How To Build Bridges
No matter what kind of book you’ve written, there is an audience of people who are interested in a book just like yours. Right now. The problem is, these eager customers don’t know that your book exists.
These potential customers may be sitting at their computer wondering where they can find your romantic psychological thriller. They may be standing on the sideline of a soccer field, just itching to read your memoir about your journey to wholeness. Whatever it is you’ve written about, there are sure to be people outside of your immediate circle of friends, family, and social media connections who are eager to consume your writing. But how do you reach them?
If you think about marketing your book in terms of connecting with these eager readers, your promotional efforts shift from dart shooting to bridge building. In the first article in this 2-part series, I categorized your potential reading audience in three groups: Customers ready to discover your book; customers ready to buy your book; and customers ready to spread the word about your book. In this article, the second in the series, I offer tips on how to reach the members of each of these categories.
1: Reduce the Distance Between Search and Click
Customers who are ready to discover your book are people who are actively facing a mobile phone or computer screen and typing words into a search engine. The words these customers are typing are called “search terms.” If you can ensure that your book appears in the results that are served up based on those search terms, you will bridge the distance between these potential readers and your book.
So how can you be sure that your book shows up in the search results when someone types in those search terms? First, you need to establish the best search terms to match your book.
A great place to start your search term list would be simply to list your book’s genre and some of its unique characteristics. “Romantic psychological thriller set in Medieval Florence, Italy,” would be, for example, a great place to start if your book is, yes, a romantic psychological thriller set in Medieval Florence, Italy. Easy, right? Sure, but be sure not to stop there. Depending on the search engine, you may also be able use the names and titles of similar books as search terms. Begin with the obvious and brainstorm from there. You can also examine books similar to yours and list the words they use. If your book has any customer reviews, mine those descriptions for common terms used by real people. If your book isn’t available yet, look through the reviews of books similar to yours.
Once you’ve which search terms are appropriate for your book, you use this information to purchase digital ads. Digital ads will show up as the results of the search engine query. Digital advertising on Google, Facebook, or Amazon can be a bit of an investment, but it’s the fastest way to reduce the distance between your potential audience and a click to your book’s web site or sales page.
Once your book has been out for a while, and becomes popular enough among a certain niche, the search engines will connect your book with certain terms. This is called an “organic” search result. This is the ideal situation: eager readers are ready to buy a book just like yours, they type in a search term to describe what they’re looking for, and your book appears as a result. An example is my book for reluctant readers, I Hate Reading. When someone types “reluctant reader” into the search bar in Amazon.com, at the top of the list, my white book cover emblazoned with a red heart pops into view—organically. The book is associated with that term organically in the computer.
Organic search results put this book about reading in view when readers type “reluctant reader,” a set of keywords associated with the book.
2: Reduce The Distance Between Click and Acquisition
Once you’ve gotten past the search engine stage, your potential customer is now aware of your book! Great! But just because you got someone to click on your search engine link, and you’ve worked through the keywords to trigger your book a search result, your marketing work is not done.
Yes, the customer has reached the web site or sales page that displays your book. But just getting people show up on your page is not the same as securing a sale. Now your task is to bridge this next gap: the distance between a search engine query and a “buy now” click.
The work you need to do at this stage is to present information about your book that convinces the customer that your book is the right one for them. Here are some elements you can examine to determine whether they’re working as hard as they can to motivate the online shoppers to convert into actual customers:
Book Cover: Does your book cover look professional? Does it support the message that the keywords conveyed? Does it conform to the established norms of the genre? Do the graphics look appealing? Are the fonts large enough to read?
Look Inside: Most online stores allow shoppers to read the first few pages of the books. If this is the case for you, make sure the pages they see contain content that works hard present the content of the book. I write children’s books. For the e-book versions of these books, I always put the copyright page at the end. That’s because I want people who taking a look inside to go directly into the story and are not be slowed down by boring copyright info. Do you have a bunch of quotes in the first few pages of your book? Are those quotes are effective in selling the book or is the content of your book is what works best at hooking the reader?
When customers look inside this book, they get right to the story.The copyright text is the end of the ebook.
Book’s Description: Does your book’s description contain the same keywords that your shoppers clicked on to arrive on your book’s sales page or web site? If not, you might risk having a potential customer leave the page without buying. So make sure your description is snappy, inviting, and consistent with your digital ads.
Reviews: If you have a lot of customer reviews, this indicates your book is popular. And popular books are more likely to be purchased—success breeds success. If you don’t have a lot of reviews, your job is to prime the pump. Spend some time and energy encouraging people you know to buy, read, and comment on your book. Always tell them to leave an honest review. The most influential reviews are those written by someone who actually purchased the book, so if it’s possible, encourage them to buy instead of giving them a free copy. Growing your review list can take time. Be patient and friendly and always encourage honesty among your reviewers.
3: Reduce the Distance Between Read and Recommendation
The third distance that you can work on bridging is the distance between your readers and their own word of mouth recommendations. Word of mouth is the best way to raise awareness of your book. You can control some things to help encourage word of mouth.
Most obviously, write the best book you can write. If your book is entertaining, transporting, or useful, your readers will let their friends know. Take the time before you publish your book to edit it thoroughly and take to heart all the feedback you receive in the editorial stage. But you know that already.
Another action you can take to encourage word of mouth is to write a note at the end of your book saying just that. A short, polite note that says, “If you enjoyed this book, tell your friends or write a review online,” can go a long way toward getting fans of your writing to express their appreciation.
A New Way Of Thinking About Marketing
Instead of thinking of marketing as a megaphone to shout into a vast, unknown ocean, change your perception. Think of marketing as creating a number of small bridges between the people who share your book’s interests.
Look closely at the places where potential customers are already gathering. Are there areas where people may drop away? Are you doing everything you can to encourage them to glide smoothly into purchasing your book?
The effort you make to build bridges that help your audience become aware of your book, and gain the confidence to buy it can go far in building a sizeable audience of happy readers.