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Fringe Highlight Podcast: 5 Tools To Road-Test Your Book Idea W/ Tara R Alemany

Fringe Highlight Podcast: 5 Tools to Road-Test your Book Idea w/ Tara R Alemany

AskALLi Podcast Fringe Highlight LogoThis week we're showcasing the session “Failing Faster To Succeed As An Author” hosted by Tara R Alemany. A little bit of market research can go a long way toward ensuring the financial success of your books. Learn how to test topic ideas and refine them into ready-to-sell titles for enthusiastic readers. Learn how to use Kindle Spy and KDP Rocket to research estimated monthly sales of Top 100 Paid titles in your niche, and settle on relevant keywords so that it's positioned for explosive sales. Tara also shows how she uses other author tools to achieve self-publishing success.

Topics Covered in this Podcast:

  • 3 primary strategies for authors
  • Author Research Tools: Kindle Spy
  • Author Research Tools: KDP Rocket
  • Working on your book outline
  • Getting Reader Feedback
  • Choosing a Book Title
  • Cover Design Help
  • Author Design Tools: Help Me Choose A Cover
  • Author Design Tools: Bookalyzer
  • Back Copy Blurb
  • Author Marketing Tools: Connect Explorer

Fringe Highlight Podcast:

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Fringe Highlight Video: Failing Faster to Succeed as an Author

Fringe Highlight Transcript:

Tara:  Hello, I’m Tara Alemany of Emerald Lake Books and welcome to the Indie Author Fringe. It looks like there’s a great lineup of presentations over the next 24 hours and I truly hope you enjoy yourself. There’s a whole lot of learning to be held among all the different speakers that are here.

My particular presentation covers failing faster to succeed as an author and in it I’m going to talk about the different things you should consider throughout the different stages of your writing and publishing in order to ensure that by the time you have a book that’s ready to be launched, you know whether or not you have an interested and buying audience.

There is no magic bullet when it comes to marketing your book. But there are a lot of steps you can take in advance to know whether or not your book stands a likelihood of success and, in taking those steps, at the same time you’re also creating an engaged audience who has a sense of co-creating the book with you and, therefore, they have a lot more at stake in supporting you when it comes time to look for the launch.

We’re going to cover some of the different ways you can do that. But before we get started, let’s talk about what success actually means because for every author that I speak to there’s a different context for them. For some of them, they want to have more engaged readers, some of them want to have more book sales. They want to have that converted best seller status on Amazon or on the Wall Street Journal. But there are other types of success that can come as well. Some of the authors that we work with are non-fiction authors and they’re looking for things like more speaking opportunities or joint venture partnerships. Or, they’re looking for more engaged clients and new prospects for their business. When you start thinking about failing faster to succeed as an author, you’ve got to start thinking first about what your definition of success is because once you know what that is, it helps you to outline and identify the steps necessary in order to reach that point more quickly.

Sometimes when I talk with people about failing faster they really balk at that statement because nobody wants to fail right? But in the writers’ critique group that I lead, one of the things that we talk about is the fact that getting rejections is good, because when you get rejected it means that you’re out there and making an attempt and you’re trying to do things. And so, when it comes to failing faster, it is a good thing as well because you’re making an attempt but you’re also being wise to the feedback and the input that you’re getting to discern, before you invest a lot of time, effort and money, whether or not the title or the concept that you have for a book is going to be one that’s going to be financially feasible or worth your while. And whether you like it or not there are opportunities to fail throughout the entire writing process.

We can start as early as your initial idea, where you can be starting to do some initial competitive research in figuring out whether the idea even makes sense to write about or if there’s too much competition or not enough interest in terms of people wanting to buy that particular title. Or you can fail during the writing process itself but participating in a writers’ critique group that will give you feedback as to what you’re writing and whether or not it resonates with them.

You can also fail after you’ve written the book but before you’ve launched it by finding beta readers who can give you feedback and, once again, give you an idea as to whether or not this is a title that’s worthwhile pursuing further.

