Although I have covered some of these in earlier parts of this book, I list here Rayne Hall’s 20 fixes for why one’s book does not sell. She devotes a chapter to each:
· the book cover
· the blurb
· sample pages
· link detours
· know your reader
· targeting versus scattershot
· permission versus intrusion
· buried in cemeteries
· social media
· websites, blogs and other time sinks
· stop obsessing over what doesn’t matter
· how to get real book reviews
· end-matter excerpts
· shared marketing
· once-effective methods no longer work
· distribution channels
· focused efforts to achieve more
· change the title
· the opening scene
· freshen up your writing voice
Let’s look at some of these we have yet to discuss:
· Sample Pages: Some book promotion sites allow you to select a percentage of your book to display, the first 10%, 20%, etc. Make sure your book’s “good stuff” fits there. Be generous.
· Link Detours: Every time you ask readers to click on a link to go somewhere else, a large fraction refuse to do so. You’ve lost them. Make your links usually go to where the book is sold.
· Know Your Reader: Define your prime demographics. Where do they hang out?
· Targeting vs. Scattershot: Promote your book to your target audience, or you are wasting time, money, and effort. Go where your readers will be.
· Permission vs. Intrusion: Hall, “Most advertising is unwelcome. It intrudes….” Some advertising is welcome, though, as people have agreed to receive it, like mail-order catalogs. Intrusion advertising repels, and permission advertising attracts. Broadcasted advertising can easily devolve into spam, making the advertiser unpopular, even a pariah.
· Buried in Cemeteries: Don’t advertise where there are lots of other similar advertisers, or you will not stand out. Don’t pay to be on a site which just promotes books, rather than supplies material that will attract readers.
· Social Media: Hall notes, “Every social media message is a mini-sample of your writing.” Remember that. Create interesting posts, but not merely about your book, although writing about related content makes sense. Avoid automated Tweet schemes.
· Websites, Blogs and Other Time-Sinks. Hall writes, “You need an Internet presence, a way for publishers, journalists and fans to contact you. But you may not need as much as you think….and where to you take the time from? It’s the time you would otherwise spend writing books.” Consider closing an ineffectual blog and guest-blogging instead. Keep your website up to date...or close it down. Online groups are often time-wasters.
· Stop Obsessing Over What Doesn’t Matter. Good advice in general. Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is irrelevant for writers. Forego social media ranking games. Do try to get ranked high in some Amazon sub-genre categories, however, Hall maintains, as readers will often be influenced by that. Be a big fish in a small pond to get noticed. You’ll have to contact Amazon to get your categories changed. Use all the keywords you can.
· How to Get Real Book Reviews: Readers are influenced by the number and enthusiasm of book reviews a book receives. Hall’s suggestions: Ask your beta readers for reviews; at the end of your book, ask your reader for reviews; when fans contact you, ask them for reviews. Offer free ebooks, but nothing else, for reviews. Don’t respond to reviews, Hall writes, whether positive or negative. Don’t buy reviews ever. Don’t swap reviews with other authors. Don’t have friends sabotage competitors.
· End-Matter Excerpts: If a reader has finished and liked a book, he is likely to buy a similar one he is exposed to with an excerpt at the end of the book he just read. Add an excerpt from your next book or arrange to swap excerpts with an author in the same genre.
· Shared Marketing: Hall writes: When you join forces with another indie author, you can halve your marketing workload and double your results – but only if you choose the right partner. I find that on Twitter, much the same effect is obtained by posting to hashtags like #promocave and #amwriting.
· Once-Effective Methods No Longer Work: The original becomes conventional. The rare becomes common. Free books glut the market. Circumstances change. Hall: “By the time you copy someone else’s success technique, it’s already useless.” Let’s hope her advice lasts longer than that. She recommends you try what has worked, but stop if it no longer works or does not work for you.
· Distribution Channels: Conventional publishing relied on the path publishers-distributors-bookshops-reader. Now indie authors sell online, choosing their own channels, preferably Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, etc. “Most new authors sell far more ebooks than paperbacks, so make sure your book is available in electronic format.”(Hall, 2015)
· Focused Efforts Achieve More: Success breeds success. Investing in reaching the ranking of #3 from #30 pays better than moving from #3000 to #2000, Hall maintains, so place your money and efforts on your near-winner rather than your also-rans. Concentrated promotion beats long-term.
· Change the Title: See earlier discussion on titles. Note this change in your book descriptions.
· The Opening Scene: Hall (2015): “Many new authors’ novels begin with the same few openings.” Avoid.
· Freshen Up Your Writing Voice: Use less common words, but not arcane ones.
Excerpted summary from my Write Your Book with Me of the material in Hall, Rayne (2015). Why does my book not sell? 20 simple fixes.