Wednesday, 25 January 2012

How to Sell your Book with an Author Blog

How you plug your book can impact upon your book sales. But unlike networking your book with tweets and facebooking, or pitching your book on Amazon, an author blog gives the writer free reign to offer information about the book to an audience wanting to find out more about you and your work.

Where to Plug Your Book Free

Numerous publishing platforms can be used to market your book, namely Shelfari, Librarything, Linkdin, Smashwords and of course, Amazon. I have written a separate article on the best websites to plug your book. An author blog however gives you the opportunity to go more in depth about your book(s) in a way not always possible when posting material about your book on a host site. This is the key to ebook marketing.

Blogging for Book Sales

A book synopsis is the only requirement on a typical ebook publishing platform such as the Kindle store or Smashwords. Both allow authors to back link to their own website so that readers can find out more about the author’s work. You can of course link it from your Facebook page or Twitter. Amazon’s Author Central however enables the writer to link a live feed direct to his/her blog, so that the latest post is visible on the Author’s page. Why not use this book marketing resource?

What Does the Writer Blog About?

Rather than repeating lengthy information about your book on various sites, provide a link back to your blog from book marketing sites. Offer information that will enhance the sales of your book, suggestions of which might be the following:
  • Background information on your book(s) such as what inspired you to write the story, how long it took you to write and how you overcame technical issues with the plot.
  • When your next book will be out; similarly if your latest book is to be the first of a series and how many books will be in the series. When will each be released?
  • Provide a book sample that might not be accessible on the Look Inside feature of Amazon or Smashwords. This might be a pivotal part of the novel midway through.
  • Dates when your book(s) will be offered at a reduced price.
  • Free promotion days when your book(s) can be uploaded free.
  • If and when your book will be available on the Kindle Lending Programme, allowing Prime Members to borrow your ebook for free.
  • Where print copies of your book can be purchased.
  • Where and when books signings are to occur.
  • Novel writing competition short-listings or winnings.
  • Reviews of your books by noted individuals, book magazines or periodicals.
  • Author interviews.
  • Write a Novel in a Month updates.
Market You Book by Blogging

Blogger and Wordpress are two examples of free blogging platforms. I personally prefer Blogger because it is part of Google. So long as Google stays around, so will Blogger; it is easy to use, easy to perform analytics and easy to Adsense for additional income to royalties. The original purpose of Blogger was to keep a weblog, an online diary, hence the name. The tradition has continued. Bloggers still use a more informative and personal writing style than on hosting websites. This allows the writer to connect with the audience in a way not always appropriate on a hosting website.

Book Marketing with an Author Blog

Most readers require only the synopsis (or pitch) of an author’s book and a clear decision on whether to purchase. Others might like to find out more about the author’s work. An author blog is the ideal method. There are few guidelines to adhere to, you can freely plug your book in a way that most suits you. You can offer additional information on your book regarding dates it will be free, if sequels will be released and your ideas behind your novels. Such a writer’s blog will enable you to link back to this information from networking and marketing websites for an audience that wants to find out more about your books.

Helpful Tips for Marketing Books

How can I design my book cover for free?
Top book marketing websites
Organize your book speech
Beginner's guide to using Createspace
Tips on writing a crime novel
Visit my author website

Tuesday, 24 January 2012

Ten Tips on Niche Blogging for Profit

Making money blogging is straightforward if you know how. The crucial requirement is finding a niche subject matter you love and love writing about – all the better if your niche blog serves a gap in the market. Here are my top ten tips on enhancing your blog’s earning potential.

Write Quality Articles on your Blog on a Niche Subject

Make your blog content original, interesting, useful and worthy of visiting. Give visitors a reason to stick around. This will lower your bounce rate (the rate at which visitors click in and click straight out). Each post should ideally be a sufficient length of around 400 to 1000 words long broken down in to bite-sized paragraphs that is easier on the eye than monoliths of text. It must be free of typos, bad grammar and gives something useful. This is the most important element of your blog: your content.

Make your Blog Big

Search engines like substantial blogs. Add content to it regularly and keep building it up until your blog becomes a real player in its website genre. Who wants to hang around if a blog only has ten pages to offer? A well-sized veteran blog will eventually earn back-links if the content deserves this sign of approval.

Adsense your Blog

Making a living from your blog means monetizing it. Sign into Google’s Adsense and get your blog site approved. This will only happen if you already have good articles posted. Adsense is one of the best ways of making money from your blog as the adverts displayed are usually contextual, and visitors are more likely to click on an ad. Clicks equal Adsense revenue, nice for your pocket.

Make your Blog User-Friendly

Garish background colours are harsh on the eye and small fonts frustrating for the poor-sighted. Give your blog a professional look. Get a happy balance between images and text. Think about how the visitor can navigate around easily. Organize you post links into categories. 'Google Translate' is an invaluable tool to put on your blog for non-English speaking visitors.

Affiliate your Blog

Affiliate links is a great way to earn from your blog; if a visitor clicks on a product link and makes a purchase, you will earn commission on sales. One of the largest affiliates is Amazon Associates. If your blog is about house renovation, why not include products related to home improvement? This will unlock your blog’s earning potential. Take care not to go overboard with affiliate links or this could make your blog look more like an advertising placard.

Keyword you Blog for SEO

SEO marketing comes with practice, but with good keyword use, you can make you blog easier to find for those looking for information your blog offers. This is known as search engine optimization (or SEO). Using keywords in article posts is a lengthy subject, so I have dedicated separate articles to beginner’s guide to using keywords and the money word matrix.

Write for an Online Magazine that Allows Back links

Back links, or links pointing to your blog from a large, respectable website will improve your blog’s ranking, valuable Google juice. There are many online magazines that will allow you to do this. Write an article that relates to the niche topic of your blog and link back to it. Use Facebook or Twitter to the same end. Link-farming should be avoided (buying hundreds of links for the sole purpose of improving your blog’s ranking).

Preserve Good Standards in Blogging

Avoid any gadgets that cause adverts to pop up when visitors come. It is the quickest way to deter people. Copying and pasting someone else’s work or consistently sourcing Wikipedia will undermine your credence as a writer. Avoid link farming, content farming, spamming, keyword stuffing and viruses. Don’t post offensive content. Keep your blog clean and respectable and people will keep visiting.

Be a Persistent Blogger

Your earnings will go up and down. This is normal. A lean patch may dent your motivation. Don’t let it. Blogging is a long term game. The more content you add, the more your blog will be worth. And if your niche subject interests you, you are more likely to keep blogging and your blog will succeed in time.

Give your Readers what they Want

Once you get regular traffic to your blog, you will be able to view ‘traffic sources’, keywords people are using to get to your blog. Look out for any search queries you have yet to fulfill on your niche subject. Searching ‘all time’ will give a bigger picture. If a regular theme keeps coming up, write an article to satisfy that search query.

