If you’re traditionally publishing, you don’t have to worry about the publishing and distribution. But, no matter what publishing path you take, you’ll need to learn about book marketing.
This article deals with being discoverable through Amazon in particular, but the content will be applicable to anywhere you’re distributing your books to, including Barnes and Noble, iBook, and so on.
Okay, so you have your manuscript, whether ghostwritten or you’ve written it yourself. If you need illustrations for your children’s picture book, you’ve researched and found a great illustrator.
Everything is done, including editing, and your manuscript is ready to go.
According to an article at MichaelHyatt.com, research shows how a potential reader looks at your book, in the order that she actually looks:
1. She looks at the title, so it should definitely be grabbing (an attention getter) and reflective of the book’s content.
2. She looks at the cover.
3. She looks at the back cover.
4. She looks at the flap (this is applicable to hard cover books with dust jackets).
5. She’ll glance over the Table of Contents.
6. She’ll glance at the first couple of paragraphs at the beginning of the story.
7. She’ll look at the price (be comparable to other books in your genre).
We’ll focus a bit on 1, 2, and 3.
Up till now, you might have been using a ‘working’ title. It’s time to step up your game and create a killer title. As you can see above, the title is the NUMBER ONE element a potential reader will look at.
It’s a good idea to include a subtitle also. This will further help the reader and search engines find your book and help them determine what it’s about.
This is especially important in series.
The title and subtitle will be the first bit of information a potential reader will get of your book.
The title should be:
– An attention getting (as mentioned above)
– Be relevant to the book itself – giving information as to what the reader can expect
– Be memorable (if at all possible)
– Be easy to say
The last two attributes are akin to your website’s domain name. Don’t make it a difficult one to pronounce or remember. People want easy and quick.
So, why do you want your title to be memorable and easy to say?
You want the reader to tell his friend that he read “Your Book Title” and loved it. You want the friend to remember the title so he can look it up and buy it.
After the title, the potential reader will look at the cover.
Do your research to get it right.
The front cover
This is definitely not for amateurs. Your cover illustration and design need to be professionally done.
While much of creating a book today can cost no money or very little, you should invest in the cover. And, it doesn’t have to be expensive. There are a number of services, like Fiverr.com, that have very good graphic designers.
The key is to find the right one for your book.
After the title and cover design, the potential reader will look at the back cover. This is usually enough for her to make a decision.
The back cover
Now, do you know what you want to do with the back cover?
While the front cover and title are your most important selling features, the back cover is the next most important thing in giving the reader a reason to buy your book.
– Do you want your author bio and picture on the back? (Not unless you’re James Patterson or Stephen King.)
– Do you want back cover copy that will help motivate the reader to buy the book? (Yes.)
– Do you want an illustration included? (If at all possible, especially for a children’s book.)
These are things to think about.
A good way to help decide is to go to your library and look at recently published books in your genre. She how these publishers designed the back covers.
On a lesser note, some readers want to know about the author. They may scan the back of the book to check out the author bio. This make be the factor that gets the buy.
This is why you should have an Author page.
Now it’s on to researching a quality company to take your manuscript (and illustrations if applicable) and turn it into an ebook and/or a physical book.
The self-publishing company or distributor will ask you to come up with keywords, a description, an author blurb, back cover copy, and possibly dedication copy.
Don’t just jot anything down. Think carefully. Take your time. Research keywords and what to say for the other elements.
Whether your books are listed on Amazon or elsewhere, the site’s visitor search engines will look at those optimized elements to provide an accurate answer to a visitor’s query.
SIDE NOTE: Most of the self-publishing companies offer packages. It could be illustrations, editing, providing the keywords and description, and so on. It will be an additional fee though. And, keep in mind, most are not interested in you selling your books – most of them make their money directly from you.
So again, take the time and research how to choose the categories and create your own optimized keywords, and so on. Give your book every opportunity to be discoverable.
At this point you might be wondering what this all means. Well, let me give you an example.
How Amazon’s search works – Basically
Pete wants to buy a book for his middle-grade son who loves fantasy adventure stories. So, Pete inputs MIDDLE GRADE, FANTASY, ADVENTURE, BOOK in Amazon’s search box.
My small traditional publisher knows a bit about online marketing, so created relevant keywords and a description for my middle-grade book, “Walking Through Walls.”
