Ready to get your book sales cranking this holiday? Your book cover, storefront, metadata, and marketing plan should all work together to make your holidays bright.
It’s time to shape up your books for the upcoming holiday season. We’re going to be ho-ho-ho-ing before you know it, and I’ve got four ideas to help you take full advantage of your sales opportunities.
Your book cover
Let’s start with how your book makes its very first impression: the cover. In the past, book buyers would browse aisles in a bookstore, pick up different books, and read a few pages to help make a buying decision. These days, with over 75 percent of books being sold online, your best — and often only — chance to catch a reader’s eye is to have a standout cover design.
- Is it too similar to all the other books in your genre? Sure, every genre has its own cover design conventions to be followed, like romance novels always featuring the guy with the six-pack abs. But your design needs to have some original elements — colors, fonts, and graphics — that set you apart.
- Does your cover scream “TEMPLATE”? Far too many books seem to copy-and-paste the same cover design formula of “Title Text/Picture/Author Name” in one block. You’ve got to design outside that boring box.
- Does your cover say too much? It’s so tempting to add subheads, blurbs, testimonials, and other key information, like title and author. Remember: It’s just a tiny postage stamp-sized picture for folks browsing online. You need to be bold and creative to be seen.
You’ve got to make sure your incredible writing isn’t invisible. Luckily, there’s a simple remedy. One of the best things about self-publishing is that you can always change the cover if it’s not selling. I’ve talked to dozens of authors who have done just that. They hired professional designers, like the talented team at BookBaby, for a complete makeover, and it helped their sales almost overnight.
But before you can create that eye-catching cover, you’ve got to find the right designer. Check out my recent blog post, “You Can’t Skip Hiring a Cover Designer,” that offers a few tips on how to find the right design pro.
Next, let’s consider merchandising that eye-catching cover — and the book itself — in a place that will win more readers and earn you more royalties.
You probably know that BookBaby authors enjoy the very widest bookstore distribution network — over 50 eBook stores and every large Print-On-Demand outlet on the planet. But there’s one more important retail destination that deserves your attention: your BookShop page. BookBaby authors can create their own eCommerce pages for every book published through BookBaby.
Authors who take advantage of all the BookShop benefits and features are often rewarded with tremendous sales, so I’ve got three reasons why you should sell your eBooks or Printed Books through your page:
- You make more money — a lot more. We pay 50 percent royalties on printed book sales and 85 percent royalties on eBooks. Those are the highest numbers in the industry.
- You get paid faster. We’ll deposit your royalties into your account one week after purchase.
- Your book is guaranteed to always be in stock. Even in the holiday rush, when Amazon may not have enough on hand, BookShop delivers.
And there’s one more point: When you sell your book directly to your readers, it’s the beginning of a beautiful relationship! Book buyers can now elect to share their contact information with you. You can use that as the starting point of building a valuable email marketing list and turn those readers into your biggest fans.
There’s so much you can do with your personal BookShop page. You can:
- Customize your page with different layout themes, alignments, and colors. You can even add a large header or giant display of your book cover.
- Add more content to your Book Overview, Description, and About the Author sections, where you have total control over the content.
- Create coupons and discounts to create custom promotions and sell more books.
- Do so much more. See all the advantages of BookShop.
Want some inspiration? Check out these great BookShop pages:
- Blaine A. Rada’s From Sore Soles to a Soaring Soul
- Dave Travis’ What’s Next
- Carol Baxter’s The Confidence Project
- Tavarski “Taz” Wallace’s The Game That Almost Broke Me
- Cole W. Williams’ Dr. Brainchild & Radar
Maybe best of all… Everything on BookShop is easy to customize and edit at any time. Our best-selling authors know: It’s worth your time and effort to create a great product page for your book.
I know… sexy, huh?
Let’s ease into this one. Growing up in Oregon, my family’s idea of a summer vacation was exploring the backcountry of the Pacific Northwest. We often took the roads less traveled, and that added to the adventure. Bear in mind that these trips took place in the prehistoric days before GPS, Google Maps, and other technology.
