How I Sell 4,000 Books a Year
Where Do I Start Selling My Book?
I get this question all the time. You have just published your book on Amazon and congratulations, but now what? You might have done a book launch but what do I do on day two. How do I get sales? How do I turn this into a business? This is where I focus, the launch or even a best seller launch is fun if it happens. It is a lot of work to pull off. But it doesn’t really set you up for the long-term prospects of your book. Books can be like little engines, just kind of chugging along with regular sales. That is where I focus, what can I do to have sales for years and years? This is the focus of this book.
A Little Background
We focus a ton on the book launch. Often trying to get that best seller on Amazon. Get those little orange flags. But this isn't selling your book, this is a one day promotion. What I focus on with my books is long term selling, year after year after year. Over the last several years I have been able to sell over 4,000 books each year. That has equaled about $14,000 per year from selling book. That is a nice vacation.
I currently have 40 different titles on Amazon through CreateSpace.com. I have books on music, geography, children's books, publishing books, business books and more. Many of them are also on Kindle. I have two books that sell around 1,000 copies each a year and some books that sell 1 copy a year. But they all sell at least once during the year. This book is about how I do it. What are my techniques and the tools I use to pull this off.
The basic idea is to look at your books as long-term investments. They are like little businesses that can generate income for years and years.
Below are my sales stats from last year on Amazon. All of these books are published through CreateSpace.com, printed using print-on-demand and sold on Amazon.com.
CreateSpace Chart Graphic here
The basic philosophy I use to sell books on-line is often called content marketing. I release the content of my books, text and images on a blog, website or social media site with the purpose of having Google index, catalog it and deliver readers and buyers. Around the book content on my sites I display my own ads for my own related books. The ads link the visitor to the Amazon sales page or sometimes to a book sales page that then links to Amazon. My ads are for my own books. On social media sites, I will link the post to Amazon.
I am trying to act like and replicate my own bookstore. With bookstores readers can walk through and look at thousands of books. They can pick them up and read them before purchasing. In the on-line word this isn't really possible. So, I try to figure out how I can bring some of the bookstore experience to potential readers and buyers.
Readers need to see what you have in order to want to buy it. Google loves the relevant content and images and brings people to my sites for more information. This is a very passive approach to book selling but it seems to work pretty well. One of the reasons I do this is because the return on books is pretty low and spending a lot of money advertising my books usually doesn't pay off. I also recommend going this route because most of us aren't internet marketers and aren't fully focused on all this. We are not building sales funnels and managing large email lists and doing all that fancier stuff, so we want things that are kind of passive and pretty easy.
For some people books are the gateways to their other products. If you have other products then I recommend exploring this option. Other products can be courses, physical products, affiliate products and even t-shirts and mugs. Other products can also be services, coaching, consulting and speaking. These are called back-end offers. They are offered on the back-end of your book, or sometimes at the end of each chapter. The goal then is to just get your book into people's hands and let your back-end offers deliver your sales. This can be very lucrative. I recommend that if you have any kind of product or service that you sell to include it in your book.
I work in the 1% world. Just like direct mail where success is measured in 1-2% return I believe it is the same in the on-line world. You need to have 99 visitors to visit so that you can get that 1 to buy. Think of it like a bookstore. We visit and walk by thousands of books that we don't buy but we need to have our books in the store, ready for the one person that needs it. It is the same on-line. What better bait to use than our own content.
In this book, I am focusing mostly on self-publishing, generally through two Amazon.com services, CreateSpace.com and Kindle e-books. CreateSpace is the print-on-demand side of Amazon and Kindle handles e-books, though they are now also offering a print option. The other company to look at is IngramSpark.com. Ingram is the world’s largest book distributor and IngramSpark is their print-on-demand side. If you want to be in stores then you will need to look at IngramSpark. Books stores don’t buy from CreateSpace. If you are working with a publisher some of these strategies will work but most won’t because you won’t have control over your content. One of the major advantages of working with Amazon is you retain the rights and control over your content. This is important if you are doing content marketing.
My basic theory on book marketing is to release your book's content to the world, text and images, give the reader a way to see it and around it post a clear link to buy the book on Amazon. That is the entire deal. Make it easy to find and buy. The purpose of this book is to give you some of the simple strategies that I use to do this.
My General Concepts About Selling Books
• Amazon doesn’t do your online marketing for you. You have to market your book.
• It is important to build some kind of central web home for your book, this can be a website or a blog. Facebook and Twitter are not homes for your book. You want to have a place online that you can blog from, host content, collect e-mail names, have your bio and your book description and info, and have connections so readers can buy your book.
• Build a web site around your own content and sponsor your site with your own books. Have your own ads for your own books.
• Build your author platform!
• Build out your marketing wheel. Have a central home where all your social media and other properties can point. From this home have a clear path for buying your book.
• Give Away to Get. Give away sample chapters, maybe even full books, related content, and information. Deliver however your reader wants. Fans need to touch and feel your content.
• Web Traffic Matters, only about 1% of visitors will buy, but you need to bring in the other 99% to get that one. Be out there, be public, engage and bring in readers.
• Build a mixture of on-line and off-line selling.
• Selling your book is a continual process, do something every day.
• Publishing on Amazon is important, start here first then branch out.
• Promote and sell your books on platforms that have a long shelf life.
• Amazon book reviews are important, ask your readers to add a book review to your book.
• Have the best cover you can afford and don’t make me think about the title. Make sure the cover works in a thumbnail size.
• Edit, Copy Edit and Proof Read, pay an editor to clean up your book. It is one of the most important things you can do, quality matters.
• Good healthy book descriptions are important, use all the space they give you. Books are found by words in Google and Amazon search but only if the words are there to be found. Add your Table of Contents to the description
• Your Table of Contents are your book’s benefits, don’t do Chapter 1, Chapter 2, be descriptive with the titles of your chapters. This is your book in mini form.
• Try not to end up with a garage full of books, use print-on-demand and e-books. Keep your costs to a minimum. You can always print later.
• If you think you are going to be selling your book in stores be sure to buy your own ISBN number, also look at IngramSpark.com instead of CreateSpace. Stores don’t buy from CreateSpace
• Create an event around the release of your book. Build some buzz about it using all of the tools available.
