You can’t sell books. You can only bring your books to the attention of book buyers.
There is no doubt that for authors today, their most difficult task is gaining and then maintaining consistent book sales.
There is a catch 22 that applies to most new books. It is that you need book sales to get book reviews, but you need book reviews to get sales.
Then you need to get enough regular unit sales to keep a good sales rank, so you can sell more copies. This is because it is a fact that the top-selling books in a genre, sell far better than lower ranked books, by a huge factor.
Can you answer some of these questions?
What can I do to give my books the best chance of sales success?
What are my niche genres?
What are my best performing keywords?
How can I make my book more visible?
How can I get potential book buyers to notice my book?
Where is the best place to sell my books?
Is my book price too high or too low?
If you are having trouble answering these questions, here are a few tips to help you improve your book sales potential.
Does your book get an A pass on the three fundamentals?
These three elements are key to selling books online.
Your book cover
You know you need a great book cover and probably have one. But have you considered that the colour or font might be a problem?
If you take a look at the top ranking books in certain genres, you will see that there is often a commonality about colours. For instance, science fiction books are generally dark, and very often blue.
For romance, pastel colours are predominant. For mystery and thriller, heavy and dark, with black shades are common.
What about your title font? Romance titles use a lot of fancy script fonts, whereas mystery and suspense use bold san serif fonts. But paranormal and fantasy often use fine serif fonts.
Compare your cover with the 50 top-selling titles in your genre to see if you can make your cover better suited to what readers expect.
Yes, you checked it thoroughly. But check it again now. Is it truly error and typo free? If it has been some time since you published, it is a very good time to revisit your book and make sure it is perfect.
Your book description
Did you write your book description in a hurry when you published?
Your book description is second only to your cover in attracting reader interest. Make sure it contains hooks that will instantly gain interest or intrigue. It should scream, please enter! Also, why not write three versions and then you can test which one works best?
Like a book cover, compare your book description with bestselling books. Can you get a few clues from them to improve yours?
Do you know your niche genres?
When you published, did you quickly choose your two broad categories? Romance and Fantasy? If you did, your book is lost amongst thousands of other similar types of books.
You need to drill down through the categories to find two niche categories for your book so it will have a better chance to be found by buyer search, to reduce competition, to rank better and sell better.
Again, check top-selling books in your genre and look at their categories. Here are two examples of a good niche.
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Spies & Politics > Espionage
Another way to get your book into a niche category is to ask Amazon. Yes, you can ask Amazon to add a specific category to your book.
Your search keywords
Did you do any keyword research? Do you have a list of your book’s keywords? Have you checked if they are performing well?
Your seven search keywords on Amazon, and sometimes more on other retailers are vital for book sales. It is because these keywords are how people will find your book when using retailer search.
Your keywords can also be used on your blog or website to help get organic traffic from Google.
So they are very, very important!
One mistake new authors often make is that they select seven individual words, thinking that a keyword must be singular. This is not true.
A keyword can and should be a short phrase. Think about your book and make a list of seven keyword phrases related to your book’s story that you can use. Then test them by using them in Google search.
Good keywords often use only verbs, adjectives and nouns, so avoid prepositions and conjunctions. Short questions can sometimes work too. But you don’t need to add a question mark.
Italian love story
Where was she killed
Hot tropical island adventure
Dark days long nights
Online book retailer visibility and discoverability
If you can tick off all that has been mentioned so far in this article, you will be a long way towards getting your book seen more often and by online book buyers and readers who are genuinely interested in your genre.
Getting your book looking right and in the right place is the very best you can do. It is always a book buyers decision, but make sure you give them the best means to find your book and then every reason to consider buying your book.
Outside the bookstore
While you can help your book immensely by listing it in narrow niche categories and using solid keyword phrases, this mostly helps your book discovery in online bookstores such as Amazon, iBooks, B&N and Kobo.
To promote your book more broadly, you will need to leverage the Internet. Your two best avenues are your website or blog and using social media as best you can.
One overlooked avenue to gain a lot of potential readers and book sales is Google. To give you an idea of how powerful Google Search is, I can give you the example of one book that was listed on our book promotion site in 2016.
During an SEO upgrade of our site, we began adding sub-titles where possible in an H3 tag and in the SEO title.
While this particular book had gained some traffic during the time it was listed, after these two simple SEO improvements, it began ranking quickly on Google. What did we change? The title and author could not change, of course, but by adding the sub-title, “Japanese Love Story” as a keyword, it soared.
As I mentioned before about keywords, it obeyed the rule of only adjectives and nouns.
Applying strong keyword phrases, and especially adding them to your title, H2 or H3 tags, as well as your SEO title and description in your blog posts and web pages, is the best way to get your book discovered organically.
For social media, the best lure by far to gain clicks to your book is your cover. Images are the most powerful means of attracting attention on social media.
Find other powerful images you can use for your blog posts, which you will share on Facebook or Twitter that are connected to your book’s theme, to save blasting your cover all the time.
For Google Search, keywords and text rule. For social media, images rule. That’s the rule.
Are your books exclusive to Amazon or widely available?
This is your choice. There is no winning answer here.
Some authors do very well selling books exclusively through Amazon KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited. While others do just as well offering their books for sale on every retailer they can find.
The choice is up to you.
Books really are price sensitive
I don’t like repeating myself, but as far as price is concerned, again, look at competitive books in your genres.
Is your book price higher, or lower?
A high price can give a buyer a sense of worth, and a low price a perception of cheap. Getting this balance right is crucial. Also, look at the price gap between your ebook and paperback, if you have one. Amazon in particular use this gap to make ebooks look like great value.
If you are trying to earn more through Kindle Unlimited, or other ebook subscription services, is your selling price too low to make it look attractive?
Depending on your sales objectives, always think about how your price will be perceived by book buyers. Try changing your price from time to time. You might be surprised by the results.
Wrap-up on selling books – make changes
If there is one great way not to sell books, it is to do nothing and change nothing.
The best way to sell more books is to take some clues from competitive books in your genre that are top sellers and adapt to what you discover.
It is a big job, and expensive to change your cover, but it could be well worth it. Ask your friends and online contacts for their opinion.
Changing your categories and keywords costs you nothing except your time. But it really could be a high-value adjustment.
Altering your price is easy and can be done as often as you like. Experiment.
Write a new and much better book description. While you are at it, why not update your author bio?
Whats the best way to helo book sales?