Amazon Recommendations & Also Boughts
Amazon recommendations drive millions of dollars of book purchases every single day, and Also Boughts are central to this system, which can lead to panic when they periodically disappear.
Also Boughts play an important role in Amazon recommendations — that process of pairing books to readers like some literary version of Tinder — but the exact role in Amazon’s recommender system can be misunderstood.
So let’s break it all down today, and show you the exact role Also Boughts play in Amazon recommendations, and why you need to protect yours. Read More…
How To Market A Book | 2020 Edition
Figuring out how to sell books in 2020 means facing a pair of imposing challenges : the multiplying complexity of book marketing and — speaking of things rising exponentially — the global pandemic, which has led to lockdowns, recessions, as well as no small amount of tragedy.
And I want to focus on that second challenge for a moment — before we dive into all the ways that you can get your books into readers’ hands — because there is something rather different about this year.
Writers are generally quite fortunate in that they can work from home and sell books online and, for the moment at least, the digital side of the publishing business looks less exposed than the physical end.
Indeed, retailers and distributors are reporting a boost in ebook sales, and freebies in particular seem especially popular. Anecdotal reports concur, and also seem to confirm that there has been a surge in new entrants to the ebook market — which makes sense when people are stuck at home or less inclined to go browsing in meatspace, for painfully obvious reasons. Read More…
Facebook Engagement Bait and Shadow Bans
Websites try to keep your attention as long as possible, but the stakes are higher on Facebook where a drop in engagement can cost millions of dollars. Or FACEBOOK as it now insists on calling itself, like a shouty man outside a pub.
Content which keeps people on Facebook – like video or pictures – gets much more organic reach than content which sends people away, such as a link to your books on Amazon. Not only that, Facebook will also give preference to content which is genuinely engaging.
Please note the emphasis.
Facebook doesn’t have an army of humans sifting through the billions of pieces of content on Facebook and giving a gold star to the best of it – AI does the heavy lifting here. The way the system measures engagement is necessarily crude: what is getting Likes, comments, and shares?
In simple terms, people want engaging content and Facebook wants to show them content with high engagement, so if you can post content which triggers good engagement levels, then that content will get much more visibility.
And visibility can be worth a lot of money, of course. Read More…
13 Ways To Increase Your Email Open Rate
Having a big email list is great, but utterly pointless if your open rate is in the toilet. Quantity might get the headlines but it’s quality which pays the bills.
You need engaged subscribers, ones that care about getting your emails, people who open your messages and act on the contents. If you are putting effort into growing your subscriber count but not proactively taking steps to assist open rates, then all you’re really doing is bailing out your boat with a leaky bucket.
People often say things like “it’s natural for open rates to fall over time” – and that’s true… if you do nothing about it. Also, there are plenty of practices you might inadvertently engage in which might accelerate the natural wastage you tend to get over time. But there’s also plenty you can do to address falling open rates and even reverse them. Read More…
Going Viral: A User’s Guide
What truly makes something go viral? It’s hard to say.
Sure, afterwards, we can all point to something — with the crystal clear vision bestowed by hindsight — and list off elements which contributed to the explosion: it had a cute dog bouncing on a trampoline or just the right amount of indignation, it was funny and there was a well chosen emoji, it was topical or it tapped into some lingering but unspoken resentment about a hot button issue… that list could go on forever.
Trying to assemble a Franken-thing that ticks all those boxes will quickly show you that this retrospective diagnosis is missing something — the X-factor that makes one thing go viral and another thing, which was very like it (or even “superior” in many ways), do the exact opposite. Read More…
What The Piña Colada Song Teaches Us About Marketing
You may love it, you may hate it, but you’ve definitely heard it: The Piña Colada Song is one of the most recognizable and enduring hits of the last fifty years – the only song ever to hit No. 1 in America in two different decades.
But it almost sank without trace.
The artist behind it is Rupert Holmes, who is primarily known to many for penning this one tune, but he has led an interesting and varied life. While he currently lives in New York, Holmes was born in Cheshire in 1947 as David Goldstein – a US Army brat, with an American father and an English mother, the wonderfully named Gwendolen.