• You don’t need to advertise in traditional media to have a successful book.
If I Have to Give Just One Tip
I had a question recently from a member of my How to Publish Your Book Facebook Group for my one tip. It went like this.
Hey Bruce! Hope you’re doing well! I feel like I hit a wall. I’m averaging about a book a day...not sure if that’s what I should expect? Anyway, I have about a billion ideas running through my head but unfortunately, I don’t have the time to execute them all with my full-time job. I guess I’m looking for one thing to really focus on to push sales...blog...press release.... social media...would you suggest one over the other?
Hi I am a fan of creating content for platforms that hangs around for a long time. Like a blog posts or web pages, YouTube videos, Linkedin post and Pinterest. Things that can be done once and shared to many places over and over, like blog posts and videos can. I like to use my book content as my blog content and then add ads on the blog for my own stuff wrapped around my own stuff.
I would take your entire book and break it up into small chunks and blog it bit by bit adding really good titles for each post. At the bottom of each post I would add a sell/bio line about the you and your book and where you can get it. Key is to have be short and have a live link to the book’s sales page on Amazon.
Google will index your book and bring you traffic. If your reader likes it they might decide to purchase a copy. You job is to give them a clear path to purchase. Use your book's content to bring in traffic about your book and wrap ads for your book around it. You can also mix in videos and other content between the posts. Be sure to also add a thumbnail image of your book cover in the sidebar area with a clear Buy at Amazon button on it or below it.
This does several things, it spreads your content out, it gets Google to index your content, and gives you info which you can see in your blog stats what people are interested in. This also gives you lots of posts to market other products like a journal or related Amazon products. The goal here is to get lots of people to see your stuff. From my own experience, you need to get 100-200 visitors to your site to make a sale. This is 1-.05%, which is about the same as direct mail marketing. If you can get 200 people to visit your site from searching for your content you will get a sale if you give them an easy way to know you are selling something and an easy way to buy.
I am also a huge fan of YouTube videos and post on Pinterest. Both of these platforms get a lot of traffic and the content hangs around forever. Videos can be shared all over the web and Pinterest just gets a ton of traffic. Video descriptions and Pinterest posts can have live links, be sure to include them
An advantage of blogging is that the content will stay visible for years. You can also easily share it across many other social media platforms. I know Facebook and Twitter is all the rage but the problem is that everything is so temporary. It just keeps rolling down out of view.
A couple of other tips for your blog. Add a resource page around your topic. You can build this out over time but I have found this to be one of the highest traffic pages on my book blogs. Find something new, just keep adding it. Google loves pages like this. Be sure to include the links.
Another tip; your content may not lend itself to this but if you are able to write about costs of things or how much money you make or something around money, you will get a lot of traffic. People just want to know about money and costs.
Another tip; put up a sample pdf chapter that people can sign up for and download. In the pdf have a book sales page with live links to Amazon. This builds your email list and gets your content in people’s hands.
If you are going to be promoting your book in social media be sure you are where your readers are. Where they hang out is where you hang out. Is it Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Pinterest, Instagram, etc?
Remember we have been talking about text here. This all works really well with images too. The web loves graphics and so does Google. What I recommend is to put all your books images on line on a website or blog.
• Take each page or image from the book, at the bottom of the image add a little white area where you can add a thumbnail of the book cover and where you can buy the book along with its title.
• Title the graphic file with a descriptive title. Don’t use an image number like 45398.jpg but rather, 2 Finger Mandolin Chords.jpg. Goggle will index these and link them back to the sites
• Add a good live description below the graphic with a link to the Amazon sales page.
Add acousticmusictv.com page graphic
On the second question: selling book a day isn't bad. For me a nice medium seller is 15-20 books a month, in reality that is pretty good. 200+books a year. I will be writing about repurposing your content further in this book. But adding a journal or workbook to your book and selling it on your blog can be a great idea to increase your sales.
My Ten Best Book Selling Tips
• Sell Your Book from the Back of Your Book with a Thumbnail Image
This is an easy one to do. Wither you have one book or several I recommend promoting them at the back of your book. People don’t always know where they got your book, you need to show them. Especially if your book is a low content book like a journal or workbook or just life lessons. Something that can fill-up and need a new copy. Show a thumbnail cover and drop in a line like “Available at Amazon.com”
• Cross Promote Your Books at the Back of Your Book
If you have several books, set up a catalog page. Just because your reader has one of your books they probably don’t know you have others. Drop in thumbnails and a title that says “See All My Books at Amazon.com.” Another technique you can do is start your next book at the back of your current book. Drop in a chapter, get your reader started and wanting more.
• Have a Descriptive Table of Contents
I see this all the time. A table of contents that is just a table of contents, Chapter 1, Chapter 2. Your table of contents are your books benefits or its story. It is your book in mini form, the entire story listed out. This is important, especially if we are only selling on Amazon. Using the “Look Inside” feature on your book’s selling page, a reader can access several pages from inside the book. The table of contents is one of them. We can’t pick books up these days to review, everything is online and limited. With a descriptive table of contents your reader can see what is included in the book.
Remember we find products with search and search works by words. Readers are searching for information or a story and we can help Amazon figure out what our book is about. Our reader gets to see. I also include my table of contents in the Amazon book description and will often select several of my best ones for the back cover.
Along with being very useful for search, your descriptive TOC can also be used for blog posts and video titles. How about a pod cast, just read the chapter, the script is finished? Your TOC should be descriptive, enticing, it should tell the story of your book and it should make readers want more.
• The Book Thumbnail Test
You have worked hard on your cover. It is selling the book, it kills. But here is a test. We sell our books on Amazon, they are displayed as small thumbnails in search and on the page. Does your book work as a thumbnail that is sometimes smaller than an inch? Can you read it when it is tiny? Take your cover and reduce it down to around an inch. How does it look. You don’t have to be able to read all of it but can you at least read the title? It the title big enough, does the font work, does the image work. If not then you need to fix it. Do you have to be able to read the subtitle, maybe not, but the title I think so.
