Book Description Mistakes to Avoid to Win New Readers

Book Description Mistakes to Avoid to Win New Readers

Book Description

Your book is taking shape and is getting near launch. This is an exciting time for first-time and seasoned authors alike. Editing is underway, and you are defining your book’s style and brand. It’s time to turn your attention to writing your book description.

What’s the Difference Between a Book Description, Blurb and a Synopsis?

If you don’t know what the difference between a book description and a blurb, you’re among the majority. There is a lot of confusion on this topic, even among publishers. The term book blurb and book description are used interchangeably. True enough; they are essentially the same thing. In the traditional publishing world, this piece of sales copy is called a blurb. New-era publishing leaders like Dave Chesson and Daily House refer to it as a book description. Both are correct.

What you need to know is that a blurb or description (which I will refer to as a “book description” from here on) is not a summary of your book. What that means is, a book description doesn’t give away the ending! These are teasers; the purpose is to entice browsers to buy. Book descriptions can appear on the back of a printed book, on the sales page of an online bookseller, or in advertisements.

Do not include your book’s ending in your book description!

A synopsis, on the other hand, summarizes your entire book—beginning, middle, and end. Think of it as a sort of book report. You will need a synopsis if you’re looking for representation, aka, it’s what you send to literary agents. This kind of copy might also be sent to media outlets or included with requests for editorial reviews. Another modern use for the synopsis is as a cheat-sheet for influencers who are willing to give you an endorsement, but who are not actually willing to read your entire book. In reality, this is often the case.

Get Outside Opinions on Your Book Description

Writing your book blurb or book description is difficult. You’ve spent months (or years) writing. As far as quality time goes, you’ve probably spent more hours with your book than with your friends and family. For most authors, to be able to cut all your darlings and stick to only the essentials when writing a description is painful if not impossible.

Yet, when it comes to sales, your description combined with reviews are what moves books. You can get thousands of eyeballs on your Amazon product page, but if your book description sucks, so will your sales.

Outside opinions are a helpful shift perspective. Ask your editor and a few choice beta readers to select three main selling points of your book. This could be pivotal scenes or problems your book solves. Letting outsiders help gives you the distance you need when writing your blurb. Better yet, have a professional write it for you.

PUBLISHING POWER TIP: Organize all the copy for your book so you can easily access it. You’ll need your blurb, bio, synopsis, endorsements, short and long book descriptions in one place (like a folder in Google Drive) because you’ll be using this copy everywhere, including bookseller sites, promo sites, social media, and your author website. This also will become the foundation of your press or media kit.

Actionable Tips for a Great Book Description


In the digital world, for better or worse, book sales copy needs to start with keywords. No one will read your book description and, by extension, your book if they can’t find it online.

Start by typing search terms into Google, Amazon, iTunes, Kobo, and Barnes and Noble. Think through what you would use to find a similar title to yours. First, examine if the search results are what you expected. If not, keep at it until you come up with ten keywords and phrases.

Install the Chrome extension Keywords Everywhere (if you don’t have it already) and use it to study the search volume and competition for keywords that are relevant to your book. Based on this data, narrow down your keyword selection to two or three of the phrases or words that have the highest volume and the lowest competition.

PUBLISHING POWER TIP: Before you start creating copy for your book, you need to analyze how people will search for it.

Hook Readers in the First Sentence

With your keywords in mind, start to write the descriptions. This first sentence is one of the most important sentences of your life. Hook your readers! Let them know who (or what), where, and when in quick succession. If you’re telling a story, don’t use the character’s name, describe or “show” them. For example, “Tormented by grief and loss, a teenaged Union soldier is drawn back to the battleground where he died in 1861…” If your book is about a method or process, again, don’t label, describe it. In the example, we know that it’s a ghost story set partially in the Civil War and in a timeline sometime later.

Keep it Short and Simple

With keywords in hand, move into either the conflict (fiction) or the problem (nonfiction). Keep away from ornate language or complex sentence structure. Keep it tight, exciting, and stick with the main storyline. Close with a teaser or cliffhanger. Don’t give away the cow! Give readers a compelling reason to find out how your book resolves or hint at how you can solve a nagging life or business problem.

