Thursday, March 5, 2015

Getting Your Book Discovered, Finding More Sales, Having More Fun

Writing and publishing Your Book isn't even half your job - the rest is getting it discovered so it sells and pays you back.

Getting Your Book Discovered, Finding More Sales, Having More Fun
(photo: Jayp0d)

The third leg of the stool every author sits on is Discovery. (The first two being Writing, and Publishing.)

Some people call this Marketing.

The point is that people have to find your book in order to buy it, so they have to discover it. There are a few steps to this, some of which you've already done.

When you write your book (or select it, if you're publishing someone else's) - you do so with a certain public in mind. Some call this your avatar, a person who idealizes the type of person who would like to find and read your book. It's a person who will be so enthused by that book, they'll want to find your next, buy that, read it, and so on.

Knowing who you are writing for is known as market research. Crafting a book they want is called product development. Publishing, selling, and delivering that book is called Fulfillment.

After Writing and Publishing comes Discovery

If you've published it, a lot of discovery comes from the distributors themselves. They will over up your book to viewers as "also bought" or "readers who liked this also liked" or "also by this author" or "als in this series", etc.

The trick is that not all people find books by just the distributor. And if you're waiting for people to find your book when they search on an online bookstore, then you may be waiting a long time.

So you search out and find other avenues which will recommend your book, giving the link on the distributor where they can buy it.

Review of basics

There are a few guides or rules to follow writing, publishing, and marketing (and how I got financial freedom by writing and publishing):
  • Your publishing empire should cost you next to nothing. DIY if you can - use sweat-equity to pay for things.
  • You should be able to contact everyone you need without having to walk out of your own (home-office) workspace.
  • Leverage everything, always. Work smart, not hard.
  • "Keep your own counsel... by reaching your own decisions and following them." (Napoleon Hill)
  • Frugality is a way of life, and a way to fortune.

Most of the "great" advice I've seen completely violate these.

The whole point to this is that you can succeed based on the resources you have at your fingertips. Don't buy more tools with your day job. Make the tools you already have invested in pay for themselves.

Someone wants you to buy a course - skip it. Maybe one of their books - after they've already proven that they know what they are talking about.

The same for most of the marketing they recommend.

Remember this: Far more people made money selling tools and supplies to gold miners than the miners did themselves. You can make more money selling services to writers than you can by writing books.

But we're here (mostly) to write and publish, not sell writing and publishing services. 

If you look up all the services they are offering, and are willing to spend the sweat-equity researching, you can train yourself. (Just start at the beginning of this blog and read every post in sequence, test everything for yourself, and then you'll have free training on just about everything you need to become a successful writer and self-publisher.)

Sure, that's lots of work. Know that the only people who "get rich quick" have already spent years training themselves to succeed. For every story of someone suddenly getting rich over night, you'll find they started years earlier and had a long string of disappointments before they learned enough to put it all together.

Same with book publishing. John Locke, Amanda Hocking, all the greats spent years writing after their day job was over before they finally figured out how to write great stories and get them selling routinely. And maybe some years after that before they made a fortune. Look them up. See for yourself. There is no "get rich quick" in book publishing. Anyone CAN make their own fortune in a few years of hard work, study, testing, and perseverance.

Your overall strategy:

a) Recognize your joy in life is writing, your business in life is book publishing.
b) Get your part-time book publishing business covering all your costs so you can quit your day job.
c) Work full time on your fortune after that.

Basic financial freedom and fortune maker: your own email list.

This is one of the most overlooked strategies of all. So I'm listing it first. It's not easy to do, but takes less effort than a lot of other efforts.

Every successful author of ebooks that I've been able to track down has used this. You let people give you their email address so you can contact them directly when you have more information or a new book coming out.

This means you have a form on every page of your site/blog where  a person can leave their email address.

And that means you need an autoresponder service, like Mail Chimp (free for the first few hundred subscribers) or AWeber, which has a lot of training materials on setting up and using an autoresponder to build your list. There are others (GetResponse, SimplyCast). The short take on this is to not try to do it yourself, but use a service.

Search Engines

Key datum: Search engines can recommend your books.

When  people look for something they use search engines. Your job is to help the search engines recommend your book as a solution for what that person is looking for.

I  have spent a great part of the last decade studying and even making income from search engine optimization (SEO).  My last day job was freelance SEO, actually. This mostly consisted of following all the tricks and gimmicks, and watching them evaporate as Google and the others found out and changed their algorithms.

SEO got more and more expensive as it became more dependent on regularly providing original and relevant content.

Which lead me to writing and self-publishing books. (Which paid and pays better than doing SEO for others ever did.)

Authors create content on a regular basis, because they like to. The trick is in getting people to discover (and pay you for) your content. That is what most authors have problems with (self included) and the reason for this article.

