Blog SEO and Book Marketing for Self Publishing Authors

Using Blog SEO in Your Book Marketing Efforts

A large number of self published authors start a blog with the two-fold intention of communicating with readers AND building better book marketing success. A blog about a self published book can be a very effective book marketing tool for promoting a book and distributing information. However, a blog is also highly effective at driving search engine rankings and a key part of the Search Engine Optimization (SEO) plan for your web site.

Too many author blogs are not only incredibly boring – they are also nearly impossible to find in a relevant search (based upon the topic of the book) on Google. I can’t really cover the ‘make your posts interesting’ message in this article, but I CAN address using your blog as a key element of your book marketing through utilizing smart key words and key phrases to drive search traffic.

Self published authors often feel a bit lost after having a web site and blog built, because they’ve not been faced with developing blogs posts that contain relevant search keywords. I don’t promise to turn you into a SEO book marketing wizard, but I’ve developed a few strategies and ideas that you can implement on your self published book’s web site and blog to increase your traffic and build visibility for your book.

Keyword / Key Phrase Research

I’ve written extensively on creating a book marketing plan – and a core precept of those articles is the identification of your target customer. No matter what you came up with, everybody uses Google and its brethren search engines. You need to create a list of the keywords and key phrases that a potential reader might search for – and in turn, would indicate they are interested in your book. These keywords and key phrases must be items that are directly referenced in your book. Don’t go too broad – for example just because a character in your book drinks soda doesn’t mean someone searching for “Coca-Cola” cares about either your blog or your self published book.

Plan Your Blog Posts

Sure, writing an ‘off-the-cuff’ blog might be more fun, and it often might be more interesting to your immediate friends and family – but does American Idol really relate to your topic or book? Using the keywords you discover in the above section, make it a habit to first write posts that fit those topics. Your blog content plan should be structured to attract those readers – but it can still be flexible enough to let your personality show through and have some ‘fun’ posts. You might even take keywords or key phrases and assign them to future days or posts – to keep your writing on task and focused.

Write Relevant, Key-Word-Rich Posts

Your blog posts still need to be readable and not sound like they’ve been spit out of some automated system. You need to write posts that are a balance of good writing / reading and great content that attracts search engines.  These are not mutually exclusive goals – if you can accomplish both, you will find your readers more engaged with your topic (and possibly more inclined to buy your book) and you will discover your  web site / blog is building more traffic due to its increased exposure in the search engine listings.

Here’s a quick list of items that will improve your book marketing efforts while building reader engagement with your content:

1 – Put the key word / key phrase in the title of your post.

Put the key words or phrase right at the beginning of  the post title – just make sure it makes sense to your reader. The post ‘title’  is the text that will show up  in search results.For example, in this post my title is  Blog SEO and Book Marketing for Self Publishing – this covers the article topic (blog SEO), the category within the world of self publishing (book marketing), and a quick push of my site’s main  focus (self publishing). All combine to tell the reader exactly what to expect AND give great SEO.

2 – Put the key word / key phrase in the first heading  of your post.

The first bit of text in the body of your post should be a 1-Head (or Heading 1 style in many blog systems). This text should expand on the Title and further explain what you are going to tell the reader. Think of it as you would ‘sub title’ to your book. In this post it’s Using Blog SEO in Your Book Marketing Efforts – expanding on my Title, using two of my key phrases again.

3 – Be specific and use key words / key phrases in the body text of your post.

Here’s where your blog post can begin to read more like book marketing copy than good writing – and is the ‘balance’ I discussed earlier in this post. Search engine optimization means that Google and the other search engines easily ‘discover’ the focus of your site and posts – which in turn means you don’t use vague descriptors like “it.” Always be specific! See what I did above? One of my key phrases is “book marketing” – and I managed to include the words “book marketing” in my first sentence – where I could have just used “marketing copy” … or, even in this sentence just a few words ago where I could have just used ‘it’ but chose to use ‘…include the words book marketing copy…’ Just don’t go crazy with it – or you’ll lose your reader.

