Organic IS Better (for book marketing)

Image from Shutterstock.

Image from Shutterstock.

ORGANIC BOOK MARKETING

I take a long-term approach to book marketing.

My goal is to generate periodic sales over the course of several years.

I’m more interested in how well the book sells years after its release than how well it says when it makes its debut.

Granted, a book often gets its best traffic in the beginning, so anything you might do to improve that could be a significant boost.

But if you can get the book to sell consistently for years instead of tailing off, time can provide a huge boost of its own.

That’s the potential of organic book marketing, if you can pull it off effectively.

Organic book marketing also doesn’t tend to be depend as strongly on the latest marketing trends.

There are some fundamental marketing strategies that work long-term even in a dynamic market, whereas short-term strategies tend to be trendy.

We’ll consider several aspects of book marketing, and what it might mean to be organic.

BOOK REVIEWS

As a customer shopping for products at Amazon, if you read customer reviews, would you prefer to read organic reviews? I would.

What makes a review organic?

It can’t get any more organic than this:

  • A customer discovers a book.
  • The customer takes the initiative to review the book.
  • The customer leaves genuine feedback for the book.

Amazon considers a review to be more organic when the customer discovers the book on Amazon.com and the review shows the Verified Purchase label. Amazon’s new machine-learning algorithm, which determines which reviews get more exposure, favors a Verified Purchase.

The machine-learning algorithm looks at more than just whether or not the review is Verified. For example, it also looks at Yes vs. No votes. There are multiple factors. In general, most of these factors favor organic reviews.

Obviously, when a customer discovers a book in a bookstore, reads the book, and leaves a review on Amazon, it’s just as organic. Although it won’t have that Verified Purchase tag, potential customers will see an honest opinion to help them with their purchases.

Even if the customer discovers the book because the author employed effective interpersonal marketing skills, it’s still an organic review if the customer leaves unbiased feedback. In fact, customers are more likely to review a book having interacted with the author.

The problem, of course, is that customer book reviews often come at a very slow rate. It can take 100 to 200 sales, on average, to get a single review. (These numbers may vary considerably, depending on subgenre, for example.) And if the book is selling one copy every few days, that may very well seem like never.

And some book promotion sites, like BookBub, require a minimum number of reviews.

Thus, authors are tempted to look for less organic methods of seeking reviews.

Most customers think they can tell, to some extent, organic reviews from inorganic ones:

  • Suppose a book has a sales rank of 1,000,000, was released 30 days ago, and already has 20 reviews. It may seem suspicious.
  • Organic reviews tend to show a degree of balanced opinions, and a few tend to be off-the-wall. There is a certain variety of opinions and the expression of them typical of Amazon.
  • Checking out what else the reviewer has reviewed can also seem to tell a tale.

Amazon’s SEO can probably tell organic reviews from inorganic ones, to some extent. (Even if it doesn’t do this well now, it probably will in the future.)

If you can find effective ways to generate more sales, that will help to generate more organic reviews.

And then there is always review karma. This philosophy is to post reviews of books you have read, and hope that the universe returns the favor.

But that’s different from swapping reviews with fellow authors, which is not organic (and Amazon may choose not to support).

CONTENT MARKETING

The idea behind content marketing is to post valuable content for your target audience on a blog, website, or social media.

Organic content of high quality can generate significant traffic long-term, and is less susceptible to the latest trends in SEO.

In fact, SEO trends tend to adapt toward identifying organic content and eventually penalizing any SEO tactics that aim to “fool” search engines.

Also, organic content is more likely to please its target audience, and result in organic followers.

And no followers are better than organic followers.

An organic follower is someone who discovers your content, enjoys it or finds it helpful, follows you, and is actively aware of your future articles over a long period of time.

My free WordPress blog just passed 300,000 views. It generates about 1000 views per day, presently, with most of the visitors discovering articles through search engines. And if you look around, you can find many other sites far more successful than mine.

It takes months to make content marketing work, but if you deliver valuable content to your target audience, there is much potential to get 100+ strangers to organically discover your site every day.

UNKNOWN ADVOCATES

This is what organic book marketing is all about.

When several people you have never met advocate your book on your behalf, organic book marketing can pay big long-term dividends.

But while it can be the best kind of marketing a book can get, it’s extremely hard to generate.

To get valuable word-of-mouth sales, referrals, and recommendations, you have to approach book marketing backwards.

Short-term book marketing says you need a great cover, then you need a blurb that hooks, then a Look Inside that compels the customer to buy the book, and last on the list is the actual content.

Organic book marketing says that the most important part of the book is the content, and everything else revolves around this.

Fiction authors need storytelling talent. Nonfiction authors need compelling information.

All authors need to write in a way that pleases readers.

And the book needs to be well-edited and formatted in order to be worthy of a recommendation. But the content is still foremost.

True, nobody will enjoy the book unless they first discover it, so the Look Inside, blurb, and cover figure into this.

But the approach is to first develop compelling content that will pay long-term dividends, and then build the packaging around that.

AMAZON SEO

Organic book marketing also tends to be favored by Amazon SEO.

For example, many customers search for books by typing keywords into the search field at Amazon.com.

There are several factors involved in determining the order of search results.

Some of these factors specifically favor organic book marketing.

For example, when customers search for books by keyword, click on your book, and then purchase your book, that organic sale establishes relevance for your book with that keyword.

The more organic sales you generate through keyword searches, the more exposure your book gains this way.

That’s why it’s so important to research (by that, I mean type a variety of keywords into Amazon, to see not only what’s popular, but where you have a chance of standing out among the crowd) which keywords have the best potential to give your unique book exposure.

If your keywords also appear organically in the title, subtitle, and book description (especially in bullet points)–though repetition may not help (other than the keyword from your keyword list matching a keyword in your description)–this may help your book compete in keyword searches (but remember, there are other factors too).

A keyword dump in your title or description will backfire. That’s not organic at all, and customers see that something is fishy. If you want to sell books, your title and subtitle need to make sense, and the description needs to read well and hook the reader without giving the story away.

Amazon wants to have satisfied customers. Amazon’s algorithm can tell such things as:

  • How well does this book sell when a customer discovers it for the first time on Amazon?
  • How satisfied are the customers who buy this book?
  • How many customers who buy this book go onto buy more books like this one?
  • Maybe it can even differentiate among customers, i.e. which kinds of buying history appears to be a better fit for a given book.

