book, consider a redo.
In short, your book page needs to be crystal clear and enticing to keep consumers from clicking off to something else.
Know Your Reader
One of the biggest misstep authors 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 how to fulfill their needs, then don’t expect to see robust book sales.
Do you really know your reader? Do you know what your reader likes, dislikes, or gravitates to when it comes to your specific market? The correct answers to these questions are the keys 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. While you’re doing this, you should also check out some best-selling authors in your market and look at their also-boughts on Amazon. You might also consider joining writers’ organizations and communities that are organized around your genre and topic. And then there’s social media.
Regardless of your position about posting on social media, you might find that a few of the platforms can be a treasure trove of clues about your readers and their likes and dislikes. When you have a few spare moments, sniff out which ones are frequented by your potential audience and look at what kinds of content the authors and readers there post.
As we head into the rollicking, frolicking holiday season, a little self-assessment can go a long way toward helping you to put in place some smart book marketing strategies so that you can capture a healthy slice of the holiday bookselling pie!
Good luck to you!
Penny C. Sansevieri, Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a bestselling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU. She was named one of the top influencers of 2019 by New York Metropolitan Magazine.
Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most innovative Amazon Optimization programs as well as Social Media/Internet book marketing campaigns. She is the author of 18 books, including How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon: 2021 Amazon Ads Powerhouse Edition
, Revise and Re-Release Your Book, 5-Minute Book Marketing
, and Red Hot Internet Publicity
, which has been called the "leading guide to everything Internet." Her next book From Book to Bestseller
is due out this fall.
AME has had dozens of books on top bestseller lists, including those of The New York Times, USA Today, and The Wall Street Journal.