The Amazon Book Puzzle

A Gift Like Zoe's

This book, about a rebellious teen following near-death experience was written by C. C. Holmes and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Selling books on Amazon can and should be a positive. If you’ve written a novel, biography, business book, or self-help book, you want to maximize your relationship with Amazon. Let’s talk about how.

Amazon is in the business of selling books.  They want to effectively guide potential readers in their book search. They want to make effective recommendations to their visitors. You are also in the business of selling books, so make sure Amazon has all the relevant information they need to lead the reader to your book; things like keywords, sales figures, book genres, reader reviews, downloads, even browsing activity.

How can you help Amazon do this?

You will need to author a book description that gets both your reader and the Amazon search vehicle excited. Make it exciting, crisp, and enticing. Include things like awards you’ve received or accolades the book has garnered. You can suggest books that compare favorably to your book, i.e., picture a cross between Jaws and Gone with the Wind. Or, imagine Hemingway and Agatha Christie melding their talents. Don’t give away too much, but don’t skimp on the details. You don’t want the reader saying, “Huh?” but rather, “Wow!”

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Independent Publishing – What Is It?

This sci-fi novel was written by Kevin Note and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Independent Publishing is about you as an author going into business. Yes, the business begins with the writing of that special novel, biography, business book, or self-help book that you have long dreamed of completing, or with the hiring of a talented ghostwriter to assist you.  However, creating the product – and make no mistake that your book is a product – is only the beginning of every successful business.

Writing is hard work.  Independently publishing your book is also hard work. Both are extremely gratifying.  One is an extension of the other. Why? Because you are now in a competitive business environment where your success is judged just like any business; by the quality of your product, by your connection with your customers, by your willingness to apply your creativity to marketing the product you’ve created.

What are the elements of a successful business? It begins with a motivated and talented team. When the hiring begins, choose wisely. The very good news is that you are in control. You are the CEO.  Independent publishing is about having the final say on every important step in the process, from copy editing to book cover design, from the interior layout of your book to the choice of the font. You approve of the printer, the distribution they offer, and the fulfillment process they use.

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How to Get Reviews for Your Book


The Exception was written by Bill Tichenor and published by Graham Publishing Group.

We all know the positive effect that reviews have on our books, in particular when it comes to sales, and this is true whether you are independently published or mainstream published.  Unfortunately, there’s no magic formula; then again, maybe this is a good thing, because if there was a magic formula, then everyone would be doing it, and we’d all be in the same quandary.

There are three keys to the review journey:  Research, Patience, and Outreach.

First, never underestimate your existing fan base. This includes your social media followers, the business organizations you support, your email list, the writer’s groups you belong to, and your family and friends. These wonderful folks are already onboard in many ways. Many have already bought your book. Reach out to them. Ask for their help in creating a first wave of reviews.

Next, Amazon’s list of top reviewers. Do not assume these people are out of reach. Yes, they receive an avalanche of requests every day, but the effort is still worth it. One of their reviews is golden. Two, three, or more can be a serious momentum boost. The key: do it the right way.  Do your research. Follow the guidelines. Write a killer pitch. Don’t be put off by rejection.  Keep moving forward.

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Know Your Book Designer

an image of the Winning Wasn't Enough ecover

Winning Wasn’t Enough was written by Jessi Shamis and published by Graham Publishing Group.

When you are independently publishing your book or self-publishing, a book designer can and should be your best friend. After all the work you’ve put into creating a special novel, biography, business book, or self-help book, you deserve a finished product that looks fantastic, feels great, and reads easily.

Tip 1.  Know what you’re getting. Make certain that your book designer explains every step in the process, from proofreading and book cover design to the proper interior layout of both your print book and e-book and the exact files you will need to implement your marketing programs.

Tip 2. You own the rights to your book. Always. The copyright is in your name. Always.  You own your book cover.  Always.

Tip 3.  Make sure you have a contract with your book designer.  Make sure you know what’s in the contract, even if you have to show it to an attorney.  Make sure the terms of completion are spelled out to your satisfaction.  Make sure there is a termination clause that fits your needs.

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Independent Publishing vs. Vanity Presses


This business book, The Race for Good Credit, was written by Trent L. Pettus and published by Graham Publishing Group.

If you’ve spent as many days, weeks, and months as I have writing your very important and extremely special book, it is vital that you know the difference between publishing your book independently or relying on vanity presses or pay-to-publish companies.  They are worlds apart.  The latter wants you to pay them to perform a variety of services that you will be doing yourself no matter how you publish your book. They will also be making promises and claims that no publisher can make with regard to sales, marketing, and book exposure.

When you independently publish your book, you are essentially creating your own imprint. You are essentially creating your own small press.  You will be in charge of all creative aspects of the process. Yes, you may want to contract with a professional book designer to facilitate the process, but that book designer will answer to you. You may want an artist to create your book cover, but you will be sharing your ideas and having the final say on the cover that graces your book.  At Graham Publishing Group, we understand that the relationship we create with you is one of publisher (you) and publishing advisor (us).  As all effective independent publishers do, you will be asking questions and heeding advice, but, in the end, you are in charge.

Vanity presses expect you to be afraid of the process. They expect to prey upon your inexperience and convince you to pay to alleviate both the fear and the uncertainty.  That is not a partnership. That is not an effective and productive working relationship.

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Self-Publishing Mistakes

This book, written by Simon John Lee and published by Graham Publishing, explores 18 techniques that rely on the law of thirds to communicate, problem solve and manage people.

Self-publishing is world filled with opportunities. It is also a world filled with challenges, uncertainty, and, very often, disappointment.

If you are self-publishing, it means you’ve spent considerable time writing your book or collaborating with a ghostwriter. Whether you’ve written a novel, biography, business book, or book inspiration, you’ve accomplished something most people only dream about, and that accomplishment is very personal. Your effort deserves the best possible self-publishing experience.