• Amazon Book Page Test, Checking your Competitors
This is a follow-up on the previous thumbnail question. But this time it is how does your book look when it is sitting with its competitors? Different kinds of books have different looks. History books have a location or action picture on the cover. Biographies usually have the person, cooking books have food, and fiction books often have a full cover image with type on top. In the different categories, the covers are all different but there are often similar overall guidelines.
How does your book compare?
• Create a thumbnail of your book’s cover, about 1 inch or so.
• Search for your book’s category and either screen shot or print out the results. You want a page of thumbnails of books related to yours.
• Take your thumbnail cover and lay it over one of the existing books.
• How does it look, does it stand out, does it fade away?
• “Don’t Make Me Think”
I borrowed this phrase from author Steve Krug and his book on web usability “Don’t Make Me Think”. It has become my motto. When I look at books, especially non-fiction, how to, cooking, really any book that isn’t fiction, I should know what the book is about. Don’t make me have to think and figure it out. If so I am just moving on. It should be clear and to the point. If a little confusing and you can’t change it, then make sure the subtitle explains the book. Though, I can’t tell you how many times I have looked at a new book design from an author and commented that “I think the subtitle is the real title of this book. How about your switch them.” Even with fiction you need to be clear with what the book is about. Remember all we see these days are thumbnails on Amazon, make it clear.
• Selling from Each Chapter
Books can be powerful tools for promoting and selling your products and services. I talked above about cross promoting and selling your other books from the back of your book. You can also use your book to take people into your world. Books don’t have to be stand along things, they can be much bigger. They can be fluid connections. How? If your topic has technical information that needs explaining, like how to make furniture then how about some YouTube tutorial videos. Or you are writing a travel book and would like to take people on a visual journey of where you are talking about. Or you have a fiction book and would love to go into some behind the scenes details about a place or event in the story. You can add links to your book that connect with YouTube or your website. Maybe your book has a companion pdf workbook and you want your reader to download and use it. Add links at the ends of the chapters, or at the bottom of the page. In a Kindle book these can be live links, in a print book the reader will need to type them in. But you could include a special url that links to the website.
I have seen authors that worked this both ways. Youtube videos that mention a book and the book that used YouTube to handle the technical demo of what was being talked about on the page. To complete the chapter, you need to use both. One sells the other. Think about a resources list at the back of the book that contains affiliate links. If it is a Kindle the links need to go to Amazon but for print they can go anywhere.
I encourage you to think about how you can link your book to your world on-line. One of the hardest things is to figure out how to connect to your buyers. Amazon doesn’t give you a buyer list. But by putting some of your content on-line and connecting people to it, maybe with an email signup box, you can bring them into your world and sell them more stuff.
• Back Covers Also Sell Your Book
We forget about the back cover, especially because we rarely see them on Amazon. But Amazon very often shows the back cover as one of the two images that you see below the main book image. Back covers are important, it completes the package. It also gives you a great opportunity to sell your book. I often will recommend that you add 3 or 4 of the best table of content chapter heads as bullets on the back. I also recommend adding an author bio with small picture, your contact info, repeat the title and add a good descriptive paragraph about the book. On our own blogs and websites, we can easily show the back cover.
The back cover as I said above completes the package, especially when the book arrives in the mail. When your reader is holding the book, they will turn it over and look at it, so it is important that it makes sense. So don’t forget to think about what you have back there.
• Think in Series
Amazon loves series, they promote them. Think about how you can turn your book into a series. Instead of writing a single 400-page book, how about three 150 pages books. Shorter reads and you also have the ability to sell three books instead of one. In each book you start the next book’s 1st chapter at the end. Hook people in. Series aren’t that hard to do if you think about it. Are you doing a coloring book, just do three or four of them. Same cover design, same layout, and the opportunity to cross promote in the back. Because of print on demand we can update our books. We can go back and drop in the cross promote information at the back and upload a new file. You can easily publish a book and just give it a series name and then get the next one up when you have a chance. If you are creating a long 400-page book, write the book and then go back and see if you can break it up into three. Then turn around and publish the compilation edition. Now you have 4 books. Want more money, write more books or just break up what you have.
A great resource on how to write fiction along these line is Write, Publish, Repeat: the No-Luck-Required Guide to Self-Publishing Success by Sean Platt and Johnny B. Truant. Sean and Johnny are a writing team that talk about how they move people from one book to the next book.
• Repurpose Your Book into More Products
I will be talking more about this later on but just to get your thinking started, books are much more than books. Books are little businesses that are filled with content that can be turned into additional products. Take you book and create a matching journal or workbook. Now you have two books and a package. Especially if you are writing self-help improvement types of books. These books have lots of chapters with tips on change. Each of these can be turned into questions, tasks and goals. These can be expanded into workbooks. The packages can be sold at the seminar you hold. Each of these can be cross sold inside of themselves. Workbooks can be sold for 4 time what you sold the original book for, it is a workbook your supposed to change your life with it. Maybe you are writing a gardening book. How about a companion book with a set of garden layouts? This can go on and on, journals, workbooks, video training series, plans, and hats and t-shirts. Be part of the club. You get the idea
The Big List of How I Sell 4,000 Books a Year
Book marketing and selling starts the day you start writing your book, even it is several years before you are releasing. You have plenty of time to start building your platform. Your platform in publishing terms are all the ways that you connect to your audience. It is your email list, your social media followers, your current buyers, your friends, family, and co-workers. Do you give talks or run workshops, these people are all part of your platform and potential customers, get their email addresses? Some connections are better than others. Your Twitter followers are probably at the bottom of your list and your current buyers if you have some are at the top. Everyone else is in between. But you need to start building and storing the connections.
You can start a blog and document the journey of writing your new book. You can release early drafts of your book. So people write their entire books right on their blogs. . Add an email sign up box for a sample chapter or additional content. Talk to your readers, give out advance copies and build your team. Start a Facebook group and build an audience. Figure out who are the influencers in your market, connect with them and start to build a relationship. A relationship that will become very useful when it comes time to launch the book. Look for influencers that have large audiences. The key is to build and record the connections you will need when you launch your book.
Add Facebook Group Course Graphic Here
Where Do I Begin Promoting and Selling My Book?
