Post Publishing, Tips & Tricks

Refining Marketing

There are lots of ways to market books. Paid ads, newsletter swaps, social media blasts … the list is long.

When I first started publishing, I didn’t understand the correlation between genre, ad, cover, blurb, and 10% preview. I thought it was all about the reviews.

Most readers won’t know your name. What you want/think doesn’t change what readers prefer. So the first thing you need to do is remove you.


Genre seems a no brainer, but is more complex than first-time writers realize. Your book can fit many genres (Amazon lets you have your book in 10 different categories). You can have romance in sci-fi with dashes of horror and thriller, but effectively you can only market to a handful of genres, and even fewer still by visual appeal which is what marketing is all about. Pick whichever genre(s) your book has the strongest claim to and orientate your marketing to that.

IE: The show The Orville is a sci-fi show with bits of romance and “who dun it” with comedy and tackles modern issues in unique ways. Have you seen how they marketed it? It’s compared to Star Trek. It’s a comedy sci-fi. That’s what they went for. They arranged their commercials, their crafty FB ads, and even the first few reviews released by prominent reviewers angled that genre and the highlights of it.

Market Targeting

I read a book by Brian Meeks. The book is slightly outdated with AMS’s current layout, but the foundation it builds is still valuable.

Inside this book, he breaks down clicks to conversions and how to do the math to find out if an AMS ad is productive even when the AMS dashboard is spouting inaccurate information.

You can read his book here:

What I learned—if an ad is getting a lot of clicks but no sales/KU reads, look at the cover and the blurb in relation to the genre advertised.

That may be a little confusing.

If you’re running a FB or AMS ad, and your targeting/keywords are targeting famous authors like J.K. Rowling, then you will get readers who expect that type of book. If your book is similar, then your cover and blurb should reflect that, and you should be getting reads.

If your book isn’t similar to Harry Potter, and you’re targeting J.K. Rowling thinking “she’s popular,” well you’re marketing to the wrong audience. People hunting for J.K. Rowling books want that youthful fantasy academy feel. You’re essentially throwing money away by trying to convince someone who wants thing B to convert to wanting thing A instead of convincing those already in the market for something like A to determine that your book fits that need.

A good program to help with keywords would be KDP Rocket:


Does the book cover look like you made it? Does it look professional? Does it look similar to the top 20 books in that genre on Amazon. Those covers in the top 20, and top 100 even, work because it is part of the genre “branding.” It is how someone browsing books will know in under a blink that your book is like other books they’ve read, and that excites them.


Your blurb shouldn’t be a synopsis. It should introduce the main character, the plot points that make your story unique without spoilers, and the climax of the story without spoilers in the form of a hook. It should also be short—round 250 words or less is preferred.

To help dial in your blurbs, I have to recommend another book by Bryan Cohen and Brian Meeks He walks the reader through real-life examples of product blurbs he’s found on sites like Amazon and how to retool them into a blurb that sales.


Now, if your ad targeting, cover, genre, and blurb are within “reader expectations” it is time to look at the 10% preview that Amazon offers.

Indies have taken the ebook layout and changed it to take advantage of the 10% preview readers can see. They’ve shifted stuff to the back matter to give readers a chance to actually read the first chapter or two of the book.

Does the first couple of chapters of your book set the tone for the rest of the book? Does it give a glimpse of the genre? Is it free of errors and look professional? Does it look well-formatted?

The 10% preview is your Hail Mary. It is the last chance to convince an on-the fence-reader to pick your book.

If your sales aren’t there and your ads aren’t working, take a step back and tinker with one thing at a time. If you change everything without giving time for each change to stand on its own, you’re wasting time, energy, and resources.

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This post was edited/proofed by ProWritingAid.

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