The length of a converting book description will run from 200 to 500 words. Follow the rules for online content while maintaining your voice and personality. Your actual book can be as meandering as Remembrance of Things Past, but your sales page needs to consist of short, engaging, motivating sentences, and discoverable keywords.

Your description will let shoppers know if your book is their kind of book! Good reviews give social proof that the quality of the book will not be disappointing. Don’t let your book languish unread and unappreciated. Follow these guidelines and your copy will convert browsers to buyers.

Do you have a great idea for a book or a manuscript in development, but you don’t know the best way to turn it into a bestseller?

Daily House’s team of editorial, production, and marketing experts will evaluate your project, send you a complimentary custom assessment, and a next-steps plan. To get started, fill out our short questionnaire

Follow us on LinkedIn, join our group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to The Bestseller List on YouTube for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

You’re a Bestselling Author on Amazon! Now What?

You’re a Bestselling Author on Amazon! Now What?

bestseller list book launch

You’re a Bestselling Author on Amazon! Now What?

As a direct publishing specialist, my most popular service is managed book launches. These launches are a whirlwind of activity and give my clients exciting results. A typical book launch runs two to three weeks and involves all sorts of interactive and engaging activities.

When a book launch ends, hundreds or thousands of eBook have been downloaded. Most fun of all, the title of “bestseller” is bestowed upon the author.

What to Do Before Your Launch

What you need to know is that book launches normally involve several days of book giveaways or at least deep discounts on your book, think 99 cents. The point is, a great launch does not equal much of a financial reward. It doesn’t even improve a book’s longterm sales rank on Amazon.

You might come out the other side with less than $1000 earned, an increase in visibility, and hopefully, some good reviews. The credibility of bestseller status is marketing gold, but the ROI is nearly zilch.

So, what should you do BEFORE you launch a book?

This beforehand preparation is perhaps the most important part of a lucrative career in self-publishing. I’m going to illustrate my point with something that happened to me before I became an author and before book marketing and direct publishing were my specialties.

Gone Viral

I was a career writer, so not far off from what I do now. I ran a successful travel blog in the Caribbean. When I started my website, I wrote a story that went viral. It was totally unexpected. I hit publish and within three hours I got over 10,000 hits. Over a period of days, I got over 40,000 views before the traffic died off.

During these three days, I was beside myself researching like mad to find out how I could capitalize on this newfound interest in me and my blog. Problem was, trying to monetize something 10 hours into a 72-hour run is nearly impossible. I had no way to capture email addresses, no lead magnets, no products or services to offer, and no advertisers. I had no real business plan in place. I only had a vague idea that I wanted to showcase my travel writing to potentially charge for freelance writing. The results? Like a book launch without an underlying business strategy, I got 72 hours of excitement and a great portfolio piece with some very impressive stats, but no growth or profit.

Despite this unprepared start, a couple of years later, my blogging business began to provide a full-time income and allowed me to sail the Caribbean while writing and performing at resorts. So this anecdote has a happy ending.

Catherine Turner Author BoatHowever, the point is, this personal scenario is very similar to what happens after a book launch if no underlying business plan is in place.

Here’s the takeaway. You need to plan for how you are going to capture leads and what your message, brand, and products are before you launch.

Don’t get me wrong, your plan can be MORE books, but consider having related digital content, physical products, or services in place as well before you hit the “Promote My Book” button on Amazon.

If more books is your brand and your product line, then you need to have a concrete plan in place to write a lot, a longterm marketing strategy, and a good idea of a release schedule. And you still need to have a way to capture leads so you can tell your newfound audience when they can buy all of your new books.

Remember, no one becomes successful from ONE of anything. You can’t become a wealthy, famous artist by producing one painting. Same goes for being an author — the first book is just the beginning. So here’s to great beginnings! Now go write your business plan and make that bestseller title work for you.

