Still lots of editing to do on this puppy, but we’ve got a nice cover done, so I thought I’d float it out in the world and see what people think. Anyone who’s not sighing over this rugged-yet-thoughtful cowboy is clearly not into guys. But if that’s the case, that’s okay, because, as usual, there are plenty more players where that one came from—my stories are nothing if not packed with colorful characters. And if you’re wondering what they’ll be up to in this one, the blurb is up for The Gifted Ones Book 3, The Animator on the series page.
Given that we’ve now got the outside of Book 3 finished, and we’ll have the inside done in another 10-14 days, I’m certain this installment of The Gifted Ones series will go live before Halloween, as promised. The book will be available in all the popular ebook outlets, as I don’t do the whole “exclusive with Amazon” thing. Yes, I wish my books could be available to borrow in Amazon’s all-you-can-read club (“Kindle Unlimited“), but I’m just not willing to help Amazon shut down every other ebook vendor on the planet in exchange, and that’s what they require of small publishers who want to participate.
As always, this book will be in need of reviews when it comes out, so if you’d like a free copy in exchange for a review, just drop us a line on our contact page, and we’ll send you the file type of your choice, straightaway.
Conventional ebook publishing wisdom has it that changing up your covers every so often is a good marketing move. You can revitalize an older book or series and draw in new readers by giving your product a whole new look, or so the recommendation goes. If it works for politicians and fast food restaurants, it ought to work for ebooks, right? Well, I’m not sure I follow the logic, but you’d be surprised—even covers that you once drooled over start to look old and tired when you’ve seen them too much. So, just to relieve my own eye fatigue, and in celebration of almost ten years since I started the first book in the series (Little Miss Straight Lace), I’ve invested in a beautiful new set of covers for my old standy-by, Unbreakable. Remember, if you haven’t read it yet, the first book is free, so grab it now and try out the new skin!
If you’re not much of a Twitterer, you may not know what hashtags are, but if you’re trying to sell books, it’s something you should know. When people tweet, you’ll often see words either in the tweet itself or appended to the end of the tweet which are preceded by the pound sign, also known as the hash or number symbol (# – the character above three on a keyboard). In Twitter, words with this symbol are identified as search terms for a tweet, in much the same way as tags are used for articles, blog posts, or products on Amazon (see my post on book tagging for more on that topic). When people tweet with hashtags, they help searchers locate tweets that are related to what they’re looking for. For example, you can append #book, #ebook, #kindle, and/or #nook anytime you tweet about books, ebooks, or ereaders. People who are looking for information about any of these, can search within Twitter or on Twitter-related sites like Twubs, Twibes, or Topsy for all tweets with those hashtags. This system takes the overwhelming mish-mash of sound bites that is Twitter and turns it into a useful, organized directory of information. One hashtag that is particularly useful for authors is “#samplesunday”. This hashtag is the brainchild of author David Wiseheart, who first proposed its use on his blog, “Kindle Author”. The point of #samplesunday is to post an excerpt of your writing on your website, and then tweet about it with the hashtag #samplesunday. You can then search for Sunday samples, read them, comment on them, and of course, retweet them. It’s a quick and easy way for authors to spread the word about their work and show it off to those who are looking for something new to read for the week. I’ve used #SampleSunday several times, and it always increases traffic to our book pages, so I highly recommend it as a book marketing method. Why not try it yourself this week? Here are some of our samples from past #SampleSunday’s.
In a previous article, I talked about Amazon book tagging, how it’s done, and how it can help you sell more books. If you haven’t read that one yet, I recommend reading it first, so you’ll understand how to get your tagging started. In this article, we’re going to look at how you can get those tag counts up and really make an impact on your book’s popularity. As I mentioned previously, one way to move your book up in the Amazon search list is to increase your book’s tag counts, and by that, I don’t mean the number of different tags, but rather, the number of customers clicking the tags. A minimum of 50 is probably required to see a noticeable change in position, and if your book is in a competitive category, like romance or fantasy, it will probably take 100-200 taggers to push your work towards the front of the line. So if your list of friends and family members is a bit shy of that, where are you going to find that many people to tag your book? The answer is a tagging thread. A tagging thread is just a chain of messages on a website or forum where Amazon authors gather for virtual chats and community. For example, MobileRead.com, which is a forum for fans of ebook reading devices, has a tagging thread, as does KindleBoards.com, a Kindle-specific forum. The Kindle Direct Publishing site also has a tagging thread in its forums. Any Amazon author is welcome to join these threads, as long as he is willing to participate and reciprocate. The idea is that each participant posts a message with his Amazon book links in it, and the other members of the thread visit those book pages and click on the tags. It can seem daunting at first to join a tagging thread, as all of the members seem to know each other already, and the existing thread can be really, really long. For example, the KindleBoards thread has over 10,000 posts as of this writing, but don’t let that scare you off. You should realize that the success of a tagging thread depends on a constant influx of new members, so you will not be looked upon as an interloper when you join, and furthermore, no one expects you to go back and read all 10,000 posts from the beginning. Keep the following guidelines in mind when you join, and you will be welcomed into the thread and quickly find yourself getting tagged up:
• Join the forum and participate in other threads for a few weeks before jumping into the tagging thread. This way, the long-time members will know you are serious about contributing and not just there to be tagged.