My book’s keywords and description include the keywords Pete used in his query.
Based on the optimization of my book, Amazon knows that it’s a good match to Pete’s query so they may very well give my book as one of the search results.
While there are other factors involved, this is basically how it works.
This is the power of optimizing your book for visibility. Keywords and categories especially make your book more discoverable.
How to find effective keywords . . . and categories
Just knowing you need effective keywords isn’t going to help you much. To find those keywords think logically – use common sense.
1. What is your book about?
2. What words would you use to describe your book?
3. What words would you use in a search box to find a similar book?
4. What words do you think a reader will use to find a book like yours?
Let’s say your book is a romance set in Tuscany. Come up with a list of keywords you think a person might use to search for that kind of story. Maybe it deals with a vineyard or tourism.
Along with the obvious: romance, Tuscany, love, think long-tail keyword.
A long-tail keyword is a more specific keyword. In addition to the basics, like romance, include ‘love in Tuscan,’ ‘romance Italian style.’ Maybe even something like, ‘love and wine and romance in Tuscany.’
You get the idea, elaborate. But, always make your keywords relevant to your book.
After you have at least 10-15, go to Amazon and input just the beginning of ROMANCE in the search box. In the drop-down box that appears, what key phrases does Amazon bring up?
When I did it, I was given:
Next, go to similar books on Amazon. Find a couple of good matches to yours and analyze them.
As an example, I searched for ROMANCE IN TUSCANY. While there wasn’t a drop-down list of keywords, it did bring me to a page with books that have “Tuscany” in it.
For the book “That Month in Tuscany” toward the bottom of Product Details, you’ll find what it’s ranking for (the categories):
This book is ranking well (#1816) for: Books>Romance>Contemporary
In the More About the Author section, toward the bottom it shows what the author’s Author Rank is and for what categories:
The author is ranking high for Kindle eBooks>Romance> Contemporary>Books>Literature & Fiction>Contemporary Fiction
Researching this gives you a lot of useable information.
NOTE: it’s advisable to do this research on books that have a good ranking – that are doing well on Amazon like the book I referenced above.
Categories are kind of like keywords but it gives a broader look at what your book is about.
It’s in the keywords that you’ll get more specific. If they’re appropriate for your book, you might use TUSCANY, ROMANCE IN TUSCANY, ITALY, FLORENCE, TUSCANY VINEYARDS, RENAISSANCE ART, MICHELANGELO’S DAVID.
Okay, so you have a good list of keywords and categories. Now choose the ones that the ‘good ranking’ books are using, plus add ones that are more specific to your book (long-tail keywords). Possibly, romance in Tuscany.
What about the book description?
Amazon is great in that they allow up to 4000 words (last time I looked). If you’ve written a novel or full-size nonfiction book use all the words allowed.
If you have a children’s picture book, obviously you wouldn’t use all those words. But, you should write a motivating description and possibly elaborate on how the book will be relevant or beneficial in school settings or at home.
Think outside the box. Make your book description as enticing as possible.
If you’re working with a self-publishing company, they’ll most often tell you how many words you’re allowed.
The Amazon Author Page
Not everyone knows about the Amazon Author Page, but now you do. Be sure you create one and fill in every feature offered.
Readers often want to know about the author of a book. This will give them what they want to know and it can very well help motivate them to buy your book.
You can find information about creating your own Author Page at:
You can also see how I created mine:
Taking advantage of Goodreads
Goodreads is probably the largest reader site. Readers list the books they’ve read, are reading, and want to read. And, a lot of the users give reviews of the books they’ve read.
How you can use this for your research is to go to the site and, like Amazon, use the search bar to put in your keyword and see what their search engine brings up.
If you look at a particular book, it will also give you the categories (genres) used.
While you’re on the site, create an account and list your books.
Wrapping it Up
There are many strategies you can use to help market your book. Having your book on Amazon is probably on the top of the list. Just be sure to optimize your listing to help make it discoverable. Research effective keywords, categories, and descriptions. Analyze what other books in your genre are doing in this area. Take what you learn and create a slam-dunk Amazon book strategy.
For even more information on Amazon book marketing, visit:
Improve Your Book Descriptions and Audience Targeting
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