When a customer is searching for a book on Amazon, obviously Amazon would prefer to show customers books that perform well in these areas.

For this, you want to have a good conversion rate, which means the cover > blurb > Look Inside need to correlate well and be quite compelling, but you also need good customer satisfaction, but delivering exceptional content.

An organic approach to book marketing oriented around these points can pay significant long-term dividends.

WHAT WRITERS REALLY WANT

Many authors say things like: “I’d rather spend my time writing than marketing.”

Organic book marketing places more emphasis on the writing.

For marketing, there are ways to go about it that appeal to writers, like preparing content-rich articles relating to the topic of your book or writing content-rich emails for a newsletter (which allows you to send an announcement for your next book when it comes out).

Much of organic book marketing consists of writing your next book and writing content for your site or email newsletter.

Not 100%, though. You also want to widen your marketing net. But you can devote a little time each week to this, while still putting most of your time into writing.

You also need to do a little personal marketing, especially in the beginning, as that personal touch can go a long way toward getting the ball rolling in the beginning.

Organic book marketing can start out very slow, with no guarantee that it will ever pick up.

If sales do start out very slow, it takes strong faith in your writing to keep believing that the content is compelling enough to pay off several months down the road, if only you can weather the storm, keep writing, and drive enough initial sales to eventually get there.

But this approach does let writers focus on what they love to do most: write!

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Relevance: The Key to Advertising/Marketing

Relevance

RELEVANCE

Many advertising and marketing concepts can be understood, and then applied, by considering this one word: relevance.

And what a difference relevance can make.

Yet, very often, the advertiser or marketer hasn’t given this concept due consideration.

In your wildest dreams, your audience is anyone who has a head.

But in reality, you throw your money away with such thinking.

Unless maybe you’re selling hairbrushes.

But even then, you’re wasting money showing your advertisement to people who are bald, strongly prefer combs, or don’t care about their appearance.

Let’s look at some specific examples of how the word relevance impacts advertising and marketing. (Many of the examples are specific to self-published books, but the same principle can be generalized to the sale of other kinds of products or services.)

BOOK COVER DESIGN

Can you imagine walking into a covenant to sell a book about how to plan the perfect spring break vacation?

Well, it’s not much different when 80% of your audience glances at the cover of your sci-fi thriller and expects it to be a western.

(If you’re thinking about the movie Cowboys & Aliens right now, you’re totally missing the point!)

If it looks like a western, it probably is a western, so if you’re looking for sci-fi, why waste your time checking it out?

When there are other sci-fi books that actually look like science fiction.

The most important goal of book cover design is to create a cover that is relevant to your specific target audience.

WRITING <—> MARKETING

There are two ways to approach the combination of writing and marketing that have good prospects for success.

If you can execute your approach well.

  • You can find an existing target audience* and write a book relevant for that audience. (Where you are interested in the topic and have the right experience to write it.)
  • Or you can write what interests you (and where you have the right experience), then find the audience relevant for what you’ve written and market to that audience.†

* You don’t have to write for the most popular audience. It can be a niche audience and still be quite successful.

† The latter carries more risk. The worst-case scenario is that the audience perfect for your book doesn’t even exist. It happens…

AMAZON MARKETING SERVICES

Billboard advertising doesn’t make sense for most books. Even though many people do read, only a fraction read any particular genre, and some of those readers are biased towards certain authors or subgenres, so that the majority of the people who see the billboard advertisement result in wasted impressions. On top of that, the sale of a single book usually results in a low royalty, so you can’t afford wasted impressions.

But if you sell automotive parts and advertise on a billboard overlooking a highway, nearly 100% of your audience drives a car, so even though many prefer to get their service done by a dealer or a mechanic, the advertisement is more effective because of the greatly improved relevance.

On top of that, most advertising largely involves branding, which requires repeated impressions over a long period of time. With advertising, the importance of relevance gets compounded through this repetition.

Where should you advertise your product (or service)? Think long and hard about where it would be highly relevant to show your product.

One reason to use Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) to advertise products that you sell on Amazon has to do with relevance:

  • Customers are already there browsing for similar products.
  • You’re not trying to persuade them to stop what they’re doing, leave one site, and visit another site.

To get the most out of AMS, focus on relevance.

For example, when advertising a KDP Select self-published Kindle e-book through AMS:

  • All else being equal, Amazon is more likely to show AMS ads that generate and maintain a high click-through rate. That’s a strong indication of relevance.
  • Precise targeting makes your ad more relevant to the customers who view it.
  • A cover that conveys the precise subgenre/subcategory and content at the tiny size shown in the ads is a big plus.
  • The short marketing pitch shown with the ad can also help to convey relevance.
  • Thus, relevance can help you generate impressions without raising your bid sky high.
  • Ultimately, the blurb, the rest of your product page, and the Look Inside must also be relevant to convert clicks into sales.

CONTENT MARKETING & SEO

I use a free WordPress blog. I will soon pass 300,000 views (if I haven’t already), as I average 500 to 800 visitors per day finding my blog through search engines.

Yet I don’t employ any SEO “tactics.”

My goal has always been simple: Provide helpful content to anyone interested in self-publishing.

If the content is relevant to your audience, you have a strong organic marketing edge with much potential for long-term success.

Relevant content will naturally include the right keywords and keyphrases, lead to recommendations and referrals, generate followers, and encourage discussion.

You can blog successfully with short articles. What matters is that the content is relevant and helpful.

Trying to “fool” search engines into thinking that an article is relevant when it’s not won’t lead to long-term success.

THE DREADED BLURB

To help close the sale, the blurb needs to implicitly convince the customer (with help from the Look Inside) that the content is relevant to the buyer.

It must reinforce the subgenre/subcategory and content conveyed by the cover, title, category, and keywords.

The style of writing and storytelling must also be relevant to the customer.

It needs to be the kind of story and characters that the customer wants to read.

Without giving the story away. Because once the customer knows the story, it’s no longer relevant.

Fiction blurbs need to be short, while nonfiction blurbs should highlight important points with bullets, since the customer doesn’t want to waste time—not yet sure if reading the blurb is relevant or not.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2016

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Book + Hook = Sales (Marketing Recipe for Authors)

Book Hook

BOOK MARKETING TIPS

Is your book full of hooks?

If you don’t understand the question, don’t worry. I’ll explain it shortly.

After I ask a different question.

