What is the most important thing an author should do to promote a book?

Sorry for the delay in updating. I had a bit of a medical situation when I was in New York.

Speaking of New York, I participated in two panels for writers last weekend. One was on all things “social networking” related and another one covered the topic of book promotion.  On both panels, we (me and the other panelists) had the opportunity to answer questions from the audience.  To benefit those who were unable to attend, I’ll report on some of the information that was shared on the panels along with some of the questions we fielded (and the answers, of course).

At the book promotion panel, the first question we received was this – perhaps a bit paraphrased: “You’ve thrown a lot of information at us. It’s all a little overwhelming. If we only had the time/money/resources/interest in doing ONE of the things you suggested, what would you recommend doing first?”  

All three of the panelists and the moderator agreed upon the answer: You should have a website or a blog, not unlike this one.    Most blogs can effectively act as an author website as long as you’ve added a widget or some other form of functionality to sell your book from it.   Outside of that, as long as your book is sold on Amazon, your Amazon “sales page” can act as your website and accept book sales for you.  Amazon’s sales page also posts reviews of your book and can broadcast your blog if you have one — by setting that up through your Author Central account, which I’m positive I’ve blogged about in the past.

The good news is, between your Amazon sales page and WordPress.com or Blogger.com, it is relatively easy and free to get started on the right path toward book promotion.  The only cost is time.  Blogging takes commitment.  But it is also the one thing all the panelists agreed upon was the first most important thing you should do to promote a published book. Blog consistently, professionally, and respectfully. After all, you’re building your author platform, here.

I’ll talk about other things we covered on the panels in New York in future posts, along with more Facebook stuff as I promised.

Why is Facebook so Popular?

I’m becoming a believer in this “Facebook phenomenon.” Only recently has Outskirts Press actively engaged the “social community” in terms of Facebook, Linked In, Twitter, YouTube, and the rest. Even though it sounds like I’m mindlessly jumping on the bandwagon when I say this, I’ll say it anyway: It has shown immediate dividends.

Sure, we’ve been “blogging” for a number of years; but to successfully engage the promise of “Web 2.0,” companies need to embrace the multiple platforms and entertwine them.

Yes, we as a company have a long way to go on all those platforms. It’s an on-going exercise that requires quite a lot of effort, actually. For example, thanks to our Kindle giveaway in December and our Facebook Anthology project in January, we are seeing large increases to our Facebook Community, and we will continue to offer our community more promotions and incentives to become involved. It is wonderful that these people are all supportive of each other and positive in general. 

And perhaps that is one of the main reasons Facebook is so popular.  People there are nice and respectful.  Isn’t that a refreshing change of pace from other “locales” on the internet where anonymity allows people to be rude, spiteful, argumentative, and sometimes downright jerks? Amazingly even those who aren’t anonymous often choose to show their true colors daily, a la Russell Hantz on the TV show Survivor.  Every comment to a Yahoo article ridicules something; many bloggers seem to believe the only opinion they’re allowed to have is a negative one; and forums are filled with such pervasive confrontation they’ve actually coined a term for it: flame war.

And yet on Facebook, people are supportive of one another, kind, giving of their time and knowledge, and respectful.   This never became more obvious to me than it did a few days ago on my birthday (January 19th).  Current friends, old high school and college friends, relatives, Outskirts associates, and Outskirts authors all took a moment to wish me “Happy Birthday” on Facebook.  So did my wife, since I was on a business trip that day.

Why is Facebook popular? Because Facebook makes people feel good. It makes them feel liked, popular, and as if they are a part of something bigger than themselves. 

This doesn’t seem to be a happy accident, either. Facebook appears to have been designed with that specific purpose. Unlike other “voting” mechanisms on other sites (“thumbs up vs thumbs down” on many sites or the 1 star thru 5 star rating on Amazon, for example), Facebook only has a “Like” option.   It doesn’t give you the opportunity to dislike something or to be mean, even if that is your intent.   The “meanest” thing you can do is NOT vote .  And that’s probably not very satisfying for mean people. As a result, they don’t get involved.  Facebook stays a happy place while the rest of the Internet continues to revel in its own misery. Win-win.