• While you don’t need to read and tag from the beginning of the thread, do read the first couple pages of the thread to make sure you understand the thread/forum decorum.
• Once you’ve done both of those, go ahead and jump to somewhere near the end of the thread, maybe a week or two back from the most recent post, and tag a bunch of books, before posting your links in the thread.
• When you make your initial post, introduce yourself and mention which pages or books you have already done, so the forum members know that you will be reciprocating if they tag you.
• Whenever you finish a tagging session, place another post in the thread mentioning whose books you have recently tagged or just say that you are “caught up”. Your posts will remind others to tag you, if they haven’t already.
• Continue to participate regularly in the thread, at least once every week or two, both as a tagger and as a general contributor, answering questions and socializing with other members.As long as you participate in the thread, you will continue to get new tags and new eyes on your books; remember, most authors are avid readers as well as writers, so you will certainly get a few sales just from other taggers. Of course, you’ll probably end up buying a lot of their books, as well!
If you have a book for sale on one of the big bookseller websites (Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Smashwords), you know that getting it up there is only half the battle. Once your book is ready for purchase, how do you get people to buy it? Even if it’s the greatest masterpiece since Shakespeare, no one’s going to buy a book they never end up seeing, and that’s where book tagging can help. There are many different marketing approaches an author can take to increase his book’s visibility, but Amazon book tagging is one that is free and easy. When shoppers search on Amazon for a particular word or phrase, such as “European travel” or “urban fantasy”, Amazon has hundreds or even thousands of books to serve up in response and has to determine how to order them. The frequency of related tags on a book is one of the variables in their secret recipe for ordering the list, and more importantly, it’s one of very few you can control! You’re probably familiar with the term “tagging” as it is applied to images on social media sites like Facebook, or articles on websites like this one, or links on bookmarking sites like Digg. Tagging is the process of labeling something in order to increase the odds of people finding it. For example, this article is tagged with the words Amazon, tagging, tags, ebooks, books, book sales, and book marketing. I chose those words, because even if those exact terms aren’t used in the article, I know that people looking for this information will use some combination of those words to search for it. So how do you get your work tagged on Amazon? The first step is to create some tags for it yourself. In order to tag an item on Amazon and have other shoppers able to see your tags, you need to have an account on Amazon on which you have purchased at least one item. Until you’ve purchased something, your tags display only to you and don’t increase your book’s popularity. Each person can tag an item on Amazon with a maximum of 15 tags, so start out by choosing 10-15 useful search tags for your book. For example, I tagged Little Miss Straight Lace with tags I felt would be used by people searching for this type of novel, like “romantic suspense”, “medical mystery”, “multicultural romance”, and “abortion drug”. Other readers later tagged the book with words they felt were appropriate, such as “North Carolina”, “beach read”, and “Judith Krantz”. (Judith Krantz wrote epic tales of strong heroines back in the eighties and nineties; I assume that tagger thought my book was similar to hers.) I do not recommend choosing tags which are popular search terms but aren’t relevant to your book, such as “Stephen King” or “Twilight”. If readers are looking for these products and find yours instead, they won’t be delighted; they’ll be annoyed at being misled, and may take the time to vote down the irrelevant tag or even add a negative tag to your book, like “so-o-o not Stephen King”. Remember, any Amazon customer can tag your book with whatever they like, and negative tagging (“maltagging”) is an unfortunate side-effect of this freedom. To add tags, look for the tag section of your book’s product page. If the book already has some tags, the section is labeled “Tags Customers Associate with This Product”. If it has none, the section is called “Tag this product”. Once there, just type your tags into the little box provided and click “add” (see red rectangle below). Hitting the T key twice quickly or using the “edit” link allows you to add or subtract a bunch of tags all at once in a pop-up window. Once you have some tags on your book, they are listed out with little checkboxes next to them and with a tag count in parentheses after them, as in the image. The checkmark indicates that you tagged the book that way (green rectangle); if the box is not checked, the tag is someone else’s, and you have not tagged it that way (purple rectangle). The count in parentheses is the number of people who have used that particular tag on your book. In this image, 171 people (including me) have tagged Little Miss Straight Lace with “romantic suspense”. The main book page will only show the 10 most common tags, but clicking the “See all tags” link will take you to another page that shows all your tags, in this case, 26. The “Agree with these tags?” link can be a bit confusing. It is not, as many think, a way of tagging the product. It is only a way of voting on existing tags. When you click that link, it displays arrows after each tag that allow you to disagree with or “vote down” a tag. This is useful in situations where you think a book has been mistagged or maltagged, as in my “so-o-o not Stephen King” example. So now that you know all about Amazon tagging, will it help you sell books? Frankly, having tagged your book yourself isn’t much help. What you need is to have lots of people tagging your book. Once your book has a particular phrase tagged 50 or 100 or 200 times, it will start moving up in the results list for that phrase. For example, a search of books on Amazon for “mystery romance” (my second most common tag), brings up a list of almost 10,000 books, but Little Miss Straight Lace is on the first page of that list (currently #12), in part because of the high tag count for that search term. While tag counts are only one element to the ordering of the results, they are clearly an important one, so be sure to read the follow-up article, Join an Amazon Tagging Thread, to learn how to use forum tagging threads to get your masterpiece tagged and found.