How To Entice Readers, And Sell More Ebooks

How To Entice Readers, And Sell More Ebooks

Authors want to sell more ebooks. They search for a magic secret. While there are secrets, you don’t need them to sell many more copies than you’re selling at the moment.

Little things can make a big difference.

Little things: big sales

As you may know, I coach writers, and I’ve discovered that it’s NOT the super-secret marketing strategies that 80% of authors need. They just need to get back to the basics. You know: cover image, title, book description….

Today, with 80,000 ebooks flowing onto the Kindle store every month, you need to give your ebooks everything they need to be indexed correctly, and catch attention.

Tip: you can always improve. For example, check the genres into which Amazon’s placed your ebooks (scroll down the product page). Do they seem appropriate?

Let’s look at the basics.

1. Genres (categories): choose the most appropriate

How much time do you spend on the Kindle store each week? I hope you’re spending at least a little time there. Aim to familiarize yourself with the genres in which you’re writing. (Or the categories, if you’re writing nonfiction.)

Who’s in the Top 100 in a genre? Read the Look Inside excerpts for the top sellers. Ask yourself WHY they’re selling. Make lists of the top sellers. In some genres, the best selling titles change frequently.

One of my students wasn’t familiar with genres at all. She’d put her two ebooks into genres which just weren’t right. We shoved the ebooks into the genres for which they were most suited, and fixed the descriptions. Then I asked the student to spend an hour a week studying her genres on Amazon.

Her next ebook sold 145 copies on the day she published it. Her genre study wasn’t the only reason it sold — she’d started a mailing list. But she told me that more than anything else, browsing around Amazon gave her confidence. Why? Because she knew more that she did before, and she knew without a shadow of a doubt that she could sell.

2. Titles — try adding the genre

We talked about title tips here; read that if you need a little help.

Many authors add keywords to their titles on Amazon. I hate this with a passion. I hate hashtags in blog posts too, and for similar reasons. I hate it because: it looks stupid, devalues the title, and it’s a crutch.

That said, I’m all for adding your book’s genre to the title. Sometimes titles are ambiguous. Adding your book’s genre: a tale of romantic suspense, or a romantic comedy as a subtitle HELPS readers. (Hashtags in titles don’t help readers. Readers aren’t search engine robots.)

3. Use your descriptions: make them count

Pun intended on “count”. Amazon gives you 4000 characters for the description. That’s around 800 words. Use them. Make your descriptions enticing.

FWIW, be aware that your ebook’s description is advertising copy. Hire a copywriter, if you can afford it. (And NO, I’m not touting for work, perish the thought — I’m overbooked as it is. ;-)) Seriously, to repeat, your description is an advertisement.

Few authors create good descriptions. I include authors published by major companies in that group as well. If anything, traditionally published authors’ ebook descriptions are less inspiring than indies’. I’m not surprised at that.

Take this to heart, and to repeat once more: pay attention to your ebook’s description; it’s an advertisement.

4. Increase readers’  familiarity with a mailing list

Marketers are fond of saying that a buyer needs to see your name seven times before he buys. I think it’s many more times than that. The only way to appear on buyers’ radars regularly is to develop a readers’ mailing list. So — create a list, if you don’t have one.

Ebook Dominance: sell more copies of your ebooks, every day

Ebook Dominance: Market and SELL Your Ebooks In Just 15 Minutes A Day

Discover the marketing secrets of bestselling authors — you can market in minutes, from the comfort of your sofa…

How would you feel if your sales doubled, then tripled — and then YOU hit the Kindle hot sellers’ lists?

Ebook Dominance helps you to turbocharge your marketing, and sell more ebooks today.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Write Fiction Like A Pro: Secrets And Revelations

Write Fiction Like A Pro: Secrets And Revelations

Writing fiction is huge fun. It’s entertaining. You entertain yourself, and then you entertain readers. One of the easiest ways to entertain — and to write fiction like a pro — is to use the power of secrets and revelations.

When you’re creating your main characters, gift each one with a secret. The secret can be huge, or tiny, it doesn’t matter. Simply by knowing the secrets of all the characters in any scene, you’ll write more exciting fiction.

Secrets: conflict, excitement and suspense keep readers reading

Here’s why. It’s hard to keep a secret. In the movie What We Did on Our Holiday, the funniest scenes are the ones in which the adults try to convince their children to keep a secret — that they’re living apart.

Secrets equal conflict. Internal conflict, because secrets are hard to keep to yourself, and external conflict, as you tell lies in order to keep the secret.

Most commercial fiction trades in secrets. Mystery and thriller fiction is all about secrets. Who’s the murderer? Where’s the body? You can use secrets in any genre to spice up your fiction.

A few days ago I started a new historical romance. The main character is tricked by several of the other characters. These characters are manipulating this young woman for their own reasons. Slowly, she realizes that there’s a secret. Over the course of the novel the power of this secret will transform this character, from someone who’s naive, to someone who takes charge.

