TCK Publishing Non-Traditional Book Publishing for Independent Authors Wed, 16 Aug 2017 22:16:38 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Publishing 32 32 We believe authors change the world with by sharing important stories and ideas. Let us help you get your story out to more people and make the world a better place. We interview authors who are self published, indie published, and traditionally published to find out what’s working right now to help you build your career and sell more book.s<br /> <br /> On The Publishing Profits Podcast show, international best selling author and publisher Tom Corson-Knowles interviews the publishing industry's best authors, publishers, editors, literary agents, marketers and attorneys to share inspiration, education and best practices. Our mission is to help authors and publishers succeed in the new era of publishing.<br /> <br /> Ebooks didn't even exist 15 years ago. Today, readers spend more than $6 billion each year on ebooks in the United States alone. Are you taking advantage of this huge shift in readers’ purchasing habits? Tune in and learn how to build a full-time career and income as an author by proactively responding to the huge changes in the industry.<br /> <br /> Whether you're just thinking about writing your first book or you're a multi-published author, you'll find new ideas to help you take your career to the next level.<br /> <br /> The show's audience includes writers, new and experienced authors, publishers, literary agents, editors, graphic designers, bloggers, content creators, marketing professionals, public relations and PR experts, and publishing attorneys.<br /> <br /> Learn more at TCK Publishing clean TCK Publishing (TCK Publishing) Copyright 2017 by The Publishing Profits Podcast The #1 Show for Writers, Authors and Publishers TCK Publishing We believe authors change the world with by sharing important stories and ideas. Let us help you get your story out to more people and make the world a better place. We interview authors who are self published, indie published, and traditionally published to find out what’s working right now to help you build your career and sell more book.sOn The Publishing Profits Podcast show, international best selling author and publisher Tom Corson-Knowles interviews the publishing industry's best authors, publishers, editors, literary agents, marketers and attorneys to share inspiration, education and best practices. Our mission is to help authors and publishers succeed in the new era of publishing.Ebooks didn't even exist 15 years ago. Today, readers spend more than $6 billion each year on ebooks in the United States alone. Are you taking advantage of this huge shift in readers’ purchasing habits? Tune in and learn how to build a full-time career and income as an author by proactively responding to the huge changes in the industry.Whether you're just thinking about writing your first book or you're a multi-published author, you'll find new ideas to help you take your career to the next level.The show's audience includes writers, new and experienced authors, publishers, literary agents, editors, graphic designers, bloggers, content creators, marketing professionals, public relations and PR experts, and publishing attorneys.Learn more at Weekly Meta Descriptions Matter: Write A Great Web Blurb To Get More Readers Wed, 16 Aug 2017 07:15:00 +0000 how to write meta descriptions for SEO

There’s a billion pieces of content online: articles, blog posts, white papers, videos, pictures, and so much more.

It can be hard to stand out, let alone attract swarms of eager visitors who want to read your blog, watch your videos, subscribe to your newsletter, and buy your book.

We’ve learned how metadata makes books searchable online and how giving your book the right categories and keywords can help it succeed.

But what about all the other content you create? How can you help your blog posts and author website thrive?

Let’s take a look at meta descriptions and how writing a great one can help you get more traffic, more devoted readers, and more fans for your book.

write better meta description

What Are Meta Descriptions?

Much like the description on the back of your book cover, a meta description is a brief blurb explaining what an article or website is about. And just like that book jacket copy, it needs to be short, tantalizing, relevant, and targeted.

No easy task, especially when most search engines cut off a description after only 160 characters!

Yes, that means you basically have the length of a tweet to tell someone all about your post or article and why they absolutely have to read it right now.

Thankfully, we’re writers—we’re good at this sort of thing!

On a more technical level, a meta description is a line of HTML code—an attribute—that briefly describes what a webpage is about.

In practice, it’s used by search engines to give people an idea of whether the result they’re looking at is truly relevant to what they searched for.

Think of this as an opportunity to advertise your webpage, blog post, article, or other online content: you get a few lines to tell potentially interested readers why they should click through and read your post.

what is a metadescription

As you can see, search engines like Google only show a limited amount of a meta description if one is too long—like we said, that’s usually about 160 characters. Otherwise, it just cuts the description off with a “…”

That’s not very effective—in the examples above, when searching for “vitamin D,” the top-ranked sites don’t tell you what benefit you’ll get out of the article or why you should read that article in particular. The meta descriptions there simply start defining vitamin D and then get cut off.

What Makes a Good Meta Description?

Which brings us to the real point: what makes a good meta description?

1. It’s Short

Well, obviously, a great description is going to be short: 160 characters or a bit less. Any more than that and you run the risk of your carefully crafted webpage summary getting chopped off by Google.

Just think about it like writing a great tweet and you’re in good shape.

2. It’s Clear and Relevant

But beyond being short, it gives the reader a very clear idea of what they’re going to read and why it will help them answer the question they were searching about.

Let’s look at another example:

writing a good metadescription

So here, rather than just defining vitamin D, the meta descriptions are telling us why vitamin D is important. One practically gives you all the information you need to know right in the meta description:

Adequate vitamin D intake is important for the regulation of calcium and phosphorus absorption, maintenance of healthy bones and teeth, and is suggested to supply a protective effect against multiple diseases and conditions such as cancer, type 1 diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

3. It’s Readable

A good meta description reads almost like a flash fiction story: it’s a compelling piece of ad copy that describes exactly what you’re going to get when you click through.

It’s not a list of things you’ve included on the webpage. It’s not the first line or two of your post. It’s a unique, carefully crafted teaser for the post that is proofread and accurate, and that gives the reader a clear reason to think their search is over if they just click on your article.

4. It Describes Reader Benefits

Convincing the reader their search is over can be done by describing the benefits they’ll get from reading your post.

Let’s look at this approach with our vitamins example. Here, rather than listing all the ways vitamin D is good for you, the meta description teases you with the idea that you may be deficient in this essential vitamin, then tells you what the article will explain in more detail: how it affects women’s health in particular.

Vitamin D deficiency is one of the best ways to sabotage your health. Discover the many vitamin D benefits for women and learn why it’s crucial to health.

This technique gives less concrete information related to the search, but it encourages the reader to click to learn more by stating that they’ll get some specific added benefit from reading: learning how vitamin D affects women and helps keep them healthy.

Since people are usually searching online for the answer to a specific problem or question, pointing out how your content will help them with that is a very good way to boost your click-throughs and your readership!

4. It Uses Active Words

Related to pointing out benefits, a great meta description uses active words to encourage readers to do something—namely, click through to read the whole article.

how to write better meta descriptions

This example includes two: “discover” and “learn.” It promises to teach you about a topic you’ve shown you’re interested in and give you concrete ways to apply that knowledge in your life.

Not bad for 160 characters!

Good active terms to use in your benefit promise include:

  • Discover
  • Learn
  • Understand
  • Reveal
  • Check out
  • Start
  • Stop
  • Build
  • Join
  • Save
  • Try
  • Get
  • Find

Think of this element of your meta description like writing an advertising call to action—you’re trying to get the reader to click. What will encourage them to do it?

5. It Uses Keywords

These vitamin D examples also show us another essential feature of a good meta description: keywords.

optimizing keywords for metadescriptions

Those bolded terms are exact matches to what the original search text was looking for: “benefits of vitamin D.” They show the searcher at a glance that the previewed article really does talk about exactly what they want to know.

Your meta description should never just be a string of keywords, but it should include plenty of those keywords.

You can figure out what keywords people are looking for when they search on your topic by using Google Keyword Planner or simply by running a Google search on your own, then noticing what auto-fills the search box and what “related searches” appear at the bottom of the page.

Then take those keywords and include them in your meta description.

In this case, we see “vitamin D,” “benefits,” “health,” “deficient/deficiency,” “science,” and “evidence” turning up a lot in searches. So you should craft your meta description to include as many of those keyword terms as you can and still keep it both short and relevant to what you’ve actually written.

Combine all of these elements into your meta description and readers will surely take notice! Your short description will be clear, relevant, readable, and targeted to what your potential reader is searching for.

In just two lines, you will have shown them that you care enough to craft a summary that addresses their problem and offers a solution—and that makes them much more likely to click.

In Brief

Meta descriptions let someone searching online see a brief summary of what an article’s all about to help them decide whether to click and read the whole thing.

A good meta description should be short, relevant, include plenty of keywords but still be readable, and use action language to draw in the reader.

Crafting a great meta description can help more readers decide to click on your link, increasing your traffic and search ranking and helping win new fans for your work.


Short, targeted, readable meta descriptions with clearly outlined benefits draw in more readers to your site or post.


For more ways to use SEO techniques to boost your writing, check out these articles:

What Is Metadata? And How You Can Use It To Reach Readers Tue, 15 Aug 2017 06:08:04 +0000

Writing a book is all about adding value to the world.

When we write, we share our expertise, our creativity, our insights, and our opinions with the world—we’re helping other people find answers to a problem we’ve struggled with, or sharing our unique creative vision with them.

But there are many ways to add value, and that’s especially true in the Internet Era—anyone can search for anything at any time online and find answers to questions they didn’t even know they had!

So how’s a potential reader to find your book?

Through metadata!

What Is Metadata?

It sounds scary, but metadata is actually a really simple thing: it’s information about a thing…in this case, a book.

Metadata describes a thing in a way that can be searched for behind the scenes. So a search engine will use metadata about books and websites to return results to a person looking for “best hiking trails in Vermont” so that they see the most relevant possible answers, even if they didn’t know at first a book might be one of those answers.

Metadata also makes it possible to search for books in book-only databases and systems—book wholesalers and distributors add metadata to all their catalogs so that librarians and booksellers have an easier time finding the exact book they’re looking for.

In essence, metadata is a bunch of bullet points about a piece of information—a book, a website, etc.—that describes precisely what the information is about and what makes it unique from other information.

How Is Metadata Used?

So we know that metadata allows people to search for relevant information online. How does this help an author?

When a book has metadata attached, it’s now searchable online by any search engine, database, or other system where people go looking for information or resources.

If your book doesn’t have metadata, it’s harder to find—people have to look for exactly your book with exactly your title in order to find it.

With good metadata describing your book behind the scenes, someone can Google for “best hiking trails in Vermont” and your book will come up, right alongside websites or other results—or maybe even above them!

So having great metadata means that your book pops up in front of people searching for related issues online, even if they don’t know that you’ve written that book or that it’s exactly what they’re looking for.

And that means they’re more likely to check it out and buy it.

What Metadata Does a Book Need?

At its most basic, a book only needs a few fields of metadata:

  • Title
  • Subtitle
  • Author
  • ISBN
  • Format
  • Publication Date

You already know all of these when you go to publish your book!

Plus, if you’ve made a sell sheet to send to possible reviewers or bookstore buyers, you’ll need to include all this information there, too—it’s really just the essentials that make your book uniquely yours.