4 – Link to relevant content in your site and in your blog

If your blog is focused, then many of your posts should cover related topics – and try to use a key words  or phrases within the body that direct the reader to additional content. You can refer readers to earlier posts by using a phrase within the post that is related to both your current topic AND the topic of the related content. See what I did above where I directed to you a link on the Dog Ear Publishing site about creating a book marketing plan? Includes my key phrase ‘book marketing plan’ AND takes you to relevant content on our sister site Dog Ear Publishing. By using a key phrase in my link, I’ve let you know that the article I’m sending you to is about book marketing – and specifically about creating a book marketing plan. Much better than this:

5 – Use your key words and key phrases as categories and tags

All blogs allow you to set categories and tags for your posts – these should match or at least be centered around the keywords and key phrases you are optimizing.

Optimizing Blog Book Marketing – additional tips

The items above all contribute to writing good blog content and setting up strong blog SEO – while contributing to the overall marketing of your book. Self published authors need lots of book marketing options that have little to no cost, and blogs are a wonderful way to help build the success of your book. Spending some time on improving the SEO value of your blog and posts will result in better search engine rankings and site traffic.

Here are some ‘tech’ details that will improve your blog  results:

– Blogging Software –

We use  WordPress on our self published author sites – and it works great. Any of the easily available products – WordPress, Blogger, MovableType or Typepad – work just fine. Run  through a few of them to get an idea of which you like best – if the blog software is too hard to use, or you just don’t like the way it works, then you won’t use it…

– Add Your Blog to Your Domain –

If you  really want search engines to drive traffic to your site, then your blog should be hosted right on your book’s web site. Running your  blog and book marketing efforts on a domain different from your primary web site just sends traffic AWAY from where you really want it to go. Putting the blog directly within your domain delivers far more for your marketing efforts – building links, attention, engagement and search rankings.

– Be Engaged in Your Target Market –

No matter what focus your book takes, there is someone, somewhere, already blogging about the topic. Online communities already exist and ahve active members. Be engaged in this community and invite others to visit your blog.

– Research Your Content Titles and Tag Your Content –

This starts getting a bit more complex – though the easy part is to research the keywords and key phrases you want to use in your blog book marketing. Do this by visiting Technorati and look for similar tags. If you aren’t familiar, check it out…

– Keep Your Content Focused on Your Book Marketing Goals –

Did a HUGE story just break that relates to your core topic? That doesn’t really mean you should actually write about it in your blog (though you might want to link to it so your readers know you are aware…) Your blog must provide unique and valuable content – not a regurgitation of the latest news.

– Add Something Extra –

Who said your blog should only include text? Got a YouTube video that covers your core topic? Pictures? Some cool gallery? While text is certainly the most ‘seo friendly’ content – the occasional fun bit is nice.

– Deliver Great Content –

Writing blog posts that focus on your book marketing efforts, are well-constructed to deliver good SEO, AND appeal to your core readership is challenging. Keeping focused and writing along a ‘plan’ will turn it into a habit – and you’ll bring your ‘voice’ into the conversation without sacrificing your marketing goals. Try not to stray from your original  writing style – or you’ll disappoint your readers, either when they buy your book or within the course of the conversation on your blog.

– You, as a “Brand” –

One of our guest bloggers wrote an article on the difference between book marketing, book advertising, and PR. The article discusses the importance of building up you, the author, as a brand. Your blog will be a cornerstone in creating an awareness of you, your book, and your ideas. All of these contribute to what your readers will come to see as your ‘brand’.

OK  – enough already – I’m sure I’ve written more on blogs, book marketing, and SEO than you’d ever care to know… but I hope these strategies will help you build success in your self publishing efforts.

e-books and their impact on print book sales

The American Association of Publishers (AP) recently reported that sales of e-books rose to $90.3 million in February 2011. E-book release accounted for 20.4% in total book sales that month. In the first two months of 2011, e-books sales rose 169.4% while print books declined by 24.8%. In 2010, online retailer Amazon also reported that it sold 115 million e-books, compared to 100 million print books.

From these figures, it looks like e-books have gained a foothold in the market that will only increase. Despite this, there still remains a firm customer base for printed paperback books.

Advantages of E-books
E-books provide convenience and instant access to the consumer. Users can download books anywhere. They are also convenient and flexible. Most are light, easy to carry, and can interface with mobile phones and computers for wider reading. Many titles can be purchased at a cheaper price than print books. E-books can store hundreds of books electronically and saves on having to warehouse books someplace. Despite these advantages, print paperback books do have their benefits.

