When they hear the term copywriting, most authors assume it’s only relatable to businesses trying to promote themselves online. That may be true up to some extent. But are we forgetting something? Writing is a business, whether you like that term or not. When you write a book, you need to promote it and you’d be more than thrilled to see more people reading it, right?
So what’s a copy, anyway?
Do not assume it has anything to do with copying. We’re talking about completely original content. The book description is a copy. A blog post is a copy. A social media post is a copy. A copy is any content you write for the sake of promotion.
Good, we got that out of the way.
Now, the only question is: how do you achieve more book sales through copywriting? We’ll get there!
Why Do Most Writers Need Help with Copywriting?
Paul Berger, a copywriter for BestEssays, explains the reason why writers usually ask for his assistance: “It’s amazing to see someone completing this amazing book and then struggling with blog posts. But it’s also something we can understand. Copywriting is a completely different thing from fiction writing. Writers are pouring their souls into their work. When you tell them to write commercial content for promotion, they usually overcomplicate things.”
Take George R.R. Martin’s blog as an example. It’s a pretty good one. The writer understood the need for his readers to connect with him in the online world. The posts are straightforward and quite readable, just like all blog posts should be. However, most of them are also promotional in nature. George R.R. Martin got the point of copywriting. We’re wondering: why is this such a rare case among modern authors?
Why do writers struggle with copywriting? The answer is simple: it’s a different type of writing, which they haven’t practiced before.
How is it different, exactly?
- You have to approach this not from a storyteller’s, but from a marketer’s point of view. There’s still a touch of storytelling in a good copy, but it’s a different approach. The copy should influence people to buy your book. In the Internet era, there’s no space for “I’ll just do my thing, the publisher will do their thing, and I’ll see what happens from” No! For the book to be successful, the author has to be included in the marketing process.
- Book descriptions are part of copywriting, and they can definitely sell. Before someone orders a book from Amazon, the first thing they will do is read the description. Then they will read the reviews.
- Speaking of reviews, the writer has to get lots of them. People want to see social proof. When you promote your book and you invite your readers to share their opinions, you’re triggering the growth of social proof for your book.
- A copy has to call to action. That’s not an element that writers usually implement in fiction writing.
- Online content should be based on the principle of scarcity. That’s a torture for writers who are used to completing books of 500+ pages.
Now that we saw how copywriting is different from fiction writing, it’s time for the real tips.
Tips for Authors: How to Write a Seductive Sales Copy
1. Understand the Mindset of the Modern Reader
Your copy has one main purpose: persuading the readers to get your book. The content has to be well-written, and you can definitely do that. You’re an author. However, it also has to be attractive in terms of convincing people to spend money on your product.
The reader approaches your copy with this mindset: “What’s in it for me?” They don’t care about you talking about the awesomeness of your work. They care about the experience they are going to have from reading that book.
Check this part of George R.R. Martin’s blog post:
“You will, however, be able to return to Westeros this year, as I suggested back over on Live Journal.”
You see? As a reader, you can see that the writer addresses you directly. “I will take you back to Westeros this year” sounds much less attractive from a blog reader’s point of view.
This rule does not refer to book descriptions. They are just attractive summaries of the book. When writing for blogs or social media, however, you have to show the reader what’s in it for them.
2. Think of a Hook
The seductive hook is an inseparable part of an attractive copy. It’s a tease for the readers. It comes at the beginning of the content, and it should trigger the reader’s interest to go through the entire piece of text.
When writing a book, the plot is your hook. You’re doing your best to entertain the reader. In copywriting, the hook comes in the form of an issue and a promise for a solution.
This shouldn’t be an entire paragraph. The hook in copywriting is a short statement that stretches out to two sentences the most. Your goal is to show that your content has a solution the reader needs.
This is the hook from the introduction before Stephen King’s guest post for the website of Jerry Jenkins:
“This is going to be a very long post, but I’m not going to apologize for it because: 1—I need to brag about how I know Mr. King; 2—I promise it’ll be content-rich; 3—You’re going to learn Voice merely by osmosis, beyond what he’s teaching overtly; and 4—You’ll be glad you invested the time.”
This is a great hook, mainly because it answers the main question a reader has: “What’s in it for me?”
It also identifies a problem: voice. The post is written for a target audience of authors, who want to find their unique voice. The hook promises to provide the solution; they just need to keep reading.
So how can you write a good hook?
- As a question that you know your target reader has on their mind.
- Are you looking for your next summer read?
- Are you wondering what life would be like if we didn’t have to work?
- What could you do if you were poor, depressed, and friendless? Smith might have the perfect solution for such situation.
- Think of the purpose of your post. What are you going to write about? Then, answer this question: why should someone read that? Your answer will lead you to the hook.
3. Write about the Most Important Aspects of Your Book
This is the first rule that copywriters follow: understand your product. First of all, they must understand what the copy is about. If it’s a new shampoo, they must understand all benefits it provides for the user.
In this case, you must understand the advantages of your book, and highlight them in your copy. What makes it unique? What makes it a valuable read? What’s the conflict the hero faces? What will the reader learn from it?