Authors create content as part of the job description. When they learn SEO, they can get downright profitable in everything they write about online.

You can learn the basics of SEO in an afternoon. You don't have to buy anyone's services to help you with this.

First, you download, print off, dog-ear, and highlight this: Google Search Engine Optimization Guide. Seriously. Do that. Once you understand this guide, you have all the basics you know.

There are a couple of articles on this site (here, and here) which lay out some basics about what works these days for authors and SEO. Again, test these all for yourself. Take no one's word for it - especially mine.

(I did write a book based on what I figured out, some of it is dated. It has a free website where most of the surviving lessons are located. One day, I'll be back to update this and re-release it, as well as update a few old websites...)

What SEO has to do with authors

It's the simplest way to get book discovery happening. It's cheap, simple, and you can do it yourself. So, it fits our rules.

Steps to SEO:

1) You do have a blog, don't you? Good. Search engines love blogs.
2) You've created a landing page for each of your books with all the various distributors linked? Good. This helps your books rank better with the distributors.

A big part of most website traffic currently is the search engine bots.

3) Ensure your content are optimized on every page. This means that
  • The keywords which describe your book (the words people are looking for to find what you are offering) are in the page title, the post title, the major headings, and the descriptions of the images. Search engines think in words. Use the words that describe your book which people are looking for. Everywhere. 
  • Write naturally. Give great value with your words on every page.
  • Use images (and make sure the description of the image has your keywords in a sensible sentence, or at least nearby on the page.
  • Link to your distributors and everywhere which defines what your book is about, like Wikipedia, OpenLibrary, Goodreads, etc.
  • Avoid scripts other than your opt-in form. Search engines can't read them.
  • Avoid Flash like the Plague - use HTML5 alternatives always. Search engines can't read Flash.
Those few points are pretty much the bulk of what you need to know about on-page SEO. Once you figure out the details to what I just said, then you can get all this done yourself, as you create each blog post.

4) Properly use backlinks
This is mostly over done, but is still key. The approach you use is to port your content into different formats and then post those formats where they can give you links back to your site and to your distributors.
  • Blog posts  (original content as text.)
  • PDF's - Slideshare and doc-sharing sites.
  • Videos - use long descriptions and include appropriate links there. YouTube, DailyMotion, Flickr.
  • Images - Pinterest, Flickr, Google+.
  • Audio - (free hosting) and your own blog as a podcast.
  • Presentations (PDFs) - Slideshare and doc-sharing sites.(Note: Presentations as images and audio files can be married to produce videos - all at home on your own computer.)
Here are exceptions to what I just said. They involve embedding content into your blog post: Videos, Podcasts, and PDF's can - and should - be embedded into your blog posts. Yes, these are scripts - but they hard link to the content you put out there which links to your distributors. Search engines will see the hard link.

The reason you link out to related content such as descriptions or reviews of other author's works, or authoritative sites such as (Wikipedia, or  OpenLibrary) is to build authority/trust of your post by giving search engines something to compare it with. Search engines recommend pages that seem to know what they are talking about.

Social Networks

This is a pure dead-end for authors - and one of the biggest sets of misdirection out there. It's also mostly why I quite online groups about writing and publishing in favor of simply getting more books written and published. Here, you want to use these not to burn all your time, but to leave bait where search engines can find it and recommend your books.

  • If you spend a lot of time commenting and plussing and liking various comments - did it sell you a lot of books meanwhile? Probably not. 
  • If you spend the same amount of time getting the search engines to send people to your book distributors, did you sell books meanwhile? Probably so. 

That's the difference between working at your job and just talking about your job.

The Lie of "Building a Platform"

There's a lot of silly recommendations to spend a certain percentage of your time interacting on social sites to "build your platform." If someone tells you that your "platform" is the most important thing you should have attention on in your book marketing - click off that page and get back to writing or publishing. They don't know what they are talking about. Period. (IMHO.)

Frankly, this isn't how most authors make a living. The most successful writers spend the bulk of their time writing.  Find the Taleist survey. Look up successful authors.

Take Stephen King. In his "On Writing" he lays it out: one-third writing (morning), one-third answering emails and other business communication (afternoon),  one third reading (evening).

There's your social interaction - emails. Same for the infamous John Locke. Similar for Amanda Hocking, who found and interacted with book bloggers first, and does spend some time on forums - but also emails. Fan mail has long been a key part of being an author. Review what I said about email up above.

What you are looking for for social network sites:
  • You want to use Content-driven sites, which are loved by the Search Engines because they can be indexed easily.
  • You want to use sites which are friendly to Google and don't shut them out. 
  • You want to use sites which leave their content up for search engines to find and recommend forever.

