How to Sell Your Book Online: Insider’s Edition
What are the three keys to building a strong online sales strategy?
Discoverability. Awareness. Action.
There are a multitude of ways to promote your book online. A strong foundation for your book marketing campaign should include tactics to promote discoverability, awareness, and action. Build discoverability by optimizing your book to ensure that readers are able to find it. Create awareness by building conversation, buzz, and reviews for your book. And, finally drive action that encourages readers to buy your book.
Use search engine optimization to ensure that readers are able to find your book.
Setting up an Author Central profile is a great way to share more information about yourself as an author that is directly linked to your book page on Amazon. You can include your bio, photos, videos, blog feed, and event details on your profile. It also gives you access to sales data and to customer service representatives. Your sales data access gives you the ability to see how your book is performing and even where your sales are concentrated geographically. Your ability to connect with Author Central representatives enables you to add the below components to your book listing to further optimize your book for discoverability. Visit Author Central to set your profile up.
Pro Tip--Be sure to add your blog RSS feed to your Author Central profile if you have one. This allows you to send readers to your website from Amazon and is the only place Amazon allows you to link off-site.
Online browse categories are similar to genre shelving within a brick and mortar bookstore.
Selecting relevant browse categories for your book on the sites where you have control ensures that your book is shelved where readers would be looking for it. When selecting categories, look for options that are both relevant and targeted. On sites like Amazon, where authors are able to submit browse categories through their Author Central profiles, the competition tends to lessen the more your delve into subcategory options. Selecting targeted browse categories not only sets your book up to be discoverable, but also increases your potential to reach the top of your category and potentially hit Amazon Best Seller status. Learn more about best practices for browse category selection here.
Pro Tip--Your browse categories aren’t set in stone. If you select categories and then find they aren’t performing well, you can tweak them as needed or update them to align with seasonal promotions. We recommend not updating your browse categories more than once a quarter.
When brainstorming keywords for your book, it’s important to put your reader hat on. Think about the types of words you would use when searching for a book like yours. Creating a reservoir of keywords can inform your online sales strategy from a variety of angles. Keywords can be directly submitted to some retailers and act as metadata to improve discoverability for your book. You can also utilize your keywords when writing descriptive copy, website copy, and blog posts to ensure that all of the content you are creating aligns with the core keywords associated with your book and the interest and pain points of readers searching for your book. Learn more about best practices for keyword selection here.
Pro Tip-- Don’t use subjective keywords like “best” “top” or “#1” and don’t waste keywords on broad terms like “book” or “novel”.
Enabling online excerpts for your book is the best way to emulate the bookstore buying experience for readers. Excerpts give readers the opportunity to sample your content and ensure that it aligns with what they are looking for. From a search engine optimization standpoint, it is beneficial for authors because while a consumer is only shown a twenty-percent excerpt of the book, the retailers will index the entire contents of your book. This helps your book be discovered in search results.
Pro Tip--Authors and publishers do not have the ability to select the excerpt. However, retailers will select the content readers are most likely to be interested in–the front matter and first couple of chapters.
Create awareness by encouraging reviews and building a conversation around your book.
List Your Book on NetGalley
NetGalley is an online community for professional readers and its members include booksellers, librarians, journalists, bloggers, members of the media, and educators. Sharing the digital files of your book with this community is a great way to promote awareness and encourage buzz and reviews. If you are traditionally or independently published, your publisher can set up a NetGalley listing for you. Learn more about the NetGalley community and become a member here.
Pro Tip--Publishers and publicists have access to download and feedback reports that provide insight into the types of NetGalley members who have accessed your book. These reports can also be useful for follow up to encourage members to share their review.
Set up a Giveaway on Goodreads
Goodreads is the leading social network for book lovers to congregate, discover new books, and share about their reading experiences. Listing giveaways on Goodreads is another great way to promote awareness because it gets your book into the hands of avid readers. Goodreads giveaways have been used as a key component in creating awareness for books like The Girl on the Train and Lilac Girls and directly impacted the buzz and reviews generated for these best selling titles. Set a Goodreads giveaway up for your book here.
Pro Tip: You can now set up both print and Kindle giveaways for your book to reach both reader profiles. Setting up a series of giveaways is a great way to build momentum for your book and boost your ratings and reviews. Try a mixture of both print and Kindle giveaways or choose the format that makes the most sense for you and your audience.
Activate Your Network
You have a core group of family, friends, and colleagues who are connected to you as a person and therefore are inclined to support your efforts when launching a book project. Be sure to tap into these connections and request their reviews. You can ask for support in a variety of ways: simply through conversation, by sending out a newsletter announcing your upcoming book launch, or through your social media presence. Choose the method that is the best fit for the individuals you are reaching out to in your network and access the group of individuals who already have an interest in you and your content.
Pro Tip--Only ask for honest feedback and keep reviews focused on the book. Amazon flags and removes reviews where a personal relationship is apparent.
Encourage readers to take action and buy the book.
Paid advertising offers authors the opportunity to reach their target demographic, pique their interest, and drive them to the retailer sites for purchase. Setting up targeted ads on both Amazon and Facebook are great ways to encourage action and drive readers to purchase a copy of your book. Amazon targeted ads allow authors the opportunity to advertise to readers directly on Amazon and the ads can be targeted based on categories, keywords, and bestselling titles within their genre. Facebook targeted ads allow authors to set up ads with strong demographic targeting to ensure the ads are being served to individuals who meet their reader profile and who would be interested in their book. Learn more about Amazon targeted ads here. Learn more about Facebook targeted ads here.
Pro Tip--Monitor your Amazon ad performance on a regular basis and make tweaks where necessary to increase clicks and sales. For instance, if you have keywords that are performing well, create variations of them, and pause keywords that aren’t performing well.
Setting up a limited-time price promotion is a strategy that can extend a marketing campaign and reach new readers who might not have been reached at publication. Reducing the price of your ebook incentivizes new-to-you readers to take action and buy a copy of your book. To maximize the impact of your price promotion, create a promotional strategy, which can include things like: announcing the promotion via social media and your newsletter, setting up targeted ads for the timeframe of the promotion, and submitting your book to bargain book newsletters like BookBub.
Pro Tip--BookBub is the leading site for eBook promotions and selected titles are featured in a newsletter to thousands of subscribers interested in your genre. Learn more about submitting your book to BookBub here.
Lead Readers to Retailers
One of the most important things you can do to support your book and your online sales strategy is to ensure that everywhere you have an online presence you are leading readers to retailers. Drive readers to retailers on:
- Your website
- Include clear buy buttons to online retailers
- Your social media
- Announce your pub date and promotions and include retailer links
- Activate your network and announce your book release, include retailer links
Facilitate strong relationships with all retailers by including buy-links to Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Books-a-Million and IndieBound.
By implementing the strategy of driving discoverability, awareness, and action for your book you will ensure that your book is set up for success online.