Why did you read this article?

I realize that you haven’t committed yet. At any moment, you could walk away.

And so could customers when they check out your book. Remember that.

The hooks make the difference:

  • Did the title or image with this post grab your attention?
  • Did it make a promise, like more book sales?
  • Obviously, the beginning held your interest long enough for you to reach here.

YOUR BOOK NEEDS HOOKS

What is a hook?

A hook is something that catches your potential reader’s attention, arouses a reader’s curiosity, or engages your reader’s interest, for example. Anything that encourages potential customers to read your book effectively serves as a hook.

Your book should have several hooks:

  • Your title can actually have three hooks. (1) One hook comes from making a catchy title, a phrase that snaps the customer out of a trance. (2) Another hook conveys what the book is about, so when the customer reads the title, the customer knows the genre or subject. Be sure to put the right bait on your hook. (3) Any keywords in your title, subtitle, or series name help to hook readers through keyword searches. But you must balance this with 1 and 2. Also, shorter titles tend to sell better in fiction.
  • Your cover is another hook. For every 1000 or so customers that see your book cover, 1 may actually check out your book. It could be 1 out of 100. Or it could be 1 out of 10,000. But the difference can be huge. A cover also has multiple hooks. (1) What kind of book is this? That’s what every customer wants to know without having to work for it. Make it so easy that a customer can tell at a glance. (2) Even subconsciously. The right color scheme and font actually impact shopping behavior. It’s worth a little research. (3) Reinforce the title by making the most important keywords stand out even on a tiny thumbnail.
  • Your blurb is all about hooks. A customer reading your blurb is not committed. Not even to the first line. (1) The first line of your blurb can send 90% of your potential customers out the door. It’s your pick-up line. Pick this book up, please. But you have to be subtle. You need to arouse curiosity. Wake the customer from a trance, but use language the customer wants to hear. Make your blurb the dream date the customer has been yearning for. (2) You need to reinforce the subgenre or subcategory. The customer isn’t sure what kind of book this is. The title and cover create expectations. Don’t forget to make this clear in the blurb. Early in the blurb. (3) Concise is your friend, especially for fiction. Short sentences. Short blurb. Yet containing all the info the customer wants to know: What subgenre (implicit, but clear)? Engaging content (show it by example). What features will sell your book? Make these features—no, make the benefits of these features—clear, but be concise. For nonfiction, bullet points help break a long description into easy to identify points. (4) Cut out the material that customers don’t need to know, so only the hooks remain. For example, does the customer really need to know the names of multiple characters when just checking the book out? (5) Whatever material remains, make it seem more engaging. Trim and engage. Repeat. (6) Don’t spoil fiction. Definitely, don’t give away the ending. But don’t give away anything if you can avoid it. You don’t want the customer to feel like he or she already knows what will happen at some stage. Not knowing can help you sell books. There are words for this: Curiosity. Suspense. They are sales tools.
  • Your Look Inside is that last hook between the customer and a sale. Or walking away. And again, it should be full of hooks. Minimize the front matter to essentials that help sell your book, so the customer can reach the “hooks” without distraction. (1) The opening line is like the first line of your blurb. Many shoppers don’t get past that first line. (2) The customer isn’t committed to your book. The beginning needs to arouse curiosity and engage interest. Come out with your best stuff. Will a non-committed shopper read a lengthy build-up? You want the beginning to be so good that the customer clicks the magic Buy Now button. (3) Send a consistent message. The title and cover create expectations for a particular subgenre or subcategory. The blurb must reinforce the same message. And the Look Inside must also make this clear. Tell the customer (implicitly), “Yes, you’re in the right place. Now please make yourself at home.” (4) What will sell your book? Suspense? Curiosity? Fascination with a character? Language that flows well? Comb through your Look Inside to remove stuff that may inhibit sales, so that what remains will hook the reader.
  • It doesn’t end there. You don’t just want a purchase. You want the reader to continue onto the next chapter. You want the book to deliver on its promise so that the customer is already hooked on your next book. So that the customer helps you hook new readers. Word-of-mouth hooks are among the best hooks in the business. And the hardest to get.
  • Even the back matter can contain a hook: A captivating sample of one of your other books.
  • Let me back up a bit. Wise choice of keywords (or keyphrases) and categories can help you throw more hooks out into the sea of readers.
  • Hooks are everywhere. If people discover your blog, you want your blog to hook new readers, right? Well, then, your blog needs to be full of hooks. All of your marketing should have hooks. Even a catchy strapline—a phrase or sentence that helps create interest in your book (and also convey the right expectations)—can be used anywhere, even in daily conversations.

PRACTICE HOOKING (!)

(I really hope you don’t take this the wrong way!!)

Practice hooking your readers.

A great place to practice is with social media.

Every blog post, tweet, or Facebook post is an opportunity to practice hooking readers.

Learn how to write a title that achieves all of its three goals.

Learn how to find images that attract the right audience.

Learn how to say a lot in a little by learning how to use tweets effectively.

Social media offers a great way to practice, experiment, and learn the art of hooking readers.

But also practice from the other side. Practice getting hooked. Practice trying not to get hooked, and find yourself getting hooked despite that.

Check out successful books. Books that don’t sell because of name recognition or preexisting fan bases. Find new indie books that grow quickly, for example. Discover books with great hooks.

That can help you learn the art of hooking readers. See what kinds of hooks other authors use to hook their readers.

MARKETING WITH BOOK HOOKS

Think of writing as fishing.

You’re just one of millions of fishermen.

  • Location matters. You want to fish in a spot where there are plenty of fish. So you want to write a book that will attract readers. So write it with the customer in mind. What does the customer want? This question impacts your choice of topic, how you begin your book, how you write your book, how you package your book, etc.
  • There are a million fishing poles out there. You need lures and bait that will attract fish to you. Your title, cover, blurb, and Look Inside need effective hooks.
  • Authors wait patiently for readers to find their books. You need readers. You need them to discover your book. You need them to want to read your book once they discover it. The hooks on your product page and the hooks in your online and offline book marketing all help readers discover your book and decide to read it.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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How to Motivate more Amazon Follows

Amazon Following

HOW TO GET MORE AMAZONS FOLLOWERS

Amazon just announced a new tool designed to help authors generate many more Amazon followers.

