How To Boost Your Book Sales

How To Boost Your Book Sales

Sorry. This is just an image.

The sad truth is that there is no magic solution to promoting your book. No one course of action will get it to sell consistently but there are lots of individual actions you can take, both simple and complex, which will help.
You can spend a fortune on promotion and get nowhere.
There are expensive courses available to teach you how to be a ‘bestseller‘ but you’ll be lucky to make more money than you’ve spent even if you are a ‘bestseller’.
Strange as it may seem you don’t even need to write a good book! There have been many best-selling books which are full of mistakes, have a poor plot and will never be acclaimed as literary gems.
The most important factor in author success is one you can’t buy—Luck. Despite that there’s an old saying which applies—The more I practice, the luckier I get.

Here’s what I consider you can do to get lucky as an author:

  • Get a remarkable cover which attracts the attention of readers browsing for books. Few can do this themselves so it is worth spending money on this. A good cover will give a book browser the interest to check out the book.
  • Spend a huge amount of time and effort getting a book description which makes the reader think “Wow! This is a book I have to read.” Your description should use emotive language and use your keywords. Try running the sentences through a headline analyser.
  • Use the right keywords/tags. If you have problems here, steal them from the top selling books in your genre. To do that create a blank book in calibre and in the meta tag ID section paste in the ASIN number of a top ranking book in your genre. Then download the meta data. You’ll get the tags and the book description.
  • Make sure your book starts with a powerful hook to keep the book browser reading. Your book’s first three pages should be gripping.
  • Create promotion pages for your book which get high rankings on Google. If you are not discovered on the first three pages of search results when you enter a keyword and your book’s title, you never will be discovered. Use an incognito browser window when doing this. (See http://freefromtheauthor.com/2017/01/24/author-how-easy-is-it-to-find-your-books/)
  • Video, pictures, headlines and subheadings are effective in promotions in that order. Run headlines and sub headings through checkers for emotive language such as http://www.aminstitute.com/headline/index.htm and https://coschedule.com/headline-analyzer. This works for Tweets and Facebook posts too.
  • Make sure promotion pages have a clear ‘call to action‘.
  • Get the price right. If you’ve already published your book at Amazon, try Amazon’s book pricing beta service. To get to that select your book from the Amazon KDP bookshelf. Find the book you want to modify and in the “Book Actions” column, click “Edit book pricing.” Next scroll to the ‘Royalty and Pricing’ header and under KDP Pricing Support (Beta), click “View Service.”
  • Recognise that a promotion at best will produce a spike in your sales but you need to sustain that spike for at least a month for it to produce a rise in your sales rank at Amazon. You’ll need to stagger effective promotions.
  • Know that not all promotions are effective and some are downright scams. There is no point in tweeting to fake accounts or putting book links on sites with no visitors. See this post. Learn how to recognise the fakes and how to use UTM (Urchin Tracking Module) codes to spot those sites which work.
  • Facebook adverts work but NOT ‘Buy my book’ adverts. Instead make an attractive offer which people can get if they add their email address to your mailing list. Email lists are effective at selling books.
  • Twitter posts work but not until you have 10,000 real, active followers. Few will see your posts. People will unfollow if your posts are solely ‘Buy my book’ posts. These should never make up more than 10 – 15% of your feed. DON’T auto follow-back because you’ll end up with fake followers; vet your followers. Never send out ‘Thanks for following me’ direct messages. Aim to get 100 new followers per day. Remember people are only on Twitter for short periods of time so the vast majority of your tweets will be unseen. Make sure you have a pinned post there.
  • Twitter and Facebook are NOT the only social media platforms. Get a presence on Tumblr, LinkedIn (if you write nonfiction), Google+, YouTube also. There are also vital forums such as Kboards.
  • Although I dislike Goodreads, it’s an essential platform for an author to be on if you want recognition as an author. Be careful what you say—lots of Trolls there.
  • Amazon paid advertising appears to work.
  • Preorders work for new books, especially if you follow them with promotion during the release week.
  • If you are not using affiliate accounts you are wasting an opportunity to earn at least 4% extra at Amazon and much more elsewhere. You can use this as a sales tool too.
  • Remember there are only 24 hours in a day and you can’t do all of this at once. Some can be automated though.
  • Ask people to help you promote! Hey if you have not already downloaded one of my free ebooks (Immortality Gene and Raging Storm) please do so. Even if you don’t read them it will help my sales rank.
Darn that all sounds complicated. Maybe there should be a magic promotion button. I’m working on it but it’s not quite finished yet. Take a look here.
Author—How easy is it to find your book/s?