Secrets to a Good Money Blog

You can earn money from your blog if your write about a niche topic you love and few others are writing about. Keep adding content. Adsense your blog and conduct some keyword research before posting your articles. Make it easy to navigate around and free of unpleasant surprises. Most importantly, make the blog interesting, useful, original, funny, or whatever. And be persistent. Blogging is about numbers as well as the quality, the bigger the blog, the better.

Tips on Freelance Writing

Beginner's guide to keywords
The money word matrix
Top questions for online magazines
Tips on writing novels

The Scourge of Planted Negative Book Reviews

There is more freedom now than ever for customers to review books to help other readers make the decision of whether to purchase a book. But with growing abuse of the book review system, how can a potential reader tell is a bad book review is a planted review or not?

When Amazon’s Rating System is Gamed

There has been a lot of talk about so-called planted reviews, bogus book reviews from people who have a vested interest in the writer. This might be a family, friend or an affiliate. A rash of five-star reviews always looks suspicious, but what about the negative review? Sadly, negative reviews can also be given for all sorts of unprincipled reasons, which at the heart, has little to do with the actual book.

Abuse of Amazon’s Book Rating System

Some writers ask other writers to reciprocate good reviews or click the ‘like’ button if done in kind; other writers will refuse to reciprocate if the book is deemed substandard. Still, the negative review is not left where otherwise, it might. Such a system open to abuse is likely to result in a mound of five-star reviews and ‘likes’ from an unbiased foundation. Most avid readers trawling for a good book to read will only see the five-star reviews and purchase on the weight of what is displayed, only to be disappointed with the book. But in similar fashion, a good book given a one-star review for an unethical reason could result in the reader passing on what could be the ideal book to read. How does the Kindle customer tell if a one-star book review is bogus or not? Well, take note of the following:

When Negative Bad Book Reviews Should Not be Trusted

Amazon is reluctant to remove a one-star review unless it contravenes their guidelines, which are:
  • The review attacks Amazon’s services rather than the book.
  • It contains obscenities.
  • The review reveals confidential information.
This still leaves the book ratings system open to abuse. Bad reviews are freely left for all sorts of reasons and there is little the writer can do about it. I personally believe a bad review should be removed if:
  • The book review contains spoilers.
  • If it makes reference to the overwhelming positive reviews received, due to suspicion they were planted. Reviews should be about books, not about other people’s reviews.
  • If there is any reference to the book being written by a self-published author.
  • If there is evidence the review is written by a rival author.
  • If it attacks the author in any way.
  • If the reviewer admits to only the reading the first part of the book.
  • If the reviewer didn’t understand the book.
  • If there is evidence the reviewer has multiple accounts with Amazon and is leaving bad reviews under different personas.
  • An ill-conceived review with only 1 or 2 lines.
I could say, a rambling review that goes on and on and on, but this has on occasion helped the book’s sales.

Bad Reviews by Rival Authors

Sadly, some authors deem it necessary to ‘bash’ rival authors within their genre with a bad review to dent their sales. A writer can also receive a torpedo simply for spamming their book on author forums and blogs. Yes, spamming is a nuisance, but is not cause to leave a negative feedback on their book. There is also a culture of disdain for the indie writer, particularly from mainstream writers and publishers who see them as a scourge on what was once a monopolized publishing platform.

How to Tell a Bad Book Review is Planted

If a potential reader stumbles upon a one-star review and decides to take caution, consider the following:

By all means, read the bad review. But then read the sample pages free from the look inside feature. Does what the negative reviewer say really add up? A bad review that be-cry a book full of clichés and poor writing would not stand up if the first ten pages or so prove a compelling opening with original writing style.

Click on the reviewer’s other reviews. If the book review is the only review left (and more crucially time has elapsed since without any other reviews), take the bad review with a pinch of salt.

Is the review an avid reader too? Are the other reviews on books or totally unrelated products? Has the review proved ‘helpful’? Beware of this too, for it is too easy to click ‘yes’ or ‘no’. Read the comments thread left by other reviewers if there is one. How does the reviewer rank on Amazon’s reviewer’s ranking system? This can be ascertained by clicking on the reviewer’s link.

A Truly Bad Book

A negative review only has credence in my view, if the reviewer has good grounds to give it one star. This might be because of the following:
  • Careless typos and grammatical mistakes throughout the book.
  • Full of clichés and stereotypes.
  • If the book has substandard narrative, characterization, a flabby plot or is poorly-researched.
The bad review should be properly and thoughtfully written and be only about the book, not the author, not about other reviews and not about Amazon’s service. Reviews as a result of a verified purchase should be ranked higher.

Helpful Articles on Self Publishing

Getting book reviews
How to deal with negative book reviews
What is the best price for my book?
Sell your books through Adwords
Stop procrastinating over your novel
Self published versus Amazon

Top Ten Questions for Online Magazine

Top Ten questions to ask before committing yourself to writing articles for online magazines. How can the writer be certain that the platform is of good quality and is likely to yield sufficient income? From the viewpoint of a Featured Writer of a top online magazine, this is what I would ask.

Make Money Writing Articles

It seems a dream come true. You can make money freelance writing and there are an increasing number of online magazines to write for, such as Squidoo, Suite 101, Hubpages and Associated Content, each one working in a slightly different way. Some are better than others. But how can you make the right choice? Well, from my experience as a freelance writer, I have devised the top ten crucial questions the prospecting freelance writer should ask before committing to any online writing platform.

Opportunities for Home at Home Writers

Are there opportunities for the writer to advance? Some online magazines offer incentives to make more money if you write quality articles of a certain number. Squidoo, for instance, allow your articles to earn an increased portion of the ad revenue share according to how well your articles perform (tier 1, 2 or 3). At Suite 101, you can advance to Featured Writer in a topic of your expertise (if the post is available).

Magazines with Good Ranking

Is the online magazine well-ranked on Google? A good ranking will increase the chances of your articles being seen and read by those Googling for information your article offers. A few adjustments to how Google ranked websites (the Panda algorithm for one) caused a serious de-ranking of some online magazines, particularly Suite 101. Google’s intention was to penalise ‘content farming’ and/or poor content. Sadly, copying and pasting and regurgitating of information brought down the good writers as well as the bad within such online magazines by association. I myself have suffered a serious reduction in earnings because of this algorithm. Having said that, I have learned an awful lot about freelance writing from the writers’ forum. This brings me to the next question.

Online Tutorials for Writers

How good are the writers’ resources of the magazine? Is it easy to navigate, to read reports? Are the tutorials clear and is there good writer support from editors or administrators? Importantly, is the forum helpful and friendly? A well-organised magazine will also look good on the browser, and this is also an important matter. An online magazine that looks professional will help your reputation as a writer. This brings me to the reputation of the magazine.

Reputable Magazines to Write For

An online magazine with a poor reputation is to be avoided. This might include poor writing content, such as typos and/or grammatical errors within the articles. There might be few editors to police this problem. Consistently sourcing Wikipedia or an inferior website for factual information; not including a proper bibliography to add credence to the information offered might suggest laziness. Content farming, copying and pasting blocks of someone else’s writing will only get tagged by Google. A bad reputation will soon spread over the Net and once this happens, it is difficult to clean it up afterwards. Prevention is better than cure.

