by C.J. West
Last week I attended a webinar on e-book marketing and was really struck by something the presenter said. “Amazon knows how to sell stuff and they don’t care if they sell your book or James Patterson’s book or a toaster.”
Amazon is a marketing machine and they flex their muscle for big guys and little guys alike.
The immediate contrast for me was Smashwords. Don’t get me wrong, I love Smashwords. They convert and distribute books amazingly well. But I’m thinking of the Smashwords storefront. It doesn’t sizzle. At all. If you buy something from Smashwords, it’s because the author sent you there on a mission. You bought the book because you really wanted it. You weren’t sold.
A few weeks back I told you about the owner of a small store who turned her back on me to sell a customer something by one of the industry heavyweights. Four different books actually. Her reputation with the customer was too important for her to take a risk on me. The only way she would sell one of my books was if I brought the customer to her store to purchase it.
This model does not work. If I have to find the customer, bring them to the store, and sell them the book, what on earth do I need the store for?
At that point in the seminar I realized two things.
First, Amazon can help me reach well beyond my established audience.
Second, I’m the Smashwords of author marketing. Bear with me and I’ll show you what I mean.
There are two groups of people who buy my books. People who have read my work and their friends. My audience has grown steadily, but it takes time to read a book. Sometimes readers have a novel on their TBR pile for a year before reading. By the time they read and recommend that one, I’ve written three more.
When I say I’m the Smashwords of author marketing, I mean that I’m selling books to people who have already been convinced to buy. I could sell them my books at Smashwords or even in that little indie bookstore because they really want a particular book and they are going out (electronically or physically) to get it.
To be successful, we need to captivate folks who are casually browsing. Most authors have turned their books face out on a store bookshelf, but what have you done to make your books stand out on the digital bookshelf?
This week I’ve made great strides and I’ll share some of the things I’ve done.
The most important real estate I own is twelve pages on Amazon that describe my books and allow readers to buy them. This week I revved up the copy on all twelve pages with quotes and improved the readability.
Next, I evaluated my keywords and categories. I discovered that some had been entered incorrectly. Some of my keywords were laughable in SEO circles. I fixed those and by doing that I hope to improve the chances of being found. Remember, when readers are searching millions of times, any minor improvement can mean a perceptible change in sales.
In the next few weeks I’ll be evaluating my covers. I’m thinking about rebranding my entire line of books, but haven’t pulled the trigger yet. We’ve all heard dozens of times how important covers are, but until this week I never realized how much my covers could be holding me back. Covers need to captivate the casual browser and mine just don’t do that.
In the coming months I hope to shed the marketing doldrums and add a whole lot more sizzle.
What have you done to make your books stand out?
CJ is giving away 12 Kindle Fire e-readers this year and will be offering several free books. If you’d like to be advised of his free book promotions sign up for his newsletter or enter the Kindle Fire contest at www.22wb.com.