I look at two worlds, there is the digital on-line world and there is the off-line physical world we live in.
On-Line: Well the first place we look is where the book is actually selling, probably Amazon.com. But also, our websites and social media and the other on-line book sellers. Amazon is selling the print or ebook versions of our books, but we might also be selling the pdf version or audio version or podcast version someplace else. One of my principals for on-line is I look for platforms and hosts where I can promote and sell my book that will give me long-term exposure. Platforms like your website or blog, or YouTube and Pinterest. We will be digging into the on-line world in much greater detail shortly.
Off-Line: In the off-line world, especially at the beginning or launch of your book I look for exposure to the people and community around me. Your friends, co-workers, your community, the associations you belong to, your local media. All of these organizations have newsletters or weekly papers. They all have “What’s New” sections or want to feature a local author.
I look to integrate your book into your on-line and off-line bios, “Bruce Jones is the author of How I Sell 4,000 Books a Year . . .” Update your bio everywhere you can think of, like your company website and Linkedin. Add your book to your business card or the bio in your brochure. Maybe you are a professional and you have clients that come to your office, add the book to the lobby, make it part of the initial client meeting. This is especially true if your book is about a confusing area of your practice. Maybe you are a divorce lawyer and this book covers the main questions people have when going through the process. FAQ books can be very useful and popular if they can help you close a new client.
Maybe you conduct workshops or speak regularly, these are great opportunities to sell your book. I went on a nature walk recently with a group I belong to conducted by a local photographer and he sold a number of copies of his book right out of the trunk of his car after the walk. Look around you and see where you connect with people. How about any retail locations around you? Could be a book store or it might be a local pet shop or nature food store that might be interested. Look for stores that are connected to the topic that your book is about. Many of these locations will work around the distribution issues and you can do it yourself.
It is hard selling your book in person, we are not accustomed to asking people to buy something out of the trunk of our car. Promoting and selling is tough, but is necessary to the success of our books. Look at your own world. Your book is on Amazon, that is great. But the full benefit if it might be inside your own company, or around your neighborhood, or community. Think of your book like a big business card. You can give it away to clients to help secure a new project. You have a dog walking business, how about creating a book for your clients that talks about dog health. I can bet you that none of your competitors have a book like that. You conduct seminars or workshops; a workbook might be a fantastic add on for that business. It can be the required materials. Build it into the price of the session. These don’t have to be big books either, 24 pages or even less will do amazing things to advance your business.
Selling from Inside Your Book
At the back of your book have a sales page that lets people know where they can buy your book. If your book is one that gets bought over and over or shared like a journal or coloring book then you want to let people know where they can get it. People forget where they buy their books. You can easily remind them. Have a small thumbnail picture and a line that says “Available at Amazon.com” or something like that.
If you have a series of books put thumbnails of all the books including the one they are holding at the back with the Available at Amazon.com line. Your reader may not know you published a series. Let them know. I have several geography coloring books and customers buy them over and over.
Do you have a companion book such as a workbook or activity book? Let everyone know that their book is part of a series, it is a package.
Something to think about, can you write your book so that you can spin out a workbook or activity book. Is your book solving problems and recommending courses of action? A companion journal, workbook, activates book makes a great second product. In the main book, you highlight the questions and tasks that go along with the subject. In the second book, you pull those questions out, add lines for people to fill in and you have a workbook. Same content or maybe enhanced with some extra goodies. I also recommend increasing the size to 8.5 x 11 to indicate this is a book we are going to do something with. It can also be priced quite a bit more. Price it so that you can discount it when you bring it to your seminar or workshop.
2. BOOK DESIGN, THE 5 KEY PAGES IN YOUR BOOK
Key pages in a book, how does that sell a book? A book is a product and how you present that product and show your reader what the book is about will help with selling it. We don't have a bookstore to walk through everything we are doing is online. One of my goals is to get the potential reader to understand what my book is about as fast as I can. On Amazon all we really have is the Look Inside feature for each book. This feature lets us see some of the inside pages of our books. You click on the cover and up pops a window the first page and a few other pages. Depending on the book you usually get the first several pages and then maybe some additional. These pages are key, They give you a window into the book. My view is to get your reader to your content as quickly as you can. Because of this I often recommend not putting dedications, intros, acknowledgements, quotes etc in the front. People don't buy a book because of the dedications. It isn't traditional but for self-publishers who are using Amazon as our primary sales method I think it is necessary. All of that stuff can be in the back and also on your author/book website. Ok what pages?
Title Page, this is the first page of your book. It can mimic the cover design and at the bottom you should add your website or Amazon Author Central web address. If your book is a Kindle then that link should be a live http: link. Some authors put a link here for a bonus or video series, something like that. On Kindle this can drive traffic right from the the Amazon Look Inside feature. How cool is that.
Legal Page, this is a necessary page but not one that really sells your book. But it usually comes on the back of the Title Page. It is also useful because it pushes the Table of Contents page to a right hand page which is where it should be.
Table of Contents, one of the most important pages of your book. Your Table of Contents (TOC) are your benefits. This list should never be Chapter 1, Chapter 2, etc. This page contains your main selling points about this book. Make this page work for you, tell your story in bullet points. You TOC are the main points you will emphasis in your marketing. Each chapter can become a blog post, a video, even a small course. Several of them become the sales lines on the back cover. Your TOC gets added to your Amazon book description, they become searchable items. They are long key word phrases. Spend time making these chapter names the best they can be. Take each phrase and Google it, where do you show up? Drop it in Amazon search, where do you show up? In the book results that you want your book to be in? These aren't throw away items. Make them easy to understand.
First Page of Content
Cross Selling/Product Page
Cross Promote Your Books Across All Your Other Books
If you have a series of books then on the last page of each book you want an entire page with thumbnail images of your books on it and a headline that says where you can get these books. Like a book catalog or a little bookstore in the back of your book. People don’t always know where they bought the book or that you have other related titles. You have to tell them. Make it as easy as you can to sell your books
Selling Your Other Products from Inside Your book, Links to Additional Products Right in the Book
Add links at the ends of the chapters or the book to your other products. Give people an opportunity to go deeper with you. Do you have a video course or other books that people can buy? If your reader likes what you are teaching then you have a good shot at selling them something additional. A great place to do this is at the end each chapter. Just add a box with the product and a link. Even if you don’t have a product you can send people to a video or a free pdf. But there are so many ways to make products it is a shame to pass up the opportunity.
