29
Sep
2020
0

How to Use the Rest of 2020 for Better Book Marketing

What a crazy year 2020 has been.

On the one hand, it seems to have flown by. 

It seems like just yesterday we were on the verge of celebrating an entirely new decade, full of possibility and promise.

On the other hand, this is the year everything changed.

The pandemic has affected countless lives, and we don’t even know when things will get back to normal, or if they even will.

In times of such turmoil, it’s easy to lose sight of your goals and the things that motivate you. 

Perhaps you feel like you haven’t made the most of the year. However, there’s still a whole quarter of it to go.

If you want to dedicate the final part of 2020 to becoming a better book marketer, here is a clear method to help you move forward. 

Assess your current self-publishing strengths and weaknesses

It’s impossible to make a plan to be a better book marketer without first knowing where you are at.

Self-publishing has so many elements and aspects to it. There are inevitably some areas where you have more knowledge, strength, and skill than others.

You might wish to strengthen the things you are good at even further, or you might wish to brush up on your weaknesses. That’s entirely down to you. However, to carry out either approach, you first need to stop and consider the way things stand.

So how do you go about doing that?

Start by listing out all the elements of self-publishing that make a difference to the success of your books.

This could include writing, your understanding of book covers, book launches, building an author platform, paid advertising – whatever it is that is needed to achieve your author goals.

Then, when you have a long list, make detailed notes under each large category. How do you currently feel about each one? How much experience do you have? What’s worked well for you in each area, and where have you had failures?

The key is to be brutally honest with yourself. Carry out this exercise at a time when you feel unrushed, comfortable, and able to focus

Only by determining where your strengths and weaknesses currently are can you figure out how to move forward. 

Find the 80/20 of your personal improvement 

After you’ve assessed the current state of your self-publishing knowledge, you can determine the areas that are most suitable for improvement.

You might find it helpful to take a Pareto, or 80/20, approach to doing this. 

In case you’re not familiar with the Pareto principle, it stems from an economist who discovered that 80% of wealth typically stems from 20% of the people.

This basic principle was then shown to be true in other areas. For example, companies will typically derive around 80% of their revenue from around 20% of their sources.

The numbers aren’t exact, but the basic principle is solid. In a nutshell, a small minority of what we do produces the most significant impact.

Keep this principle in mind when you are thinking about areas to improve during the rest of 2020.

Once you have your full list of self-publishing elements, as described in the above step, think about which ones will make the largest impact on your author goals if you improve them.

For example, let’s say you feel you’re around an 8/10 when it comes to writing books quickly. Would moving up to a 9/10 make that much fo a difference, or would the improvement be marginal?

However, if you’re only a 2/10 when it comes to building an author platform, getting stronger in this area is likely to have a significant impact.

After you’ve figured out where you want to improve, consider the best way to improve.

For example, you might find investing in a paid self-publishing program is worthwhile, or you might be able to get what you need from podcasts and blog posts.

Match your marketing approach to your retail platform 

One of the key principles of strategic marketing is that marketing shouldn’t exist as an isolated activity that is carried out separately from activities such as sales. 

Back in the day, companies tended to take what is known as a silo approach, where different aspects of their operation were carried out without coordination between them.


This is as much of a mistake for book marketers as it is any other type of business.

Sometimes, it’s easy to carry out book marketing activities in isolation, without thinking about their wider strategic purpose or how they fit into your wider plan,

Let’s just look at one brief example.

Imagine you want to market your books on Pinterest. You’ve heard this approach can work well for authors, so you take the time to set up a Pinterest account and start creating content for it.

However, why are you doing this? Are you aiming to drive traffic from Pinterest to your author sales page on Amazon? Or perhaps you want to get people to check out your author blog and sign up for your mailing list?

The bottom line is that any marketing activity you take the time to improve should ultimately be conducive to selling more books.

For example, if you sell your books on Amazon, you should figure out the highest impact activities to sell more copies there. These could include learning Amazon Advertising, mastering attractive book descriptions, or figuring out best practice guidelines for Amazon Author Central. 

Authors have different approaches when it comes to selling books. Some go narrow, some go wide. Some sell only in the USA while others sell internationally.

Whatever your sales situation happens to be, make sure your marketing activities are in full alignment with it. 

Set ambitious, measurable goals 

If you’ve been working through the process shown in this article so far, you will have assessed your current self-publishing prowess, figured out the highest areas of impact to pursue, and ensured your chosen book marketing activities are in full alignment with your chosen approach to book sales.

The final step is to take everything you’ve done so far and translate it to tangible, measurable goals to pursue for the rest of the year, and even beyond that.

Without a measurable goal, you’ll end up finding that things slip by. Activities that would make a huge difference to your life end up becoming ‘shoulds’ rather than ‘musts’. 

Also, it’s important to avoid the mistake of setting vague goals that don’t move the needle. If a goal isn’t measurable, you have no idea if you’re achieving it or not. A vague book marketing goal would be the equivalent of aiming to lose weight without actually having a target weight in mind.

So how can you set meaningful, measurable goals?

Here are five examples for you to consider.

  1. Become a speaker. Both fiction and nonfiction authors can sell more copies and grow their author profiles by speaking at relevant events. If this is a goal you have, make it measurable by committing to researching a specific number of events by a certain date, and reaching out to them by another.
  1. Sell more copies. Every author wants to sell more copies, but this is a vague aim on its own. Instead, make it quantifiable. Start with the end in mind and work backward from there to figure out how many extra copies you need to sell each month to hit your eventual aim.
  1. Grow your author mailing list. Author mailing lists are one of the most important assets you can build. If you want to grow yours, figure out a concrete percentage you wish to increase your subscribers by, and then spread this target out over a period of time so you can ensure you’re on track.
  1. Become more proliferate. For many indie authors, having a large number of books is the key to enjoying a respectable income. Try and get ambitious about your next book projects. Try and carry out every step of the process faster, from outlining your book to writing it. 
  1. Try a new style of writing. Sometimes, it’s fun to switch up the type of book you write. Just look at Stephen King and his pen name Richard Bachman, or J.K Rowling and her Robert Galbraith pseudonym for proof. If this is a goal of yours, set a deadline for it. Make a methodical plan to assess new types of writing, and then set yourself a deadline for getting momentum going, such as by outlining a book in a style you’ve never attempted before. 

