As my mom always told me, “When you assume, you make an ass out of you and me.”
By Shannon McGuire, COO & Co-Founder of Geniuslink.
We all have our preferences, both in real life and with reading. I refuse to order toilet paper from Amazon. And, while I want to be a Kindle gal, I like the feel of real (paper) books. Further, my husband is married to his Audible account and plows through audio books while his paperbacks sit and collect dust.
Like me, your readers have a healthy mix of preferences for reading. And those preferences start long before they are curled up in their favorite chair with a cup of tea and a new book. Everyone has a favorite store to buy books, and a favorite way to read those books. Those preferences may evolve over time, too.
So, why not give your readers the opportunity to choose from a few great options?
Even your most loyal fan can be interrupted on their path to buying your new book. And while a loyal fan will likely try again (say, search for your book where they like to shop), you are still rolling the dice.
Unfortunately, it’s all too easy to be interrupted these days. You are not setting your readers up for success when they have to open another tab in their browser, go to their favorite site for buying books, and then search for your book. During those precious few moments, a few things can happen.
- Scenario 1) your reader can run out of time (and not buy anything), or
- Scenario 2) your reader goes to the homepage of their favorite bookstore and is immediately inundated with suggestions of books they would enjoy.
Even if the algorithms are smiling on you that day and your book is included, it’s still not an ideal situation. Either scenario is bad news for your chances of selling a book right now.
The good news? You can fast-track your fans to the buying experience they want, make their lives easier, and sell more books at the same time.
A general business principle says that when you reduce friction in the buying process you increase conversions. Converting more clicks to sales is just good business and good for your bank account.
Diversifying your revenue is also good! And the best part is that it’s only a few extra steps for you to do this.
So how do you do stop getting in your own way, and help your fans buy your book? I thought you’d never ask!
The answer has two parts. First, we’ll dive into strategy, and then execution.
- 1Offer your book in multiple formats
Let the e-readers e-read, and let us old-school paper book people do what we love most: hold real, paper, books. But also don’t forget about those that prefer to listen! You most likely have some fans that don’t buy or read or listen because of some roadblock.
What formats are your books published in? Chances are your book is already published in multiple formats so this shouldn’t be any extra work for you.
- 2Expand Distribution
Forcing a reader to buy from a different platform is an uphill battle, and adds real friction to the sales process. Why do that to your readers, or yourself? And let’s be honest, setting up payment info in a store where you don’t typically shop can be a deal-breaker.
Your readers each have a preferred platform where their shipping information, credit card and more are already stored. This makes buying super easy for them (which was one of Amazon’s earliest secret weapons.).
So what are the major book sales platforms out there? Well, for the US alone there is a handful. A quick list might include:
- For online-first vendors, you have Amazon, the obvious 800-pound gorilla with 14 e-commerce storefronts around the world.
- You also have Apple Books, formerly iBooks, which is often the “easy” option for those using iPhones and Mac computers.
- Conversely, The Google Play Store, is an easy option for Android users. Kobo is another common online retailer for books with their own e-reader.
- There are a number of physical stores with a sizable online preference. This includes Walmart, Barnes & Noble, and Powells.
- Also, don’t forget about other platforms readers love such as Alibis, Books-A-Million and Indie Bound.
- Finally, on the audiobook side, Audible might be the most well known. But don’t forget about Scribd and Hoopla.
While there are many different retailers that may carry your book, it doesn’t mean you need to link to all of them. The “Paradox of Choice” can kick in, so we recommend you focus on 3 to 5 of the destinations you might think are best for your readers.
Don't know where your fans like to buy/download? Then maybe you should simply ask!
The next thing you’re probably wondering: if I offer multiple formats, and expand distribution, how do I promote my book without a mess of buttons and links? You don’t want to confuse readers, and you don’t want a project doing setup or maintenance for every link.
This is where something we call a “Choice Page” can be super helpful!
A “Choice Page” is simply an optimized landing page, with a few links to your favorite bookstores. You can build one yourself on your website, or use one of a few different link management services to easily build and manage them on the fly.
As they say, it’s best to speak from experience. So, let me share a bit about the Choice Pages I know best– from the service that I helped build: Geniuslink.
Since pictures are worth a thousand words, let’s start here with a screenshot and if you’d like to interact with a live Choice Page, check out http://geni.us/HamiltonChoice.
Making a dedicated “Choice Page” landing page to promote your book across formats and platforms with a tool like Geniuslink is quick and easy. I am not exaggerating when I say you can do it in under a minute.
For example, take the Hamilton Choice Page from above. Once I’m logged into my Geniuslink account I simply clicked New Choice Page and copied links to the book in each store I want to feature: B&N, Kobo, and Amazon.
The best part is that you just have to do this once, and you save every reader the trouble of searching for your book in their favorite store!
It takes a moment to find your book in each store, but remember this is exactly the barrier your readers would encounter without the benefit of you offering buying choices.
Next hit Save. Yes, it’s really that easy. (Learn how to set up Choice Pages here).
Want to add another store link (or remove one!) after you publish or post the link? No problem! Geniuslink makes edits and updates super easy, and your Choice Page will be updated in a matter of seconds.
For example, say your audiobook is now available and you’d like to add Audible as an option for your readers. Now it’s as easy as clicking “Edit” on your Choice Page and adding your Audible link to the list. Now when you hit save, your link is updated everywhere.
Even for those links you sent out in emails or posted on Twitter hours or days ago, they are all automatically updated.
The best part: any reader clicking the link to your book will now see it’s offered on Audible! Without a tool like the Choice Page, you would likely be on the hook for updating your website, every social media account (and probably posts), and requesting that anyone reviewing/linking to your book adds your Audible link. Or more likely, that is too much work and your readers don’t know they can get your book on Audible.
Okay, so what did we learn?
When you are promoting your book and just grab the link that’s easiest for you, you often aren’t doing any favors for your fans and are likely missing out on sales, as not everyone has the same preferences as you. Rather, you can take a couple extra steps in your set up and promote your book across multiple formats and retailers so that your consumers get a choice.
With a choice for them, there is often less friction for them to carry through buying your book which is good for everyone.
Finally, while you can build a Choice Page on your website it might be best for you to use a tool like Geniuslink due to the simplicity and power.
Remember, there’s power in diversifying!