Tshirts, hats, mugs, clocks and pillows and hundreds more
Use Your Book as a Lead Magnet to Other Things You Sell.
Your book is a lead magnet. Unfortunately, most books don’t make much money but making isn’t always the point. You can use your book to lead your reader to things that do like a course, or maybe a video series or other books that you have. Drop the live http links at the ends of each chapter and link to some kind of follow up content or supporting material. The book might not sell but there is plenty of other stuff that will.
In a Kindle ebook the links are live links that are clickable, in print someone will have to type it in. You can easily purchase a nicer URL and forward it to the sale page or wherever the extra content sits. Make it all look a little nicer.
Selling with Amazon
Amazon Likes Book Series, Make Your Books into Series or a Package
Amazon likes and promotes series of book. Instead of writing big 300-400 page books, break them up into shorter more focused series. You will make more money. Want more money write more books or break up longer books into shorter books. It is easy to promote the next book in your current book. Just start it at the back with the first chapter of the next book.
If you are writing coaching or self-improvement books or books with lessons you are writing a package book. What do I mean? Package books are books that include questions or goals or activities written into them. Book, one is the initial book. For book two you pull the questions and goals out and turn them into workbooks. It can be the same content but it is stretched out with spaces for filling in. Book three can be a journal of the changes you are making from book two. With a little thinking and planning you can pull together a package of books that support each other. Each book also cross sells the other books.
Do you conduct seminars or workshops? This is a golden opportunity to create a book package that you include in the event. Books have one price but workbooks can be 4-5 times as much. Packages can also be sold in bundles. Journals that go along can be bought over and over. Don’t make them too long. Maybe three months’ worth. What else can go along with your package. Maybe a reference book or resources? How about an audio version or video version? These can be delivered on line in a membership site. There are all kinds of ways to string books together and set them up that if you buy one you are going to need book two or three to complete the package.
3. USING THE POWER OF AMAZON
- Series, write to breakup your book
- Amazon likes book series
- writing your book to Amazon book reviews, gold in the reviews
- Look for topics that have repeat buyers
- Write your book so that it can be re-purposed and turned into new products, Book > Journal > Workbook > Poster
- Break apart to Bundle
Build a book selling catalog page on your website with your books. Then a book selling page for each book. Include sample pages, related content.
Your Book Cover front and back, Don't Make Me Think philosophy
Table of Contents, list your benefits in the table of contents, these then become blog posts and video titles for marketing.
Cross promote your books in the back of each book. Build a book catalog at the back of your book, even if you don't have more books, drop in your ideas for the next one. Or how about some other related books on your topic. Advertise a downloadable pdf file of related content, fill it with affiliated products.
Sell your book in several formats, print, ebook, pdf, audio, video, in a course
Advertise around your content. Release your book content on your blog or website and wrap ads for your own books around it. If you are using a blog the ads will be in the sidebars area and appear on every page.
Build a mailing list from your book website tied to an auto-responder of content from your book, that also advertises your book
Understanding the Amazon Sales Page, describe what you see
Amazon book description, including your book's table of contents
Amazon Affiliate Program
Amazon Author Central
Spread your content around the web with clear links back to the Amazon sales page, Wagon Wheel
Author/Book Blurb with clear links back to Amazon, everywhere Label your images with descriptive name so Google can index them correctly and send people back to somewhere to buy. On images you need to have clear and descriptive titles. If you do Google will index them and attach links back to their source.
How do I find content to write about?
Your content is often from your own book, but you can also build content around your topic. It can resources, videos, other websites. In-fact on of my highest traffic pages on this site is my Resource page. I think every author/book blog/website should have a Resource page. Make your site a destination for information around your topic.
In my How to Publish Your Book Facebook Group we had a great answer to this question from Teena Hughes in response to a post
"Teena Hughes -- I teach clients how to use the simplest SEO ever, and it works for every type of book, business etc worldwide. Write a list of EVERY question you can image people would ask about your book/story, and turn each question into a blog post/web page. Start with 5 or 10 and see how that goes. To find out more questions, search for how/when/where/what/why - plus the "theme" of your book, to find the questions actually being asked in Google etc. There are more tasks I get my clients to do to go with each of these questions, but this will be a good start. And definitely grab royalty-free, license-free, copyright-free images like Bruce suggests"
I suggested to also add images to your posts, they become much more attractive and properly labeled will also pull in traffic. Use your own if you have them from your book or use a site like Pixabay.com which is a copyright free, royalty free image site.
Amazon Author Central
Building an author/book website or blog is one of my keys to building book sales.
Sell the Next Book in the Current Book
This technique works if you have a series of books. You can drop the first chapter or some sample pages at the back of the book. Promote the next book by giving a teaser section in the current book.
Do you have products
Selling on Your Author/Book Blog/Website
One of the most powerful tools you can have in your arsenal for selling your book is an author/book blog/website. My preference is to have an author site instead of a book site. Showcase all the things you do. Sometimes I will build out a book series website but normally I just work with the author one.
I also like blogs over websites. Why? Because they are much easier to maintain, you can pretty much do it all yourself. Websites take more work and unless you are proficient in html programing you will need someone else.
My preference is to use Google’s Blogger blog platform. It is free, super easy to set up, will take all kinds of media and is part of the Google family. Google likes its own. WordPress blogs is the platform that most people will recommend but I like Blogger. It is just enough, doesn’t have everything but will get the job done.
What Your Book Blog/Website Should Include?
• A blogging page, how the blog comes is just fine, easy to customize. Usually the home page. Most blogs, including Blogger, will host text, video, still images, and a variety of widgets
• An author bio page
• A book page for each book
• Maybe a general bookstore page
• And this is a big reason why, your blog or website gives you the ability to add ads for your own books that can be linked to Amazon. Google brings you an audience and you sell them stuff. You market your own books with ads for your own books.