No matter how you’re feeling about 2020 so far, it’s not too late to turn it around. 

There’s still a significant amount of time for you to identify and make progress in any area of book marketing you think will help you succeed.

I wish you every success for the upcoming months. May you use them wisely. 

9
Sep
2020
0

4 Essential Elements of Book Marketing

Is there no end to the things you need to learn to be a successful indie author?

Writing itself is something none of us ever master, and that’s just the very tip of the iceberg!

To succeed without the backing of a big book publisher requires a lot from indie authors. Even the most successful out there are still learning and growing all the time. 

Regardless of if you’re just starting in the self-publishing world, or if you have a few books under your belt, book marketing isn’t something you can afford to ignore.

Too many authors have been held back from the success they deserve by failing to market their books properly

If you’re not sure where to start, consider these essential elements of marketing your indie books.

Start With The End in Mind

Too many authors see book marketing as a set of unrelated activities that need to be carried out.

In fact, book marketing is a holistic, integrated process.

The first key to marketing your book properly is to start with the end in mind.


This is a concept taken from Stephen Covey’s 7 Habits, but it applies to book marketing all the same.

Before you start making a list of ways you will promote your book, stop, and try and see the bigger picture.

Do you want to sell a certain amount of copies? Do you want to add a particular number of readers to your author mailing list? Do you want to achieve bestseller status?

Whatever your end goal happens to be, there will be a series of steps you need to carry out to get there. Only by starting with a clearly defined aim can you then work backward and figure out how to get there. 

Without an end goal, your book marketing efforts will be unfocused and ineffective. 

You can’t measure success without an aim. 

Make sure to start clearly with your ultimate book marketing goal in mind before going any further. 

Copyright, Registration, and Other Formalities

While we’ve just covered why the big picture overview is essential to have in book marketing, it’s also vital to take a more granular, zoomed-in view of things.

If you don’t try and account for every practical task you will carry out as part of your book marketing efforts, you run the risk of overlooking something crucial. 

Some of the practical steps you need to schedule in your book marketing plan include.

  • Copyright. Don’t run the risk of having your work stolen. Make sure you not only copyright your work but create a legally valid copyright page to place within your book.
  • Uploading. When will you upload your book to the places it will be sold? What are the technical requirements to do this? Do you have all the files you need in the correct formats and sizes?
  • Promotion sites. Will you submit your book to promotion sites? What is the lead time you will need to do this? Will you need to have any fees ready? Are there prerequisites your book will need to achieve before it can be promoted?
  • Sales tracking. How will you measure your sales as they come in? Do you have target numbers you are aiming to hit for particular days? Will you take remedial action if your targets aren’t being met?
  • Paid advertising. Are you running paid promotion for your book? What will your daily budget be? What’s your plan for scaling spend up and down? How often will you tweak your creative, and what will be your criteria for doing so?
  • Social media promotion. Which social media platforms will you promote your book on? Will you use automated software to make this easier? Do you have all the graphics and copy you need to ensure social media promotion runs smoothly?

These are just a few examples of the types of activities you need to plan for. Your book promotion campaign in particular will likely look a lot different. 

Only by starting with the end in mind and considering everything it will take to get there can you come up with your own list of marketing activities. 

Creating Tasks and Tracking

For any one of the book marketing activities listed above, you will need to further break it down into specific tasks.

One of the major keys to being a productive book marketer is making everything into the smallest steps possible.

When we small chunk our book marketing tasks, the impossible suddenly seems manageable. Also, it’s a lot easier to get started and build momentum if the first step is very small and achievable.

So how do you create small, manageable tasks for every stage of your book marketing project?

Make sure to base the small chunk tasks on reality, not your idea of how something will look. For example, if you’re small chunking the process of getting featured on book promotion sites, either go off your experience or ask an author who has that experience. Things rarely work in reality as we imagine them to. 

Once you’ve got a series of the smallest steps possible to get something done, consider the wider context. Which parts of your book marketing plan need to be carried out before others? Are there some later activities that depend upon earlier ones?

Finally, keep in mind the duration that each of the small chunks will take. Schedule them in, and be strict about allowing yourself some buffer room for if things go wrong.

Answer these four questions to make sure you’ve covered this properly:

  1. Have I come up with a full list of activities I need to realize my eventual book marketing goal?
  2. Have I broken each book marketing activity down into the smallest steps possible?
  3. Have I assigned a realistic amount of time for each of the small steps to be carried out?
  4. Have I determined the proper sequence to carry out my book marketing activities, and scheduled them accordingly?

When you can honestly answer yes to these four questions, you have a book marketing plan to be proud of. 

Measuring Results 

It’s important to make time to measure your book marketing results and reflect upon them.

Ideally, you should carry out this process of measurement in two phases.

First, measure your activities as you go. For example, if you’re running paid ads on a particular day, measure their impact on that day. If your book is featured on a book promotion site, note down the downloads you got on that day. Track everything.

Second, you want to measure the effectiveness of your campaign as a whole. Which activities produced the best results? What would you do more or less of next time? How will your initial results inform your ongoing book marketing efforts after the time of your launch has passed? Would you benefit from hiring a launch team next time, or will you continue as a solo marketer?

Like everything else in the indie publishing world, book marketing is very much a growth activity.

It’s unlikely you’ll experience a flawless marketing campaign on your first try. 

Instead, see the learning process itself as valuable. As long as you’re becoming a better marketer with every book you release, you’re moving in the right direction. 

9
Sep
2020
0

How to Feel Excited About Marketing Your Book

I think it’s a crying shame that many authors seem to carry out book marketing through gritted teeth.