But metadata can be so much more!

Computers can handle a lot of information—which means we can give these systems a whole lot of rich background descriptions to make it even more likely that someone searching online will get your book as a result of a relevant question.

While there are 6 essential metadata fields, listed above—the Core Metadata—there are 15 to 20 more optional fields that you can fill out to help make your metadata even more powerful, working to find your readers for you.

The most important fields in the Enhanced Metadata group include:

You can also add information on page count, price, availability, author bio, reviews, excerpts, copyright year, and more.

The more information you add, the more ways people have to find your book. So always include as much metadata as possible when you’re publishing!

How Do I Add Metadata to My Book?

Great, so we know we need to include lots of metadata—but how?!

Don’t worry, the modern publishing era makes it easy!

For a long time, publishers just maintained internal databases about their books—massive spreadsheets with key metadata fields that they’d pass along to wholesalers as needed.

When online bookstores first cropped up and libraries started moving to digital catalogs, there needed to be an easier way for everyone to share background details on books—something standardized and sensible.

In the late 1990s, a global industry organization with representatives from all different parts of the book and publishing world stepped up and created ONIX, the ONline Information eXchange. This XML computer code system quickly became the industry standard—big publishers all send ONIX files to wholesalers and distributors, who use them to create listings in their catalogs, and on Amazon and other online retailers. Even libraries have a way to convert ONIX metadata listings to their own internal data systems for ease of use.

But indie authors don’t have big logistics departments or armies of data specialists creating huge ONIX files for hundreds of books a year.

We have, well, ourselves.

So the companies that facilitate self-publishing and small press publishing created user-friendly interfaces that can attach all the right metadata to your book, whether physical or digital, during the publishing process!

When you go into your KDP Dashboard, publish through CreateSpace, or create a book with Ingram Spark or Lulu, you’re always asked to add certain background information about your book.

Funny, all those fields look very similar to the metadata fields we discussed earlier!

There’s title, subtitle, author, series, year, category or BISAC code, description, keywords…look, it’s metadata!

So really, all an indie author has to do is fill out every single field requested by a publishing service and boom! Your metadata is ready and attached to your book.

If you’re creating your own file, say by making an ePub that you’ll sell on your own website in addition to putting on Barnes & Noble or Kobo, then converting to Kindle format, you can add your metadata yourself. Most ePub creation programs include a way to add descriptions, tags, keywords, and other information—and if they don’t, you can create a metadata HTML file that gets zipped up with your ePub for final production.

Really, though, you only need to worry about doing metadata manually if you’re planning to hand-code your ePub and sell it on your own website directly.

If you plan to sell your ebook through a standard online retailer like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple, or Kobo, they’ll walk you through adding the metadata needed and take care of it for you!

You’ll include both the Core Metadata of title, subtitle, author, ISBN (if applicable), and year, as well as most of the Enhanced Metadata like description, category, keywords, target audience, and so on. When you upload it, your cover will be added to the Enhanced Metadata by the publishing service, too!

Tips for Getting the Most from Metadata

There’s a few things you can do to help your metadata work for you, driving readers straight to your book and showing them how useful it will be to them.

1. Be Consistent

When you’re adding metadata to your book, make sure it’s consistent. Start a spreadsheet where you list out all the different fields you’ve seen on KDP, Kobo, or CreateSpace, like Title or Target Audience, and insert your answers.

This means that everywhere your book appears online, all the underlying data describing it will be the same. The more consistent you are with this, the higher your book will rank in searches.

2. Use Targeted Keywords Frequently

When you’re putting together your metadata, particularly for your title, subtitle, description, and keywords fields, take the time to research the most relevant keywords for your topic.

You can do this with old-fashioned background research, like checking what Amazon or Google auto-fill when you start a search on your topic, or you can use a handy tool like K Optimizer 2.0 or Google Keyword Planner to see what people are searching for on Amazon.

Use those keywords to craft a smart title for your book that will rank high for search.

Then load your book description with those keywords, use them to help choose which categories to put your book in, and drop them into the “keywords” field to be extra-sure that readers looking for those terms will find your book.

3. Keep It Relevant

Metadata does no one any good if it’s not relevant!

Even though books on entrepreneurship and startups might be super-popular, with lots of people searching for related keywords, they won’t likely be buyers of your book on places to hike in Vermont.

So keep your keywords tightly related to that topic and don’t try to get too general—you’ll make more sales to a highly targeted audience that really wants the exact information you’re providing than to a huge audience that’s looking for something totally different.

4. Always Be Refining

As you learn more about your readers, see how people come to your website, and get reviews and other feedback, you’ll learn more about what people are really looking for in your book.

This may mean updating your metadata!

If it turns out that people aren’t really searching much for “best hiking trails in Vermont” but they are constantly looking for “creative outdoor vacations in New England,” you might want to retarget your keywords in your Description and Keywords sections to line up with that better.

It’s okay to change your metadata from time to time, so long as you change it consistently in every place where your book is listed. This is where that big metadata master spreadsheet comes in handy!

In Brief

So we’ve learned that metadata is all the information describing what makes your book unique—the title, author, ISBN, description, category, keywords, etc. that identify it.

You should always add as much metadata as you can to your book listings to ensure that readers have tons of ways to find your book, no matter how or where they’re searching.

You can add all that metadata straight through the upload interface on your publishing tool of choice, like KDP or CreateSpace. The “description” pages there are really a way to attach important metadata to your book.

Do some careful keyword research and planning when you start the publishing process and document everything in a master metadata spreadsheet.

Include as many targeted keywords as you can throughout all your metadata fields to ensure that your book comes up as a highly relevant result when people are searching online.

With a little forward planning and a touch of data entry, you can make your book far more discoverable online, using metadata to drive interested readers right to your work.

Metadata describes what makes a book unique and can be used to help readers find and buy your book online.


For more on choosing great categories and keywords to help sell more books, read on!



Help Readers Find Your Book Using BISAC Codes and Categories Mon, 14 Aug 2017 06:50:23 +0000

[Source: Bookfinch]

You may have written the best book in the world, but you won’t get anywhere as an author if people can’t find that book.

Book discoverability and search is incredibly important for making sales. You need to make sure that your book is one of the first results when people search for the topic you’re writing about, whether on Amazon, Google, or elsewhere.

You can improve your chances in several ways: optimizing your title with smart keyword choices, doing targeted market research to understand what your audience is looking for, or selecting popular categories to list your book in, for instance.

But categories change depending on who’s listing them—Amazon uses its own internal categories, Barnes & Noble has different options, Kobo has still more, and physical bookstores use a different system entirely. Add in libraries and you’ve got a confusing jumble of ways to list your book.

Fortunately, there’s one system to rule them all: BISAC.

What Is BISAC?

BISAC stands for “Book Industry Standards and Communications.”

Basically, BISAC Subject Headings and BISAC Codes are a huge list of topics created by an industry group called the Book Industry Study Group (BISG). This organization of publishers, booksellers, libraries, distributors, manufacturers, and others works together to help set standards for the book industry.

They’re the people who figure out what format(s) to use for ebooks, how to transmit information about books, what information needs to be included in the first place, and more.

They developed BISAC codes to make it easy to classify books no matter where they appear—online, at a physical bookstore, in a library, etc.

Think of this system much like the Dewey Decimal system you used in the library as a kid, or the Library of Congress classifications you may have used in college—it’s a way to code books based on what they’re about so that you can easily track down just the right book.

BISAC codes don’t go as far as Dewey Decimal or LOC classification, though—you don’t assign a unique code to every single book.

Instead, BISAC codes group books by topics only—there are 54 major headings, and then many, many sub-headings. So if you want to find a book on, say, natural remedies, you would be directed to one of the following BISAC groups:

  • HEA032000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Alternative Therapies
  • HEA011000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Herbal Medications
  • HEA030000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Homeopathy
  • HEA016000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Naturopathy

Here, the first string of letters and numbers is the BISAC Code, the specific machine-readable label attached to a subject category. The next part, in English, is the general category followed after the slash by a more specific sub-topic; these English notations are called the BISAC Subject Heading and they’re essentially the natural-language translation of the code.

The point is that every book should be labeled with between 1 and 3 BISAC codes, which get translated in a computer system into a natural-language subject heading that a searcher can use to pinpoint the book they’re looking for.

How Do BISAC Codes Work?

As we saw in the example of the natural remedies book above, there are potentially a bunch of different codes that can apply to a single book.

So how does this help people who are searching for a book that will answer their questions about natural remedies…or anything else, for that matter?

Well, think about when you go to search for something online—there’s always a few ways you can ask a question to find the answer you’re looking for, right?

You might search for “natural remedy for a cold” or for “how to cure a cold naturally” or “how to beat cold symptoms naturally.” You might get more specific with “herbal remedy for colds” or “alternative to medication for colds.”

With all these different paths to finding the same answer, a book on natural remedies for the common cold, you can’t guarantee that your reader will find your book if you give them only one way to locate it.

BISAC codes let you choose a pathway to help guide a reader to your book. It starts with a broad topic, like “Health & Wellness,” then gets narrower and more specific, to “Alternative Therapies” or “Herbal Medications.”

Many books fit into more than one of these narrow categories, and that’s okay! You can assign up to 3 BISAC codes to a single book. If the store selling your book uses fewer than 3 BISAC codes in their listings (for instance, Amazon only allows 2), they’ll start with the first one you assigned and work down the list from there.

Where Are BISAC Codes Used?

Virtually every place that sells books, lends books, stores books, or otherwise has a bunch of books available for people to choose from in some way uses BISAC codes.

So Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo, Ingram, Baker & Taylor, Brodart, Follett, and any wholesaler or distributor you can think of uses BISAC codes somewhere in their system. Libraries also use BISAC codes alongside other classification systems like Library of Congress, because the places they buy their books use these codes.

Amazon applies its own categories to both print and Kindle books, but it bases most of these categories on BISAC codes. CreateSpace and Ingram Spark both use BISAC codes as the basis for assigning categories to print books when self-publishing; CreateSpace just calls these “categories,” while Ingram Spark actually calls them BISAC codes.

When you’re entering your book for sale in most online stores, including B&N, Kobo, Smashwords, and the Apple iBookstore, you’ll be asked to select several categories to list your book in—these are all BISAC subjects headings.

What if the store you’re listing in doesn’t use BISAC codes specifically?

That’s okay! They’ll still have a list of categories that starts with general topics and gets more and more specific. Just choose the categories that are closest to your BISAC subject headings. This mainly applies to Amazon, but other stores may use their own category headings that are similar to BISAC, but with some customizations.

Don’t get flustered by the differences—just pick the best categories that match your book’s topic.

How Do I Pick My Categories?

So if there are hundreds upon hundreds of BISAC codes and subject headings to choose from, how do you pick the right categories for your book?

