With the first quarter already over, if your book sales aren’t living up to your expectations, you may be wondering why. Whether some of your book marketing efforts fell flat, you haven’t devoted the amount of time you anticipated, or maybe you’re just overwhelmed, you can rest assured you’re not alone. Book marketing, and in turn, book discovery, can often be a confusing journey.
But no matter where you are in the book marketing process, there’s no time like the present to assess what you’re doing and how well it’s working. From there you can realign your marketing efforts and start selling more books.
When people write about book promotion, you often see “book discovery” cited as a big issue. And with 4,500 books published every day, the concept of too many books and not enough discovery may seem to ring true. However, the reality is that it’s really only half true.
It’s not all that difficult to get your book in front of people—Facebook ads can get you a lot of visibility and a lot of discovery. However, getting the right kind of book discovery, or in other words, reaching the right audiences is where a lot of authors get off track.
If this feels like you, it may be a good time to hit the pause button on your marketing efforts. Not only do I recommend carefully reviewing what it is that you’re doing, but also making sure that it’s really working toward your end goals.
The New Book Marketing Reality
As little as five years ago, I would have forecast that social media would be huge in book marketing. However, while social media plays a big role, it’s only part of the story.
The biggest trend these days is repetition. That’s it. Getting your book in front of people again and again is what will really help you start selling more books.
However, the repetition must be appropriately targeted and to on your core audience. So if you do a series of Facebook ads that target the wrong audience, that won’t get you much traction. In fact, it’s the wrong kind of book discovery I mentioned earlier.
So be sure to analyze who you’re really reaching. Because, the right kind of repetition could potentially add a significant increase to your bottom line.
What Your Price Point Says About Your Book
Did you know a higher price point means you’ll need to spend more on book marketing in order to get readers to find it? If you’ve priced your book high in order to recoup your investment in it, this may feel counterproductive, but it’s definitely true. For example, people need to see a $20 book at least three times before they’ll even consider a buy. On the flip side, books under $3 need half that exposure. So, although you can certainly set your book price at $20, you should be prepared to do a lot of book promotion and drop the price regularly to $2 to help increase your exposure.
You should also consider the time needed to convert a buyer to your $20 book, vs. a book at a lower price point. Books priced over $10 are rarely bought the same day, while a $2 book can be an instant purchase. And, it’s important to note that I’m not advocating for cheap books, but the range between $2 and $10 is a good place to start, especially if you’re just starting out.
Do Your Cover, Your Message, and Your Book Description Measure Up?
Your book’s title and subtitle, or your message, will get noticed before your imagery does. The image is important, but I suggest you spend twice as long on the title and subtitle of your book. The reality is that readers will not “buy it anyway.”
In fact, most consumers buy in four, maybe six categories. They’re know what they want, and equally importantly, what they don’t want. Consumers make near instant decisions and, in most cases, use their intuition to assess whether the book’s message is right for them. Your message needs to be crystal clear, or your reader simply won’t buy.
This concept is also true if you’re trying to break through to a new trend that hasn’t quite hit the mainstream market. You want to be the first, but here’s the thing: if your consumer isn’t familiar with whatever it is you’re addressing, it’s going to be a very hard sell.
In order to maximize your book promotion, consider addressing something your consumer is familiar with that is tethered to your topic and bring them in that way. (Read more about how to do this here!)
Focus Your Amazon Book Page
If you haven’t looked at your Amazon page recently, you should do so. If you haven’t noticed, your page is busy because Amazon works hard to push people to things they want them to notice. Although it’s your book page, the competition for other stuff is fierce.
As a result, you need to take some time to be sure that the areas of your page that you control are tight and focused. You must have an outstanding book cover, and your book description needs to be sufficiently compelling to keep shoppers engaged.
As you audit your page, if you’re not sure it has a tight enough focus, ask yourself some hard questions. First: Who will care about your book based on just the description? This is what translates into book sales. So here are some things to look at:
- Can you lead your book description with a blurb or review? Remember people like what other people like.
- Do you have good paragraph spacing? Consumers don’t read, they scan. So use short paragraphs, and bullet points when possible to make your book description easier to read.
- Does your book description lead off with the most important, key element of your book? If your first sentence doesn’t tell readers why the will love your book, you should revisit this.
Bottom line, your book page needs to be crystal clear, enticing, and keep consumers from clicking off to something else.
Know Your Reader
I always recommend that authors devote time to make sure their book title and cover are strong, and that the editing is solid. However, the area that too many authors miss is making sure they understand their target reader.
While you should definitely write the book that you want to write, if you aren’t focused on fulfilling the needs of your specific market, then don’t expect them to buy your book.
If you don’t know what your reader likes, dislikes or gravitates to when it comes to your specific market, then you need to take some time to get to know them.
As I mentioned earlier readers are particular about the types of books and genres they gravitate toward, starting with the “look” and genre standards.
One way to get to know your reader is to read a lot in your genre. Similarly, learning more about other books and authors is a good way to do this, too. To dig even further into your genre, I also recommend taking some time to check out some top best-selling authors in your market and look at their also-boughts on Amazon.
While understanding what your reader likes and expects is key, so too is taking the time to develop a reader profile to dig deeper into reader demographics. You can download my reader profile worksheet here, and even though you don’t have to go through it all, every piece you complete will really help you refine your book marketing.
The Key to Advertising
I generally dislike running ads. Not only do many authors not run ads effectively, but ads have less direct power these days, unless they are connected to something specific like a discount promotion, event, or something else. They can also be incredibly effective if run in a very specific niche, like Amazon or Bookbub ads.
Facebook ads are a great example of this. While they tend to be a go-to for authors, they aren’t often as effective in boosting book sales as we’d like, typically because they aren’t specific enough. Consumers seeing an ad for a book rarely make a purchase simply because they see the ad. And although repetition is important to build awareness, Facebook ads can get expensive, so you’ll want to use them the right way and for the right purpose.
Amazon ads are fabulous when done the right way. In order to do these effectively, you’ll need to start by doing your own research instead of using their suggested keywords. This article on Amazon ads will help you if you need more information.
The key to running ads, is to run them smartly in a way that can translate into book sales.
Finally, eBook ads for your pricing promo are almost always a great boost to your book sales. And even if you aren’t selling a lot of books during the promo, they can help improve book discovery and visibility as well as your overall Amazon algorithm.
I encourage you to devote time to finding the right kind of book discovery, and leading your reader to a point where they are deciding whether or not to buy. If you can get them that far and your book cover is awesome and your book page is tight, you can likely make the sale.
And after all, that’s what this journey is all about – selling more books and seeing a return your efforts.
Penny Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. (AME) and Adjunct Professor at NYU, is a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. Her company is one of the leaders in the publishing industry and has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. To learn more about Penny and AME, visit www.amarketingexpert.com.