Friday, May 31, 2013

Increasing Book Sales on Amazon With Improved Book Descriptions

There is no doubt many factors drive an individual's decision to purchase a book using Amazon as the retailer of choice. Word of mouth, the book's cover, pricing and past purchases of the author's work are certainly some of the driving forces responsible for a significant number of sales.

When it comes to generating sales on Amazon, one of the most important, and often overlooked factors an author can control is the book's product description.

I hate the feeling that I am being "sold" something. How many of us enjoy the experience of buying a car? But does that mean as authors, particularly self-publishing authors who do not have anyone else to do our marketing and sales for us, can we ignore the fact that if we want to sell our books we need to be engaged in the act of selling?

Since I "aim" most of my sales at Amazon, I need to do everything I can to generate the maximum number of sales through Amazon. I need to learn as much as possible about sales and the copyrighting tactics that work well.

In my research I have come up with three consistently recommended tactics that must be done effectively to generate the desired sales. They are:
  • headlines that draw the reader in
  • actionable words
  • focus on benefits for the reader
With another book to be available for sale soon I have started thinking about the description I plan to write for the book on Amazon. It has been much more difficult than in the past as I have been writing, editing, and discarding my efforts. It has been a learning process. It has also made me realize I need to edit and re-post all of my book descriptions on Amazon.

Why is the description headline so important? The title and cover have piqued the reader's interest, causing the reader to click on the product description page. Within the next second or so, the reader will decide whether or not to read the description or to click back to the previous page and continue the search.

What will determine this yes or no decision? Whether or not the descriptive headline captures the reader's attention and draws the reader into reading the body of the description.

Research shows actionable words need to be included in the description. Tell the reader what you want the reader to do. Be specific.  You might be surprised at how much research has gone into the use of actionable words. For example, copywriters have determined "click here" produces more clickthroughs than using the word "order." "Add to Cart" is much more effective than "Buy Now."

Why? I have no idea, but this is what research indicates. Take the time to learn about actionable words that will fight your target customer/reader and the niche and genre of your book.

Finally, focus on benefits for the reader, not the features of the book that we, as authors, are so proud of. View the book through the eyes of the potential reader and customer. How will this book benefit that individual, not you the author?

Will the book provide needed information that will make the reader's life easier, less costly, provide actionable information, etc? Will a work of fiction be entertaining, thought provoking, funny or provide some much needed escapism for the reader? You must make the reader believe purchasing and reading your book will benefit that individual in a positive way.

This is all easy to say. It is much harder to actually carry out. Put as much thought into your book's Amazon product description as you do in the cover and the writing of the book itself. After all, you don't want to just sell your book, you want to have readers! If your intended audience never purchases your book, how can you have readers?




Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Using Pictures and Images in Kindle Books - Review of Aaron Shepard's New Guide

Aaron Shepard is still one of the leading authorities on the physical design aspects of self-publishing. As a result of rewriting his guide on creating Kindle books from Word, Aaron realized he had expanded the project beyond it's original scope. 

The result, a new Kindle book on how to use images in Kindle books! 

Since most of my non-fiction books have photos, line drawings and graphics, I quickly purchased a copy Pictures on Kindle.

I am going to have to read this book multiple times and sit down with a project file and play with inserting images before I attempt to do this for real.

Please note, the reason for the above statement is NOT because Aaron does not do a good job of explaining things. Aaron writes in a clear and easy to understand style and provides plenty of information to accomplish the task of using photographs and images into a Kindle manuscript for digital publication.

The only other self-publishing authority I am aware of who understands the design and production aspects of crafting a self-published book, I am talking about the nuts and bolts of the process, is Joel Friedlander.

Aaron covers the basics of photos in detail including color photographs. There are a wide range of ways to "measure" color in a photograph for publishing and Aaron covers them all.

Also covered:
  • selecting photographs
  • editing photographs
  • photo file formats
  • scanning
  • design aspects of placing photographs
  • testing your final version by previewing
  • HTML and photographs in Kindle books
This is a great book for authors who need, or want, to produce their own files for their self-published Kindle books. It is understandable for a layman like me but has the info a technogeek will enjoy.

The price is right as well, just .99 cents for now.

All I need to do now is finish my current project with one of the Book Designers new Word templates, use the one of the new Kindle templates to convert work, and then with the help of the info in Pictures on Kindle, insert all my diagrams and photographs. I have my first week of vacation from school all planned.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Amazon Kindle Cover Creator - Amazon Provides Indie/Self-Publishing Authors Yet Another Tool

Amazon continues to improve the opportunities for authors to create and publish their own books using the Kindle publishing platform. One of the latest of these improvements is the Cover Creator for Kindle books.

I will have a new Kindle book ready for release by mid-June so have started to experiment with the  new Cover Creator so I will have a a cover ready to go with the interior of the book.

