Back in May of 2015 when I first got my miracle and my ebook sales started exploding in the UK, the only action I could trace any of that success back to was the changes I made to my books’ keywords on Amazon. I’d watched a video by Nick Stephenson on how Amazon’s true function wasn’t as a book store but as a search engine. He gave some tips on how to make your books more searchable, and therefore more accessible to readers. This is the only change I made prior to the jump in sales and I will be forever grateful for that bit of free advice.
I’ve blogged several times about the steep decline in sales I’ve experienced since November of 2016. The world was a little preoccupied–and frankly, still is–and people were not all that interested in reading for leisure. The indies who did survive the slump were only able to do so because they excelled at something I’ve barely even tried–marketing.
I’ve experimented with Bookbub, which was a success. I’ve also tried using Amazon ads for a week, which was not. And I’ve created a few FB ads but got cold feet when the results weren’t instant and took them down. It’s scary to spend money up front when there’s no guarantee of a return. But what I’ve come to realize is that it’s also necessary.
I have plenty of books in my backlist so there’s no reason that I shouldn’t be able to achieve a relatively high ($3,000-$7,000/month) and steady income. But writing a lot of books, even a lot of really good books, is no longer enough. I have to get those books in front of people and not just any people but the RIGHT people.
I have no idea how to do that so I’m taking a leap of faith and taking Nick Stephenson’s course on how to find your first 10K readers. It mostly covers how to build and maintain your mailing list through the use of targeted ads and reader magnets. I’m usually opposed to paying for information like this because so much of marketing is hit or miss. But if I’m going take the financial risk of enrolling in an online course, if I’m going to try something different in the hopes that it will change my life, I’m going to do it with someone I trust. Someone whose previous advice allowed me to go from selling 0 copies of my books a day to 100-200.
It’s been one year since I’ve seen those kinds of numbers in my dashboard…and I miss them terribly. To be honest, doing nothing at this point is even more of a risk. So over the next few months I’m going to offer myself as a case study on Nick’s course. I won’t be sharing detailed information from his modules since that would be stealing. But I will be talking about the changes I’m making and how they’re affecting my bottom line. If the results are good maybe you’ll be motivated to try the course for yourself.
I can’t even remember how I stumbled across Nick Stephenson’s blog or newsletter but I’m so glad I did. The author of a successful thriller series, he’s recently been promoting a series of videos and workshop opportunities for other authors looking to increase their sales. I signed up for his newsletter on a whim, my curiosity piqued by all of the comments and feedback left by authors who’d already been helped by his advice. The first three videos were free so I had nothing to lose and after implementing the advice from just the first two videos alone, I’ve already experienced some amazing results.
In just one month I’ve gone from selling a couple of books a day (if I was lucky) to selling 10-40 books a day. And as far as free downloads go, I’ve gone from twenty or so copies a day to 300-800! My books are actually reaching readers and every day my audience is growing exponentially. I know some people might scoff at my results. Maybe it took them one book to achieve what I’m just now experiencing after publishing six novels, but as an indie author and as an artist, I know how detrimental comparison is. All that matters is my journey and I couldn’t be happier with the road I’m on and the results I’ve achieved.
When I first started self-publishing I knew absolutely nothing about the online retailers where my books were being sold. I was familiar with Amazon only because I was a frequent customer there but I’d never taken the time to understand how their search engine worked, especially when it came to keywords. But after watching Stephenson’s videos I’ve come to realize that keywords are KEY to an indie author’s success. Each online retailer is a little different in how they utilize keywords and allow customers to search but since Amazon is where I make 90% of my sales I decided to devote most of my time to making changes there.
Before making big changes to all of my books listed on Amazon I decided to experiment with just my paranormal series. Since it’s genre fiction I figured it would be easier to apply specific categories and keywords, not to mention the fact that those changes could be applied to all three books. It took me a few hours of digging up comparable titles, checking their rankings, and evaluating the competitiveness among each keyword–meaning how many books were categorized by that term (all these steps are explained more in-depth in Stephenson’s training)–but the changes I made were significant.
Prior to watching Stephenson’s videos I was using keywords that were way too specific. I thought narrowing down the keywords would place my book among less competitive search results, meaning it would be closer to the top of the list and much more visible. In fact, this was the very thing making my books invisible. For example, I might have used keywords such as “nightmares” or “dreams”. These mean nothing to Amazon customers. Think about the way you search for things on google or Amazon or any other search engine. Most people would search using broader terms first, especially if they’re just browsing. So instead of using keywords like “nightmares” or “dreams” I replaced them with keywords that were more genre specific like “paranormal romance for teens” or “free paranormal romance.”
Stephenson goes much more in-depth in his training videos and I highly recommend checking them out. I’ll be moving on to video three soon and if his suggested changes continue to provide me with stellar results I’m definitely going to consider paying for his other training as well. I’ve benefited so much from his generosity already so I encourage anyone who’s interested to please check out his videos for yourself or his Leopold Blake thriller series. Indies helping indies is a beautiful thing so if you’ve come across any life changing advice or resources please feel free to share in the comments below!