Derek Doepker is the #1 Amazon Bestselling author of 50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew, Why You’re Stuck, and several others. Derek is a pro when it comes to positioning and marketing books, and coming up with brilliant titles and marketing campaigns that actually work (and don’t cost a ton of money).
In today’s show, Derek shares his secrets to positioning, branding and marketing books online, and how just a few simple, small changes can make a HUGE difference in your book sales.
Derek has a unique author journey. He got a degree in music and then became a writer to support himself while he was trying to break into the music business.
Derek started his fitness blog in 2012 because he has a passion for sharing health and fitness advice. He had some success with the blog, but he wasn’t generating any income.
Discovering Self Publishing
In the middle of 2012, Derek discovered Kindle books. Derek read Tom’s book The Kindle Publishing Bible and that really opened his eyes to what was possible with Kindle.
Derek saw Kindle books as an opportunity to monetize the information that was on his blog, and bring more traffic to his blog. He saw Kindle publishing as a low entry way to get his name out in the marketplace, and as a supplement to what he was doing with blogging and online marketing.
Derek published his first book, How to Stick to a Diet and that book did alright. It pulled in $100 its first month, after running a KDP free promotion. That gave Derek a little victory and validation. It proved to him that people were finding his information and buying it.
After studying how to succeed with Kindle marketing, Derek launched his second book 50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew and that became a number one bestseller in weight loss over the Christmas season of 2012.
Ever since then, Derek has built upon what he learned and discovered consistent patterns, and what it takes to become a bestseller.
Today Derek coaches indie authors how to sell more books and get visibility on Amazon.
“When we’re looking at books and deciding what to buy it’s not something we’re doing a lot of critical thinking [about.] It’s an impulse thing, where something either grabs our attention, or doesn’t.” – Derek Doepker
Hooks for Books
Derek’s program Hooks for Books is all about creating captivating titles for nonfiction books. He developed this program after he realized people quickly decide whether or not they’re going to buy a book.
When a customer is browsing Amazon for a new book title, they’re simply scanning the website, looking for a book that might interest them. They’re not taking a deep dive and analyzing the description page. They are quickly glancing at each book to decide if it’s something they might be interested in.
People make split-second decisions when looking for a new book. They ask themselves two questions:
- Does this book grab my attention?
- Does it look interesting to me?
If the answer to either of those questions is no, then the customer moves on to the next book.
A big key to Derek’s success is he makes sure before he even writes a book that he has a title that will make people want to know more about what’s inside the book.
If you don’t have a hook in your nonfiction book title that grabs a reader’s attention, nothing else matters.
Use Curiosity to Get Attention
If you want to have success as an author every title you create needs to have a “hook” element. One emotional hook element that works well is curiosity.
People buy things for emotional reasons. And you want to give them a book title that provokes an emotional response.
If you give them a title that makes them curious they’re likely to take an in-depth look at your book.
“Add an element to the cover that triggers curiosity. Example: with my book, ’50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew;’ the hook there is the ‘You Wish You Knew,’ that’s making people curious about the content.” – Derek Doepker
If Derek had called his book 50 Fitness Tips, or 50 Fitness Tips to Get in Great Shape, it would not have stood out from the crowd.
Another example of a book title that sparks curiosity is Derek’s Why You’re Stuck. The title why you’re stuck implies the book is going to be able to tell customers why their stuck and unable to achieve their goals.
If you are someone who’s struggling to achieve some goal, and you come across that book in the self-help section of Amazon, you’re more than likely going to take a closer look at it.
Notice how the title Why You’re Stuck triggers a different emotional response than the title Get Unstuck. There’s nothing wrong with the second title. It just doesn’t provoke the same level of curiosity.
Title Variations That Create Curiosity
Any title with the word “secret” in it. 50 Secrets of the World’s Oldest Living People. You see a title with the word secret and it, and almost subconsciously you want to know the secret the book is hiding.
