Category Archives: Marketing

Guest Post: Using Amazon Categories to Sell More Books by Peggy Sansevieri

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Guest Post: Using Amazon Categories to Sell More Books by Peggy Sansevieri

Thank you to Peggy Sansevieri for this fascinating book marketing article which previously appeared on Writers in the Storm.

By now most authors know the importance of choosing great keywords on Amazon, but Amazon’s categories are equally important. Choosing the right categories can boost your exposure. And exposure drives book sales.

So, while it’s good to spend a lot of time focusing on keywords, you should also focus on finding narrow categories on Amazon. The reason to look narrow is this: categories with fewer books have lower competition for the #1 spot. And the top ten is a great place to hit, not only because it creates more visibility for your book, but Amazon’s algorithms kick in as you start to spike within categories.

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The BIG Secret about Amazon Categories

When speaking to a contact at Amazon recently, she told me they had rolled out ten categories for each book. Which means that instead of just two categories, you can have up to ten for each of your titles. Why is this good? Well, the more categories your book has, the more places it will show up. And because you have more flexibility now, you can pick some super niche categories, along with less niche ones. This is especially good in markets where there aren’t a ton of niches. Business books often sit in this segment. Having more categories levels the playing field a bit more.

How to Choose the Right Categories

First, when I talk about Amazon categories (and in previous posts I’ve done for this blog), you’ve probably noticed that I always refer to the eBook side of Amazon. This is because the categories on the eBook side are more creative because there are more of them.

To continue reading this article, click here.

Guest Post: How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book by Angela Ackerman

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Guest Post: How to Find and Reach Influencers to Help Promote Your Book by Angela Ackerman

Many thanks to Angela Ackerman for this guest post, first published on Jane Friedman’s website.

Today’s guest post is from writing coach and author Angela Ackerman (@angelaackerman).


As a writing coach and avid user of social media, one of the most heartbreaking things I see is when an author puts a ton of effort into writing, editing, polishing, and finally publishing a book—only to see it fail to gain traction in the marketplace. Often this comes down to a marketing misstep that’s all too common: failing to understand (and therefore reach) one’s ideal book audience.

I’ve posted about how to find your book’s ideal audience before, so I won’t wander down the same trail. Instead, I want to look at another piece of the marketing map that can greatly improve your success rate with reaching your audience: influencers.

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What Is an Influencer?

Influencers are the people who are already doing a great job of connecting with your ideal audience, because it is their audience too. They have a good reputation, are visible, and they interact with your potential readers every day. Hmmm, sounds like people we should get to know, right? Exactly!

Influencers are not one-size-fits-all. Each author will have different ones depending on the audience they are trying to reach. However, one common ingredient with any influencer is that they are worthy of our admiration for the trust and respect they’ve earned with their audience. And admiration is a key ingredient of any healthy relationship—but I’ll get back to that in a minute.

Influencers for a fiction author might be:

  • popular authors who write very similar books
  • bloggers who are passionate about a topic or theme that ties into the author’s book
  • well-regarded book reviewers
  • bookstore owners
  • librarians
  • organizers of literacy or book programs and events
  • teachers and instructors
  • groups and organizations that cover the same specific interest featured in the author’s book
  • celebrities (hey, it can’t hurt, right?)
  • businesses that cater to the same audience as the author’s in some way
  • forums and websites dedicated to the same topic/event/theme explored in the author’s book
  • well-connected individuals (who endorse the book or author to other influential people)
  • people who are passionate about a particular topic/theme (that ties into the author’s book)
  • fans of the author and her work (if the author is established)

And that’s just the start!

Because influencers are recognized and have clout with your shared audience, they can really help you reach your readers. Not only that, but they are a living, breathing example of how to connect with your audience the right way. There is much to be learned by examining how an influencer engages with others online. In fact, if you want to see an example, check out this post by Author Accelerator’s Jennie Nash, who wrote about shadowing me online. (I had no idea, so this was eye-opening for me as well.)

