Tuesday, September 09, 2008

Charged To Promote

Last week a savvy author contacted me about possibly reviewing his book. Over a year ago, this author published a book about the Presidents and had read the customer reviews of some of the presidential candidates on Amazon. Now I wrote one of those customer reviews so he contacted me to see if I would be interested in possibly reviewing his book. That's a smart idea worthy of your attention and possible imitation. You could look at books similar to your title and directly contact some of the people who have written customer reviews about possibly reviewing your book.

As I looked at the Amazon page for this book on the Presidents of the United States, I noticed the publisher released the book outside of the election year cycle. Like many Amazon pages where the author isn't actively involved, the book had scant information. The Search Inside The Book feature wasn't turned on and it had less than five customer reviews and no information about the book or the author.

In my email to the author, I encouraged him to proactively change the missing elements on the book page of Amazon. He instantly bounced back that he wanted those features to be activated but to turn them on was the publisher's responsibility. Yes, maybe sometimes the publisher will handle this matter but I hear authors large or small complain about the limited marketing and promotion efforts from their publishers. Instead of complaining, I recommend you roll up your sleeves and get involved in the promotion process--and not just for a season. I encourage you to spend a regular part of your writing life doing something to promote yourself and your book. It will pay off for you.

If you are concerned about your book sales (and every author should be concerned about continuing to sell books), then I encourage you to actively work on the pages where your books appear on Amazon.

1. Join Amazon Connect and create an Amazon blog and a connection to your website.

2. Take active steps to implement the Search Inside feature on the Amazon page. If your publisher hasn't activated this feature, you may have to take matters into your own hands (and that's OK--the publisher should applaud your proactive efforts to sell books).

Working with a small press for Book Proposals That Sell, this feature wasn't turned on for my book. I printed and signed the Amazon permission form, then mailed them a physical copy of the book. After several weeks, they scan the book and get the pages into their system and the Search Inside feature will be activated for your book. Customers make buying decisions every day by looking inside the book online, then purchasing the book. If you don't have that feature turned on, then you are potentially missing some sales.

3. Actively work to gather five star customer reviews for your book on Amazon. The five stars portion of my previous sentence is important because Amazon averages the stars. You want to have many reviews of your book on these pages. As readers send you little notes of appreciation for your book, when you thank them for their encouragement, take several additional seconds and suggest, "Could you cut and paste those kind comments into a Five Star Review on Amazon? I'd really appreciate it and here's the link to take you right to exact page on Amazon."

The Amazon links tend to be really long--so make sure you send them a short cut link. You create a short cut link using a free tool like snipurl.com or tinyurl.com. The short cut link almost guarantees that they will have an active link from your email they can use to go to the Amazon page for your book. This simple suggestion works and when you notice they have added their Five Star review, don't forget to send them a little email of appreciation. All of these steps work into the bigger picture for your promotional efforts.

While I've been talking about Amazon in this post, I encourage you to continually look for new promotional avenues. Raleigh Pinskey has some terrific new resources on her blog. Raleigh is the author of 101 Ways To Promote Yourself (another book I recommend). I wrote about her work earlier this year in this link.

The key point that I'm making in this entry is not to wait on someone else to promote your book. You should be charge to promote your own book.

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7 Comment:

At 7:47 PM, Blogger Krista Phillips Left a note...

Great advice! It amazes me how authors don't take the time (or responsibility) to promote their own books as well.

I gotta admit I probably have a lot to learn in this area too, but I know I'm willing to give it my best shot.

Now if I could just publish my dad gum book *grin*

Thanks again for an awesome informative post, Terry!

At 1:01 PM, Blogger Kristi Holl Left a note...

As always, Terry, you provide a much needed reminder and kick in the seat of the pants. I am just now figuring out that daily marketing needs to be a lifestyle change for me. I'm like the perpetual dieter who plans to go off the diet once the big event has passed. Instead, healthy eaters need a whole permanent lifestyle change. And healthy writers, more and more, need a permanent marketing lifestyle change. Slowly, but surely...
Kristi Holl
Writer's First Aid

At 5:47 AM, Blogger RowenaBCherry Left a note...

Good one, Terry.

Another feature that authors can use on Amazon is the "Customer" pictures.

You can add tiny thumbnails, and then add captions, and... this is way cool... you can have a highlight box for some feature within the picture, and add a story about what's interesting and little-known. I've done this with Forced Mate, and also Insufficient Mating Material.

I need to get in and do it for Knight's Fork!

Rowena Cherry

At 9:13 AM, Blogger Misty Evans Left a note...

Terry, thank you for walking us through some great promotion ideas.

My book will be in print next July, so I'm printing this off to add to my promotions folder. Rowena's suggestions too.

Like Krisi mentioned, effective book promotion isn't a diet, it's a liftestyle change.

At 3:19 PM, Blogger Kristina Left a note...

I've bumped into two problems with Amazon promotion.

First, although I set up an Amazon Connect account, there have been major problems getting Amazon to authentic my titles. Either Amazon isn't sending out the emails they say they are sending to my contacts, or those emails aren't going through. I've even called my publishing house contacts to be sure they knew those emails were forthcoming, so they could check their SPAM filters for them. No luck.

Another problem is that one of my publishers actually told me--in no uncertain terms--not to give Amazon more information for the "Search Inside Feature." I wonder who has the final say on this? My publisher or me?

At 4:48 PM, Blogger Terry Whalin Left a note...


Publishers don't have the final word about the search inside feature. As the author and copyright holder of the book--you do--and you want to sell books so I would turn it on.

As for validating your books through Amazon connect, you can use your agent or someone third party. I sounds to me like some glitch some place that I've never experienced. I encourage you to persist through it and get it done.


At 7:18 AM, Blogger ajbarnett Left a note...

Some excellent advice here. Congratulations. I'm going to contact my publisher and ask them to activat the 'Look Inside' function and if they drag their heels I'll do it.

I assumed it had to have an electronic format sent, but if they scan, that's great.

Anthony James Barnett - author


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