Even if you’ve written the most brilliant book in your genre, if no one finds your sales page, you won’t make any sales. Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Google Play, and iBooks hold so much power in the digital book distribution landscape, not because they’re giant conglomerates, but because millions of consumers specifically visit their site (or app) every day to buy books.
Don’t rely on your blog or website, reviews, and podcasts only. Take advantage of the marketing potential of the most popular online bookstores. The more sales channels you distribute your book to, the higher your book’s exposure will be. But don’t settle on simply having an online sales page. Simply posting your book blurb won’t cut it. Just like a piece of compelling sales copy, your sales page should have the elements that can persuade people to take a specific action, i.e. buy your book.
1. The Title
My previous article How Book Titles are a Game Changer focuses on tips for crafting great book titles. Check that out to discover useful and interesting writing advice. Most online book retailers allow authors to add a description to their title.
This is great for both the reader and the author: your target audience can instantly identify your book’s genre and you catch the reader’s attention by using keywords and wordings of text. Book titles work like headlines, after all. I’m going to use John Michael Hileman’s book listing on Amazon as an example.
By adding “Mystery, Suspense, Thriller” to his title, he was able to instantly tell readers the book’s genre. You can also use this technique on your subtitle, as in Tarnished and Torn: A Witchcraft Mystery by Juliet Blackwell.
Use the right key words. What words will people use to find your book in a search? What words will grab their attention? What is your book’s genre? But don’t make the description too long. Your title and subtitle combined must not go beyond 200 characters.
2. Make Your Book Available as an E-book
It only makes sense to publish an e-book in this day and age. If you don’t go digital, you will miss out on huge opportunities to sell your book. E-book sales are steadily on the rise, and people intentionally go to Amazon, iBooks, and Google Play to find the next thing to read on their e-readers. Amazon is the go-to store for many e-book buyers.
If they find your sales page and see that your book is only available as a paperback or hardcover, they will click away and move to the next one. What’s more, Amazon has made the big orange “Buy now with 1-Click” button more prominent on the search results pages, making it easier to encourage people to take that action. Many successful indie authors released print versions of their book all over the world when they reached international fame, but most of them started with e-books.
3. Cover Design
People multitask when they go on the Internet. While on Amazon or any retail website, they chat with a friend on Facebook, wait for a YouTube video to buffer, and complain about the sluggish Internet connection. You only have a few seconds to convince your prospects to click your page and learn more about your book.
Visuals play an important role. Your book’s cover art and thumbnail must be attractive enough to compel readers that this is the book to buy next. It’s not enough to slap bright colors to the cover. The design, layout, and text need to pique their interest, but refrain from stuffing the artwork with all the book’s important elements.
The cover of your e-book can be different from the cover of your paperback and hardback. Hire a professional artist to craft a unique design that reflects your book’s genre, tone, and story. Unless you’re a qualified illustrator, don’t attempt to create the cover yourself, for professionals have the knowledge, experience, and expertise in this area. Check out my previous post about the importance and elements of a good book cover: The Power of Book Covers.
You can definitely sell a book through reviews. When browsing a bookstore, what do you do to decide if a book is a good buy? You read the back cover blurb and the glowing reviews at the back. Sales pages provide the opportunity to tell prospects what everyone else thinks about your book. If you’ve received favorable feedback from bloggers, reviewers, and readers, this is your chance to raise your book’s credibility.
Place the reviews on a prominent section of the sales page, preferably at the top. With long reviews, use excerpts from the review that tout your book’s beauty. There are hundreds of opportunities for your book to be reviewed, so don’t worry if Publisher’s Weekly declines to review your book. Start with book listing sites like Goodreads, which happens to have an impressive reviewer community. Many members will review your book in exchange for a free copy.
As an author, you should know that bad reviews will be part of your life. Don’t dwell too much on them. They’ll only break your heart. More importantly, bad reviews actually offer one important benefit – they can spread the word about your book. There’s no such thing as bad publicity, after all.
When a reader bashes your book, they put time and effort to read your book and spread the word about it, and that can be a good thing. And remember, you can bury one-star reviews on Amazon by voting up the higher rating reviews.
A book sales page can have different sets of descriptions. Barnes & Noble’s NOOK Store and Amazon have separate sections for the book info, editorial reviews, and product details. The book description refers to the back cover blurb, not an actual product description. The goal of the description is to arouse the reader’s interest and make them want to read more.
Highlight your book’s premise, its defining highlights, but don’t reveal anything important. Just mention that there’s a twist. This is the kind of copy that will leave the reader hanging and want to find out what happens next. Editorial reviews, also called book endorsements, can contain reviews you’ve received (the ones I explained in number 4) and any awards you or the book has received that will boost your work’s credibility.
Post multiple editorial reviews (three to ten), but keep each one short (two to four sentences). Editorial reviews from authorities, popular book reviewers, and celebrities can impress prospective buyers, but don’t worry if you don’t have flashy endorsements. Reviews from book bloggers and Goodreads members can work just as well.
6. Author Bio
Don’t forget to write a gleaming author bio. Write in the third person. It’s okay to brag. Include your greatest writing achievements and your professional background. Put facts that establish yourself as an authority in your book’s genre or subject matter. If you have an educational background that will establish yourself as an authority, include that, too.
Many authors despise writing their own bios. Write several versions of your short biography and choose what speaks to you the best. Browse the Internet for ideas. The bio can have 250 words at most. Your career can still change as you progress in the publishing and literary world, so in the future, change your bio to include more accomplishments.
Write your sales page with brand promotion in mind. This is a marketing tool designed to convince people that you have the perfect book your target audience is looking for.
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