The sooner in the process that you identify that failure point or the success point, the better off you will be because, if you do it early in the process then you save wasting a lot of time on something that isn’t going to go anywhere. And if you use it as a learning point you can actually take the idea that you had originally started pursuing and modify it in a way with the feedback that you’re getting that allows you to actually create something that your reading audience wants.

Three Primary Strategies for Authors

  • Research
  • Feedback
  • Testing

There are three primary strategies you can use when you’re trying to fail faster. The first has to do with research. The second has to do with securing feedback and that can be from groups of individuals like critique groups or it can be from surveys and finally it’s about testing. It’s about finding the right audience and that can be testing, through split testing of different concepts or it can be done through actually targeting your ad campaign towards different reader groups so you can identify the ideal reader group to launch the book for.

But eventually what it all comes down to really is about the research that you do and the connections that you make with the ideal reader that you want to enjoy and appreciate your work. Let’s start first with really looking at the competitive research and figuring what type of ideas make the most sense to write about.

Author Research Tools – Kindle Spy

I have a couple of different tools that I like to use when I’m going to start doing research and one of them is a Chrome add-in called Kindle Spy (KDSpy), and what Kindle Spy allows me to do is to look at the books that are selling within the Kindle store that are targeted around certain keywords that I think I want to write about. For instance, right now we have a customer who is thinking about writing a book on Omni-channel marketing, and essentially what that is, it’s about the prevalence of stores and retailers needing to be present in multiple different channels instead of just one nowadays. For instance, Amazon buying Whole Foods is an example of where they’re going to start having more Brick and Mortar retail stores and the same with the bookstores that they’ve recently opened in some of the major cities here in the US. They’re not just going to be online retailers anymore, they’re looking to have other distribution points that allow them to market and distribute their products into multiple channels. If we wanted to see whether Omni-channel marketing was a good topic for this particular client to own because he wants to build his business and brand around it, some of the things that we’re going to be interested in or seeing for instance, that there’s low competition but that there is some interest in the topic. There are two different tools that I use to assess that. The first was the Kindle Spy as I mentioned. What I’m going to do here is, I’m going to go in and I’m first going to look in Amazon to see whether or not it’s even a key word that comes up. Because what this tells me is that there are people searching for it at least. And here, sure enough it shows up, I’ve got Omni-channel and when I click on that it will open the books that are available in the Kindle store that are related to that particular keyword.

Kindle Spy

“The Ultimate Amazon Kindle Book Niche Market Research Software That ‘ Reverse Engineers' The Bestselling Books To Reveal Profitable Niches”

URL: https://www.kdspy.com


  • You are protected by our 60-Day No Questions Asked Money-Back Guarantee
  • Regular Price $97 – Currently $47

Now on first glance as I look through these, none of them appear to be exceedingly popular. I’m not seeing a lot of great ratings on them, I’m not really impressed with many of the covers either. Interesting to note is that some appear to be in a foreign language. Even though they’re in the US book store and I’ve got things here in German, I have things in English, it looks like Japanese as well. It’s interesting to see that yes, there are books on the subject, but now if I use Kindle Spy, what it’s going to do is show me all of the books currently on this page and it gives me a bunch of information about them. It tells me the average sales rank within Amazon which is not very impressive, typically for something that I’m going to be interested pursuing, I want a sales rank of 30,000 for at least half of the books in this section. I also would like to see a more robust monthly income. I see the average monthly income for those that earned anything is about $3 and across all of these 16 titles that are shown, a total monthly revenue of only $48. That’s not very impressive but when I consider that if I sort this by rank I’m going to see that a number of these have no rank whatsoever and each of these, except for one, is in German. What that is telling me is that a German author probably has a book on the German Amazon site that may be doing very well and may have been released here in the US as well but because it’s in a foreign language it doesn’t have as robust a market. This doesn’t quite give me the information that I was hoping for because of this mix.

Author Research Tools – KDP Rocket

The next thing I would do is that I would go and look a little further, dig a little deeper. I’m going to use Dave Chesson’s tool called KDP Rocket and if you get a chance to listen to him later on, he is an absolute resource when it comes to everything Kindle. I’ve been taking his Amazon ads course recently and really enjoying that. I highly recommend it. But give me just a second and we’ll toggle over to KDP Rocket.

