Recently, an author I follow announced on Facebook that his book was being spotlighted by Apple’s iBooks. Now, any time your book is spotlighted by a major online retailer means a huge uptick in sales — it’s some of the best advertising you can stumble into.
But, it was something he said in the announcement that piqued my curiosity, he said it was “so hard to break into the iBooks store”. I swung by his site to see what kind of effort he had given already to gain traction for his books at iBooks.
Know what I saw? Nothing. Not. A. Thing.
He had no links to his books for sale at iTunes. Nor at any other retailer except for Amazon. And, even then, those links were only in the sidebar (no dedicated “My Books” page) — and that sidebar was not visible in mobile.
Even the blog post he had written to announce the iBooks promotion didn’t have a link to the book!
Crazy, I know, but extremely common.
Here’s the bottom line: To sell books on line, you have to link them. Here’s how.
The Importance of a Link
Even if you’re a major author who regularly sells hundreds of thousands of copies, these kinds of details are things you still need to worry about. If your audience is that strong, people will search for your books – but why have readers work for it when you can make it super easy for them to buy your books? When it comes to online sales, the impulse buy rules, so you have to make sure where there is a book, there is a link.
Having a links to the actual stores the book is sold in reduces friction, prevents frustration, and provides direction.
There is a limit to the amount of effort someone will go to in order to buy something. Generally, the easier it is, the more potential buyers are liable to click — the same theory as the “impulse buy” items near checkout counters in the store. If you want sales, make it easy and make it convenient.
If it’s something a buyer wants very badly, they’ll make more effort. If it’s just something they think they might want to try… then it better be easy to get.
How To Link Your Books
We created Enter Once and our Book Cards to make it super easy for any author or publisher with a ThirdScribe Author Site to place any of their books anywhere on their site, quickly and easily. Since the author controls the purchase links, they specify where it’s sold and can even use their own affiliate or tracking links if they desire.
The result is a significant increase in clicks to purchase (17x more clicks, actually, as measured in a 4 month study).
Using Enter Once is pretty easy. You create a book page in ThirdScribe, then on your TS author site you use the Enter Once button to place the book wherever you want. It’s responsive, programmable, and links to all kinds of information (stores, reviews, details, forums, your other books, etc). Kinda like this:
The Best Place For Your Books
Authors should, of course, have a “My Books” page of some kind – it’s expected and readers are looking for it when they visit your website. Having your books in the sidebar of your website is NOT an alternative to a dedicated books page.
Once that is established, you should have a dedicated page for each book. If you have room on your site’s navigation to list that page there, you should. If not, it’s OK, because you have a dedicated “my books” page that can link there. Why have a dedicated page for each book? So you can share it on social media — and you should definitely share it.
The other place — possibly the most important place to have your books — is at the end of each blog post, especially those relevant to the book. Having the book at the bottom of a blog post is just like that impulse buy rack at the checkout of the supermarket. Easy and convenient. After finishing and engaging blog post, a potential reader is most likely to click “buy” — so make sure they can.
Link Options and Services
Enter Once is pretty amazing, but, what about authors who aren’t ThirdScribe site holders? While other solutions aren’t as effective as Enter Once, there are several methods that may get the job done. Here are a few:
MyBookTable by Author Media
A popular book plugin, it allows you to quickly place your books in your site, using standard purchase buttons. To use your own affiliate links (but not tracking links), a grid view, or consolidate to a single buy button, you need to upgrade to the paid version, which is $45/year. It uses different shortcodes to place your books around your site. It’s WordPress only and may not work with every theme.
Amazon Affiliate Links
Many authors sell through Amazon exclusively – if so, just using Amazon’s affiliate links may be solution enough. While there is no integration with your website, which makes it more difficult to include these links in all of your blog posts, it is free and may do the job for you. As they are inserted links, this option should work with every theme on every platform.
Full On Manual
If you’re experienced with coding and graphics, there are some clever ways to build out by links. A popular one is to simply have text links near the book cover — not fancy, but it does the job. Another is to use a table function to build a custom table and populate it with a book cover and links. You can can as elaborate, or as simple, as you want when you’re doing the coding. However, just as with the affiliate link option, you have to add this information manually every time you want to place it on your site. And, if anything changes, you’ll have to update everywhere on your site — given the effort involved, that usually means dead or out of date links after a while.
However You Decide to Do It — Do It!
Link your books — have a dedicated “My Books” page, have pages for individual books, and, most importantly, link your books at the bottom of each blog post because that’s where your readers will be.