I was given a copy of Penny Sansevieri’s power pack book titled “How To Sell Books By The Truckload On Amazon” to review and for selfish reasons I was ecstatic to get my hands on it. Having published my very own book just recently, I was extremely curious to see if I had missed any key steps when marketing my own book and boy did I learn vital tips!
Penny Sansevieri is the Founder and CEO of Author Marketing Experts, Inc. and a best-selling author and internationally recognized book marketing and media relations expert. She is also an Adjunct Professor teaching Self-Publishing for NYU.
Clearly, with credentials like that, I felt that she must know what she’s talking about.
Not only did I read her book in less than 2 days but even more than that, I decided to try one of her tips on my own book to see if, when put into practice, would generate the success she claims.
Before I get into that, however (and I am excited to share some stats with you), let me give you a brief synopsis of what the book is about.
It is a “Power Pack” and is divided into two books, however, I will point out that they are not really two distinct books, but rather two books in one and is 158 pages total in length. Very easy to read and follow and she truly makes understanding Amazon’s algorithm very simple to grasp.
The first book focuses on understanding how Amazon works, that it functions more like a search engine, like Google. When you understand that fundamental of how Amazon works, that’s when you can really benefit from that knowledge and implement it. It covers important topics such as key words, SEO, categories, pricing, understanding KDP, and of course PROMOTING your book (or e-book). I gleaned quite a bit from that first part and I really want to share my first-hand experience with you in trying one of her tips.
She talks quite a bit about promotions and mentions that one strategy that can be quite successful (if done correctly) is to offer your e-book ‘free’ for a limited time of course but it doesn’t just stop there. Once you create your offer, put it out there, you must promote it. You must not only promote it as that alone would not do very much for you and your book, but at the end of your e-book encourage your readers to reach out to you and post a review. That is where you and your book will benefit from this free promotion. There’s more to it but that’s the gist of it and I was eager to try that.
So I decided that on Wednesday, April 22nd, I would offer my e-book free for 24hours. A few days prior to that, I started the buzz by promoting the promo wherever I could; on forums, using twitter and hashtags, tagging twitter accounts and so forth. Sansevieri provides quite a bit of resources here. I used those and some of my own. By April 23rd, the total downloads for my free e-book was 886! I couldn’t believe it! As a result I made it to the #1 spot in free Kindles (in one category) as you can see from the screenshot below. I absolutely loved seeing my book with a little ‘#1’ in front of it 🙂
Because of that, I had finally made a dent in the paid rankings a few days later in two categories, as you can see from the screenshot below:
I was so happy! Where I had previously ranked in the millions, I had now come much closer in closing that gap thanks to following Sansevieri’s suggestion.
My book was written and released before I was able to encourage my readers to post a review, however, when posting on the forums I did kindly ask and received positive reassurances that they would. I hope to see further successes as a result of this promotion. So if you’re asking yourself if her tips and suggestions work I am proof that they do!
The second part of the book goes into detail on the importance of reviews. She offers valuable and practical advice on how to get reviews, interact with your readers and the power of networking with publishing houses, bloggers and sites such as Goodreads. There too, I am working on her suggestions and looking forward to seeing positive results.
With the book, I also received two sets of mini flash cards. A set of red ones called “RED HOT BOOK HACKS” and a blue set called “TIP” cards. These flash cards offer tips and links to sites for more information. Very useful.
The only drawback to the paperback format that I could see are the images of the screenshots. They are not too clear and not easy to see. In most cases I went online when I really wanted to understand what she was trying to show. However, that didn’t stop me from giving it a 5 star.
The paperback sells for $6.99 and the Kindle edition sells for $3.09. At these very inexpensive prices you are truly getting your money’s worth! I highly recommend this book to any author who will be releasing a book in the near future or even authors like myself who already published a book (or books). The information is extremely beneficial!
Based on my own positive results obtained in following Sansevieri’s advice, I will be looking at more of her books.
As an FYI, I was given a copy for review but all opinions expressed here are my own.
I had the pleasure of asking Sansevieri some questions and I loved her replies! Enjoy the interview!
As an author, how do you decide on a topic and then go about doing research? Do you draw mostly on your own experiences?
No, actually I don’t. For topics I write about I often get these ideas from the authors I teach in classes or at writers conferences. I actually learn more from my Q&A than I do anything else. So I try to write about topics that are crucial for authors. An example of this is Amazon. Many, many times in classes I would get asked “How can I get more visibility on Amazon?” Which led me to do the research and then write the book.
In your opinion, can anyone be an author if they truly wanted to?
Well, being an author and being a successful author are two very different things. So yes, anyone can write a book but there’s a big difference between writing a book and being successful. Years ago I spoke with the then head of iUniverse about this and she said that only 1% of what’s published actually sells beyond the author’s immediate circle of influence.
What are the 3 most important qualities a writer should possess and why.