- I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know.
- The Five Second Flat Belly Secret
Study Great Book Titles
Go into a bookstore and browse your category. Make note of the titles that grab you. Make note of the emotions those titles elicit.
If you want to take this exercise a step further, you can also look at books that are not in your niche and identify what book titles cause you to want to look closer at the book.
As you study these book titles, really dissect them. Take them apart and see what about the book title grabs your attention.
If you’re just starting out, study other books that are successful. See if you can figure out the common elements in successful books and emulate them for your own books.
You can read books on how to write good titles and headlines, but there’s something powerful when you analyze titles and headlines for yourself.
Look at Your Book From Your Ideal Reader’s Perspective
“The ability to gain the perspective of your customer is one of the most important early steps you have to take as a marketer.” – Derek Doepker
When you’re creating and packaging your book, it’s important that you try to look at your book and its packaging from the perspective of your ideal reader.
Try to envision your book title, the book cover and its description. Try to imagine what emotions your ideal reader is feeling when they look at your book.
What would make you want to buy your book? Who would you recommend your book to?
“I create a best-selling book before I’ve written a single word. What that means is I’ve constructed in my mind all the elements I know it’s going to take to create a best-selling book. I put them together in my mind before I write one word of the book.” – Derek Doepker
For a new author it’s important to get out there and try things. Figure things out by trial and error. There’s no way to get around that learning curve. But as you become more experienced and more familiar with marketing, you’ll be better able to create a bestseller in your mind ahead of time.
How to Come Up With Bestselling Book Titles
Derek has taken a different approach to create every one of his book titles.
50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew was inspired because of a marketing podcast Derek was listening to. You always want to be exposing yourself to new information. You always want to be studying and expanding your mind.
The podcast Derek was listening to was discussing the word “you” and its power in ad copy. You is one of the most powerful words in copywriting. That’s what led Derek to adopt the title 50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew
When it comes to keywords that you want to use to help people find your book, put them in the subtitle.
The book title Why You’re Stuck was inspired by a magazine headline. Again, Derek used “you” in the title. The magazine article title was Why You Can’t Fall Asleep. Merging the two ideas of using the word you, and the idea behind the magazine article title, Derek came up with the book title Why You’re Stuck.
The best way to come up with good book titles is to expose yourself to many ideas, and think about what you want your book title to do.
You want your book title, along with the rest of your book packaging, to elicit an emotional response that leads to a sale.
When coming up with a book title, be willing to give yourself some time to come up with a good one. Don’t just use the first book title that comes to mind.
You might also want to survey your audience if you have several book title ideas that could work. Getting feedback from your target audience can be invaluable in the success of your book later.
Derek had the idea for a cookbook, and he came up with five different titles, that in his mind were all fairly equal. The customer survey revealed that his customers overwhelmingly preferred one title out of the five. So he went with that title.
The nice thing about doing surveys is it gives you real-world feedback as to how your customers will actually respond.
“You can brainstorm ideas, but ultimately it’s up to your target audience to decide what the best title is.” – Derek Doepker
As a nonfiction author who’s trying to help their audience it’s important for you to get your own opinion out of the way, and use the information they give you to help them better.
The Importance of an Attention Grabbing Book Cover
The cover of your book is one of the most essential elements of your marketing. It’s gotten to the point now where unless you really know cover design, you should just find a professional cover designer to create your covers for you.
There are many cover designers available at reasonable prices. You have to look at the cover design like an investment, because it is. Your cover is what first attracts readers to your book.
We have a free guide to finding a book cover designer you can follow to find a great designer for your book.
The final element in your book packaging is your description. The factors that hold true for your title also hold true for your book description.
You want a book description that elicits an emotional response. You want to include headlines in your book description where appropriate. You want a book description that makes the customer want to read your book.
Emulate Successful Authors
Find the successful people in whatever category you are competing in and model their success. Study what works and emulate it.