When you determine who an influencer is, it isn’t just a matter of you asking them to help you. People are generally busy, and whoever you’re approaching likely works very hard if they hold a position of influence. They may already have a lot on their plate.

This might sound like a closed door, but it isn’t. It just means that, as in most things, there’s no marketing shortcut, and honestly there shouldn’t be, because we’re talking about creating a relationship with someone. Relationships, to work, need to come from a place of sincerity. Healthy ones are balanced, with each party giving and receiving.

How to Reach Out to an Influencer

Angela Ackerman

Angela Ackerman

When you’re seeking to engage with an influencer, your heart needs to be in the right place, so choose carefully. Get to know this person. Admire their work. Because if you truly appreciate what they do, you will naturally want to help them further succeed. And while of course you hope they’ll return the favor, that’s not your endgame. Creating a relationship is.

Sometimes an influencer will already know you. Maybe you are in the same circles, and have a friendly connection. In that case, it’s really just about you making it a priority to actively show you care. This can be done by trying to boost their visibility however you can (tweeting, mentioning, sharing links to their work, talking about them and their work online, recommending them, etc.), and lending a hand here and there because you want to. Think about what they need to better reach their audience, and then proactively help them do it. Tag them online. The relationship should naturally grow because they will see what you’re doing and will want to do the same for you in return. Helping each other out leads to collaboration, and with a shared audience, this becomes a win-win for both of you.

If you don’t yet have a relationship with an influencer, the first step is getting on their radar. To do this, think about what your strengths are, and what you can give. Put yourself in their shoes: what would you like help with in their position? If they are an author, a business owner, or an organization, visibility is usually welcome. So, how can you give them a shout out and help your shared audience find them? Can you blog about them, or recommend them in some way? Or what about sending a personal note to let them know you admire their work and what they do for others, and that you’d like to help if they ever need it?

If it’s a librarian, a teacher, or a nonprofit group, maybe there’s some way you can use your skills to help them. Can you volunteer your time? Show that you appreciate what they are doing, be it promoting literacy or an interest you share (because it will tie into your books, remember)? Perhaps you noticed they mentioned in a blog post that they wanted to know more about something and so you do a bit of research and send along a few interesting links their way. In all things, seek to provide value.

Generally speaking, when you consistently help someone or show interest in what they do (influencer or not), they will notice and appreciate it. A relationship naturally forms—they will want to know more about you. That’s your goal: to create a friendship that feels natural and authentic, and to have the type of connection where either of you can help, ask for advice, brainstorm ideas, and possibly collaborate with in ways that can help you both. In this way, you both grow and benefit.

Remember Anyone Can Be an Influencer

Are you cultivating strong relationships with the people you interact with day to day? I hope so! It’s just as important as seeking someone “established.” After all, a writer who asked you to look over their query letter might end up selling a five-book mega-deal a year from now. Or be affiliated with an organization looking for a speaker or visiting author. Maybe that blogger you contacted as a source of knowledge on a certain topic may become a huge fan of your work and want to help the world discover you.

Bottom line, wouldn’t you just love it if one day someone came to you and offered to put your name forward because they liked and admired you? So, adopt the mindset of a giver. Ask yourself what value you can add, what you can do for others. If you can help, do, because you never know when it will come back to you tenfold. (This is coming from someone who knows this firsthand!)

How Do You Find Your Influencers?

Determine who your exact audience is. Then, pay attention to the movers and shakers who interact with this group. These might be authors, businesses, special interest groups, forums, bloggers, and other individuals that produce content or a product that ties into the same topic, interest, theme, or element that you have written about.

To help with this, I put together something I call the Influencer Hot Sheet. This will show you what to look for to find your exact audience influencers, how to break down what they do online that helps them be successful (so you can do the same), and finally, ideas on how to build a relationship with them.

You can find it and many other marketing handouts on my Tools for Writers page.