The Pros Of Paperbacks
On the surface, it would seem that an e-book release would negatively impact paperback sales. But the paperback book has its own strengths that attract customers. Some customers enjoy the feel of an actual book. The phrase “curling up with a good book” is timeless and some enjoy having a book in bed at night or on the beach.

Paperback books are more reliable than e-books and are readily accessible if the reader wants to read it again or reference something in the book. There are some users who actually like the fact that they own the book and can do what they like with it such as donating it to the local library.

A Broad Audience
When publishers conduct an e-book release after the paperback has been in the market, sales can increase for both. Publishers are reaching out to a broad range of customers to meet their needs and interests. This audience parallels outdoor enthusiasts and their navigation equipment. The e-book is comparable to the GPS unit an electronic gizmo that has several applications that people enjoy. However, if the battery runs out or if there is no reception it cannot be used.

The paperback book is like a map and compass. It may seem outdated but is reliable and some swear by it. An e-book release with paperback sales can complement each other by satisfying what readers want.

Groucho Marx is quoted as saying that like a dog, a book is man’s best friend. An e-book release combined with print books in the market means publishers connect with a wider customer base.

This article was written by Matthew Schmidt, an expert
in the Freelance Writing category at

Book Marketing and Video Book Trailers for self publishing authors

Video Book Trailers as Book Marketing for self publishing authors

The time of social media has arrived (many would argue it arrived quite some time ago…) and has dramatically changed how most of us communicate. Under the right circumstances, and when done well, social media will drive traffic to your website, help the market perceive you as an expert, and ultimately sell more books. Social media must be part of any comprehensive book marketing plan – especially for the author self publishing their book.

How do video book trailers fit into the world of book marketing?

Author engaged in self publishing must take an active role in book marketing. A video book trailer is the ‘multimedia backbone’ of an authors social media book marketing plan. Video book trailers are short (usually no more than a minute or so) videos that are essentially a ‘commercial’ for your book. A good video book trailer includes a number of multimedia elements including music, subtitles, imagery, and in more elaborate cases voice overs and custom-filmed action video. The goal of the video book trailer is, of course, to get the viewer to purchase the book.

Why use a video book trailer in my social media book marketing plan?

Everything old is new again – I’m using that cliche to mean that many of the ‘old’ marketing rules really still apply in the ‘new world’ of social media marketing. As always, it’s about the content. And a video delivers more interesting content to you potential readers than any amount of book cover copy ever could.

Here’s some simple starting points:

  1. Video is far more interesting (and therefor more engaging) than static text.
  2. Online, a potential consumer will spend more time with an interesting video than they will with text.
  3. Video will strengthen the SEO of your site – readers are more likely to follow a video link on a topic of interest than a text link.
  4. Did you know that YouTube is now the second most popular search engine after Google? Online video is something they are beginning to expect when making a purchase decision.
  5. Promoting a book with a video truly fits the behaviors of our ‘multimedia’ world.

Video book trailers are something that is easily promoted (as part of  your book marketing campaign) via places like Facebook, Twitter, and the myriad other social networks. A video book trailer has the opportunity to reach hundreds (or even thousands) of potential readers through the web at very little cost.

Video book trailer distribution

Dozens of sites exist on the internet for the distribution of video – and distributing your video book trailer is much the same. There are some places that cater to book trailers specifically – but why narrow your audience? Hit the big ones: YouTube, GoogleVideo, MetaCafe, DailyMotion, Your video book trailer will  of course be on YOUR site and your publishers, right?

Video book trailer tips

Creating exactly the right video book trailer can be confusing and challenging – much like the publishing process. Most authors will benefit from hiring a professional video production company to produce their trailer. Here’s a few things to keep in mind, whether you create your own or hire a professional:

Check out other video book trailers. If you search for ‘book trailer’ on YouTube, thousands will come up. Check for titles within your genre. Look for things you like and things you don’t. If the video engages you, then it’s probably a success… if it’s boring… enough said. However, be reasonable – some trailers you will see had budgets in the tens of thousands of dollars. Some had budgets of hundreds.

