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The 3 most useful small business marketing resources you'll need for a best selling book, part 2
November 3, 2014
In my last post related to this title, I promised that I would show you how I could use my talents and skills to promote my writing business/ publishing ventures. You may recall, that I mentioned the three small business marketing resources that all indie writers need to bring to the table. Just a reminder, here is the list of the three things you'll need to make your indie writing business fruitful:
Personally compelling desires
Steps to Publishing a Book for the Indie Author - The Big Why
Finding my personally compelling desires was easy. I've always wanted to be a writer and share my stories with others. That has been enough to keep me going after experiencing a bunch of thumps on the head, stepped on toes, professional mayhem, and all other obstacles that one faces being a journalist/ writer.
I could say more than this, but then I'd be required to open my veins and bleed all over this blog post. We might not be able to friends after that, so I'll leave my personal and professional pain to your imagination, only asking you to believe that I've been through enough to know that I have a compelling desire to write.
I'm going to go out of order on my list and address "opportunities" before I get to my resources. A couple of big opportunities have lined up to push me into being a published author. The biggie, of course, is that I've written a book. If you don't have one of those, it's hard to move forward with any of the other steps of this process.
I started the book last year on August 2, 2013 and finished it appropriately enough on 11.12.13. (November 12, 2013 for those of you, who like things spelled out.) After a year of editing it -- more or less -- I'm in the final stages of bringing it to completion. I've gotten notes back from my editor and will send it to a friend for one last look. Then it goes on Amazon. The release date is set for November 17, 2014 -- just a little over a year after its initial completion date.
How to Make the Best of Your Opportunities
So that's a big resource, which segues nicely into the next thing I want to talk about in the "opportunities" category, and that is Amazon. It's the creme de la creme of online publishing these days. At first, big publishers ignored it. Now, they can't afford to. In the process, the site has made the dreams of many an indie author come true. I hope I'm the next one. While it has its drawbacks, it's also the best option for seeing the project through to its initial publishing incarnation.
A local writer that I know has made more than a million dollars on Amazon. Clearly, he knows what he's doing. Not everyone makes that much. A lot of factors go into Amazon success -- some of which I'll address later in this post. Suffice it to say, after speaking with him -- Aaron Patterson is his name -- I became convinced that it was probably worth my time.
After several years of writing online and developing the skills that go along with it, I figured I had at least enough of the skills required to give it a go.
Helping People Find Your Book on Amazon
This brings me back to "resources," which I skipped over. The biggest thing I bring to this category is a knowledge of search engines. It comes from having figured out Google's, to a certain degree anyway. One can't always say that since Google changes its algorithms regularly, making a page that ranked yesterday tank today. Not always, but often enough to break more than a few people's hearts, who rely on search engine traffic to bring new customers to their websites.
While Amazon isn't completely like Google, it is a search engine, and a recent article in Fortune magazine pointed out that Google's biggest competitor isn't other search engines like Yahoo or Bing, as would be expected, but Amazon. The reasoning went that not only is Amazon a search engine, but that Amazon gets revenues from its searches because people go on the site specifically to shop. Google gets its money from ad revenues, not directly from sales like Amazon does.
I've studied Amazon for months, learning about how its search engine works, what kinds of books get highlighted, and even helped a few authors with their keywording. One author has 25 books out, but still must teach to augment his living. He PM'd me on Facebook and asked me to teach him how to select keywords so that his books could be found on Amazon.
I gave him a few pointers -- we'll talk on the phone this weekend -- but already by changing just a few keyword phrases for his books and not really having a solid knowledge of how to pick keyword phrases for Amazon, he has seen an uptick in his sales, based on this single change alone. He still has a ways to go because he doesn't know how to use all the tools, but it supports my belief that using the right keywords is a great strategy to start with.
Creative Business Ideas - Bringing Together Two Unrelated Ideas
I also figured out a way to overcome the issues that I spoke about in this blog post about not being able to publish free books on Amazon anymore. I wanted to be able to incorporate my cooking/ food column into the marketing mix, but I wasn't sure how to do it. I mean, yeah, food and body image figure largely into the plot/ theme of my book, but it's a big leap to ask my readers, who come to my column looking for recipes to give me their names so I can try to sell them a dystopian novel.
So I kept playing around with the Google Keyword Planner tool. I knew I wanted to work in book clubs somehow, so I started looking for "book club food ideas" and "book club recipes" and other keyword phrases along those lines. I struggled with this for days, then I had a stroke of luck. My friend shared a book she'd been a part of called Bake Love Write. It essentially featured the recipes of 105 authors plus tips on writing.
I knew I could write a recipe book like this, but I still didn't feel like I could legitimately put an excerpt of my book in the back of it. But this connection brought me to the final solution, which when I look back on it in hindsight, it's amazing that I didn't see it sooner.
I hatched an idea to write cookbooks for book clubs. In it, I'd feature 20 recipes based on a fairy tale and 20 book club questions. Because I retold a fairy tale in my book (King Thrushbeard), I decided that I'd include a copy of a fairy tale in each book -- They're public domain, so free to use. I'd create the 20 recipes based on the fairy tale, and then I'd choose two more books that aligned thematically with the fairy tale and the food I'd featured in the fairy tale cookbook.
The first book, which is almost done, features recipes inspired by Hansel and Gretel, a copy of Hansel and Gretel, and 20 questions based based on not only the theme of food in the fairy tale, but in the books Les Miserables and The Hunger Games. In both those books, food plays a HUGE role in the story as does hunger, poverty, and social class.
The 20 questions can be used with one book, two books, or all three books. If book club readers choose the latter option, they'll get into a bit of comparative literature. I called it a book club party in a book. The best outcome of all of this is that I felt I could legitimately include a sample from my book, because these cookbooks are specifically for book clubs and they feature books that are similar to my own.
I'll publish that book in November along with my novel. I'll have one or two of them for December and keep going with them until at least March of next year. They're not easy to write, but simple if that makes sense.
The Big Question: What to Name Your Book
Naturally, when I was choosing a title for the series, I created it almost completely from keyword phrases. I hope I put them together in such a way that the titles don't sound clunky, but being able to do this means that I'm drawing traffic directly from what people are already looking for. In this case, I used the following keyword phrases/ title:
Title: 20 Quick Easy Desserts/ 20 Book Club Questions: 20 Recipes and Conversation Starters for Hansel and Gretel, Les Miserables, and The Hunger Games
Series: The 20/20 Books and Food Series
Keywords: winter and fall desserts, pumpkin desserts, homemade cake recipes, easy cookie recipes, Thanksgiving desserts, book club suggestions 2014, book club recommendations
Creating these books also allows me to take advantage of another one of Amazon's algorithms, which is to capitalize on what's new in the last 30 to 90 days as well as the coming soon category. I read about an author, who built quite a name for himself because he's able to put out a book a month. I'm not quite there yet for full-length novels, but this is a nice compromise.
So to recap, I've got the burning desire to write, the opportunity to publish my book on Amazon, and the keywording and marketing skills to be found on the site. In an upcoming blog post, I'll write about how my experiments went not only for publishing my "big" book, but also the cookbooks as well. If the latter turns out to be a good leap of imagination, then December could be a very good publishing month for me because of the holidays and how many people look for holiday recipes. Stay tuned!