Get the #1 Bestseller Book Launch Recipe: How to Run a Free Book Promotion on Amazon. To download, click the link below.

I am a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) specialist, book creator, online course designer, and book marketing genius who is committed to the financial success of authors and aspiring authors. Follow me on LinkedIn, by joining the group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

How to Prove Your Book Will Sell with This 20-Minute Exercise

How to Prove Your Book Will Sell with This 20-Minute Exercise

lean canvas for books

How to Prove Your Book Will Sell with This 20-Minute Exercise

Two decades ago, writers were a rare breed. Now you can’t throw a pencil in a Walmart without hitting a writer square between the eyes (hopefully with the eraser end). As authors, we are confronted with a lot more competition, many more ways to publish, and the dopamine-fueled way our readers consume content in this digital age.

What that means for you, Walmart shopper, is when you write and sell your books, you need to apply all the best practices that you would have included in your Stanford Business School thesis, had you chosen to do your graduate studies at that prestigious university.

The good news (unless you actually are an MBA, then it’s not so good) is graduate business programs are becoming as obsolete as every other brick-and-mortar institution. Everything you can possibly wish to learn about business (and the business of writing) is available online and for a lot less money than tuition at Stanford. For this, we can thank the Bay Area tech wiz kids who came out of, well, Stanford.

Beyond the mechanics of writing, what you need to learn and implement is business planning.


If you have read this far, I assume that books are or will be your business. For your next book idea, I suggest you test its viability with a business-type plan. Like the old practice of sending out hard-copy, double-spaced, typewritten manuscripts, formal business plans are outdated. Those multi-paged bastards took weeks to write! Good riddance.

Rapid business prototyping, using models like lean canvases, gives you the speed and flexibility to try out many book overviews and to shift course as needed. A lean-canvas model, which applies brilliantly to nonfiction books, takes about 20 minutes to create (instead of weeks). I like to use a poster board, a pad of Post-its, and a Sharpie to try out my ideas.

How to Apply a Lean-Canvas Model to Creating and Marketing a Book
Draw the grid below on a poster board. Title your canvas with the working title of a book idea and throw in the best log line you can come up with on the fly. On the lean-canvas board, I suggest tacking up your ideas with Post-its. Post-its work better than writing directly on the board, because the brilliance of this type of modeling is that it is so fluid. With stickies, you can move things around and even reuse the board if you prove that your first idea is crap.

lean canvas for books

Customer Segment

Start at the far right; yeah, I know that’s counterintuitive. Anyway, start with the customer segment. For our purposes, this will be your readers. Who are they? I mean, really, who are they? What drives them? What are their secret dreams? Is it fame, money, or a happy group marriage? Figure out who they are, write down their defining characteristics in this canvas block, then keep in mind how you are going to reach them, which we will explore in the Channels section.


Now that you know who your target readers are, fill out the block on the far left of the page, like a normal English-speaking person would have done in the first place. (Hey, I didn’t invent the model, but it works, so…) Here, you will define the problem that your book will solve for your audience. For example, the reader (who is representative of a larger audience) who wants a happy group marriage might have a wife who is monogamous. Another problem this reader might have is he lives in a conservative town where people frown on the practice of having multiple life partners. Write down at least three problems that your book will solve for your readers.


Now, offer your readers some solutions. Again, write down at least three. In our example, we might suggest divorce, swingers clubs, or moving to Utah. These solutions will become the main themes of your book.

Unique Value Proposition

This is where you explain why this book needs to be written and why it needs to be written by you! Tell us why you are the ultimate authority on the subject matter of your choice and how you got to be that way. In the modeling phase, this will be brief, a few bullet points. In your proposal, this section will grow to be extensive like a resume.

Unfair Advantage

This section is a fun one. Here, you describe the credentials you have that are hard to duplicate. This could be your life experiences that are unusual; writing skills, like comedy writing, that are hard to execute well; or, to return to our analogy, the ownership of a polygamists and polyamorists dating website.