Although I use secrets and revelations in most of my fiction, in this novel, its structure  depends on who knows what, why they keep the secret, and when and how the secret is slowly revealed. I’m finding it a joy to both plot and write. Secrets make plotting easier. :-)

Tip: if you’re writing a serial, include secrets. Secrets and revelations keep readers reading. They buy the next episode, and the next.

“It’s a secret”: tips for using secrets and revelations

1. Use big secrets and little secrets to spice up your fiction

When you’re crafting a character, ask yourself: “what’s his secret? What does he most want to keep hidden?”

I never create character bios, where you fill in sheets and sheets of information about each character. That’s busywork. Once I know a character’s name, age, occupation, physical appearance, and at least one of his secrets, I’m good to go.

Tip: try the “secret” trick yourself. Create secrets for several characters in the novel or short story on which you’re currently working.

When you start thinking about secrets, you’ll be amazed at how much easier writing becomes. I like to have one big secret, and several little secrets in each novel.

Then you can set off your revelations like little explosions, throughout the story.

2. Make your fiction’s secrets kickable

Your fiction’s big secret needs to have a physical component: a diary, a letter, an email message… Not literally something that can be kicked, but something real which can be discovered. A secret can be embodied in something as small as a photograph, or as large as a house.

When your main character discovers the physical object, it’s a revelation. Now he knows the secret. You can create more suspense if the character doesn’t share what he knows, until later. This offers lots more suspense for readers.

Have fun creating secrets for your characters. Secrets and revelations help you to write fiction like a pro.

Make more ebook sales of all your fiction, when you write a serial

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Fiction serials are platform-builders… consider writing at least one. Not only does a serial build your confidence, it also builds readers’ confidence in you. They’ll join your mailing list, and this has huge benefits for ebooks you’ve already published, and ebooks you’ll publish in future.

Write a serial with our new four-week class, Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Ebook Publishing Profits: 5 Front And Backmatter Tips

Ebook Publishing Profits: 5 Front And Backmatter Tips

Back when all books were paper books, you’d find savvy mass market publishers advertising in the front and backmatter of their books. If you’re involved in ebook publishing, consider how you can use these areas too — they’re valuable real estate, and you can use these areas in any way you like.

A couple of definitions: “front matter” is all the stuff at the beginning of an ebook before the main content. “Backmatter” is the material at the end, after the content’s done.

Let’s look at some tips for getting the most from these areas.

#1. Advertise (subtly) in your front matter

Be aware that Amazon shows the first 10% of your ebook via its Look Inside feature. Keep the essential material in your front matter short. Remember your copyright info, of course.

Use that 10% to subtly advertise your ebook. Anyone reading via Look Inside hasn’t bought your book, so spend a little time thinking what you could show up front, to encourage your reader to buy.

When publishing novels, include a snippet from an action scene (or romantic scene) from your ebook, if the first couple of scenes in Chapter One aren’t enthralling.

If you’re publishing nonfiction, share some interesting material up front.

In other words — flash your wares, don’t be shy.

2. Include a link to your mailing list signup page in the front matter

This link is just a couple of lines: “join our mailing list at (URL) for a free short story.”

Include the link in your backmatter too.

3. Written other ebooks? Include them in your backmatter

List your other ebooks in the back matter, with Amazon links. Be careful with this, don’t link to your ebook on iBooks on Amazon, and similarly don’t link to your ebooks on Amazon on iBooks.

4. Don’t go overboard with excerpts in your backmatter

Keep your excepts short. I’ve bought some ebooks where the excerpt took up the final quarter of the ebook. That’s overdoing things. You’ll annoy readers.

5. Suggest a review: “If you enjoyed this book…”

Again, be subtle. Be nice. Tell readers you’d love to hear from them, and include a link to your website. You can also say: “If you enjoyed this story, please tell your friends.”

With reviews, Amazon says:

“Consider a message to readers in your book asking them to leave a review if they enjoyed the book or doing a Q&A with yourself to give readers more information on you. We will automatically provide a link to leave a review but sometimes a personal message can have a major impact.”

It’s worth spending a little time crafting your personal message. Tell readers something about yourself. Again, don’t go overboard.

The front and backmatter of your ebooks matter. In your rush to publish, don’t neglect these vital areas. Work on them while you’re writing your ebook, so that they’re all done and ready to go by the time you’re ready to publish your ebook.

Ebook Dominance: sell more copies of your ebooks, every day

Ebook Dominance: Market and SELL Your Ebooks In Just 15 Minutes A Day

Discover the marketing secrets of bestselling authors — you can market in minutes, from the comfort of your sofa…

How would you feel if your sales doubled, then tripled — and then YOU hit the Kindle hot sellers’ lists?

Ebook Dominance helps you to turbocharge your marketing, and sell more ebooks today.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Ebook Publishing Strategy: A Very Kindle Christmas

Ebook Publishing Strategy: A Very Kindle Christmas

Christmas is coming, the geese are getting fat… On our freelance writing blog, I start reminding writers about the importance of Christmas sales from July onwards. If you’re a Kindle author, you need to create an ebook publishing strategy for the holidays NOW too.