His was a very musical upbringing, and when the family were uprooted and moved to Nanuet, New York in the 1950s, he ended up attending the prestigious Manhattan School of Music and majored in the clarinet, although he didn’t follow his brother into the world of opera and “serious” music.
Instead, he became a session musician and did side-gigs like writing jingles for shampoo commercials. Holmes was delighted to be working in the music business at any level, but it also enabled him to support himself while working on his own music. In the early 1970s, he had a couple of minor hits under his own name, while also wrote songs for big stars like Dolly Parton, the Drifters, Gene Pitney, and the Partridge Family. Read More…
The Black Hat Riddle
There are serious problems in publishing right now with black hat authors. Nobody is talking about it either, because the cost of speaking out is simply too great. Scammers are increasingly litigious. Dirty tricks abound. White hat writers are suffering in other ways too as readers come to mistrust any name unknown to them, and the only entity with enough power to enforce any kind of justice doesn’t like going on patrol. But maybe there is something else we can do.
My first introduction to the concept of black hats and white hats was not via cowboy movies – I am not American and my own cultural milieu was less focused on that… frontier – but from Philosophy classes as a college student. Particularly what is known as the Hat Riddle (or the Prisoner Hat Riddle).
There are many variations, but in the version I heard, four cowboys – two wearing black hats and two wearing white hats – are captured by banditos who decide to have a little fun with them. They bury the cowboys up to their necks in sand so they can’t move or even turn their heads. The banditos swap their hats around so each cowboy doesn’t know which color hat they are wearing. And then they are asked to guess… and if they get it wrong, they die. Read More…
Email Marketing: Your Secret Weapon
There is no question that email marketing is the most powerful tool at your disposal; not taking advantage of all the unique benefits of email marketing is really missing a trick. Here’s why.
I’m sure all of you know the power of having thousands of committed readers signed up to your mailing list, allowing you to send each new release into the charts. Even if you’re not there yet personally, this should be something you are aiming for. Every single author should have a mailing list and be seeking to actively grow it.
But before we fly through the basics and delve into more advanced topics, let’s be clear about something: email marketing is not about spam. It’s not about fake intimacy. It’s not about posing BS questions to create false engagement. And it’s not about bait-and-switches, contrived urgency, click-baiting subject lines, or other emotional tricks; that’s what cheesy internet marketers do. Read More…
Coming Soon: Big Facebook Ads Changes
There is a huge change coming to Facebook Ads which could have a profound effect on the performance of all new and existing campaigns from next month onwards. You need to start getting your head around this now as the change is quite unpopular and the solutions for managing it are all a bit… fiddly.
In short, the new feature that Facebook is rolling out is called Campaign Budget Optimization. You might have seen it in your account already – it’s a feature which allows you to nominate a budget for your entire campaign and then hand the reins over to Facebook’s friendly neighborhood AI and allow it to determine how it should be spent.
Campaign Budget Optimization has been available as an optional feature for several months now so lots of people have been experimenting with it and sharing data – which we’ll get to. The big change is this: from next month, it will start being compulsory. Read More…
BookBub Ads – What the FAQ?
BookBub is a wonderfully passionate community of over ten million book buyers – and its ad platform is the only one at this scale which is exclusively made up of readers. BookBub Ads is unique in lots of other ways too and I’ve received hundreds of questions from authors over the last few months who are confused about one aspect or another. Today, we’ll look at the most frequent issues… and give you solutions to all those problems.
I’ve been using BookBub Ads for two or three years, I’ve been covering the platform in some depth for my mailing list for well over a year at this point, my dedicated book came out a few months ago, and the course… I can’t quite remember when that launched. Around the same time?
I’ve also run some giant campaigns for authors in a range of genres, as well as my own ads, and compared data and strategies with hundreds of other authors writing every kind of book imaginable. These are the issues and questions which come up most frequently. Read More…
How To Find Your Comp Authors
Knowing your comp authors is increasingly important these days, but writers tend to tie themselves into knots with the concept. Today, I’ll explain a very simple way to cut through all the noise and determine your true comp authors, but also detail why that line-up should change considerably depending on the context.
