Tips for making your book a genuine success
Last month Claire Morrison, Senior Marketing Manager at DK, felt passionate enough about our feature Amazon: How to Get Your Book To Appear Alongside the Best Sellers to tweet about it. Here she explains why it evoked such a reaction.
I was amazed that BookMachine, a professional book network, could share advice which – I feel – preys on vulnerable authors. Publishing is hard work and success is hard-won. As an author you have to ask yourself, what do you achieve by getting your book next to your favourite author? Is it:
- Increased sales? – If so, why doesn’t the article indicate what average % you will see in the short and/or long term?
- To attract a literary agent or traditional publisher? – Any reputable agent or publisher will do their research on any claims you make, and quickly discover that they’re unfounded. This will will only count against you – don’t end up like the YA author who used a scam to get her book on the New York Times bestsellers list
- To get the author’s fan reading you? – See point 1. Does it work? The article doesn’t mention this.
- To improve clicks thus your books ranking? – also see point 1.
- Because it’s your dream to appear next to that author? – Then go for it, tick the ‘experience’ off your bucket list and move onto the next thing.
If you want your book to be a genuine success, however, you have to avoid schemes like this.
I’m guessing right now you are thinking: ‘Ok, Miss Work-for-a-big-publisher, you think you know so much, what do I do to get my book noticed?’ You really don’t want to hear my answer. You do? Okay, you forced my hand. The answer is: hard work.
Publishers have sales, marketing and PR teams for a reason. You need wo/man power, and lots of it. But if you have self-published you have a few great things going for you:
- You know your product inside out
- You can focus on your book/s (I work on over 200 books a year and that’s the frontlist!)
- You have drive and dedication – you wrote a book! (I have never done that).
I would suggest instead of buying copies of your own book along with John Grisham’s, you use your time and any money working on metadata. Metadata might not be sexy but it’s essential to success, as Pan Macmillan highlighted by appointing a dedicated metadata expert earlier this year. Try these five things instead:
- Be complete – Fill out every field and make sure you have images.
- Keywords – You can put in approx 6 to 10 keywords which help fuel Amazon’s search. To research these use Soolve.com or type into Amazon’s search bar where you can see the most common search terms (see image below). Pick the best ones for your book and DO NOT put in other authors or competitor titles as Amazon may penalise your book. Read Amazon’s guidelines around keywords.
- Make a good first impression – Focus on the first 10 to 25 words.
- Reviews – get genuine ones! Try using GoodReads, which is owned by Amazon, or look for bloggers/reviewers you enjoy reading and reach out to them.
- Revise, revise, revise – keep updating your metadata, keeping it relevant, for example to current events or times of year (Christmas!).
This is hard work but it’s worth it. You should keep a record of your sales ranking (or use your Author Central account) and also check your sales. Measure it!
Metadata should just be a small part of your overall marketing and PR plan; it is also delayed gratification and won’t give you the buzz of seeing your name next to your favourite author however it will yield more results in the long term.
In the future, if you are tempted by get-successful-quick schemes, stop and ask yourself: What will be my return on investment? If it’s not quantifiable in a meaningful way, then don’t do it.
Claire Morrison is the Senior Marketing Manager for DK Books, where she heads up the marketing for children’s, education, licensing and travel books. She has over 13 years of publishing experience and before DK worked at Vintage Books, Headline, Pan Macmillan, and Quercus.