That dating website would be one channel, right? So are Facebook pages, blogs, magazines, TV, radio, lecture circuits, celebrity friends, your publicists, and anything you can think of. This, again, will be explored in depth in your proposal. The lean canvas is simply a way to test if the idea for your book is sound and if you should green-light it.

Well, you can still write the book if it fails to test well. The lean-canvas model is not the be-all and end-all if you are still intensely passionate about the subject. However, you will go into writing your book knowing if you have a snowball’s chance in hell of getting a publisher interested. As they teach in Scouts, be prepared!


As a writer, you need to think about how to measure your success. Sure, good ol’ Google analytics works for everyone and everything. So does your number of followers across social networks. Before you begin your book, though, you should measure how connected you are to people who can promote the book and who can verify your expertise on your book’s topic.

Another thing you’ll want to test is how well you write. Testing your voice, style, and quality is more intangible, as it is a mixture of how readers respond and how your own work makes you feel. One unconventional way I test my writing is by posting to Medium. My motivational and uplifting style is always a winner. My comedy is getting better. What do you think? Practice, practice, practice.


Costs can be boring to artist types, but they are important all the same. You may not have considered the cost of writing and promoting a book before. The first thing you need to decide is if you are shooting for legacy publishing or if you are going to self-publish. The cost associated with these two paths are outside of the scope of this short blog, but I want you to think about the price of acquisition for each reader for both types of publishing. Think about things like the cost of a publicist, your travel to Book Expo, how much a book tour costs, advertising on Facebook, and so on.

You can be very loose here, but before you start to write is the time to start thinking about these things. Think not only about the monetary cost but the time and energy cost. Are you willing to spend four hours a day writing the chapters of your book and months speaking at business conferences and colleges?

Revenue Streams

book revenueNow that we’ve thought about money, time, and energy going out, let’s think about money coming in. You opt for traditional publishing and get your advance. Congratulations! However, when you look closely at this, the $15,000 that seemed like a bonanza will probably be the equivalent to cover your time to produce the book. How do you multiply this? With revenue streams. Think about audiobooks, video subscriptions, paid magazine articles, online courses, podcasts, and live events.

Lest we forget our example, our poly-friend (and his happy group of life partners) has parlayed his idea into a bestselling book, a booming retreat center, and an award-winning lecture series. Hey, don’t knock it!

Really, once you get the hang of it, lean-canvas modeling goes quickly. As I mentioned, each book ideas takes about twenty minutes to chart. If you’re still feeling gung-ho about your book idea after you’ve modeled it then, good news! This lean canvas is an excellent outline for your book proposal… which, of course, is an outline in itself. I know, when do you actually get to write your book? Soon, I promise.

Get the #1 Bestseller Book Launch Recipe: How to Run a Free Book Promotion on Amazon. To download, click the link below.

I am a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) specialist, book creator, online course designer, and book marketing genius who is committed to the financial success of authors and aspiring authors. Follow me on LinkedIn, by joining the group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

If You’re an Author, Be an Author, Dammit!

If You’re an Author, Be an Author, Dammit!

writing diamonds

If You’re an Author, Be an Author, Dammit!

Self-sabotage, perfectionism, low self-worth; many writers struggle with a minefield of doubt on a daily basis. Whether you experience this particular list of obstacles or other forms of resistance and internal conflict, no author can fast forward ahead to the accolades and laurel lounging that are rewards for working through these psychological blocks.

Wouldn’t it be wonderful if you had complete faith that your success would be delivered to you? I’m prepared to promise you that. The caveat is that you have to put in the work, both personal and professional.

For many of us, devoting consistent hours to writing and having 100% faith in our triumph as authors ain’t no easy enchilada. This is especially true if you are struggling to feed and shelter yourself and your family with the income from your efforts. Doubt and criticism, from oneself and from outsiders, have probably killed more budding writing careers than any other factor.