• Resource page. This includes any and all resources around your topic. List them on an individual page with live web links. Add videos, graphics, whatever you want. I have found that on my blogs the resource page is the page with the highest web traffic. Bring people in with the content and send them off to buy your book.
• Live links to Amazon.com so people can buy your book. Add the ads in the sidebars, footers in blog posts, references on bio pages, Google brings readers in and you send them off to buy your book.
• Email signup box. This can be a very powerful way of building an email list. Give away something, usually a couple of chapters from your latest book. Or maybe a free copy of your past book. Your free books are called lead magnets. Once someone has signed up and is in your list you can use an autoresponder to send them a series of emails with additional content and a catalog page with links to your books on Amazon.
Many email management programs like AWeber and MailChimp, allow you to set up an auto-responder series. This can be a very powerful tool for selling your books. Someone signs up on your site and over a period of time you send out a series of emails with content from your book. You are getting multiple touch points without having to do all the work. This series can be all email or emails with an attached pdf of content, or emails with links to a video series or other products. You might be running a small course or just breaking your book up into small chunks and sending it out. If you are sending out attached pdfs of content from your book be sure to have one of the pages be a book catalog for that book or all your books.
1. MEDIA KIT, AUTHOR AND BOOK
I talk about your book/author media kit all the time in presentations. I think it is important to have. Your book/author media kit is as much for yourself as it is for someone who will be interviewing you or wanting to know more about your book. It is also a mind set in that it gets you started with your book marketing. It becomes a library of elements that you can use to promote and sell your book. Everything is there, we just grab the info and post it on-line.
So we start with a book/author media kit. Your Book/Author Media Kit is an essential part of your author/book website and social media marketing for promoting and selling your book. It includes book cover graphics, descriptions, sample content, videos and all our links and connections. It also has resources that fans, the press, event management and anyone else needs to be able to promote you and your book. We start with book graphics.
Book Photo Graphics I like a variety of sizes; 2”, 4” and 6” images in jpg, rgb format. 300dpi resolution for print and 72dpi for web. Be sure to ask your book cover designer for these images. Make this part of the original book cover design project. If you can only get one resolution then go for the 72dpi so you can easily market on-line. If you have relevant graphics inside your book I would create a library of those also.
Your Book Info and Description
• Book descriptions, a short ten word sentence or so for use in posting on social media or at the end of a post. Then a 50-100 word description, 250-500 word description.
• Include info about the book, specs, ISBN number, pages
• Where to buy your book, print and e-book with links
• Book reviews, look at Amazon reviews
• A sample chapter
• A Book Trailer video.
Spend a little money and have a professional photo done. Also, be sure to have some images done with and without you holding your book up next to your head. Have several different sizes produced. I like a 2”, 4” and 6” images in 300dpi for print uses and 72dpi for web use. You can also do these yourself with your phone
Have several different length bios for different use
• A very short, one sentence or so bio you can use at the end of a blog post, remember to include your web address and mention your book
• 50-100 word bio and a 250-500 word bio.
• Phone, e-mail, Skype, website address, social media addresses
Social Media Links
• List all of your social media connections, YouTube, Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Linkedin, etc.
• Recent speaking events, maybe a video or two if possible of your speaking.
Action Item: Build Your Author and Book Media Kit
• Create your book cover images, 2”, 4” and 6” at 72dpi and if possible 300dpi
• Create your author images, 2”, 4” and 6” at 72dpi and if possible 300dpi
• Create your author photo with you holding a book cover, images, 2”, 4” and 6” at 72dpi and if possible 300dpi
• Write a 10 word or so book description and author bio
• Write a 50-100 word book description and author bio
• Write a 250-500 word book description and author bio
• Table of Contents, these are your book's benefits, do they sell your story
• Book and e-book specs
• Create a listing of your social media accounts, including the links
• Create a list of where your book is available for sale and the URL weblinks
• Include any speaking events that you have done
Tools for grabbing your image from the screen
Grab, Mac screen grab utility located in the Application...Utility Folder
Snagit, PC tool available on line, there are many others also
You can also download the image from the Amazon sales page. On a PC right click on an image or on a Mac hold down the Control Key and click on the image with your mouse.
Online photo editing tools
On the Mac the app Photo Booth, which should be in your dock, works nicely for head shots along with your smart phone
Photo Editing Tools
Adobe Photoshop, Adobe Photoshop Elements, these are the leading photo programs but there are many others if you don't need to do to many tasks.
How I Use my Content to Sell My Books from My Website? My Favorite Sales Strategy
I believe that we are working in a world of .5-1% sales on our websites. It is basically the same as direct mail marketing. It is around 1%. For every 100-200 people that we get to come to our website because of our content we will make one sale. If we give our visitors a clear path to purchase something they will buy. It is our job to build the traffic and give people a clear path.
One of my favorite ways of selling my books is to use the book’s content, text or images, and release content from the book paragraph by paragraph or image by image on my sites. For my music chords book I took every page from the book, made a jpg graphic of it and created a page on the site around it. I describe the image on the page, I give the graphic a descriptive name. A key here is to help Google index your images, don’t use names like 54983.jpg, but you want a descriptive name like TwoFingerMandolineChord.jpg. You want a name that Google can index. Around your post or page with your content you wrap ads for your books with links to Amazon. You can also have ads that link to a book store on your site. You basically use your own book’s content to advertise your book and then give people a clear path to purchase your book.
On the images that I put on each page of my website I add a thumbnail of the book to the bottom along with where you can get the book. If someone downloads the graphic they have all the info to buy. A common question I will get asked is, “aren’t you afraid people will just download the graphic and not buy the book?” Not at all. I know that I need to get 99 people to visit my site before I get one to buy. I want to reward people with an answer to their question that caused them to search on a topic and visit my site. I also know that I might need to give away 99 copies of that graphic before I get a sale. Think of it like going into a books store. You walk by thousands of books before you get to the one you want. It is the same thing. You need a lot of visitors. Google rewards your site with visitors if you make it easy for them.
You will discover several things:
1. Google will deliver an audience to you. You are releasing good relevant content. You are solving problems. It will send visitors.