First, let me give a little background:

  • Customers can follow their favorite authors directly at Amazon.com.
  • It seems ideal for both customers and authors, EXCEPT…
  • Unfortunately, most customers don’t think to do this.
  • Customers need to visit the author page and click the button to follow the author. Few do it, presently.
  • Amazon lets you send an email to your Amazon followers after publishing a new Kindle edition. But first, you need Amazon followers.

So just imagine how awesome it would be IF…

  • Amazon offered a tool to help authors generate more Amazon follows.
  • Through this tool, Amazon motivated customers to follow authors.
  • Many customers took advantage of this opportunity to follow authors of interest.
  • Amazon follows rose from a mere dozen to hundreds or thousands for many authors.
  • When you publish your next Kindle e-book, you could send an email through Amazon to hundreds or thousands of Amazon followers.

This seems like a distinct possibility now.

Here is how it works:

  • Visit the product page for a print edition of your book. (Don’t have one? Check out CreateSpace.)
  • Update: You no longer need a print edition if you publish through KDP.
  • Scroll down to the bottom. Click on the option to list an Amazon giveaway.
  • Check the box to require contestants to follow you on Amazon. (This is new!)
  • Everyone who enters the contest now also follows you on Amazon.
  • The next time you publish via KDP, you’ll be invited to notify your Amazon followers of your latest e-book.

In the past, you could only generate Twitter followers or require contestants to watch a YouTube video.

Now, you can require contestants to simply follow you on Amazon.

Finally, Amazon came up with an idea to help authors generate more Amazon follows.

It’s a win-win-win situation:

  • Customers don’t have to hunt down the author through social media or newsletters. Follow authors right on Amazon.
  • Customers get a chance to win free print books in exchange for becoming Amazon followers.
  • Authors get exposure through the giveaway and grow their Amazon following.
  • Amazon, of course, sells more books.

MY AMAZON GIVEAWAY

Click the following link or image to enter my Amazon giveaway for a chance to win my mathematical pattern puzzles book.

When you enter the contest, you’ll become one of my Amazon followers. It will keep you updated of new books that I publish.

AMAZON GIVEAWAY TIPS

  • When your Amazon Giveaway goes live, tweet about it.
  • Click the link in the giveaway email to tweet about it through Twitter.
  • Be sure to leave the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag in the tweet. This posts your tweet to the Amazon Giveaway page.
  • I’ve had better luck not adding an image directly to the tweet. (The cover for your book will probably still show automatically.) I seem to get more exposure by not including my own image.
  • Add 1 or 2 relevant hashtags to your tweet.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

Click here to view my Goodreads author page.

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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A Pleasant Surprise from @bookSCREAM #bookpromotion 99-cent #CountdownDeal

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

bookSCREAM

I received a pleasant surprise this morning.

I found myself mentioned in a tweet from @bookSCREAM:

@ChrisDMcMullen Another great deal! We featured HOW TO SELF-PUBLISH A BOOK in today’s newsletter! bkscr.me/9P9Um

Cover design by Melissa Stevens at theillustratedauthor.net

What a cool surprise.

I clicked on the link mentioned in the tweet and found my original self-publishing book featured with one of four non-fiction books on the bookSCREAM page.

  • How to Self-Publish a Book on Amazon.com
  • by Chris McMullen
  • Informative, Tips, Advice
  • $0.99 was $2.99

I like the concise description that they included with the ad: “informative, tips, advice.”

This was totally unexpected:

  • I didn’t contact or approach bookSCREAM.
  • I haven’t advertised my Countdown Deal anywhere. This is the first I’ve mentioned it just now.
  • bookSCREAM discovered my Countdown Deal all on their own.
  • bookSCREAM advertised my book promotion all on their own.
  • I only discovered their advertisement after they had placed the ad.

Very cool! Thank you, bookSCREAM.

What’s the opposite of being rejected by BookBub? Being featured by bookSCREAM out of the blue.

I was just testing out the Countdown Deals. My intention was to let it run unadvertised and see how it does.

However, I don’t mind that it picked up an external promotion all on its own. I don’t mind at all. 😉

Partly, I was also testing out the lower price. In the past, I haven’t had any success with 99 cents on any books (which is why you’ll find my Kindle e-books priced between $2.99 and $7.99, except for rare deals like this).

How to Self-Publish a book on Amazon.com is my original book on self-publishing. I originally published this back in May, 2009. A lot has changed since then, which is why I updated this book significantly in 2014, but it’s also why I have since published A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing (Volumes 1 and 2). (I also have a four-book boxed set, which includes all of these.)

Of course, you can find a ton of FREE information about self-publishing right here on my blog.

I wouldn’t mind dropping the prices of my self-publishing books. But like I said, I haven’t had much success with 99 cents or $1.99. I wouldn’t mind making it more affordable to learn about self-publishing. (Again, you can learn much for free right on my blog. I would even make one or more of these books perma-free—these books are more about sharing knowledge and helping other authors—but it seems ridiculous that I would have to publish these books outside of Amazon to get them free on Amazon.)

But I thought I would test out lower prices with a few Countdown Deals to see if things may have changed recently.

And that’s when I received this pleasant surprise from bookSCREAM.

Unexpected free marketing for fellow authors is a great thing. It makes self-publishing better for everyone.

If it happens to you, pay it forward.

It’s about reading. All authors work together to inspire more quality reading.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Comments

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Book Marketing Magic: What You Can Learn from Amazon

Image from ShutterStock.

Image from ShutterStock.

BOOK MARKETING MAGIC

It would be hard to find anybody who can sell books better than Amazon.

At first, this seems like a great benefit of self-publishing. Just throw your book on Amazon, and the word’s greatest bookseller will sell your book for you, right?

Too bad it doesn’t work that way. Even though you may have heard others speak of book marketing, you stubbornly cling to the hope that you won’t need to learn it.

You just have to see for yourself to realize that you need to market your book.

And then book marketing seems like magic. Only you can’t find the right magic words. Or if you do, apparently you don’t pronounce them quite right. When you try using smoke, mirrors, and sleight of hand, it just doesn’t work the way it’s supposed to.

But it’s not really magic. You want easy and instant success. That really would be magic. That’s not marketing. That’s too-good-to-be-true luck that will never happen to you.

Book marketing is work. Think and plan long-term, learn effective long-term book marketing strategies, keep writing, and gradually add to your marketing with sights on a professional author platform several months in the future.

You can learn by watching others. And who better to watch than Amazon?