 It just so happens I’ll be talking more about Facebook and other social networking opportunities for writers the day after tomorrow at the Writer’s Digest Conference in Manhattan.  But I thought I’d give another sneak peek here first. And I’ll be discussing more about Facebook in upcoming posts, too.

Self Publishing on Amazon

As the author of Sell Your Book on Amazon, I speak at quite a few conferences, seminars, and writing groups on the subject of online book marketing. And since I am also the CEO of Outskirts Press, it is probably no surprise that one of the most common questions I am asked while at these events is why should an author publish with Outskirts Press rather than directly through Amazon.

When I am in-person and in “speaker mode” I strive to provide impartial advice and information, and I also strive to be very diplomatic. In other words, I prefer to not specifically answer questions that cannot help but shine a negative light on a competitor. That’s not my goal at events; my goal at events is to impart as much information about publishing and marketing that I can.

But on my blog, I don’t have to be quite so diplomatic.  The very short, glib answer to that question is, “You get what you pay for” and this is true in all areas concerning customer service and quality of the final product itself.   There is a reason Outskirts Press is called “full-service” and Amazon is called “DIY” (do it yourself).

But the answer is actually more complicated than that.

For one, many authors are, for some reason, under the delusion that publishing through Amazon is the only way to get their book listed for sale on Amazon.  This is due, in no small part, to a devious tactic Amazon undertook in 2008 to instill this very fear into new authors.  That exercise failed, yet the misconception lingers on.  Please allow me to officially dispel the myth.  Just about every self-publishing firm out there will get your book listed on Amazon.com.  I can’t think of one that doesn’t, although I can think of a few who accomplish this goal by using Amazon’s own Advantage Program, and that’s kind of silly — but that’s a topic for a different post, and I outline the silliness in my book.

I’ve even heard that Amazon’s customer service publishing reps will strongly imply this myth while courting new authors.  Do not be deceived; it is simply untrue.  All of us in self-publishing recognize the value of having our books listed on Amazon, and we’ve all made sure that our books appear on Amazon.

Ironically, this Amazon myth is perhaps also Amazon’s greatest weakness.  Up until the middle of 2010, if you published through Amazon, your book would ONLY appear on Amazon (and AbeBooks, if you really care).  Barnes & Noble? No.  Borders.com? No.  Books a Million? No?  Ingram, the largest book wholesaler in the US? Not on your life.

And, in fact even now, if you conduct a search on BookFinder.com for a book published by Amazon and compare it against a book published by just about any other self-publishing company (like Outskirts Press, for instance), you will see the major disadvantage to publishing through Amazon.  Hint:  Amazon doesn’t want anyone else selling books. Ergo, books published through Amazon typically receive far less availability. In other words, by and large, they are still only available on Amazon.

Let’s look at some proof.

The first screen shot below is for a book that Amazon published that I found by conducting a search on Amazon. I tried to select two books that had comparable retail prices to make this comparison fair. This book is titled Pocket Guide to the HCG Protocol with an ISBN of 978-1442152663 if you want to play along yourself at http://bookfinder.com  — Bookfinder displays all the online e-retail results for an ISBN search.

You will notice the Amazon book’s distribution is limited to 4 new sales channels (the left-column), although the first two are both the US version of Amazon, so it’s hard to count those differently. The right-column is for used markets, and there are 14, although 9 of those are Amazon.com, also. So if you count Amazon as just one, you’re looking at a total of 8 unique sales channels for this book published by Amazon.

For comparison, let’s look at my book Sell Your Book on Amazon, published by Outskirts Press. Its ISBN is 978-1432701963 for those who want to play along at http://bookfinder.com.