For a little pat on your own back, check out how far along the path you already are! Draw a line on a piece of paper with the left-most point being learning to read and write in elementary school and the other end being you, working on your newest bestselling title by the pool of your gated estate. Now draw a little dot representing you on this line. Hey, not too shabby! I bet you’re at least past the halfway mark.

journal writingPersonally, I’m past the halfway mark. But wait, here come the screaming demons of financial anxiety, passivity, procrastination, identification with flaws, and self-sabotage. You might know these feelings. They suck, literally. They suck time, they suck energy, they suck prosperity away from your life. Really, it’s scary to even talk about these universal undercurrents. Why? Because people might judge you.

If I admit to procrastinating and giving in to fear, everyone will reject me and never read another word I write, or pay me, ever. Right? Not right! That’s not realistic at all. So why do you and I let all this stuff get in the way of our happiness and success? Why do we hide our human nature, day after day and year after year?

Let’s break up this Goliath of inertia that we’ll name Resistance into smaller parts. I’m going in order of my own greatest hits because, hey, I learn through teaching.


Go with the flow, right? Go with the flow, WRONG! Just because you are capable of doing many things doesn’t mean you should do them. Years and years are lost on the path of what many call “least resistance,” but which actually creates the MOST resistance to our goals. Have you ever been offered a job that pays well enough or is related to writing (sort of) and said the following:

“What the hell. Sure, I’ll write content for an online fitness app.”

“Copyediting on Upwork sounds okay.”

“My friends need me to run a monthly write-in. It doesn’t pay, but it’s for the common good of my community.”

“My rent is due and I’m short. I’ll wait tables for awhile.”

Yep… and you’ll publish your books when you are 80 years old, if at all. Stick to your guns; don’t be tempted away from your ultimate objective. Be especially vigilant against what Julia Cameron, author of The Artist’s Way, calls shadow artisting. That’s where you do something sort of like your dream career because it’s close enough, or it’s in service to other artists. It’s NOT GOOD ENOUGH! Do. Your. Own. Work. Every. Day.

The exception to this situation is work that is relatively stress-free and takes up less than half your productive hours (for most people, that’s 3 to 4 hours a day). For me, web design is effortless because I have 20 years of experience doing it. Additionally, writing proposals for other authors is easy for me, so I do these things to supplement my income. I’m not telling you to starve for your work, but make YOUR work your priority.

Identification with Flaws

I’m self-centered, obsessed with fame, anti-social, and prone to depression. Ta-da!

You probably have your own list of things that you suppress and hide because they are “bad” traits. Yeah, but none of these things are “me” or “you” because they are in our imaginations.

I’m not going to argue that people are or are not predisposed to depression or anxiety because of their brain chemistry. I believe they are, but this can be worked around or even turned into a strength. The point is, identifying with perceived flaws is way worse then actually having them. It’s all a matter of mindset and framing.

Here’s me reframing:

Self-centeredness can be transformed into: I care for myself and I’m dedicated to my art.

Fame-obsessed ain’t so bad; try “driven to succeed” instead.

Anti-social can be reframed as: I have more time for work.

Occasional depression gives me depth of understanding and empathy.

Now it’s your turn. Are there labels you apply to yourself that make you feel like a bad or faulty person? Turn them around!


writing anxietyAll anxiety is an obstacle, but worry around money is a serial killer. According to a recent LA Times article, 67% of Americans admit to experiencing strong anxiety around work or finances. Anxiety is the antithesis of mindfulness.

We believe worry protects us and drives us forward because it prevents repeating mistakes from the past and forewarns us about danger in the future. This ancient instinct can serve us to a small extent, but for the most part anxiety is living outside of the NOW. It is the “flight” part of fight or flight, but soaring we ain’t.

Anxiety will make you give up on your dreams.

Anxiety, in general, wears you down. Preventing mistakes and avoiding danger is overrated. Fight fear with being in the present and knowing what you really want. Relax!


Seriously! I’m 100% telling the truth. I was writing this article up to the Procrastination title header, and then I promptly stopped working on it for two days. Even the suggestion of procrastination is so powerful that I simply closed my word processor and started cruising Amazon Prime! It’s psychological resistance at its most visceral. Whenever the “P” word hits me, I feel like I’m running through thigh-deep water.