It seems like book marketing has something of a bad rep in the author community. 

At best, many authors see promoting their work as a necessary evil that needs to be carried out. 

At worst, people see it as utterly soul-destroying, not to mention many other phrases that aren’t suitable to be written here!

What if I were to tell you that book marketing is something to feel excited about?

You’d see me as crazy, right? 

Well, I’m confident that if you give book marketing a fair trial, and come at it without preconceptions, it’s something you’ll find exciting and interesting.

Here are my main reasons why. 

Book Marketing Lets You Experiment

If you’re an author, you’re creative at heart. Someone who likes to create something new and do things differently. 

Rather than being the sterile activity it’s often presented as book marketing is the perfect chance to indulge your creativity.

While the creative choices you make for your book itself are fairly set in stone, your book marketing choices aren’t.

You get endless attempts at writing cool ad copy or coming up with some good creative visuals for your work. 

If a social media post promoting your book falls flat, you can simply delete it and try again. That’s not exactly easy when it comes to elements like your book cover!

Aside from the surface-level creativity, such as the copy you write and the visuals you choose, marketing your book allows you to tap into something deeper.

At its heart, marketing is something like applied psychology. The best marketers seek to understand people’s hopes and desires and effectively speak to them.

If you’re feeling down about marketing, try and focus on how it lets you be creative and experiment.

When you start to see marketing as a worthwhile, creative pursuit just like writing is, you’ll start to feel better about it. 

Promoting Your Book Can Lead to Great Things

Sometimes, it’s easy to get stuck in the weeds when it’s time to promote your book.

Filling out your fiftieth book promotion site application form can feel tedious. That’s entirely understandable.

However, there isn’t a type of work on Earth that doesn’t have some element of routine and drudgery to it. That’s inevitable. 

What’s not inevitable is the way you frame the mundane elements of book marketing.

One effective reframe you should try is seeing marketing as a stepping stone that brings you closer to your eventual dreams as an author.

For example, to go back to those book promotion site forms, try and imagine the face of a reader who becomes a fan after finding your book. Isn’t that person worth trying to reach?

Or if you’re in the nonfiction space, think about giving an amazing Ted Talk as a result of your book. Doesn’t that make redrafting your book description that little bit more tolerable?

Often, focusing on the bigger picture makes the smaller, more tedious book marketing tasks a lot easier. 

Keep your eye on the eventual prize. Think of book marketing tasks as planting seeds. Amazing and beautiful things may grow from them. 

A Good Book Marketer is a Matchmaker

In some sections of the author community, book marketing is seen as antithetical to the creative craft of writing. 

Writers are seen as pure, artistic souls, while book marketers are seen as slick salesmen looking to make a quick buck.

In reality, that’s absolute nonsense. 

Book marketing is nothing more or less than trying to get books into the hands of the people who will love them the most.

Isn’t that something noble? Something worth doing well?

A good marketer is a matchmaker. They are trying to find the right match between reader and book. And that’s no small thing.

Think about a book you truly love. Hasn’t it added something special to your life? And the lives of many other people who have had the joy of reading it?

If you have any hangups about marketing your work, cast them aside.

There’s nothing noble about being a starving artist.

When you promote your book, you not only help it get the attention it deserves, but you stand to make people’s lives a lot more enjoyable in the process.

Try and hold onto that if you ever feel less than enthused about marketing your book. 

Marketing Campaigns Can Refill Your Writing Battery 

As much as we love and need to write regularly, we are human beings, not machines.

Everything in the natural world has its season. As writers, we can’t be expected to prioritize output every day.

Just as it’s important to write regularly, it can also be beneficial to have times where we don’t write. Book marketing campaigns can provide an ideal change of pace.

When you dedicate a serious period of time to promoting your books, rather than writing them, you let your creative juices fill back up. 

You not only get a break from the pressure of meeting a certain word count each day, allowing you to eventually return to daily writing sessions with a new sense of vigor. You also get to see your book become tangible and experience success through your marketing efforts, whether carried out on your own or as part of a team.  

Seeing your book marketing activities bear fruit naturally increases your enthusiasm for writing another book, eventually leading to a virtuous cycle of book writing and promotion. 

Four Steps to Take 

Hopefully, you now see how marketing can be an exciting and creative activity in and of itself. 

If you’re feeling good about marketing at the moment, why not seize that feeling and translate it into action?

Here are four steps you can take relating to the information you’ve just learned:

  1. Brainstorm creative copy. Try and come up with five pieces of promotional copy for your book. Check out some book ads on Amazon or Facebook if you need inspiration.
  1. Dream big. Could you make your book marketing the start of something special? Research five events you could one day speak at, and brainstorm five other things you could offer through your book, such as access to a course or even just signing up to your mailing list. 
  1. Imagine your ideal reader. Take some time to think about your book’s perfect reader. Who are they? What do they do? What are their dreams and problems? Where could you reach such a person?
  1. Plan an example campaign. Have some fun with scheduling out an example marketing campaign for one of your books. How many days would you dedicate to each activity? What kind of planning would you need to do? 

Book marketing isn’t a necessary evil, or something indie authors should carry out through gritted teeth.


Far from it.

Instead, I hope you now see book marketing as the exciting, creative pastime it truly is. One which can lead you to amazing levels of success you might not have dared to dream about. 

31
Aug
2020
0

5 Secrets to Success from a Self-Made Entrepreneur

People often ask me for tips and tricks on how to grow their business. I wish there were five secrets I could tell them that would magically turn their business into a raving success overnight–that’s something I’d love to write about. Unfortunately, a lot still comes down to hard work and doing the right things for a long time. 

However, there are some tips that’ll definitely help you over time. In this article well look at:

  • The benefits of asking ‘why’
  • How to fit exercise into your day
  • Why your business can grow without you

1. Keep a Business Mindset 

Mindset is an important tool for a successful businessperson. 

