Thursday, March 03, 2016

A Free and Effective Book Marketing Tip

Dan Walsh is the bestselling author of 15 novels, including The Unfinished Gift, Rescuing Finley and When Night Comes. He has won 3 Carol Awards and 3 Selah Awards. Three of his books were finalists for Inspirational Book of the Year (RT Book Reviews). Dan is a member of ACFW and Word Weavers. He lives with his wife, Cindi, in the Daytona Beach area where they love to take walks and spend time with their grandkids. Click here to connect with Dan or check out his books.

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A few upfront thoughts…

The free marketing tip I’m about to share is really only for 2 groups of writers: Indies and Hybrids. If you’re a traditionally published author (only), read only if you’re in the mood to become frustrated (because you can’t act on anything I’m about to say; believe me, I’ve tried).

For indies and hybrids (hybrids, I’m referring to the books you have control over), I won’t leave you in suspense. The tip is simple. I’ll state it in the form of a question: “Are you using the front and, especially, the back pages of your book effectively?” I’m sharing this because, when I first started out, I wasn’t. I’ve since learned these pages offer some excellent marketing opportunities, if you do them right. 

One of the great benefits of being an indie is the flexibility to fix your mistakes (once you see them). We can simply make the corrections, re-format, then re-upload the book. I should also say at the outset, most of what I’m going to share works best with ebooks (some of this works with print editions, some of it won’t).

Front Page Tip #1  - One of the best tips I’ve read about the front pages is…since most online stores like Amazon offer readers a free glimpse of the first several pages of your book, use them wisely. Don’t fill them up with all kinds of legal mumbo-jumbo and unnecessary intro information. If you do, you’ll cut down on the number of actual story pages they can read. As quickly as possible, get them to Chapter 1 (or your Prologue, if that’s how your book starts). Some of this “legal mumbo-jumbo” is important. If so, put it in the back of the book, not the front.

Of course, this tip assumes you’ve worked hard to create a great hook in your opening line and first few paragraphs. And that, by the end of Chapter 1, the reader is absolutely under your control and compelled to read the rest of the story. If your first chapter is dull and boring, feel free to ignore this tip and fill the front pages with as much clutter and nonsense as you please.

Front Page Tip # 2 - Create a brief 1-paragraph Author’s Note that draws their attention to the important things you’ve placed in the back of the book for them. Get them thinking right off the bat that you have more in store for them once they finish the book. What kind of things should you mention? For starters, the things I’m about to share with you regarding the Back Pages.

Back Page Tip # 1 - If this is the first book in a series, paste in the first chapter or two of the next book in the series (again, assuming they are flawlessly written and would totally hook the reader). Immediately after that, provide them a link so that with 1-click they can buy the next book. If the next book isn’t out yet, provide the link to the pre-order site. If the book isn’t ready for pre-order, write a brief paragraph that highlights your email newsletter, letting them know this is the best way you can inform them when the book is released. Then provide a link to your newsletter.

If the book is not in a series, follow the same advice above except draw their attention to other books you’ve written in the same genre (and provide links that take them right to the page where they can buy them).

Back Page Tip # 2 - Create a page that politely begs for them to leave a customer review. Explain how important reviews are and the connection they play to your ability to keep writing books like the one they’ve just read (and absolutely loved). Then provide a link so that with 1-click, they will be taken right to the place where they can leave a brief 1-2 sentence review. What if the book isn't written very well and the ending isn’t all that satisfying? Should you still do this (won’t that be inviting a bad review)? I wouldn’t worry. Because if that’s true, they’ve probably stopped reading before they get to this page.

I’ve put a "begging page" like this in the back of my first 2 indie novels, and I’m seeing wonderful fruit from it. My first indie novel, When Night Comes, now has 239 reviews (4.5 Star avg) after being out just over a year, and my second novel, Rescuing Finley, has received 95 reviews (4.8 Star avg) after being out only 3 months.

Certainly, not every reader will leave a review but some of them will. Reviews from actual readers are simply the best.

Well, I have many other wonderful tips I could share, but this is a blog post. Experts say, you’re already beginning to lose interest because it’s too long. But if you have any great tips to share with other indies and hybrids, please leave a comment.


Southern-fried Fiction said...

Dan, these are excellent tips! Let me ask you, if you have acknowledgements do you put those in the back, too? What about a dedication? Or have you run out of people to dedicate your books to? lol

Janice L. Dick said...

Dan, these tips are super and I thank you for sharing them. I've been doing a lot of research since I've gone indie, and there's so much to learn. It's encouraging when people offer helpful hints to those of us who are also on the journey. I look forward to more of these!

Robin Mason said...

great tips, Dan, thanks! i need to a "begging page." i haven't done yet, and honestly it never occurred to me to leave a review until i started writing!! i suspect many readers may not realize the value either.

Dan Walsh said...


I put the dedication in front, because it's usually very brief. But the Acknowledgement page? Definitely in the back.

Dan Walsh said...


It's safe to say, 90% of what I've learned about the indie experience has come from the help I've received from other indie authors. SO grateful for this. Have no idea how long it would have taken me to figure this out (if I ever did)) on my own.

Dan Walsh said...

Robin, not sure what the avg percentage is, but the overwhelming majority of readers DON'T leave reviews. Even with my "begging page" consider this: I've rec'd 239 reviews on When Night Comes, but I've sold over 13,000 so far. That means, a very small fraction have left a review even with my prodding. I'm sure the number would have been SO much smaller without that page in the back of my book.

Southern-fried Fiction said...

Thanks, Dan. Good to know. I copied all your tips out and saved it!

Iola Goulton said...

So true! Readers are going to decide to buy (or not) based on the first chapter. So give them the first chapter.

My least favourite are the books where the first ten pages are endorsements for the author's previous novels.

I don't care.

Either I've read them (in which case I obviously liked them or I wouldn't be looking at this book) or I haven't read them (in which case I'm interested in THIS book, not the last eleventy billion, so give me endorsements for THIS book).

Better yet, keep the endorsements for the sales page and let me decide whether I want to buy this book or not by actually showing me this book.

Dan Walsh said...

Iola, you're making my point exactly. I think what happens is...traditional publishers put all that front stuff in books, and we think it's like some kind of law. But with ebooks especially, where you have to swipe over and over, it gets old swiping through all that bla-bla-bla to find out if you're even going to like the book.

I can always tell by reading the first chapter if I want to keep it going. None of that other material even matters compared to the actual quality (or lack thereof) in the writing.

But that's food for another post (importance of Chapter 1).

Mardi Maxwell said...

Dan, do you know if you can put a copy of your next book cover in the back of your new release with something like "Coming late Spring 2016" below it? Also, thanks for the great tips. I'm moving a couple pages to the back of my book now.