Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Is your book selling as well as you would like? If your book sales have slowed down or are lacking, maybe your book needs refreshing.

Does Your Book Need Refreshing?

Ponder the following four points to determine if you need to engage in updating or refreshing your book to improve sales.

1.  Book Reviews

I am amazed at the number of books that have no reviews on Amazon. Some of these are indie authors that are paying for advertising for their books, yet their books have no reviews on the largest book selling website. Reviews are essential for selling books.

My advice is that before you launch a marketing campaign for your book, get reviews. Give readers a free copy of your book in exchange for a review. You need reviews.

If the average rating of reviews for your book on Amazon or any other bookseller site is less than four stars, this means either your book needs some work or you are not targeting the right audience for your message.

The competition is stiff. Readers have exponentially more choices of books to read than they have time to read. An average rating of less than four stars means your book is just that—average. Your book needs to be more than average to sell well. It needs to be compelling.

2.  Provide a Sample

Buyers like to have some assurance that what they are buying is worth their money. This is why when browsing for books in a physical bookstore or library, readers will not only read the book’s cover, they will open the book and read a section of the interior to decide if they want to invest in the book.

Buyers need this same access to the interior of your book when browsing online. Give your potential buyers the ability to sample your work so they can make an informed decision that leads to a purchase. You can offer the following samples for potential readers:

  • Enable the Amazon Look Inside feature for your book.
  • Offer a link to read the first chapter of your book.
  • Offer a digital prequel, short story, or tip sheet for free to potential readers.

3.  Update Your Cover

First and foremost, your book should be sporting a professional cover image. Your cover should look as good as or better than the top 10 sellers in your category or genre. Your cover needs to be eye-catching to rise above your competition.

Sometimes book sales lag because your book’s cover—your number one marketing tool—does not accurately reflect the contents of your book. Make sure the image on your cover conveys the emotion off your message to the reader. If you are selling a romance story, your cover should speak romance. If you are selling a thriller, your cover should feel suspenseful.

Do a quick review of your book’s cover. Sometimes updating or changing the image can spur sales.

4.  Listen to feedback

In response to feedback around editing, I have had authors say, “This is the message God gave me.” Good editing does not change the message. Instead, it makes your message more relatable and compelling.

Once I told an author who requested my help that her book was too long for her target age group. I suggested that she either condense it or break it into a series of books. Her response was that children needed the whole message so she was going to leave it the way she had it.

Clearly, she was not open to my suggestion. I would rather my children eat part of their meal than none of it. At least by eating part they are getting some nutrition. The same can be true for a message. Pieces eventually add up to the whole.

Listen to the feedback you receive from your readers. Take the strengths from the positive reviews and improve the weaknesses pointed out in the negative reviews. Your book (and you) will be better for it.

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Is Free Really an Effective Marketing Strategy?

Everyone loves free stuff. Go to any convention and attendees all flock to the displays where items are being given away for free. When companies like Chick-Fil-A, 7 Eleven, Rita’s or Dairy Queen give away free products, people flock to the business.

Is Free an Effective Marketing Strategy?

Giving away free products is a form of advertising. After all, the goal of all advertising is for someone to use the product or service and like it enough to become a repeat buyer and tell other people about the great product or service. The ultimate goal of advertising is seeding word-of-mouth.

The same is true for book sales. Word-of-mouth is the top of driver of sales. Publishers and authors spend money on marketing a book in hopes that people will read the book and like it well enough to start telling others about it.

Giving away free books as part of a book marketing campaign brings the following three benefits to your book.

1.  It drives sales.

Giving away free books to readers drives discovery. It introduces an author to new readers. When avid readers like a book, they tend to read other books by that same author. After all, author familiarity is one of the top drivers of book sales.

Free is a powerful sales catalyst for series or backlists, especially with ebooks. Studies indicates that ebook series that offer the first book free earn 55% more on average than series that don’t offer the first ebook free.

