Category Archives: Marketing

Selling books from your website

The easiest and probably the most effective way to sell books from your website is to link each book to the relevant page in Amazon. If you join the free Amazon Associate scheme, you’ll get commission on all sales that result from someone clicking through from your site to Amazon’s. That’s not just your book. It’s everything else they buy while they are there. I once got commission on a mountain bike which was very welcome.

You’ll also gain access to useful statistics on how many people click-through on your book links and what percentage of them buy.

Why Amazon?
Continue reading

Taking the mystery out of metadata

Metadata is one of the buzz words in book marketing, but what does it mean? The answer’s simple – metadata is the information (or data) about your book that you provide when you register its ISBN or publish through Createspace, KDP, Draft2Digital or other similar systems. The amount of information varies a little from one place to another but, amongst other things, it usually includes title, author, publisher, cover picture, description and categories.

Why does metadata matter?
No one in the book trade has the time to read every book published, so bookshops and libraries have always used metadata to help them decide which books to stock. Nowadays metadata is extra important because it’s such a powerful aid to shopping on online bookshops. The description and cover provide potential readers with the information they need about the book, while the categories help your book show up on bookshop searches and specialised bestseller lists. .

Is it worth the effort to get the metadata right?
Definitely. In 2012, research by Nielsen (who handle UK ISBNs) showed that titles with complete metadata had average sales 98% higher than those without, and those with a cover image had average sales 268% higher than those without one. Of course, it’s possible that the improved sales weren’t entirely due to the improved metadata – maybe the books were also better written and had better covers. But, if  you want to give your book the best possible chance, make sure you get your metadata right.

What are categories?
They are a way of telling bookshops what the book is about. There are two main category systems – BIC (the UK system) and BISAC (the US system). Amazon categories are similar to BISAC but not exactly the same. Regardless of which system you are asked to use, try to choose the lowest level category you can. So it’s better to use fiction/romance/historical/Victorian than just fiction or fiction/romance. That way you’ll show up on more searches.

It’s often possible to change your category choices later and, with Amazon in particular, switching from a category with lots of competition to a less popular one can improve your chances of showing up on specialised bestseller and popularity lists.

What sort of description should I write?
The description is going to show up on internet bookshops so target it at potential readers. Aim to give them enough information to tempt them to buy the book or download a sample without telling them so much that you give away all the plot twists. If you’re not sure what to say, have a look at the descriptions for popular books in the same genre.

 What’s enhanced metadata?
When you register an ISBN in the UK, you can include the basic information about the book and the cover picture for free. However, you have to pay an annual fee to add what Nielsen calls enhanced metadata – a short description, a long description, reviews and  information about the author.  If you’re mainly selling through Amazon, this probably isn’t cost effective as you can put your own information on there anyway.

Diana Kimpton

How to build traffic to your author website

In a recent edition of Dragon’s Den, one of the dragons declared that you couldn’t launch a website successfully with a budget of less than £100,000. That may be true of big price comparison sites, but it certainly doesn’t apply to author websites. Here are seven ways to promote your site that are easy, effective and completely free.

Email signatures
An email signature is a piece of text that’s automatically added to the end of all your emails. Make sure you put a link to your site in yours so every message you send is helping with your promotion. Continue reading

10 mistakes to avoid on your author website

Your author website will be much more effective if you avoid these mistakes.

1: Making it hard for visitors to find their way around the site
If you don’t provide a clear way for visitors to get around your site, they won’t find many of your pages. What you need is a clear navigation on each page that lists the main links along the top of the page or down the left hand side where people expect to see them.  To work well, they need to be in the same order in the same place on every page to avoid confusing your visitors or leaving them stranded.

2: Using confusing navigation links
Although you might enjoy thinking up imaginative names for your navigation links, you risk confusing your visitors. They might not realise that “Shelf Space“ is your Books section,  “Inside Secrets” means  “About Me” and “Out and About” contains information on your speaking events. The situation gets even worse if you decide to use pictures instead of words.  Remember that the visitors to your site are just one click away from going elsewhere, and that’s what they will do if you ask them to play a guessing game in order to find their way around. Continue reading

Planning your author website

This is the second in a series of posts about author websites. If you have never had a website before, you may want to read Author websites – the basics first.

Before you or your web designer start to create your site, you need to plan what will be in it. The bare minimum is

  • A page about you
  • A page about your books.
  • Contact details, either on a separate page or as a clickable link on the other pages.

