Placement: Reach Your Target Audience

Okay, let’s start with the:
BORING BASICS
You would be surprised how much of a difference five little words (in the case of Amazon, possibly B&N) mean to the fate of your books. These are the search words that you will tag your book with on different distribution channels.
METATAGS

“Figure out what your metatags need to be, do research on search terms your readers are looking with and make sure you use them,” Heather Justesen.

“Pick the correct categories and key words. Make “teen” your first key word if you want it to go into the teen category—there is no teen category to choose upfront,” Cindy Hogan.

Two things I want to mention about metatags.
One: you can check to see how many people do a search on your keywords by using Google’s Adwords keyword Tool or do your own mock search on Amazon to see which books come up with certain keywords (and see how well they’re selling).
Two: after hearing Cindy mention ‘teen,’ I went to my YA books and made one of my search words ‘teen.’ It actually made a difference.

On that same note, make sure that you put your books in the right category. On Amazon, I saw that certain books in my same genre were selling less than mine and still making it on the bestseller’s lists in certain categories. That’s when I realized I was in the wrong categories. I changed my books’ categories and ended up on a bestselling list. Not that it changed my ranking, but it will make it easier for those searching through my genre to find my books.

EXPERIMENT

“Don’t be afraid to change up the back cover blurb or cover if you need to and experiment with price points–things in this market are changing fast, so read market news and keep up with it so you can capitalize on trends that you book fits into,” Heather Justesen.

“Description on Amazon and other sites/ key words [are ways to reach your audience,” Rachel Nunes.

Change metatags, covers, back blurbs, prices. Listen to your readers. What are they saying in their reviews? Did they expect something different from your book than what they got and did it ruin their reading experience? Do you need to give them a better hint on what your book is about by writing a more descriptive blurb? If at first you don’t succeed—well, you know the rest!

KEEP ON TOP OF YOUR STATS:
Mirror, Mirror on the Wall
Check your sales—notice sale dips and sale rises: What is different? Did a book review do it? Did new covers? Whenever I notice a difference in my sales, I google my name or go on my website or blog to see my stats: if I have a lot of new visitors and if they were referred by certain blogs, or something else? This tells me if I am doing something wrong…or right.

The things you notice could be caused by something seemingly inconsequential, for example Cami Checketts said: “My best book sales are in the fall and winter. Spring and summer are not kind to me, but maybe that’s because I’m out playing instead of promoting!”
On what she’d do differently:
“I wouldn’t release a book in the spring again. I’d try not to obsess over ratings and books sold (oh wait, I still do that).”

This is Cami’s experience. Yours could be completely different, that’s why it’s important to listen to the algorithm of your sales and website/ blog stats to determine what you should and should not do.

I LOVE YOU, I LOVE YOU NOT: REVIEWS
How do you get those good reviews that everyone craves?
One—write a good book (okay, guys, that’s up for interpretation).
Two—get your mom and your best friends to sign up on Amazon. Haha, okay, even they won’t take the time to rig the results (at least mine won’t).
Five stars or one star? The power is now up to the reader—they can decide books sales with one click of a button. Or can they?
I asked my Indie authors their thoughts on reviews:

“I’m of the opinion that word of mouth marketing is the best kind there is, so for me, positive reviews are very important. Gushing reviews, even better. I think the biggest key in marketing is writing a book that people will want to tell their friends about…. Several people wrote me saying they picked it [my book] up because of all the great reviews they read, so I’m sure that played a part,” Rachael Anderson.

“I haven’t really seen where reviews and stars make a big difference for me.  It definitely helps when you’re trying to get an ad at a place like BookBub – they’re obviously going to take you more seriously if you have 200 5-star reviews,” Sariah Wilson.

“I think reviews make a huge difference. If someone doesn’t know your work, they’re probably going to depend on reviews to help them determine if it’s worth buying. That being said, I think it helps to have a variety of 3-5 star reviews because if they’re all 5, readers might question the authenticity,” Cindy Bennett.

“I think reviews and stars are hugely important. The more you have, the higher up on the sales pages you will be. It’s all about visibility. Amazon’s and B&N Algorithms use reviews and stars to your advantage,” Cindy Hogan.

“I think they’re huge, it seems like just staying in that 4.5 stars and up category helps the sales a lot. I see authors selling well at 4 or less stars but they’re usually a $.99 book,” Cami Checketts.

“I think good reviews are absolutely vital. I don’t read things myself if they have too many bad or perhaps an equal number of bad and and good reviews,” Rachel Nunes.

“Yes, I do think stars and ratings help to goose book sales some–they aren’t the most important thing, but before I dropped A Perfect Fit to free it was 99 cents for three weeks and sales were moderate–mediocre considering the price. I’ve sold more than that in the past nine days since it went back to 99 cents but in the meantime it’s gone from 5 to 83 reviews on Amazon and far more than that on Goodreads,” Heather Justesen.

Author’s note (and then we’ll get to the nitty gritty): It’s important to know that stars mean different things to different people. To me if I LOVED the book, I give it a five. If I liked it, it gets a four, and if I disliked it, it’ll probably get a three and so on, but if you read Amazon’s definitions of stars—three ACTUALLY means a reader liked the book. But, as Sariah Wilson said, if you want to do a free promo with someone like Bookbub, they will only take the book if it is four stars and up on Amazon. So remember that, when you are giving stars.

MY EVALUATION OF THE REVIEW RESULTS: The majority of the answers said that stars made a difference, but some of them tempered that with how well the author was known. It was also mentioned that good stars alone won’t sell the book.

This is a topic of particular concern with me: I have the singular problem of people hating or loving my books. Of course, that’s my writing burden to work out on my own—HOWEVER, I do want to address the issue of what happens when you get bad star ratings for those worried about it. So I did a little stalking of those in my genre with bad star ratings…and realized that with certain authors—nothing happens! They have worse ratings than me and they are doing MUCH BETTER.
This could be good news for some. Bad news for others.

The next question was why were they doing better? This is a point that Sariah Wilson brought up. So, I clicked on these author’s websites, googled them, etc., and noticed that most of these authors do newsletters (we’ll discuss this later). They have blogs that target their fans. Some of their books were just quick, easy reads for a low price. Some of them had really good covers. Some of them had many books out in one series. Some of them chose topics that were pretty popular (even though their cover was terrible and they had no online presence). Though I don’t understand ALL the reasons why these authors were doing so well, I can take the hint and try out a few things they’ve done on my own.
In other words, if you end up with some bad reviews—don’t despair.
The point is that you have to figure out a way to get your books into the hands of the people who would love your book. You just need to find your true fans. Target the right audience for your book and get them to read your book and write reviews.  Make sure your cover and blurb clearly target your audience, this should advertise to your target audience and hopefully will equate good (if not better) reviews.

Quick Note: DON’T underestimate the power of a scathing review. If you can get someone to tear you apart (or even if you have a natural talent for it), your fans will come to the rescue. Ask Michael J. Sullivan. The gracious way he responds to bad reviews, only brought in more readers—he also has a pretty good online presence, now that I think about it (and I LOVE his covers). Okay–seeking bad reviews was a joke, but realize that some bad reviews can even work in your benefit if you treat them gracefully.

For more tips on how to man up under bad reviews. Click HERE. Haha, is it just me or do I know WAY too much about this!

NEXT: BUILD YOUR ONLINE PRESENCE

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