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What's Your Biggest Challenge with Your Book?

I'd be interested to learn what authors/publishers on this network think their biggest challenges are with their book. I wonder if there's any common, pervasive challenge we all face.

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You seem to be doing a good job of balancing between the need to promote and your introverted tendancies.

I saw the book on Amazon. It ranked 168,465 when I looked. Not bad. You're selling about 4-5 books per month, at that clip. (It's hard to estimate book sales from Amazon's system. They purposely keep it mysterious and difficult)

If Amazon is your primary sales channel, outside your own web site, it may help book sales to focus on optimizing your Amazon page. I won't go into all 17 different strategies here. If you want to know all 17, read "Sell Your Book on Amazon" by my colleague Brent Sampson.

I do notice a few things you can do to help sales. First, you have six reviews, all 5-star reviews. That's good. Did you know, however, that if you get seven or more reviews, Amazon will automatically promote one of the reviews (the review that other readers find most helpful) to Most Helpful Customer Reviews. Which one? Joanne Green-Blose's review, most likely. How do I know? It's based on the helpful feedback from other customers to her review. She has 8 out of 10 helpful comments.

Overall, you have 31 out of 45 helpful comments from customers to the reviews you have posted. That means 68.8% of potential buyers think your reviews are helpful. Another thing you can do to boost the value of your book (in Amazon's eyes) is to start a campaign to have all your friends and family go to your Amazon page and vote that the reviews there are helpful. Move your percentage from 68% to something higher.

Amazon is a great seller of books. They do things to help themselves sell books; sometimes at the expense of selling your book. In your case, that's what's happening. Buyers are buying your book 47% of the time they land on your page. Ouch! That should be higher. 21% of the buyers leave your page and purchase the Introvert's Advantage. Why is this? It's because Amazon has paired your book with Introvert's Advantage in their Better Together section. Introvert's Advantage ranks 3,263 on Amazon, therefore it is selling more copies. Customers are drawn away from your book because of this pairing.

Is it time to despair? Hardly. Find ways to move your book up in the Amazon rankings. Write reviews for other books in your category. Include your book's title in your author block whenever you write a review. Create a ListMania for your book's category. Include your book, of course, but also the books of others. Then e-mail the others to let them know you included them in your ListMania. Perhaps they'll write a good review for your book to return the favor. Many other good ideas are included in Brent's book.
After only two years, a book isn't old. It simply moves from your "front list" to your "back list." (With only one book, your front list is the same as your back list, isn't it?)

Congratulations on your mention in the WSJ! What a coup! Have you blogged about this? Did you write to thank the writer for including your book in the article? Have you returned to the writer of that article to see tell him/her you're available for follow-up stories and interviews? Are you including this on the back cover of your book in future printings?

Mail out as many review copies of your book as possible. Review copies are the least expensive form of advertising you can do. Since you're digitally inclined, start with bloggers and web groups of interest. Don't know where to start? Contact Penny Sansevieri, president of A Marketing Expert in San Diego. She is one of the country's leaders in virtual book tours.

For "traditional" media reviewers, therer are several lists available to buy or rent. Dan Poynter sells several on John Kremer also sells several on These lists are categorized by genre: business, art, women's, men's, etc. Contact all reviewers on the lists you purchase. You never know who'll review your book.

Amazon also has reviewers. Some of the top Amazon reviewers are celebrities in their own right. Go to your Amazon Advantage page and look up the top reviewers. Each reviewer states what she/he reviews. Find the reviewers in your genre and solicit them to write a review of your book on Amazon. Positive reviews from these reviewers on Amazon translate into book sales.

I have one client who has two Top 10, one Top 50 and one Top 1000 reviewer commenting on his book. He now ranks #2 in his category on Amazon.

As regards SEO for my one author, he pays $500 per month to be optimized. How does one measure success for the price? Clearly, he's not getting his money's worth. How can one quantify that? I want to point out to this author.
Bill - that is some of the best advice I have gotten since I started this process -- thank you so much for taking the time to do that.

Unfortunately the WSJ reporter is since retired - although she did get a note (One good thing I am good at!) and she recently sent me an email about someone who contacted her looking for info on me - so in that way things still are paying off there. Although perhaps I need to reach out to the new writer of that career column. Thank you again for making me say "duh!" -- so much seems like common sense and yet somehow isn't!

I need a bit of time to process all the good info as well as read the book you suggested. Thank you!

On SEO - $500/mo w/ no ROI is rediculous. Plain and simple -- if there is no return then it is a waste of money. That said -- SEO takes time - sometimes the results take 6-8 months to be realized so that needs to be taken into account. As an example - my company charged $1,000 for research (just determining the correct keyphrases based on real searches from the engines on related words) This was THE most valuable part in my opinion...and the another $500 - $1,000 for "basic" - one-time optimization. That was using those phrases to re-write content, update headers to include the keyphrases, The titles, alt text..all with the chosen (25 is a good number) phrases that are THE most qualified - meaning they will bring in the people most likely to convert into customers. As an example -- the phrase "book" is way too general. Even if you were able to get 1st place (unlikely) the visitors (which would be millions...) would leave probably immediately. They are more likely looking for a more specific phrase - i.e "self help book". Now that narrows the search and likelihood that someone will find a self help book. Now... of course someone searching for something more specific will be even a more qualified customer. The term "self help book social anxiety" will garner many less visitors -- but they will be people looking for specific info. So optimize for "self help" "social anxiety" "social anxiety book" "social anxiety self help" Throw in the variations on "self help" -- (selfhelp, selp-help) making sure to research the most common searches on this term to use them the most.
- And then there is Google's Page Rank system. Similar to Amazon, they do not make it easy to understand, but they give those site with the best and most links the best ranking. More info on this is on one of my blogs - note the email address is changed (see below)

