Category Archives: Book promotion

Writing Fiction To Sell: Your Blurb’s An Advertisement, Part 1

Writing Fiction To Sell: Your Blurb’s An Advertisement, Part 1

This week I’ve been helping several ebook authors write their fiction’s blurbs. That is, their ebooks’ descriptions. I reminded them: “When you’re writing fiction, you’re writing about people. So your blurbs need to be about those people.”

As Henry James said:

“What is character but the determination of incident?”

“What is incident but the illustration of character?”

Your ebook’s description on the ebook retailers isn’t a bland retelling of your story. Nor is is an excuse to cram in as many keywords as you can. It’s a headline, in copywriting terms. A tease.

Here are the problems I found in these authors’ blurbs:

  • Confusion, too many names. Not only character names, but restaurant names, company names… (We’ll look at why including too many names in a blurb is a problem in a moment);
  • Telling what happened. We don’t care about events, unless they relate in some way to people we know. Use your blurb to make us care about your characters;
  • As mentioned — keywords. Please don’t do that. Your blurb is your one chance to advertise your book. Amazon’s algorithm works fine, without keywords in your blurb and/ or (heaven forbid) in your headline;
  • TL;DR (too long, didn’t read.) I used to be a fan of blurbs which were a few hundred words long, back when Amazon offered the blurb further down on the product page. Now the blurbs are right under the title. You only get a couple of paragraphs, then readers must click the Read More link. They won’t click unless you make those initial paragraphs count.

Let’s look at the problems, and how to fix them

1. Clarity is all: eliminate reader confusion

I advise my students to limit names in their blurb: at the very most — THREE names. Less is more.

You’ve got three tools to snag readers’ attention on your product page: your ebook’s title, your cover, and your blurb. But, and this is a BIG but… please don’t try to be too clever.

Clarity is everything. If you confuse a reader, he’ll click away, instantly. So keep your words simple, and easy to understand.

Here’s a simple blurb template.

Adjective CHARACTER NAME 1 wants/ has decided/ discovers STORY QUESTION.

Unfortunately, adjective CHARACTER NAME 2, wants ANTAGONIST’S GOAL.

This means (whatever the CONFLICT is.)

Another tip: complete the bare-bones blurb — using the template above — as soon as you’ve completed your first draft. If you haven’t thought about your story question, and what your characters want, this forces you to do so.

Writing blurbs is a vital skill for fiction authors, so this post is the first article in a blurb-writing workshop. Each post will have exercises so that you can practice your new skills.

Here are the  exercises for this post.

Two fun exercises to help you to write blurbs which sell your fiction

  1. Write a sentence about each of your main characters — two or three sentences for each one. Start by summing up each character in an adjective, and a verb.
  2. Sum up your novel’s (or short story’s) story question in a sentence.
Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

Blurbs Sell Your Books: Craft Irresistible Blurbs, And Sell More Fiction And Nonfiction Today

eBook: $5.99

You can, when you discover the secrets of writing blurbs (book descriptions) which sell.

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Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

Step By Step To Fiction Which Sells: Plotting And Scene Magic

eBook: $5.99

Your readers want to enter your novel's world. They want to experience your book -- they want to live your book with your main characters.

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Ebook Publishing Profits: 5 Front And Backmatter Tips For More Sales

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 self-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 from other books 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.

Update on November 29, 2016: the Table of Contents goes in the front of your ebook

Since September, Amazon’s been cleaning house. I wrote about some of the things which are affecting ebook sales here.

Authors have reported that Amazon’s cracking down on Tables of Content appearing in the backmatter of ebooks — this has to do with “pages read” scams. So do be sure to put your Table of Contents, if you have one, at the front of your ebook. 🙂

124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today

124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today

eBook: $5.99

You want to write fiction. Perhaps you're a self-publishing author — or perhaps you're a ghostwriter, and want to offer fiction writing services to clients.

Whatever your needs and dreams, this book, 124 Powerful Fiction Writing Tips: Win Readers And Fans, And Increase Your Sales Today, will help.

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Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

Write Fast, Write Well: How To Be Prolific, and Sell – Powerful tips to increase your writing income

$4.99

What If You Were Twice As Successful, Or Even THREE Times More Successful Than You Are Today?

There's No Ceiling On A Writer's Income... You Just Need To Be Prolific.

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Resources to build your writing career

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Need help with your writing? Visit our online store, or check out Angela’s books for writers.

Ebook Marketing Panic: The Solution

Ebook Marketing Panic: The Solution

You’re writing ebooks, and publishing them. However ebook marketing is a mystery. A huge wave of content streams onto the Web daily, and you know that many thousands of ebooks are published each month. How do you stand out from the crowd and SELL your ebooks?

The rich get richer…

Nowhere is this more true than in ebook marketing. Once you have sales, Amazon will happily promote you, which leads to even more sales.

How do you get those initial sales to kickstart the process? It’s not easy. Time was, you could create a blog and sell, easily. That happy state of affairs ended in 2012, when corporations woke up to the power of the Web. Today, large companies flood the Web with content.

In 2015, small ebook publishers struggle, because for new bloggers, blogging isn’t the sure route to instant sales that it was three years ago. Of course, if you already have a well-established blog, kudos to you. 🙂

“My ebook marketing isn’t working…”

Over the past few months, we’ve received daily messages from ebook authors telling us that their ebook marketing isn’t working. Authors are spending more and more time promoting their ebooks; marketing is turning into a full-time job.

Some authors give up ebook marketing altogether — it’s just too hard. They don’t have a strategy, and are confused with their options.

Paying to play works. However, you need to have initial capital, because you’ll need to spend money to see which advertising options work for your ebooks. It’s a challenge to discover where the readers for your ebooks hang out, so you can advertise to them. When you do discover an advertising venue which works, it may well be too expensive to be viable over time.

The 15-minute ebook marketing strategy to help you to sell more ebooks

I developed a 15-minute ebook marketing strategy for those of my personal coaching students who are struggling ebook authors. They’re thrilled with the results.

If you’ve got 15 minutes a day, and want to sell more ebooks, check it out.

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.

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