Alright, here we are now with KDP Rocket and I’m in the ideas search tab. I’m just going to start here first by doing a new idea search and I’m going to go ahead and type in Omni-channel and see what I get here. Go get them rocket, and what this shows me is some of the different keywords that are used when searching for it and it gives me an idea of the number of competitors that I would find in Amazon in order to compete for this term if I wanted. The average monthly earnings, we saw earlier, wasn’t very good. I’m actually going click on analyze this to give more detail. I only see an average here of $7 of monthly earnings but the interesting thing to know is the large number of Google searches per month and the estimated number of searches in Amazon per month. Now the reason that’s of interest to me is because with so many different searches taking place in Google it tells me that this is becoming an up and coming trending topic. This is something that people are going to be looking for more information on and, obviously, Google searches and Amazon searches are not one and the same but I can get a good feel that if people are looking for something in Google, most likely they’re going to come and start looking for more information about it in Amazon in the near future.

KDP Rocket

“Easy to use tool to help find bestselling book ideas, profitable niches, rank better in Amazon, & select Kindle keywords. Get your book noticed on Amazon.”

URL: https://kdprocket.com/


  • Get lifetime access for $97 before it becomes a monthly Subscription

We can see that the estimated number of searches here per month is fairly respectable, I mean 378. This competitive scoring that KDP Rocket gives basically says that the higher the number, the harder it is ranked. Omni-channel is a term that our client is interested in trying to own and if he wrote a book about this that did fairly well, that ranked well, it did well against its competition. Then in Amazon, most likely he wouldn’t have any issue with reaching that number one rank for that term. Now, given the fact that there’s such a low monthly revenue from it, an average monthly earnings of $7, if his goal were to be selling a lot of copies then that may not be the best option for him. We might market that same book using different terms. As a matter of fact, most likely, we will. But when it comes to being able to own that term it’s something that we definitely want to make sure is one of the keywords that we target, so that as we’re promoting the book, he will be seen as the authority and expert around that topic.

Now the nice thing that KDP Rocket allows me to do as well is that I can go and see and dig more deeply into what competition there is around certain things. I can get a list of the books that are doing well in that particular topic area, I can learn more about them, dig deeper into say the table of contents and what’s being covered. Perhaps develop my own opinion as to what’s being left out to make sure that when we develop our draft outline for the book, we’re covering those things. Not just the basics that are being hit by everybody, but the things that are unique from my client’s viewpoint and my client’s standpoint in terms of his expertise within the industry.

As I look at this competitive search and I see what other titles are out there. I can see for instance that some of them are quite old, couple of years old at this point in time and none of them have a very high Amazon ranking, sales ranks. So, it will be fairly easy for us to compete against these especially because there are very few reviews, there were very few sales taking place. Being able to focus on competing against these titles, this particular author would do very well.

If I look now at idea searches, maybe there are other terms that are related to Omni-channel that we haven’t thought about yet, that we may want to target as part of this. I can go into KDP Rocket, I can put in the idea search for Omni-channel and it will show me different variations on that as well as books that are related to this topic. For instance, competing in the age of Omni-channel retailing, now interestingly enough we’ve been using Omni-channel as a hyphenated word, most of these are coming up as not being hyphenated. So, that would be something that we would want to note in our evaluation. Perhaps if I go back to idea searches and I put in a second idea search and do it without the hyphen, maybe that’s going to help me drill down further to get the information that we need to find out where our real competition lies. Here we’re seeing that there are more competitors around this idea, and there are certainly more Google searches as well but the estimated number of searches on Amazon isn’t quite as much. Maybe we decide that we want to own one variation on the term, say the hyphenated variation but when we do our key wording, we use both. That’s all part of developing our strategy on how we’re going to market it and doing our research.