LEARN FROM AMAZON

It’s amazing how much you can learn about book marketing from Amazon.

This is where the fact that Amazon is an exceptional bookseller can help you.

You’re trying to sell books. You want to learn how. Watch the pro.

Obviously, I don’t mean you should create a website, pour millions of dollars into website development and advertising, and sell books yourself.

I mean to study Amazon’s marketing and make connections between how Amazon markets and what you can do to help market your own books.

Some examples follow.

CONTENT ENGAGEMENT

In my opinion, this is Amazon’s #1 marketing asset: content engagement.

The first step is that Amazon has amazing selection, convenience of shopping at home, and good prices.

With all that, plus good customer service, and already the top bookseller, you might think Amazon wouldn’t need to market at all.

Yet, Amazon does market, and markets very well. It shows you that even if you have a great book, you still need to market.

Amazon is exceptional at motivating customer engagement. Here are a few examples:

  • Customers engage with the website as they browse Look Insides and read customer reviews.
  • After the purchase, they are further engaged with customers-also-bought list recommendations.
  • The customer review platform brings customers back to Amazon after the purchase to engage with the site again. A few customers return again to check on voting and comments.
  • Kindle Unlimited motivates customers to return time and again to browse for books. With the habit of shopping at Amazon, some subscribers begin to check Amazon first when they need to buy other products besides books.
  • Amazon Prime similarly engages customers. Although Prime customers can only borrow one book per month, Prime also engages customers with Amazon Prime Video, for example. Prime customers also tend to shop at Amazon first to take advantage of fee two-day shipping.
  • Amazon frequently releases new programs or revises current programs. Each revision or new program is news, so Amazon is often in the media. Many of the programs spark debate among authors or publishers, which creates additional free publicity. The internet is almost always buzzing with the latest developments at Amazon.
  • Customers (and authors) can subscribe to a variety of email newsletters. If those emails engage your interest, well, you’re hooked. You’ll be aware of the next development. You’ll see an advertisement for a new service. But the emails aren’t just advertisements. The KDP newsletter, for example, includes a variety of tips and success stories. Good content is needed to make these work.
  • Promotional prices and exclusive offers bring customers back to Amazon. I’ve received offers such as: free $20 gift card when you buy $100 in gift cards, exclusive offer for $15 appstore credit, and great sale prices on Kindle devices. Amazon offers a one-time discount on something that’s likely to hook customers by engaging them. Selling a Kindle device at a discount may lead to regular reading of Kindle ebooks, and a free appstore credit can hook you on apps—or just get you in the habit of using Amazon from your phone.
  • Customer discussion forums encourage customers to return and engage on the site.
  • The KDP community forum engages many self-published authors. It’s not just readers Amazon is engaging.
  • The sales and royalty reports also engage authors. Once you dive into self-publishing, it’s a challenge to not check on those reports constantly. Kindle Unlimited’s new pages read policy makes the reporting even more engaging, since pages are likely to be read throughout the day. Sales rank is another number that engages authors.
  • Although Amazon has Twitter and Facebook accounts both for customers and for authors, direct social media posts are a minor component of Amazon’s marketing platform. These seem to be there more for the customers who love social media or who want some way to engage with Amazon. Though if you explore Amazon’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, you will see that they post regular content and there is customer engagement there. And although the following is large by a typical author’s standards, compared to how many hits Amazon gets per day, it’s tiny in that regard.
  • Amazon launched a new Amazon Giveaway program, where anyone can run a contest by purchasing a new product and having Amazon ship the product directly to the winner. Contest sponsors (for books, usually these are authors) tweet to announce the giveaway with the #AmazonGiveaway hashtag, and often other Twitter users retweet the contests. This way, authors and Twitter users who love to promote contests do all the promotional work, while the hashtag attracts contest lovers through Amazon’s name. It’s a clever and effective use of Twitter hashtags.

HOW DOES THIS HELP YOU?

For one, you too can thrive on content engagement. Obviously, not in quite the same way.

To start with, you should have more than just one kind of content:

  • Your books are content, of course. That’s your main content.
  • Additional content can come in the form of a content-rich website, for example.

Creating a content-rich website is relatively easy, and you can find relevant nonfiction content even if your book is fiction.

Start out with a simple free blog and make regular (don’t have to be too long or too frequent) posts that have content relevant for your target audience. Blogging can start out very slow, but after months things can really accelerate. If you succeed in generating search engine traffic, you can pull in 100+ visitors per day from your target audience who didn’t already know about your book. My website began as a simple, free WordPress blog, and after a couple of years of growing, it nets hundreds of visitors per day.

Content is king. That is, what really matters most is quality content that your target audience will appreciate. That’s true about your books and also about your website, and any other kind of marketing content that you create. Some people can fool search engines with SEO tricks in the short run, but content rules in the long run.

Once you have the content, you want content engagement. You want your target audience to interact with your content.

Engaging your target audience brings multiple benefits:

  • If your readers regularly interact with you, they will be aware of your future releases. But you need engaging content to attract them and hold their interest.
  • Lively interaction looks good to newcomers, and helps invite their participation, so that your engaging content reaches beyond your existing fan base.
  • Branding, a huge part of marketing, requires repetition. Content engagement gives you that repetition, helping your brand your name and image as author.
  • Your audience gets a chance to see your personality. That personal touch can help drive sales, and is more likely to inspire reviews.

Here are some examples of how, like Amazon, you can engage your customers with content:

  • It’s kind of funny, but creating new content also helps with content engagement. Each time you release a new book (or even a story), it gives you another chance to engage your audience with it (and grow your audience, too). It’s another chance to create anticipation, do a cover reveal, and invite feedback. You also get new exposure in Amazon’s new release categories each time you release a new book (or a different edition of the same book).
  • Blogging provides a regular supply of new content to help engage your audience. Amazon is constantly engaging customers with new products or new programs. Your blog helps you regularly (even once a week is regular) provide opportunities to get discovered by new potential readers and to interact further with current fans. If the content is rich, you have good long-term potential for search engine discovery.
  • Another way to engage your audience is to request feedback. Amazon seeks feedback from customers via reviews. Authors can ask for feedback on cover reveals, blurb reveals, ideas for future stories, etc. In addition to engaging your audience, this can help create buzz for new releases or works-in-progress.
  • You can create an email newsletter, following Amazon’s example. Amazon includes valuable content, like tips, stories, or promotional discounts, in its email newsletter to make it worthwhile to join the newsletter and to check it out. That’s what you need: an incentive for fans to subscribe and to keep checking it out once a month or so.
  • Amazon provides good customer service, with a good return policy. Authors can also supply good personal service. Content engagement lets you provide that personal touch, and show your personality and character. Personal interactions, online and in person, improve an author’s chances for sales and reviews.
  • Much like Amazon, authors can offer short-term promotional prices. But, unlike Amazon, which already has a large following, authors must either externally advertise their promotional prices, or must grow a large subscriber base (such as through an email newsletter or an engaged online following). One thing Amazon likes to do is offer a discount on a product that’s highly likely to lead to additional sales. Series authors, for example, can discount the first in a series, hoping that readers will want to read the rest of the series.
  • Amazon is often creating buzz. Some new program or revised program has Amazon in the news much of the time. What are you doing that’s new? What are you doing that’s newsworthy? If you get yourself some media coverage, you also get to mention your book in the news. Good old-fashioned media coverage can offer nice exposure. Start small and local, where you’re more likely to have opportunities, and work your way outward as you gain experience.
  • You can hold contests. You can run an Amazon Giveaway for a print book, or a Goodreads Giveaway, or hold some other kind of contest.
  • Follow Amazon, Amazon KDP, and CreateSpace at Facebook and Twitter. You’ll get good ideas for ways to use these tools to engage your audience. Study how often they post, whether to include images, how they use images, what size images they use, etc.

OTHER MARKETING YOU CAN LEARN

There is more you can learn from Amazon about book marketing. Here are a few more examples:

  • When you shop at Amazon, what you see are pages of cover thumbnails. Amazon strives to create visual interest. It’s a strong part of marketing. Your own cover thumbnail can help you with this. But so can the images that you use for blog or Facebook posts, for example.
  • If you read a long book description at Amazon, you’ll note that it often gets cut off. Customers must click a Read More link to read the rest. What Amazon is telling you is that customers have a short attention span, and won’t read too much just to decide which book to read. The Read More flag is saying, “Make sure your most important information comes before this part of your description.” (Otherwise, most people won’t see it.)
  • By organizing the bestsellers in subcategories, Amazon is the perfect repository for you to research how to write and sell a book in the genre or category of your choice. Study the covers, titles, blurbs, Look Insides, biographies, author photos, and product pages. Find those authors online and see what their author pages look like and learn their marketing strategies.

The next time you find yourself interested in a new product at Amazon, stop and think about how you got interested in that product. Is there a lesson that you can learn here? There probably is.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Marketing your book on Father’s Day and other holidays

Images from ShutterStock.

Images from ShutterStock.

MARKETING BOOKS NEAR HOLIDAYS

Father’s Day and other holidays can be book marketing opportunities.

Did you take advantage of this book marketing opportunity this Father’s Day? You could have.

If not, Independence Day in the US is coming up soon.

So how could Father’s Day be a book marketing opportunity?

Here are a few ways:

  • Your book might make for a nice gift for dads.
  • The father-son relationship may be a significant part of your novel.
  • Your nonfiction book might relate to tools, classic cars, or something that many fathers may enjoy.

If your book might make for a nice Father’s Day gift, you have the opportunity to say, basically, “Here’s a Father’s Day gift idea,” instead of another, “Check out my book,” message.

Or you might put your book on sale temporarily and advertise the promotion. You can advertise not just that your book is on sale, but that it would be a nice gift for dads.

Check out this example on Read Tuesday, which collected some Father’s Day gift book ideas.

Some authors use the holidays which best relate to their books to get media coverage through press releases. Local papers are looking for holiday themed articles, and your book’s relevance to a holiday might be a good fit. You don’t know until you try.

But Father’s Day is just one of many holidays:

  • December 31, New Year’s Eve. Great for books that tie into New Year’s resolutions.
  • February 14, Valentine’s Day. This one may be too obvious.
  • March 17, St. Patrick’s Day. Have an Irish theme to your book? Is part of your book set in Ireland?
  • March/April, Easter Sunday. One of many religious holidays.
  • April 1, April Fool’s Day. I suppose you could even use a practical joke as part of your marketing strategy.
  • May 5, Cinco de Mayo. But if you have a book that relates to Mexico in some way, beware that May 5 is not Mexico’s Independence Day (which falls on September 16, another opportunity to market your books a few months later).
  • May, Mother’s Day. Would your book make a nice gift for moms? Does it feature a strong mother-daughter relationship?
  • June, Father’s Day. Covered that earlier.
  • July 4, Independence Day. Patriotic books get a few holidays, including Memorial Day and Veteran’s Day.
  • November, Thanksgiving. It could be a book that relates to the spirit of giving thanks.
  • December 25, Christmas. A huge day in the US for gift giving, even with gifts that don’t directly relate to the religious holiday.

Which days (possibly not on my short list) are the best fit for your books? Those times offer your book marketing opportunities. Look out for them.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

How to Market a Book with a Blog

Image from ShutterStock. Space Age font from http://mickeyavenue.com/fonts/spaceage/license.php.

Image from ShutterStock. Space Age font from http://mickeyavenue.com/fonts/spaceage/license.php.

MARKET A BOOK WITH A BLOG

My self-publishing blog currently has 150,000 views, with 350 to 550 views per day, and 5990 followers.

Most of my blog traffic comes from search engines, so it functions as a content-rich website.

A blog can be a highly effective marketing tool if you can draw in hundreds of visitors per day.

People discovering your blog through search engines don’t already know about your book, so this can be great exposure for your book.

It’s not just for nonfiction books.

In fact, I just launched a new blog for a science fiction series that I’m working on, called Alien Curiosity.

You can check it out here, in case you want to see what my blog for a coming fiction series looks like:

http://aliencuriosity.com

Feel free to follow my Alien Curiosity blog to see how I use it.

Note that I launched my blog months in advance of when I will release my science fiction series.

My goal is to have hundreds of visitors discovering my Alien Curiosity blog before I publish the first volume.

BLOGGING TIPS FOR AUTHORS

Realize that you have two separate audiences:

  • There is your current audience of followers and fans, who are likely to give your post initial views, likes, comments, and occasional shares.
  • Then there is your future audience who may discover your post through search engines.