Getting started with the Cover Creator is simple. Go to your KDP Dashboard and click on the "Add new title" button. Next, click on "Design with Cover Creator" in section 4. The site will launch the Cover Creator program and provide you with directions on how to use the software.

Like the Cover Creator program provided by CreateSpace, Amazon's POD Service, you can add images of your choice, pick a cover design from the ones available, customize the layout of the design and preview your cover before submitting it.

It is not a professionally designed cover, but if money's tight and you have an eye for design, you might want to try this free option in order to get your Kindle edition to market sooner.

To learn more about this new option for Kindle authors, click here.

Click Here for More Information!

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Book Design Templates for Microsoft Word from the Book Designer - a Review

Joel Friedlander, the owner of The Book Designer, is the creator and driving force behind this new product, interior design templates based on Microsoft Word for self-publishing authors to design and complete their own book interiors.

I was not sure what to expect when I downloaded my template. It was easy to download and open, something I cannot say for many varieties of software. 

It just gets better from there. Joel offers a downloadable 55 page instruction manual with each template. In fact, you can obtain one for free prior to purchasing your template. I appreciate this feature a great deal as I still prefer a paper manual when I am trying to learn how to master a new skill, or in this case, software. I like to be able to write notes in the margin or highlight information I will need to refer to on a regular basis. Make this another big plus for this product.

If you can use Microsoft Word, you can use this product. It is that simple. Should you run across something you don't know how to do to create the look you want in your book, you will be able to find the information you need in the downloadable PDF manual.

Why invest in one of these templates? The entire book is already laid out for you! This starts with the front matter and includes the author page at the back of the book! Everything that goes in between these two items in a book is included. 

All I will have to do is cut and paste in my manuscript, enter my own headers and footers, table of contents, etc, and my book interior will be done. 

The sample I am experimenting with is for a 6x9 interior but 8.5x11 interior templates will be available. eBook templates are also available and I am excited about learning to use one of these in the future.

Joel offers a wide range of design options for book interiors. Samples of each template are available for view at The Book Designer.

It gets better still. Full support for the templates is offered by The Book Designer. My experience with Joel has been he and his support staff are very easy to communicate with and always want to answer your question and make sure you are able to use the product or service you paid for. In this day and age, customer service can be iffy at best so this type of product support goes a long way with me.

Will this template produce a book interior exactly like one produced by a professional book designer using software designed specifically for creating book interiors? No. It can't because Microsoft Word was not designed for that purpose. 

What these templates can do is create an interior file that has all of the needed information for a print book, interior designs that every bit as professional in appearance as designs crafted by "pros" (by the way, Joel is one of those pros who does interior book design), and is easy to use. The cost and steep learning curve of the professional software is removed for an author who plans to self-publish.

Will an interior produces by one of these templates match up well against a traditionally designed interior design? Yes. It just won't be as "perfect" as one done using the pro software.

I can live with these differences, mainly because I cannot find them, and I believe most readers won't notice the differences either. I say most because a reader like my grandfather, who was a professor of journalism, a newspaper editor, typesetter and author of historical biographies, would. Gramps was one of those individuals who would be defined as a "pro" who would be able to pick up on the minor details. Collectors of books and aficionados of fine editions would be able to discern the differences as well.

So long as your audience is not geared for this small group of readers, I doubt any of your readers will be able to discern the interior of the book was created by the author. These templates are that good!

Finally, I can create a series of books that have matching interiors. Since I write non-fiction and my books are often in a series, this is a great feature for me. I am sure this holds true for fiction authors who have recurring characters in a series. Having identical interior designs is a great touch.

I have spent a lot of money on a wide range of products in my quest to learn about self-publishing and to build my tiny publishing empire. A considerable portion of that money was wasted. 

Authors who self-publish must always consider cost. Covers and editing are two areas where money needs to be invested. While you have to purchase the template, the cost is very reasonable for the product and you, the author, do the work of creating the interior. 

The design work has been done. If you can use Word, you can use this product. There is almost no learning curve and we all know time is money. Here is a great way to save money by doing it yourself and having the finished product look professionally done!

Money spent on these templates won't be. I strongly recommend you visit the site and investigate these wonderful templates. Here is a quick summary of why you should take a look:
  • low cost of each template
  • wide variety of design templates in a variety of sizes 
  • more designs and size are in the design and production process for future release
  • everything that needs to be included in a book interior is included
  • free manual describing in detail how to use the software/template
  • great customer support
  • based on Word, a software nearly every author already knows how to use
My next experiment will be to write one of my next non-fiction books directly in the template as I go! Imagine, you save time and get to see what your finished book will look like as you write it!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Publishing With YouTube?

Morris Rosenthal weighs in on this topic. Since I write non-fiction, I have to agree with him that a big part of the market in the future for any how-to will have to involve video of some sort. Since I won't be teaching summer school for the first time in my teaching career, I had planned to get some more videos done and posted this summer.

Given the thought provoking ideas Morris has written about, I may rethink my project list for this summer.