2.  It develops rapport.

Giving free books develops rapport. Rapport is needed to develop a relationship. There are four main reasons people do business with someone. These four reasons are:

  • They like you.
  • They trust you.
  • They find you competent.
  • They believe you have integrity.

Rapport opens the door for trust. Giving free copies of your book to readers is one way to begin to develop trust with these buyers. If these readers like your book, they will tell others.

3.  It encourages feedback.

Feedback benefits you. Reactions and observations let you know what you are doing well. It also tells you what you need to improve. When you give away a free book, you can invite feedback. After all, you want to know whether the book resonated with the reader or whether you need to change a few things so you can better connect with your target audience.

Some individuals who receive a free copy of a book will provide feedback in the form of a review, either on their own blog, website, social media sites, newsletter, or on an online bookstore. This is the best type of feedback because reviews help sell books.

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Presence: It’s Essential in Selling Books

Do you know the answer to these questions?

  • Which online store nets 49% of all money spent on online shopping?
  • Where do half of all online product searches begin?
  • Who sells half of all print books in the United States?

Presence: It's Essential in Selling Books

In case you have not yet guessed, the answer to all of these questions is:

Amazon

Amazon is the behemoth of book sellers.

Here is an important marketing tip:

If you are an author trying to sell books, then you want to have a presence at the store selling the most books.

Okay”, you say. “I have my books for sale on Amazon. I’m good. I have a presence there.”

Yes, but the greater your presence, the better. So, how do you increase your presence on Amazon? I suggest you try these two strategies.

1. Complete your Amazon Author Central Page

I am still surprised at how many authors skip this important step. A recent cooperative marketing effort with Christian Indie Publishing Association (CIPA) featured four of our members’ books. I was dismayed to find that only one of those four indie published authors had taken the time to complete their Author Central page.

Amazon’s Author Central allows every author to have a greater presence on Amazon’s website. On this page, you can upload a photo of yourself, write a biography for readers to start to know+like+trust you, and make sure all the books you have penned show up on this page.

Authors who skip this vital step on Amazon are truly leaving marketing dollars on the table. Creating an Amazon Author Central Page is free! This Page allows you to expand your presence on Amazon. It’s a great marketing tool.

You can set up your Amazon Author Central Page at https://authorcentral.amazon.com.

2. Advertise on Amazon

I recently heard a marketing expert say the following:

“The first wave of advertising on the Internet was Google. The second wave of advertising on the Internet was Facebook. We are now in the third wave of advertising on the Internet and it is Amazon.”

In 2019, Amazon secured $9 billion in ad revenue. This number is expected to reach $38 billion by 2022. Since 50% of all product services start on Amazon, then advertising on Amazon is a smart move. Advertising with this online store helps increase your presence.

Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) allows any author with a book in advertise the book. These ads are pay-per-click, meaning that you only pay when someone clicks on your ad. AMS allows you to control how much you want to spend per click and per day. Setting a daily marketing budget with AMS of a few dollars shows your book to many more readers than just having your book on the site.

If you are not sure how to get started with advertising on Amazon, you can take the FREE course offered by Kindlepreneur at https://kindlepreneur.com/ams-book-advertising-course.

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This Phrase Can Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

I hear and see this phrase more than I should. Indie authors with great intentions who are enthusiastic about promoting their books often say the phrase.

Sadly, what these authors don’t understand is that this one little phrase can ruin their book marketing efforts. This statement does not destroy all book marketing efforts, only those geared toward retail book buyers (a.k.a. bookstores) and librarians.

Don't Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

Don’t say this phrase. Really, there is never a need to say this phrase. It is not even necessary with readers. Don’t ruin your marketing efforts by saying,

My book is available on Amazon.

If you are attempting to sell your book to a bookstore, or even just trying to get a local bookstore to allow you to conduct a book signing, this simple phrase ruins your chances with the bookstore. Book buyers will not carry your book or host a book signing for you if you say this phrase.

