Can SEO Help You Sell More Books?

As a publisher or book author, the thought of search engine optimization – SEO – is likely to send chills down your spine. After all, creativity is what you are good at, and the technical aspect of SEO can be daunting, to say the least.

But the truth is somewhat different. Using SEO to sell more books is more straightforward than you might think. And, failure to invest some time and money into being more visible online could stymie your chances of success.

With this in mind, this post will outline what you need to get started in SEO. Let’s get started with some of the basics.

seo-411385_1280

Picture from pixabay

Answering a Question

The first step in understanding how to approach SEO for books is knowing how people use search engines. While your book is likely to rank highly when people search for its title and your author name, not many will. After all, nobody is going to know your name or your book’s name when you are just starting out.

So, the idea is to think about keywords – the phrases and questions people enter into search engines to find what they are looking for. Brainstorm everything you can think of that touches on your book’s subject matter.

Also, use tools like Google’s Adwords Keyword tool to help you identify popular words and phrases. Once you are done, you should have an extensive set of keywords that you can use on your website, or in your book’s description.

Optimize for all Search Engines

Don’t forget that Google isn’t the only search engine in existence. Sure, it’s vital that you optimize for Google, but you should also consider the likes of Bing and other search engines. Knowing about the latest Google update will be crucial to keep your book ranking high – but other platforms have search engines, too.

If you have an account selling books through Amazon, for example, it is imperative to understand how to rank well for your subject. Lots of self-publishing authors fail to do this, and they are missing out on a lot of potential.

Spreading the Word

Search engines follow links and place a good deal of importance on them. It is vital to get your book out there and in the hands of industry authority figures. Doing so will work in a couple of ways. First of all, if an industry thought leader reviews your book and recommends it to their followers, you will increase your sales.

Secondly, search engines place a high value on getting links from reputable websites. The higher quality of website that is linking to you, the better your rankings will be. Some of the most powerful links are from educational establishments or government websites. While it’s hard to get these links, it is not impossible – and it can have a significant impact on your search rankings.

Investing in SEO

Finally, investing in hiring a reputable SEO firm will pay off in the long-term. They can ensure that your site or sales page is optimized to perfection, while you can focus on your relationships with your audience. SEO is not magic, and anyone can learn how to do it – but it is time-consuming. Choosing the right firm to work with should bring you a good return on your investment. Good luck!

How to Write a Compelling Book Blurb: My 3 Top Tips

Dwight Book Blurb

The Little Blurb That Could

Ah…the little gem that is the book blurb (or book synopsis/summary). It can be a total pain to write, especially if you’re the author and are expected to write it yourself. Not everyone has a great editing/publishing team behind him/her to write the inescapable book blurb, but I promise you that with some practice—and my guidance—writing a compelling book blurb doesn’t have to be very painful.

As an aside, I really don’t care what everyone else says about book blurbs—though I’ve included a link to a post about blurbs below. I think that when we get too caught up in the opinions of others, we get sidelined and confused. That being said, as a trained copywriter, former marketer, and someone who has been writing quite a few book blurbs this year, I’ve come to understand what does and doesn’t work in regards to writing a “hooky” summary for a book.

Let’s begin, shall we? Here are my 3 tips, and then I’ll give you some actual structure so you can create your own blurb.

1. Write it in present tense

Writing a book blurb in present tense (which is standard practice, by the way) gives the reader a sense of urgency AND puts him/her right there with the story. It doesn’t matter if you have written a book in past tense; you MUST write your blurb in present! Don’t switch the tense, and try to avoid first person pronouns. I’m sure it can be effective to do so once in a while, but the ones I’ve read that are styled in that way just make me cringe. Please don’t make me cringe.

This is me, cringing at a bad book blurb.

This is me, cringing at a bad book blurb. (And at my tacky Christmas get-up.)

2. Make it concise

Do you know what a log line is? It’s typically the one-liner for a movie, or even your book’s “elevator pitch.” Nowadays, you can think of it as the tweet-sized summary of your book. When you start writing a blurb with a log line in mind, you can build from there.