A great strategy that many business owners use to keep their mindset right is to concentrate on your ‘why’.

Why are you starting a business? 

Sure, owning a successful business will earn you a lot of money, but that’s not your why. Having a successful business will also give you some extra time. Again, that isn’t your why. 

Why do you want that extra money? Why do you want that extra time? 

The ‘five whys’ is a problem-solving tool that many use to get to the core of any issue. It’s pretty simple, you just ask why a problem happened, and then ask why that happened, and so on until you get to the crux of your problem–usually five times is enough to get a decent idea. 

  1. Why do you want to own a business? I want a business that can give me a flexible schedule.
  2. Why do you want a flexible schedule? So I can take time off when I need it during the day.
  3. Why do you want to take time off? So I can spend more time with my family.
  4. Why do you want to spend more time with your family? So I can play with my kids when they’re young and pick them up from school when they’re older.
  5. Why do you want to spend more time with your children? Because my parents had to work a lot to pay the bills and I didn’t get to spend a lot of time with them. 

Do you see how different this is to just “wanting a flexible schedule”? Finding your why is a great mindset tool that’ll keep you focused on what’s important to you. 

2. Staying Focused 

There’s a lot of distraction as a business owner. If you’re not focused, you can fall down a side-path that takes six months of your time and leaves you with nothing but a missed opportunity. 

Think of how many budding entrepreneurs out there hop around from idea to idea, spending a few months on each but getting nowhere. 

Instead, you need to focus on what’s important for your business. Don’t worry if you make a bunch of beginners’ mistakes. They happen, and you eventually stop making them–that’s why they’re beginner mistakes. If all you do is constantly try a business idea for six months and then hop to another one, you’ll make those beginner mistakes every time you try something new.  

Instead, spend that time doing what’ll get meaningful results in your business. 

Focus is incredibly hard, and success is a slow process. But make sure you stick with it and keep an eye on what’s important. 

3. Stay Healthy

As a business owner, you need to be physically fit to have the mental clarity to make the best decisions. 

When it all comes down to it, physical health is because of three major factors.

  1. What you eat
  2. Exercise
  3. Sleep

It’s a bit of a catch-22 situation with exercise. You know that keeping healthy is so important, but a business owner’s schedule doesn’t fit daily training or exercise too well. Heading to the gym during the day can take a few hours once you take in travel.

To compensate for this, many business owners have their own workout spaces at home. This is a brilliant strategy because you can fit smaller training sessions into your day when you have the chance–or have one lengthy session without travel. 

Or, you can go fully equipment-less and take on light activities like walking, meditation, and yoga. Whatever you do though, make sure you’re keeping active for a little bit every day. 

With food, eating healthy is a lot easier said than done, especially if you’re working from home– having your workspace that close to the fridge is just asking for trouble some days! 

To make eating healthier easier, you should try limiting the unhealthy food you buy at the supermarket. 

Finally, sleep is an often underlooked part of health. Your mind and body both need recovery from a busy day and sleep is how your body recovers. 

You should look to get a minimum of seven hours of uninterrupted sleep a night. To make it easier on yourself, try these tips on getting better sleep.

  • Avoid using hand-held devices after 8 pm, or whatever time you choose
  • Make sure that your last activity before bed doesn’t involve a screen
  • Keep a consistent bedtime and waking time

4. Outsource When Necessary

Some of you may look to build a business that’ll eventually run without them. Others may want to be hands-on with their business every minute of every day. Most of us are somewhere in the middle.

Regardless, your business won’t really start growing until you outsource aspects of it. For some that’ll be a hard thing to do. That means you’ll have to give up control on aspects of your business.

If you’re struggling to find things to outsource, I’d suggest reflecting on what you’re spending your time on and taking action from there. Start with the tool, Rescue Time, which sits in the background and keeps track of how much time you spend doing certain tasks. 

Don’t just track your time for a day. Look to do a week or two at the very least. Ideally, though, you’d want a month of data to look at. The more days you keep track of, the better your data will represent your work habits. 

Anyway, unless you’re severely mismanaging your days, the tasks that you have to spend the most time doing will be what you excel at–they’re the core of your business. Look to outsource the tasks that you don’t spend a lot of time doing when you begin outsourcing. That will keep the core of your business stable while giving yourself more time throughout the day. 

Another strategy you can use while outsourcing is to outsource the tasks you aren’t strong in. Every business owner has parts of their business that they excel at, and others that they ‘get by’ in. Most of the time, those areas we struggle at or don’t enjoy doing are a great task to outsource. 

That way, you’ll have more time to do the tasks you love doing. 

Whatever you do though, just make sure you are responsible for the main offering from your business. That offering and how you do it is what sets you apart from your competition. 

5. Have a Vision

It’s important to have some mental image of what you’d like your business to look like down the track. A good way to do this is to write your ideal business down with a vision statement. 

Basically, you want to answer the question ‘where are we going?’

When writing your statement, make sure you try to do some of the following: 

  • Talk about business finances (to earn enough to be sustainable)
  • Discuss reputation
  • Mention service quality standards
  • Avoid jargon and hard-to-understand language
  • Make it short
  • Describe the ideal outcome for you and your business
  • Avoid numbers like “making a million dollars a year” etc…

If you want to see a mission statement in action, here’s one from a small tech startup called Microsoft… you may have heard of them. 

“Our mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.”

Microsoft’s statement is easy to understand and you can see how it fits into what they do by supplying computer solutions to businesses and individuals. 

This can also apply when simply creating a niche website. Without a proper vision and focus, it’s easy to lose your way.

Final Thoughts

To run a successful business you’ll need to do the right things for a long time. If you stick to the tips in this post you’ll be on your way to running a successful business. 

Cheers! 

Photo by Garrhet Sampson on Unsplash

31
May
2020
0

4 Essential Articles You Need to be Writing to Start Making Money with Your Blog

When so many people are out there writing blogs, do you even stand a chance of monetizing yours?