Here is why:

1. Amazon is a bookstore.

Yes, you can “publish” your book through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). You can even request expanded distribution through the platform. However, Amazon is not a distributor, it is a bookstore.

As a bookstore, Amazon is in direct competition with any bookstore that you approach or try to get to sell your book. Brick-and-mortar bookstores have struggled due to Amazon’s stranglehold on book sales. Mentioning that your book is available on Amazon turns a retailer off. It’s like saying “You can buy my book at Target.” Bookstores don’t purchase books from other bookstores.

Available on Amazon

2. You show your ignorance.

I don’t mean to be rude; I am just trying to help. If you say to a bookstore buyer—whether in person or in an advertisement—“My book is available on Amazon”, the buyer immediately knows that you are a self-published author who does not understand the book industry.

Self-published authors and indie authors have sported a bad reputation for years. This is because there is a glut of poorly written, poorly edited, and poorly designed self-published books. In recent years, the stigma of self-publishing has been greatly diminished. However, it still lurks in the shadows. The phrase, “My book is available on Amazon”, causes the beast to come forth.

3. Every book is available on Amazon.

“Every” may be a slight exaggeration, but at least 99% of all books published are available on Amazon. KDP is not the only way to get your book on Amazon. Every publisher makes sure their books are available through Amazon. Publishers know that Amazon commands 50% of all print book sales. So, to harvest the most sales, all publishers make their books available for sale on Amazon.

There really is never a need to make a big deal of your book being available on Amazon—not for readers, not for librarians, and especially not for retailers.

For the most part, readers just assume that any book they hear about will be available where they shop. If they shop on Amazon, that is where they will look for the book. If they shop at Christianbook.com, that is where they will look for the book. Readers that shop at their local brick-and-mortar bookstore will assume your book is available there. Often, they will be surprised that the retailer does not have it in stock. However, if your book is in distribution, they can just ask the store to order it for them.

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You Must Sow to Reap

One day the phone rang. I picked it up and Ross Perot was on the line. He said, ‘I love your book.‘”

I was talking with a writer who was telling me about a book she published in the 1990s. It was a politically conservative title. She wanted to get the word out about her book, so she mailed copies to a large number of conservative politicians including Ross Perot.

Ross Perot paid attention to this unsolicited book that he received. He read it, liked it, and contacted the author. He then helped this author get additional media coverage for her message.

This author talked about the new book she was hoping to get published and then commented, “Now you have to do your marketing online.

I quickly laid that myth to rest. While there is much talk about author platforms and using social media to promote books, the Internet is not the only marketing strategy an author has at her fingertips.

Much like cold calling, cold mailing is an acceptable marketing practice. Mailing copies of your books to appropriate influencers can pay off.

When my anger management book for teenagers was published, I mailed copies of the book to middle school and junior high school counselors to help spur sales. I also sent copies to counseling center directors. These influencers all worked with the target audience for my book.

I looked at mailing these copies of my books as sowing seeds. The goal was to raise awareness for my book. Farmers know that without sowing seeds, there is no harvest. Seeds grow into plants, and plants produce fruit.

2 Corinthians 9:10 says, “Now he who supplies seed to the sower, and bread for food will also supply and increase your store of seed and will enlarge the harvest of righteousness.” I figured that my job was to sow the seeds, and God’s job was to make those seeds grow.

I believe that when we publish books that bring Glory to God, that He does cause the seeds we sow to grow into a harvest. Sow seeds with your books. Mail copies to influencers and reviewers who can help spread the word about your book.

The Biblical principle that “Whoever sows sparingly will also reap sparingly, and whoever sows generously will also reap generously” (2 Corinthians 9:6) applies to all areas of life. So, sow your marketing seeds generously.

To seed your marketing efforts, I encourage you to make a list of influencers in your target audience you can give copies of your book to. Then mail some books and trust God to bring a harvest.

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