At Graham Publishing Group, we offer publishing assistance and consultation that begins with designing a memorable and distinctive book cover, crafting the interior layout for your print book, formatting your book for the electronic edition, and an offering of online marketing services to help gain exposure for your book. We offer advice on the best printing houses for your individual needs and individualized author website creation.

Mistake # One: Thinking of these various stages as separate from one another. They are all interwoven and have a singular goal: getting exposure for your book. Creating a social media presence goes hand-in-hand with marketing your book. Designing your author website and creating a special book cover can be done simultaneously. Creating a list of book-bloggers you intend to contact is directly influenced by the kind of book you are writing, which also influences the kind of marketing you’ll be doing.

Mistake # Two: Waiting too long to get started on the process. Building a social media platform is something that takes time, so launching your marketing efforts well in advance of the book’s release is critical. Website development should also be initiated well in advance of completing your book, and since the website is often designed around your book cover, starting that process should also be done well ahead of the final manuscript.

Mistake # Three: Not thinking out of the box when it comes to marketing. Yes, you need to acknowledge that Amazon is the dominant player in self-publishing. And yes, you want to maximize your exposure by choosing the right categories for your book and thinking long and hard about the keywords that you select. But what else can you do? What about speaking engagements? What about local TV or public radio? What about building upon your Facebook outreach and Twitter? What about trade shows? Thinking out of the box is often about legwork, so don’t shy away from the leg work.

At Graham Publishing Group, we look at self-publishing as a business. If you’re going that route, make it your business.

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Ghostwriting is an Art

Legacy Of Wisdom Ecover

This fascinating book on the topic of wisdom was written by Gabrielle V. Taylor and published by the Graham Publishing Group

The best ghostwriters are generally successful authors in their own right.  They are generally highly published and very often critically acclaimed.

Like the books that ghostwriters author for their own literary collections, the books they author for their clients require all of their skill and dedication equal to the commitment they demonstrate in the writing of their own material.

Ghostwriting is a business, but it is no less an art than any other kind of writing. In fact, it is, in many ways, an art with more entanglements.  A ghostwriter is taking a client’s idea and/or vision, embracing it, and crafting it into something that effectively and creatively reflects that idea or vision.

The ghostwriter who is authoring a novel will honor the plot inspired by his or her client, while also infusing that plot with elements that the client may not have considered. The ghostwriter takes the characters his or her client envisions in the novel, and then adds depth and emotion beyond the client’s point of view. All the while, the ghostwriter is building a collaborative relationship that includes the client’s input, desires, and aspirations. It is a balancing act.

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Smart Book Cover Design

Wow Moments! by Mark Kent and Graham Publishing Group

This engaging how-to business book on customer interaction is a collaboration between Mark Kent and Graham Publishing Group

How many books have you passed over because the cover design did nothing to attract your attention.  It happens far more often than we think.  A poorly designed book cover is a disaster in many ways.  In many ways, it screams “amateur.” And that is not to say that all mainstream publishers produce great book covers.  Plenty of them scream “amateur” as well, and the price they pay is the worst one of all: a lack of attention. That’s what your book cover has to do: it has to attract attention. The right kind of attention. Why spend hundreds and hundreds of hours slaving over your book and then allow it to go out on the market with anything less than a game-changing first impression. Because that is exactly what the cover is: a reader’s first impression.

Smart, creative book cover design is not limited to either mainstream publishers or self-publishers.  Both sides of the book industry offer good and bad cover designers. Pick wisely.  At Graham Publishing Group, our designers have more than experience; they have proven track records. That’s what you want. Someone who understands what makes a smart, creative cover.  Here are a few interesting elements.

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An Audiobook is a Must

This exciting romance was written by Jennifer Byars and published by Graham Publishing Group.

Imagine someone listening to your book while they’re sitting on the beach watching the waves roll in.  Imagine someone listening to your audiobook driving across country. It’s happening more and more.  The audiobook industry is nearly a billion-dollars strong. As an author, you don’t want to miss out.

More and more people are listening to books rather than reading them. It is easy, enjoyable, and fulfilling.  From an author’s point-of-view, it’s good business. The fact is, audiobooks can have a positive effect on the sale of your print book and your ebook.  People who listen to audiobooks often buy the print book later, assuming they were blown away by the audio version. People who listen to books are also quick to endorse your book to friends and family who prefer to read the print or electronic versions.

Because so many audiobooks are being produced through Amazon’s Audible and because of the popularity of Amazon’s Whisper Sync, authors are seeing increased sales to their Kindle books as well. Audible features nearly 100,000 books; if you are one of these, it makes it far easier for readers to find you. The audiobook pool is small compared to books in print, so it’s easier for you and your book to stand out.

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Don’t Be Afraid to Market Your Book

Legacy Of Wisdom Ecover

This fascinating book on the topic of wisdom was written by Gabrielle V. Taylor and published by the Graham Publishing Group

While the title of this blog is meant to alleviate the fear of marketing your book, the flipside is equally as important: Don’t be afraid to market the writer behind your book.

Yes, both are easier said than done, since most authors – whether they are self-published or mainstream published – suffer this “marketing” roadblock.

Writing is a solitary business. Marketing is not. You have to get out from behind the shelter of your computer and make yourself known. It’s not that authors are introverted, though some are; it’s the fact that we’re comfortable getting the words on paper, but not so much getting the word out about what we’ve written. Time to get over that.  Time to take ownership of the fact that writing is both business and art, and you need to embrace both.

Even if you’ve had the good fortune of scoring a contract with a big publishing house, you have to market. One of the first questions your publisher will ask you is, “How are you going to help us sell your book?”

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