Part of what we want to do here as well in this AMS idea search is, we want to be making note of the different titles that exist that we think are things that may be of interest to us in terms of our competitions. So, OmniChannel Marketing by Shady Ramadan, let’s see if we can find that in here and I’m actually going to try it since it’s done without a hyphen. I’m going to go ahead and give that a try. And here we go, when I look, OmniChannel Marketing is right here and when I use KDP Spy or Kindle Spy to look at this and see what results we get here, it’s going to show me that there’s a bit more competition because this time we had 20 results instead of the 16 that we had previously. Our sales ranks are still not very competitive, not really what we would like to see but better than previously. You’ll see that there’s not a lot of competition according to KDP Spy, meaning that we’ll be able to compete here well but the popularity and the potential isn’t there automatically. What we would need to do is actually generate that and part of the way we can do that is through the activities that we take in terms of engaging our readership early in the process and that’s where surveys and feedback and things like that come into play.

We’ll see a higher monthly revenue here once again, not ideal. It’s not a wild market to get into but it’s helping us formulate what we want to do next. And because this particular author is looking to own a category, actually this is very good news for us because he or she will be able to own this very easily.

Working on your Book Outline

The next step in the process for us, because our client has decided that yes, this is what he wants to pursue, is to start looking at some of these bestselling topics there, in this category and getting a sense for how to flesh out the outline we already have for our book. One of the ways that we can do this is that I pay attention to two things. We pay attention to the reviews of the book and we pay attentions to the table of contents. In looking at these reviews the nice thing here is that I see a large disparity among the reviews. Good but very general info, so, this particular book is only for beginners and the writer repeats a lot of the same idea but in general was a fluid lecture. What that tells me is that one thing that we need to note is that this particular reader at least wanted something more in depth and the deeper that we can go into what Omni-channel marketing is and how to leverage it perhaps to grow a business, the more appealing it would be to at least this particular reviewer. When we look here we have great for marketing lovers alright, that really doesn’t give too much information to go on. It could very well even be somebody that knows the author. But if I use the look inside feature, what this is going to help me do is to get a feel for what topics were covered. I mean if the one reviewer felt it was very basic information, we want to know what that individual at least considered to be basic information.

Let’s look at the table of contents. It’s going to cover things like a change in consumer behavior, why Omni-channel marketing, the evolution of it, marketing case studies, stepping in Omni-channel, transformation strategies, start implementing on Omni-channel marketing and more case studies. If we’re working on our outline for the book, these definitely do sound like fairly basic things. It’s a good outline for a book, but one of the things we would want to make sure we were doing is how to infuse our own flavor into the book. For my client, when he’s building his business with this, that there are things that point specifically to the innovation and uniqueness with which he pursues Omni-channel marketing for his clients and his customers. We have to come up with some of the ideas, one of the things that I see missing in here is the whole development of a middle phase when it comes to Omni-channel marketing. There’s a whole niche of businesses that are growing because they are filling the gap between what a traditional retailer can do and what they want to do as part of Omni-channel marketing. Maybe there’s a whole section in here, bridging the gap between your traditional retail marketing and distribution channels and the future forward ones.

One of the things that I want to emphasize here is that while we are looking at the table of contents and the reviews of books that are selling well, we’re doing this to get a feel for what readers are appreciating and what they want and what they’re looking for in these books. We never really dig any deeper into the book than this because one of the things we don’t want to run into is issues of plagiarism. We’re not looking to copy somebody else’s work. We’re just looking to fill in the gaps that may exist in our own outline for the book that we’re planning on writing. This is more to jog ideas and thoughts and to understand consumer needs and behaviors more than anything else.

Among the other information that we know when we using Kindle Spy is we look for things like commonalities among the covers. We look for what categories are being used and keywords within the descriptions. We also check out things like the trim size that’s being used. We make note of these things at this point in time so that ultimately, when we produce the book we want to have a book that both stands out and fits in within a category. Ideally we want it to look like it belongs with all of the books it’s on a shelf with. But we want it to have some eye popping characteristic that also makes it stand out so, readers are more likely to pull it off the shelf and take a peek at it.