Copyright to your Articles

Another question to ask is whether you retain copyright to your freelance writing. This might be a sticky point if the writer wishes to use a particular article within a book. Having said this, you can always completely reword the article so that copyright infringement no longer becomes an issue. Read the small print before opting into an agreement with the online magazine.

Freelance Writing Powers

How much powers do you have as a writer? Can you edit your own work? How long do your articles have to be? Some magazines request around 400 words or more; others might only be 200. Shorter articles might increase your chances of being found due to sheer numbers of articles you area able to write. A longer article is likely to have more long-term value, as if it is well-written. Google likes long articles. Think about the time you are likely to spend on each article and the likely returns. A longer article will obviously take more effort than a short one.

Can you use a little slang to make a point? A UK writer writing for a magazine across the pond might experience issues with certain colloquialisms. One editor did not know what an ‘Atlantic low’ was, a term often used in the UK to describe a cyclone, and I had to change the wording.

Write about What You Love

Does the magazine permit you to write only about the things you love, or is there a requirement to fulfill criteria? Beware of writing for money if this causes your writing to suffer. If you write only about what you love, you are more likely to succeed as a freelance writer. Earning money from articles is a numbers game – the more you write, the more you will earn.

Google Juice to your Blog

Does the online magazine allow you to link back to your own blog or website? Creating backlinks to articles that relate to one another can increase the ranking of your own blog and make it easier to stumble upon. Some online magazines request in return that you put their widget on your own blog.

Getting Paid to Write Freelance

Most online magazines pay you by dishing out a share of residual income earned from advertising or affiliate links. These most frequently come from Google Adsense or referral fees from an affiliation. How are you paid? Some pay up front, others pay you as a passive source of income. An upfront fee often means a one-off payment, which might be OK if the writer needs the money fast. However, the passive option in the long run is more lucrative as your articles will continue to earn you income. Look out also for minimum payout, as if it is sizeable, you might be waiting a few months before you earn enough to get payment.

How the Writer is Paid

Make sure monies earned are paid in a convenient way for you, which might be by Paypal or directly into your bank account. Cheques can be a pain, particularly if you are a non-resident of the country you are earning the money from. Do you get paid by vouchers? Are the vouchers likely to be used?

The Best Online Magazine for Freelance Writing

Before taking the plunge into writing for a magazine, conduct a little research. As writing requires a lot of commitment and time, you want to make sure the magazine in worth it. Check out the reputation of the magazine, its ranking on Google, has there been any negative reports about it? (to be differentiated from sour grapes). Does it look good, does it allow copyright retention, does it have incentives for good writing, and are there good resources and helpful forums?

Tips for Writing at Home

The top ten emagazines you can write for
How to make money writing articles
Using keywords in your articles for beginners
Tips for novel writers on avoiding procrastination
Books on writing from home

Monday, 23 January 2012

Book Marketing with SEO Firms

You have published your novels and need to drive traffic to your blog or webpage selling your book. Search engine optimization and Adwords would appear to be the most effective way to market your books, but it all seems confusing. The option of finding a good SEO expert would seem to be answer.

Leading SEO Firms for Writers

You do not have to look far to find lots of SEO companies promising to increase traffic to your site and get your blog ranked number one on the internet, or in this case, get your book sales going. The trouble is, they are all promising the same thing, and if the testimonials are not accurate, you may have already shelled out a lot of money before this becomes apparent.

SEO Firms to Avoid

I would personally recommend finding out how Adwords work and how to use keywords to drive traffic to your site. My articles on this blog: beginner’s guide to keyword marketing and use Adwords to sell your books will help clarify how the system works. All you need to do is create an account with Google to get access to all the free resources needed to SEO your book blog. This will undoubtedly save hundreds of pounds on book marketing. However, if you have some money to spend and would rather spend the time writing, I would recommend Google’s certified partners.

Google Adword Partners

I am naturally very wary of websites that promise something without recognized qualifications to back up their testimonials. I like to see the backing of reputable firms and customer reviews. This is why, if presented with the dilemma of finding an SEO company to help market my book, I would look to Google Certified Partners. These are Google-approved firms that can maximize use of Google’s tools such as the Adwords Programme, keyword marketing and analytics. Each firm has to pass a certified exam by Google which is pretty rigorous.

Google Endorsed SEO Help

Really, there are three levels of Google partners within each area: Google Certified Partners, Google Certified Trainers and Google Premier SMB Partners, offering different levels of expertise in each area, which might be Adwords campaign, website marketing (SEO) or search engine marketers (SEM). Their job is really to manage Adword accounts for clients wishing to market their business.

Where to Find the Nearest SEO Expert

A Google Certified Partner can be found worldwide, so you just need to conduct a search. Put in your location, your budget (your weekly spend on Adwords consultancy) and some basic information about your business, in this case, selling books. You will be presented with a list of SEO consultants that hold Google’s badge. Click on one and you will find out how many qualified employees are in the business and where their specialty lies, which might be search advertising, reporting and analytics or display advertising. You can also report a complaint if services offered do not live up to expectations.

Saving Money on SEO Consultants

Writing a series of books is time consuming in itself, which may lead the writer to hire an SEO expert to drive traffic to his/her writer blog where the book is being sold, (or at least to a webpage linking to your books). Doing this could save the writer the headache of trawling through instructions on how to create an Adword campaign or how to use effective keywords to market books. I would personally try to learn this skill myself, but if you have a suitable budget and little time, there is little harm in hiring an SEO consultant to help market your books. Google certified partners might be a safer bet.

Tips on Using Keywords to Market your Books

Use the money word matrix to drive traffic to your books
Beginners guide to using keywords
Selling your book via Adwords
The first pages of your novel
Google certified partners

Elements of a film script

You have a film script is in progress, but have spent so many hours on it you can no longer see the wood for the trees. To get a fresh view of your screenplay, take a look at the following questionnaire; it may help make your script project easier to manage and highlight issues unforeseen.

Screenwriter’s Check List

Screenwriting is not easy, but what to cut out is as important as what to keep in. Remember a screenplay is not like a novel, there are only around 100 pages or so to play with. The first 10 pages are most crucial, so think about the following questions when it comes to the opening of your screenplay:

Top Five Tips for the Best Screenplay Opener
  1. What is the genre of the screenplay? Is it science fiction? Romantic comedy? Action movie? Erotic thriller? Spoof? Psychological? Or fantasy? The genre of your film is also your intended audience. Keep the film genre in mind when writing your screenplay.
  2. What time or place is the script set? Is it set during WW2, is it contemporary or a futuristic scene? Is the story set in England? What is significant about the time or place regarding the plot? How does it impact upon the characters and the plot?
  3. Establish the main characters. What sex are they? What do we need to know about them? How do they contribute to the opening scenes? Are we supposed to like them?
  4. What is the main premise of the story, what is it about? This part might help conceive the logline of the film script, such as, ‘a gigolo meets a client only to be framed for murder.’
  5. What is the general message or theme of the screenplay? Is it money and greed? Love conquers all? Is it about the spirit of the small person at odds with a large force, such as a corporation or nature?
Finally, with these five elements established, is there a hook at the beginning of the screenplay? The hook is the precursor to the conflict to follow. It should draw the audience in. Can the hook be made more interesting or sinister or embarrassing or excruciating?