The Outskirts Press book’s distribution has 19 new sales channels (the left-column), of which 6 are Amazon. Interestingly, only the Outskirts Press book has new book distribution through Amazon’s own international sites (Amazon.co.uk, Amazon.ca, Amazon.fr, Amazon.de).  The right-column is for used markets, and there are 43.  Yes, yes,  Amazon plays a large role here, too. In fact, ironically again, Amazon’s presence for this Outskirts Press book is even greater than its presence for its own book, but with Outskirts Press, that presence does not jeopardize distribution through other book markets.   Perhaps even more impressive is that this isn’t even a comprehensive list, since I know for a fact my book is also on Barnes & Noble and BAMM.com, among others not found by Bookfinder. So if you still only count Amazon.com as one single source, that leaves a total of over 50 unique sales channels.

Books published by Amazon: 8 unique sales channels.

Books published by Outskirts Press: 50 unique sales channels.

You can do the math.

Speaking of math, numbers (royalties, etc.) are another good reason authors choose Outskirts Press over Amazon (and other) publishers. And I’ll discuss that next time.

Top 5 Outskirts Press Complaints – #1

With a 99% author satisfaction rate, Outskirts Press faces 1 or 2 complaints a month from our published authors. That’s bound to happen, statistically, when you publish books by roughly 150 different authors a month.  So I thought over the next few posts, I would address the Top 5 “Outskirts Press Complaints” that arise, along with what leads to those complaints and what Outskirts Press does–and is doing–to mitigate similar complaints in the future.

It is my hope that by discussing these complaints with transparency that future Outskirts Press authors will be more familiar with issues that have caught an author off-guard in the past.  Because, ultimately, that is what a “complaint” is — catching a client/customer off-guard.   I’m a writer. I love helping writers. So I hate receiving complaints, and we take steps to receive as few complaints as possible, which is difficult given the emotionally-charged nature of this industry in general.

These complaints will not be presented in order from “greatest number of complaints received” to “least number of complaints received” because that implies that the #1 issue has received many more complaints than the #5 complaint. That may not be the case. In fact, I actually had to stretch to come up with 5, but who’s ever heard of a “Top 4” list? In reality, the number of all these complaints is statistically low.

I’ve numbered them 1-5 for the purposes of identifying them in the blog headline, and I will discuss each of these Outskirts Press complaints alphabetically over the next 5 postings.

Outskirts Press Complaint #1: Annual Storage Fees

These fees fall under different names, depending upon the firm. Some call them annual fees, or storage fees. Others call them maintenance fees or distribution fees.  No one likes paying fees, but especially no one likes paying fees when they don’t know why.   Here’s why many self-publishing firms charge an annual fee.

All print-on-demand self-publishing firms that distribute via Ingram are charged an annual fee by Ingram for every book uploaded into Ingram’s POD/distribution system. This system is what allows a book to be printed on demand, and what allows a published book to appear in Ingram’s database so it shows up on Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble’s website (among many others).  The amount self-publishing firms pay for each title depends upon how many total titles the self-publishing firms have published.

There are self-publishing firms that pass along this cost to their authors transparently (clearly), and there are self-publishing firms that pass along this cost to their authors subversively (hidden).  Outskirts Press passes along this annual fee transparently, meaning we disclose this cost up front.  It’s mentioned on our website and in our Agreement. We bill for it clearly every January.  Outskirts Press is among only a handful of self-publishing companies that pay 100% of the profits of the book to the author, and as such, there is very little opportunity to “hide” this storage fee from the author.    The other firms that also pay 100% royalties to their author also charge this annual storage fee transparently for the same reason we do– the author’s profits cannot go towards the fee because the author’s profits go to the author.

On the other hand, self-publishing firms that pay 80%, 50%, 35%, and yes, even 20% of the profit to the author obviously have no need to charge an annual storage fee because they are getting much more from the authors by taking so much of the book’s profit. What’s even more troubling with this procedure is that successful authors with these firms are subsidizing unsuccessful authors.  A successful author’s profits are being used not only to pay her own fee, but the fees of an author whose own book sales don’t cover the firm’s annual costs. Ouch.