Again - thank you. I will be happy to talk to you more about SEO online or off. It is a favorite subject --

Meghan Wier
Here's another thought. Have the retired WSJ reporter write a review for your book on Amazon, if you're still in contact. Have her put that she's a former WSJ reporter in her by-line. That will help sales plus give you the seventh review.

P.S. For other good books on self-publishing and book marketing, see my ListMania at

Please select that you found my ListMania helpful (vote in the upper right-hand corner), if you visit the site.
Bill, I just looked over your Listmania and ordered the book about the stories of best-sellers. (I've already read Kramer, Poynter and several others.) Thanks for putting that list out there. I don't regret any of the time that I've studied book publicity/marketing/sales.
For me, the biggest challenge is turning recognition--of which I've got plenty--into sales. How to turn all the awards, endorsements, media coverage, rights sales, and more into individual customers who are willing to open their wallets and buy the books.

I've worked on this challenge in several ways: incorporating all the good stuff into my sites, reaching audiences through public speaking and Internet discussion lists, etc. And two of my books have now sold out. But it seems to me thee ought to be ways of reaching more buyers.

If the research I did while writing Grassroots Marketing for Authors and Publishers is any indication, this is a challenge that others face as well.
Hi, Shel. It's so cool that you're on this social network and that you replied to my question. Yes, you have recognition within the publishing community. You're too modest, though. You didn't even give a web site where one can purchase your newest book, "Grass Roots Marketing for Authors and Publishers." I've taken the liberty of including the URL to your book on Amazon:

Will you elaborate on several points, please? How do you book yourself for public speaking engagements on your topic? How do you utilize the discussion lists to generate book sales? How do you use your signature file on e-mails and in discussion groups to promote your book?

Hi Bill,
Marketing for me is always "Excedrin Headache #1 Million". My website has a sales page, lots of views, but sales aren't terrific. I've thought of starting a Podcast to promote this book and the next series, of course that presents another challenge learning Podcasting! I'm missing the boat and don't know where to find it! Locally it's almost impossible because they prefer the book in Italian...I won't even get into that nightmare!
Also where is it possible to get a review of the book? It's been critiqued and those have been very positive. It's a children's picture book but doesn't fit into any particular genre. So open to any and all suggestions.
Hi, Judith. Marketing is a challenge for most writers, so don't feel alone in that regard. Selling via a web site or through Search Engine Marketing is good once an author has a sales platform established. First, get the fundamentals of selling down, then branch out into Podcasts, Search Engine Optimization and the like. I have one client who has one book and 12 DVDs. He sells through his web site, Amazon and specialty stores. He wants to add a Podcast. His books aren't selling well on Amazon, however. For him, it's better to focus on the marketing he's already doing before trying to branch out into something new.

One strategy for you might be to increase the number of distribution channels you are using to sell your book. Have you considered catalogs that cater to parents with young children? What about educational bookstores like Bennett's? Those channels may prove more profitable for you than starting up a Podcast.

It appears as though you are living as an ex-pat in Italy. I admit to knowing little about the Italian market. There must be some English-language bookstores in Italy, however, that might be persuaded to carry your book. Check the tourist areas as they have the highest likelihood of having an English-language shop.

You have a children's picture book. That's great. There are many parenting magazines that may be interested in reviewing your book. You can get a list of parenting magazines from John Kremer's or Dan Poynter's web site. Mailing out review copies of your book is one of the least expensive/most cost-effective ways to promote your book.

Also, look for blogs online that cater to parents with young children. Contribute to those blogs and remember to include the title of your book in your contibutor's block at the end of each posting. To find the parenting blogs, go to That's the search engine for blogs. When searching the results on Technorati, be sure to pay attention to how many postings, how frequently they're updated and how many tie-ins the blogs have. The more, the better.

Bloggers may also be willing to review your book. Contact the blogger, off-line, and see if she/he would be willing to do so.
Hi Bill,

Thanks for the advice. I'll research your suggestions and put some of them into action. I'll let you know what happens you can always send me a message. I'm on you friends list!

Bill - I have taken your advice and done a few of the things you recomended to up my ranking on Amazon -- as of Saturday night the ranking was at 16,569 - and on Sunday morining it was at 15,563! The best it has been in ages. Thank you. While these things are fluid and that ranking has already gone back up to a less attractive number (somewhere around 27,000 at last check) It is proof that little things make a big difference - and you have to keep at promotion and marketing -- it is as much the job of a writer as the actual writing (some would argue more so!) Thank you for the advice and the reminder!

Also - I look forward to reading the Brent Sampson book you referred as well ( it is on order) so that I can continue this great run.

Meghan Wier
Confessions of an Introvert
Congratulations! That's an impressive upwards move on Amazon, Meghan. Continued success with your book.


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