An author friend of mine used a phrase this week I hadn’t heard before: he said I need to make sure “my also-boughts were clean.” If you just drive your friends and family to your book during launch, your book will start showing up next to whatever else they bought on Amazon recently.
Also-boughts are huge drivers of Amazon. After you’ve fixed your cover, description, added editorial reviews, gotten a dozen reader reviews and snuck in some keywords and categories so readers can find you, take a deep breath and look at the also-bought section on your Amazon page.
What shows up? Are they other books similar to yours? Will readers who liked those books also like yours? If not, that space is being wasted. Also-boughts should be taken seriously, but to my knowledge, nobody has yet launched a book with a full plan of attack to control what shows up in that space.
So I thought I’d share 7 of the things I’m planning to do during my next book launch.
Find your peers
Find books that are very similar to yours. Ideally, you’d go for the bestselling books in your genre/subject. You do want some that a lot of people have read. But if your cover or book looks unprofessional, it might stand out (in a bad way) when mixed with traditionally published books. Make sure it looks as good. And the writing of your book should equal the writing of those other books, otherwise readers will be disappointed. Look for true peers: books that are really similar to yours (and don’t say “nobody has ever written a book like mine before!” – have you really looked yet?)
Start recommending those books
I’ll be writing posts like “my top 5 mermaid romance books of 2015” and linking to all the books I recommend. I can post articles like that on big sites like BuzzFeed, and mention my book in the byline. I’ll also tell those authors I’m recommending their books, and they might share the post. This helps build relationships, and should also result in cross-sales.
You can do this for any genre or subject.
Do a group giveaway
Tell those authors you’d like to buy a book for a giveaway, but ask if you can order a signed copy. Do a giveaway of 5 or 10 books in your genre that are similar to your books. You don’t have to get permission to buy and give away a book, but it’s best to get them signed, and it’s best to get the authors involved so they can share your giveaway with their followers. That will reinforce the idea that your book “fits in” with those other books. After the giveaway is over, you and the authors can do a price promo and send an email out saying, “Didn’t win? Don’t worry, we marked all the books down to 99cents, here are the links.”
Ask for editorial reviews
After those authors know who you are, ask for editorial reviews. It’s fine to trade reviews with other authors if you put them in the ‘editorial section.’ You should offer to give them one to use as well – that’s more visibility for you on their Amazon page. These need to be honest reviews: you don’t want readers to feel like your review was fake. Only review books that are great. If your book isn’t good enough, it may be difficult to get book reviews. If you ask, don’t be aggressive. If they say they don’t have time or something, they might just be uncomfortable reviewing your book positively. Add those reviews on your Amazon page and in your ebook. You can put them in the front of your book, and then add links to other author’s books in the back matter.
Add recommended books to back matter
After the content, I’ll add links to my other books, my offer, more about me, but then I’ll make a list of “recommended books.” These can be the same other books I want to be associated with. I want my books first, if I have some, but getting someone to buy someone else’s book, if it’s a bestseller in your genre, is better than just having them do nothing.
I’m trying to make a sticky relationship between those other books and mine, so when those other books show up, readers will see mine as in the also-bought section. If you just do those things, you should see an improvement in the quality of your also-boughts.
Make it visual
Check out the graphics Epic Reads (the Harper Collins teen division) uses for its book recommendations. I love these, it’s so clear and useful. I went ahead and make you one you can use: I saved it as a clear PNG, so you can put it on a background color or make your own.
Get your list to buy a package
I’m going to go further with my launch. I’ll set up packages and encourage my lists to buy a “set” of books, including mine and the ones I want mine to be shown next to. I’ll offer big rewards, like ‘buy these 5 ebooks together and get a $200 course for free’, or find something else to offer. For the major, bestselling books I’m targeting, I figure I’ll need to get at least a hundred “also-boughts” before mine start showing up.
I think maybe focusing on just 3 other books is a smart idea; three similar books, but maybe listed in different categories, but all on the first page of their category. Focus on building up those also-boughts first, and you won’t have visibility problems.
I’m sure I’ll think of more ideas before I launch, but making sure my also-boughts are optimized will be one of my major book marketing strategies.