The simple answer to that is yes. But it isn’t going to be easy. You can give yourself an advantage if you know what to write. 

Whether you’re starting your own blog or purchasing an existing blog from someone else, one of the best practices for monetizing blogs is through affiliate marketing. This is where you provide links within your articles to goods or services. In turn, these companies provide you a commission if the reader buys through your link.

Just remember, you should only affiliate with companies you actually believe are worth it. Your readers will see straight through you if you try to mess them around or recommend a product that doesn’t suit their needs or is downright scammy. 

Check out these 4 proven money-making article types…

1. The List of Resources Article

I bet if you look through any of your favorite blogs, you’re going to find a “list of resources” article or a variation of it. They may even be pinned to the main navigation menu. And there’s a simple explanation for that. 

It’s because they generate income. 

Often when readers are faced with finding a new product for a particular challenge, they’ll turn to their favorite bloggers. I personally have readers ask me about the best editing software, best online writing classes, and best keyword research tools. 

And because of this, I’ve created my list of resources that I actually recommend. It lays out my top choices based on several criteria. 

I have become an affiliate of most of these resources and I provide an easy way for readers to access the products. This way, I can honestly net affiliate sales through actual products I use and believe in.

2. “Best of” and “Top 10” Articles

When was the last time you searched specifically for a mediocre product? You know… when you wanted something that worked… but not too good. Oh! And you needed to be unsure of whether its value was really worth the money. 

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say never. 

I’d imagine you’d look for the best of whatever you needed or even a top 10 list for more options. That’s where the money will come in. An article like this is designed for readers in a lower stage of buying awareness. People who are looking to buy but are unsure of just what they want to purchase.

By providing them with a neat list of something like the best writers conferences, you may be able to accelerate their purchasing process in a way that results in an affiliate sale for you.

However, it’s not just “Best of” lists that reel in affiliate sales. Another variation of this is the “Cheapest of” article. There are people out there just searching for the best deal you can get. And in my experience, these articles actually generate more sales than the “Best of” or “Top 10” posts.

3. Product or Service Review Articles

With reviews, you’re connecting more with people who are closer to buying than in the previously mentioned articles. These buyers have a specific product in mind that they want to buy. 

They just may need someone else to affirm their decision. And that’s where you come in. Now, before you start reviewing everything under the sun, take a look at what you’re reviewing. Can you in good faith actually promote this product? Is it within your scope and is the product quality up to your standards? 

If the answer to either of those questions is ‘no’ you may want to consider a better option for review. Unless you plan on giving a bad review as a cautionary warning. 

Readers and potential buyers tend to have an innate ability to brush off what you’re selling as snake oil. They can sense it. So be honest with yourself and your readers and watch the sales roll in.  

4. Comparison Articles Between Two or More Products/Services

These types of articles may end up being your top sellers. They are specifically helpful for those in the end stages of buying decisions. It’s either this product or that one. And a well-written article can be all that’s needed for an affiliate sale.

Comparison articles also have a very unique position when it comes to SEO. Here… let me demonstrate what I mean.

Search TermAverage Monthly Volume of SearchersCompetitive Score (0-100 w/ Higher number being more difficult)
Mailchimp1.4M57 (Hard)
GetResponse30K28 (Hard)
Mailchimp vs GetResponse3502 (Easy)

This data was procured from Ahrefs.com–a great tool for SEO’ers.

Looking at the data, you can see the competitive scores for GetResponse and Mailchimp are hard to rank for–especially Mailchimp. Could you rank for it? Sure. Through an exhaustive amount of time and effort.

But look at the comparison keywords. It has a competitive score of only 2. That would make ranking for the keywords super easy. 

If you’d like to see an example of a versus article, take a look at Food Delivery Guru. This popular food blog reviews food delivery services and meal kits to help make your mealtimes easier. Food Delivery Guru has several articles comparing different services, but one of my favorites is their head to head review of Sun Basket and Green Chef. These two organic meal delivery services have a lot in common, and the writers do a nice job of pointing out the differences. 

Monetizing Your Blog Isn’t Impossible

Through the use of affiliate marketing, you can convert your blog into an online asset.

These 4 article types are written specifically for driving sales and providing honest information to the reader. Just remember to choose your affiliates carefully for your best chance of success.

Cheers!

Image from Unsplash by Micheile Henderson

29
Feb
2020
0

How to write a book description that converts

Does this sound familiar? You’ve spent months planning and writing your manuscript, had it taken through a strict editing process, worked with cover designers and when you’re finally ready to go, you’re in such a rush to upload you don’t give much thought to your book description? 

Well, don’t worry. You’re not alone. So many writers leave their book description to the very end, and it can often get overlooked. However, if you think about a customer’s buying cycle, a book description is key. Don’t get me wrong, a cover is important and the first thing that catches a potential reader’s eye but the book description is what makes them click that buy button.

However, now we are talking about the dreaded ‘S’ word… sales. 

You need to start thinking of your book description as a sales page for your book. Now, I know that when most people think of sales, they immediately imagine using some shady tactics to sell a few more book copies….

That’s not sales though – well, not the type of sales we’ll be doing. I’m just saying that your book description isn’t a creative writing project. It exists to do a job — convert readers into buyers. 

But, the question is, how do we write a book description that converts? Well, in this article, you’ll learn:

  • How to structure a fiction book description 
  • Why a nonfiction book description is different than that of a fiction book
  • What free tool you can use to make eye-catching book descriptions

Writing a Successful Fiction Book Description

In a lot of ways, a fiction book can be a lot trickier to write a description for compared to a nonfiction book. Many nonfiction books are directly solving a problem, which makes it easy to talk about the benefits a reader can get. In fiction, it’s a little different because we’re all solving the same problem – the reader’s need for a good book to read. Regardless, the impact of a great, or of a poor, book description cannot be understated. 

The self-publishing market is getting more and more competitive, so any advantage you can get over your competition is worth the time. For fiction authors who want to write a great description, here is a basic structure I like to use, which is taken from Bryan Cohen’s book, How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis

Step One: A short tagline.