Tied to the above is ‘Understand what you want’. Just like any other part of your book marketing campaign, your video book trailer must have a purpose and focus. Most self publishing authors won’t have a budget to create a viral video (one in which the product is almost secondary and the entertainment value of the video is extremely high) but will be creating an informative video designed to engage viewers and get them to purchase the book. An extreme example of a viral video is Liquid Mountaineering – try and guess the brand being promoted (or for that matter, even the product…). However, it’s been viewed over 7 MILLION times. A nice example of an informative video is the video book trailer for A Templar’s Journey – clean, engaging, and a great representation of the book.

While an informative video might go viral, they are really built to be an entertaining ‘commercial’ for your book. The video book trailer is another way to grab a reader and literally SHOW them what your book is about. The trailer provides potential readers with an opportunity to SEE why your book is for them.

Build the video with your potential reader in mind… and remember that you MUST accomplish the task in less than 90 seconds. Lousy images, poor quality, inappropriate music, and amateurish transitions will all drive readers away. Watch out for making your video too much of a commercial. Keep in mind that viewers want to be entertained and engaged, not to be ‘sold’ – even if that is the ultimate goal.

Some final video book trailer thoughts

  • Why wouldn’t someone want to watch your video book trailer? Because it’s boring or poorly produced.
  • What makes a ‘good’ video book trailer? Interesting and engaging information about your book, images and music that ‘fit’ your genre, and leaving them with a ‘hook’.
  • If it can’t be done in 90 seconds, don’t bother
  • Use the ‘description box’ to drive traffic and set up SEO – you can add links to your site, your blog, etc.
  • Put your video on your laptop, phone, iPad – take it EVERYWHERE!
  • Almost everyone watches videos online… why not yours?

Will your video book trailer drive more book sales? It’s hard to say – just like any other element of book marketing. It is, however, part of the book marketing arsenal – and when done well, and with a little luck, just might work wonders.

Interested in getting a video book trailer for your book? You can find video book trailer production services at Dog Ear Publishing.

e-book marketing and promotion

Marketing and promoting your e-book

e-Books are all the rage – and in many ways quite rightly so. The hardware is hot, with the Apple iPad, Barnes & Noble Nook, and Amazon Kindle literally flying off shelves. e-Books themselves are experiencing incredible growth – up 158% this-versus-last September and while still a small fraction of the overall book market ($39 million in September versus $1.1 BILLION) the market shows no sign of slowing.

It’s also a market where independent authors and publishers can compete toe-to-toe with ‘the big guys.’

e-Books have proven to be an incredible market to … well, market. Here’s some ideas on growing your e-book sales with smart e-book marketing strategies (and in the process, quite likely growing your print book sales too… watch for more on this later).

e-book marketing via your web site

Your website is already a natural tool (and hopefully an SEO optimized one…) for marketing the print version of your book. Add your e-book.

Don’t forget to add a purchase link to the e-book on Amazon or B&N. Make sure to note that it is available on Apple’s iBookstore.

promote your e-book on your blog

You do have a blog, right? You are already marketing your print book there (maybe creating posts from excerpts of select chapters every couple weeks or so…) Your e-book makes this even easier – since the content is already digital and easy to cut-and-paste.

market your e-book through your newsletter

If you have a newsletter for your business, web site, organization, etc – your readers are of course interested in what you have to say. An e-book provides another avenue for your readers to become purchasers. Make sure your e-book (and print book) are mentioned in EVERY newsletter your send.

build e-book awareness through your mailing list

It sounds simple – but you’d be surprised how many authors don’t mention their book (print or ‘e’) in their communication pieces. EVERY email you send, along with every post card you mail, should have a link to your book.

use your e-book as an event follow-up

If you presented at a conference, made a sales call, produced a webinar, exhibited at a trade show – all these can be great resources to send a ‘thank you’ note, and in that email include a link to your e-book.

e-books as sales collateral

It might seem counter-intuitive to give something away that you’d really like to sell, but if your e-book relates to your industry you just might be able to create added revenue (and drive future e-book sales) by using your e-book as a ‘leave behind’.

extract part of your e-book as a ‘white paper’ and syndicate the content

“Syndication” is a method of distributing content. It can seem a bit complex and confusing, and is far beyond the scope of this quick article – but you can find a ton on the topic out on the web. You can create amazing awareness for your e-book by releasing a contained part of the book as a ‘whitepaper’. It, of course, has to be content that can stand alone and is relevant to your topic – but it’s a great way to build interest in the e-book itself. Syndicators are sites that take content (like e-books, webcasts, blogs, etc.) pull it all together from broad sources and then make it available to subscribers.

market your e-book by sharing it with influential bloggers

Giving away content is a great way to reach out to bloggers. EVERY blogger is continually looking for great content to write about – let them have a copy of your e-book.

is your e-book (and print book) part of you LinkedIn profile?