Writing Scenes for Scripts

Look out for scenes that serve no purpose or recap the purpose of another scene. Cut them out. Cut the length of scenes if this is possible. This means opening the scene as late as possible and ending early. No preamble is allowed; get straight to the action. Consider the following:
  1. What location and time does the scene takes place? Is this influence the plot? Could an alternative time and place add tension to the scene? For instance, a couple arguing in a car could be more constrained if the scene occurs in a library.
  2. Can a series of short scenes be made into a montage or series of shots? This can often add dynamism to the screenplay and advance the story more quickly.
  3. Does the scene move the story forward?
  4. Does the scene say something about the character(s) within? Can fewer characters improve the scene (it often does.)
  5. Can the scene be changed to make it more original? (Watch out for subconscious sourcing of scenes previously seen in movies.) Can a clichéd element be replaced to make the scene more memorable for the viewer?
  6. Do the characters’ motives contrast with one another? Can a little tweaking heighten this contrast?
  7. What are the characters doing and where are they at the opening of the scene? Remember, action description should always follow a slugline.
Although integral to action scenes, dialogue is a crucial element in a screenplay and is looked at next.

How to Script the Best Dialogue
  1. Is the dialogue necessary? Can any of it be substituted for body language? This is known as subtext and can often improve the screenplay.
  2. Is it clear who’s speaking? Is the dialogue too similar? Can the words each character uses be made more different to one another? Can their backgrounds, attitudes or upbringing colour the words each character uses? Does the dialogue sound natural?
  3. Is any of the dialogue simply there to inform on the story? Does it sound forced?
  4. Are the characters’ motives reflected in what they say?
  5. Is any of the dialogue wordy? Can some of the speech be cut? Can fewer words do? (it often does).
  6. Is there any irony used? Can what is actually being said and character action be made different, as different as possible?
Essential Characters to a Script

The characters in your script are crucial for the story. If a problem exists with the plot, it is probably due to a lack of character drives. The following tick-off list will help highlight problems with characters within your screenplay and improve the plot.
  1. Are all the characters crucial to the story? Can any be cut out? Can two minor characters be combined into one?
  2. What are the motives of your characters? Are each character’s motives suitably different from one another? Is this sufficiently reflected in the action scenes, dialogue and subtext?
  3. Do any of the action scenes not ring true of the character(s)?
  4. Can altering the sex, age or culture of a character improve the story, create tension or an interesting spin?
  5. Are there any stereotypes lurking within? Is each character plausible and interesting?
  6. What stands in the way of the character(s) goal and how does this affect their actions and dialogue?
  7. Are the characters’ strengths and weaknesses reflected in their actions and dialogue? Is this relevant to the story? Are we meant to sympathise with each character?
Plot Outline for Screenwriting

The plot of the story often comes out of character drives in a screenplay, and with sufficient conflict, obstacles and high stakes, can improve a screenplay. Think of the following elements when conceiving the plot.
  1. Does conflict in the screenplay have peaks and troughs? Does this trend generally increase between acts 1, 2 and 3?
  2. Do obstacles that stand between the character(s) and goal increase throughout the screenplay? Are the stakes high enough? What does each character have to do to win their objective? Can this be made more difficult?
  3. Is there a logical passing of time with each scene? Is it day or night? How is this relevant to the story?
  4. What is the ratio between character action and dialogue? Is there a lot of talking going on? Could the characters be doing something as they speak? Where are they in relation to one another in a scene?
Troubleshooting a Script

Working too closely on your screenplay can make problems harder to see. As well as getting some distance, completing a screenwriter’s questionnaire will help keep each element in sharp focus. Even if it is not revealed in the screenplay itself, try to answer all the questions. If any of the questions are unknown or not clear, this might reveal a potential issue with the screenplay.

Great Tips for Screenwriting

How to write a screenplay synopsis
Writing dialogue for film
The midpoint of your screenplay
Platforms for screenwriters
Add tension to your screenplay
Character names for your script

Sunday, 22 January 2012

Sell your Books Online as an Affiliate

Did you know you could earn extra income from your books by becoming an affiliate? Not only would you earn royalties but also commission on sales if someone buys your book through one of your affiliate links on your website.

How to Affiliate to Market your Books

Different affiliate programmes can be found on the internet to serve every demand. Examples are Ebay, Amazon and others. I use Amazon because it is pretty straightforward and it sells all manner of things. The principles are the same: a sale through one of your affiliate links from your own website, blog or estore will earn you a commission. You can sell what you like, but it is a good strategy to have a theme as opposed to random products. Listing contextual products to your website or blog will ensure visitors looking for information offered on your site, will also find a product they want.

This article focuses on how to make extra money from your books by selling as an Amazon affiliate (otherwise known as an Amazon Associate).

How to Earn Money from Books as an Amazon Associate

Browse to Amazon Associates website and become a member by using an email and password. Incidentally, you can become a member of, UK, Canada and Japan. These work separately, so separate accounts will be needed. I stick to .com and .uk. Once you have become a member, you will need to explain what your blog or website is (so make sure it is of good standard with quality content on it) and then wait a few days for Amazon to approve it.

Marketing your Book Through Affiliate Links

Once your website has been approved by Amazon, you can start building affiliate links and estores. On the webpage that features your book, insert an affiliate link to your book from Amazon. Once you could do this direct from Blogger but now you have to sign into your Amazon Associates account and then browse onto the main Amazon website. You will notice a ‘site stripe’ at the top. Find your book on Amazon and then use the site stripe to create your affiliate link by clicking ‘link to this page.’ Your link can be text only, an image or both.’ I use an image only. Copy the html code, which will have your code identifier embedded within. Paste this code onto the html page of your blog post. When you click on ‘compose’, you will see the affiliate link how it will appear. Format the page so that the image is located how you want on your webpage.

How to Make a Product Link of your Book

Now when someone finds your blog post describing your book, and creates enough interest to warrant a purchase, not only will you earn royalties, but also 4% - 6% commission on sales of your book as an affiliate. This might amount to only a few cents or pence per book, but this will soon mount up if your sales are healthy and you get good traffic to your author webpage.

Create an Estore to Sell your Books

Other tools can be used to market your book as an affiliate. You can create your own ebookstore with your books on it. In your Amazon Associates account click on ‘create estore’. This will generate your own url page with your own estore that can be embedded in your website or blog. You can name it, insert your books from Amazon into it and choose the colours. Click to see one of my ebook stores.

In my example, I have inserted my novels on the first page. Click on any produce image and you will find more details about the book, including reviews and pricing.