I’m sure you’ve noticed that on a book sales page, there are only a few lines of the book description on display with a ‘read more’ link.

Those few lines have to be compelling enough to get the shopper to click the ‘read more’ link. You can have the most convincing book description that would normally convert at a high percentage, but if nobody clicks through to read it, it’s wasted. 

That’s why you’ll need to include a tagline. 

A tagline is almost like a little hook for your book. Hollywood films use this strategy incredibly well! Here are some of my favorite movie taglines for some inspiration: 

  • Alien (1979) Tag: In space, no one can hear you scream
  • Ferris Bueller’s Day Off (1986) Tag: One man’s struggle to take it easy
  • Ghostbusters (1984) Tagline: Who ya gonna call?
  • Jaws (1975) Tagline: You’ll never go in the water again
  • The Big Lebowski (1998): Her life was in their hands. Now her toe is in the mail

So, come up with that short tagline that’ll hook potential readers in. If you’re struggling to find inspiration, you can use a rhetorical question as a way to ‘open the loop’ with the reader. By offering a question without an answer, you’ll make clicking that ‘read more’ link more compelling. 

Or, you can use a comparison to hook a reader in. This works because you’re relating something the potential reader knows nothing about (your book), with something they already have set emotions about. The book Dinosaur Lords uses this strategy for their tagline, saying “It’s like a cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones.” Granted, it probably has a bit more clout when it is George R. R. Martin saying it, but the point stands. 

It’s also important to remember that if you ever decide on testing your book description, alternate your taglines first. You could have a killer book description that nobody reads because of an ineffective tagline. That’ll potentially save you writing a whole new description! 

Step Two: A present tense summary

Once you’ve hooked your potential reader with your epic tagline, it’s time to tell them a little more about your book. You’ll want to keep this incredibly simple, as too much information is confusing for a reader who is coming across your work for the first time. There’s going to be plenty of time for your reader to get to know your characters and setting when they start reading your book. For now, though, you’ll want to stick to the following rules. 

  • Only mention vital character details: For the short summary, a character’s surname or extended background isn’t important
  • Omit characters and places that aren’t important: If you can give the outline of your story without mentioning minor characters and secondary settings, do it. 
  • Don’t include any sub-plot: This is self-explanatory, make sure you keep your short summary focused on the important stuff
  • Use short sentences: Using short and sharp sentences can give your writing a bit more suspense – use it wisely

Basically, you’ll want to keep this simple enough to tell your reader that your book is in their wheelhouse. Think about it this way, for your potential reader to start reading your short summary, they’ve already done the following:

  1. Found your book on Amazon through a targeted ad, search, or general browsing
  2. Seen your book cover and title, and were intrigued enough to click through
  3. Read your tagline and decided to read more about your book

By now, they just need the quick summary to make sure your book covers topics they’re interested in. 

Step Three: A selling paragraph 

In a similar logic to what I mentioned above, if they’ve checked out your short synopsis and they’re still reading, it usually means they’re interested. Now you can start to build up some hype around you and your book. 

In this section, you’ll use a few strong adjectives and power-words to interest your reader. If you’re unsure what a power word is, you’re in for a treat because they’ve been used by sales writers for years with a lot of success. In fact, you’ve almost certainly purchased at least one thing over the years from the guidance of a power word or two. 

If you want to know more about power words, here are some great lists:

You’ll also want to mention any other important information about you and your book in this sales paragraph. For example, if you’re a school teacher who has started writing children’s’ books — or if you’re a previous bestseller — now’s a great time to mention it. 

Step Four: A call-to-action. 

Okay, so you’ve had a potential reader engage with your entire book description. Now, it’s time to guide the potential reader to make a buying decision. 

Every book description should end with a call to action. With your call to action, tell the person reading your description what their next step is. Usually, that next step is buying or reading your book (if on Kindle Unlimited). This doesn’t have to be a full paragraph pleading with the person reading the book description. Instead, keep it short and simple. 

It sounds so simple, but many authors don’t have a call to action at the end of their book descriptions. Perhaps they’re just ready to hit publish, or maybe they don’t want to feel like they’re pushing for a sale. Either way, you can capitalize on the interest of your potential reader by making sure you ask for that sale. If you’re unsure on how to construct a killer call to action, here are some guides I find useful. 

Step Five: Put it all together

When you break it down, a book description seems pretty easy, doesn’t it? 

You’ve got this. 

Now make it happen. 

Cheers!

Photo by ASTERISK on Unsplash

9
Jan
2020
1

How to Write an Amazing Back Cover Blurb for Your Book

Do you remember the last time you went to a bookstore?

You probably browsed the shelves until you found a cover that caught your eye and picked up the book. And if I were a gambling man, I’d bet the next thing you did was turn the book over to read the back cover.

Chances are if the description drew you in, you bought the book.

But what about shopping online?

Did you know that you can view a book’s blurb right on its Amazon Sales Page? That makes your book description a super important marketing tool.

Your book’s description should do more than tell you what the story’s about. It’s one of the first opportunities you have to convince your reader to buy your book.

Your back cover is not just a summary, it’s a special form of ad copy. There are three key areas you need to focus on when writing your back cover. With this in mind, let’s go over how you can create a killer back cover blurb and sell more books.

What Goes Into Writing a Back Cover Blurb?

The first step is determining what you’re going to include in the blurb itself. You’ll want to draw your reader in as much as possible–be tropey and hook them but provide some meat as well.

Your Hook

Imagine that you have five seconds to get your reader hooked. How on earth are you going to do that? With a snappy, interesting hook–that’s how.

This can be a hard one-liner from your story, a catchphrase, or even a solid review quote.

Remember, this is ad copy. You need to set a hook to snag your readers attention, and entice them further. There are many ways to do this. For fiction, paint a scene for your readers. Present readers with a problem and what’s at stake. For example, if you’re a romance author, try something like this:
“What’s worse than waking up next to a hunky stranger? Being married to him.”

