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SEO for book authors part 1 – understanding your reader

person reading book eating apple

This post is part of a series on book marketing. One aspect of book marketing is SEO. Specifically, SEO for book authors. I’m going to focus heavily on SEO in this series because it’s a best-kept secret in certain circles.

I can (virtually) see you scratching your head like ‘Say what? Everyone talks about SEO. How is it a best-kept secret.’ But, hear me out.

Amid the heart-centered/authentic marketing/introverted entrepreneur/author space, people do not dig deep into SEO because it sounds doctored and computer-ish (is that a word?). But here’s what I believe…

(I wish someone had told me this years ago.)

SEO is the greatest match for us non-mainstreamers

It doesn’t require all the ‘social’ in social media/speaking/networking/discovery calls/connecting with new people. It’s just you and your computer getting cozy. Sounds lovely, right?

Plus…

It works when you don’t. Meaning, you can take time off and it’s still working in the background.

See, one thing I know about us non-mainstream entrepreneurs and authors is that we do not like to work like robots. Even though we love what we do, we listen to our hearts, minds, and our intuition. And sometimes many times we need to step away…for long periods of time, even. SEO allows us to do that and still grow our websites/get book sales.

Let.

That.

Sink.

In.

Lord only knows why it took me so long to get this.

woman reading electronic book for seo for book authors

We’ll be diving into Amazon KDP SEO for book authors. Things will get nerdy. But in a fun, easy-to-understand way. So take a deep breath.

Before we start with the screenshots and step-by-step tutorials (yea, it’s gonna get detailed like that), your first step is getting solid on some background info. This info is key to laying the foundation for your entire book marketing (on and off Amazon). That’s the focus of this blog post.

I thought I knew SEO for book authors. I didn’t.

I knew the essentials. I applied them and then went back to doing other (non-SEO) stuff.

Here’s what I didn’t understand about SEO for book authors

I didn’t understand ‘search’ as it relates to my reader.

The popular approach you’ve probably heard says to find keywords that have high search volume but low competition. You then use those keywords in your book description, title, and the keywords Amazon lets you choose for your book.

This keyword-choosing-tactic is good. It follows the universal SEO principles you also use for writing blog posts and other web content. But…

But, it’s only a piece of the puzzle. (Why didn’t anyone tell me this? Urrrrggghhh!)

It does not work on its own consistently. You need more. A lot more. You cannot use one tactic alone on Amazon KDP (or Google, for that matter). Sometimes this tactic works randomly, yes. But we don’t do random or lucky here. We need to nail down the specifics of what you need to do to reach your readers…consistently.

And that’s why we’ll be going way deeper than high-volume, low-competition keyword strategies. (If you have no idea about keywords, fear not. We’ll break it all down in this series).

You’ll find a bunch of questions below. Answer them.

They’ll help you get closer to reaching the reader your book is most suited for. This is the person who is searching for your book right now. Yes, right now.

They’re searching. And we need to understand who they are and how they search so the Amazon algorithm can do its thing and connect you two.

So, let’s get started. If you make better progress by writing, grab a pen and notebook (or open a digital document).

1. Who is your reader?

Imagine someone finishing your book in record time, excited to have found it. They close the book and make a beeline straight for Amazon to write you a stellar 5-star review…who is that person?

[write down this answer with a 1 beside it]

Get specific.

Your reader cannot be everyone. If you think your reader is everyone, you will sell to no one.

Fiction

Even the most popular fiction books (for example, Harry Potter) don’t sell to ‘anyone’. They sell to people who enjoy that genre (I wouldn’t read Harry Potter. It’s not a genre of interest to me but obviously it is to many more).

Nonfiction

If you write non-fiction you have to be even more specific. (Hopefully, you got this specific before you wrote the book.)

Imagine who would be the ideal reader. For example, you wrote about running. Is this for beginning runners? Long-distance runners? Sprinters? Competitors? They each have different needs.

Again, who is your reader?

