Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ways To Increase Sales-101

Most of you know the tips in this blog as well as I do. The problem is forgetting the simple facts, ignoring them, or reverting to old habits.
Consider these tips as a Refresher Course, or add the tips to your own store of knowledge.

KILLER TITLES--this is a term I use for book titles that says it all--the story and the genre, with a little mystery thrown in. The title is catchy, not corny or silly, but words that stay in your mind. An attention-getter.

In Cold Blood
Thin Ice
Escape From the Alamo
The Burgess Boys

SIMPLE TITLES--a wordy title might make a reader think the book is filled with long-winded narrative. Keep it short. Don't use a term or word that is unknown to the majority of readers.


Examples of long titles:
The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great Dust Bowl
Germ, Guns, and Steel: The Downfall of World Empires
(I actually read both these 400 page books)
Lady Almina and the Real Downton Abbey: The Lost Legacy of Highclere Castle
(I will read this one this year.)

AVOID "THE" AND "A" AS THE FIRST WORD-The title will join others clumped together in reader "buy" lists. It will not stand out.
The Stars at Night--the only title of one of my books beginning with "The."
But I don't care--I like it.

MAKE THE TITLE AND STORY FIT A SPECIFIC GENRE--A big mistake is believing readers will buy and read your book, even if it doesn't fit an exact genre.
One of my titles is Making the Turn. My first mistake was the title and the second was having the publisher place it in Women's Fiction. (One day, I will write about the sad demise of Women's Fiction.) The cover has a golf course on it, and to me the title says, "The heroine is making a life change." Yes, she is, but readers thought it was about golf, and in addition, few of us like women's fiction.
It has a love story in it, but the focus is on three generations of females. Confused? So was every person who looked at it. My faithful readers in town loved it, but they are a special group who likes anything I write. I know--I am very lucky.
I pulled this novel from the publisher months ago, and soon I will re-work the entire book and re-issue it. Maybe. I haven't decided.

CREATE THE APPROPRIATE COVER- A year or so ago, I read discussions about the demise of the ebook cover. I never understood the premise of this thought, but there were many who believed ebooks would soon only have a generic title and author's name. That's it. I didn't believe it at all, and in fact, the opposite is true. Ebook covers are more important than ever. Why? Most readers are visual people, and want to get a glimpse into the plot of the story. They want color and a theme, and whether it includes people or not is a personal choice.
***Book cover is the Number 1 reader draw for those of us who are not famous.***
Think about it--readers scan an entire page of several covers on-line, either Amazon, BandN, or Sony. The cover that's appealing and stands out may be the one the reader chooses.

A few guidelines are:
Make the cover simple. If it's crowded and fussy, it will not draw attention in "thumbnail" size.
Use big letters for the title and author. Make sure they stand out.
Create similar titles for a series:
Angel and the Cowboy
Addie and the Gunslinger
Charlotte and the Tenderfoot
Kat and the U.S. Marshal
These 99 Cent Dime Novels have been my biggest sellers overall over a period of six years. Yea!

WRITE A SHORT DESCRIPTION--This is only second to a good cover in reader draw. A long description will only turn them away. We have very short attention spans. One short paragraph will do.

MARKET "HOT SPOT" PRICING-Best selling ebooks on Amazon are priced at:
$2.99 for a 30,000-50,000 word ebook
$0.99 for a book under 25,000 words
$1.59 on Amazon instead of the $1.99 on Smashwords.

PROMOTE WITH A PLAN--Blogs, all Social Media, and Yahoo groups: Don't waste your time on any of these that don't apply to you and your book. If you write Western Historical and also Contemporary Romance, then use your precious time among these people. Even if you don't see visible participation, many readers "lurk." Don't overlook this fact. If you aren't getting much participation on a blog, please remember that some do read and pay attention, but choose not to comment.

If you can see Page Views on your blog or on a blog on which you are a guest, you might be astounded by the number of lurkers. For example: On our group blog Sweethearts of the West, our guests have two days for their post. Each guest receives an average of about ten comments. But when I check Page Views for the two days, I'll find numbers in the hundreds. Day One--maybe 500; Day Two--maybe 350. And we get Page Views from an average of 8 countries.