Our blog at blog.outskirtspress.com discussed this topic at some length back in 2009 and you can read the specific posting here.

Outskirts Press Kudos #1

To offset the tone of these 5 postings about Outskirts Press complaints, I figured I would also include a comment from one of our published authors at the bottom of each posting. We receive so many positive comments each month that we rarely have a “place” to put them all, so by adding some to my blog, we’ll create another opportunity for our authors’ wonderful success stories to be shared.  We post many more testimonials on our website here every month.

“When I came to Outskirts Press I had a story I needed to tell. Joan took that story and turned it into an incredible book! She walked me through each step with unbelievable patience, explaining every detail along the way. She gave me accurate timelines throughout the process. Joan went above and beyond anything I ever expected or imagined possible. My book wouldn’t be what it is if not for her unbelievable effort and attention to detail. I can’t thank Joan or Outskirts Press enough!” – Glenn Skinner

You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet

In the category of “You can’t believe everything you read on the Internet” have been my past several postings about what I call the Google Scam, or more officially, the “Google Suggestions” functionality. In previous postings I displayed some screen shots that indicate that, according to Google’s new functionality, everything on the Internet is a scam. Regardless of whether your Google search involves Inc. 500 #1 company Ambit Energy, bottled water, chiropractors, Google, Zappos, or even Outskirts Press, scam display results in Google are misleading.

No need to describe it yet again (this posting does a good job of it), but my previous several postings about apparent “scams” on the Internet caused me to mention a recent correspondence I had with one of our new authors.  Even with our 99% satisfaction rate at Outskirts Press,  I touch base with all of our new authors to see if things are going smoothly with their self-publishing process and if I can do anything to assist them.

One of our recent authors mentioned “negative stuff” on the Internet when I reached out to her:

So I replied:

Hi Catherine,

You’re right, the Internet is a double-edged sword. It is filled with valuable and useful information.  It is also so unregulated that anyone, with any opinion, can post anything they want without repercussion, no matter how inaccurate it is. If it would help comfort you, I would be happy to provide my perspective on the “negative stuff,” if you feel like sharing the exact location of what you are referring to.

I’m happy to hear things are going smoothly. Thank you for saying “hello.” We look forward to working with you.

Sincerely,

Brent

Her response in turn:

Hi Brent –
 
And you are exactly right – it’s our responsibility to sift through the unedited information, weigh what may be behind it and make our own decisions, listening to our inner feelings. If we don’t, we’re just sheep being led.   I look forward to working with you, also.

Catherine

Hi Catherine,

 I couldn’t have said it better myself. Say, with your permission, would you mind if I posted this email exchange on my blog?

 Sincerely,

Brent

Brent –  No problem….permission granted.    Catherine

And there you have it. The system works.   In spite of Google’s attempt to display controversial, irrelevant information, most people are knowledgeable enough to know that there are two sides to every story; one does not simply believe everything one reads on the Internet without thinking for one’s self.     And for those who do…. Well, maybe you don’t want them for clients anyway.

How big of a scam is it? 3 tips to tell

As I continue this discussion of the new Google Suggestions and “Google Instant” functionality, particularly as it relates to its rubber-necking tendency to reward controversial searches like “scam”  (see the previous  post for a refresher), it presents an opportunity to remind new customers investigating online business that all too often, the perception is worse than the reality.  A high number of “scam” results in Google  may not mean what it implies.  For instance, in many cases, the Google Search results may simply be locating questions from consumers about whether or not a business is a scam.   The answers may be to the contrary, and yet Google still displays the page, which in turn causes an undeserved negative perception. 

Along the same lines, in the case of Outskirts Press, for instance,  some of the books we have published have various scams as their subject matter; so those books appear in the results, yet it takes additional investigation on the part of the Google searcher to separate those realities from the perceptions.

So a customer/consumer/client must first determine, really… how big of a “scam” is it, based upon the Google results.