Author—How easy is it to find your book/s?

Try an experiment. Go to an incognito browser window and type in the title of your book. You’ll have to use an incognito window to make sure your previous searches don’t influence your results. See what happens. Here’s my result for searching for my book ‘Immortality Gene’ at Google:

As you can see the first reference to it was the top entry of page three of the search results. It’s a book at Google Play and the book title and a page mentioning ‘Immortality Gene’ show up first.
A Goodreads entry showed up as the ninth entry on the same page, Page four of the results listed it as the first entry and finally the fifth entry featuring our website:

Those results aren’t too bad – they are about on par with another book which appeared in the top 10 free ebooks with us in 2015 (Sycamore by Craig A. Falconer – good book). The result is a lot better than ‘Breakers’ by Edward W Robinson which was number 6 at Amazon when we were number 7.

My result pales into insignificance when compared with ‘Season of the Harvest’ by Michael R. Hicks(another good book). That is brought up as number 1, 2, 3, 6 and 8 on the first page of search results.

So what is Michael doing that I wasn’t doing? Could it be the length of the title?
If I type in the series also – A Vested Interest Immortality Gene’ I find myself as number 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9 and 10 of the first page of search results. OK that’s pretty good but who is going to enter the book series also in a search? I needed to do some SEO – Search Engine Optimisation to bring my ‘Immortality Gene’ references to the first page of search results.
One thing that showed up immediately was that Goodreads Reviews were given a high priority by Google.

Make sure your book is reviewed at Goodreads.

Next Google seems to give preference to it’s own services – Google Play books, Blogspot, YouTube Google+. Of course this post at Blogspot, which mentions ‘Immortality Gene’ in the text and in the post labels, should help.

Make sure you use Google services to mention your book. Put it in your blog and make a YouTube video. If your book isn’t on Google Play books – publish it there.
Here’s the YouTube video I made for Immortality Gene

Warning – technical stuff ahead

Next, your website. Do entry pages have the title of your book near the start of the text? Do your search terms feature in a heading? Are they mentioned in the meta tags under keywords and in the meta description? Are there links to the entry web page from other sites, including your blog, Facebook page, YouTube page and other social media pages? Do you have links from your author account at Amazon to your web page and blogs? Does the page name and URL contain your search term? This is all basic SEO stuff. Make sure it’s done but beware of going over the top with it and ‘keyword stuffing’ your web pages—that can lose you ranking at Google. If you don’t have a clue how this is done, find the top ranking pages for your search term and look at the source code to see if they’ve done anything special. Usually the fourth one on the first page returned is good to examine  because 1-3 may be paid ranking—watch for the ‘Ad’ in the returns and DON’T choose those pages to examine –

Here’s what I picked out from looking at the top returns — The page newatlas.com/hydra-imortality-gene-foxo-kiel-university/25371/ featured these items. I’ve highlighted the relevant parts in red:

  • immortality-gene‘ as part of the URL
  • In the page’s meta tags the page title was ‘Hydra’s immortality gene sheds light on human aging.
  • The page also had Open Graph protocol ‘og’ meta tags in which ‘Immortality Gene’ appeared in the og:title meta tag and also the og:url meta tag. OG protocol is used by sites such as Facebook.
  • The page had Twitter meta tags.
  • The page was duplicated elsewhere on the web and had ‘link rel=”canonical”‘ tags
  • The page headline was ‘Hydra’s immortality gene
  • A script featured the same headline
  • The page featured a gallery of images which had a title containing ‘immortality gene
  • the word ‘immortality’ occurred 14 times in the page and ‘gene’ occurred 31 times.

Learn what is involved in adding OG protocol items to your page and make use of it. These meta tags ensure that when a page is shared on Facebook the correct image is shown. Find out how to use them here. See how I used them below (#5).

Learn how to use Twitter cards – the Twitter meta tags – to your pages. You can find out how  here. See how I used them below (#4).

Make sure your page has images and add titles and descriptions to them. See what I did #8 below.

Can you program in Script? If so write some code which features your book title. This can be invisible to the user but should be functional. In my case I added a script type=”application/ld+json” which you can find more details about here. See how I used a script below (#7).

Duplicate the page elsewhere on the web and add ‘link rel=”canonical”‘ tags. This will ensure all the pages count as one page at Google and you won’t lose search engine ranking. More details here.