And for nonfiction, think about what the reader is looking for and give it to them. Tell the reader what you’re going to teach them or what they’ll walk away knowing after picking up the book. This can either come in the form of a question or statement.

Here are two of my favorite examples from both nonfiction and fiction:

Nonfiction:
Fitness, money and wisdom – here are the tools. (Tim Ferriss, Tools of Titans)

Fiction:
At first sight, Ove is almost certainly the grumpiest man you will ever meet, a curmudgeon with staunch principles, strict routines, and a short fuse. People think him bitter, and he thinks himself surrounded by idiots. (Fredrik Backman, A Man Called Ove)

The Book Summary

This is the meat and potatoes of your back cover. Here you want to write two to three paragraphs to explain what your story is about. This does not mean cram every plot point in or give away surprise twists. Your back cover is not a synopsis.

For nonfiction, be sure to present issues clearly and promise big answers. Your reader should have a clear idea of why they’re buying this book and what they’re going to receive from doing so.

Fiction authors should provide a tantalizing summary that makes readers want to devour the story. Imagine this being just like a movie trailer. You want it to grab attention and convince the reader to make a purchase.

Another key tip: avoid using clichés.

Clichés are well… so cliché. They’re so overused that they might actually discourage a reader from buying your book. An example of this would be starting your blurb with, “Juniper stepped out into the pouring rain. Her heart had been broken one too many times.” Yawn.

Sealing the Deal

As we determined, a back cover blurb is sales copy. And no sale is complete without a close. So be sure to focus as much on your closing as you do your hook.

However, you don’t want to say, “Buy this book now!”

Nothing turns off a potential reader like a hard sell.

Leaving a cliffhanger at the end of your blurb though… That’s a pro move. It makes your readers intrigued about what happens next. And the only way they find out is if they buy the book.

Be Sure to Properly Format Your Back Cover

No matter how well your book blurb is written, it won’t be read if your back cover is poorly designed and formatted.

The saying, “Don’t judge a book by its cover” only exists in fairy tales. It’s a hard truth to accept but a truth nonetheless.

Fonts, Colors, and Pictures

We’ve all seen those book covers that look awkward. And not in an intentionally good way. Maybe the picture is off or doesn’t suit the genre. It might look cheap or washed out. Or maybe something’s wrong that you can’t put your finger on. And that goes for back covers too.

Either way, you probably didn’t buy the book. Because, as I mentioned, we do judge books by their covers. They are our main marketing tools in this business.

When designing your cover, take into account whether or not your back cover pictures are appropriate for your genre. Don’t forget about the color scheme either. Don’t go around using faded colors for a bold, dynamic novel. And make sure it properly meshes with the front of the book.

Pay close attention to your font selection when writing your blurb as well. Some fonts work better than others. An awesome Serif font may be applicable for your ‘hack-n-slash’ medieval story but look tacky on a nonfiction book about workplace dress code.

A good idea would be to examine what your successful competitors are doing. Note the trends. This will give you some clarity into what works and what doesn’t.

Hire a Pro

We’re not all amazing artists or graphic designers. And if you’re like me and fall into this group, you may want to seriously consider hiring a pro.

They’re called professionals for a reason. And there are many out there to choose from. Head over to sites such as Fiverr or Upwork, and you’ll find hundreds of designers waiting for you.

Give your book the best chance of thriving–even if you have to spend a little extra money.

Get Yourself Involved…

The back cover is a great place to promote your author brand and become more recognizable in the world of writing.

But a word of caution: the back cover shouldn’t be solely about you–unless you’re a household name such as Stephen King or Dean Koontz. It should be about the book.

However, a nice professionally taken headshot and bio does go a long way. Keep your author bio short, sweet, and relatable.

This is also a good place to showcase a few accolades. A quick quote from a reputable publication or author could do the trick. List down a few prestigious achievements such as Bestseller List, Hugo, Newberry, or other well-known awards. But if you don’t have any of these, no biggie.

Need more guidance?

This is a quick rundown of how to write an amazing back cover blurb. If you’re looking for a more in-depth discussion, head over to Kindlepreneur and check out my article on how to create a back cover blurb.

Cheers!
Dave

3
Dec
2019
0

How to Start Building a Brand New Author Platform from Scratch

So you’ve decided to take the leap and become an author! That’s awesome!

But have you quite figured out how you’re going to build your author brand? 

I get this question a lot. How can you establish yourself as an author? Is it just writing good books?

Don’t get me wrong. Writing great work is definitely an important part of becoming a successful author. But with an abundance of authors out there in the world, it’s essential that you can set yourself a cut above the rest. And that comes from marketing.

Building a solid, credible author brand can be what sets you apart from all the other authors out there. Let’s look into how you can create your author platform from the ground up.

Determine exactly who you want to be.

Before you get too gung-ho about platform building, you need to get a bit introspective. 

Who is it that you want to be in the writing community and who do you want others to see you as? 

Do you want to be a celebrity writer who takes backtalk from no one? Or do you want to be a role model for younger writers? Maybe you just want to be one of the masses that specifically targets a particular audience.

Whatever it is you’re trying to achieve, you need to determine it upfront. This vision will be the basis of everything you’re trying to achieve. 

One cool way to do this is to create a vision board or plan that visually shows what you’re striving for. It’s kind of like an outline for your brand, similar to how you would create an outline for your book

Place that board or sheet somewhere you can see it everyday and use it for motivation moving forward.

Build a killer website

If you’re going to be an author in today’s day and age, you’re going to need a killer website. Your website is one of the most important things you can have as an author.

It’s a place for you to display your work (for advertisement or sale), build credibility and authority, communicate with your readership, and network with publishers or clients.

In many ways, it’s the command center of your author platform.

But take note, your website is only as good as you make it out to be. If you want to save a few bucks and design it yourself, more power to you. However, if site design isn’t your forte… You may want to use a pre-built theme or hire some help. 

