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8 Ways to sell books direct effectively

Selling books directly on your website can be a powerful way to increase your sales and connect with your readers. By cutting out the middleman and controlling the buyer experience, you can offer personalized options and create a loyal customer base. 

However, with so many books available for purchase online, it can be challenging to stand out from the crowd. In this article, we will discuss eight strategies that increase direct book sales when selling directly on your site.

Website optimisation

First impressions can be everything, and with your author site, this is especially true. Optimizing your website is key when you aim to increase direct book sales and conversions.

Your website design should be visually appealing, easy to navigate, and mobile-responsive. Making your site as simple to use as possible will ensure that users who wish to purchase can do so.

Impossibly slow loading times are a sure way to frustrate users and increase your bounce rate. You should try to optimize your website’s performance by compressing your images. There are lots of useful plugins that your store would benefit from, however, you should look to balance the number of plugins used for optimal performance.

Calls to action or CTA’s are a necessity on your site, they should be scattered throughout your store and should guide customers along the purchasing journey, as well as stand out on your pages.

Once your customers arrive at the checkout, they will expect your payment method to be secured. Failing to have a secure checkout process could cost you sales and also damage your brand.

SEO or search engine optimisation is the process of increasing your site’s visibility online. Click here for a simple guide to SEO. The SEO process will help your site rank for people searching for what you offer.

Finally, analytics tracking will allow you to monitor your website’s performance and make data-driven decisions. We recommend using Google Analytics or similar tools to track your website’s traffic, conversion rates, and other notable metrics. With an understanding of these metrics, you can measure and improve your efforts! (Click here for a useful setup guide!)

Author blog

A viable strategy to expand your website’s optimisation and increase sales is to write an author blog. An author blog is an effective way to establish yourself as an authority in your genre and build a following of readers interested in your work.

 Sharing your writing process, insights, and opinions, can engage your audience and build a community of individuals interested in you as a brand. With SEO-driven content you can build your site’s authority, in turn driving traffic to your blog and store.

For best results, post your blog at a consistent rate, a weekly blog post would be ideal for both readers and search engines.

Advertising

Targeted advertising is a powerful way to reach potential customers interested in your books. With targeted advertising, you can reach people who are actively searching for your genre or topic, and increase direct book sales.

One of the most notable ad platforms is Google Ads. You can target keywords relating to your books that your potential customers may search for. This makes your advert eligible to be shown in search results. You can also use Google Ads to display ads on other websites through the Google Display Network. This means your adverts can appear on other websites with traffic and content relating to your books. Over time you will gain an understanding of keywords that convert to sales and can refine your targeting.

Alternatively, you could utilise Facebook Ads to target specific audiences based on demographics, interests, and behaviours. You can create ads that appear in users’ news feeds, on Instagram, or in the right-hand column of the Facebook interface. For example, if you have an upcoming horror fiction title to promote, Facebook will allow you to target users of a specified age and gender who like Stephen King on the platform. This gives you a great opportunity to find readers more inclined to be interested in your work.

BookBub and Goodreads are similar services that will let you target readers based on their purchase history and reading habits. Both sites can be a good way to expand your reach.

In conclusion, online advertising is a learning process, it’s important to remember that it will not be an overnight success. Your adverts should be a continuous project aiming to maximise conversions and will need attention and research. Make sure to focus on writing a compelling copy, and a design that stands out for the right reasons.

Email Marketing

Email marketing is a very cost-effective method to manage customer relationships and drive sales to your store. A weekly newsletter updating customers about what is in the works, or offering exclusive promotions can drive conversions and influence repeat purchases.

Having an automated process for emails triggered by customers taking particular actions on your site is simpler than you may think. For example, you could offer promotions for customers via email on their birthday, or reach out to users who have abandoned their cart on your store.