Groups you join and your status should all be made aware of your e-book.

promote your e-book via your Twitter feed

Are there some great ‘one-liners’ in your e-book that you can use to deliver traffic to your web site? Does your book have stats or facts that lend themselves to tweets? Don’t forget to use a hashtag to encourage readers to comment and create conversations.

e-book marketing with a media release

You can reinvigorate your media release campaign by updating it on the release of your e-book.

The Difference Between Book Publicity and Book Advertising

Marketing a book successfully by using a book publicist

Occasionally I come across people much smarter than I am… OK, so it’s more than just occasionally… Anyway – this is one of those times when an expert in the industry so succinctly and clearly explains a topic that I feel the need to let THEM tell the story in their own words. If you’ve finished self publishing your book – or, even if you are just in the beginning stages of writing a book that you are considering self publishing – this article should help you understand two big items when you get to the book marketing stage of the process…

This article is also posted on the Dog Ear Publishing web site here

The Difference Between Book Publicity and Book Advertising

by Sandra Diaz, President, Smith Publicity

As a book publicist working with authors from all walks of life, I’m often asked to explain the difference between book publicity and book advertising. Both are methods of marketing a book – however, they are very different processes and can have very different goals and outcomes.

When a book is first published, the goal is to create awareness about the author and his or her book for a variety of reasons including driving book sales, building the author’s brand, positioning the author as an expert, and attracting professional opportunities for the author such as speaking engagements, professional advancement, and future book publishing opportunities.

Book publicity and advertising are both part of a broader book marketing strategy employed to create awareness. Most people recognize book advertising since they’re exposed to it everyday as they watch television, read a newspaper or visit an online news site – and they react to it as exactly that: advertising. It suffers, to a degree, from a lack of credibility. Book publicity, however, is ‘invisible’ to most consumers as the author and his or her book is actually part of the news.

The best way to explain the difference between book publicity and book advertising is to pick up a magazine and find a story featuring an author, and in the same issue find an advertisement for a book. The article gives the author and his book credibility as the reader knows the magazine thinks enough of the person to incorporate him or her into the story. The advertisement creates awareness for the book; however the reader also knows someone paid for this advertisement. Therein lays the key difference: author credibility vs. targeted controlled messaging.

In advertising, someone—the book publisher or author—pays the media outlet for advertising space or airtime. The buyer has 100% control over what is in the advertisement (the message) and when and to whom it appears. The primary benefit of book advertising is targeted control and immediacy. The weakness of advertising, however, is that credibility is lacking and the author receives little long-term benefit.

With book publicity, it’s the book publicist’s job to convince the media the author will provide readers or listeners with meaningful information—whether entertaining, insightful, educational, inspiring, or controversial—and then to make the author part of the news. Examples of media coverage might include feature stories, articles, book reviews, interviews, op-ed pieces, and expert commentaries. There is no payment from the author or publicist to the media for this coverage. Each of the parties involved–the media outlet and author–get something they want and need. The media gets content and an ‘expert’, the author receives a tremendous boost in credibility and possibly book sales.

Put simply, the role of book publicity and the book publicist is to make the author newsworthy and to build them as a ‘brand’. The result gives the author immediate credibility and begins to build their name as a recognizable brand in the eyes of consumers. The benefits of being “seen on” or “featured in” well respected media outlets lasts long after the book publicity campaign ends. The credibility that comes from a successful book publicity campaign is priceless.

To emphasize another difference between advertising and publicity, it is important that authors keep in mind that when the media does a story or interview, they control the content of the interview or story. Book publicists suggest direction for the coverage, but publicists can’t control if they cover the author, how he or she is covered or when. A producer or editor can do whatever they want and go in any direction. They may sing the praises of an author and his or her book, or spin the story in an unforeseen direction. Book publicity is a strategy that is implemented over time – with long term residual results.