2. Your images will show up in Google Image search in the correct topics if you have described and labeled them correctly. An advantage of this is that each image is linked by Google back to the page it came from. Someone clicks on it and they have a direct path back to your site. A tip here is to make your images distinctive so they show up better in Google Image search results. Add a color bar or tint the graphic. Something that helps them stand out.
3. If someone downloads your image from your site along with it comes the information on where they can buy the book because you added it to the graphic.
4. If you add Google Analytics to your page or you have tracking stats on your site you will be able to see what part of your book attracts interest. This is one of the hardest things to figure out is why does someone want to buy my book and what are they interested in? By seeing what posts are popular you are getting a sense. This gives you information on where you should be focusing. I guarantee the reason they are interested in your book has nothing to do with the title of the book. If your book has graphics, put every graphic up. If it has text then break it up and add a good title.
Be sure to add a sell line with a link at the bottom of each page. This strategy works with websites and blogs. I think the content is a little easier to find if it is a website, but blogs work also.
Selling on Social Media and On-line
Selling on YouTube
YouTube is the second most used search engine on the web, right behind Google which happens to own it. One of my main recommendations is to have a book trailer video. This can be as simple as holding up your smart phone and answering: Who you are? What you have got? What it will do for the reader? and How to get it? People go to YouTube for all kinds of information, the key is to let the search engine know what you have and make it easy for people to find. This means having a good title, a good description, good key words and clear calls to action are vital. Along with all of this is having a full life http:// link to either your blog or to Amazon so people can buy your book. Preferable both. Videos are very easy to share using the YouTube share and embed options. Spread the video around.
One of the reasons I like YouTube video so much is that the videos hang around for years and years. Facebook posts, Twitter, Snapchat, and Instagram are all nice but they are temporary. They just keep scrolling down or away. YouTube is there for years.
So, bottom line, make videos about and from your book’s content. Follow best practices with your titles, descriptions and links. Then share it everywhere you can.
USING SOCIAL MEDIA AND THE WEB TO BRING YOU READERS
Pointing your reader to Amazon or your Website and then Amazon
Along with releasing my book's content in blog and website posts I also build out what I call Wagon Wheel Marketing. I set out a series of posts, images, videos and social media connections that mention the book that link back to either my author/book website or directly to Amazon. It is a series of little sign posts that say, "Hey cool book over here, come check it out."
Wagon Wheel Graphic Here
All paths lead to Amazon. Make it easy for people to see a Buy button and get to Amazon to Purchase your book.
Wagon Wheel Graphic 2 Here
Sometime I will point people to my website and the Amazon, either way make it easy to buy your book
Social Media, spreading your message, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Linkedin
Pinterest, release your book in small chunks on your boards with links to Amazon
Create a Facebook Open Group around your topic, engage your audience, contribute and connect
Book trailer videos, YouTube, spread everywhere
Monitor your stats
Selling in the Real World
We focus a lot on the online world often forgetting that there is another entire world that we need to make aware of our books.
Is your book showcased on all your media? Let’s start right with your business card. Really nice colorful business cards are pretty easy to make now. Everything is digitally printed. Do you have a thumbnail picture of your book on your card?
Business card graphic here
Does your company or organization have a monthly newsletter or announcements about what the employees are doing. This is a great place to show your book, maybe have a short interview if you can.
The same for your local press. People love a feel-good story and releasing your book is a great topic. Community papers are always looking for local stories about people in the area. Contact the editor or just look in the masthead for the paper and there will be number or email address to contact them.
There are plenty of opportunities to speak or do a book signing at the local library or coffee shop. Do you belong to the local Chamber of Commerce or Rotary Club? These are great place to talk about your book and very often you will be able to sell copies. Keep the price $10 or $20, something that you don’t have to make change. $19.95 is going to get you everytime.
Selling Your Book’s Content
Repurpose, Repurpose, Repurpose. You have just finished and published your book and are wondering what next. Well marketing it and getting it out there. But a close second is re-using the books content and repurposing it into all kinds of new products. Your book is the entry to the funnel of your other products. It gives you legitimacy, the book is the official stamp. But it might not be the big financial hit. It is what you lead readers to that might give you a bigger return.
Things you can make:
• A workbook or related journal. A workbook based on your topic. Pull out questions or tasks or actions people can take to further the book’s lessons. Think about each chapter, are there questions that you can ask the reader to think about. Are there actions they take to use the lessons you teach to improve their lives or solve their problems. You might be writing a self-help book or just first-time homeowners guide. Pretty much every topic has related questions and actions that can go along with it.
When you are writing the initial book, you can incorporate these questions into the chapters. Once you are done you can take the text and where each of those questions is pull them out and make them a little more formal. Then below the question you can add lines for people to fill in and record their answers. You now have a workbook or journal. You might make the workbook bigger, instead of 6” x 9” how about 8.5” x 11”. This looks like a workbook. Put Companion Workbook right on the cover. You now have a package that you can sell at your next event. Workbooks can also be more expensive. I like putting in all of the text from the original book so that each book stands alone. You just have to treat the inside different. Make the workbook look like a workbook.
• Take each chapter and read it and create an audio program, or podcast. You don’t need to come up with new copy, just use what you have. If it is successful you will come up with new.
• Take each chapter and create videos. Host them on YouTube with links back to the book or to other products. At the end of each chapter have links for the videos on Youtube, and vice versa. Be sure to have a link to Amazon.
• Some authors use YouTube as the demo and details parts of their books. Talk about your subject in the book and show how on YouTube. It is a fantastic way to enrich the content and bring your book to life. Each video also leads people to your book or to a website where people can buy the entire series or a course or something.
• If your book has art or illustrations, how about t-shirts, mugs, hats, clock. Using a site like Zazzle.com or Printful.com it is easy to create products. These are print-on-demand sites, there are many. On your website or even in the book, someone sees something they would like and they click on the link and order your products. It isn’t hard to set up. Most of the print-on-demand sites are free and they make it easy to bring traffic in. The t-shirt might be more popular than the book, you never know until you try.
• The entire workbook/journal idea from your original book is really completely open to your imagination and what kind of packages you can make. Remember also to cross promote the books and the packages inside each book.