Reader Feedback

With all this information, then it is time to start writing. We fill out our outline, we start writing our chapters, we do all of the things we need to create the book. Now one of the things that I personally like to do is that I participate in a writers’ critique group. With that particular group, each time we meet, I can bring 1500 words of a book that’s in progress and run it through a group of people who will give me their honest feedback. One of the things that I like about this particular process is that they use something called the sandwich method where they all start out with something nice and then they rip it to pieces and then they finish off with something nice. I don’t walk out feeling too awfully bad. It’s always good to get other people’s feedback, especially other authors. It’s not that they necessarily have to know the topic that you’re reading or that you’re writing about. But simply,  they give you a feel for whether or not they understand what you are writing about and whether it’s clear and concise enough. So, reader feedback is always important. Later on, once you have more of the book written and you feel more secure in it being closer to its final format, that’s when you’re going to start seeking beta readers. And often times, people will skip this particular step in the process, but beta readers can do wonderful things for you. I typically won’t send a book out to a beta reader until after the book has already been edited, but I can tell you that no matter how many times you edit, whether you self-edit or hire editors, whether you’ve done three edits or 17. Whether you’ve done it online or you’ve gotten a printed proof and you’ve edited, there is always something more to be found. So, beta readers are somebody that I typically reach out to after I’ve been through all the editing that I’m going to do and when I think the book is fairly close to its final format. Perhaps I’m working on things like putting together some of the design in it or adding more testimonials or things like that, but I think the content’s fairly secure, I’ll ask beta readers to start reading it and provide feedback. And often times they’ll come back with a typo or a misspelling. We certainly do our best to catch everything before we send it out to anybody. But I do recommend as often as possible sending your book out to at least 20, if not 40 beta readers so that you get that amount of feedback so that when you do put something out there, it is your best work. Now I know a lot of people will say, ”You know, failing faster to succeed as an author, you really should just get something out there and let the chips fall as they may”. But for us, the authors we’re working with more often than not are using their book to grow a business and so, the impression that readers have is a first impression that needs to be a good one. We always do our best to make sure that first impression is one that is a solid, positive, lasting impression of the author’s work.

Choosing a Book Title

Now here’s where some of the fun could come into because sometimes when an author starts working on a book, they have a certain title that just resonates with him and this is what it should be called and the entire time they’re going through that writing process they’re assuming that this is going to be the name of the book when it’s published. But sometimes it’s not exactly what the reader is going to be anticipating or looking for. For instance, we had one particular author come to us with a work in progress that he wanted us to publish and the working title for it was, My Broken Coconut. For anybody that knew the author, this was just one of the ways that he spoke and it was his sense of humor and it made sense.

The book was really about a migraine that he had that lasted for two and a half years and about his journey to healing and My Broken Coconut certainly made a lot of sense to him and for anybody who knew him it was fine. But from a marketing standpoint and from an SEO standpoint and from choosing a category, it was something that would have been very confusing to a reader who didn’t know him. We had to encourage him to look beyond the readers who were part of his network and consider the readers who had no clue who he was. And what we did was that we created a monkey survey and we brainstormed for both a title and a subtitle and we mixed and matched how those subtitles and titles could go together. Part of it was done purely from an SEO standpoint where we felt a specific title would be great for keywords for triggering Amazon’s algorithms and some of it was intended to maintain his sense of humor.

Ultimately we sent that out to readers and they were readers we had to find because he was a first time author, he was growing a business that was in a totally different arena than what he had been in previously. He didn’t have an e-mail list to send it out to. He had some friends and family to share it with and he did share it with them. But once we started talking to people, we gave them a description of what the book was about as well as these different title and subtitle options, it became clear that had we gone with My Broken Coconut, nobody would have purchased the book. It was only when we started getting into some of the survey results that we were able to come up with a title that was catchy, that was, What Doesn’t Kill You and the subtitle was The Headache from Hell and a Relentless Search for Healing.

