Little Known Facts About the Look Inside Feature on Amazon

14288135_05fd9e848a_zWhat do readers see when they look inside your book?

Do they get excited to buy?

After reading a few pages will they be ready to click buy?

By the time the reader has gone to the trouble of picking up your book to look inside, they are very close to buying. The book cover and title have done their job. The book description or sales page has done its job.

Now comes the final test

The reader wants to know what’s inside. They want to know what you are table of contents looks like. They want to see how the book is introduced.

Is your book ready for that?

Is your table of contents optimized to sell the reader on your book? And what about your introduction.

(To be clear: I’m not advocating for getting salesy with the highlighted text or fancy sales page arrows or anything like that).

Let’s talk about how to optimize the inside of your book to get people to buy.

The number one thing that browsers want to see when they look in your book is the table of contents. They are looking to see if the table of contents looks interesting. Does it solve their problem? Does it sound entertaining?

So the number one task with your table of contents is to make sure it does not turn readers away. It should simply confirm what the reader is already thinking – that this is the book they want.

But how do we accomplish this? The best thing you can do is use descriptive language in your chapter titles. Instead of just using the phrase Chapter 1 – Self Publishing, use Chapter 1 – The Number One Reason Why Most Self Publishers Fail.

See how that works? Now the reader feels compelled to read chapter 1 to find out why most self published authors fail. Whereas, in the first example, the reader had no compelling reason to open up chapter 1.

Your chapter descriptions should be thought of like headlines or email subjects. You don’t have to be salesy, but the phrase or question should be interesting enough to make the reader want to learn more. Use curiosity to your advantage. People are naturally curious. Tap into that curiosity by making your chapter names such that people are curious to read more.

Some authors also use sub topics in the table of contents. I do not have a preference either way. But if you choose to show subtopics, make sure they sound interesting to.

One way to think about your chapter descriptions is like they were headlines for blog posts. What would draw the reader in to reading the blog post?

If you need some examples for your particular niche or genre, browse the table of contents of popular books in your category. How do they do it? What sort of language do those authors use in their table of contents?

Getting the introduction right

In addition to the table of contents, readers often read the first few paragraphs of the introduction to your book. Avoid having a really dry or boring introduction.

The job of your introduction is to get the reader to turn the page to chapter 1 and begin the book. If you are struggling with what to say in the introduction to your book, take a look at your book description. Your book description is the place where you hook the reader into picking up your book and considering buying it. The introduction is in many ways a continuation of that hook.

For example, let’s say your hook on the book description is something like

Little known factors that affect how easy it is to read your writing

Make your introduction congruent with that hook.

 Have you ever picked up a book – a book that sounded really promising – only to find you just couldn’t finish it? The hook was good. The information was helpful. But for some reason you just couldn’t bring yourself to carry on reading it? More than likely, the problem was caused by a series of little known factors that make some writing really hard to read…

Does that make sense? It doesn’t have to be a sales pitch. Your simply continuing the conversation and helping draw the reader in. Using this technique will help make it easy for shoppers to decide to buy your book!

You have written a fantastic book. Make sure that your table of contents in your introduction support the quality of your book. This way, when a reader is interested and they pick up your book to look inside, you are simply supporting their buying decision.

If you like this, would you please take a moment to share it? Thank you!

Photo from Tall Chris on Flickr

What To Do When You Run Out of Steam

NOTE: This is a rather personal post that I considered not sharing.

I decided to share it just in case it might help you when you get stuck. And I wanted to post it for me too – because I get stuck from time to time.

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Do you ever sit down at your computer and feel like all your energy to write is gone?

That feeling can literally kill momentum and eventually lead you to quit.

I know, I’ve been there. In fact, this morning is one of those mornings. And I know that hitting a wall – running out of ideas can kill momentum because it has happened to me in the past.

This all started for me yesterday morning. I sat down to write an article. I had an idea for a topic and as usual, I wrote an outline.

Then I started writing the article. I kept shifting things around and jumping around and straying from my outline. It was a mess. And the article was crap. So I stopped writing after 20 minutes and recorded an audio introduction to a new home study course I have coming out.

The audio kind of sucked too. It was just not my day.

And this morning, I look at all the topics I have to write about and none of them look compelling. In fact, I think I would rather do anything else but write about them.

But I don’t want to lose momentum.