That’s a hard question to answer—you can only pick up to 3 categories (2 for listing on Amazon) and you really need to make those categories count.

Here’s a few tips for how to choose the categories that will help readers find your book most easily and will help you stand out from the crowd:

1. Start with the Most Specific

Always lead with the most specific code or category you possibly can.

Although you’re allowed to assign up to 3 categories to your book, some retailers will only sort your book based on one or two of these (hey there, Amazon!).

The vendor will always start from the top of the list, so you want to be sure that the most specific category is first, followed by the second-most, then the least specific of your chosen categories.

Drill down as far as you can on your topic and assign that category first. So in our earlier example of a natural remedies book, you’d probably want to go with “HEA011000  HEALTH & FITNESS / Herbal Medications” as the first subject heading if you’re writing about natural cold remedies, because that’s the most specific way someone might search for your book.

Similarly, if you’re writing a science fiction space opera, you’d want to get as specific as possible for your first listing. Instead of going with simply Fiction or Fiction / Science Fiction, you’d want to drill all the way down to “FIC028030    FICTION / Science Fiction / Space Opera.”

2. Choose One Popular and One Uncompetitive Category

Popular or competitive categories are ones where there are both a lot of books and a lot of people searching for those books—things like “romance” or “self-help.”

Uncompetitive categories are ones where you still get a lot of people looking for books, but you don’t have much competition in terms of other books using the same labels.

We’ve rounded up the 100 most competitive Kindle categories and the 100 least competitive Kindle categories, as well as the top 200 most competitive print categories on Amazon.

You can use these sortable lists to help you figure out two great categories to list your book. If possible, use one competitive category and one uncompetitive one—this will give you the best odds of having a potential reader not only find your book, but notice it in the crowd.

Depending on how a person searches, they’ll either browse to your book while going through the competitive category, or find it immediately when searching for a very specific topic in the uncompetitive category.

By listing your book this way, you get the advantage of being in a heavily searched category, but also standing out in a category that doesn’t have many other books in it.

3. Never Choose General Categories

It’s really, really hard to stand out when you’re one of 10,000 people in a room.

That’s why you should never, ever list your book in a very general category.

Think about it. Every single novel in existence can be categorized as “FIC000000 FICTION / General.” That’s millions of books! No matter how great yours is, the odds of a reader finding it and buying it among all those other books are pretty slim.

To increase your discoverability and the odds of the right reader finding and buying your book, use the most specific topics you can and avoid the general subject codes.

Even the slightly more specific codes, like “FIC009000 FICTION / Fantasy / General,” are way too broad. You’re better off using a specific code like “FIC009110 FICTION / Fantasy / Arthurian” to direct very specific traffic to your book.

Using a general category is essentially wasting one of your three listings, because no one is likely to find you among that much competition.

4. Use Other Categories as Keywords

If you’ve run out of BISAC subject listings when you’re setting up your book but you still have a few codes that seem to apply, as in the case of our natural remedies book, use the extra sub-headings as keywords.

For instance, Amazon only lets you have two subject categories, but you can have up to 7 keywords for your Kindle book.

BISAC has done the work of figuring out what topics people are searching for the most…so use that research to target your keywords!

You might list your natural cold remedies book like this:

Category (based on BISAC codes):

  • HEA011000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Herbal Medications
  • HEA032000 HEALTH & FITNESS / Alternative Therapies

Keywords: cold remedies, naturopathy, homeopathy, natural wellness, herbal remedies, cold care, natural healing

See how we’ve used categories starting with the most specific, then applied two of the suggested BISAC subject headings—naturopathy and homeopathy—to our keywords?

This helps us narrow down what to use for keywords based on solid industry research on what people are looking for, plus maximize our chances of people finding our book by mixing broader and more specific topics.

BISAC codes and subject headings help bookstores and libraries organize and list your work, and they help readers find your book when they’re searching for something on your topic.

Choose BISAC codes wisely and you’ll help guide more readers straight to your book!


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10 Great Book Trailers and Why They’re So Effective Sun, 13 Aug 2017 08:13:58 +0000

Everyone’s going to video. Facebook Live and Facebook videos are the hottest content on the social network. 300 hours of video are uploaded to YouTube every minute, and it’s the third-most-visited site on the web!

There’s no doubt that video resonates with audiences and that people crave another 3-minute hit of fun, educational, inspiring, or silly content regularly during their day.

What’s that mean for the dedicated author working on their so-called old-fashioned book, then?

It’s an opportunity!

Book trailers give you a way to combine the immediacy and power of video, with its eager audiences, with the in-depth approach of a book. Plus, they’re a great marketing tool…when done right.

A book trailer doesn’t have to be super-fancy to succeed. Instead, it needs to wrap up your story in a neat 3-minute package, enticing the viewer to want to know more by picking up the book.

What Makes a Good Trailer?

Think of a book trailer exactly like a movie trailer—the best ones set up the premise, like the historical period, location, etc., then give you a little glimpse into who the main characters are and what challenges they face. You get a taste of what’s going to happen in the full movie, but it doesn’t give everything away…you have to go to the theatre for that.

A book trailer, done right, does the same thing—it lets the viewer get familiar with where and when your book is set, get an idea of the general tone, and meet the characters. Then it throws those characters into the thick of things and leaves the viewer wanting to know what happens.

To find out, they have to read the book!

The same general formula even works for nonfiction books. You set up the situation—what challenge is facing your book’s target audience, the viewer?—and then introduce your book’s unique solution to that problem, offering some insight into why your book is the best to help your viewer with that challenge. Give a few actionable tips, then leave them craving the book to learn more.

You can make book trailers that are basically narrated slide shows, ones that are full-cast productions, and everything in between.

And with DSLR cameras and iPhones shooting good video these days, it doesn’t even have to cost an arm and a leg!

Tell a Story, Don’t Just Drop Hints

The key to a great trailer is that it needs to feel complete. You have to set up the scenario, introduce the characters, show what’s at stake, and leave the viewer wanting to find out what happens. You can’t just tease the viewer with a strange character or setting, then give no idea that there’s a story behind it.

10 Fantastic Book Trailers

But as with the old writing standby, showing is better than telling. Let’s take a look at 10 amazing book trailers to inspire you to create your own!

1. Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children

Ransom Riggs, the author of Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children, got his start directing short films and, yes, book trailers! So it’s no wonder that the trailer he created for his first novel would be amazing.

The trailer doesn’t lift a scene straight from the book—instead, it brings to life a flashback the narrator tells within the text. We see snippets of strange things, hints of an adventure and a mystery, but we’re never told quite what that mystery is, or whether it’s all just a story. It makes you want to find out more…and even includes a subtle call to action at the end that leads right into the book promo, making you want to go get the book right away.

Well done!

2. T-Rex Trying

Super-short, but super-sharable, the book trailer for T-Rex Trying, the illustrated humor book expanding the blog of the same name, was destined to go viral.

Poor T-Rex. He’s always trying to do stuff that his stumpy little arms can’t manage.

Once again, this trailer works because it outlines a full story, but leaves you wanting more—it gives you the broad strokes, but you kind of want to find out the details. Here, we see all of T’s issues trying to get around, but then get to see him succeed. The silly sense of humor and the success at the end make us want to see more of this clever author’s work.

3. The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making

Children’s and middle grade books are a great source of inspiration for book trailers. After all, you already have illustrations or vivid imagery happening, which can all be repurposed for your book trailer.

In the case of The Girl Who Circumnavigated Fairyland in a Ship of Her Own Making, the publisher commissioned an illustrator to create a gorgeous hand-drawn trailer…but you can do something similar on your own with the illustrations from your book or even just using pen and ink or a computer drawing program!

The animation is subtle and it surely adds to the effect, but you don’t really have to include it—you could get a similar effect with music, written title cards, and sketches that don’t move.

Remember, the trailer doesn’t have to be fancy as long as it outlines a story and makes you want to find out more. And this one certainly does…

4. Wild

Cheryl Strayed’s book later became a major film featuring Reese Witherspoon—but first, Wild had a book trailer!

This is a great example of how you can produce a book trailer on a shoestring budget…and how you can make an effective trailer for a memoir or narrative nonfiction.

Strayed narrates over top of a series of images from her past and beautiful pictures of the trail she hiked, giving us a quick overview of what the book’s about: her reasons for hiking the Pacific Coast Trail as a complete newbie and her challenges there.

Once again, this trailer is successful because it sets up what we can expect from the book, tantalizing us with setting, plot, and character but leaving us wanting to read the book to find out the details.

5. Fifty Shades of Chicken

A trailer for a parody cookbook?


Trust me, it’s brilliant.

Fifty Shades of Chicken is, in fact, a BDSM chicken cookbook based on the erotica novels of similar title. You can tell going into it that this is going to be a little trippy, and the video doesn’t disappoint.

Great production values, tongue-in-cheek humor, and an actual story outline (for a cookbook!) make this trailer incredibly effective. You know exactly what you’re going to get from the cookbook in terms of style, and you’re probably laughing so hard you can’t help but want to learn more by reading the book, even if you don’t need new chicken recipes!

6. The Coldest Girl in Coldtown

Yipes—is this a book trailer or the start of a new hit horror film?

The Coldest Girl in Coldtown by Holly Black is an excellent YA supernatural thriller with an equally excellent trailer. Combining fairly low-budget first-person video with dramatic music and simple narration, it effectively draws you in from the start. You don’t need expensive effects to create thrills—just some willing friends and a whole bunch of fake blood.

There’s clearly more to the story here, both before and after the action of the trailer, and it draws you in so you can’t help but want to immediately start reading the book to find out exactly what’s going on.

7. From Bad to Cursed

So you can make a book trailer, even a cinematic one, on a low budget—but you can also make one that has serious star power. This trailer for From Bad to Cursed stars Zendaya, a Disney Channel star. It makes sense, because the book is published by Hyperion, which is owned by Disney, and having a star that the target YA audience knows and loves surely helped this video rack up the likes and shares.

Still, even without that star power, this would have been an effective trailer. It’s relatively low-budget, with only one set and some props, a few special effects, and some great music and voiceover providing the setup.

And what a setup—eerie and a touch creepy, clearly promising a gripping story of a young girl who gets herself into a really bad situation by wanting to fit in with the popular crowd.

8. Now I See You

The author of Now I See You, Nicole C. Kear, was told at age 19 that she was going blind. She kept it a secret and lived her life to the fullest, developing interesting tips and tricks along the way, and eventually learning to embrace who she was, blindness and all.

From the trailer, we can instantly tell that she’s not going to be writing a tear-jerking memoir of quiet redemption and Grand Life Lessons. No, this is going to be a hilarious, off-kilter, enjoyable read (that maybe happens to include a few life lessons here and there).

The animation is simple—possibly something you could get a friend to do or hire out relatively inexpensively—but what makes this trailer really work is the tongue-in-cheek humor and the not-so-serious life tips. We immediately get a sense of what the book’s about and how it presents its information—a perfect setup to reach a nonfiction book’s target audience.