We hit keywords in there at the same time as we did something a little bit psychological in the title if you think about it. If somebody says, “What doesn’t kill you”, it’s very common for us to fill in the blank. What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger right? Well that was the whole point of the motivational message that this author wanted to be giving as he built his speaking career,  about how these difficulties in our lives, if they don’t kill, they make you stronger and how do you find the wherewithal within in you to keep pushing through these trying times. We ended up choosing something for a title that encapsulated not just what the book was about, but what his overall message and brand was about as well. We could only do that by sharing the contents and asking for his perspective audience, who he hadn’t even met yet to help him come up with that title. When doing that, the nice thing was the readers felt this co-ownership, this co-creation process and were much more engaged in the process when it came to us sending out suggestions for feedback on covers. We had some different cover comps put together and sent those out and asked the same set of people for their thoughts as to which one to go with and ultimately they became buyers of the book as well.

Cover Design

Remember earlier I talked about making note of the different covers in the category that you were going to be in. This represents a project that we were doing with another client of ours who was writing a book called, A Guide to Recruiting Your Next CEO. While we were working on what particular cover design made sense for him, one of the things we did was that we pulled together this contact sheet of covers that would show what it would look if his book was positioned on Amazon with all of the others. We wanted to make sure that we had some of the similar characteristics in terms of banners and text orientated and a little bit of blockiness to it, you’ll see most of them at some point in time have a block some place and those were some of the things that we were looking for in terms of making this book stand out and we came up with a title and then, with a cover designer, basic cover comp it’s called. Then we wanted to fool around with some of the colors for it so, we came up with another color comp, based on what the author was looking for.

We pulled in some of the more commonly used colors and styles that were in some of the books here in this contact sheet. Often times what we’re doing is we’re using the other covers as the common characteristics and once we define those we create our own cover and then we look to see how that cover is going to fit in with the others. Ultimately we went with a slightly different variation on this particular cover design and the book is launching here in October and we feel that it’s going to do very well in positioning in against the other titles that it’s positioned against but also in standing out against them.

Author Design Tools – Help Me Choose A Cover

Now sometimes what we do is if we have multiple different cover comp designs and we really haven’t been able to settle on which one we think is going to best, we may use this as yet another opportunity to survey our potential readers. We’ve done this with a couple of different books in the past and there’s a great tool, a website called, Help Me Choose A Cover and if you go helpmechooseacover.com the thing that I like about this, is that it allows you to share within social media a variety of different cover comps, but instead of somebody commenting on your Facebook posts saying they like A,B,C or D and then you have to sort through all of them manually to figure out which one makes sense. What you can do is that you can come to Help Me Choose A Cover, you can upload the different cover designs that are potential for your particular work and then you can use this in order to ask which one people like. For instance here, we’ve got another German title on success and if somebody were to go here now they can give, very quickly a vote by clicking on their option for the cover design they like the most.

Help Me Choose A Cover

“Not sure which cover design you should use? Ask the power of your social media connections. Upload your cover samples below, then let them vote.”

URL: www.helpmechooseacover.com/


  • Free to use

Once this finishes loading I can go here and I can see if I like A, B, C or D and personally, I like B the most, or A the most sorry, and I would choose, I would click on that, and once I’ve done that I can vote and if I’m curious, when I vote it will show me all the results and thankfully I get to see that I’m in the majority which is always nice. I didn’t test this out ahead of time but it’s nice to know that my taste is similar to others who are looking at this title. Now what this does is help the author have a very clear cut, quick impression of which title, which cover design does the most.

One of the things it doesn’t do, that I’m hoping that it will do in the future, is actually allow you to provide feedback as to why you like this particular option the most. Right now it’s simply choose, multiple choice, choose which one you think is best. But either way even as this currently is, it helps you get a feedback from people who would potentially be buying this book as to which cover design makes the most sense. Rather than uploading the files to Facebook or to LinkedIn or to Twitter, what I can do is create my poll here on helpmechooseacover.com and then I can share that link to the poll on my other various social media and ask that they come here and vote.

Author Design Tools – Bookalyzer

Another great resource that the Author Marketing Club also puts together in addition to Help Me Choose A Cover is that they have this thing called Bookalyzer, and you can put in the ASIN number of your book and what it will do is actually show you some very interesting information that helps you get a feel for the book.  The cover design appears at multiple sizes because one of the things that most cover designers miss or forget to think about is that this particular book is going to be not just the size of a paperback, say my trim size on this is five by eight, but it’s also going to be small as well, it’s going to come down to a thumbnail size.