Both audiences are important:

  • Fans and followers make your blog lively and interactive through likes, comments, and shares, and followers who are genuinely interested in your writing can give you initial support when you launch a new book.
  • Search engine visitors are people in your target audience who don’t already know about your book, which gives your blog a very wide and powerful reach.

Choose your content with both audiences in mind:

  • Prepare content that is likely to draw in search engine visitors from your target audience (so the content needs to be relevant to your book and its audience).
  • But the content also needs to interest and engage your current following (and that audience may be somewhat different from the audience for your book; many may be bloggers themselves, so you may share common writing interests, for example).

How to interpret your blogging stats:

  • In the early months, views, likes, follows, and shares will probably be scarce. Even the best blogs often start out very slow. Don’t sweat this data.
  • You start with zero followers, just like everyone else. It will take time, many posts, and even marketing your own blog (include a link in your book along with a reason to visit—it works both ways) to slowly gain traction. Don’t sweat the beginning.
  • The key is that blog stats can accelerate after months of blogging. If you can get your blog stats to steadily grow, this is a positive indicator.
  • Once you have several posts, look at the visitors you’re getting (or not getting) from search engines. If your search engine traffic is steadily growing (even if slowly), your blog has excellent long-term potential.

Your blog has two goals:

  • Slowly build a following and grow your views, likes, comments, and shares.
  • Strive to get 100+ daily visitors to find your blog through search engines (and don’t stop there). 100 daily visitors means that 3000 people who didn’t know about your book are discovering your blog every month.

Remember, these are long-term goals. It doesn’t happen overnight.

To help grow your following, be interactive. Find blogs that interest you. Read those blogs, like them if you enjoy them, leave comments, and reblog those that may be relevant for your followers.

To help gain search engine traction:

  • Content is king and will survive longer than the latest SEO tactics. Write good content that will attract your target audience. (For fiction books, you can still find relevant nonfiction content to blog about.)
  • You needn’t post every day. Once weekly can work. Posts needn’t be lengthy. Around 1000 words can work. (But there isn’t just one size that works. Some bloggers are highly effective with a very short daily post, others are effective with much longer, less frequent posts. But if you write very long posts, you really need great content to attract readers.)
  • Choose 3-5 broad categories that fit your article well. Choose 3-5 specific tags that are perfect fits for your article. For example, I wrote a post about Amazon & Goodreads giveaways. My categories were quite broad (yet relevant): Amazon, books, contest, giveaway, and Goodreads. My tags were much more specific: Amazon giveaway, book contest, free books, and Goodreads giveaway. I like for the tags to extend the categories by adding one or two words to make a keyphrase. But that’s not the only way to do it: See this WordPress example.
  • Start typing keyphrases into the Google search field and it will pull up popular matches. You at least want to make sure that your keyphrase is searched for daily. (Google also has apps to help you judge popularity. But you also have to consider, would you rather be on page 12 of the most popular keyphrase, or page 2 of a less popular one that’s still searched hundreds of times per day?)
  • The keywords and keyphrases that you used for categories and tags should appear quite naturally in the content of your post. Your post should have headings or subheadings. Chances are that one or more of these headings can include those keywords; other keywords will fit into the body text. First and foremost, your post needs to read well (and definitely not like a jumble of keywords). And you don’t want to overdo it. (Google can smell a rat.) The keywords and keyphrases should be a natural fit for your content, and if so, it should be easy to use them in a natural way.
  • Write your post so that it’s skim-friendly. That’s right, most people don’t read every blog article in its entirety, but skim through it. They skim to pick up the main points, to see how much the article interests them, and to decide which parts to read. They might read all of it, but you can’t count on everyone reading every article in its entirety. So make it skim-friendly. Use headings and subheadings to help organize your content. Use bullet points. Use boldface, italics, and color. But use them sparingly so that it’s effective. You can even use images as a visual aid.
  • Every post should have at least one relevant image. That visual appeal helps people decide which articles in their WordPress Reader to check out. You can also use the images for your posts to brand your image as a blogger; you just need a consistent style.

Be patient. You can’t build Rome in a day, not even a blog about Rome. 🙂

Many bloggers give up after a few months, not realizing that their blog stats may accelerate at some point. (If you stick with it, the dropout rate actually works in your favor.)

Do research:

  • Check out other blogs. See how other bloggers use their blogs effectively. There are many different ways to do it well. You can find great ideas just by checking out other blogs and interacting with other bloggers.
  • Try to learn a little SEO. It’s not really about knowing the latest trends, but about finding things that are likely to work long-term. Those who try to use SEO to fool Google often plummet way down the lists once Google catches on. Those who have great content are likely to rise to the top over time. But there are ways to help present great content in a way that’s search engine friendly, and those are the subtle tips you’re looking for.

Some variety is okay for your blog. Sometimes, when you explore something new for your blog, it winds up being better than what you were doing before.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

Book Promotion Opportunities for Authors (It’s Free)

Images from ShutterStock

Images from ShutterStock

BOOK PROMOTION OPPORTUNITIES

Marketing books is hard. I will try to help.

I have a few book promotion opportunities for authors.

Participation is FREE.

(1) Meet the Characters

I have a page on my Read Tuesday website called Meet the Characters.

On this page, readers find short creative pieces featuring one of the characters from various books.

The idea is that readers can learn about books without first seeing the cover or price.

Their first taste of the book is a character’s personality and the author’s writing style.

Many authors and readers have expressed positive feedback about this idea.

(If you like the idea, please tell a friend.)

But we need more authors to participate. Signing up is free.

The earlier you participate, the better the reader-to-book ratio works in your favor.

Once submissions grow enough, Meet the Characters will grow onto multiple pages, different pages dedicated to different genres.

This is potentially permanent exposure for your book, which will hopefully grow over time, with just a little work for you to do in the beginning.

I make no promises about results, but I do offer this opportunity at no cost to you.

Learn more about Meet the Characters and how to sign up here:

Meet the Characters

Meet the Characters Follow-Up

(2) Cover Reveal

I’ll be doing cover reveals for a few of my books in the coming weeks.

But why reveal only my own cover?

This is an opportunity to reveal the covers of several books alongside my own.

The first cover reveal will be soon, but if you miss that, don’t worry, there will be others.

Have you done a cover reveal recently? Will you do one soon?

If so, leave a comment. Once you’ve written a post about your cover reveal, leave a link to your post in the comments.