Comp Authors Explained
Let’s start with the basics before scaling up the complexity and getting deep into ads: “comp author” is publishing shorthand for “comparable author.” You might also hear people these days in indieworld using it in phrases like “know your comps,” or “target your comp authors.” Or you might come across the phrase “comp title” more frequently in traditional publishing.
Originally, the phrase was used by publishing professionals as shorthand to describe a given author’s voice in marketing communications and sales pitches. An agent might shop your book to a publisher describing your sizzling romantic suspense as “EL James meets Lisa Jackson,” and the acquiring editor will know right away that she’s in for a dark, twisty story where the sex isn’t just open door – the windows are probably open too. Read More…
Reader Targeting Influences Everything
Reader Targeting is yet another concept we have to juggle. It’s no wonder many writers take to the drink, or otherwise lose the run of themselves. Or can be a little… kooky. We have to wrestle with a number of contradictory notions all the time — it’s enough to make anyone batty.
The most obvious is with the writing itself: we need at least some level of ego to push something out into the world and ask money for it. But we also must have the requisite critical faculties to see what’s wrong with it and to motivate ourselves to fix it, and to otherwise work on our craft until the things we make are as good as we need them to be.
(As a famous editor once put it — Nan Talese maybe? — those first few years, when our taste is much more developed than our skills, are tough.)
The experienced author isn’t done with these trying dichotomies though; one in particular that we all continue to struggle with is between our artistic natures, and our commercial sensibilities. It’s not so much about what to write or how to write it — most pros can navigate that part. The battlegrounds are elsewhere, things like cover design, series titles, descriptions, branding.
And one more surprising, perhaps: reader targeting. Read More…
How To Build An Author Platform
What is an author platform? Which elements should it contain? And is any of this stuff more important than just writing another book? Perhaps not. But certain aspects of an author platform are important tools for reaching readers and, especially, for holding on to them.
The topic can be confusing as everyone seems to be mean something different by the term. And then this problem is compounded by a lot of terrible advice proliferating, quite frankly. Number-chasing nonsense which doesn’t serve anyone.
Even the term “platform” seems to be quite nebulous and elastic — fertile ground for snake-oil salesmen. Let’s nail that down first: Read More…
BookBub Ads Expert Is Here To Help
Many people try BookBub Ads and fail. There is a learning curve – no doubt about that. If you tried the platform without adequately preparing, and without knowing how the system works, you probably got cleaned out. I still have scars from my first time. But it doesn’t have to be like that.
BookBub Ads Expert will show you a whole range of uses for Bookbub Ads, from supporting a launch or reviving backlist, to boosting a permafree, creating an international audience, or pushing an entire series at once. And there’s also lots of ninja tricks and killer moves to take your ad game to the next level. Read More…
Book of the Year for Authors: Newsletter Ninja
I’ve been self-publishing for seven years. That’s quite a long period to be screwing up almost the entire time, but I managed it! My whole approach to email was backwards. I did all the don’ts, ignored all the warnings, missed out on so many opportunities to build myself a happy and engaged audience of readers that it causes me literal pain when I think about it. I don’t say this to elicit sympathy. Rather, I hope that my long experience of doing exactly the wrong things can act as a deterrent—a giant sign made of bones spelling out “Here Be Wolves.”
What did I do exactly? I only emailed people when I had a new release. I thought I was being considerate and not clogging up everyone’s inboxes when, in reality, I was only turning up at their door when I wanted something: their money. This was compounded by my slow production speed, particularly with those painstakingly researched historical novels I seem to enjoy writing for some reason. That problem was further exacerbated by working in more than one genre, so the books came out even slower and the emails were even less frequent. Clearly, I felt I wasn’t antagonizing my most loyal readers enough with this set-up, so I decided to have one Frankenlist—my fiction and non-fiction peeps all lumped together—neatly ensuring that everyone really wouldn’t care about at least 50% of the (increasingly infrequent) messages I was sending out. Read More…