9. The Love Song of Jonny Valentine

How often have you seen book covers plastered with endorsements and blurbs, only to realize that you can’t actually find anything that describes what the book’s about?

Too often, publishing companies seem to place all the emphasis on celebrity endorsements, reviews, and blurbs, forgetting that readers want to know what they’re getting themselves into.

The trailer for The Love Song of Jonny Valentine pokes fun at that tradition by having author and comedian Teddy Wayne endorse his own book…though he’s not very happy about it.

Once again, it’s clear from the trailer exactly the sort of humor we can expect from the book—if the trailer appeals to you, the book probably will too. And that’s the kind of preview or teaser that viewers want from a trailer! It’s a perfect appetizer to get you hungry for the full read.

Plus, it’s a great reminder that being too “sales-y” in your book trailer is not going to make your audience want to buy your book. Best to be subtle, hook them with a story, and drop your buying info in a simple call to action screen at the very end rather than have that blinking BUY NOW button and scroll throughout!

10. The Good Girl

You don’t have to write a complicated new script just to make a book trailer. You can use the jacket text creatively to tease your audience, as with this trailer for The Good Girl by Mary Kubica.

Simple setup, very few sets or scenes, creepy music, and some basic animation—all of that turns the jacket copy from the back of the book into a gripping book trailer that makes you want to know what’s going to happen next and if “she” will be okay. Well done!

Bonus Trailer: Thug Kitchen

Okay, so we’ve already covered one cookbook trailer, but this one’s too good to pass up.

Who knew cookbooks were such fertile ground for inspiring awesome, viral book trailers? Something about food brings out creativity.

Warning: this trailer contains quite a bit of explicit language.

Cookbooks don’t have a plot or characters, so it would seem hard to create a gripping story for a trailer about one. In this case, the writers and director created a spoof of every drug commercial we’ve ever seen and turned it into a manifesto for why you should cook easy, tasty vegetarian food to feel better and enjoy life more…while being a foul-mouthed, hilarious “thug.”

Fans of the Thug Kitchen blog already knew what they were getting into, but watching this trailer will definitely let you know that this isn’t your average cookbook.


Have you watched any great book trailers lately? Share in the comments!


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Unstoppable Confidence: 3 Steps to Make It So You Don’t Have to Fake It Fri, 11 Aug 2017 06:17:59 +0000

At first glance, confidence seems to be an invisible aura of positive energy and self-assurance that bursts out of people. Often, we think that confidence is something that’s innate—either you have it or you don’t. While there are those who have a natural bent toward confidence, it is also something that you can develop.

Confidence is both explainable and achievable. It is not confined to certain personality types or specific traits. It is a skill, and you’re responsible for developing and growing it as part of your personality. You must study, practice, and master it just like any other skill.

Now, I know a lot of folks out there believe that affirmation is the way to build confidence. Look in the mirror and say positive things about yourself: “You’re a great writer,” “You can write a thousand words per day,” “You have an extraordinary story to tell,” and so on. That’s all great, and if it’s working for you, then I would agree that you should keep at it.

However, it’s my personal belief that the confidence you build with affirmation is short-lived. It gets you inspired and motivated, and you’ll probably be assertive for a few days or a few weeks…until you hit roadblock like writer’s block or getting a rejection from a publishing company or agent. Your confidence is easily shaken by life’s challenges because your confidence is only being fed by positive thoughts—it doesn’t have a real foundation.

Affirmation could also lead to expecting too much of yourself and overestimating your capabilities. Although confidence is rooted in your belief that you can be successful, there is still that danger of displaying more confidence than what you can really handle.

They say “fake it till you make it!”

But here’s what I think…

“Make it so you don’t have to fake it!”

There is no sure way of gaining confidence overnight. But if you want to be confident every single day for the rest of your life, you have to stoke that fire of confidence. Fuel it by being an expert at your craft, because confidence is really about knowing that you’re good at what you do and that you add value to people’s lives, then acting in a way that resonates with your audience.

But what if you’re a new writer and writing is a whole new arena for you? How do you create confidence when you’re a newbie and you have no idea what you’re doing?

There’s three simple steps you can start today to have more confidence!

1. Start by Taking Action

I saw this great video on Facebook. Some guy couldn’t reach his toes and he set a goal for himself to reach his toes.

Every day he bent over, stretched his hamstrings, and tried to reach his toes. When he started out, this guy was like a foot and a half away from reaching his toes, but every day he tried, and he got closer and closer to reaching his toes. Finally, on Day 41, he reached his toes. He high-fived his wife and was completely ecstatic. It was awesome!

Let’s dig deeper into how this guy achieved his goal of reaching his toes.

He started by taking action. He took consistent action day after day after day. He built momentum by taking action on a regular basis to reach his goal. This momentum gave him the confidence to go out there to take more and more action because he was seeing results from the previous actions that he had taken. In the end, he succeeded in reaching his toes.

The same principle works in real life. If you want to achieve your goal of being a successful writer, you need to take daily action. If you’re inexperienced and have no idea what to write about, just start by searching for inspiration whether in a form of a writing prompt, systematic questioning, free writing, taking a publishing course, and so on. Think about what you can do to be a good writer and focus on doing it consistently.

Don’t try to accomplish too much. Think good, better, and then best. Start small and work your way up to being an expert in your field.

That’s what you’ve got to do to start getting confidence on your side. (I highly recommend jotting down your daily action in a journal.)

After you have jumpstarted your confidence engine, the next thing you’ll need to do is to keep it running. Improve and develop your confidence by taking more actions.

2. Always Do What You Say You’re Going to Do

There is one simple formula for success in any area of life: do what you say you’re going to do. Continue taking action.

If you say, “I’m going to call five prospects every day to pursue sales,” make it happen. If you say it, you have to commit to it and execute it. If you promise to meet a friend for lunch, do it. If you agreed to a 9 a.m. appointment, show up. If you schedule writing for two hours every day, then make sure you complete that task every single day.

Make a habit of doing what you say you’ll do. It will develop into a mindset of “can-do” in any situation and that will increase your confidence.

But don’t make the mistake of focusing only on your commitments to yourself. Pay attention to what you say to others, too, and make sure that you do everything you tell them you will.

People want to follow great leaders. The more you put value on keeping your promises, on keeping your commitment, the more likely people are going to believe in you. The more people believe in you, the more you’ll believe in yourself, and the more you believe in yourself, the more you absorb that can-do attitude into your personality, making you feel more confident in any kind of situation.

The path to being confident is not going to be easy. Even if you’ve already developed that can-do mindset, there will still be times that you will be taken aback by a situation and self-doubt can start seeping in. You can find yourself in a situation where your growing confidence is starting to weaken.

3. Destroy Self-Doubt and Cultivate Self-Trust

Have you ever seen a salesperson looking down at his feet and looking uncomfortable? I’ve had my fair share of that sad experience with salespeople who couldn’t look me in the eye, and when I ask them a question, they either hesitate or answer in a small voice. I never buy from those salespeople because they are full of self-doubt.

If you’re an experienced writer and you’ve gotten nasty reviews because of one crazy idea in your book, you may want to start acting like that salesperson. You don’t want to say something that might be perceived as outrageous, and so you shy away from letting your thoughts flow onto that blank page in front of you. You have all these negative thoughts about people judging your writing, which makes you uncomfortable. You’re not sure about what your readers want anymore, and so you begin having a difficult time stringing words together or even deciding on a topic. You start doubting yourself and you become a hindrance to your own success.

The only cure to eliminating self-doubt is to increase your self-trust. And the only way to increase self-trust is by taking more action.

Why? If you keep taking daily action, you’ll have a sure-fire way of getting real affirmations that you’re a reliable person and that you can do everything you said you would do. You can establish self-trust because you can look back at your past actions and say “I made it!”

(If you’ve kept a journal of your daily action, you can look back at the pages of your daily progress.)

You’ll know you’re a different person from when you started if you look at your track record. You’re no longer the clueless writer that you used to be. You’re now someone who’s constantly taking action, constantly making progress, and constantly doing what you said you’d do, and you know you can trust yourself because you’ve always made it work in the past. And the more you trust yourself, the less you doubt yourself, and the less you doubt yourself, the more confidence you gain.

You can’t just put a mask on, pretend you’re some big hotshot, and act confident—it won’t work for long. Fake things don’t last. If you get writer’s block, your confidence will drop instantly. If you release your book and not a single soul pays attention to it, your confidence will plummet.

Why? Because you never took actions to validate your self-belief. As a result, you are not prepared to battle unexpected obstacles. Consistent daily action helps you develop your skills to master your craft, but more than that, it’s the fuel to be confident in facing any challenge. Taking action is the foundation of real confidence.

Keep it real. Make it so you don’t have to fake it!

Take one action today towards reaching your goals. Share that action in the comments!

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149: Build a Successful Creative Career and Use YouTube to Grow Your Audience with Dave Kusek Fri, 11 Aug 2017 05:35:48 +0000

Dave Kusek is the author of The Future of Music, which has sold more than 50,000 copies. He’s a pioneer in the music industry, and he teaches artists how to thrive and prosper in our high-tech digital society.

This is a great interview. We talk about how to have a music career in the digital age. But it’s not just about music: we talk about setting career goals, the paths you need to consider based on what your goals are, and how to attract an audience with your web presence.

Authors can use the same strategies we talk about for musicians to build an audience online.

Dave grew up as a musician. He was a member of several bands in high school. When he went to college, he began working at one of the first synthesizer companies. He was fortunate to meet many musicians who worked with the company he worked for.

While he was working for the synthesizer company, he decided that he would prefer a role on the business side of the music industry.

He spent a lot of time developing software for musicians to record, play back, and edit music.

Dave got involved in creating MIDI files, which allow computers to recreate the sounds of many instruments. MIDI files set the stage for digital music to take off, and laid the foundation for the digital music revolution.

Dave has spent the last 14 years developing an online school for the Berklee College of Music. Throughout that time, he’s helped hundreds of independent musicians build their careers and navigate the changes in the music marketplace.

What Is Your Definition of Success?

Being able to be successful depends on being able to define what success means for you.

If you want to play gigs a few weekends a month as a supplement to your day job, that type of career is very easy to create.

If you want a music career that earns you $200,000 a year, where music is your full-time job, it’s possible in today’s world—but much harder to achieve.

Once you understand what your personal goals are, then you can put a plan in place to achieve them.

Major Industry Shifts

The major shift in the music industry over the last 15 years is a shift away from the mega-superstars that used to drive the industry to a larger number of people who perform music semi-professionally.

The same is true of the book industry—there are still mega-stars who sell millions of copies of every book, but now there are more and more people who earn a good living writing a couple books and enjoy steady, sustainable (but not blockbuster) success.