When you want planned, targeted, and immediate exposure for a book, book advertising is the route to explore. To build credibility for an author, develop him or her as an expert and brand, as well as drive book sales, over a longer timeframe consider book publicity. There are, of course, no guarantees in book publicity (or book advertising for that matter), but when it works, it literally provides opportunities you could never buy.

Sandra Diaz is the president of Smith Publicity. Hundreds of authors/publishers turn to Smith Publicity to create book publicity campaigns, build a brand, increase book sales, and open doors to new opportunities. You can contact her at

Smith Publicity has conducted 900+ book publicity campaigns since 1997. The firm has secured coverage for authors on virtually every major broadcast, newspaper, magazine and Internet outlet worldwide.

Smith Publicity
New Jersey, New York City, Los Angeles, London

Self publishing ebooks & print books – and why they shouldn’t look the same…

Why formatting for ebooks and print shouldn’t be the same

I thought I’d take some time today to address a relatively new situation – the creation of self publishing authors interested in the creation of e-book product for their print books. My company, Dog Ear Publishing is an Apple-authorized aggregator for the Apple iBookstore. Being an Apply-authorized aggregator makes it simple for self published authors to publish, distribute and sell an ebook version of a book through the Apple iPad iBookstore. We can also make your book available on Amazon Kindle, Barnes & Noble Nook and Sony e-reader.

Apple iPad / Apple iBookstoreEveryone knows that ebooks and print books are ‘consumed’ very differently – one experience being very ‘virtual’ and the other far more ‘tactile.’ However, most self publishing authors also don’t realize that ebooks and self published print books a also very different in design. Many (really, most would be my guess…) authors feel that an ebook should look like the print product. That’s really not the case…

If we attempt to actually create an ebook that looks like the print book, in most cases everyone will end up unhappy. In the end, all that is produced is an unreadable, improperly formatted product. Self published books with a very simple interior design (think basic fiction titles) may look pretty close… but it will never be exact. In the world of print books, we can control and finesse how the book appears to the reader – and set the words on the printed page in an exact and unchanging way. Once a book has been printed, the design is static.

However, when we build the digital form of the book, it’s a very different ‘design’ process. The digital book is dynamic – and being a ‘dynamic’ product gives the reader of the book (not the author or designer) control over how the book is consumed. For example, an ebook really doesn’t have a ‘page’ – even the concept of page numbering isn’t important. Everything is about the content, and it is most often presented in a continuous stream. Each reader’s ‘page’ (the amount of text viewed on the screen at one time) may be completely different – based upon the device on which the book is being read and the reader’s personal preferences.  Fonts and font sizes will change, text and text elements will shift and move, and each consumer has the ability to change the ‘design’ of your book to fit personal preference.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing – ebooks are all about content, not design. It is the consumption of the content that becomes important to the consumer – and the ways in which they can consume that content. Searchable text, in-text links, dictionary access – all the nifty tools that ereaders bring to the market. .

The design of a self published book must be different for each ‘path’ that the content takes – whether it be print or digital. This concept is incredibly important to remember when looking to build a digital product for your self published print book. Your new self published ebook must display well (and deliver the same high quality reading experience) on the wide variety of e-readers.

The SEO factor of back cover copy for self publishing authors

Book Cover Copy, Self Publishing, and SEO

You’ve spent years crafting your manuscript – now as you prepare to self publish your book you start to think about the cover. Often times authors think more about their book cover design than they do the book marketing cover copy and back cover flow. Yes, a great cover helps your book sell – however, in the day and age of the ‘dot com’ bookstore, cover copy is more important than ever. The great thing about writing great book marketing cover copy – and setting up the flow of your copy on the back cover – is that it’s almost naturally great SEO copy.

Your book’s back cover copy is more often than not also your book marketing copy that will be used on Barnes&Noble. com, and all the other ‘dot com’ bookstores. It’s your potential customer’s first introduction to  your book – and it should be a great experience for the reader. Below is a quick outline of my thoughts on how an author self publishing their book can create a strong back cover.

