I received an email from Amazon’s marketing department from an inquiry I sent. The representative sent me a link to this sample detail page:
The way it was worded, the link was just to show what an example of a book’s detail page looks like at Amazon, but it was in the context of selling an advertising campaign to direct traffic toward a book’s product page. (This was not what I inquired about, but obviously if you contact a marketing department for a huge company like Amazon, if they respond, they will probably try to sell you one of their services. They are probably pretty good at this, if they work for Amazon.)
I think this product page is interesting, especially in the context in which I encountered it. Can we learn anything from it? That’s the purpose with which I write this post—to see if there is anything that we can learn from it in the way of marketability and marketing. (The rep didn’t specifically say that their campaign had been applied to this book, but maybe there is an inference to draw here.)
- The cover didn’t impress me. Simplicity of design can be effective, and with nonfiction the cover doesn’t need to be so eye-popping, but there seems to be room for improvement. (The copyright page even notes a special jacket art designer.) There is a lot of text, although this is often done in nonfiction. At least, the title is easy to read in a thumbnail and the cover concept gets through. What I was thinking was, WHY did Amazon’s marketing rep pick THIS cover? (Are they trying to show that their marketing services can help a book sell even if the cover isn’t hot?)
- Check out the sales rank. When I looked, it was #63 in books, and 1 and 2 in various categories. The author rank also shows right on the author page, varying from 11 to 81 in several categories. The publication date is October 8, 2013, which is just 6 days ago. Keep in mind that we’re looking at the hardcover edition. There were 16 reviews, mostly 5 stars, including a top 500 reviewer (Vine Voice).
- The main thing that impressed me on the product page and Look Inside is the encyclopedic list of praising quotes for the book. I guess if that many qualified people say a book is good, it has to be.
- On the Look Inside, the first page that mentions the title has only that, and the second one is fairly plain, too. Most of the interior is fairly plain. The main exception is the use of the HEAL acronym, using a letter from this word sort of as (but not quite) a bullet, and this is content-oriented as each letter has a specific meaning. The title page does have a publisher logo and another design mark between the title and author.
- If you look at the author page, you see a resume that nonfiction publisher’s are looking for. There are also five author videos there.
- From the author page, you can click on a link to the author’s blog to see his website. At the top is the option to subscribe to a newsletter—that’s one marketing tactic. Now look at the bottom of the website to find another. You’ll see an offer for a bonus gift, advertised as a $49 value, for free with purchase. The same thing is actually advertised at the top of the page, but in different wording (and it was so large I missed it the first time). One thing I notice about the cover now is that the color scheme seems to fit with the website—not my favorite, but a consistent color scheme for the book, blog, and beyond can help with branding.
- The content is a hot commodity. Who doesn’t want happiness? And the author’s qualifications fit well with the content.
Of course, if you have mega qualifications and a big publisher picks you up, you have a big advantage. Still, to be successful, buyers still have to choose your book. So what is selling this book?
- I don’t think it’s the thumbnail image that’s wowing buyers. It’s still getting a lot of attention. At least, the cover doesn’t seem to be deterring sales.
- The author had a large fan base to begin with, which is clear if you look at his prior publications. Having an existing fan base is a great help when you release a new book that fits the same audience.
- There is a top 500 reviewer and there are several initial reviews. The publisher and/or author probably made use of advance review copies. Building buzz for a book helps.
- With nonfiction, qualifications can be highly important, and this author has a relevant resume posted on his author page. This helps a great deal.
- Since Amazon’s marketing rep pointed me to this page, I’m wondering if their marketing services helped improve this book’s visibility. I’m not suggesting that you should spend big $$$ to advertise your book. The more you spend on advertising, the more books you have to sell just to break even, and there is a greater risk that you won’t even do that. There are many effective free and low-cost marketing ideas that all authors can use. If the book is highly marketable, free and low-cost will likely be effective; and if it’s not so marketable, paid advertising will have a tough time overcoming that.
If you’re hoping to improve your sales, it can be very helpful to research other books’ product pages (and their authors’ websites). You may get useful packaging or marketing ideas that way.
Chris McMullen, author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers, Vol. 1 (formatting/publishing) and Vol. 2 (packaging/marketing)