I hope you found something useful in this post.
Have you, as an, author, changed the title or the cover of a re-issued book? Why?
What is your greatest hang-up when you see a cover and/or title?

Thank you. 


  1. Celia, this is a wonderful post and a great reminder for all of us. I checked my titles and have only one "A" and one "The" beginning out of thirteen books. Do I get A- or a B? Catchy titles? I'm not sure all of mine pass the test. And eye-catching titles? I've had a few losers, and some have been my own fault for not communicating well with the artist or asking for something that wasn't a good choice. I'll reread this post later and try to figure out how to use your suggesstions to the best advantage. Thanks for the information.

  2. Linda--of course, you get an A.

    All of us have covers and titles that aren't exactly right. I'd love an expert to review my titles and my covers. Someone else can see what we don't see.
    Remember our children, to us are gorgeous and brilliant. To an outside or teacher, they may see something else.
    All we can do is follow some common guidelines, and still we'll all have made mistakes.

    Making the Turn--I love my title and and cover, too. But that's because I wrote the story and I know what it's about. Outsiders probably think, "Say what?" ...and move on. But truly for that book, the cover and title are correct. If a reader did take the time to read it, she'd see what I was doing.

    But there didn't attract attention, and no matter how good the story is, readers won't choose it if they are somehow confused.
    Thanks so much for commenting--we can talk more about this when your exciting weekend is over.

  3. Excellent, Celia! Really useful.Thanks for sharing.

  4. Very informative, Celia. Thanks for posting this.

  5. Thanks for the refresher, Celia.
    Also, the pricing list for word count.

    Morgan Mandel

  6. Great post! Wonderful overlooked tips. I wish I had planned more when giving titles to my first three books. Live and learn they say. I love that you say omit 'The' and 'A'. Who would have thought? Subscriber!

  7. Dianne--thanks so much for the Follow--oh, and please don't think I'm some expert on anything. I try to explain what I know and how I do things, but that doesn't mean I'm teaching!
    I never knew about "The" and "A" at the beginning of titles, either. I ran across that somewhere and thought it was a good tip.

  8. Lindsay--thanks for commenting. I hope you got something out of it, although you're pretty much knowlegable about promoting. You do a great job and I like your consistency.

  9. You're welcom, Andrea--come back any time.

  10. Morgan--I thought the pricing for word count was very good. We don't know these things unless some researcher tells us. Rebecca Vickery told us this.

  11. Good post, Celia. I'm terrible at titles. I admire those who can do them well.

  12. Barbara--titles can be elusive. You want the right one, but sometimes we don't listen to our own thoughts. Usually I can think of a title before I begin to write..If a title doesn't appear quickly, then it may take me forever to think of one.
    Thanks for mentioning titles--that is #3 in importance, after cover and short description.

  13. Celia, succinct and powerful post. I made so many mistakes when I started self-publishing, especially my book covers. I'm slowly replacing those with more eye-catching covers. And I learned not to use a song title as a book title. LOL Makes it hard to have Google alerts.

  14. Caroline--that's the main reason I'm not least not yet--I want someone else to make the mistakes and fix them, too.
    Your best cover--although I like them all--is Bluebonnet Bride--and the title is a sure winner.

  15. Excellent post, Celia. It's convinced me to leave the word 'An' off the beginning of the title of my next novel!
    I must admit I am more influenced by the blurb rather than the cover of novels, but I've still been pleased with all my covers. I do agree about keeping the blurb short and I read somewhere that you should start or end your blurb with a question.

  16. Paula--you have nothing to worry about your covers. They're all good. And the blurb? I'll make a note about that--ending it with a question. I think some of mine do, but probably the editor did it...since I didn't know the benefits.
    Thanks for stopping by--we all need to stay in touch and support one another.