Reader’s behavbook back cover copy example for authors self publishing a bookiors when looking at a book are the same as when they look at a retail store shelf, or even a web page. Consumers scan all these things starting at the top left, to the right, then down the page (most often to the lower left corner) then back to the top left corner. It is very important that you get your ‘big message’ set up across the top of the page. The image of the book to the left is a good example (this is a book self published through Dog Ear PublishingDivine Nourishment -A Woman’s Sacred Journey with Food by Mary Lane)

Notice that her ‘big message’ is across the top, her bio and author photo (two items considered very important in relation to this book) are down the right side, and the reviews are actually at the bottom of the page. All designed to follow reader’s eyes as the look at the back cover. If you work with your book cover designer and adhere to this simple pattern, you’ll more effectively communicate with your potential readers and quite possibly improve your chances of making a sale.

Below I’ll go into some greater detail about optimizing your book marketing copy – critical exercise for any author choosing to self publish.

(Of course these are recommendations – and of course not a guarantee. It’s very important that you are comfortable with the design of your book cover.)

Book back cover copy / book marketing copy quicklist

The tag line must be prominent and compelling. A tag line must be compelling to your reader – and it has to be obvious to do its job. Communicate clearly to the reader why they want to buy your book. To make your tag line good SEO, make sure your keyword or key phrase is included. If your book title is well crafted (and is set up as good SEO – see my article here on book title SEO) you can use it – but try and take the opportunity to give the reader additional information; hopefully they all ready saw your book title. A great question to ask yourself is if your tag line addresses the core reason your potential reader wants to buy your book. Remember, readers buy books (including fiction titles) from self published authors for the simple reason that they book fills a ‘need’ in their lives. Most authors who are self publishing DON’T have name recognition to drive sales… at least yet… This is also the key content Google and the bookstores will use in your book marketing info –

Readers won’t really read your back cover copy. At least not at first. Use your own book buying habits as an example (or go to a good old fashioned bookstore and watch…) Can you remember when you last read an entire back cover (or book marketing copy) if you weren’t quickly engaged? Usually by the tag line… Your copy should be short and direct – often the hardest part of writing a book is creating a good synopsis, but it’s truly a critical exercise. Get the most important details (or ‘hooks’ if it’s a fiction title) on the cover – and leave the redundant details alone. In a fiction title, often what you DON’T say is just as important as what you DO say. If it’s non-fiction, you may find that a bulleted lists communicate better.

Have your book cover designer keep it simple and attractive. Nothing makes a book’s back cover LESS effective than a busy and complex design. At most add your author photo – but really only if it adds to the message your cover is trying to communicate.  Your back cover should be a showcase for the primary messages you are trying to communicate to your readers – not a showcase for author egos. Remember that complexity equals confusion. Remember that your reader has a very short attention span – and if you make them work to just understand your message, you’ll lose them. In the retail world your cover might get one second to grab attention… on the web you’ll get slightly more (since they’ve gone to the effort of finding you) but not much. This doesn’t really apply in the SEO part of the web – except for the fact that the exercise of keeping your copy short and sweet will benefit your books ‘searchability’ to a tremendous degree.

Keep the important ‘stuff’ on the top and right side of the cover. Back up there in the picture of the book cover and the arrows. If you have a list, if you have something important to say in a call-out or box, if your bio / photo is critical – then put it down the right side of the cover. This applies to your tag line, bulleted lists, benefit statement, etc. In addition to placing them on the top and right, be sure you effectively ‘prioritize’ your messages – what do you want your readers to see and read first?

Keep your benefit statements clear and concise. The tag line, the lists, your book marketing copy – all of it should work together to communicate very clearly what the reader will get when they buy your book. Readers typically buy fiction books to create an ‘experience’ and purchase non-fiction to solve a problem. If your cover copy doesn’t begin to create the experience or clearly identify how you’ll solve their problem you won’t gain a customer.

SEO begins with your cover copy. Your keywords or key phrases should be liberally used in your book marketing copy. This helps Google and other search engines understand what your book is about… as well as the search systems at the dot com bookstores. Using keywords and phrases also reinforces to your reader the main thrust of your book.

Give your reader additional ways to find out more. Every author should have a web site or at least a blog/ Facebook / Twitter account… preferably all of the above. Make sure your book cover copy includes your web address. Maybe the reader wants more information before making a purchase – give them a way to reach out to you and discover how much they need what YOU can only offer.


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