I can’t claim to be the world’s greatest expert at SEO but the changes I made to get my page ranking higher in Google were:

  1. Change the page URL from ‘immortality’ to immortality-gene. It’s now at http://avestedinterest.info/immortality-gene.htm
  2. Adding the red section to the page title:
     A Vested Interest – Immortality Gene: If humans were immortal… 
  3. Changing the page headline from ‘If Humans were immortal…’ to
    ‘If Humans had the Immortality Gene …’
  4. Adding the following Twitter meta tags:<meta name=”twitter:card” content=”summary_large_image” />
    <meta name=”twitter:site” content=”@JChapman1729″ />
    <meta name=”twitter:title” content=”A Vested Interest – Immortality Gene: If humans were immortal…” />
    <meta name=”twitter:description” content=”Science is on the verge of dramatically extending human lifespan. Will there be objections?” />
    <meta name=”twitter:image” content= “http://avestedinterest.info/images/120YearsMax533x300.jpg” />
    <meta name=”twitter:image:alt” content=”If science activates the human immortality gene will there be objections?” />
  5. Adding the following meta OG tags:
    <meta property=”og:type” content=”website” />
    <meta property=”og:image” content=”http://avestedinterest.info/images/120YearsMax533x300.jpg”/>
    <meta property=”og:title” content=”A Vested Interest – Immortality Gene: If humans were immortal…” />
    <meta property=”og:description” content=”Science is on the verge of dramatically extending human lifespan. Will there be objections?” />
    <meta property=”og:url” content=”http://avestedinterest.info/immortality-gene.htm”/>
  6. I left the original page as it was and it was already duplicated in a blog. I added the following link rel=”canonical” tags:
    <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://avestedinterest.info/immortality.htm”>
    <link rel=”canonical” href=”http://avestedinterest.blogspot.co.uk/2014/09/if-humans-were-immortal.html”>
  7.  I added the following script to the page header. If you want to use it yourself, change the green areas to your own choices. Put the entire script in front of your web pages </head> tag:
    <script type=”application/ld+json”>
    {
       “@context”: “http://schema.org”,
        “@type”: “Article”,
        “author”: {
            “@type”: “Person”,
            “description”: “A technophile author with a strong background in information technology, John is passionately drawn to explaining things and has a deep interest in environmental technology and genetic engineering. When not indulging his passion for reading and writing, he can be found designing space elevators, pondering the Immortality Gene and wandering around in hidden places. He lives in Northumberland, England.“,
            “image”: {
                “@type”: “ImageObject”,
                “url”: “http://avestedinterest.info/images/John80.jpg
            },
            “name”: “John Chapman“,
            “url”: “http://avestedinterest.info/jc.htm
        },
        “dateModified”: “2017-01-24T023:44“,
        “datePublished”: “2017-01-24T023:44“,
        “description”: “Science is on the verge of dramatically extending human lifespan. Will there be objections?“,
        “headline”: “If Humans had the Immortality Gene …“,
        “image”: {
            “@type”: “ImageObject”,
            “caption”: “If science activates the human immortality gene will there be objections?“,          “height”: “300 px”,
            “url”: “http://avestedinterest.info/images/120YearsMax533x300.jpg“,
            “width”: “533 px”
        },
        “mainEntityOfPage”: “http://avestedinterest.info/immortality-gene.htm“,
        “publisher”: {
            “@type”: “Organization”,
            “logo”: {
                “@type”: “ImageObject”,
                “url”: “http://jaydax.co.uk/images/jaydaxbuttonlogo.jpg
            },
            “name”: “JayDax“,
            “sameAs”: [
                “http://avestedinterest.info”,
                “https://www.facebook.com/A.Vested.Interest/”,
                “https://twitter.com/JChapman1729”,
                “https://uk.pinterest.com/johnchapman/”

            ],
            “url”: “http://jaydax.co.uk/
        }
    }
    </script>
  8. I added a missing ‘alt’ statement to the image making it’s code now :
    <img src=”images/120YearsMax533x300.jpg” alt=”Science is on the verge of activating a human immortality gene. Will there be objections?” width=”533″ height=”300″ class=”right” />
  9. I followed Google’s recommendations for making my blogs discoverable by search engines. See their instructions here
I’m not quite finished. I still need to check Michael’s keywords and description are for his ‘Season of the Harvest’ to see if  I can learn anything from them. How to steal those is the subject of another blog though. My web page has been fixed though and now all I have to do is wait to see if it’s rank improves.
If this post has helped or entertained, will you help me? Download a FREE copy of our book ‘Immortality Gene’ from http://smarturl.it/avi
Even if you never read it (but I hope you will) – it will help my rankings.
As to this post – it’s part of a forthcoming book ‘An Illustrated Guide to Getting Published.’ 
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