  17. Excellent advice. Especially about covers. My fourth book cover, although it was done big a NY house, the book was in a series of historical romances, it was all wrong, and it didn't sell well - at all.

    Thanks for making your advice so concise.

  18. Allison--it's difficult to know what makes a good book cover. We all have different ideas, and we don't want them to look generic, like so many others. Yet, to make them stand out, we do need to created something pleasing.
    Inviduals have such a wide varying range of preference, we do get confused.
    What I'm beginning to dislike over all else, is that the same hero or heroine is on many covers--over and over.
    My first book in 2008, All My Hopes and Dreams, has a head shot of a wonderful handsome sexy cowboy. Since then, I've seen my same cowboy on probably 50 or more covers, and some...yes, were on Gay Romance. Well, he is a dang good looking cowoby.
    Thanks for your comment!

  19. You're right on the mark with this post, Celia. Titles and covers are crucial to potential success, whether it involves hardback, paperback, or ebooks. As you suggest, we live in a visual society and many buying decisions are made through visual feedback--especially when it comes to novels. One great piece of advice I got was from an editor who said to avoid a title that's too generic. I had renamed my book about six times before I settled on the final one. Even though the strategy is not necessarily measurable, in terms of results, it is critical to success to spend the time and effort on trying to get it right. Thanks.

  20. Thanks for all the reminders, Celia. There is so much to remember and learn, and then we might even find experimenting can give ideas as well.

  21. Great tips, Celia, and very encouraging. I never know how many people actually drop by as opposed to those that comment. Good to know.

  22. Loved this, Celia. Excellent tips and reminders, but phooey - I fail the short title tip! I don't know why, but all my titles are long. Somehow they all seemed to fit when I conceived them! (makes it hard when trying to design a cover, though!)

    Thank you for this. :)

  23. Tom--titles are very important to me. Often I see one that's a take-off on a famour title, and that just annoys me. I wouldn't buy or read that book at all just for that reason.
    We're all particular and individualistic in our tastes, yet there is a middle where we all fit.

    I try very hard not to use a title someone else has used. Usually, I'll check Amazon for a chosen title to make sure there's no book by that title.
    I wrote Texas Blue in 2006 and it was published a couple of years later. Last year, one of the big Western Historical romance author published a book titled the same--and she used bluebonnets. She should have checked...however, I learned that if a reader searches for Texas Blue, the reader will get both our books. So, I'm hoping they'll choose mine!
    Thanks for you comment--I do appreciate it.

  24. Paisley--experimenting is valuable. Who really knows all the ways people buy books. I do know a cover that's a bland cream color with the title and author's name only, and both in the same font--does not sell! I suggested to this author she might want a person or object--nope, she was convinced this would work. But didn't. And she won't change it, either.
    Thanks for visiting-I do appreciate it!

  25. Sarah--blogging often seems fruitless. But still, I think it's valuable, if the author will take the time to make something that's interesting. Every blog post gets pageview hits--the owner of the blog can look at those, and it's comforting to know people are at least looking at the blog.
    Thank you for coming by!

  26. Miss Mae--you made me laugh. If a long title seems right to you, I wouldn't say change it. Sometimes it's impossible to follow the rules. Agreed? I think you do!
    Thanks so much for visitiing and commenting.

  27. Celia, covers and titles have caused me big headaches. I recently changed most of mine and am now hopping from site to site incorporating the changes. It take valuable time. Thanks for your excellent advice!

  28. Lyn--I knew you were changin covers and titles...I wondered why, but I suppose of the word Druid? In truth, I don't even know what a Druid is. Now that I read your explanation, and I've read the blurb for the book I have, I do understand.
    The worst thing we can do is confuse the reader. Lands, we do it often enough, as it is.
    Thanks you for commenting!

  29. Excellent post, Celia. Yes the cover is the #1 thing that attracts the reader, then the blurb, and of course the author's name.

  30. Mona--yes, the cover first. And it's not that easy, is it? We want the right one, we think we have it..but then, maybe not. I have a couple I'd like to change, but I won't. I'll just move on.
    Thank you!