Again, this is the primitive part of our brains kicking into action. It’s our caveman selves analyzing whether our actions are going to get us kicked out of our tribe or put us in danger. The caveman in you thinks it’s way better to do nothing than attempt something outside of your comfort zone.

In my case, I’m an intermediate writer. I’ve written professionally for five years. Therefore, it’s easier for me than for a novice writer to push though the block of procrastination and finish, say, this article or the chapter of a book.

If you’re just starting out, you have no such assurances. Whether you will create quality work is not knowable until you actually start publishing. This situation is a recipe for procrastination. That’s why so many new writers take years to get started. The solution? Sit down and write, write, write no matter what; focus, remove all distractions, start typing, and believe, really believe, that success will come.


If you are always sabotaging your own efforts, I can tell you why. That’s right. I can! Something about what you are doing is in conflict with what you really, truly want to be doing. Your deep-down inner self knows better.

While your conscious mind is like a drill sergeant bellowing orders relayed by your expectations, your mom, your third grade teacher, your need for security, and your fear, your subconscious mind is merrily derailing the whole production.

Your deep self knows you don’t want to take the assistant creative director position at Fitbit headquarters. Nooo, sir. So that deep self is going to do everything in its power to prevent you from taking that job.

It’s no easy feat, but you must get all levels of your consciousness in agreement.

Align and you will be fine. Ha! I just made that up. Good one…

Anyway, get in agreement with yourself, and it will be smooth sailing.

You, my friend, are an author, so be an author!

Get the #1 Bestseller Book Launch Recipe: How to Run a Free Book Promotion on Amazon. To download, click the link below.

I am a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) specialist, book creator, online course designer, and book marketing genius who is committed to the financial success of authors and aspiring authors. Follow me on LinkedIn, by joining the group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

How to Market Fiction Effectively and Profitably

How to Market Fiction Effectively and Profitably

marketing fiction

How to Market Fiction Effectively and Profitably

2018 is the year I picked a content niche and promised my everlasting fidelity to it. My life partner of a niche-subject is authorship and publishing. The reasons for this marriage are:

To understand your subject is to know and reach your audience.
To reach your audience and to give them what they want directly correlates to success.
To NOT know your audience is death by 1000 cuts. (It’s what I call the swirling vacuum of who cares.)
With my new vow in mind, I’ve created a mountain of content about writing, publishing, and marketing nonfiction books, more specifically nonfiction works in the genres of how-to, personal development, and self-help.

Nonfiction writers have taken notice and love what I’m doing. Yippee! For me, this has resulted in clients and a much sought after lucrative digital publishing career.

However, FICTION writers have also taken notice and have asked, “Hey, what about me?” And they are right.

My blogs on how to:

  • Define target audiences
  • Write book proposals and get advances
  • Look at your books through the lens of business planning

were NOT written with the novelist in mind.

my novel american circus
Sooo, this blog is for you, you princes (and princesses) of Maine, you writers of fiction! My wish is your command.

Let me start by saying, I DO write fiction. I have one finished manuscript sitting in a drawer collecting dust, and another half-finished novel sitting on my hard drive collecting digital dust.

The reason these novels are so damn dusty is because I wrote them without ANY IDEA OF WHO I WAS WRITING THEM FOR.

Again, even though many of us self-publish, the secret of how to succeed and reach bestseller status is hidden in the age-old acquisition processes that legacy publishers have used to discover marketable authors.


If you can get very, very clear on your genre, then you can market to the audience that reads that particular genre. That’s the basic premise behind marketing fiction. Within your genre, see if you can pinpoint sub-genres like… perhaps… an erotic circus bildungsroman. Don’t laugh. I wrote one 🙁

Next, break your audience’s preferences down even further to main character demographic (age, gender, race), setting (imaginary, historical, a particular country or location), and plot (open, fast-paced action, conflict-driven, threaded).

