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Last week, I was delighted to interview the marvelous Carolyn McCray about optimizing your Amazon book page as well as her Kindle bestseller, 30 Pieces of Silver, and the Indie Book Collective. Unfortunately, for the first time in 2 years, the recording didn't work properly and I was unable to salvage the audio. But luckily I was able to listen through the white noise and here are the highlights of our conversation. It's well worth reading! Apologies to Carolyn and a big thank you for her time.
Carolyn McCray is the author of 4 thriller/mystery novels as well as being a social media consultant and vet. Carolyn also runs the Indie Book Collective. Her action-adventure thriller, 30 Pieces of Silver is a bestselling Kindle novel in the Men's Adventure genre.
- Carolyn has been writing all her life but went to vet school during which the writing slowed, but then she picked it up again about a year after finishing her training. She completed a number of novels but although she got a lot of interest from agents and publishers, she didn't get a traditional deal. Then she discovered indie publishing and after helping other authors, she launched her own back-list, storming the Kindle charts with 30 Pieces of Silver and other books. Because she hasn't been constrained by the limits of any one genre, Carolyn has thrillers, mystery and paranormal romance books available. Carolyn also has a social media consultancy where she helps authors and other businesses with navigating social media.
- Tips for optimizing your Amazon sales page. It's critical to remember that this is a sales page and it's not about just putting the back blurb up there. You have maybe 15 seconds to catch someone's attention before they surf onwards. So it needs to be eye catching visual and sales material in the product description. It's like an ad in a glossy magazine. The ‘meta-message' is really important – the kind of overall sense of your page in terms of rank, image, quotes and stats. Success breeds success. Social media is critical now so you need likes and reviews on your page. Solicit them however you can through your followers but you must have reviews as Amazon uses them in their algorithms. You can also ‘bury' bad reviews with good ones so just ask people when they say they liked your book. It's also important to get the “People who liked this, also bought” section filled up and this only happens with sales. So do a soft launch, get reviews and optimize your page and then drive sales with your big launch and maybe advertising. For more detail, read this article from Carolyn on Amazon best practices for Amazon ebook sales.
- The best way to sell more books on Amazon is to have a large back-list – so Konrath, Locke, Hocking and others who are really successful have 10 – 30 books up for sale and each one sells the rest of them as people want to read another as soon as they finish. For authors who just have one book, it's recommended to cross-promote with other authors creating a kind of virtual back-list. So at the end of each book is a link back to the other one. Carolyn will be dusting off, editing and publishing the rest of the books she's had in the drawer for later this year, with another 3 coming in the next few months. We talk about income and how Carolyn's last royalty cheque came to 50% of her vet income, and how she's aiming for $1million next year! (I love that, I'm aiming for that type of money too! Who says an author has to be poor?!)
- Carolyn has used paid advertising for her books. (You have to do all kinds of testing and know Search Engine Optimisation to do this properly and well.) Facebook and Goodreads hasn't converted to sales very well for Carolyn but Google adwords has been great, after split testing and finding the best combination of keywords and advertising. You should only drive this type of traffic to your sales page IF it converts well because it's costing you money. The cost of the ad is also part of why Carolyn is pricing her book at $4.99. She found the cheaper price didn't convert as well with advertising. However she does have books at all price points.
- I particularly liked Carolyn's book '30 pieces of silver' as, similar to Pentecost, it takes a sliver of the Bible and then takes the story off on a tangent. If you like James Rollins, Dan Brown or Steve Berry, you'll enjoy both books. Carolyn wanted to write a thriller with this type of angle and the story came together organically, and although some have found it offensive, it wasn't intended that way. There are some pretty significant plot twists towards the end! See my video review at the bottom of the post.
- We also talked about being women writing in a male-dominated genre. Carolyn ranks in Men's Adventure and I'm ranking in Action-Adventure. We discussed the use of initials versus full names as there is evidence that men are less likely to buy a novel written by a woman. We have both been told we write like men! We decided we like our own names and the use of social media means it's obvious anyway.
- The Indie Book Collective was started by Carolyn and some other writers as a way to increase social media exposure for each author's books and has turned into a community focusing around education on social media and other topics. It has the ‘bestseller for a day' program as well as Blog Tour de Force and other marketing activities for indies. Carolyn is a busy lady!
Do you have any Amazon sales page recommendations? or any gender busting genre tips?