That said, here are 3 things a consumer/customer/client can do when investigating an online business to truly determine the relevancy/accuracy of any such “scam” claims that they may run across thanks to Google’s new search functionality.

1)  Determine the source of the controversial or negative websites/blogs.

More often than not, the source is not reliable. Outskirts Press, for instance, is a part of a fiercely competitive industry without much regulation or policies.  As a result, the competitive environment is ruthless, savvy, sometimes unethical, and even downright nasty.   The same can be said for many other industries.  So if you, as a potential customer are looking up a business on the Internet and  run into a blog posting or a website claiming Business XYZ is a “scam” or in some other way not on the up-and-up, then it is up to you to determine if the source of that information is truly impartial, or whether they have ulterior motives.   You’d be surprised how many businesses post inaccurate, unsavory, or maliciously libelous statements about their competitors behind the anonymity of  blogs or in the name of journalism.  Due diligence is essential.

2) Look at the date of the information

Information posted on the Internet is available for a loooong time… and yet it is easy to assume everything you read on the Internet is timely. Don’t be fooled. You may be looking at information that is 3, 4, 5 or more years old.  It may no longer be relevant or even accurate (if it ever was).  Always look at the date information was initially posted to make a better assessment of its relevancy to your search.  

And speaking of being fooled, be extra cautious of information posted on April 1.  “April Fool’s Day” has earned its namesake in the Internet age, with desperate marketers using the date as justification for posting false, fraudulent, and libelous claims.  A competitor of Outskirts Press, for example, once distributed a press release on April Fool’s Day claiming that the Library of Congress needed to add another wing to accommodate the vast quantity of books being published by said competitor.  Another company in our industry (this one not so much a competitor of Outskirts Press) claimed to have reached a deal with J.K. Rowling for the ebook rights to Harry Potter.   Were both these press releases clever?  Of course they were.  But they muddy the waters in an already misunderstood industry and ultimately confuse the end customer/consumer/client (or author in this case), who may not realize that such a press release is a “joke.”     Separating the facts from the falsities is hard enough on the Internet; companies don’t have to make it even harder one day out of the year.

3) Don’t believe everything you read on the Internet

With a 99% satisfaction rate,  all of us at Outskirts Press take great pride in our services and our books.  But when you publish 150 books a month, that leaves 1.5 authors, on average, who are less than satisfied.   That’s incredible in an industry with so much emotion and “artistic fervor” at stake, yet we constantly add additional procedures to improve our satisfaction rate even further. For instance, I am now personally touching base with every new Outskirts Press author who starts publishing with us, just to see how things are going and if there is anything I need to do to make their publishing process more enjoyable.  One such correspondence I had recently with an author touched specifically on the subject of not believing everything you read on the Internet, and it seems appropriate to share that correspondence in its entirety, and I’ll do that next time…

Outskirts Press Direct Bookstore

The solution to the wholesale/retail bookstore issue I discussed in the last posting was to combine both bookstores into one single store, and that is what we did with the launch of Version 4.0 of the Outskirts Press website.  We retained both URL links to the store but focus mostly on just promoting a single one: outskirtspress.com/bookstore

For example, this is the URL that appears at the end of most of our book videos, driving potential customers to the online store where they can get the book from the video they just watched on YouTube.

Now the retail store and wholesale store act in concert with one another seamlessly, by offering a tiered discount structure to the customer depending upon the quantity of books he/she buys.   In fact, even retail orders of just 1 book receive a discount. After all, we save money by not having to sell that book through Ingram & Amazon; why not pass that savings on to the book buyer?  The author still receives their full royalty in any case.

Retail orders are defined by quantity purchases of 1-9 copies of a single book.  For those purchases, the bookstore automatically applies a 10% discount to the retail price.  I discussed a bit about this and the reasoning behind it in some of my June posts.