Defying the well-known stereotype, my father would navigate by constantly asking directions from the myriad people we encountered. Sometimes, those directions were precise, “Go two miles, then turn left on Cascade Highway. Stay on it until you get to Butte Falls,” and we’d arrive at our destination. Other times, not so much: “Go a ways down the lane and look for the sleeping dog on the right side of the road. Take the third left turn, and when you see the snow-capped mountain, you’re there.”
I have a reason for taking you along this trip down memory lane, and it’s this: As an author, you must provide the “driving directions” so readers can find your books in the crowded marketplace. You can provide good, precise directions that point them straight to your book on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and every other retailer — or you can let a “sleeping dog” show the way, and hope they don’t get lost!
What we’re talking about here is the book metadata that resides on all your online sales platforms. It’s any data that describes your book — including the title, subtitle, author bio, long and short book summary, ISBN, keywords, and any other relevant information that readers use to find your book. Readers depend on good metadata to find their next read, so authors should make reviewing this material a priority before the holiday selling season.
We’ve posted several metadata articles on the BookBaby blog to help you make the most of your title. A few of the more popular include:
- Tell Your Book’s Story With Metadata
- Realize Your Best-Seller Potential: Focus on These Five Details
- How Selling Houses Using a Roller Coaster Is a Lot Like Your Book Metadata
But BookBaby authors have another option: Our Metadata Optimization service puts BookBaby’s experienced publishing experts to work on your book listing. Here’s what we’ll do:
- Optimize every data field of your book’s metadata — including the tricky ones like BISAC codes and book descriptions — giving your book its best chance for being discovered by readers.
- Research your best keywords, choosing specific words and phrases that readers are most likely to search for and are more likely to give you stronger search engine results.
- Edit your book descriptions and bio for any misspellings and punctuation errors which often prevent readers from finding your book during their searches.
Remember this exclusive service is only available for BookBaby-published authors. At just $149, it’s a small investment for maximizing your book’s selling potential.
Your marketing plan
I’m going to turn to one of my favorite sports movies, Field of Dreams, to illustrate a point about investing in your book. If you need a refresher, you can read the plot summary, but a key line in the movie is, “Build it and they will come.” In the film, it means the protagonist farmer could build a baseball field in his otherwise-profitable Iowa cornfield and expect to attract both players and paying fans to support his passion. And everyone lives happily ever after.
It’s a great movie, but I think authors need to understand the parallel reality to book sales. Since the early days of self-publishing, many authors believed that having a book available on Amazon was equal to “marketing” their book. I can assure you that building a sales strategy on “List it on Amazon and they will buy” does not have a fairytale happy ending. Distribution to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, and all the others is a must, but so is a commitment to invest in your quest for readers.
The key word is “invest.” It doesn’t automatically have to be cash: I know authors who have enjoyed a return using the currency of time, spending dedicated hours every week to connect with reviewers, beta readers, bloggers, and local bookstores, as well as organizing and promoting book signings and other promotional events.
But, the reality is that few can succeed exclusively trading time for money. So, how much do you need to spend? Every author has to answer that question for her or himself. There’s no single best way to advertise and promote every book. Some folks hire publicists, like our friends at Smith Publicity. Others purchase paid reviews or find other promotional programs.
What’s working for BookBaby authors? I can report that many authors who have committed to serious social media ad campaigns are seeing growth in sales and are finding new and loyal readers. BookBaby’s Facebook and Instagram advertising service can help you create a compelling book ad and then serve it directly to book-buying audiences within the massive (1.5 billion users!) Facebook and Instagram community.
The holidays are around the corner. Here’s wishing you a great book-selling season!
You Can’t Skip Hiring A Cover Designer
Is Your Email List Your Greatest Asset As An Author?
Tell your book’s story with metadata
Holiday Book Sales: Finding Your Readers
Getting Holiday Book Sales as the Big Day Approaches