The great thing about Amazon is you can go and study the books that are selling well. Amazon is very transparent about which books are bestsellers. It’s very easy to study the packaging of successful books and use your knowledge to craft your own best-selling packaging.
Sometimes best-selling books have a big name author or one of the big five publishing companies behind them. Go look for authors like yourself. Find authors who have to promote the books on their own. Look for the factors that are making those authors successful.
- The book title. What emotions does the book title triggering in you?
- The book cover. Does it catch your attention? Does it make you want to know more?
- The book description. What emotions does the book description elicit in you? Does the book description make you want to buy the book? What keywords are in the book description?
Study other direct marketers as well.
Study magazine headlines and see which headlines make you want to pick up the magazine.
Look at the signs designed to get people to go into restaurants.
There are lessons all around us about how to market and grab someone’s attention.
Keep your eyes open and pay attention. You never know where inspiration will strike.
Marketing, finding great book titles, and crafting descriptions are skills that you need to learn. The skill will get better with practice.
It’s important to be gentle with yourself when you’re learning marketing for the first time. Don’t give up because your first attempts at marketing aren’t as successful as you’d like. Everybody gets better with practice.
What to Do If Your Book Isn’t Selling After a Year
The great thing about indie publishing in the Internet age is it’s relatively easy to change a book cover and title, and relaunch your book.
Derek has seen many examples of a successful book that didn’t sell well because it had the wrong title and cover. With a new title and cover, books can get a new lease on life.
It’s okay to not get it right the first time. With e-books you can always update your files. A lot of times updating your e-book is free.
When it comes to rebranding a book, it can be important to have an objective outside perspective. If you’re going to update your book sales page you should find someone who knows what they’re doing to identify why your book isn’t selling as well as it should.
You can get a coach. Or you can use surveys of your audience to give you that outside perspective.
With surveys it’s best to have more than two options. Take the best option chosen by your audience and use it, or use it as inspiration to come up with something better.
The reason an outside perspective is so important is that it allows you access to information that you wouldn’t see because you’re too close to your own work.
The Mindset You Should Have When Promoting Your Book
When you first start out as an indie author, the relationships you already have with people are going to be your greatest marketing asset.
Derek already had a relationship with several fitness bloggers, because of his time as a fitness blogger himself. Because he had that relationship he was able to ask his fitness blogger friends to promote his work to their mailing list.
Guest blogging is another tactic that can help you gain success. Guest blogging is where you do a blog post for a popular blog.
Derek offered a spot in 50 Fitness Tips You Wish You Knew for his blogger friends to add value to his audience. He promoted other fitness bloggers and in turn, they promoted the book.
Where is your target audience and how can you connect with them? That’s the question you should always be asking yourself.
Build Your Email List
It’s incredibly important that you always be building your list. Every book you publish should have a link back to a squeeze page where people can give you their email address in return for a free report, or short story. You want to give your audience something of value for giving you their email address.
Look at the different e-book promotion sites that are available today, and try to have at least one of your books be eligible for submission to these book sites.
Derek has had the best success with BookBub. But the guidelines to get a BookBub ad are stringent. You should look around on the Internet for other places to advertise your e-book, and make note of their promotion guidelines.
The difference between someone who has success promoting their book and someone who doesn’t is that the packaging elements make people want to buy your book once they get on your Amazon product page.
People and Resources Mentioned in This Interview
Derek mentions Kate White and her book I Shouldn’t Be Telling You This: Success Secrets Every Gutsy Girl Should Know when discussing book titles that spark curiosity.
http://derekdoepker.com/ – Derek Doepker’s website.
The Kindle Publishing Bible by Tom Corson Knowles
BookBub – the best book promotion sites around.
http://ebookbestsellersecrets.com/ – Derek’s website where he has free training on how to build an audience. All you have to do is give him your email address.
http://ebookbestsellersecrets.com/hooks-for-books/ – Derek’s training on how to come up with captivating book titles that sell books.