Launch your mailing list

Now that we’ve determined how important your website is, let’s talk about the most important thing to come from your website. Your mailing list.

Establishing a mailing list is critical to not only building your author platform, but to your continued success as an author. 

You need to look at your mailing list as the first part of your targeted audience. If people like who you are and what you have to offer, they’ll sign up. And they’ll most likely be the first to buy your books and support you.

When building your mailing list, you need to make it clear and easy to sign up for. The sign-up form should appear as a pop-up window or at the top of your website so it will be among the first things seen. You want to make it easy to convert your readers into subscribers.

Become present on social media.

Social media for writers is becoming one of the biggest ways authors can get their name out there. Not only that, but it provides a means of direct contact with your readers. 

Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and even Goodreads are great places to start getting active. And the more active, the better. Your followers or potential readers will love seeing your engagement. 

But be wary about social media. Don’t try to spread yourself too thin. It’s often best to focus on just one or two platforms instead of trying to hit them all.

Analyze and make adjustments as needed.

The world is a fickle place. What works now is surely not guaranteed to work in the future.

So when you first start constructing your author platform, look for trends and signs from your subscribers. 

What does your website traffic look like? Are you seeing changes when you adjust your website? Or what about your social media? Are you getting too little engagement? Maybe you’re posting too much or not enough.

Creating an author platform is just as much a balancing act as it is a building process. It takes time and patience to get it just right. Just be sure to monitor what’s going on with your platform and adjust as necessary.

Good luck on your author journey!

Photo by Burst from Pexels

15
Sep
2019
0

How to be Original in an Already Crowded Genre

Let’s face it.

Originality is hard to come by these days. Sometimes it seems like all the good ideas have already been taken and written. And this just isn’t some modern day problem either. Even authors in the times of yesteryear faced this dilemma. 

But if you’re, for example, a new author wanting to write mystery novels in the long-established genres of mysteries and thrillers, where should you begin?

Surprisingly enough, it’s much easier than you think it would be. Whether it’s writing a children’s book or a cozy mystery novel, sometimes all you need is a push in the right direction. Let’s take a look at some ways you can combat this situation and emerge victorious. 

Improve on an existing story. 

Sometimes, the best ideas are adaptations of pre-existing ones. 

The movie Alien was pitched to producers as “Jaws in Space.” Simply changing the setting of a successful concept paved the way for a new movie that stood on its own merits and felt original. 

So in your writing, instead of starting from scratch, start with this thought exercise: “What if this already popular story was different in this way?” For example, “What if Bruce Wayne lost all his money? Could he still be Batman?” That’s a book idea, albeit probably a copyrighted one.

Or try this on for size: “What if Homer’s Odyssey were set in the 1930s?” That’s the premise of the Coen Brothers’ 2000 film, O’ Brother Where Art Thou? It follows the story of three Depression-Era chain gang escapees looking for a lost treasure. The movie is largely adapted from Homer’s Odyssey — with the main protagonist even being named Ulysses Everett McGill. However, the drastic change in setting took a classic idea and formed something new and original.

Instead of trying to make every part of your book a revelation of new ideas, why not find a framework that you know will connect and use your creativity to make it your own?

Get authentic with your writing.

There is one absolute, surefire way to ensure that you have an original idea. 

Use a story from your own life.

Your own personal journey is 100% unique. Sure, there may be commonalities between your life and others, but no two individuals are exactly alike. Using explicit details from your life can spice up your story and make it something of your very own. Remember, the devil is in the details.

This is a great way to create memorable, original characters as well. Look back at your childhood. Who really stands out in your mind and why? Did they have any funny quirks or attributes that make them unforgettable? 

Incorporate these details into your characters, and you’ll be guaranteed an original story — from your first sentence to your last. 

Take a trip down the rabbit hole. 

Do you recall the part in the famous children’s book Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland where she initially falls down the rabbit hole? She’s in a downward spiral to who knows where, surrounded by familiar things. Clocks, cupboards and furniture all pass by her, but they slowly morph into more curious things. Until BOOM! She lands neatly on the ground in some altered version of her perceived reality.

Believe it or not, this bizarre scene is a great picture of how to be creative with your writing. By starting with something normal and allowing your mind to go deeper and deeper into new and creative ideas. 

The real challenge is learning how to harness this ability and put it to use. Here’s how you can build your own existential rabbit hole:

  1. Take a look at your preferred genre and write down all of the recurring themes and topics you can think of. The ones you want to pay the most attention to are the thoughts that occur most frequently. For example, if you’re a crime writer, murder may come to mind. Followed by strangulation, stabbings, and gunshots. These can all be related to murder. Jot these ideas down.
  1. Next, compare your lists. What did you keep coming back to? Continuing with the example, we’ll say murder and robbery kept coming to mind. Think about how you can combine these two. Is the real goal the murder with a robbery used as a cover up? Or a robbery gone wrong? Now these are just two variables. But combine them with the other commonalities and use word associations with these as above… You can easily craft an original idea or plot points. 

A great example of this can be found in the Austin Powers movies. Dr. Evil is a Bond villain parody who wants to take down the titular hero. By combining two methods of previous Bond-style–from Goldfinger and Thunderball to be exact–Dr Evil’s plot involves “sharks with frickin laser beams attached to their foreheads.”  

Summary: Story Trumps Creativity

If you’re worried there are no good ideas left, take a deep breath and give yourself the gift of inner peace. I just showed you three ways to prime your brain for creativity; and the truth is, a good story is more important anyway. 

Consider the Star Wars movie The Force Awakens — a new sci fi story for a younger generation. What new concepts did it bring to the galaxy from long ago and far away? Not many. And yet it got 93% from critics and 86% from fans on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Creativity is good, but it’s not the ultimate goal of storytelling. What is? Simply to connect with your audience in a meaningful way. 

And how do you that?

Well, it might require a little creativity. 

Cheers!

Photo by Lisa Fotios from Pexels