For those three reasons, I don't spend time on Facebook. (They don't keep their content after a few months, they kicked Google out, and can't be searched easily by the 'bots.)

Twitter just recently changed their agreement with Google, so are now being indexed again.

What you are not looking for on social network sites:

  • Followers, likes, pluses, attaboy's.
  • Approval
  • Suck-ups
That's a bit harsh. And if you amuse yourself with social network sites, have fun. The time spent that way won't get your next book written or your earlier books sold.

Action steps:
  • You do create a nice profile which  of course has links to your book distributors and other profiles.
  • You do "like" or "plus" or "follow" anyone who follows you - up to the limit you are allowed. That is simple courtesy.
  • You do use social networks to collect data for you which adds to content you need to promote your book - and become posts on your blog. Flipbook is one I've started using recently as it kills too birds with one stone. 
  • As you find great data which backs up what you said in your book, then you simply post updates to content-driven networks like LinkedIn and Google+. You can also configure IFTTT to auto-post from your Blogger blog to Facebook, Twitter, and Tumblr. (Leverage, again.)

Some notes on what social networking sites to use as part of SEO:

Content-driven social sites (current list)

  • Tumblr
  • LinkedIn
  • Google+
  • Twitter (recently let Google back in - not key.)

Book-related sites (author and book pages)

  • Goodreads
  • Wattpad
  • OpenLibrary
  • LibraryThing
  • Author pages on the distributors (Amazon, Lulu storefront)
  • "About the author" landing page on your own blog.
  • Book landing pages on your own blog.
  • Google+ profile/brand page (put badges on every landing page as part of the template)

Traffic-sending sites

  • Slideshare - and any doc-sharing site
  • Pinterest and image sites (Flickr, Google+)
  • Stumbleupon (can be tricky - see Synnd below)
  • YouTube and video sites

Your own blogging platform

  • Blogger blog on your own domain
  • Rainmaker (paid)

Additional Tools

  • IFTTT - sends to twitter, tumbler, etc. Leverages your time.
  • Flipboard - finds you data while you include your blog posts from your curation.
  • Synnd (paid) service which does bookmarking and social signals for you.

How you line these up and not kill yourself by overwork

0. Write and publish your book. Use Calibre to track the metadata.
1. Using a spreadsheet, enter the ISBN's and ASIN to get the links for your books.
2. Create a landing page for that/each book (I use a Blogger blog with my own domain name - cheaper than Wordpress, which has a monthly fee.)
2) Create book pages on Goodreads, OpenLibrary.
3. G+ and Pinterest your landing page. Post your cover to Flickr with links, tags. Use Synnd to bookmark your landing everywhere, and run other campaigns like Reddit and Stumbleupon.
4. Create a PDF of that page (and every blog post of note) and post to Slideshare and major doc-sharing sites (scrape and paste into LibreOffice, export as PDF.)
Embed that PDF from Slideshare (or DocStoc) on the landing page itself.
5. G+, Pinterest, and Synnd the Slideshare page. (They rank the best.)
6. Create an ecourse based on your book. Every lesson is posted as a PDF as above. Use an opt-in to enable people to get these lessons based on your book - in exchange for their email.
7. Create a video book trailer and post to YouTube, DailyMotion, Flickr, etc. Embed one of these (YouTube) on your landing page, or a book review blog-post.
7a. Post the audio on and also as an enclosure link on your blog. Embed the script for that postcast on that book-review blog post.
7b. If you've made a presentation PDF for that trailer, then post it as above and embed it here.
7c. G+, Pinterest, and Synnd that book review page. Also use Synnd to distribute that video itself and bookmark it.
[The reason for posting the text, video, audio, and PDF on the same page is to give people options of how they want to get the data. Everone is different. If they can download your PDF with live links for later study, they'll still be able to get to your distributors and your blog.]
8. Excerpt a few chapters from the book and post them to your blog and as embedded PDF's above. If they are short enough, create a video as well (as above.)

Meanwhile, write your next book and make it discoverable through those 8 steps above. Rinse, repeat.

Note: Yes, it's a lot of work to sign up for and use all these sites above. Once you've done so, then the work gets a lot easier. Leverage everything - that's the key.


  1. Get your audience into your email list as your priority way of getting your books discovered.
  2. Use social media/networks to enable search engines to recommend your books on the distributors.
  3. Keep publishing more books

Anything else?

We haven't really covered memberships, paid ecourses (a form of membership, actually), or using bundles to increase opt-ins. More to do, for sure. Stay tuned...

PS. Why do I write this for you, and why all this detail? 1) to lay this all out for myself as I distill and streamline my own marketing/discovery path. 2) to make a record so I can later compile a book on it's own. 3) Most importantly, to help you anyway I can.

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