Happy writing and marketing!


You can visit Angela at her sites for writers, Writers Helping Writers and One Stop for Writers.

Authors: 22 Quick Tips For Getting More Retweets!

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Authors: 22 Quick Tips For Getting More Retweets!

Thank you to good people at Web Design Relief for today’s guest post.

This article has been reprinted with the permission of Web Design Relief, a highly recommended author website design service. We understand writers and their marketing goals and seek to design websites specific to those needs. Visit our site today to learn more.

Previously posted on February 12, 2015 by Web Design Relief Staff.

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When it comes to spreading the word about your writing, you may already know about the power of Twitter. But tweeting regularly is just the first step in making Twitter work for you—you also want your Twitter followers to retweet (or RT) your tweets. To get more retweets to boost your reach, increase followers, and build your readership, try these tips!

How To Get More Retweets (For Authors)

  1. Share shortened links. Twitter users love interesting content. Just be sure to shorten links using a site like bitly.
  1. Ask for retweets. Though it may feel presumptuous, you’re more likely to see your tweet retweeted if you ask readers to “Please RT!”
  1. Talk about something other than yourself. What you had for breakfast may be interesting, but mundane tweets don’t offer practical info that’s fun to pass along.
  1. Be clever, funny, and surprising. If you are going to share observations from your daily life, be sure your commentary is scintillating. In other words, tweet like a creative writer! The wittier your tweet, the more likely it will be shared.
  1. Spread breaking news. When news hits the headlines in your field, be among the first to share it with your followers, and you’ll be more likely to see your tweet retweeted.
  1. RT other people’s links and news. Not only does this show you’re a community player, but YOU could get more followers by sharing other people’s cool tips, links, and news.
  1. Share quotations (using quotation marks). Twitter users love pithy quotes, especially when those quotes use quotation marks. Punctuation wins! And if the person you’re quoting is on Twitter, use their Twitter handle: @AUTHORHANDLE.
  1. Vary your content. Keep your readers coming back to your feed by posting lots of different kinds of posts, from personal observations, to videos, to retweeted news.
  1. Offer practical, helpful info. When a reader can actually make practical use of info in a tweet, it’s more likely to be retweeted.
  1. Share promos and good deals. Heard of a great deal on a book? Or is your own book on sale? People love to save money (and RT deals, contests, and opportunities).
  1. Be conversational but grammatical. Avoid stiff language. Be smart about your grammar—no one wants to retweet a mistake! Learn to write shorter tweets.
  1. Use one or two hashtags (and no more). Find out more about hashtags here.
  1. Ask questions. Engage your followers with simple questions (Example: Do your prefer pen or pencil? E-book or paperback?) that can be easily retweeted. And leave room for a reply. Include a short hashtag too!
  1. Come up with ideas for RTing games. Start an online rhyming game or a poetry game, and ask for retweets from players.
  1. Give prizes for RTs. Host a contest with a giveaway. Users must retweet to enter to win.
  1. Don’t overcapitalize. Twitter readers tend to prefer tweets to be capitalized the way that sentences are capitalized. Avoid ALL CAPS.
  1. Share videos and images. Posts with a visual component are especially popular.
  1. Tweet on the weekends. To reach individuals (as opposed to businesses), some experts suggest tweeting on the weekends. You can schedule your tweets to boost your efficiency.
  1. Tweet during the day. There’s a bit of disagreement about the best time to tweet, but many experts point to afternoons (Eastern Time) for the highest activity. Experiment to discover what works best for your audience.
  1. Tweet a lot. Twitter success can depend on the volume of your tweets. In other words, the more you tweet, the more likely you’ll get retweets.
  1. Don’t commit any of the eleven deadly sins of social networking.
  1. Be excited! When you share an exciting piece of news (with exclamation points), people are happy to pass along the happy!

Photo by marek.sotak

QUESTION: Are you on Twitter? Post a link to your profile!