Marketing by Stealth

An Amazon Author Page

An Amazon Author Page

This is not one of the thousands of articles … ‘Ten Things to Do to Increase Sales’
In my post last time which was about the results of my three weeks of non-marketing, I said I’d come back to mention a couple of simple ideas that I believe help to encourage sales.

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It may be accepted that we’re not going to buy a small island in the near future, but we want sales, and reviews, and recognition for our efforts. Whatever our reason for writing, if we publish, either traditionally or self-published, we’re not doing so for the exercise. It is a means to an end. We want success.
Personally, success with my writing is more important than money or fame.

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Why are eBook samples important?
It’s an obvious answer. It gives the prospective reader an insight into the story they may, or may not buy. Keeping that in mind, we must tease and please the reader with a worthwhile sample.

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How can we improve the sample?

Only have the essentials in the front pages of a book:
1. Cover
2. Title
3. Copyright
4. Acknowledgements
5. Dedication
6. Table of Contents

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That is a minimum of six pages / screens before your new reader has seen your writing.
The odd one out is ‘Dedication’, because it is not essential, but it is usually found at the front if it is to be included.
Immediately after the Table of Contents, we should expect to see the Preface if there is one and then Chapter 1.

If using a Preface, try to keep it short. I read one recently that stole a lot of the space that would otherwise have allowed me to read more of Chapter 1. A typical occasion for using a few words before the first chapter might be because the book is a sequel.

I will repeat – the Preface is an introduction so keep it short and let the story do the work.

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What information would I suggest leaving out of the front pages?

1. A word from the author
2. About the author
3. Also by the author
All of those subjects and even the dedication can be placed in the back pages.

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How do the back pages help with marketing and sales?

A lot of readers like to know about the person who wrote the story, so a page dedicated to a short bio at the back is a good idea. If the reader doesn’t want to look at it, they have a choice. If they do – it’s there for them.

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A word from the author

This can be whatever you like, but good ideas are to say something about the story the reader has just finished.
1. What inspired the story.
2. Any interesting research that was done.
3. If there are plans for a sequel
It is up to the individual author how this area is used.

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About the author

A short bio. Practise writing your bio, but keep it between 50 – 100 words.
Once again, what is said here is an individual choice, but good ideas include:
1. Use it as a writing bio, whether you are a novice, or if you have any track record.
2. Perhaps mention your nationality, and the country where you now live.
3. Family? Some do, some prefer to leave it out.
4. Pastimes when not writing.
5. Interesting careers you’ve had.

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Also by the author

A key area for marketing by stealth.
At the back of all of my books I have the titles and the blurb for all of my other books.
I believe that this is a crucial part of creating substance for your brand.
If you are new and using this in the back of your debut novel – use it to talk about your next piece of work.
If a reader likes the story and style of what they’ve just read – don’t have them going on search engines to find your name and other titles – tell them here, right after they’ve been impressed.

If you haven’t already set up an Amazon Author Page – consider setting one up on Amazon.com and also on Amazon.co.uk

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Remember, even though the prospective reader sees the sample and hasn’t read the back pages information yet – it is listed in your Table of Contents, so they know it will be there.

The ideas above are not a quick-fix, but I believe I achieve initial sales and follow-on sales by using them. Thank you for taking the time to read my thoughts and theories – now if you haven’t done so already, please have a look at my author website:
http://www.tombensonauthor.com

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J … is for Jacket

J[1]  is for jacket.

The jacket of a paperback book is the outer covering, and on a hardback; it is the loose cover around the actual book.

An eBook does not by the nature of its publication have a physical jacket, but it must have the pertinent information found on traditional books. This is known as the ‘blurb’, or jacket blurb. It is that aspect of the jacket that I’ll look at today.

The blurb on the jacket is a follow up to the title and front cover. Just as those two items are important in attracting a reader’s attention, so too is the jacket blurb. On a physical book it will be on the back, but for an eBook, it appears on the screen, usually slightly further down than the cover graphic.

What should be included on the jacket information?

On physical books, on the front, we will have a title, perhaps a sub-title, author’s name, and a graphic of some description. On the spine we would expect to see; title, author’s name, publisher, and perhaps a miniaturised graphic. On the back cover we would find the jacket blurb, a price and a barcode. On occasion the graphic may be continued around the entire jacket, including the spine.

How much information will we find within the jacket blurb?

This depends on a variety of things. Publishers will have guidelines. The story will have one or more key characters and a plot to describe. The key is to give enough to interest a reader, but not tell them the entire story in brief. I aim for between 100 – 150 words. That may not sound like much, but any more than 150 words feels long when it’s being perused.

Rather than include my own jacket blurbs here, I will provide links, and then you my dear readers may, if you wish; check them out. My romance, “Ten Days in Panama” contains 158 words of jacket blurb. My thriller, ‘Beyond The Law’, contains 97 words of jacket blurb.

I’m about to head out on my blog patrol, but before I go, I’d like to thank you for reading. I’ll be back tomorrow with my thoughts on … ‘K’

TEN DAYS – the novel

As I move on with the third draft of my romantic thriller I’ve taken the step of sharing my jacket blurb on Facebook.  I’ve also shared Chapter 1 to give a taste of my writing style.  My theory is that even if only 1 in 10 people who see the post actually go in and read either one of them then my marketing has started successfully.  If I am fortunate enough to attract any reasonable comments I’ll add a second chapter to my blog next month.

A working cover for the e-Book

My graphic is a working cover page for the e-Book and may not resemble the finished article.  I’ll use Twitter and local media when the time is right and I’ll continue to plug the story on Facebook.  My other intention is to print off and distribute five copies to readers for market research purposes.

The jacket blurb I’ve used is only an experiment and may well change, but the first chapter is close to the finished article as it stands now.

My main investment has been time and effort but depending on the result of my strategy I may have to put money into the pot.  I’ve worked out at the moment that a single photocopy of the manuscript is going to cost me £9.  If all goes well I hope to recoup whatever outlay I have in that area.

I will very shortly live up to my promise to myself to reduce my retail working hours which will mean a serious drop in pay, but a vast increase in time invested in writing.  In order that I don’t look as if my retail work is actually going backwards and out of control, I fully intend to alter my status and profession on any social media with which I’m connected – so watch this space.

Hello and welcome!

I am presently convalescing and therefore have the opportunity of a few days to kick-start my blog.  Three days ago I had my gallbladder removed so I’m not moving around too quickly.  The holes made during the operation may have been small but it feels as if the offending organ put up a fight against it’s eviction. 

So that it doesn’t come across as just another gush of personal blurb I’ve decided to share some of my efforts.  I would appreciate any and all comments on my writing.  As a novice at this particular idea (the blog), I’ve set it up with a link to my poetry, included some short stories and introduced my autobiography with the first chapter in it’s entirety. 

As things stand I want to embrace the blog as a means of self-expression, a marketing tool and a social link.  If you’re a writer and you happen by, please leave me your thoughts on what you find here and a link to your own work. 

Please take a look around, enjoy and comment.     Tom