The more specific you get with this, the better. Notice this blog post is titled understanding your reader, not understanding your readers. Think of ONE specific example, they call this an avatar. It’s a representation of someone who would be ideal. Describe this make-believe person down to the demographic and psychographic details.

2. What is your shared vision with your reader?

Mainstream marketing focuses on pain. I flip it. (I’m about co-creating a world focused on vision, not pain. I digress.)

So, what’s your shared vision? Where does your reader want to go? It’s probably a place you also want to go or a place you reached but at one time you wanted to get there, too. Just like your reader.

That place is your reader’s vision. Let’s look at a few common books and understand this vision concept. What’s happening in their life that makes them need/want your book?

[Write down your best answer. Put a 2 beside it]

3. How do they search for what they want/need?

Another highlighted question. Hint hint….it’s kinda important. Most people are not asking this question but the answer gets you closer to reaching your reader.

How are they searching for what they need relevant to your book?

Let’s get granular with this.

Since you created a detailed avatar, you can now imagine how they’d go about finding a solution to their problem (your book is the solution).

  • Would they go to one of the many Facebook groups they’re in and search?
  • Would they hop on Google?
  • Would they check Amazon (because they buy a lot of stuff there, anyway?)

[Write down your best answer. Put a 3 beside it]

4. What gap does your book fill in the market?

I highlight this question because it’s that important and probably the most overlooked (or unknown) book marketing question.

Have they tried other books like yours before?

Is the market lacking material like yours? In which ways?

What makes your book valuable? Unique?

[Write down your best answer. Put a 4 beside it]

5. What do you do/Who are you (in relation to your book)?

This isn’t some fancy spiritual question. This one is particularly for the non-fiction book writers. We need to understand who you are in relation to your book so that you’re positioning yourself correctly and your ideal reader recognizes you immediately when they see/hear of you.

So, what’s your title? I’ll go first. I’m an unconventional copywriter. I help entrepreneurs connect with their true voice and their aligned audience.

Your turn

Who are you? (in relation to your book). I have to add the ‘in-relation to your book’ bits because most of us are shapeshifters who do a few different things.

For example, one year, we’re more passionate about one subject then something different the next year. This may also be happening in parallel. For example, sometimes I write articles for a tech magazine. That’s one professional role I play. Another role is that of unconventional copywriter, where I coach and write for clients. The two are happening in parallel. My bio for tech magazine writing is different than my one-liner for my copywriting which is also slightly different than my bio for my nursing books.

[Write down your best answer. Put a 5 beside it]

6. Why did you write the book?

Did you write it for the fun of it? (I doubt this, somehow.) Or maybe to position yourself as a leader in your field? Or maybe because you hadn’t come across a book like yours before and so you just had to? Or for another reason? Why did you write it?

(in case you’re wondering, we’ll be putting the pieces of your answers together. It’s like a puzzle. Okay, next piece).

[Write down your best answer. Put a 6 beside it]

Now, let’s put it all together. Here’s your SEO for authors foundation

In just two sentences. This will be a challenge. You’ll have to tweak things a bit but, it’s doable. This is a sentence just for you. We’re not creating an elevator pitch or your author bio (we’ll get to that later in the series). This is a sentence that will guide YOU in your book marketing. Basically, it’s for your eyes only.

My book is for [#1] who want [#2] and they’re searching [#3] because [#4]. They’re hungry for my book because I [#5] and I/who [#6].

For example, a productivity book for start-up founders struggling to get it all done written by someone who founded a start-up 5 years ago and had to figure it all out herself.

Her sentences could be:

My book is for start-up founders [#1] who want to confidently tackle their most important tasks and they’re searching through Amazon ebooks but can’t seem to find a match because most books only cover the same old tips that don’t work for start-ups. They’ll get high value from my book because I’m an experienced start-up founder who mastered a unique time-management strategy I’m itching to share with new founders.

Your turn.

No, really, your turn. Feel free to share your sentences in the comments (you never know who is reading. Maybe you’ll get a new reader or two). This is just part 1 of the series on SEO for book authors. Catch you in part 2.

Filed under: book marketing

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