Dig deeper with mood, tone, level of weirdness, sexiness, predictability, and more.

After I finished my entire first novel, I sat down to write my query letters.

I began:
Dear Agent,
Title: American Circus
Word Count: I know that one! 80,000 words.
Genre? Errr, gaw… I don’t know! Mainstream? Literary Fiction? Umm, a bestseller, of course. Right?
I wrote 80,000 words without having the slightest clue about what genre I was writing in, or who I was writing the novel for. FACEPALM.

In retrospect, my finished book was (and is) a young adult (except for several sections of hardcore erotica) fictionalized circus memoir set in the Caribbean. Otherwise known as the ever popular, chart-topping erotic circus bildungsroman.

But wait, perhaps there IS a market for this bad-boy! (There’s not, but I do have a point.)

Market Research

Market research is essential. (Market research is decidedly what I did NOT do for my first and second novels. If only I had known.) Writers of practical nonfiction, if they are pursuing a publishing contract, are at an advantage here because they are required to write a book proposal.

For the novelist, the process is to pitch your finished book to agents. Fiction writers can totally skip the planning and strategy that goes into creating a proposal, but they SHOULD NOT do that.

Why book proposal writers have such an advantage is that, through the process, they gain an understanding of who their competition is, who their audience is, and what problems they are solving for their target market BEFORE they even write their book.

Solve a Problem

Sure, if you’re writing a book about weight loss, your target market has an obvious problem to solve — they are fat!

As a novelist, you might be saying to yourself, “What problem can I possibly solve if I’m writing a military sci-fi epic, a sweeping nautical saga, or a yaoi?” (Look it up. Yaois are super hot right now.)

Try boredom, lack of connection or understanding, spiritual need, need for inspiration, or escape from unhappiness? Dig deep. The problems are there, and you can solve them, at least temporarily.


A standard section of a nonfiction book proposal is an analysis of competing titles. For writers of fiction, this can be immensely valuable.

Make a list of authors who sell well in your genre.

Make a list of beloved books that are similar to yours.

Write down a list of the recent bestsellers in your genre category.

Keep listing until you selected at least twelve titles that are excellent examples of what you want to write and that are currently selling well.

For each book, include the following:

  • Title
  • Author
  • Amazon Categories
  • Amazon Rank
  • Book Description
  • How your book is different or better than this title


To download a free fillable market analysis for fiction worksheet that includes instructions on how to find and use Amazon ranks, categories, and keywords for comparable titles, click here.

This research will not take long, perhaps a day. Dedicating a few hours to really understanding your genre, audience, and competition before you start outlining your book and developing your characters will save you from years of wasted effort and immense headaches when you are ready to publish and market your book.

The secret is planning and working on your plan. If you don’t know where you are going, how will you know when you arrive? You can’t just stumble upon success.
~ Jack White

To those in publishing, book sales are a multi-billion dollar industry. As a novelist, this kind of strategic analysis may seem counter-intuitive to the creative spirit of writing. However, knowing how you are going to position and market your book before you start writing will only serve to clarify and strengthen your voice and conviction.

Get the #1 Bestseller Book Launch Recipe: How to Run a Free Book Promotion on Amazon. To download, click the link below.

I am a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) specialist, book creator, online course designer, and book marketing genius who is committed to the financial success of authors and aspiring authors. Follow me on LinkedIn, by joining the group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly videos on writing and publishing.

Today’s Bestselling Authors Are Multimedia Stars

Today’s Bestselling Authors Are Multimedia Stars

Today’s Bestselling Authors Are Multimedia Stars

Today’s Bestselling Authors Are Multimedia Stars

During the year I wrote my first novel, I was very outspoken about how I wanted my book to be published. In writers forums, on social media, and during NaNoWriMo camps, I would trumpet, “I’m going traditional! I’m going to land an agent and a big publisher if it kills me.”