Three Major Career Paths for Musicians

  1. If you’re willing to travel and work hard on the road, you can make a decent living touring around the world.
  2. If you plan to make music for movies or commercials, you can make a decent living licensing your music for the use of others.
  3. If you are a really good songwriter and you’re willing to network your way into Nashville, New York, and LA, you can also make good money that way.


Build a Team

As you grow your career, focus on building a team that’s aligned with your vision.

The first thing you have to do as an independent artist is launch your own career. Almost everyone has to do this as an independent artist, because when you’re just starting out, nobody knows who you are and you don’t have the resources to build a team around you.

When you start on your own, you become very efficient in how you use money because you have to be. This skill will pay dividends later in life.

The next step is when you realize you can’t do it all on your own. That’s when you have to attract a team to help you achieve your goals.

The major challenge of building a team at this point in your career is that you’re probably not able to pay them.

That’s when you have to find ways to motivate people to help you. One way you can motivate people is if you’re very clear about your goals and can get other people excited about them, too. Infecting your team with passion for your vision of the future is an effective motivational tool.

As you’re building your team, consider a few key points:

  • What types of things need to be done to advance your career?
  • What are you good at?

Delegate tasks that you aren’t good at or don’t like to do to people on your team.

Go Where the Market Is

It’s much easier to be successful as a musician if you go where the market is. That means you have to move to LA, New York, or Nashville, depending on what you want to do and what market your music appeals to.

You can achieve a moderate level of success without living in these places, but in order to do that, you have to be really good at building a web presence and social media to attract an audience to you.

It’s also easier to grow your brand and business if you live in the community you want to be a part of.



How to Attract an Audience Online

The best way to attract an audience online is to leverage your social networks.

  • YouTube is a big part of any online music success.
  • Facebook is another major social network a lot of artists use.
  • Instagram can also be a place to find an audience.
  • Many musicians are using SoundCloud to gather an audience.

Choose one or two of these platforms and become an expert on how they work. Use these channels to help build your audience.

If you’re not sure which channels to focus on, look at your goals and what kind of artist you are.

Being clear about where you are and where you want to go will give you more clarity about the best way for you to get there.

Build a Website to Attract and Engage an Audience

Make sure that your social network profiles are leading back to your own personal website. It’s very important that you create a website that you control (as opposed to something like Facebook, which others control) where people can let you know that they’re part of your audience.

On this website, you want to have a place where you can collect your audience’s email addresses. It’s best if you trade something of value, like a freebie download, to get their email address. For instance, you could trade a song or some sort of exclusive access for people to get on your email list.

On your website, you can:

  • Promote your music
  • Promote your tours
  • Promote your merchandise
  • Start a dialogue with fans
  • Set up a point of contact for people interested in working with you

As an author, you can promote your books, stories, articles, webinars, courses, and more. You can also sell tie-in merchandise related to your books.

How to Get Your YouTube Video Noticed

When you create a YouTube video, the first thing you should do is think about your content.

  • How is it going to be unique?
  • What about your video will make people want to share it?
  • How can you make your video funny or provocative?

Using Titles, Tags, and Keywords on YouTube

The title of your video is just like the title of a book or website. It’s one of the first things that gets searched when a user types a keyword phrase into the YouTube search engine.

You want to use keyword phrases in the title so people can find your video. You also want to use keywords in the video description. This gives the search engine on YouTube another way to find what the user is looking for.

You can use YouTube’s suggested search feature to find keywords that would be good to include in your description.

All you have to do is type in keywords related to the subject your video is about and then see what YouTube’s search feature auto-populates with. The search phrases that come up are phrases people have used before.

It’s a good idea to create a call to action (CTA) at the end of your videos to help you let your audience know what you want them to do, like “buy my album” or “subscribe to my newsletter.”

The key to success in today’s world is to build a relationship with your audience—provide something of value and ask them to take another step to cement the relationship.

Time Management for Artists

It takes about 2 to 3 years of consistent effort to go from an unknown aspiring artist to a somewhat known commodity on the internet with a decent-sized fan base.

The three components of business for any successful working artist are:

  1. Craft
  2. Marketing
  3. Networking

In the beginning of your career, the majority of your time should be spent on learning your craft. You have to become really good at what you do in order to get noticed by anyone who matters.

Parallel to that, you want to set up your website and your social networks. You want to have a framework and a system in place so that when you break out, you can begin to build an audience.

The final piece of your puzzle is networking.

At the beginning of your career, when you’re just starting to learn your craft, you want to spend 50% of your time learning your craft, 25% of your time marketing, and 25% of your time networking.

When you’re secure in your craft, the amount of time you spend marketing and networking increases to capitalize on the effort you put into learning your craft.

At the end of this stage of your journey, you’re going to spend a lot more time networking than anything else. Networking will catapult your reach more than anything else you’ve done so far. But you have to have a foundation of talent and skill before your networking can pay off.

Your Team Will Change over Time

Your team will grow and change over time as you move into different phases of your career. Understand that will happen.

Be open to adding to your team when it makes sense, and make sure all of your team is in alignment with each other, and with your goals.

Links and Resources Mentioned in this Interview

The Future of Music: Manifesto for the Digital Music Revolution — Dave’s book about the digital music industry.

New Artist Model — Dave’s online business school for musicians.

CreateBiz — Dave’s new website, where he helps authors, visual artists, and photographers create a content engine around their art so they can start building an audience to sell their work.

Dave’s Amazon Author Page

Social Networks: Use these to Build Your Fan Base

Youtube — A social network built around videos

Facebook — A general-purpose social network built around sharing various content, including videos, images, and text posts

Instagram — A social network based on pictures — An online audio distribution platform


Dave Kusek is the author of The Future of Music, which has sold more than 50,000 copies. He’s a pioneer in the music industry, and he teaches artists how to thrive and prosper in our high-tech digital society. This is a great interview. Dave Kusek is the author of The Future of Music, which has sold more than 50,000 copies. He’s a pioneer in the music industry, and he teaches artists how to thrive and prosper in our high-tech digital society. This is a great interview. We talk about how to have a music career in the digital […] TCK Publishing clean 27:07
The Top 200 Most Competitive Amazon Print Bestseller Categories Thu, 10 Aug 2017 06:43:07 +0000

Amazon now has over 42,521 bestseller lists for eBooks, print books, and audiobooks in the US and UK.

There are over 10,390 bestseller lists (also called categories) just for print books in the US on the site. In some of these bestseller categories, your book can rank #1 with less than 50 sales per month. In other categories, the competition is fierce, requiring thousands of sales each month just to compete in the top 100 spots.

Researching relevant categories for your book on Amazon is like finding the right bookshelf in a bookstore on which to place your book. If you have a contemporary romance novel sitting in a cozy mystery category, you’re unlikely to find many readers who will actually pick up your book and buy it because it’s not relevant to readers in that category.

That’s why you need to spend some time to learn how Amazon’s categories system works. It’s incredibly important to choose just the right categories for your book so that it can easily be found by readers—but also so that it has the best possible chance of becoming a bestseller.

Top 200 Print Book Categories

So which categories are the hottest in terms of print book sales on Amazon?

We’ve dug deep into Amazon’s sales rankings thanks to data from Bestseller Ranking Pro and created a list of the top 200 categories for print books.

These are all categories that sell tens of thousands of books each day—they’re incredibly competitive. If you want to rank in one of these categories, you’ll have to be at the top of your game—you’ll need a great book, an amazing cover, great interior design, and fantastic marketing. You’ll also need a solid author platform.

These are high-traffic categories. If you can rank here, you’re already doing great on sales—but by moving into the top 100 in your category, you’ll unlock massive amounts of extra exposure from Amazon’s internal algorithms and turbocharge your sales.