Sell to Your Community
Most of use work at a job or in some organization that very possibly has an internal newsletter or what is happening with the employees. Make sure they know about your latest release. Company, organization, church, business group, Chamber of Commerce, etc. newsletters all need content and what better than to celebrate their own. Make sure the know and be sure to give them a good cover graphic and where people can purchase the book.
Selling Your Book with Sponsors
I haven’t done this but I had a client that did. I worked with a couple of mommy bloggers who worked in the nutritious food area and wanted to create several coloring books. They had an interesting idea that they did which was to get sponsors for each page of the book. They created recipes around a product and then create drawings to go with it. The sponsors paid upwards of several thousand dollars to sponsor the page and be in their book. If you have a big enough platform and could guarantee a certain audience this might be a cool idea. They tied their books into the podcast and other channels.
Publishing Lessons I Have Learned
I Have No Idea What Works to Create a Successful Book
I think the biggest lesson I have learned is that you can do all the research you want on your book. You can look at the competition, do all the editing, craft this really cool product and in reality, you have no idea why a book works and sells. It either does or doesn't. You have no idea why. Most books just fail, but every now and then kaboom, success. My recommendation is to write on any and as many topics as you can. Publish whatever you want. Trying to stay in a topic and be that expert to the world is a waste of time. If you want to write, then write on anything and everything you can think up. Don't limit yourself. What I have seen is that books that I spent years working on and fussing over usually went nowhere. The books I pushed out quickly were the ones that worked.
Fifteen Principles for Successful Self-Publishing
1. The most important sale for me is the first one. You’ve confirmed demand for the product, and you know that everything is working. From that point, it just comes down to expanding your marketing.
2. Don’t put all your eggs in one basket. If you want to make money self-publishing, commit to the long-term. You may have to publish many different books. Not everyone agrees with me on this, and you can do all the testing you like, but you have really no idea which book will work until it’s out there. You will be surprised.
3. Don’t fall in love with your title. In my experience, the working title that you share with friends probably isn’t as focused on the subject of the book as it could be. It means something to you because you are working with all the time, but doesn’t necessarily mean anything to anyone else.
An example of this is when I was working on my music chord book I called it my “Notebook Music Chord Book for Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele and Banjo,” as I thought it would go in my guitar gig bag like a notebook. After publishing it, I saw no one was buying it so I searched on Amazon for other instrument chords books and discovered that a number of authors used the word Essential in the title.
I changed the title to “Essential Chords for Guitar, Mandolin, Ukulele and Banjo” and it started to sell. One way to test your title is to put it into Amazon search and see if you end up with other similar books in the results.
4. Publish, Publish, Publish. Get your content out there, hit the publish button. Perfection freezes progress. You have to let your writing go out into the world. There is something magical that happens when you hit the publish button. I often see this happen when writing blog posts. You struggle with a piece, hit “Publish” and all of a sudden you figure out what was wrong with it. You have clarity once you hit that button that you didn’t have before. You have to release your content.
5. If you don’t have an audience you don’t have sales. You need to market your books outside of Amazon; books won’t sell themselves.
6. Give away to get. That means don’t be shy about putting your content out online. Don’t worry about your stuff getting stolen; few people have the time to rip off someone else’s content. If someone likes what they see on your website, they will want your book. The best way to pique their interest is to share your best content.
7. You need lots of traffic to your sites to make sales. From what I’ve seen, sales generate from about 1% of your traffic. Just like direct mail marketing, you are working with very small percentages. The key is to market, market, and market.
8. Put ads on your websites for your books. Link all of the content to your Amazon sales page, so that you can drive sustained traffic (and sales) over time.
9. Keep one author name. It is far too difficult and time-consuming to manage different personas. Marketing online is about you, focus on building a brand, and making it easy to find you and your books.
10. Have good healthy book and video descriptions. Online searches are based on words, so include lots of descriptive words for your products. Guy Kawasaki used Google’s Keyword Tool to come up with the title for his book “APE: How to Publish a Book,” because the power of using keywords for online search is so powerful.
11. Small books are fine. To make more money, make and sell more books. People equate larger books as being more valuable, so you can out test different prices and find a sweet spot that works for each one. Someone who buys a short book from you for 99 cents may be induced to buy a longer one for $9.99.
12. Leave the earlier editions of your books online. Early editions are the equivalent of virtual used books. You can still sell earlier editions even after new ones come out.
13. A lot of books are still sold in print. Make both ebook (.Mobi) and print (PDF) versions of your books. You can also sell your PDFs virtually through Gumroad.
14. You can sell from inside your books. Amazon offers the feature to “look inside” your book, so it’s a great idea to include an offer immediately after your title page – such as an offer to download a free audio book. You can also crosslink and promote your other titles within your book.
15. Books find a sales level and then stay at that level for a long time.
I have found my books will reach a level of monthly sales and stay at that level for a long time, sometimes for months. I move copies of some books at different levels: 10-15 copies a month, 25-35 copies a month, (this is a good mid-level seller), and at 50-70 copies a month (best sellers). I also have some books that sell only 1 copy per month.
Some books are seasonal – up during Christmas, down in July. You have no idea where your book is going to be when you release it. But knowing this I operate under the view of make more books, make more money. Each book is like a little engine, chugging along. They pretty much all sell something. You have to do your marketing but you can build a nice little publishing business out of your books. A great tip to help with sales is if you have a book that is selling then make more books on the same topic. Treat them as a series, volume 1, volume 2 etc. Amazon loves and promotes series, so build a series of books around each of your interests, cross promote them and link them together. In the back of book A, market the next book, Book B and so forth.
J. Bruce Jones
Bruce Jones is an #1 International Best Selling Author, graphic designer, and product developer. Bruce writes, speaks and consults on publishing, social media, blogging, video and general marketing. Bruce is the creator of the World of Maps editable PowerPoint and Illustrator map collections used for business and sales presentations worldwide. Bruce is the author or creator of over 40 books on geography, music, business, children’s and coloring and also practices Tai Chi. Bruce has been teaching and consulting on self-publishing and indie books for as many years as he has been making them. With the release of 7 Steps to Publishing Your Book Bruce is able to bring his experiences and knowledge to everyone else.