My pitch letter was a bait and tackle shop of enticement and intrigue. I ignored naysayers and sent out hundreds of queries. What did I get for my years of effort? I got a few manuscript requests, some tidbits of quality advice, but mostly, what I got was a mountain of auto-replies and form letter rejections. In other words, I got a metric ton of disappointment. Kill me, it almost did.

My dream of retreating to an idyllic mountain sanctuary while my agent, editor, and publisher handled all my bidnezz vanished in the mist. At best, the novel was it was a diamond in the rough. This is typical and expected — it was my first book and it was written during NaNoWriMo — but try telling me that back then.

Years have passed and I am a much better writer thanks to daily practice. In fact, the tables have turned, and I am the one who receives queries FROM bestseller hopefuls. I’m in the business of marketing self-published authors.

With a great deal of compassion and sympathy, I now “get it.” To take an unknown author and propel her to superstardom is A LOT of work. In the old publishing paradigm, it has to be a sure thing. Even if your book is a heartbreaking work of staggering genius, as a newbie, getting picked up, signed, and sold through the traditional process is a 1 in 10,000 shot.

YOU ARE in the Right Place at the Right Time

You might be saying, “Yeah, well that’s a bummer… Why are you telling me this?”

I’m telling you this because it’s not a bummer, it’s a huge opportunity. This is probably the best time in history to be a writer!

What my former insistence on landing a top agent showed me was that the old publishing industry is antiquated, going the way of DVD stores. In fact, I’ll go as far as to claim that, at its worst, the old-guard is harmful to literature as a whole.

Let’s examine a similar industry that’s a little further down the road of the digital revolution: the music industry. Imagine that you are a musician in today’s market. What are you doing to market yourself these days? Are you sending your demo tape to the same top-ten record companies hoping to get signed? No! If you are smart, you are playing live, touring, publishing your own music or working with a small label. You have a website, imagery, a brand, a YouTube channel, and a bunch of followers who have found you through various channels.

Being an author is no different. In fact, writers have an advantage because they have an additional medium (their primary one) in their arsenal: the written word.

Today’s Authors Are Multimedia Stars

Today’s Bestselling Authors Are Multimedia StarsToday’s authors are not restricted to books. In fact, to cling to the old mindset is to hobble yourself. Whether you write fiction or nonfiction, immersion is essential to attract and keep the attention of an audience that is on to the next stimuli within minutes, if not seconds.

What do I mean by immersion? An immersive experience uses ALL the multimedia channels available to you, including books, ebooks, audiobooks, video, live video, short-form and long-form written content, online courses, email, messaging, podcasts, and live events. Immersion is applying your author’s brand across these channels to create a personal, fun, almost game-like experience for your audience. In other words, it is an integrated world of YOU and your knowledge and imagination.

As a digital age author, you are rewarded with independence, knowledge-sharing, and content accumulation and looping. Looping is where each medium feeds the others and expands your body of work. Blogs can be collated into books, books into courses, courses into videos, and then back to blogs. The whole shebang is delivered to audiences who, in turn, inform and ask for more content. The content loop continues with more books, blogs, videos, etc. As long as you have something to say or new ways to deliver your message, this loop is endless. This is good news!

The New Publishing Paradigm

As you develop an extensive platform, you will not need the services that traditional publishers offer any longer. The irony is, that’s about the time agents and publishers come knock, knock, knocking to ask you for a contract and a percentage. How the whole structure will shift remains to be seen, but if you are adaptable, own your power, and have faith in your abilities, whether you are a self-published one-man-show, you hire a marketing and production team, or you sign with an agent and a publisher, you win!

This is an exciting time to be a writer. Long gone are the days of sending out double-spaced reams of manuscripts in the mail on a wish and a prayer. You have control. The new paradigm is shaped by us. Together, let’s create a world of creativity, innovation, diversity, and wonderful words.

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I am a Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) specialist, book creator, online course designer, and book marketing genius who is committed to the financial success of authors and aspiring authors. Follow me on LinkedIn, by joining the group Your Path to the Bestseller List on Facebook, or subscribe to my YouTube Channel for weekly videos on writing and publishing.