Amazon CategoryBook #1Book #20Book #100
Science Fiction & Fantasy49560
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense ->24887
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Suspense2107110
Literature & Fiction15142
Health, Fitness & Dieting353172
Politics & Social Sciences4337224
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery7190231
Children's Books842233
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense28270
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense246310
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Historical6221337
Literature & Fiction -> Historical6221337
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction235363
Biographies & Memoirs ->23534375
Literature & Fiction -> Women's Fiction170442
Parenting & Relationships20213445
Literature & Fiction -> Women's Fiction -> Contemporary Women162454
Romance -> Contemporary1106469
Religion & Spirituality12378483
Science & Math72128487
Romance -> Fantasy13659502
Literature & Fiction -> Humor & Satire52849552
Literature & Fiction -> United States7171617
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy4143640
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Suspense2116642
Literature & Fiction -> Literary281650
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life8540665
Teens -> Romance701182736
Politics & Social Sciences -> Philosophy43712791
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Epic699796
Business & Money -> Business Culture86130811
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy38591816
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Crime3143817
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Crime3144825
Humor & Entertainment10514828
Christian Books & Bibles6858844
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Psychological Thrillers38389880
Romance -> Romantic Comedy1122882
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure2126909
Children's Books -> Literature & Fiction2208920
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Action & Adventure2139929
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Horror4511935
Medical Books72865970
Children's Books -> Humor8205976
Teens -> Literature & Fiction70515977
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Psychology & Counseling201641005
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction41961030
Business & Money -> Business Culture -> Motivation & Self-Improvement813391033
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Historical -> Fantasy122031078
Literature & Fiction -> Historical -> Fantasy122031078
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Fantasy122031078
Business & Money -> Business Life -> Motivation & Self-Improvement9511681095
Business & Money -> Management & Leadership861041106
Children's Books -> Animals21971129
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life ->91471129
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Police Procedurals11011155
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Family Life81471156
Romance -> New Adult & College262491187
Self-Help -> Success41691274
Biographies & Memoirs202311287
Cookbooks, Food & Wine7910121311
Children's Books -> Action & Adventure92081318
Literature & Fiction -> Classics121561344
Self-Help -> Personal Transformation525571347
Romance -> Paranormal543851359
Children's Books -> Science Fiction & Fantasy81761377
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Mental Health -> Happiness411881418
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Historical1314251440
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Paranormal92581441
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Paranormal & Urban92571460
Romance -> Romantic Suspense62601466
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> TV, Movie, Video Game Adaptations45631497
Business & Money861041526
Politics & Social Sciences -> Social Sciences1022831578
Humor & Entertainment -> Humor102501582
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Family Life22101631
Education & Teaching173651684
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life8951687
Arts & Photography642951688
Children's Books -> Education & Reference13091691
Children's Books -> Early Learning22531725
Self-Help -> Motivational4921725
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Mental Health37731728
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Crime -> Murder142961772
Politics & Social Sciences -> Politics & Government112081791
Business & Money -> Marketing & Sales1075521804
Christian Books & Bibles -> Christian Living -> Inspirational3433651839
Religion & Spirituality -> Christian Books & Bibles -> Christian Living55151895
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery ->10923801900
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Dystopian3736931942
Literature & Fiction -> Women's Fiction -> Domestic Life22141984
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Diets & Weight Loss563042029
Romance -> Paranormal -> Werewolves & Shifters503792051
Romance -> Werewolves & Shifters503792051
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Legal2916892179
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life -> Friendship93882207
Literature & Fiction -> United States -> African American376302212
Children's Books -> Activities, Crafts & Games584332219
Romance -> Military683952229
Medical Books -> Psychology281892239
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Spies & Politics3772251
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life ->94082253
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery -> Women Sleuths76072254
Literature & Fiction -> United States ->937712261
Literature & Fiction -> African American446182269
Children's Books -> Literature & Fiction -> Chapter Books & Intermediate Readers16982276
Literature & Fiction -> Humor & Satire -> Humorous498142305
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Spy Stories & Tales of Intrigue3642372
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense ->307752384
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense25712395
Romance -> Historical125552398
Religion & Spirituality -> Christian Books & Bibles58502414
Children's Books -> Classics464472427
Cookbooks, Food & Wine -> Special Diet1204352437
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Spies & Politics33712481
Children's Books -> Literature & Fiction -> Chapter Books & Readers27212507
Business & Money -> Personal Finance1281382543
Religion & Spirituality ->111962568
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Psychological Thrillers534252577
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy536742579
Children's Books -> Early Learning -> Basic Concepts23302585
Children's Books -> Activities, Crafts & Games -> Activity Books584692678
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Science Fiction43602686
Self-Help -> Spiritual524092695
Religion & Spirituality -> New Age & Spirituality24242703
Christian Books & Bibles -> Christian Living -> Women's Issues4320142711
Religion & Spirituality -> New Age23811772716
Children's Books -> Fairy Tales, Folk Tales & Myths955212719
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Science Fiction43602728
Biographies & Memoirs -> Specific Groups204292736
Textbooks -> Medicine & Health Sciences957522766
Biographies & Memoirs -> Memoirs261282780
History -> Americas -> United States6715302780
History -> United States6715302780
Crafts, Hobbies & Home695872781
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy ->436582789
Literature & Fiction -> United States -> African American -> Urban938402836
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Adventure43382844
Literature & Fiction -> United States -> African American ->399442851
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Dystopian46012881
Self-Help -> Self-Esteem815692912
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Diets & Weight Loss -> Other Diets172162916
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Romantic136012917
Teens -> Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure16512362917
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery -> Cozy127602923
Christian Books & Bibles -> Literature & Fiction -> Romance17921142926
Christian Books & Bibles -> Romance17921142926
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thriller & Suspense25862950
Literature & Fiction -> African American -> Urban308492964
Politics & Social Sciences -> Philosophy -> Eastern -> Buddhism505872982
Religion & Spirituality -> Buddhism505872982
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery -> Police Procedurals16283067
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Fantasy4903080
Teens -> Romance -> Fantasy16827133116
Religion & Spirituality -> Spirituality -> Personal Transformation605713188
Children's Books -> Literature & Fiction -> Chapter Books & Readers -> Beginner Readers17913191
Test Preparation202713195
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life -> School93173206
Romance -> Sports255603214
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Magic & Wizards139903235
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy -> Coming of Age385503287
Biographies & Memoirs -> Arts & Literature2014473303
Education & Teaching -> Test Preparation177203306
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Coming of Age406703339
Reference -> Test Preparation153313364
Parenting & Relationships -> Parenting636893390
Education & Teaching -> Schools & Teaching43121003420
Politics & Social Sciences ->692053423
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers & Suspense -> Supernatural41343445
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Thrillers -> Supernatural35513452
Textbooks -> Humanities3310413489
Comics & Graphic Novels20621793535
Health, Fitness & Dieting -> Alternative Medicine697803542
Children's Books -> Science, Nature & How It Works119343545
Literature & Fiction -> United States -> African American -> Romance938603584
Romance -> Paranormal -> Vampires507803618
Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Fantasy ->168383622
Christian Books & Bibles -> Christian Living -> Devotionals14968643733
Politics & Social Sciences -> Politics & Government ->1220903736
Literature & Fiction -> African American -> Romance308573763
Business & Money -> Industries135812533765
Literature & Fiction -> Genre Fiction -> Religious & Inspirational1211903806
Religion & Spirituality -> Religious & Inspirational1211903806
Literature & Fiction -> Contemporary181483816
Romance -> Paranormal ->569583816
Literature & Fiction -> Humor488143856
Science & Math -> Biological Sciences3517353856
Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery -> Amateur Sleuths386983894
Teens -> Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Science Fiction16539443959
Teens -> Science Fiction & Fantasy -> Science Fiction -> Science Fiction16539443959
Medical Books -> Medicine -> Internal Medicine616493965
Children's Books -> Growing Up & Facts of Life -> Friendship, Social Skills & School Life -> Friendship63363966
Business & Money -> Management & Leadership -> Leadership1615494017
Literature & Fiction -> Action & Adventure -> Mystery, Thriller & Suspense -> Mystery317874038
Romance -> Vampires5410294045

How the List Works

The “Books” category on Amazon covers all books in any format: paperbacks, hardcovers, ebooks, and audiobooks.

In this list, we’re not tackling ebooks or audiobooks—just print sales, whether in paperback or hardcover form.

The numbers in the table in the #1, #20, and #100 column show you the Amazon Sales Ranking needed to achieve the 1st, 20th, and 100th position in that given category. You can use our free Amazon Book Sales Calculator tool to calculate how many sales are needed to achieve any of these given sales rankings.

To give you an idea of how competitive each category is, we’ve tracked the top, middle, and bottom books in each bestseller list: the #1 book is selling the most, the #20 book is doing pretty well as an average marker, and the #100 book has barely made it on the bestseller list for that category.

The number listed under each is where that book ranks in terms of overall Amazon sales—how popular is the book overall? For instance, you’d have to make it to #48 for overall sales across all books on Amazon just to be the #20 book in the Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense category!

We’ve organized the list based on which category sells the most books and how hard it is to rank in that category.

Note: Amazon’s sales rankings are updated hourly, so if you check the listings, the exact numbers and top titles may have changed. But in general, the bestselling categories stay pretty consistent, so this list will give you a good idea of what the most competitive print topics are.


Choosing the Right Category

Although it’s important to choose a category where you can stand out, you also have to consider your reader. You want to choose a category where they’ll be looking for books like yours, so they’ll have an easier time finding you while browsing.

You also don’t want to promise one thing and then deliver another—a reader who thinks they’re going to get a certain type of book based on the category and description will be really disappointed to find a totally different book if you’ve mislabeled it. That can lead to bad reviews, which will hurt your overall sales.

It’s best to be clear and accurate rather than trying to game the category system just to get on a bestseller list.

If you really want to land a bestseller spot in an uncompetitive category, then write a book specifically for that category!

Choose the category that lines up best with the content of your book. For instance, if you’re writing a fantasy epic, you probably won’t want to choose Body, Mind, & Spirit > Supernatural—yes, it might be a story with supernatural characters, but that category is for nonfiction. Your epic fantasy novel would be better listed under Fiction > Fantasy > Epic, because that’s where readers will be looking for something like it.

How to Select Print Book Categories

There’s no direct method to place a print book into a category on Amazon like there is with a Kindle book—you can’t just upload a print book and tick boxes for the right categories, after all!

But there are a few easy ways to get your print book into the right categories.


When you print a book through CreateSpace, you’ll be given the option to distribute your book. Always choose it!

When you do, you’ll move to the Distribute tab. Under Description, you have the option to select BISAC Category.

As always, choose the categories that best suit your book’s content.

Unlike on Kindle, you only have the opportunity to select one category for your book when publishing a print book through CreateSpace. So make your selection count!

Ingram Spark

If you’re publishing your print book through Ingram Spark, you have more opportunities to choose categories.

As you set up your book, you’ll be asked to choose categories just like on CreateSpace. Here, though, you can choose up to three categories!

Always start with the most specific category you can, then choose two others that also fit the topic of your book.

Think about how a reader might search for your book. What problem are they having that your book can solve? What interest of theirs are you appealing to? Figure out how a reader might search for your book and choose a category that follows that mental path.

Whenever you can choose more than one category, fill out all your options! This gives readers the most chances to find your work.

Other Ways to Change Categories on Amazon

If you’re using a different print service, your printer probably has a method similar to the ones used by CreateSpace and Ingram Spark to select categories for your book.

Choose the ones closest to the subject matter and you’re on your way!

You can also contact Amazon support directly and ask them to change your book to the categories that are most relevant.

[Source: Elizabeth Skene]

What We Can Learn from the List

There’s a lot to learn from looking at what categories are the most popular for print sales!

Much like the Kindle sales lists, fiction dominates. But nonfiction is really popular among print book buyers, too!

The most popular fiction category is Science Fiction & Fantasy, which makes sense—this is a super-popular genre! Next in line is Mystery, Thriller, & Suspense, another perennial favorite.

The most popular nonfiction category is Health, Fitness, & Dieting, followed closely by Self Help. Again, these have always been popular topics—everyone wants to lead a better, happier life!

So if you’re writing in those areas, you have the potential to tap into a huge audience for your work and to sell a lot of copies in print.

However, because these categories are so popular, it’s extraordinarily hard to rank on the print-based bestseller list, even at #100, and to rise up to top the charts. You’ll need to do great keyword targeting, market your book to the max, and still be prepared to never make it to #1.

Be Specific

Notice, though, that the more specific you get with a category, the easier it is to break into the top sales rankings. The more specific you are, the less competition you have.

So drill down into what really makes your book tick and choose the narrowest category you can—you’ll have a better shot at becoming an Amazon bestseller! Don’t just choose the broadest category hoping to appeal to the most readers—you’ll get lost in the crowd.

With a savvy publishing plan that includes ebook and audiobook sales, great networking, plenty of email list-building, and more, you’ll be well on your way to finding your niche and building a full-time author income.

Other Amazon Category Lists

We’ve already posted the 100 most competitive lists for Amazon Kindle, as well as the 100 least competitive lists for Kindle so you can check those out if you’re looking for even more awesome data on Amazon bestseller lists.


Do you sell print books? Share your tips in the comments!

Want to learn more about how to get your eBook, print books, and audiobooks to rank well on Amazon?

Learn more about the simple system for getting your books to rank on Amazon’s bestseller lists with Bestseller Ranking Pro.


For more on selling print books, read on:

How To Build Your Email List Using YouTube Wed, 09 Aug 2017 06:36:48 +0000

By now, we all know that we need an email list in order to stay in touch with our audience, promote books and products, drive conversion and upsells, and just generally develop a solid platform for everything we do as author-entrepreneurs.

But how the heck do you develop that list in the first place, especially if you’re just getting started?

Creating an Email List

This can seem like a daunting task at first, but it isn’t. I’m going to show you a clever way to utilize your YouTube comments to create an email list in five simple steps.