Extra Income from your Author Blog

You can also place an affiliate search box on your blog if someone simply wants to browse the Amazon site without leaving yours. Anything they purchase through this widget will earn you commission as an affiliate. Simply copy the code for the Amazon widget from the ‘widget’ section of Amazon Associates and paste the html code into a gadget on your blog.

The Amazon Affiliate programme has a range of affiliate links you can put on your website or blog including rotating gadget or all colours and sizes. I prefer to keep it simple.

Make Commission on your Books from Affiliation

By selling your books as an affiliate, you can earn commission on sales as well as royalties if your novels sell through one of your affiliate links on your website or blog. All you need to do is become a member. Amazon Associates is the example used in this article. From there, you can build affiliate links to your books from your blog, create and estore or place a search box on your site.

More Helpful Advice for Authors

Tips on writing crime fiction
Basics on public speaking on your novels
Organize your book speech
Creating great characters for novels
Self publishing made simple
Books on self publishing

Increase Book Sales Online Via the Money Word Matrix

The money word matrix is a little known but great SEO method that could get your book page seen by people looking for a book like yours. But this isn’t simply about finding high traffic keywords and phrases.

Book Marketing with SEO

Briefly, search engine optimization (or SEO) is a means of using keywords to get a webpage discovered by a person looking for information on that webpage. Keywords in this context are basically a search term a person might use before stumbling across your webpage, which in this case might be an author blog. So if I wanted to find a ‘cheap Kindle thriller’, I would Google this search term in order to find such a product. A series of websites containing these search terms would be displayed. This search term is known as a ‘keyword.’ Or ‘key phrase.’ Good use of keyword phrases lies at the centre of getting relevant traffic to your blog or website.

Ways to Make Money Selling Books Online

But search terms you are using might not necessarily be what everybody else is using, which is where the Google Adwords Keyword Tool comes in. Sign in into your Google account and browse to this invaluable SEO resource.

In the tool bar, put in words or phrases that relate to your book. In my case, I have written psychological thrillers available as Kindle and print copy. I might put in the following phrases: Kindle thriller, crime ebook or psychological thriller. Being a virtual unknown (at this point), no one is going to use my name to find my thrillers or the title of my books, so this would be of little use to getting my books found.

Your list might resemble the tags readers use to tag a book on Amazon, and the principle is similar, as such tags are used to make books more easily found. But to make your book discoverable on the internet is different to making it discoverable on a publishing platform, such as Amazon.

Google Keywords Tool and Kindle Book Sales

Once you have put your list of words and phrases into the Google’s SEO tool, it will return with keywords people are actually using, as opposed to ones you think they’re using. As well as search volume of each keyword per month, the tool will also list synonyms and alternative terms to your suggestions.

Make a note of all relevant keywords given, preferring the ones with the highest search volume, anything over 1000 per month (I take the global results rather than local). Try more search keywords into the tool to find more keywords. Expand your keyword list until you have a good list of keywords and phrases people are using that relates to your book.

But it doesn’t end there. Now for the money word matrix part.

Earning Money through the Word Matrix

SEO experts will tell you that including a high search volume keyword or phrase in your webpage does not guarantee that it will be found, as lots of other websites could be using the same keywords. Your webpage, as a result will be buried beneath a pile of other webpages using the same keywords as yours. The way around this? Find a keyword that is not often used on the internet. This is what the matrix is all about.

The best way to establish if a keyword phrase is often used in the internet is to enclose the phrase in speech marks in the Google home page and see how many search results come up. This will be displayed in small text below the tool bar. Anything over 10,000 results is pretty high. Below 5000 is OK. 1000 or less is very good. The principle of the money word matrix is that the higher the search volume and the lower the competition, the better the keyword phrase choice would be for promoting your book.

Ideal Keywords for Book Marketing

As well as using highly-searched words with low competition, tag on a few words to short key phrases with high search volume to create lower competition, such as the following:

Thrillers with good reviews, suspense novels set in England, Contemporary novels less than £1, abduction novels set in England, mystery murder books. And so forth. These are known as long tail keywords. The more specific your key phrases are, the more relevant to your website your traffic will be. Remember to do research before committing. Not all long tail keywords have low competition.

Good Use of Keywords on Your Author Blog

Use the strongest keywords in the title of your blog post or article. Dot the other keywords around the page informing about your book, but not too much or the text won’t flow. 6-12 keyword phrases within a 600-1000 word article will suffice. With increased traffic to your author blog describing your book, you can link straight to your books for sale on Amazon or Smashwords, or whatever. I prefer to use an image link.

Increase Sales of Kindle Books

The money word matrix is an invaluable SEO technique for selling your books on your author blog. Using keywords with high search volume (more than 500 per month) and low competition on (less than 2000 or so) will help your author blog rank higher on the net. This means your ebook will be more discoverable by people looking for a book like yours.

Articles on Book Marketing

Make the most of Amazon's Look Inside Feature
Write the best opening for your novel
Pricing your novel
Writing dialogue in fiction

Saturday, 21 January 2012

Make the Most out of the Look Inside Feature of Your Ebook

Few things are more offputting to a potential reader than to view the first pages of your ebook online only to see formatting errors, a messed up table of contents and typos. If your book is well-written, more’s the pity if such issues deter the reader. What is the easiest way of creating a great preview for your novel online?

The Best Preview of an Ebook

Book publishing platforms offer the reader the ability to sample the first part of the ebook free; in Amazon, this is around 10%; with Smashwords, this can be anything up to 20%, which is why it is crucial the writer ensures the opening pages of the novel are perfect in every way. Sadly this means not only a compelling opening that is free of typos, but also free of formatting errors. The self-published author must be a techie as well as a wordsmith.

A Great Story Opener

Making the most of your opening chapters is an involved process, and therefore, I have dedicated separate articles to the matter of novel writing with such issues as:

How to begin your novel.
Improving your writing style.
Turn your passive writing into active writing.
How to tighten your novel.

Cleaning Ebook Formatting Errors

So, the plot, narrative and writing style are fabulous. Now to the separate matter of formatting errors which can be caused by a number of things, which might be:

Inserting a table to format your table of contents. Kindles and other book readers do not like tables and will cause all sorts of horrible formatting errors, not visible on your Word document until you see the preview of your novel on a Kindle or online. So avoid them.

Hidden formatting instructions. Saving your enovel onto Word 2007 (the latest version) can often cause formatting errors. Ensure your novel is saved on the older Word 2003, but before doing so, expunge hidden formatting symbols that could stowaway into the older Word by copying and pasting onto Wordpad. Wordpad will strip the document to its bare elements. Paste it onto Word 2003 only once this is done.

Once you have cleaned up your document and saved it as Word 2003, ensure the entire document is formatted under ‘normal’. Select ‘all’ by pressing ctrl and A at the same time. Navigate to ‘styles’ (to the right of your screen) and click on ‘normal.’ You can now reformat your document to how you want it to look. Don’t use fancy fonts and lots of sizes, keep to Times New Roman or Tahoma and limit to points 12 and 14. I would use point 12 for the main body of text, as Amazon’s Look Inside Feature will display your book in larger fonts first-off, convenient for the poor-sighted. Bold and italics are fine.