Momentum for me is creating daily content. Every day (really it is week day), I write or record. If I miss a day, it will snowball into missing days regularly. That will kill momentum.

It would be so much easier to just give up though some days.

Give up on this project and start on something else that sounds promising.

What a fallacy that is. Have you ever done that? Give up on one project when you hit the wall and then start another. Start up is fun. The expectations are lower. There’s less risk. There’s hope. But a project you’ve been working on for months or years? Some days, it feels like all hope is lost.

When all hope is lost, every other idea seems like it would be better.

In reality, I know from experience that switching to a new project won’t help me reach my goal.

What will help me reach my goal is to be persistent. To stay focused on one project. To produce 100’s of pieces of content so I can see exactly what works and what does not.

This time, I am not going to switch to a new project. I will finish this one all the way through.

I will finish that crappy article from yesterday and then I will write another one. I will post this whiney post so I can come back to it next time I hit the wall.

Instead of giving up, I will just dig my heels in. I will put my head down and keep going.

I recognize that 80% of the content I produce won’t really make a difference to the world.

But 20% of it will.

And so I will keep producing content and keep track of it so that I know what those difference makers are.

And then I will study that content that I produce more of what seems to make a difference until eventually it will seem like everything I create is right on target with what people need help with.

I recognize that only I can figure out what is going to connect me with the people I can help. And I can only figure that out by constantly creating new content to share and then tracking how well it works. Tracking how much it helps people.

So, hi-ho, hi-ho, it’s back to work I go…

Photo credit: viZZZual.com

How a Press Release Works to Promote Your Book

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It’s common for authors to issue a press release after you publish your book. It’s a kind of knee-jerk reaction that most everyone in book marketing circles will tell you to do. But how does it work to promote your book? Does issuing a press release really do anything for you?

First, you should understand what a press release really is.

What is a press release anyway?

A press release is basically an article that is written in the third-person. They usually are crafted to promote something like a business, or product, or book. But there is no limitation on what a press release could be used for.

What makes a press release unique is that – as the name tells you – it is meant to be delivered to the ‘press’. This is what makes it different from just writing an article or creating an advertisement.

The ideal situation is that a journalist will find interest in your press release and do a story on it. Most press release companies will ask you to provide a media contact page along with links to other helpful information. This is all designed for the journalist writing the story.

Why is that so powerful? Well, for two main reasons. 1) When the journalist publishers her story, you get a lot of extra visibility and 2) maybe this is more important – there is a psychological benefit that helps make you and what you are promoting more important. See, most people will just blindly look past all the advertisements in a magazine or newspaper or even website. But they will read the articles. And if you or your book happen to be the subject of the article, you get all this marketing without it coming across as advertising. Subliminally, readers are thinking – “wow, I just read about this author who wrote this book…” and that goes a long way to helping you be successful.

How it works in reality

Unfortunately, the vast majority of press releases are never considered by journalists. There are just too many releases out there.

Thanks to the internet, authors like you and I can still get significant value out of issuing press releases. The value comes from the fact that hundreds – maybe thousands – of websites simply pick up your press release and post it to their site.

These sites have readers and so you still get a certain number of people who will be interested enough to learn more about you and eventually buy your book.

So why are the prices for various press release services so different? In sticking with the theme that you get a benefit out of your press release getting spread around the internet, basically the price difference between services comes back to their contact list.

When you pay a press release service, you are paying for access to their list of contacts. Generally speaking, the more the press release service costs, the more (or better) contacts they have to send your press release to. As I mentioned, a lot of the ‘contacts’ these days are websites.

Given the differences in price, what is a good strategy for using a press release in your book promotion?

Using a press release for book promotion

The strategy I recommend is based on you and your books popularity. If you are a new author and this is your first book and you just finished publishing it, then I recommend using the cheaper press release services. You want to grow visibility for your book.

After you have a few reviews for your book and built more of a presence for it online, come back and consider paying for a higher end press release service. In this situation, you want to mention your positive reviews in the press release and it will have more credibility.

It is a good idea to consider doing multiple press releases over the life of your book. As it has more reviews and ‘age’, you will be more likely to get picked up as a story by a journalist. As I mentioned earlier, that is the best situation you can hope for when you issue a press release.

And once that happens, it will be a lot easier to get that same result over and over again in the future.

Photo by Lisa Padilla on Flickr