Wholesale orders are defined by quantity purchases of 10 copies or more.  For those purchases, the bookstore automatically applies whatever trade discount the author set during their publishing process.  The majority of our discounts range between 25% – 50%, but in some cases authors elect to set a 55% trade discount on their book. Whatever price plan the author selected is the discount available to retailers, wholesalers, or customers who purchase those books direct from Outskirts Press at outskirtspress.com/bookstore in quantities of 10 or more.   

This is advantageous to everyone involved. The retailer gets a better margin than if they ordered from Ingram and the author still gets their full royalty.   In fact, at industry-standard 55% trade discounts, retailers are accustomed to just 40% margins, since Ingram often takes 15%.  But by removing Ingram from the equation, our authors can offer retailers a better deal, which incentivizes more retailers into ordering our authors’ books.

These discounts are reflected dynamically on the bookstore detail pages for every book in an effort to incentivize customers to order more quantities, too. In fact, we’ve had authors order OTHER authors’ books at wholesale prices when they knew they were going to be attending a major book event, because anytime you buy low and sell high you have a profit-generating opportunity.

The changes worked. Both retail and wholesale bookstore orders increased substantially with the introduction of the new Outskirts Press direct bookstore.

In fact, the downside is that some of our authors became a little confused.  Getting up to a 55% discount on books ordered through the Outskirts Press bookstore sounds so good, some of our authors have purchased their own copies from the store when, in fact, they get an even better discount within their own publishing center.  As a result, our IT department added an “alert” that triggers if the bookstore recognizes an author purchasing their own book from the bookstore instead of from their Publishing Center. 

We’re using similar alerts to notify authors and potential authors of the discounts they can receive on our a la carte writing and marketing services if they elect to publish with Outskirts Press. But that’s a topic for a future post.

Altering the Amazon cover graphic

Yet another posting referring to the screen shot I took of an Amazon search results page which displays two larger graphics for my most recent book, The Highly Effective Habits of 5 Successful Authors.   Already we’ve discussed the importance of adding a Kindle edition to secure two such listings, and the importance of not having a white cover, lest it get “lost” among all the Amazon screen clutter. 

But what do you do if you have a white cover? Or what do you do if you want to increase the size of your book cover on Amazon (as I have done with many of my books). You change your cover graphic on Amazon…

I wrote on this topic a while ago, where I detailed the advantages of increasing the size of (and/or changing the color of) the Amazon cover. 

Take a look over to the right and see the cover of the second edition of SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON (it’s right below Self-Publishing Simplified).

That’s how the cover looks of the actual book. But, strangely, that’s not how I want the cover image to look on Amazon.  And this has to do with online marketing in the new millennium, combined with the aspect ratio of books in relationship to the aspect ratio of the graphic footprint Amazon uses on its sales pages.  In other words, a 6×9 rectangular book cover is not OPTIMAL for use within a 260 x 260 square space, which is the graphic footprint Amazon allocates for product images on its detail pages.   Showcasing portrait-shaped books results in a graphic that is 260 pixels HIGH, but only uses 50% of the available WIDTH.  In other words, most book covers on Amazon sacrifice some of the space Amazon is giving to them.  And let me tell you, with the number of shoppers on Amazon, that is some expensive square-footage going to waste.

So, the solution is to provide Amazon with a different graphic other than the “actual” graphic of the book cover – one that is square rather than rectangular.  Of course, most books are rectangular (portrait) so this means you must ”change” the appearance of the cover.  You can either “squash it” so that the entire cover fits in a space that is 33% shorter. Or you crop off a portion of the cover in preference of greater online sales.  I opted for choice number 2.  

So when SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON was first published in its first edition, I manually uploaded an alternate “square” cover image (doing anything “different” through Ingram or Amazon requires some manual intervention).  By “square” I don’t mean boring — rather I mean that it utilizes ALL the space Amazon allocates for the image, thereby making the cover image “bigger” than other cover images within search results, or even within Listmania or Guide listings (see the image of Sell Your Book on Amazon along the left-hand side of our screen shot for an example).