Formatting a Table of Contents

The prematter, I try to keep simple and to a minimum, as I want the reader to get to chapter 1 as soon as possible. Always insert the book cover on the first page. Compress the picture to make the file smaller. I will then display the copyright details as small print (points 8 or 9), as no one will want to read it anyway. A short dedication might follow. The table of contents comes next, and this is crucial.

UPDATE: after reading this article, learn how to make your contents go live on Kindle readers.

Create a TOC for your Ebook

As previously mentioned, inserting a table will mess up your formatting for sure and this will drive readers away. However, if you have more than 20 chapters or so, putting them in a long list can be unsightly. Instead, I centre my chapters and display two on one row. No table is inserted, it is just down to line spacing; one between chapter and number; two between each chapter. Putting two chapters on one row saves on lines and it looks visually more appealing. See the following example:

Table of Contents
Chapter 1 Chapter 2
Chapter 3 Chapter 4
Chapter 5 Chapter 6

Inserting hyperlinks to your chapters in the contents page can easily be done by linking the chapters to the page concerned. Follow these steps:

Inserting Links to Your Table of Contents

  1. Navigate to the page where your chapter is located (say chapter 1 is on page 9). Place the curser at the beginning of the chapter heading.
  2. Click ‘insert bookmark.’ A bookmark box will open. Name your bookmark. For ease, use the same name as the chapter itself. Don’t use spaces. For instance, ‘chapter1.’ Close the box.
  3. Navigate to the table of contents and highlight the words ‘chapter 1.’
  4. Right click on the mouse to hyperlink and click on ‘insert in this document.’
  5. The bookmark box will open again. Highlight the bookmark name (chapter1) and press OK.
  6. Test the link by clicking on it and see if it takes you to the page concerned (page 9).

These links will work on the online book previewer as well as the Kindle reader.

Note: if you update the first few chapters of your ebook, the 'look inside' feature will not show these amendments immedialely. Wait a few days and they should catch up.

The Best Ebook Previewer

The first part of your ebook is the most crucial in generating sales for the self-published author. This not only means being a great wordsmith, but also understanding how ebooks format on various Kindle readers. I keep the pre-matter simple and to a minimum. Avoid formatting errors on the ebook by steering clear of tables and Word 2007. Use simple fonts and minimal point sizes. Time New Roman point 12 is easy to read first-off when previewed on Amazon’s Look Inside Feature. A great novel perfectly formatted will increase the likelihood of books sales.

Now learn how to create a NXS File by converting your book into an Epub that will make the contents go live on the Kindle.

Helpful Tips on Ebook Publishing

How to make the NXS file of the contents page go live on Kindle
Self publishing seems complicated
How do I claim back tax on my royalties?

How can Selling my Ebook for Free Make Me Money?

The self published writer can sell ebooks for free on online publishing companies to increase downloads. But how can this sales strategy help the writer make more money from ebooks in the long run?

Make Cash from Free Ebooks

Unless you are on Amazon’s KDP Select (explained briefly in a moment and fully in a separate article), you cannot sell your ebook for less than 99c (around 70p) on Amazon’s Kindle bookstore. The only way around this is to price your book for less (or free) on another sales channel. Amazon will then adjust the price of your ebook on their store to match. However, this process can take anything up to a few weeks which can be a clunky process.

Online Marketing Tools for Writers

You can price your novels what you like on other epublishing platforms. However, my personal experience has shown that Amazon cannot be matched when it comes to ebook sales. So if you want to price your books for free to get lots of downloads, KDP Amazon is the place to do it.

Since the launch of KDP Select, the writer can put the price of their ebooks for free on ‘special promo days,’ of up to a maximum of 5 days per 90 – a more straightforward process. Briefly KDP Select is an Amazon programme that enables the writer to earn additional income by including ebooks on Kindle’s Lending Library. Kindle owners who are ‘Prime Members’ (who have paid a small annual fee) can borrow an ebook for free (one at a time) without a return date. However, the writer still earns a lending fee, which amounts to a share of Amazon Kindle’s pot of money.

But how on earth does selling an ebook for free help the writer?

When to Sell your Ebooks for Free

If fact, there are many advantages to putting your book out for free on epublishing platforms. Firstly, free ebooks often results in lots of downloads. Lots of downloads results in higher rankings on the Amazon bookstore, more likely customer reviews, recommendations, tweets and back links to your book. Free promotion days of your ebooks can be the ideal marketing tool to getting your book noticed.

Free Downloads of your Ebook

Before offering your book for free, some factors need to be put into the equation.

If you enroll into KDP Select, you cannot sell your ebook anywhere else; Amazon has exclusivity of your book, so think carefully before enrolling.

Think about the time of year. Are more downloads likely on some times than others? The Christmas period (from my experience) has shown some of the best sales in the year. This might be due to lots of Kindles in Christmas stockings, or the dark, dreary nights. Summer can also be a good time, as beach reads are sought after. If a good time of year is due, plan your free promo days for then. Give plenty of notice on your author blog, Facebook page or Twitter. Make sure everybody who is likely to read your book aware of your book(s) promo date(s).

Think about which book you intend to offer for free. A novel that has failed to yield sales regardless of previous strategies has little to lose by being included in free book offers that could attract a new readership.

Consider offering the first book of a series (or one with a sequel) free. Lots of free downloads are likely to generate sales of the subsequent books in the series. This could entice more readers to read you book series and perhaps even start a fan base.

Selling short stories for free might be a good way of enticing the reader to sample your work. Who knows, it could result in the purchase of a full-length novel? A short story (generally) takes less time and planning than a novel. Including a short story on the free marketplace is a great way of hooking a new readership with less effort.

The 5 free promo days per 90 need not be spent at once. Consider spreading them out. If few downloads materialse after a day or so, pause the promotion and re-launch later that month.

The Best way to Make Ebook Sales

You can still offer your ebooks for free for as long as you like on other epublishing websites, such as Smashwords. This might suit the writer who wishes to extend the free offer. If the book is included with the Premium Catalogue, the free book will seep into other e-pbublishing platforms Smashwords ship to, including Barnes and Noble, Kobo, Apple and Itunes. As previously mentioned, Amazon will match this free offer without the writer having to join Amazon Select to do so.

When Not to Offer your Book for Free

Think again about offering your book for free if your book has yielded good sales generally. Make sure the free offer yields returns in some way, such as a promotion tool for a book series; it would seem pointless to offer your book for free if sales of your book are bringing in healthy royalties.

Tips for the Self Published Writer

Simple guide to Amazon's KDP Select
How much should I charge for my novel?
Practical advice on writing a novel
Writing scenes for novels
Organzing your book speech

Thursday, 19 January 2012

How Can I Use KDP Select to Generate Sales of My Books?

The indie writer can now distribute ebooks through a lending library, where Prime Members can borrow your books for free on Amazon. Each ‘loan’ earns the writer a share in Amazon’s pot of money. But how can the writer make the most of Kindle’s lending library?

