Helping authors publish

Author: Robin Phillips (Page 1 of 14)

Creative marketing

If you want to sell books, you need to market them. But that doesn’t just mean advertising. As an author, you are a creative person, so why not use that creativity in your marketing? Below are some creative marketing ideas to serve as inspiration.

April Fools’ Day

Robin once created a joke book. It was announced on the first of April, clearly marked as a joke.

The book was available as a short PDF, which included links to some of their other books and a sign-up link to their mailing list. It got more comments than their normal releases, all of which seemed to appreciate the joke. It even got a five-star review on Goodreads.

Trick or Treat

For Halloween, why not set up a “trick or treat” themed promotion. Set up promotional links on your website. Set up most of them so that they go to a page with a treat. This could be a discount code for one of your books, a short story, or an exclusive preview of an upcoming release.

The remaining links go to a page with a trick. This doesn’t need to be anything more than an image indicating that they’re out of luck this time.

Reconnaissance Mission

Running a competition can be a useful marketing boost. Robin’s most recent competition was titled “Reconnaissance Mission” because that fit their genre (military history). Five pages on their website had a vehicle silhouette. Clicking on it opened a preview of an upcoming article, and earned the user one entry into a prize draw.

The competition entry form had a checkbox that people could tick to join Robin’s mailing list, and they gained new subscribers that way. The structure of the competition encouraged people to spend time on the website, to earn more prize draw entries. Hopefully, some of those people became regular visitors.

Obviously, you’ll probably need to use a different title. You could just call it a treasure hunt, but a title that fits the genre is a nice touch.

Advent Calendar

This will require some coding or a WordPress plugin. The idea is simple. Set up the calendar to offer something different on each day of December up to the 24th.

Some days could have discount codes for books, others could have interesting facts, short stories, previews, etc. Having a different offer each day will encourage people to return to the site. As well as the sales, this could lead to mailing list subscribers and regular visitors to your website.

Weekly News: 27th June 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Weekly News: 30th May 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Weekly News: 16th May 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

The hidden advantage of print on demand and ebooks

Our authors’ books are available as ebooks, and as paperbacks using print on demand technology. Both technologies mean the books will never go out of print, unless the author specifically wants them to.

With print on demand, books are printed and bound as they are needed. There is no need for a large up-front investment to pay for a print run, and no need to store hundreds of books. But there is a less obvious advantage which I’d like to discuss here.

When a book is always available, it can benefit from unexpected interest in a way that isn’t possible otherwise. If something creates interest in your book, anyone that wants a copy will be able to buy it if it’s available as an ebook or print on demand.

Where demand comes from

You might be able to drive interest yourself. In an episode of the
AskALLi podcast, Orna Ross talked about promoting one of her older books to coincide with the centenary of an event in the book. This is likely to be a potential marketing hook for historical fiction and non-fiction authors, but there are possibilities for other authors too.

Perhaps someone else will cause a flurry of interest. It’s well known in publishing circles that a celebrity endorsement of a book can drive book sales. The Oprah Effect, named after Oprah Winfrey because her book club always generated a lot of interest and sales. Other celebrities also have book clubs. Reese Witherspoon has one with the stated goal of elevating female voices. The Richard and Judy book club is big in the UK, and Emma Watson has a feminist book club.

Book clubs aren’t the only things that can cause sudden interest in a book. In 2020, a podcast released audio readings of a book titled The Cauldron, written under the pseudonym Zeno. It had been published in 1966 and was out of print. Demand from podcast listeners pushed the price of second-hand copies up from a few pounds to over £100. Had the book been available as an ebook or print on demand, the listeners would have been able to buy copies at a sensible price. The publisher and author would have received their usual share of the sale, too. Second-hand sales at hugely inflated prices benefit the seller, but no-one else.

Unexplained demand

Sometimes it won’t be obvious what caused the interest. In 2021, libraries in the Philippines suddenly bought lots of ebook copies of Jen’s children’s book. We couldn’t find out what had caused this burst of sales. But it was available via the libraries’ supplier, so Jen was able to benefit, even without knowing where the interest came from.

This is the less obvious, and rarely discussed, advantage of print on demand and ebooks. If something provokes interest in your book, or with non-fiction, your book’s subject, readers can find and buy your book immediately, and at a sensible price. You get your standard royalty from those sales. Everybody wins.

Weekly News: 2nd May 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Weekly News: 25th April 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

  • Orna Ross has predictions about what changes the next ten years will bring for self-published authors.
  • Watch out for marketing services that look impressive but don’t deliver value.
  • Audible has changed its tax reporting policy, which has implications for how authors file their tax returns.
  • Co-writing can bring great rewards, but there is a lot to consider before embarking on a joint project.
  • How to take an idea and turn it into a book.
  • Marketing isn’t just ads and social media. Be more creative with your marketing.
  • Customise the 404 error page on your website so that errors lead to sales.
  • Until 30th April, use discount code SPMC22 to get 50% off a SelfPubCon registration.

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Weekly News: 18th April 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Weekly News: 11th April 2022

Every week, we post a curated list of links that authors should find useful or interesting. Here are this week’s links:

Book a FREE consultation to find out how we can help you publish your book.

Metadata: what it is and why it matters

“Metadata” is a term that sounds technical, which may be why it confuses a lot of authors. Back in 2020, Jane Friedman asked her Twitter followers, “When people talk about “metadata” in book publishing, do you know what they’re referring to?“. Half of the respondents definitely knew, or were reasonably sure that they knew. Half of them did not know what the word meant.

You may have heard the definition that metadata is information about data, which is still too technical to be useful. So here is a simpler definition, focused on books: the metadata of a book is everything about the book that is not the content of the book itself.

The following are examples of a book’s metadata:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Author
  • Series name
  • Number in series
  • Genre
  • ISBN
  • Publisher
  • Trim size
  • Page count
  • Description
  • Format

Note that the book’s content is not in the list. Some items (genre and description, for instance) give some indication of the content, but the content itself is not metadata.

Metadata describes your book. It is the information a potential reader needs in order to decide whether to buy the book. If you want to sell books, it’s very important. The good news is, it’s not a complex topic, and if you have published a book, you’ve dealt with metadata, even if you didn’t realise it.

When you are uploading a new book, or updating an existing one, there will be fields for the items listed above, and more. Make sure that you fill in as much information as possible, and do so accurately.

Why metadata matters

When a user searches Amazon for “Romance books”, Amazon’s search algorithm uses the metadata of all the books in its database to work out which ones are romance books, and should therefore be shown in the search results. The title or subtitle may include words that indicate the book is a romance. Or there may be words and phrases like “happy ever after” in the keyword fields.

Accurate metadata is important, because the user searching for “Romance books” doesn’t want a book that isn’t a romance. If a military history book has a title, subtitle, and keywords that suggest it’s a romance book, it will show up in that user’s search. But the user will either ignore it, or buy it and leave a scathing review. Worse still, readers that would enjoy the book will never find it because it won’t show up in their searches.

It’s not only important for computer algorithms. If your book is stocked by a library or book shop, they’ll use the metadata to decide which shelf to put it on. You don’t want your contemporary romance book on the thriller shelf, because the romance readers won’t look there, and so they won’t find it. Any thriller readers that find it and read it will be disappointed. They might tell their friends that it’s rubbish, or leave a bad review on Goodreads.

Put simply, good metadata gets your book in front of people that will enjoy it. Bad metadata gets your book in front of people that will hate it.

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