Of course, the more observant readers may also notice another difference between the Amazon version of the graphic above and the “real” version to the right — other than the shape.  Yes, the Amazon version is a nice garish YELLOW.  And this brings me to one of the most wonderful things about marketing on the Internet — you can have your cake and eat it, too.

What do I mean by that?  I would never design an actual cover of a book to look like the image above. It’s too… well, “ugly” for lack of a better word.  I don’t want ugly babies, because I submit my babies to contests and awards and I want them to have a chance to win.   But sadly, what makes an effective cover “in person” is not always the same as what makes an effective cover online.  That yellow sure is ugly, but when you’re scrolling through 25 books about self-publishing on Amazon’s search page, guess which image your eye is going to see first?  The big ugly yellow one… 

In other words, yes, you can have a great actual cover that wins lots of awards and you can have an image on Amazon that attracts lots of attention. Having your cake and eating it, too.

This marketing tactic isn’t just reserved for authors of “Amazon books” either — Outskirts Press is going to soon launch a new a la carte marketing service to help any author perform this function, regardless of where you decided to publish your book.

Previously on this blog I’ve provided other examples of this, and here’s a good link to one of those…

Amazon search results and cover colors

 Now let’s discuss the color of the covers in this screen shot below:

 This exemplifies the importance of cover design, and specifically, the importance of planning ahead when designing your cover, or working with a cover designer.  You want your book to STAND OUT on search results pages like this, which means you want to avoid having a white cover.   After all, let’s look closely at the screen shot above. The only cover that is harder to see and pay attention to than the 6th cover is the 8th one, and that’s because the 8th cover is missing!

Does this mean you should never design a white book cover?  Well…. maybe.  I would challenge book cover designers to rise to the occasion in the “Amazon world” and create covers that are specifically designed to be seen on visual search results pages like the one above.  That means, no white covers.  But, even if the book cover for the physical book itself is white, that doesn’t mean your Amazon cover has to be.

Gasp! Change the cover image just for Amazon?  Yes – and in past posts I’ve given specific examples of how I’ve personally done that with my Sell Your Book on Amazon listing.  The actual cover is 2/3 orange and 1/3 white. That’s too much white for me, so for the Amazon cover image, I replaced the white with an obnoxious bright yellow.  You know what? It works.   In fact, if you look at the screen shot above, there’s a chance the most noticeable book cover among ALL the books on that page is that big bright yellow cover along the left, which, not coincidentally is for SELL YOUR BOOK ON AMAZON.  I say “not coincidentally” because that is actually the result of quite a bit of planning and effort on my part, but as you can see on this Amazon search page, it pays off.

And we can talk about that more in the future, along with why you would want to create a cover image specifically for Amazon (and how you do that).

The Amazon Kindle and Search Results

In the last posting I began analyzing this screen shot, which is the first page of the Amazon search results for a particular phrase. 

I’m using my latest book as an example to demonstrate the actual positive effects of completing some basic Amazon promotion tactics.  Let’s specifically look at three elements of this screen shot:

  •  there are two of the same graphics in the top 10 (thank you Kindle edition)- repetition matters
  • the cover graphic isn’t white – see how book #1 and #6 get completely lost?
  •  the cover graphic is significantly bigger than all the other covers on the page

Let’s discuss the duplication effect, seeing two covers of the same book.  Relatively easily, my book is garnering twice the exposure and therefore, hopefully, receiving twice the attention from Amazon shoppers browsing this list.  In other words, my book has twice as much potential to be “clicked on” because the cover is appearing twice.   Getting two cover images of your book to appear on an applicable search term phrase on Amazon is as easy as adding an Amazon Kindle edition of your book (the money you make from sales of your Kindle Edition may even be more icing on the cake — in fact, it may even start to be the cake itself. Three of our top 5 selling books in any given month are often the Kindle editions, and they’re all fiction.) Any fiction author looking for a way to level the book marketing playing field shouldn’t do anything before adding a Kindle edition to his book.

We’ll talk about the other two points from this screen shot next…