Exclusive Ebook Publishing Platform to Make Money from Home

Writers can earn a new source of royalties by enrolling with Amazon’s KDP Select, which works like a library, as customers who are Prime Members (Kindle owners who have paid a small annual fee to borrow books for free) can upload your book without paying for it. However, the writer still earns money from ebooks loaned, as the scheme works like the libraries’ Public Lending Right (or PLR). Every ebook borrowed, earns the writer a share of money from Amazon’s pot (KDP Select Fund). Writers can view the performance of their ebooks enrolled in the Kindle Owners’ Lending Library (KOLL). And now an update, a new Amazon selling tool, the Kindle countdown deal (explained in a separate article.)

Books enrolled in KDP Select are still for sale in the normal way, as customers who are not Prime Members can still purchase it. However, depending upon the size of the pot and the total number of loans, the share per loan could earn the writer more than ordinary royalties. Prime Members can only borrow one book at a time, but there are no due dates, so he/she can take as long as needed to read your book.

Buying Ebooks for Free

KDP Select also has a range of marketing tools via the Promotions Manager tool, for writers wishing to promote their books to a wider audience. Each book that is in the Kindle’s Lending Library can be offered for free for up to 5 days per 90 days (to all customers, not just Prime Members), as well as inclusion in Kindle countdown deals. Note, however, giveaway days and countdown deals cannot be used within the same KDP Select period (lasting 90 days), only one or the other.

But how does giving your book away free help the indie writer make money? Before signing up for KDP Select, the writer needs to be made aware of a few things and also to use the scheme’s features to optimize sales and make more money from ebook sales.

When Not to Go for KDP Select

A clause in the KDP Select contract states that a book enrolled in the programme must not be available digitally anywhere else (and this includes Smashwords, Barnes and Noble, Apple, Kobo, Itunes, your own blog/website or any other similar ebook platform.) And once the writer enrolls, you cannot make your ebook available anywhere else but on Amazon. (This clause applies only to ebooks, not the hard copy) So think carefully before enrolling.

How to Make KDP Select Sell More Ebooks

If you have ebooks performing well on non-Amazon platforms such as Smashwords, then perhaps it might not be wise to go for KDP Select. Also, if you have books containing colour images, such as children’s picture books, art books or how-to books, for example, then think again before enrolling them onto KDP Select, as other readers, (such as the Nook) might display your content better. Although Kindle Fires have sold well, the majority of Kindle owners have the black and white variety, which will not display colour content. This is bound to affect the ratio of colour book sales between colour readers and non-colour readers.

How Selling your Ebook for Free can Make you Money

Unless you put your book on Smashwords for free and Amazon matches it, you cannot put your book for a lower price on Amazon than 99c. It is a clunky process that sometimes takes weeks to take effect. However, enrolling onto KDP Select means you can offer your book for free immediately on ‘free promo days,’ up to 5 per 90 days. Free books often means lots of downloads, lots of reads, more chances of customer reviews, recommendations and tweets.

Better Search Results of your Book

Bear in mind, that your book will also appear on other search results as offering it for free will include your book on sites alerting customers of free book offers. More reviews might come about as well as higher profile of your book across the web.

Putting your ebook for free might sound like madness at first, but if you have written episodic novels, offering the first one for free on promo days might generate sales of the sequel(s). Another advantage of selling your ebook free is if you have a particular book that does not perform very well, you could create a new readership. There is little to lose by offering the novel for free if it gets some downloads and reads. Having participated in free giveaways, have generated several customer reviews.

When to Sell Ebooks Exclusively on Amazon

KDP Select is might not be the best marketing strategy for every ebook, as once you opt into KDP Select, you cannot sell your ebook anywhere else on the Internet for the 90 day period. This might not be wise if the ebook(s) are selling well on other epublishing platforms. But offering your ebook for free on special promo days is a great way of generating a bucketload of downloads if this is desired, for instance, to generate customer reviews or sales of sequels. Furthermore, there is little to lose if the ebook has not performed well after every other marketing strategy at the writer’s disposal.

Tips for Marketing your Ebooks

How do I design my book cover for free?
What is the best price for my ebook?
Improving the first ten pages of your novel
Writing dialogue in fiction
Guide to Amazon's countdown deals

Wednesday, 18 January 2012

My Novel Has Died a Death

Writing a novel conjures romantic Austenesque notions of tapping away on a word processor with a sure-sell blockbuster where the words simply flow from the keyboard like silk. Even the declaration, ‘I’m going to write a novel’ sounds thrilling. However, halfway through the project, you feel you are wading in mud. Writer’s block strikes you down, even on the first page. What are the secrets to writing a novel without losing the will?

Don’t Write a Novel Like This

Fiction writing sound grand, exciting, but the reality is different. From personal experience I have learned some dos and don’ts of novel writing that has kept me focused and may help you keep to a deadline, or even to complete a novel during National Novel Writing Month.

Don’t discuss your novel with anyone else. Some writers have ‘writing buddies.’ This might be helpful for some, but I think a creative idea is like a battery. If you share your creative fervour with anyone, that creative energy is being spent. You could get carried away with discussing your idea and when it comes to putting pen to paper, your may find your energy has been depleted; your pen falls still. Bluntly put, keep your creative ideas to yourself.

Sleeping on Your Novel

The alpha or dream state can do wonders for the novel. If you hit a brick wall with a plot or technical problem, don’t force it or novel-writing could become a chore. Get away from it. Sleep on it, let your ideas drift or divert the mind. Work on another aspect of your novel if a deadline is due. You may be surprised to find your subconscious has been working on the problem without your knowledge, yielding an unexpected solution. A problem can be overcome with lateral thinking presenting ‘what ifs.’ Keep a notebook handy for when this moment occurs.

Novel Writing Timetable

It is true that the creative process is 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration. This means getting a little disciplined, but in a way that works best for you. Get possessive about your writing time. Some writers work in a particular corner, room or shed, or a particular time of day. Procrastination is the enemy of the novel writer so the following are no-nos: Computers, radio chat-shows, TVs, telephones, curtain-twitching, worrying and dozing off. It matters little if you manage to eke only a paragraph in an hour or a chapter in half-an-hour. Progress is progress.

Don’t Over Plan your Story

Over-planning your novel in my view kills the life out of it. I may know what happens next, but not always how. Getting there with open questions can be fun or exciting. Leave some blanks in your novel to keep the writing organic. Remember to engage all five senses in your action scenes to keep the writing alive, this means sights, smells and emotions. This will help transport you into the novel where everything else falls away.

Make Key Scenes Excruciating

Why not inject something extra into your key scenes? Of course, conflict is a given, but what about embarrassment, terror, misunderstandings? Why not include a pathological liar, a narcisst or obsessive in your character list? Injecting something precarious into your novel will make it more fun and exciting to write. You may anticipate writing a scene with relish rather than languor.

