Have you developed a strategy for selling books online yet? If not, you are doing yourself a disservice.
An estimated 60 percent of all book sales are happening online these days, not in bookstores. This is actually good news for small presses and self-published authors who don’t have access to the distribution channels that can get them into bookstores and libraries. If your book doesn’t meet the following criteria, many bookstores will turn you down:
1) Carried by Ingram, Baker and Taylor or one of the other larger distributors
2) Available at a standard trade discount
So what are the best online tools out there to sell books? In addition to being listed for sale on both Amazon.com and Barnes and Noble.com, it is critical that you have your own Website.
The biggest benefit of having your own website is that the content of the page is devoted exclusively to your work. You don’t have to compete with thousands of other titles to get attention.
Be sure to put links to places where your book is available right on the front page. This will provide you with an established “storefront,” not to mention a place where people can interact with you.
An author site is also a place where you can house your blog and links to your social media platforms, not to mention a signup sheet for your newsletter if you choose to do one.
Webpages can be as simple or complex as you want to make them. At a minimum, a book or author website should include a description of the book, an author biography, an events page, a media page, a contact page and a buy button, or buttons if your books are available in multiple places. If you are interested in viewing some of the websites RMA Publicity has designed for authors, let me know and I will send you some links.
Once you have your website established, there are several useful tools you can use to drive traffic to it. They include social media, e-mail marketing and Amazon advertising.
Social Media Marketing
Another valuable tool for online promotion is social media. It offers you a way to connect personally with members of your target audience. In my experience, the best social media tools for authors are Facebook, Linked-in, YouTube and Twitter. All four allow authors to seek out the people they want to connect with, and to post content that people in their networks will see.
It is important to keep in mind that for the most part social media is about brand building, not direct sales. If your content is too salesy in nature, many people will be turned off and stop following you.
Another tool for selling online is e-mail marketing. This is basically where you send a message to people on your own personal e-mail list. Names typically come from personal contact lists built through prospecting, and also from those who add themselves to an e-mail newsletter option you put up on your website.
When it comes time to distribute your direct e-mails, you can do it through your Outlook, G-mail or whatever e-mail service you use. Keep in mind, there may be restrictions on the number of e-mails you can send per hour. If this is the case, it may be a good idea to use a service such as Mail Chimp or Constant Contact to send out e-mails.
The benefit of using Mail Chimp is it’s free for lists of up to 2,000 people. Constant Contact charges a monthly fee for use. As for why you’d want to use one of these services rather than just your e-mail service, they provide data on the number of people who have opened your e-mail, as well as click-through information. The average open-rate for an e-mail marketing piece by the way is around 22 percent.
Another useful tool for online promotion is Amazon advertising. It works on a pay-for-click model, meaning you only have to pay when someone clicks on your ad.
Amazon allows authors to promote their titles alongside similar books and authors, to feature new releases to drive sales, and also to target readers by keyword, product or interest. There are two types of ads on Amazon: display ads and sponsored product ads.
Display ads let you target readers based on their interests in specific genres or niches, or previous purchases. Sponsored product ads add your book to the list that comes up when a consumer does a keyword search. More information about Amazon advertising can be found at www.advertising.amazon.com.