This doesn’t mean you should provide a mere plot summary. Remember: you’ll be writing several blog and social media posts for your book, so you cannot rewrite that same summary over and over again.
- Choose an interesting aspect and write about it. Tell your readers what got you inspired for that element of the story. Relate it to real-life situations. What’s the backstory you can share? What problem does it represent and what are the potential solutions?
- Connect a moment or character from your book with current trends. J. K. Rowling did this in a masterful way through her blog post called On Monsters, Villains, and the EU Referendum. It’s an opinion post that doesn’t have to do much with book promotion, but she still manages to relate politics with a character from her book. That’s brilliant.
- You should share something from your book, but you must stay away from giving out too much. The point of the copy is to tease. This is what you should NOT include:
- Spoilers. Do not give away the ending under any circumstances. If someone wants to discuss it on your blog or social media pages, add the notification SPOILER ALERT before you write your response.
- Too many characters. Focus on one or two characters from your book when copywriting.
- Too many events. Pick one aspect of the plot. Remember: the audience doesn’t want a summary.
- A full description of the main character’s journey. NO! Leave that to the book itself.
4. Include a Call to Action
So someone reads your post. Then what? What should this person do? You probably expect them to search for your book and buy it. Why not make it easy for them?
Many authors forget that a copy is mostly intended to sell something. A call to action accompanied with a link to where people can get your book is completely appropriate. It gives them something to do after reading your post, so they won’t feel like they wasted their time.
The call to action, however, has to be a bit subtle. You cannot write “Go buy my book now!” Here are few examples of calls that work:
- You can grab your copy today with 20% off the full price.
- You were looking for something to read? This book might be it. Get it on Amazon.
- Can’t wait to see what happens to Louisa? Grab your copy today!
As you can see, it’s important to include the reader’s point of view in the call to action, too. You must call them to action that has some value for them.
5. Master the Art of Social Media Posting
Salman Rushdie was pretty active on Twitter. He hasn’t shared a tweet since 2016, but the ones he did share are still worthy of discussion.
Just check his last tweet from November 2016. He took a selfie, which is a pretty revolutionary thing for a writer to do. But this selfie shows the author’s funny side, and it comes with support for a specific candidate on the U.S. presidential elections. This was the first time for him to vote as a U.S. citizen, so the post has deeper meaning knowing the author’s history.
This wasn’t a post that promoted one of his books. It was, however, a post aimed towards personal branding. That’s what social media marketing is all about. Through these platforms, you have a chance to promote not only your work but yourself as an author, too.
The formula for a successful social media post is simple:
- Be fun, eloquent, intriguing, or thought-provoking. If you evoke any emotion, you’ll provoke shares and comments.
- The point is to get more people liking your page, and you’ll achieve that goal only if you’re active. Salman Rushdie’s Twitter is no longer active, so there’s no point for someone new to follow. When people see regular updates on your page and they like what you offer, they will follow.
- You must engage with the followers. When someone asks a question, respond.
- Be ready to take on some criticism. The online world can be brutal. People feel free to say whatever they mean or don’t mean. If it’s constructive criticism, respond to it and take it into consideration. If you see lots of hate on your page and the comments are not relevant to your work, you have every right to get rid of them. It’s your page. If you leave such hateful comments, however, they might trigger defensive responses from your supporters. A discussion is always a good thing.
- Show your humorous side. Of course, you’ll write a serious post now and then, but keep in mind that the main reason why people use social media is to relax.
- Inspire people! Inspire them to make some kind of change in their lives. In one way or another, that call for change may be related to your book.
6. What about Ads?
Blogs and social media posts are inbound marketing techniques. You’re not being aggressive; people who are looking for the things you offer will search Google and social media and they will find your page thanks to the content you’ve published. That’s a great method since the potential buyer is in charge of the entire process.
Outbound marketing techniques, on the other hand, are interruptive. If you pay for an ad on social media, it will appear on people’s feeds although they didn’t ask to see such a post. It’s a more aggressive type of marketing, but it’s still a necessary thing for a writer to do.
Social media ads can help you attract more followers towards your pages. It’s especially useful when you have a new book to promote. The copy of the ads is the main factor of attraction.
- Mind the hook. What are you trying to promote and what’s in it for the buyer? What benefits would someone get from reading this book?
- Is there a particular issue that this book solves? Is there a specific problem the characters face? Talk about it in the ad copy.
- Mind the visuals. You may go with the cover image of your book, but you may also opt for an attractive graphic or photograph that captures the essence of your book.
Copywriting Is More Important than You Think!
The good news is that you already know how to write. A copy is just another type of content you need to master. It’s a challenge, but it will take you on a great adventure. The final goal is to connect with your audience and sell more books. Who doesn’t want that?
Warren Fowler is a marketing enthusiast and a blogger at BestEssays, who loves music. If he doesn’t have a guitar in his hands, he’s probably embracing new technologies and marketing techniques online! You can meet him on Twitter.