After you’re satisfied with your log line, write a few more sentences (or bullet points, if you prefer). In my opinion, 4-5 sentences are great for your book’s summary, but sometimes less OR more is needed. Proceed with caution and test it out on others as you revise. If you write too many sentences, you’ll need to take out your editing cutting board and chop the heck out of the blurb until all the excess junk is gone.

Grumpy Cat Less is More

3. Remember that you’re SELLING something (AKA: copywriting)

WHAT, exactly, makes me want to read your book? Don’t tell me the obvious. When you do so, you make me feel like an idiot, and I’m actually a very smart person. Give me a few details while giving me the overall arc of the story. Make me want MORE from you. Make me want to wrap myself like a burrito in a fleece blanket next to a blazing fireplace while holding onto your book for dear life, eager to turn page after page. That, my dear writer, is what your book’s life goal should be. And please don’t give away the ending!

Don’t be scared of that word “copywriting,” either. It’s not complicated, really. Think about your favorite product, book, thing…whatever. Now, think of all the times you became an evangelist for that thing. How did you get someone else to try this life-changing thing? Incorporate that passion and knowledge into writing your book blurb. You MUST become an evangelist for your book, because no one else will be as fanatical about it if you’re not. And, if you don’t feel that way in the first place, why are you writing a book? For reals. *gives you my best evil eye glare*

Like My own book

But, Teacher, How Do I Actually Write The Book Blurb?

So, now that you know the top 3 things to take into account, how do you actually write the bloody thing?

  1. Think about the important things to highlight about your story—what makes me, the reader, want to read your book? Write down those things using a numbered or bulleted list. Then, limit it to 3-5 points. (I like writing things out on paper, but if you’re more of a “type everything” person, do what makes you comfortable.)
  2. Take your points and make them full sentences. Then, play around with order. You may find the final sentence would actually be better placed at the beginning.
  3. Though the whole blurb will be in present tense, thus already making it have a level of urgency, be intentional about conveying a sense of urgency in every sentence. You can do this by remembering what most of us were taught in elementary English class essay structure: use the proverbial “attention getter.” Sometimes, I like to use a question to garner the interest of potential readers. If they have a question that they want to find the answer to, chances are they’ll pick up your book to find out.
  4. When you have some strong, clear, and concise sentences, string them together to see if they make sense. Then, edit the crap out of them until you are ready to let someone else (or a few someone elses) look over it for you.
  5. Test it out. Send to friends, family members, or even your arch nemesis. Tell them to pretend it’s not you who wrote it, so they’ll give you truthful feedback rather than a cupcake-with-lots-of-frosting pat on the back. Remember: if you can’t take even a small amount of criticism about a book blurb, imagine how much crying you’ll do if people don’t like your book. WRITING IS NOT FOR THE WEAK OF HEART—or the easily offended, for that matter! Take it all in stride and revise and perfect as necessary. (And, for good measure, I’ll still love you even if you don’t take my advice. RUDE.)

 Love your book

If you feel so inclined to read more about writing a book blurb, here is a post on the subject from CreateSpace: https://forums.createspace.com/en/community/community/resources/blog/2014/10/21/how-to-craft-a-compelling-book-description

Of course, before testing it out on others, check your spelling and grammar. If you’re lucky enough to know someone in marketing and/or advertising, ask if they’ll take a look at it for you. OR if you know a copywriter, and they’re willing to read it, send it their way!

Until you become more accustomed to writing blurbs with ease, I’m afraid that the best thing to do is keep practicing over and over. Also, take note of blurbs you think are great. Study them, analyze them, deconstruct and reconstruct them. It’s taken me a few years to become decent at writing blurbs, but I would never call myself a “master.” Yes, I have a natural affinity for the written word, but I still have to practice to make even writing a blog post look easy. But, if you want to think I’m just naturally brilliant, well, hey…who am I to stop you?