“The fastest, easiest way to see how your book ranks. Including estimated sales numbers, competing books, sales recommendations and much more.”

URL: http://www.authormarketingclub.com/bookalyzer/


  • Free to use

One of the things you want to see when you’re looking at your cover graphics, is what it will look like in the search results page. This is what it’s going to look like here, but when you get down to frequently bought section, it’s going to get smaller and smaller. So, does the cover still stand out, can the reader still tell what it’s about? We’ve had some covers that once it got to this size, it was very difficult to tell who the author was, what the book was about, what the title was, what the keywords were. And so, you want to make sure before you release the book that ultimately the cover that you’re putting out there isn’t going to look like a blob on the different sites when it’s coming up in the search terms because if it looks like a blob and people can’t tell what it is they’re not going to click on it and you’re losing a buying opportunity there. I do recommend checking out your title and seeing what it looks like here. Obviously this particular book, because it’s not released yet, is missing a lot of the other information that Bookalizer would typically provide but I find that even just being able to do this analysis of the cover graphics is a huge benefit before the release.

Back Copy Blurb

Once I feel fairly confident about the cover and about the title and the subtitle, I use the research that I had from earlier using both KDP Rocket and Kindle Spy to start focusing on the keywords that are going to become part of the back copy blurb as well as the book listing description. One of the mistakes that most independent authors make is that they think that the blurb that you use on the back cover is sufficient to use for your book listing. The problem is that when you’re printing a book, you’re lucky if you have 250 to 300 words that you can use on the back cover of a normal sized paperback. But when it comes to the book listing that you have on Amazon, you have significantly more real estate in which to describe the contents of the book and engage your potential reader.

There’s formatting that can be used, there’s more text that can be used, you can highlight the keywords that you’re targeting more frequently, you can include reviewer comments. There’s all sorts of things that you can do that people miss out on doing on when they only copy the back cover blurb to the book listing description. To me, when I draft both of them they are two separate and unique things that serve two distinct purposes. I want to use the same keywords in both of them, but I want use them differently because the one that is the book listing is actually going to be engaged with and interacted with by the search algorithms. That one really needs to make sure that the keywords are findable by the search engines. However, the back cover copy has to focus more on engaging the reader than it does on search algorithms. So, there I may make it something that is much more of a gotcha type thing. I’ll make sure that I capture the reader’s interest quickly and easily and yes, I want to do the same thing in the book listing description but I want to do that from a standpoint of  making sure that I have liberally peppered in the keywords that I’m targeting without becoming obnoxious with it. That’s always the balance to maintain, making sure that your keywords are in the listing without being too overbearing.

Author Marketing Tools – Connectio Explorer

At this point in time I have perfected my book listing, my back cover, my cover and the keywords that I’m using. I’ve engaged some readers by asking them to give me feedback and part of what I can also do at this point and often have is, I’ll do some testing of different advertising that’s very targeted towards specific reader groups. I think I know who my ideal reader is but, sometimes it can be slightly different than who I thought it was. I use Connectio Explorer in order to develop some highly targeted Facebook advertising campaigns. Each of which would be geared towards a specific target demographic and what I do here is often times they’re layered, they will have multiple interest groups and they’ll have to be a member of more than one of each of those groups in order to be included in the targeting for this ad. The reason I’m doing that is that I want to get really specific that if somebody’s responding to this ad, they’re responding because they don’t just have a passing interest in what I’m using as my keywords for this ad campaign but they’d have a very in depth detailed interest in it.

Connectio Explorer

“Connectio aims to offer the most powerful Facebook™ marketing tools available to businesses and enterprises of any size.”


Cost: https://app.connectio.io/

  • Various based on product subscription

For instance, when we’re talking about non-profits, what I would do is that I would come in here and I would look for non-profit executives maybe, groups related to that. I’m going to put that in as a search term and maybe leadership and management. I’m searching for these different things and can I put in another one? No. And management, and if I do that and go ahead and do my search within Connectio, it’s going to come back and it’s going to show me a bunch of different groups that are related to this. Now what a Connectio allows me to is actually take all of the different search results that I select and put them together into targeted groups.

