5 Tips to Writing Copy to Sell Your Book

April 28, 2014

One of the biggest lessons authors learn is writing their books is the easy part.

Authors who publish their books independently soon learn that today’s technology and resources make publishing easier than it’s ever been, but publishing is only one step in getting the book to the customer.

Perhaps the most difficult thing authors learn about book publishing is that authors (whether published by a royalty house or published independently) are responsible for selling their books once published.

Here are five tips to help you write copy that can turn your book into a best seller.

  1. Think like the customer, not the author/publisher/seller. Most authors write their marketing materials from their point of view instead of thinking about what the customer wants. To think like a customer, answer these questions. What does my customer need? Entertainment? Information? How would I describe my customer? What issues could my customer face? How can my book help my customer face those issues? When you start to think like the customer, you can begin drafting ideas on what to include in your marketing materials.
  2. Offer benefits, not features. Benefits help while features describe. Customers are interested in getting help and solving problems. People buy groceries because they need food. They buy gas so they can drive their cars. They buy books to be entertained, to discover answers to problems, to pursue interests, to escape the rigors of a hectic world. Think of how your book can benefit your customer and focus your marketing materials on benefits, not features.
  3. Grab attention with benefit-oriented headlines. Effective headlines typically come in three varieties: (1) Ask a question, (2) Create a list (typically with numbers in the headline), (3) Appeal to emotions. For this post, I could have written “Do You Want to Sell More Books?” or “5 Tips to Writing Copy to Sell Your Book” or “Write Great Marketing Materials and Sell More Books.” All of the choices are oriented toward the benefit of reading my post.
  4. Tell a story. People love stories, especially stories that engage them emotionally. What kind of story works in marketing your book? Offer an example of success of someone applying the principles in your book. Provide a testimonial. If you’re marketing a novel, write your story synopsis so your reader simply has to read your book.
  5. Research articles and books on copy writing and book marketing. The Internet provides more resources and information than you’d get in a college course, but you need to be the self-starter and do your own research, then practice. Hey, you’re a writer, so you’re used to research!

There you have five tips for writing copy to sell more books. Remember, people buy the author, not the publisher, so no matter who your publisher is, selling your book is your responsibility. Happy writing!

Point of View Pointers

April 7, 2014

You, as author, have a responsibility to your reader to make your story clear. Confusing the reader by switching points of view in your story or novel is a big no-no. Why? Your reader won’t know who’s talking or whose story it is. Here are a few pointers to help you keep your reader happy and on track.

  • In a short story, focus on one point of view–typically the main character.
  • In a novel, multiple points of view are acceptable, but keep them clearly separated (by chapter or by obvious breaks within a chapter).
  • Using the primary character’s point of view means your reader is in the character’s head, feels what the character feels, sees the world through the character’s eyes.
  • To communicate what a secondary character may (I emphasize may since the point of view is not the secondary character’s and you’re not writing from inside that character’s head) feel or think, use various clues such as body language, gestures, tone of voice, voice volume, word choice in dialogue, etc.
  • When you are writing from the primary character’s point of view, it’s critical you realize you can only know what that character is thinking, feeling, etc. In real life we don’t know what another person is really thinking, and so it should be with the people living in your fiction.
  • Remember to help your reader see whose point of view you’re writing by making your primary character stand above the others. You can do this by using point of view to show he or she is stronger, more human, or more complex than other characters.

These are just a few pointers to remember about point of view. The most important pointer, however, is to avoid bouncing your reader among multiple points of view. Keep your point of view focused. Happy writing!