Learn the 3 elements of a good Sales Funnel
Last week I talked about how important it is to learn book marketing secrets if you want to make a living as an author. In short, publishing houses are no longer in the business of book marketing. They might publish your manuscript and put it on the shelves at the local bookstore. After that, you’re on your own. If you want to see any money from your efforts, you need to learn how to market your work.
If book marketing is a foreign concept to you, or you have paid for ads in the past and lost money, don’t freak out.
Most authors think marketing means buying Facebook ad space and shelling out hundreds of dollars for a few measly sales. I will eventually talk a little about buying and running ads, but that’s another topic for another day. For right now, let me make one thing perfectly clear: paying for ads before you have a book with a solid conversion rate is a waste of money.
What do I mean by conversion rate? Conversion rate refers to the amount of people who see your book versus the number of people who click that buy button. If your sales are flatline and your cover sucks, no amount of money spent on ads is going to get people to click the Buy Now button. The pic is a perfect example. Matt Rogers sells a lot of books. As in, A LOT OF BOOKS. How do I know? Simple, I looked as his sales rank. This particular book is hovering around 700 in the top amazon sellers. He’s probably selling around 40 a day. And that’s the sixth book in the series. Now look at the right side of the picture, underneath the buy now column. Notice the add with the small picture of a hokey cover that looks like it was drawn in crayon by the author’s ten year old nephew and the cheesy sales pitch that follows? If you had to choose between Matt Roger’s book and that book, which would you buy?
My point exactly. That author has a poorly produced cover and a bad blurb. (My apologies to the author). No amount of money chunked out on adds is going to make that book sell. Just to satisfy my curiosity, I peeked at the sales rank. Even giving his book away for free, the author is still only ranking in the top 3k. He’s plunking down good money on ad space to give away a few copies a week, for free. Not a very good ROI.
Selling your fiction starts with the book itself and (mostly) won’t cost a dime. I’m going to teach you 3 things you must do if you want to make a living as a writer. These three things are called a sales funnel and they work together to sell your book. Ignore any single part of the equation and your sales will suffer.
3 parts of a Great Sales Funnel
A Great Cover. (A good cover at the very least)
I know that a lot of indie authors get tired of hearing about the importance of cover art. They think if the book is good enough, it shouldn’t matter what the cover looks like. Don’t judge a book by the cover and all.
Nothing could be further from the truth. The cover is the first thing a potential buyer will see. It is the first part of your sales funnel. The cover introduces the reader to your book. If it sucks, they assume the book is equally bad. And worse, there are a whole lineup of books with snazzy covers just below yours in a section called Sponsored Products.
Many authors balk at shelling out a few hundred dollars on professional cover design, but you need to think of the cover as the first hurdle. If it’s a professional looking cover, the potential buyer will check out the book description. If it’s a crap cover, the potential buyer will skip over your book and give their hard earned cash to authors with professional covers. I’ll go more in depth on what makes a good cover in future posts. For right now, suffice to say, your cover needs to look just as good—hopefully better—than the other books in your genre.
Attention Grabbing Sales Description.
The sales description, also called the book blurb, is the next stop in the sales funnel. It is the second hurdle that the customer has to mount before they are ready to spend money on your book.
It’s tough to write a good blurb. Don’t believe me. Head over to Amazon and take a look at the scores of books dedicated to sales description. There is an art to writing book blurbs. And writers who can produce dynamite blurbs charge big bucks in the publishing world. Think Stephen King writes the copy on the back cover of his book? No sir. A professional copywriter penned that.
Your blurb needs to leave readers wanting to know what happens next. If you need help punching up your blurb, check out Bryan Cohen’s How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis. It won’t turn you into a professional copyeditor, but it should at least help you craft a book blurb good enough that potential customers will download a sample. If your story is halfway decent, they’ll buy.
The third part in the trifecta is social proof. Potential customers want to know that other people bought your book and enjoyed it before they’ll cough up the bread. That means positive reviews. Customers want to read glowing comments from other readers saying good things about your work.
I know what you are thinking: “How the hell am I supposed get reviews if I need reviews to sell books! It’s a Catch Twenty-Two.”
Keep your shirt on.
The secret to getting reviews is easy. Give you book away for free. Now I can hear you really howling. “Free! You know how long I worked on this book!” Long as anybody else, I suspect.
Bottom line: you want people to buy your book, you’ll need reviews and that means giving a few copies away for free. Traditional publishers give away ARC (Advance Reader Copies) to reviewers. Those reviewers read the book and then leave reviews. If big publishing companies understand the value of giving away free copies, then you should as well.
The best way to give away free copies is through enrollment in Amazon KDP select.
This has two advantages. First, KDP gives you a certain number of promotion days every 90 days. Five to be exact. That means you can give the book away for five days, then it will automatically return to normal price. Second, KDP select members will be able to download your book and you’ll get paid for page reads. Right now, I earn about 60 clams a day from my KDP select page reads. It’s a good way to make some extra dough. Use KDP to get your book into the hands of readers who will give you reviews which in turn inspire more people to buy.
Note: Less than 10% of people who read a book will review it and you are going to need a bare minimum of 20 positive reviews before your book finds traction. That equates to several thousand free giveaways. Don’t be surprised if you run a promotion, give away a thousand copies of your book and get one measly review. It happens. It sucks. Move on. I’ve given away over 10k copies of Noble Man and it took me nearly a year to get 20 reviews. Of course, I made a lot of mistakes along the way. Mistakes I’ll try to help you avoid.
There you have it.
The 3 critical steps in marketing your book begins with a solid sales funnel.
Nail these three vital elements and the book will sell. I’ll go deeper in depth on each of the three in later posts. Be sure to comment below. Let me know what you thought. If you have questions about your specific sales funnel add a link to your book in the comment section. I’d be glad to take a look.
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