What I can do here is that I can choose all of the ones that I’m interested in and let’s see, I’m just going to choose some random ones here, and say I have these six different ones and if I wanted to run an ad campaign against this particular set of groups, what I can also do is I can come down and say choose some other groups that are similar to this, show the selected and go ahead and show suggestions and it’s going to come up with another set of groups, 45 more suggestions on top of the ones I originally had and I can keep adding to the group of things that I have so far. Ok, now I’ve decided that I have enough, and what I’m going to do is, I’m going to save this ad set, I’m going to select them all and I’m going to save it to a specific project. I’m going to give it a new name, just a minute, ’m going to apply it all to an ad set. Once I have this in place, what I can do is take the results and say I’m going to run this against a specific ad campaign and it’s going to ask me for an ad set and I have to select a location. So, I’m here in the United States and I can either copy those interests manually or what I can do is I can say I’m going to divide these among multiple layers so, actually I’m going to click this twice in order to create two additional layers and currently you’ll see those are empty. But then I can divide and I can set this so that it is dividing randomly across those groups.

Now the different selections that I take are divided among these different ad groups and what I can do when I apply this to my ad campaign, what Facebook is going to say when it looks at people to potentially show my ad to, they must like one of these, one of these and one of these and in doing so, what that means is they haven’t just expressed a passing interest by being interested in one of these particular pages but they have a very stronger, enthusiastic interest in that topic because they are a member of each of these pages, I’ve followed each of these pages. So, it allows me to come very hyper targeted with my advertising for Facebook and what I want to do is I want to make sure that each ad campaign that I run is hyper targeted to one specific ideal leader group. So, I’m going to have an avatar that says specifically that this is somebody who is say, self-employed, who is an entrepreneur who’s been in business for five to seven years, they have at least a six figure business and in all of these different things they have an expressed interest in A, B and C and I’m going to target my messaging specifically to them. In doing so and then running a second ad campaign targeted to a completely different individual, it will allow me to start seeing through the click through rates, who is actually expressing interest in the book that I have to offer. In doing that then, if I want to go and take the information, I can create very targeted ad campaigns within AMS, within Amazon itself and I do that using Dave Chesson's AMS marketing course that he teaches you how to use KDP Rocket when you can create a list of 400 different keywords that you want to target that are hyper specific to the target audience that you want to reach so that you are actually testing who your reader is and the responsiveness to the title as you’re marketing it so that you can minimize and reduce the ad spend that you’re doing. Currently on a campaign that we’re working on, we’re spending about five cents a click in marketing the book to sell a 99 cent ebook. If I’m spending five cents selling a 99 cent ebook, Amazon is giving me 35 cents of that, so I’m seeing 24 cents on each copy. It’s not fantastic, but it’s not bad either. Being able to know who my ideal reader is before I spend a lot of money marketing to them allows me to reduce my cost per click significantly.

The tools that I shared in this presentation are just some of the different ways that you can use in order to fail faster to succeed as an author, but really what it comes down to is you want to find those ways that are going to enable you to shortcut the process, to either come to a decision that yes, you have an eager and buying audience for this topic, or you don’t. That can be from everything from poling your mailing list to, as I said, doing competitive research to finding beta readers to having a critique group. And obviously then testing out any theory that you have through surveys and getting feedback as well as doing split testing through advertising. These are all different options you can use and I’m sure there are others that you can come up with that will be suitable for you as well. But these are things that we found work for both fiction authors as well as non-fiction authors. Hopefully, you’ve gotten some idea of something you can apply to your own research so that you can fail faster to succeed in your career as an author.

We look forward to keeping in touch with you, feel free to reach out to us at emeraldlakebooks.com if you have any questions or to follow up with me personally you can contact me at [email protected] and I’d be happy to answer any questions that I can.


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Author Bio

Tara R. Alemany is a multi-award winning author, speaker, consultant and publisher. She speaks frequently on book marketing and publishing topics and works with authors and speakers regularly to get found online, on stage and on-the-shelf using the services of her Connecticut-based business.


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