A character in my blog novel, Nora has an aversion to alcohol, yet is daughter to one who lives down the pub. In this scene, she makes a rare appearance in her mother's pub, the Hatchet Inn and an inner conflict is set up. Notice how uncomfortable the character feels walking into a place that most would find welcoming. She tries to step into her mother's shoes, she tries to understand. Inner conflicts such as this makes scenes more interesting to write.

Give the Novel a Life

Cut stereotypes, clichés and anything humdrum. This includes the studious librarian, discourse about the weather or a lost lottery ticket. Cut the deadwood and the life in the novel will be released. By getting down to the essentials, the novel will also be easier to manage. I like to have as few characters in my novel as possible (why include numerous characters to keep up with?) Similarly, cut redundant scenes or combine two into one. A streamlined novel is one more likely to be completed.

Care About Your Characters

I don’t mean like your characters. Care about what happens to them. This will equally apply to villains as heroes. A novel without believable characters is like a novel without a pulse. If you find your characters are getting wooden, complete a character questionnaire, inject a little of yourself into them. Empathise with their emotions and your novel will soon have a life of its own. A character-driven story is your ultimate aim.

Secrets to Completing the Novel

A novel that withers and dies in mid-completion can be revived with some writing strategies. Don’t discuss your novel with anyone whilst it is in progress. Let it be your secret. Make your characters believable and interesting. Empathise with them. Cut the deadwood and anything clichéd about the plot. Inject something precarious into your novel to make it exciting to write. And finally, get a little disciplined about your writing time. With these strategies, you could realistically complete a novel by your own personal deadline.

Tips and Tricks to Writing a Novel

Active and passive writing
Preventing writing procrastination
Character questionnaire for writers
I wish I had the time to write a novel

Tuesday, 17 January 2012

How to Sell Books Through Google Adwords

The self-published writer could get better sales of novels through the use of Google Adwords. With tactical use of keywords and ad placements on SERPS pages and websites, your books could be seen after relevant search words have been placed in the Google bar. In other words, your product becomes visible to one who is looking for a product like yours. But how does Adwords work for the author?

Using Keywords to Increase Book Sales and Downloads with Adwords

The writer would be wise to use every sales strategy available to increase sales of books; Google’s Adwords is one such method. To clarify, Adwords are small ad boxes exhibiting blue links advertising services or products. These Adwords can be seen to the right of SERPS pages (search engine results page) after a search term has been put into the Google toolbar.

These small ad links will also appear on relevant websites and blogs. So if someone was browsing on an ebook store for a cheap kindle thriller, he/she might see a list of relevant adverts on that website. See screenshot to view an Adword advertising Kindle art books on a SERPS page. As you can see, the search term used in the tool bar was ‘oil painting books.’ These words triggered this Adword. Such an advert could also show up on a website on oil painting.

How to Sign up for Adwords to Sell Online Books

In order to create your own Adwords campaign for your ebooks, you will need to sign up for an Adwords account with Google. You will need to put some funds into your account to pay for ad clicks first. This is the cost to you each time someone clicks upon your Adword advert.

Having said this, Google occasionally issue a free Adwords coupon worth between £50-£100, which enable the writer to use Adwords for free. Either way, the small expense could be worth it if the customer clicks upon your ad link and makes a purchase worth more than the cost of the click, (for instance if your book is worth £20 and the click cost 20p). A high purchase rate per click is more likely if you write a great Adword that fulfils what the Adwording implies. In other words, don’t promise something that cannot be delivered, or you could end up paying for clicks without a purchase.

Once you have signed up for Adwords, think about how you want to pitch your Adword campaign, which should be informative, enticing and accurate. An example of an Ad campaign by a writer might be: ‘Buy thriller ebooks for £1’. The link to your website/blog selling the ebook will be shown beneath.

Qualify this ad title with a little more information, which might be: ‘Save up to 50% on kindle bookstore,’ or ‘gripping thrillers with good reviews.’ Get to the point and be sparing on words.

Selling Your Books Online with Keywords

Getting your Adwords to show up when it is supposed to could be helped by using Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool, which informs on what search terms people are actually using to find products or information. This tool will also inform on monthly search volume of search terms, whether locally or globally (whichever market you are trying to reach). An author selling ebooks, might want to reach a global market.

In the Google’s Adwords Keyword Tool, put in some relevant words, which might be ‘Kindle thriller, ‘Ebooks,’ ‘cheap fiction,’ etc. The results this tool will bring up may offer keyword suggestions and synonyms you may never have thought of. Make a list of these keyword terms with the highest volume. The word ‘ebook’ for example may have a higher search volume than ‘Kindle book’ or ‘digital book.’ In your Adwords campaign, prefer the keywords with the highest volume. This list of keywords will come in useful not only for your Adword itself, but for getting your ad to display when it should.

Create You Adwords Campaign to Sell Ebooks

Make a list of all suitable keywords and search terms that could be used in your campaign. Try alternative search terms in the Keyword Tool and add to this list.

Think carefully about the wording of your Adwords. This is crucial. Remember to be informative, enticing and accurate. You do not need to use a keyword term to title your Adword; you can use whatever title you like, so long as it fulfils what it promises. Follow this title with a little more information (as previously described).

You will need to link your Adword to a ‘landing page’, the page where the ad links to, which might be your own website, estore or blog. Google has to approve your landing page, so ensure it does not contain affiliate links, spam, viruses or poor content.

Mine was a special case, as I could not sell my ebooks from my blog, but to link my books from Amazon. I could not create an Adwords campaign that linked to a website that was not mine, so my landing page had to work like a ‘bridging page’ (a page that redirects to another website) containing information about my ebooks. A bridging page is not normally approved by Google.

However, if you are selling your ebooks directly from your own website or blog, you will not need to worry about this, but do ensure your landing page is of good quality and meets Google’s standards.

Using Keywords to Make Book Sales

Once you have created your Adword campaign, you will need to type in the list of keywords suggested by the Keyword Tool. This list of keywords will trigger your ad to appear if someone uses those keywords in the Google search bar. Some will have a low search volume, others will have higher. But every keyword will count. You can add more search terms at any time or some of your own.

Getting Your Adwords Approved

Once you have gone through all the steps, you will need to wait for your Adword campaign to be approved which could take a few days or weeks. If you are aiming for a Christmas market, create your campaign well in advance. You can pause your campaign if it gets approved early, and then activate it when required.

How to Read Adwords Reports

Once you are up and running, you will see the following Adword terminology:
  • Clicks: The number of times someone has clicked upon your Adwords ad.
  • Impressions: The number of times your Adword displays on SERPS or a website/blog.
  • Click through rate (or CTR): the ratio of click occurrence compared to ad impressions.
  • Cost per click (or CPC). The cost to you each time someone clicks upon your ad.
Making Adwords Sell your Books

Adwords could be a great tool to help sell your books. By signing up for a Google Adwords account, your book advert will show every time someone puts in a search term that relates to what you are selling. You just need to learn about key words and creating a great Adword. Campaign. You can control your budget and pause whenever you like. If a cost per click is less than the profits for your books, you are on to a winner, particularly if you get lots of purchases per click (or high click through rate).

Useful Tips for Writers