What’s that, you say? You want to see an example of a book blurb? Glad you asked! Your wish is my command. Just click your ruby red heels together three times and…

An Actual Example Of Revising A Blurb For A Client:

Original blurb (NOT created by me):

Three remarkable women are faced with challenges concerning their faith, love, and friendships. Jasmine is a wealthy doctor who is the head of her own medical practice, and she is happily married. Topper is single and promiscuous. She is determined to have all of the finer things in life, at any price. Life suddenly changes when her 17-year-old daughter wants to live with her. Monica is a successful educator at an exclusive private school, is married, and has a teenage daughter who struggles with a healthy self-image. Throughout the story, the ladies learn that they can conquer any circumstance through the love of God and the support of one another.

My revision:

Is it really possible to have it all? Jasmine is a happily married, wealthy doctor, who is the head of her own medical practice. But when her Yale honor student daughter starts to develop mysterious mood swings and a nonchalant attitude about maintaining good grades, Jasmine’s perfect little world comes crashing down as she tries to hold her family together. Topper, an extremely gifted makeup artist who struggles with alcohol abuse and promiscuity, is about to get everything she wants. She is determined to have the finer things in life—at any price—but her dreams come to a sudden halt when her estranged 17-year-old daughter wants to come live with her. Monica, a successful educator at an exclusive private school, seems to have the perfect relationship with her husband who treats her like a queen. But their teenage daughter struggles with a healthy self-image, and is harboring a dark secret under the guise of binge eating. As the women face painful challenges and unexpected life lessons, they learn what it really means to rely on God—and a deep bond of friendship—in order to find their happy ending.

In Conclusion

The revision was a bit longer than I usually prefer, but, hey…sometimes that happens. Notice how I began with a question and didn’t give away the ending. THAT’S what you should be aiming for.

Did you like what you read? Do you think I could work some magic for you? HIRE ME so I can buy myself chocolate, because my friends don’t!

You can HIRE ME by contacting me HERE.

Chocolate Meme

And, if you have something to add to the conversation about writing book blurbs, leave a comment below. 🙂 Unless you’re a spammy bot, that is.

All images via Meme Generator.

Monday Motivation: Read this Cool Stuff IV

(As previously seen on the HelaWrite blog.)

Happy Monday to all you readers!

I’m continuing the Monday Motivation series and have some great articles for you to read. They’re all brilliant! Take a break, grab a snack, and put everything on hold while you take a few minutes to read each one.

1. How to Sell Loads of Books by Russell Blake, Suspense Writer

This post is exactly what every aspiring and active writer needs to read. Even if you’re traditionally published, there’s so much to learn from it. Russell Blake shares his personal experience in regards to independently publishing his books. He doesn’t beat around the bush and is very honest. Though it’s a longer reader than most blog posts, it’s worth your time. I think I need to read it again myself. I’ve already sent it to all my clients and writer friends.

2. Top 10 WordPress Plugins That You Need To Be Using In 2014 by Jeff Bullas

I love Jeff Bullas’s blog! This is yet another great post on his site, written by Mr. Bullas himself. Since I do all my own IT and design my websites and blogs by myself, I am always on the lookout for advice about everything techy–specifically advice that will make my life easier and my lack of tech skills almost unnoticeable. Read this post to learn more about WordPress plugins that will help your WordPress site or blog get to the next level.

3. 25 Ways to Marketing Your Business for Free by Marlee Ward

Though I’d prefer the title to read: 25 Ways to [Market] Your Business for [Nearly] Free, I’m not going to be overly picky. The author admits up front that some of the methods she writes about are not necessarily “free,” especially in regards to spending time on said methods. And we all know that time=money. However, the tips and examples she gives in the post are very creative, cost-effective, and just plain do-able. Read the article to get some ideas as you tweak your marketing/PR plan for this quarter.

I hope you find these articles as useful as I. Keep pressing on towards those goals and you’ll see them accomplished! And go ahead–treat yourself to that 3rd cup of coffee this afternoon. It’s Monday, so why not?