Email marketing is a highly effective strategy for selling books directly on your website. By building an email list of subscribers, you can communicate directly with your readers and promote your books. Here are some key ways to use email marketing to increase your book sales:

When using email marketing, follow best practices to avoid spam filters and ensure your messages are delivered. This means you should use a reputable email marketing service, to personalise your messages. You should also test different subject lines and content to optimise your open and click-through rates. For information on how you can build up a mailing list, click here!

Reviews

Getting reviews can be a great way to build credibility for your online store. Reviews can act as social proof that other potential customers need to push them towards a purchase.

It is important to seek out these reviews, there are various ways in which this can be done.

Simply asking readers who have expressed positive sentiments about your books is a great place to start, this could either be done directly or in your email communications. You could offer incentives such as discount codes for readers willing to leave a review through email automation.

There are lots of influential book bloggers online, why not offer them a free copy of your book in return for a review? Failing that countless review groups for authors are looking to help each other out, this could also give you an insight into how others in your community are operating.

Develop your offering

Offering a wider variety of product options can give you a competitive advantage over those in your genre. A sure way to stand out from the crowd is by making sure your product is of high quality, unique and meets a variety of buyer behaviours. You could look into merch, bundles and other upsells to maximise average user spend.

With high-quality bespoke options you will increase the perceived value of your brand as an author, this means creating books that emit quality in their design and choosing a POD provider (like Bookvault!) that produces remarkable books.

Bookvault offers you the option for countless bindings and sizes, so why not check out our quote tool to plan your future catalogue?

Joanna Penn uses the full range of Bookvault, with options for buyers she can increase her direct sales
A great example of how to make the most of our bundles and binding options. (https://creativepennbooks.com/pages/books-for-authors-and-writers)

Promotions & Deals

Promotions fall under many of these categories as they stand as one of your most powerful tools to increase direct book sales. Time-restricted deals create urgency for visitors to your site, with users not wanting to miss out on savings. You should utilise promotions on occasion to offer an extra incentive to purchase.

Before offering discounts on your books, it’s important to consider your margins and ensure that the discount percentage will not significantly impact your profitability.

Your discounts can take many forms, therefore it’s important to test what works best for your audience. Here are some options that you may want to explore:
1-Bundle discounts
2-Abandon cart deals
3-First-order discounts
4-Referral schemes

Morgana Best increases her direct book sales with and introductory discount
An example of an introductory discount from Morgana Best (https://morganabest.com/en-gb)

Networking

The online author community can be a priceless asset and one that you should make the most of, whether for promotion, networking or sharing experiences and ideas.

Maybe you could collaborate on a joint project with someone in your genre or guest star on a podcast or a blog. Utilising the reach of those around you will help attract a wider audience to your personal author site and in turn drive sales.

When networking with other authors, it’s important to approach the relationship with a spirit of collaboration and generosity. Also, you should be willing to give as much as you receive and seek out opportunities to support other authors in their work.

Bookvault recommends the following influencers and organisations to join communities and gain insight into the self-publishing world:

The Alliance of Independent Authors is a non-profit made up of independent authors, who offer advice on the industry. They produce regular helpful blogs and podcasts with illustrious guests. We would recommend any aspiring self-published author to become a member for the guidance that ALLI offers.

Joanna Penn is one of the most qualified people around when it comes to selling your book as an indie author, you can find a range of her books here that will teach you the ins and outs!

Morgana Best is another highly successful indie author, she has groups on social platforms in which you can ask questions and get insights from peers on the same journey, and sharing ideas can open your eyes to different methods you may have been unaware of.

Reedsy is your one-stop shop for all things you could need in publishing and writing, from editors to cover designers, Reedsy will make sure your books are top quality!

Pierre Alex Jeanty offers courses on how to grow your book-selling business and is very knowledgeable in the field.

In conclusion

There are a multitude of strategies at your disposal to increase direct book sales, hopefully, this blog has given you guidance to help you get started. Above all, it’s important to remember that there is no one size fits all approach to marketing your direct sales site,  so be open-minded and see what works for you!

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