Now, while this isn’t super-hard, keep in mind that it will take time and effort! Creating an email list is a time-consuming project, because you need to get your own leads through searching for and finding people in your industry, then contacting them directly.

This is a task that is usually handled by a customer relations specialist, or the CEO of a startup company. The reason for this is because you want someone who is personable and easy to talk to. You want that potential lead to come to your business and buy your products—for authors, specifically, you want them to come to your website or Amazon page and buy your book!

Picking potential leads is also a skill you learn by interacting with people, communicating, and understanding what people are looking for. You’ll want to narrow down leads by:

  • age
  • gender
  • location
  • interests
  • education

Discovering these demographics for someone who might be a potential lead is a learned skill, not entirely an instinct. Instincts do help when picking up a potential lead, if you are aware of people and their needs.

Here’s how you can build an email list using YouTube comments.

Utilizing YouTube Comments

The best part about using YouTube comments is that you don’t even have to have a YouTube channel, although that helps. You can view the comments on most videos without ever making a video, or sometimes even without logging in.

Looking through the videos on YouTube, you will see hundreds upon thousands of comments on videos of people just talking about the content and thanking the YouTuber. These commenters are your potential customers, waiting for you to market to them and to join your email list. You just have to know how to bring them in and sell your book.

The hardest task at hand is getting the email. Getting the email means you turn a potential lead  into a subscriber to your newsletter/email campaign/etc.

After that, you must gain their trust before you sell them anything. They need to know that you are listening to them and that you understand their needs and concerns—you can’t just jump right into trying to sell them things.

How to Build Your Email List

Building your email list will take a few tools, including:

  • time
  • effort and dedication
  • communication skills
  • ability to relate to people
  • an internet connection with access to YouTube
  • one YouTube account
  • a word-processing program, such as Word, Notepad, Pages, etc.

These are all things most people have access to. If you do not have a YouTube account, I suggest you make one. It will benefit you in the long run.

Let me show you how to build your email list using YouTube comments in just five simple steps.

#1: Find Relevant Videos

When you are on the YouTube homepage, you can search for any video topics you choose. I recommend you pick a topic based on your industry or genre—these will be your best potential leads to become customers.

Since I’m in marketing, I will search for “building a successful marketing career.

The top videos that pop up all look great, but we want a recent video. Try to look for one that was done in the last year. The video I picked is the most recent, at 5 months. Click on it.

If you find a video that doesn’t have many comments, or the comments are older than a year, pick a different video or narrow your search.

Filtering your search will give you more recent videos from the last year. Pick a video from here, which will lead us to the video page with the YouTuber and commenters.

#2: Contact the YouTuber

You can build your list off more than just YouTube comments; you can also contact the YouTuber personally. This works very well if done correctly and with tact.

You do not want to spam the video creator. You do want to invite them to have a look at your videos or your products because you both are a part of the same industry. This is where you can ask for their feedback or their advice to get the ball rolling.

Some great icebreakers include:

  • asking about current industry strategies
  • mentioning something from one of their video topics
  • discussing upcoming trends in your industry

To contact the YouTuber, you just have to follow a few simple steps.

  1. Click on the Channels Name to go to their home page.
  2. Under their name, you’ll see a row of options. Select About.
  3. This will lead you to their About page, which will include where you can send them a message or fill out a small form to view their business email.

Sending the person a message on YouTube is fine, but it may get lost their fanbase of messages. It’s better to get the business email and message them directly.

3. Look at Newest Comments

Below a video is where all the comments are located. You can sort the comments by Newest First, which will give you the comments that are newer. You only want to look as far back as one year.

The idea behind this is that the newer the comment, the better the lead is—the topic is on the commenter’s mind. You can also read through the comments and see what is interesting to them, or if they want to learn the skill, which may help you to gear a certain product or idea their way.

For example, if we’re looking at videos on marketing, you can discover what marketing topics people are interested in and use that to shape your outreach. You can also find out if people are interested in learning to do certain things in the realm of marketing, then reach out to make them aware of your book, course, or webinar on that subject.

4. Contact or Comment

Now that you have a lengthy list of commenters to choose from, select your best candidates and click on their username.

This process is the same process you go through with the YouTube video creator.

What you can expect from this process is to repeat it until you build your list.

  • Click on their username
  • Click on the About header
  • Land on the About page
  • Initiate contact

Some commenters may not have an About section set up as part of their YouTube account, meaning there is no easy way to contact them. In this case, it’s best to select your next commenter and continue from there.

In the About section, you’ll see the same setup as for a YouTube video creator—however, it most likely will not include a business inquiry email.

This will be closer to what you see on some commenters’ About section. From here, you can choose to send the person a message, or you can follow their social media to contact them there.

Remember: you want to be courteous and polite, as having someone’s email address is much like entering their home. It’s very personal and sacred. People do not like clutter and junk in their home, so don’t give them any.

5. Begin to Build Your Email List

Before you begin emailing your potential leads, you might want to first draft up a sample email. I always try to get the basic template out of the way and fill it in from there, so I end up with something like this:

I fill in the brackets with personalized information. I make sure to address the person by their channel name, or the name provided in their description—this way they know you’re talking to them and it feels more personal.

You can choose to add a video from your own channel or a product you are offering for free. Do not try to sell them anything yet. You need to earn their trust before you can sell to them.

Make sure to alter this basic template to fit your needs and your industry. Whatever you want to say/add/take out/comment on, feel free to be yourself and take some creative liberty. You need to be authentic and real in your emails— otherwise, you may get no response.

After you send an email, all you need to do is wait for a response. After one week, send a follow-up email. If the person doesn’t reply to the follow-up email, they’re not interested—don’t email them anymore!

As you get responses, you can start building your list:

  1. As you receive emails back, enter them in your email marketing service (like MailChimp or Constant Contact)or in an Excel sheet. I do both to have a backup, just in case!
  2. Alwaysstay on top of your subscribers list.
  3. Continueto reach out to commenters and YouTubers.
  4. Engagewith your own viewers (if applicable) to make sure they’re on your mailing list.

Start Your Email Marketing

You have the tools to build your list and continue that growth as you develop your business and email strategy. Ideally, you’ll have about 500 email subscribers before starting an email campaign or newsletter—that’s a great amount to be able to see a real response from your efforts and to get significant sales and word of mouth as you roll out products, books, and other buying opportunities.

As you notice your business and popularity growing, continue building your list. Comments on YouTube will always be there, so the market for potential leads will always be full. Take advantage of this opportunity and build your email list constantly!

This may take up a lot of your time, but the benefits and end reward are very much worth the time you are investing in building your list.

Take the time now to build your list manually through YouTube comments, and reap the benefits as they come in through long-term, loyal customers who become avid fans, eagerly awaiting your next book, course, or product.

What’s your favorite email list-building strategy?


About the Author

Deepak Shukla is the managing director at Purr Traffic.

When he isn’t running the agency, he bides his time marathon running, getting tattoos, or watching any horror movie he can get his hands on 😉






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7 Ways To Get the Most Out Of A Writers’ Conference Tue, 08 Aug 2017 06:31:44 +0000

Writers’ conferences are amazing things.

You get to talk to other people who understand the joys and agonies of being an author, share tips for getting an agent or a publishing deal, find new beta readers, make new industry connections, and even get tips on how to find a cover designer or self-publish your book.

But when you’re around so many people who can help your career out, and you’re so excited about sharing your work, you can also accidentally goof up, making a misstep that makes you look less than professional and hurting your career instead of helping it.

Let’s take a look at 7 common mistakes writers make at conferences and how you can avoid them—and use the conference to boost your career instead!

1. Only Talking to People You Know

Conferences can be overwhelming. There’s hundreds of people all around, all talking and trading tips and generally being full of energy.

It can be incredibly tempting to just hole up with one or two people you know, perhaps from your writer’s group, sticking with them the entire time.

But if you don’t sit with someone new at lunch, or talk to the guy next to you at a panel session, or ask a question of someone at a signing, you won’t get the full conference experience.

You don’t need to interact with everyone, flitting around like a social butterfly, but you do need to talk to at least one person each day who you don’t know—preferably two or three people you’ve never met before.

You never know who might have a fantastic connection to the perfect cover designer or editor for you, or who might have a great tip for how to get unstuck on your current work-in-progress.

It’s not hard to start a conversation at a conference—you all have something in common, after all: writing!

Just head over to a table with a few people sitting at it during lunch and ask if you can join, then ask the table what everyone is working on. It’s a ready-made icebreaker!

2. Pitching All the Time

Remember, though: you should talk to as many people as you can at a conference, but you should never start pitching your book unless you’re invited to.

If you start talking with an agent or editor during lunch or a session break, that’s great! Ask them about their job, such as what they like best about their clients or their agency. Ask them how the conference has been for them so far. Ask them about their favorite moment of the conference, or the best session they’ve attended.

But don’t pitch them your book. If they ask, go ahead—but don’t just barrel ahead with telling someone what you’re working on unless they ask you to.

Overenthusiastic writers have even been known to corner agents in the bathroom to pitch—which is a darn good way to make sure that agent remembers you, but not in a good way!

3. Trailing Agents and Editors

Just like you shouldn’t start pitching someone unless they ask you to, you shouldn’t be following agents, editors, and faculty at the conference around or giving them manuscripts, promotional materials, or other items without their permission.

Agents and editors are people, too, and conferences can be just as overwhelming for them as they are for authors. Everyone deserves a little downtime, and no one likes to feel like they’re being stalked.

Unfortunately, some authors are so excited about their work and the prospect of meeting an agent that they’ve researched and decided would be a perfect fit that they forget that!

It might seem like you’re being creative to have a packet of promotional items delivered to a favorite editor’s hotel room, or to research the agent you’re interested in so that you can bring up her favorite restaurant or that vacation she took last month when you speak.

To the agent or editor, though, it’s kind of creepy—you’re trying to establish a business relationship, and starting that out by Google-stalking the person or following them around the conference to talk to them at every opportunity doesn’t give the impression that you’re going to be a great client who’s easy to work with.

Take a breath and calm down. You don’t need to keep popping up to talk to an agent or editor every five minutes, and you don’t need to put yourself at their table at every session or meal. If you do a good job with your pitch, they’ll remember you and look forward to getting your manuscript sample.

Stick to pitching on the conference schedule, remember that industry pros are people too, and stay professional. It’ll make a good impression and make it far more likely that you’ll start building the relationships you want.

4. Getting Ahead of Yourself

When you pitch your book, stick to pitching your book.

By that, I mean that you shouldn’t get ahead of yourself, outlining your plans for a major feature film starring Johnny Depp, a long-running video game franchise, and a theme park.

If you wrote a good book, there’s a chance those things could come…eventually.

But for now, you need to focus on selling your book to the right agent or editor. If you do, they’ll work to find ways to sell subsidiary rights like film rights, foreign translation rights, and more.

