By Misty M Beller @MistyMBeller
Doesn't it seem crazy how some books leap to the top of Amazon's bestseller ranking and others stay somewhere around 75,000? I've studied hundreds (maybe thousands) of books on Amazon.com, and have come to the same conclusion as many other great authors and publishers. There are four basic ingredients to success in the cyber world of the Amazon Bookstore.
1. Good cover that sparks interest and/or emotion.
The cover is your hook. Before title, before craft, before all those weeks, months and years you’ve spent perfecting the story. Your cover art will most often determine whether a potential readers skims past, or clicks your book thumbnail to read more.
So what makes a good cover? I won’t list everything here, but in my opinion one of the most important jobs of a successful book cover is to spark interest or emotion. Skim the top books in your favorite categories on Amazon.com and you’ll see what I mean.
As you can imagine, developing an amazing book cover is not easy. If you’re traditionally published, you may have little say in the outcome. But I would encourage you to make every effort possible to ensure your cover will stir the emotion that draws your target reader.
2. Good product description (back cover blurb) that shows interesting characters, a great story, and plenty of tension.
We’re all writers, correct? Crafters of words. So putting together fifty words to share the opening highlights of story should be a piece of cake. I’m sure you’re chuckling with me. J
If you were successful in drawing a potential reader with your emotion-generating cover art, this is the place to hook them with your “Product Description.” (Such a bland name for a powerful text box.)
Spend focused time on this blurb. Run it through your critique group. Seek feedback from a variety of people, especially those in your target reader demographic. Tweak it until it shines!
(Note to authors who publish independently or through small publishers: You are most likely writing the final draft of the Product Description, so you’ll want to include as many of your keywords as you can.)
3. High number of reviews and average rating.
Here's where we talk about craft and producing a well-written novel. You were afraid I wouldn't mention it, weren't you?
We all hear word of mouth is what sells books. The Amazon review is one of the most powerful word-of-mouth tools you'll ever encounter. Is your book well-researched? Your readers will appreciate that and mention it in their reviews. Did you forget to tie up loose ends in your story line? You'll be called out on it, I guarantee. Potential readers often look at the reviews to see if they're willing to spend precious money and time to read your story. Hone your craft and write the best story possible, and your reviews will reflect it.
How many reviews do you need? Many writers say it seems there's something "magical" about reaching twenty-five. After that, they seem to come so much easier and quicker. The more reviews you have with a four- or five-star rating, the more comfortable a potential reader will be taking a chance on your book.
4. Visibility (discoverability) - readers can't buy the book unless they know about it.
Now we hit the meat of it. You need a good cover, good blurb, and lots of positive reviews to help the reader make the decision to buy. But how does the reader actually find your book among the millions available on Amazon?
Great question! I'm going to mention the highlights here, but I encourage you to attend the ACFW-SC class I'll be teaching in Anderson, SC on May 23. I'll talk through these in detail and answer any questions.
In a nutshell, the ways to increase discoverability are:
- Advertising (both paid and unpaid)
- Social media (blog, Facebook, Twitter, etc.)
- "Personal" appearances (online and in-person)
There's so much more I'd like to mention about tips and tricks for book-selling success on Amazon, but I'll have to save them for another blog post. In the meantime, I'd love to hear your thoughts on anything I've shared!
Misty M. Beller was raised on a farm in South Carolina, so her Southern roots run deep. Her family has always been close-knit, and her husband and two daughters now add another dimension to her life, keeping her both grounded and crazy.
God has placed a desire in Misty’s heart to combine her love for Christian fiction and the simpler ranch life, writing historical novels that display God’s abundant love through the twists and turns in the lives of her characters.