Of course, we’re talking about web pages here which can be as long or as short as you like. In theory, you could put the whole of War and Peace on one page, but no one would be likely to read it.

You may also like to have

  • A blog
  • Information about speaking events
  • Extra book pages if you’ve written several books or write in different genres
  • Sample chapters
  • Information about the topics you write about. This is especially useful if you write non-fiction as it can help establish you as an expert in your field.

So let’s look at all of those in more detail. Continue reading

Author websites – the basics

An author website is an essential part of your marketing campaign. It makes it easy for readers and reviewers to find you online and gives you somewhere to send people for information about you and your books. So how can you make your site as effective as possible without spending a fortune. Continue reading

Getting reviews – a reviewer’s point of view

Between 1999 and 2009, I reviewed a steady stream of children’s books for the website I was running at the time.  That experience taught me a great deal about how publishers relate to reviewers and how well their different approaches worked.

Some publishers seemed more enthusiastic about getting reviews than others. Some sent boxes packed with books, many of which were unsuitable while others gave me a copy of their catalogue and then sent any copies I requested. The best looked at the site and suggested titles they thought might fit well on it.

The approach that worried me most was a large publisher who sent a bundle of advance information sheets and a form for me to complete that allowed me to request no more than 3 or 4 books for review. This seemed very hard on lesser known authors who were unfortunate enough to have a book published at the same time as several top name authors as they were less likely to be reviewed as a result.

Occasionally a publisher sent a gift or gimmick with the review copy. This never made me select a book I might otherwise have ignored and sometimes had the opposite effect. I imagine the person who put lots of silver stars in the envelope with their book hadn’t considered how cross the reviewer might feel when she had to pick them all up.

I often had submissions from self-published authors, either directly or via a marketing/PR company they had employed. On the whole, the submissions from the so-called professionals were no better than the ones direct from the author and sometimes they were worse as they were less likely to be personally targeted. So don’t assume that paying for PR will automatically increase your chances of reviews.

The most effective submissions I received were from people who had bothered to look at the website, noted the very specific types of books I reviewed and then submitted their book with a personal letter suggesting where their book would fit on the site. I always looked carefully at books sent that way, and many of them ended up being reviewed.

Based on my own experiences, here are my tips for approaching reviewers.

  1. Don’t send at random to a list of names that someone else has put together. Check out each reviewer yourself and only send your book if it’s the type they review.
  2. Find reviewers who specialise in your genre, read their submission guidelines and mention their website, blog or other reviews when you write to them.
  3. If you’re approaching them by post, send a copy of the print edition (if you have one) plus an information sheet and a personal letter.
  4. If you’re approaching by email, include the information about the book in the body of the email and don’t send attachments unless their submission guidelines say they are welcome. It’s best to ask if they would be interested in seeing your book and tell them which formats you can provide so they can choose what’s best for them.
  5. Don’t oversell yourself. Reviewers are not impressed by hype. They have already heard of too many authors who are supposed to be the next JK Rowling and too many books that claim to be bestsellers when they’re not.
  6. Don’t undersell yourself either. If your book is shortlisted for an award, say so and, if it’s had a good review from a reputable source, include a quote.
  7. Don’t include bribes, gifts or gimmicks with your book, not even chocolate. It melts in the post and sticks the pages together.

Last, but by no means least, never ever chase a reviewer to ask if they’ve read your book. It’s very bad manners and will not help at all.

Diana Kimpton

This post was first published at


Books about marketing

These are the best books I’ve found about marketing so far. I’d love to hear about any others you find.

Let’s Get Visible
by David Gaughran
This is an invaluable book for anyone selling books through Amazon. It explains how sales rank, popularity lists and other extensive marketing tools built into the Amazon site work and how you can make the most of them for your book. I’ve tried his ideas, and they definitely work.
Buy ebook from Amazon

Tweet Right – The Sensible Person’s Guide to Twitter
by Nicola Morgan
I’m still not 100% convinced that Twitter is as useful in book marketing as some people say it is. However, tweeting is a skill authors are currently expected to have and, if you haven’t done it before, this guide will help you get started.
Buy ebook from Amazon


DRM stands for Digital Rights Management and is the name for any mechanism intended to stop the pirating and redistribution of digital files.  The methods vary depending on the type of file, but all DRM systems have one thing in common – they don’t really do the job for which they’re intended! Continue reading