Friday, June 15, 2012

How to Sell More Books

Doug Lance is the Editor-in-Chief of eFiction Magazine, a monthly subscription journal aimed at delivering the best in short stories from around the world to the Kindle market.  As a marketer of digital publications, Doug is well aware of the challenges in bringing an independently published book or magazine to the attention of the reading public.  Doug also knows it can be done. It just takes a bit of work, and a bit of savvy marketing.

Here are Doug’s suggestions for how to sell more books.  This list was first published on in the Writers Caf√© on June 2, 2012, Doug has graciously allowed me to re-print them here as a guest blog.

Doug Lance
eFiction Magazine

            10 Things Indie Authors Can Do to Sell More Books
                                      by Doug Lance

        1)    Acquire new distributors
             a.    Amazon—you must be on Amazon. Only sign up for Kindle Select if
             you have 5+ titles or if your books are in a series.
             b.    Barnes & Noble—B&N sells much fewer indie titles, but it isn’t hard to
             format an EPUB so there is no reason not to distribute with them.
             c.    Apple--#3 ebookseller. Tougher to format for and less reward, but the
             tagging features make is easy to drive traffic to your book (see 2.c).
             d.    Smashwords—the aggregator distributor.  They take a royalty for only
             one action. Not worth it to use them to distribute to the above
             markets. But they are worth it to distribute to their other partners.

2)    Optimize your sales pages
a.    Description—How many times have you rewritten your description? Have you tried split testing it? Try new things with your description and use books sales or to track the ranking to see how it does over time.
b.    Cover—Reinvest money you’ve earned on a new cover. Call it a new edition and you’ll have an excuse  to launch it all over again.
c.    Tags—Look at the best 10 books in your category and steal all their tags. Comb through the keyword list and pick out the best ones. Use those tags.
d.    Price point—Higher price points now rank higher for equivalent sales volume of lower priced titles. That means you might want to raise the price of your book to rank higher. High ranks tend to rise you up in search/category listings, which promote sales.

3)    Connect with your readers
a.    Newsletter—this is a critical one, in my opinion.  If you’re not doing this, you’re missing out on a huge portion of what internet marketing is. Try to collect the email address of every reader you have. Put a link in your backmatter, put a sign-up form in your sidebar, and put a link in your email signature. Get everyone signed up and keep them posted on new releases, events in your career, etc. The power of this cannot be overstated.
b.    Social Media–-more important today than it was yesterday, that’s how fast things are changing. A big part of digital sales is about having a platform. Social media is the absolute best platform building tool we have. Optimize your profile and sign up everywhere. Use them all.
c.    Video—record yourself talking about what is important to you. People you meet will watch and perhaps subscribe to your Youtube channel. The numbers when you start don’t really matter. You can be happy that you’ve got the confidence to do it. Most people don’t.
d.    Podcast—you can host your own radio show online. But beyond that, you can talk about your genre and readers of your genre will find you, and if they like you, they’ll check out your books. Your podcast can act like a rally flag for your readers.

4)    Connect with book reviewers
a.    Find book reviewers—stick to reviewers that review in your genre, and ones that have traffic and engagement on their site. Go for the big wins.
b.    Refine your pitch—ask friends to review your pitch, rewrite it even if you don’t think it needs it, and make sure to edit it with fresh eyes before sending it out.
c.    Maintain relationships—don’t frop off the face of the Earth after your review is placed. Send the occasional email of find the reviewer on social sites and connect there. Maintain that relationship and they’ll review all your future books, too.

5)    Connect with writers with the success you want
a.      Email—this is still the preferred contact method for most authors I’ve met. Always approach with a value proposition. Have something interesting or unique to say, have a tip for them, or whatever your unique value is.  If you do this, it will take from being a bum asking for change to a potential business partner.
b.    Social media—once you are a fan, you are no longer a peer; or at least it is hard to make that transition (I call it the fan zone). So approach from a peer perspective and keep the gushing to a minimum. You are a professional.
c.    Phone—this is the old school way to reach someone. That said, nothing can compete with the phone’s ability to cut through all the noise and to give you a direct line with somebody you want to talk to.

6)    Connect with ebook podcasters
a.     KindleChronicles—my personal favorite, Len is a great guy and his podcast converts.
b.—brand new podcast on the scene and the guys seem to be in the phase where they talk about themselves a lot. This is how most podcasts start, so I expect that to change when the audience grows larger.
c.    Ishouldbewriting—this podcast has been around for a while and it hasn’t really broken out. It seems to have a decent audience and is worth pursuing.

7)    Guest post for reading blogs
a.     You should already know about guest posting, so I won’t rehash that here. Just want to say: if you’re a fiction author, do not guest post for writing blogs. Guest post for reader blogs. Blogs that talk about your genre specifically are the best.

8)    Join reading communities
a.—the biggest and best of the ereading forums.  You should have a presence here.
b.—another great ereading board, though not as popular as KindleBoards. Still a great place to meet readers.
c.—the smallest and most nerdy of the ereading boards. Sci-fi/fantasy authors should be happier here.

9)    Write and distribute a press release
a.    Angle—press releases are for newspapers and now popular blogs to write an article about you and your book. You need to find a strong angle to approach your story from that will interest the press.
b.    Media kit—Description, tagline, 3-5 cover shots in sizes 68x90 up to 600x800, and any multimedia you’ve produced to go with it.
c.    Find the key people you need to send release to—Use Google or
d.    Write the press release—don’t attach your media kit. Either link to the downloads on your site or simply state if the reviewer is interested you can follow up with ebook and media kit. If you are doing a print run or POD, offering a print book in a great way to make a new friend in the press.
e.    Send to targeted people.

10)  Start a new book.

 So that's Doug's advice. Sound simple? Marketing an ebook, or 
 any publication, is never easy. It's work, pure and simple.  But it is 
 totally do-able.  My thanks to Doug Lance for sharing his words of   
 advice with my readers.  

 eFiction Magazine can be ordered through subscription at . It comes with a risk-free 14-day free trial and 
 is auto-delivered to the Kindle.  

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