Insisting that you’ve got the next major property that will make Harry Potter look like a drop in the bucket doesn’t convince an industry pro that you have a hit on your hands—it makes you seem overconfident and like you might be a challenge to work with.

Focus on getting your pitch fine-tuned so that your book comes across in the best possible light, as the gripping and unique story that it is. The rest will come.

5. Not Getting Outside Your Comfort Zone

When you’re at a conference, you have a zillion opportunities to attend workshops and classes, get personalized critiques, pitch agents and editors, and more.

Take advantage of that!

Too many people attending writers’ conferences stick to a narrow track, only attending classes or panels in their area of interest, like fantasy, and never branching out to a scriptwriting class or a workshop on podcasting.

Attend at least one session that’s totally in left field for you, whether that’s on memoir or genre fiction or film making. You’ll learn something you had no idea about and will probably start seeing connections between different types of writing and different techniques that can help you make your writing even better.

Getting out of your comfort zone applies to other areas of the conference, too. If you’re nervous about sharing your work with other people, challenge yourself to pitch an industry pro or attend a critique session. Get feedback on your work and see if you can incorporate it into your next draft.

If you’re really nervous, dip a toe into the water by asking a question at a panel session or sharing a few ideas with someone you’re sitting next to at lunch. People at writers’ conferences are generally enthusiastic, engaged, and eager to help you build your writing career. Once you start talking to them, you’ll find that it’s less scary to think about sharing a page of your work or pitching your book.

And that’s where you’ll really start to benefit from constructive feedback, workshopping, and building your network.

6. Not Being Prepared

You can’t get the most value out of a writers’ conference if you don’t know what you’re looking to get—or if you’re not prepared to succeed there.

It doesn’t make sense to attend a conference and pitch a novel that you haven’t written yet—although nonfiction books are often bought based on a proposal, novels need to be totally completed, professionally edited, and ready to go.

If you pitch a great book that is only in the concept stage and the agent or editor loves the idea, you’ve only wasted everyone’s time—you can’t send a sample of the work and by the time you’ve actually written the book, the agent will have moved on to other projects and might not be interested anymore.

You can absolutely attend a conference if you don’t have a finished book—but understand that your experience will be different from someone with a completed manuscript. You’ll be looking for feedback on your concept and your writing technique, not for opportunities to pitch or sell your book or for critique on a polished piece.

You should also be prepared with some way to give people your contact information—you’ll be meeting tons of people who can support you along your author journey, whether that’s fellow writers or industry pros.

Not everyone wants to exchange phone numbers or texts, so you should have an author business card ready to go that directs people to your professional website and encourages them to sign up for your email list.

After all, your networking is only valuable if you stay in touch!

7. Not Following Up

All too often, authors don’t follow up on the connections they make at conferences.

This is completely baffling to agents and editors—why would you take the time and energy to create a great pitch for your novel, get up the courage to nail the discussion, and get a request for a sample just to drop the ball?

Maybe you’re nervous about having someone read your full manuscript.

Maybe you’re unconsciously self-sabotaging your career.

You had the courage and the drive to prepare your pitch and go after your writing dreams at a conference.

Make sure to follow up!

Send those sample pages out to every agent and editor who requested them, doing so promptly within a day or two after the conference.

Expect that it’ll take them awhile to get back to you—they probably have a stack of emails to go through after being away from the office for a few days—but make a note to follow up on that sample submission after three weeks.

And followup isn’t just for industry pros. If you spoke with a freelance editor, cover designer, audiobook narrator, or book trailer director that you’d like to work with, send them a note within a day or two of the conference to say hi.

Reach out to other authors who you enjoyed speaking with and keep the conversation going.

Stay in touch with your new writing friends, mentors, and peers, developing the relationships that will help nurture you throughout your author career.

Writing conferences can be great places to learn new techniques, make valuable connections, and pursue a book deal. But you have to put in some work and be ready to follow up promptly in order to make the most of your experience.

What are your best tips for getting the most out of a writers’ conference?


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Why Direct Mail Is Still So Important in a Digital Age Mon, 07 Aug 2017 06:25:20 +0000

The digital world has changed so many things in our lives. It’s changed the way we do business, the way we write books, and the way in which we market our creations to a potential clientele.

While innovations have affected nearly every aspect of life, a few old-school things have managed to survive. Direct mail is one of them, and it can still be considered quite effective in a digital age. Even if you’re attempting to promote a digital product, direct mail can help you accomplish a lot in terms of brand establishment.

Are you still curious and hesitant about trying a snail-mail technique? If so, the following guide will shed some light on direct mail, the best approach to using it, and why it delivers such excellent results.

What Is Direct Mail?

Direct mail advertising involves sending letters to a specific group of people. That’s right, actual, real paper letters!

The letters could be geographically targeted, they could be sent to potential buyers who have requested such information, or the audience could be chosen on the basis of other criteria.

Maybe you target your audience based on opt-ins, like people who have ticked a particular box on your email newsletter subscription form, or you might even do direct mail to bookstores or shops that could be interested in carrying your books.

Very often, direct mail consists of junk letters and brochures that nobody wants. This happens when no personalization is done. If you know how to tailor the letter to the specific needs of the recipient, however, chances are that your advertising message will not go unnoticed.

[Source: Shutterstock]

Why Does Direct Mail Work?

Direct mail still works in the digital age for a number of reasons.

It Makes People Happy

Let’s face it: people like getting things in the mail.

While email has become the preferred method of communication for many people, it lacks the personal touch of getting something in a traditional mailbox. People still enjoy traditional letters, and if these are tailored to their interests, you can expect a positive response.

After all, isn’t it always a treat to get something other than bills in the mail? And when the piece of mail you get is relevant, timely, and targeted right to your interests, you’re likely to pay attention.

Studies have shown that people like getting mail. And we definitely want to give our potential audience things they like!

It Improves Brand Recognition

We’re wired to respond differently to paper than to pixels.

An interesting study was carried out in Canada comparing direct mail marketing campaigns were to digital advertising. Eye-tracking technology and EEG brain scans were used to determine how people respond to the different media.

Researchers found out that when they were asked to process direct mail, people used 21% less of their cognitive capabilities than they did for digital ads. And in this case, less is more!

Using less cognitive capacity means you’re not stressing out your brain with trying to understand the ad. So letters are easier to understand and could potentially be remembered over a longer period of time than digital ads.

In addition, the effectiveness of direct mail campaigns was seen as greater than the effectiveness of digital marketing. People who see direct mail are capable of recalling the brand 75% of the time. When a campaign is carried out via digital channels, the memorability goes down to 44%.

It Works with Other Approaches

Whether you’ve just launched a startup or you’re trying to build your career as a successful author, you’ll need a powerful marketing campaign right from the start. Targeting the right audience, delivering the most effective message, and relying on multiple channels will all play a role in your success.

Direct mail is highly effective in combination with other marketing techniques.

The term “Smartmail marketing” has been coined to describe this kind of savvy multi-channel marketing. Smartmail marketing refers to connecting both physically and digitally with the consumer. Multiple channels are utilized, both in the traditional outbound realm as well as in the digital medium.

There’s a very important reason why the Smartmail marketing approach works. Depending solely on digital promotion will give you access to an audience that’s in front of the computer or the smartphone screen. Occasionally, however, people will turn these devices off. In such instances, you’ll be entirely incapable of connecting with them.

The appeal of holding a piece of paper hasn’t died yet. This is why magazines and specialized publications are still alive. The very same reason is responsible for the high success of direct mail in a digital world.

Direct mail enters the home of your potential buyer. It stays there and it can be examined again in the future. People tend to keep flyers, letters, catalogs, and other mail that they’ve received and deemed relevant. They refer to it over and over—putting you in front of your audience more than just once when your ad flashes on their screen.

There’s Less Competition

As a person who’s taking their first steps to establish their writing career, you’re probably a little nervous about the competition. Most authors in today’s world know that self-publishing has given millions of people across the world an opportunity to write something and sell it for money. The sheer volume of writing makes it almost impossible to compete for the attention of a limited audience.

Direct mail advertising can help you stand out from that crowd. It comes with less competition, because just about everyone has gone down the digital route. Statistics suggest that about 81% of companies rely on social media (particularly Facebook) for the purpose of brand establishment. While digital advertising is relatively inexpensive, such massive competition can easily reduce its effectiveness.

Marketing experts believe that a person’s computer inbox is the new mailbox. It’s filled with personal letters, digital invoices, offers, and newsletters. People have learned to quickly go through all of this clutter and get rid of most mail without even opening it.

Things are a bit different in the world of direct mail, especially if you manage to personalize your marketing materials a little bit. Putting each one in an envelope, for example, will make it much more likely for people to take the message home and look at it.

It’s Open to All Audiences

If you’re trying to address the young, hip, cool crowd of millennials, sending traditional mail may not be the best approach (though it may enable you to differentiate yourself in certain situations). Very often, however, you’ll be targeting different groups of people.

Have you written a novel that will appeal to an older crowd? If so, a Facebook ad campaign may not be the best tool in your arsenal.

Direct mail opens your message to all audiences. Even people who aren’t particularly technologically savvy like opening their mailbox and seeing what surprises it holds. There’s a huge segment of the population that marketers still cannot reach through inbound digital campaigns.

If these people matter to your business or your book’s target audience, doing something a bit more traditional is definitely going to be the right way to connect and to make a great first impression.

How Authors Can Use Direct Mail

As an author, you’re probably wondering how you can use direct mail to your advantage.

For a start, you can use it to send potential readers a quick sample of your work. Giving people access to the first chapter of your new book, for example, is a great option for getting them hooked. If people dedicate some time to exploring the content, chances are that they’ll want to read the rest of it.

Hook your direct mail campaign to your online marketing efforts by offering a special freebie when people sign up to your newsletter using a specific link, or give them something else of value in return for connecting with you.

Make sure to include a strong, clear call to action, telling your readers exactly what you’d like them to do.

To make direct mail promotion successful, you’ll have to put emphasis on the layout. It’s a good idea to work with a graphic designer who knows how to make the letter attractive. If you have the budget for it, print the letter in color. Add the cover of your book to make an even bigger impact and increase recognition.

Finally, think carefully about the group of people you’re going to send direct mail to and the specifics of the message.

Experienced marketers know that it’s best to create several groups, sending each one a personalized message. You can have a small brochure for potential readers and “behind the scenes” materials for your biggest fans.

The most important thing to do is ask yourself what you want to accomplish through the campaign. If you know the answer, you’ll find it much easier to do targeting.


Have you tried a direct mail marketing campaign? Share your experience in the comments!


About the Author

Alice Clarke is a content marketer. She enjoys covering topics on digital marketing, writing, motivation, and beyond.

She believes in the driving force of constant self-development. Befriend her on Twitter.





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