Authors need to be business minded – first and foremost. I don’t care what you’ve written, it’s all a business. And by viewing it as a business you’ll start to make better decisions – business decisions instead of emotional ones. What’s the difference between the two? Well, an emotional decision might be “I want to run an ad in the New York Times book section because I’ve always dreamt of seeing my book there!” But a business decision might be: “I’d love to be in the NY Times but the money doesn’t make sense for me, I would be better off spending that elsewhere.”
Next as an author you can’t take anything personally. Some folks will love your book and some won’t. You have to have a thick skin. When an author says to me “What can I do about a negative review?” I say nothing. Once you put the book out there, people will say what they are going to say. Most though, won’t just bash a book for the sake of bashing it – that’s a whole different topic. The more thick-skinned you are the better this will serve you in the long run. I’ve had this experience personally when someone hated my Red Hot Internet Publicity book – in the end, I learned some stuff from his not-so-great feedback. Learn and move on.
You must always be learning. So often author’s publish and then isolate themselves. “I just want to keep writing!” They’ll say and I 100% get that, but here’s the thing: you need to keep marketing, too. It’s like a business, the minute you stop marketing your business everything dries up. And with that, comes learning. Go to conferences, learn new things, talk to authors who are in the same boat. Writing is often an isolating profession – that’s not a good thing. You really want to push yourself to learn new things. I had an author several years back, he was in his early 80’s and had never blogged or been on Facebook and within a few months (I worked with him on this) he was blogging almost daily and sharing on social media. Shortly thereafter he was asked to write a few posts for Entrepreneur.com. Authors often use age or their level of being busy as an excuse. You make time for the things that are important to you!
If someone really wanted to write a non-fiction book but felt they didn’t know where to start, what advice would you give them?
Read. Read a lot. Read other/similar books in your genre. Listen to podcasts in your market, see what folks are saying. What can you say that’s better/newer or more innovative? How will you help to enhance the ongoing conversation. Sometimes the best way to start writing is to just immerse yourself in the area!
Can someone who’s written non-fiction books cross over to fiction? Or vice-versa?
Yes, I’ve seen it happen a lot. In fact I started years ago writing fiction myself – though I don’t anymore, it was my first love!
Other than your valuable collection, what other resources should authors avail themselves of?
Wow, where to begin. Well, I would recommend sites like Jane Friedman’s blog (http://janefriedman.com/), Joanna Penn (http://www.thecreativepenn.com/) is another fantastic one, Joel Friedlander (http://www.thebookdesigner.com/) is great, too. Also, check out Frances Caballo (http://socialmediajustforwriters.com/) Also, I love these, too:
There are many more – I’m sure I’ve overlooked many (and for that I apologize!)
With your experience now, if you had to redo something as an author what would that be?
Hmmm – probably all of my original book covers from back in 2000. They are all hideous train wrecks 🙂
How rewarding is it to be an author and why?
I love writing and I love it because these books help people – folks have told me that my books are dog-eared and highlighted and I love hearing that. I love sharing knowledge.
What’s the most memorable experience you’ve had as an author.
So years ago I had a deal with a publisher to publish Red Hot Internet Publicity. At the time it was self-published, but I got an agent and she got me to a publisher. There was a meeting in NYC between myself, the agent and the publisher, and I was so excited to meet them and plan the launch of the book. I was on the plane, on the tarmac when I got a text from my agent saying the deal was off, they’d changed their mind and decided to go in a different direction. Now mind you, I’m actually on the plane headed for this meeting and, as we took off, I realized there was absolutely nothing I could do but take the trip and make the best of it. But by the time I got to New York I was really mad and I was done. Done with publishing and done with the entire industry.
I got to my hotel room and opened up my email to find a note from a woman who wanted to thank me for a class I taught her husband years before. It was a class on how to get published and from that, he’d published all of his super-secret BBQ sauce recipes in a hardback book. These recipes were something he was known for at family gatherings, etc. and no one (not even his wife) knew how he made them. Anyway, shortly after publishing the book he was diagnosed with terminal brain cancer and died only four short months later. She said that they treasure the book so much because it’s part of something he loved. She said the entire family now has a copy, and every time someone BBQ’s they pull it out and make one of his secret sauces. She said that without that class, he may never have done this and wanted to thank me for this gift.
After I read that email I realized how silly I was being. The deal falling through was what it was – at that time a lot of deals were being canceled by publishers. It wasn’t personal, and yet I was taking it very personally. My role in this industry is to educate, guide and (if I’m really lucky) maybe even inspire others to share their story and their knowledge.
What’s life as an author ‘really’ like?
It’s a lot of work. A lot of work. But at the same time, it’s very cool. I mean people come up to you and say “I read your book!” and I’m like “Wow, really?” I still feel this surge of excitement when someone asks me that – or (even better) asked me to autograph a book. Being an author is the best job in the world!
I’m Nuccia Ardagna, a lifestyle blogger based in Montreal, Québec.