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Irysangel
05-11-2011, 05:53 AM
I'd love to hear people share something that they've done to increase their sales via Kindle/Nook/Smashwords/Others. Perhaps we can all learn from each other some tricks of the trade that might help boost sales, or things we've seen other authors do that seems really smart.

I'm not talking about paying review/buzz websites to blast your book. I'm talking about actual things you've done for your book(s) that worked because you did them - small tweaks that make a big difference and don't cost a cent.

I noticed that when I added a short sample to the description, my sales immediately picked up for my titles. Which I thought was silly, because hey, you can download a sample, right? But I think a lot of browsers do read the sample on the page, because it gave me a small bump.

Anyone else have advice to share?

amergina
05-11-2011, 06:11 AM
As a reader, I will note that I rarely download samples. I'd much rather read a sample in my browser than switch applications (or devices). That's why I prefer the Look Inside feature of the print versions of books to the Kindle sample.

More specifically, I don't have a Kindle application on my computer at work (for obvious reasons). However, I do quite a bit of web browsing for books during my lunch break. I don't often take my iPad (which has the Kindle app) with me to work.

I want to make a choice to buy a book when I look at it (like I can at a book store with a paper book), not hours later when I go home to my iPad.

So a sample in the product description? Yeah. I could see where that would increase sales. 'cause I can't be the only person browsing for books on their lunch break.

Irysangel
05-11-2011, 06:02 PM
That's very good to hear! I'm more of a 'quick' browser, so I skim the description and look for things that jump out at me to see if I want a sample. But I think that's probably not how most shop. :)

HapiSofi
05-13-2011, 06:04 PM
This is the kind of process that has led to every romance writer in North America doing promotional bookmarks.

Keep your eye on what does and doesn't work. You can run yourself ragged doing low-yield book promotion when you should be writing your next book.

kaitie
05-13-2011, 07:32 PM
I have a question about the sample thing. When people give samples, do they always give the opening pages, or do they choose a nice random bit that's interesting and intriguing or something?

I remember when I was younger, a lot of books had samples included at the front, usually just a page long section from somewhere in the middle of the book. Does anyone use this sort of thing for their books now? Or is it better to use the beginning and hope it hooks a reader into wanting to see more?

Library4Science
05-13-2011, 09:34 PM
Amazon sends the first 10% of the file as a sample. The author has no control other then to change the text order. Some people put the cover image, toc and title page at the end of the book to increase the text in the sample. For my series I am putting the tocs from all the volumes at the end to increase the sample size.

Irysangel
05-13-2011, 10:07 PM
This is the kind of process that has led to every romance writer in North America doing promotional bookmarks.

Keep your eye on what does and doesn't work. You can run yourself ragged doing low-yield book promotion when you should be writing your next book.

I'm not sure why this is said in a dismissive manner? I have bookmarks, because I slip them into books that I pass out, or give them to people that request them. It's not like I (or any other romance writer I know) stand on street corners and hand them out, demanding people buy our books.

I'm asking for helpful tips because I'm interested in SMALL things people can do to improve their sales. Adding an excerpt takes all of five minutes, and doesn't affect my writing time at all. That's why I said in my original post "Small tweaks that make a big difference and don't cost a cent."

Irysangel
05-13-2011, 10:09 PM
I have a question about the sample thing. When people give samples, do they always give the opening pages, or do they choose a nice random bit that's interesting and intriguing or something?

I remember when I was younger, a lot of books had samples included at the front, usually just a page long section from somewhere in the middle of the book. Does anyone use this sort of thing for their books now? Or is it better to use the beginning and hope it hooks a reader into wanting to see more?

It's always the front portion of the book (usually set at around 20% of the book, I believe). So you get the TOC, the Copyright, etc, and then you get the sample.

I've downloaded samples of books before that I didn't even make it past the acknowledgments before the sample cut off. I did not buy those books.

I have seen the occasional e-book where a 'sample' scene was deliberately pulled from the middle of the book because it was strongest - I assume so it would act much like the front page sample does in the bookstore. But it totally threw me off, so when I bought the book, I couldn't figure out why it was moving backward, story-wise, when I had already read what happened after. That was just confusing.

Irysangel
05-13-2011, 10:10 PM
Amazon sends the first 10% of the file as a sample. The author has no control other then to change the text order. Some people put the cover image, toc and title page at the end of the book to increase the text in the sample. For my series I am putting the tocs from all the volumes at the end to increase the sample size.

That's interesting! And with the Kindle, it lets you use the menu to go directly to the TOC if you want, so there really isn't much of a point in having a TOC up front. Good point!

HapiSofi
05-13-2011, 10:34 PM
I remember when I was younger, a lot of books had samples included at the front, usually just a page long section from somewhere in the middle of the book. Does anyone use this sort of thing for their books now?
Front sales copy. It went on the first recto page of mass-market paperbacks. It could be specially-written copy, or quotes from reviews of the hardcover or the author's previous books, or an attractive hunk of text from the book itself. It's less common these days because mass-market paperbacks are less common. Sometimes you'll also see it done in trade paperbacks, or on the back cover of a hardcover.

How do you choose the text? Doubtless there are sophisticated and intelligent ways to do it, but there's also a rule-of-thumb version: Take the hardcover and divide the pages in half as precisely as you can. Next, take the pages in your left hand and divide them in half -- i.e., to the one-quarter mark. In a well-paced novel, chances are there'll be a suitable scene within ten pages before or after that point.

As for your original question: the way it's usually handled is that a substantial sample ought to start where the book starts, but a one-page snippet can be from anywhere in the book.

Another common practice: minimum frontmatter for a hardcopy book is one sheet, title page on recto and copyright page on verso. Some ebook formats also require a Table of Contents. If you're compiling one, remember to list the frontmatter and backmatter, especially if you're improving your sample by moving frontmatter essential to reading comprehension to the back of the book.