Remember, I’ll be doing multiple cover reveals, so I may not include all of the covers in the same reveal, but may choose to spread them out (it depends on the number).

(3) Book Contests

Similarly, I’ll be running a few Goodreads giveaways.

When I announce my book contest, I could also announce your book contest.

Goodreads giveaways are preferred, but I’ll consider others.

(Amazon Giveaways tend to finish quickly, so they would be hard to work in unless my post happens to be perfectly timed with your giveaway, which is unlikely.)

If you have a Goodreads giveaway that will be open sometime in June, leave a comment to let me know. If it happens to be running when I do one of my contest posts, I’ll include mention of your giveaway in my post.

(4) Special Categories

Many authors feel that their book doesn’t quite fit properly into any one of Amazon’s browse categories.

So I created a Cool & New Books page at Read Tuesday.

This will showcase books which would best be classified by categories not currently listed at Amazon.

Even if your book is getting by with the available categories, but would fit better in a new category that doesn’t exist, you may submit your book.

Here is your chance to stir reader interest in a brand new category.

The first authors to sign up will enjoy the greatest reader-to-book ratio.

Learn more about Cool & New Books and how to sign up here:

Cool & New Books

(5) More Opportunities

I expect to create more opportunities to help authors promote their books.

When they come, I’ll either announce them here on my blog or over on the Read Tuesday blog.

Follow me and follow Read Tuesday (if you don’t already) to stay tuned.

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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Big Bang, Inflation, Steady-State (Marketing Strategies)

Image from ShutterStock

Image from ShutterStock

BOOK MARKETING STRATEGIES

One of the main book marketing strategies that I see focuses around a Big Bang.

Yet a book marketing strategy that focuses more on consistency may have better long-term potential.

There are benefits and disadvantages of each, which depend on the nature of the book and author.

And recent changes in the dynamic book publishing environment impact the decision for how to market.

BIG BANG

The Big Bang book marketing strategy focuses on driving as much traffic as possible to the book’s product page over a short period of time.

Pre-marketing and buzz-building are amped up for a powerful book launch with several early reviews and many early sales.

BookBub and related promotions are utilized to revitalize sales with additional Big Bangs throughout the year.

Email lists for a newsletter and online followings are grown to launch the next book with a Bigger Bang.

New content is released frequently to generate more Big Bangs.

STEADY-STATE

The steady-state book marketing strategy strives to fuel consistent sales.

Regular sales are favored more than sales spikes.

One main goal is to sustain sales long-term.

Another main goal is to reach a point where sales generate much on their own.

INFLATION

The inflation book strategy is similar to the steady-state strategy.

Emphasis is placed on long-term growth.

It’s not sufficient to sustain sales; the goal is to improve sales annually.

New content is released to help improve sales.

Branding, word-of-mouth, and long-term strategies are applied to generate future sales.

COMPARISON OF BOOK MARKETING STRATEGIES

Many successful indie fiction authors that I have met have used the Big Bang book marketing strategy quite effectively.

Traditional publishers often launch their books with a Big Bang.

I have drawn my success in nonfiction with the inflation book marketing strategy.

There are also popular authors who have earned their success with a combination of Big Bang and inflation strategies.

Personally, given a choice, I prefer sales consistency to sales spikes. That’s the key to long-term success.

You aren’t presented with a choice, though. For some books, a Big Bang is more attainable than sales consistency.

But if you can have both sales spikes and annual sales growth, you get the best of both worlds.

Furthermore, some recent changes in book publishing dynamics may shift the balance a little.

BIG BANG BENEFITS

If you succeed in generating many sales over a short time, your Amazon.com sales rank can really soar.

This improves your chances of landing on a hot new release or top 100 bestseller list (at least in a subcategory).

Some customers browse through the bestseller lists, so this is your one shot to reach those readers.

Frequent sales help give your book additional exposure through customers-also-bought lists, recommendations, etc.

In can take 100 to 1000 sales to get a review, so the sooner you get your sales, the sooner you get customer reviews.

You also get word-of-mouth exposure sooner, and you can build a fan club faster, which helps you release your new books.

If you have other similar books, a sales spike in one book can feed sales to your other books.

BIG BANG DRAWBACKS

It’s hard to maintain a stellar sales rank, which limits the benefits.

If you generate a lot of early reviews from an early sales spike, once the sales rank drops off, the review-to-sales-rank ratio may arouse customer suspicion. (But you can run new short-term promotions in the future to help revive your sales rank.)

Some of the popular methods of Big Bang book marketing, like BookBub and other advertisements, can be somewhat expensive, which makes Big Bang marketing riskier.

Amazon may have recently changed their algorithm to limit the long-term influence of sales spikes on sales rank.

If you could get many of those same sales distributed more evenly over a longer period (not that this is easy to do: a short-term promotion is easier), such sales consistency might have a better long-term impact on sales rank. (Analyzing which factors impact sales rank is complicated, though, and so this might not actually be quite the case.)

It can take a lot of work over a short period to create a high level of anticipation and to generate many early sales.

CONSISTENCY BENEFITS

Consistent sales over a long period lend better stability to your Amazon sales rank.

This may now also have a stronger long-term influence on your sales rank.

Customer reviews are more likely to seem aligned with sales rank at any given time.

Your book is less susceptible to one untimely influential review, technical problems beyond your control, etc.

If you invest in advertising, you can do it with a long-term promotional plan, risking less per month than with the short-term promotions involved in Big Bang marketing.

There is much long-term potential if you succeed in driving consistent sales over a long period.

Your first few books haven’t dropped off the chart when you release a new book, which makes it easier to help a new release feed sales to your older books.

You spread your work load out over a longer period.

CONSISTENCY DRAWBACKS

It takes very frequent sales to get the best exposure with bestseller and hot new release lists.

It’s not easy to generate consistent, long-term sales over a long period of time.

You need to find effective, long-term marketing strategies, and it takes dedication and patience to see them through.

Consistent sales over a long period often requires releasing new content periodically.

It takes longer to recover your investment, and more time to grow your sales.

While it would be great to achieve both, you do have to make some decisions that lean one way or the other.

For example, if you tell everyone you know about your new release at the same time, many are likely to buy it on the same day. But if you tell different groups on different days, you might get more consistent sales. Each option has its benefits and drawbacks. (Though if your book will be on sale for a short period, why not be a nice guy or gal and let people you know in on the deal?)

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.

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