The holidays are the big spending days of the year

Companies small and large make the bulk of their income over the holiday season, and here’s why — people are spending money. Think of all the new Kindles, iPads, phones and other devices which will be given as gifts over the holiday season. Shouldn’t some of your ebooks grace these electronic toys?

I’ll answer that question for you — YES, they should. So start writing. :-)

Ebook publishing: Christmas can be both fun, and profitable

I reminded a student about Christmas ebooks last week, and he complained that he didn’t have any ideas. No ideas? Of course you have ideas. Writers get ideas more easily than pets get fleas.

Here’s what I suggested to start him thinking:

  • Nonfiction: Christmas recipes; how to create hand-made paper for gift wraps and cards; recipes for easy Christmas treats you can cook and bake to give as gifts; how to create gorgeous decorations…
  • Fiction: a series of ten short stories with a Christmas theme, in a mix of genres, or in a single genre; a mystery novel with Santa Claus as either the sleuth, or the corpse; a romance novel with a hero and heroine who are both alone during the holidays, and…

I’m sure that you can come up with any number of ideas for Christmas-themed ebooks. Make a list now. Use Trello to collect ideas, or my new fave app, Quip. I use Quip as my ideas notebook, accessible to me anywhere, on any device.

Springboard off what you’re writing now

Initially my student wasn’t keen about developing an ebook publishing strategy for Christmas. From his tone of voice I could tell that he was looking at it as just another chore to tack onto his over-stuffed To Do list.

I reminded him that he’d published three thrillers over the past two years, not to mention several mystery novellas. “Can you use characters from your published ebooks for Christmas stories?” I asked. “You’ve done the groundwork. You’ve got characters. Give your characters a little Christmas cheer. You’ve got built-in readers too. Wouldn’t your novels’ fans love a few short stories about the characters?”

Grudgingly, he supposed that that sounded reasonable.

Yesterday my student called me back. He read out a list of five ebooks he’s got planned. His attitude had completely changed. He was excited, and I was pleased for him. He’s going to have a very merry Kindle Christmas.

Why not create your own strategy? Do it today.

Make more ebook sales of all your fiction, when you write a serial

Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST

Fiction serials are platform-builders… consider writing at least one. Not only does a serial build your confidence, it also builds readers’ confidence in you. They’ll join your mailing list, and this has huge benefits for ebooks you’ve already published, and ebooks you’ll publish in future.

Write a serial with our new four-week class, Serial Fiction Bonanza: Get Readers, Get Fans — Make A Solid Income From Your Fiction FAST.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.

Essential Fiction Writing Tip: Story First

Essential Fiction Writing Tip: Story First

I’ve received some questions about fiction writing from new authors. Here’s the thing. In fiction, worry about the story first. You can sort everything else out later. Please don’t try to edit first.

Write first, edit later

I’m currently completing the final scenes in a romantic suspense novel. I adore the two main characters, so I’ve decided to create a series of three novels about them.

This means that a bunch of scenes — around seven, from memory — don’t belong in this book. I’ve moved them into book two of the series. They’ll wait there, until I’m ready.

It’s tempting to edit as you go. However, you’ll often find yourself in a situation where a few scenes become irrelevant, as in my situation. I need to write a whole new bunch of scenes so that the climax and ending fit my new writing goals.

That’s the primary reason you edit LATER — the scenes you’re sweating over may be deleted.

Your story always comes first

New authors tend to rewrite early chapters. That’s pointless. Nine times out of ten, you won’t even use the first few scenes of your novel. You’ll start the story later, or you’ll decide that you want to add something or other, and need to rework the first scenes.

Until you’ve got the STORY down, and have finished your first draft, there’s no point in rewriting, or editing.

Put stuff in, if it’s SHORT

I encourage my students to write their first drafts straight through. But what happens if you get an idea for something, and you want to add it to earlier scenes right now? Put it in, if it’s short.

In my romantic suspense, I came up with a cute McGuffin. I needed to write about it in my current scene. So I went back and added it to the first scene immediately, and mentioned in three more scenes.

Here’s why. I wasn’t sure how to play it. It was just an idea, and I wanted to see how (and if) it worked. It did. So I wrote a few hundred words, then went back to the scene I was working on when I got the idea.

If I’d had an idea for a completely new character, or an event, I would have made a note, and added it in the second draft. My McGuffin was short. Writing it took less than half an hour, and adding it didn’t disturb my forward momentum.

In your first draft, momentum is everything. If you linger, you may lose the thread of your story. Chaos and migraines ensure. Keep going — get the story down.

As a rule of thumb, you can add stuff in a first draft, if it’s immediately relevant, very short, and easy to add.

To repeat: EDIT LATER. :-)

Story Power: short stories made easy

Story Power

Story Power — insider secrets of writing short stories and making them work for you: writing serials, and series.

Write with me: over four weeks, you’ll discover HOW to not only write short fiction, but also make money at it. I make a very nice income ghostwriting fiction for clients, and also selling my own short fiction under various genre pen names.

, on Twitter: @angee, and find Angela on Pinterest, too.

How to profit from your writing: online store.