Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Marketing – Attracting your readers, Covers, Book Titles, Tag Lines and Key Words by Sally Cronin

Attracting your readers, Covers, Book Titles, Tag Lines and Key Words

Authors are small businesses with a product that needs marketing to obtain sales. Once you start thinking of yourself as a business it tends to focus your mind differently.

One of the jobs that gave me some perspective on marketing and promotion, was the several years I spent as advertising sales manager for a free paper in London and then a holiday publication company.

One of the key elements of marketing and selling is to attract the right customer for your product and in book marketing this is your readers.

Part of my job was writing copy for clients who could not afford to spend a fortune with an agency. This was quite an interesting challenge because most companies, whatever their product wanted to put their name in large letters front and centre. So for example:

Great name, but what does the person who is looking for a new car see when they are skimming the adverts for cars?  Steve Smith and Sons.. but that is not the product for sale and is not going to grab the attention of the person looking to buy a car. If you are looking for a car, you are more likely to be interested in reading the same advert, but arranged very differently.

Using key words effectively will significantly increase your chances of reaching your customers and more about that later.

Unfortunately this is also a mistake that we tend to make when we market our books.  Unless we are J.K Rowling or any other bestselling author who has a dedicated following, putting our names in very large print on our book covers is not going to achieve sales.

For an author trying to sell a first book and even others that follow, it is almost impossible to stand out from the other millions of books on sale on the primary online bookseller Amazon.. or even on the bookshelf of your local bookstore.

If you look in the average bookstore, novels are shelved alphabetically, not usually by genre, there are no reviews and they rely heavily on cover and back blurb to encourage you to buy. Non-fiction books do have an advantage as they will normally be listed by subject matter which does narrow the field somewhat.

Both however need to have a cover that reflects the contents of the book fiction or non-fiction or, is so visually stunning, that it invites readers to explore further. And very importantly, books need a title that screams out to the reader “buy me, I am the most informative, entertaining, interesting, relevant, novel, self-help book, inspiring story you will ever read” and also find away to convey all that is between the covers!

This is not easy since most titles are only usually between 1 and 5 words.

Finding a book title that sells your book.

There are millions of books available today digitally. This is why it is so important that your title leap out from the page and grab potential reader’s attention. Novels are tough as most of the words used to describe each genre are well used. For romance novelists it must be a nightmare since the words love, destiny, fate, romance, desire etc have to be used in a title in the most imaginative way.

With non-fiction it is not easy but it is simpler – providing you get your USP (unique selling point) in the title….Remember that there could be thousands of books that are cover your particular subject matter and you want the reader to buy your book.

So what is your unique angle that makes your book different from all the other books on a particular subject that can be  incorporated in your title? This is where using MY comes in handy.. for who is more unique than you? Instead of A Lonely Childhood.. My Lonely Childhood etc.

Finding an original title for a novel can be tough since there are only so many words within each genre that you can use to convey the subject of your book.

Obviously the genre is a starting point – SF – thriller – comedy – Romance – Humour, Children’s etc, and my suggestion is that you take a good long look at other newly released books in that genre so that you are not duplicating – write several down and still see if you can get something unique into your own title – try it out on all your friends and family and when you have your title, it is also important to Google it to see if anyone else has a book by that title to avoid confusion.

You may find one or two but if you play around with the wording you can usually find one that is not already in use.

And another search that is worth doing is on your name. How many Sally Cronins are there and might be an idea to add an initial in the middle or as I did in the beginning, my middle name Georgina. The other Sally Cronin seems to have disappeared so I am back to that now.

Remember – this is your advertising headline for your book – it has to grab the attention of your potential readers and also those that can help you promote the book.

Using Key Words as Taglines.

Your book cover and the wording are your advertisement and whilst it is not a good idea to crowd the cover with text, having a tag line can help.

Book available:


If the book had just been the image and the title, the book would have had no identity. The fact that it is written by Jane Harper would have attracted her fans; but what about a reader who is browsing to find a murder mystery or thriller, who had not read any of her books previously?  But because of the key words and endorsements, the moment you look at this advertisement for the book you know exactly what is between the pages.

And as a bonus there is another hook.. Who really killed the Hadler family?  Using a question as a tag line is very effective.

Here is another example of a non-fiction book that uses key words to attract the attention of readers. This is written by Sir Max Hugh Macdonald Hastings, who is a best-selling author, historian and journalist who can use his name as key words, as can J.K. Rowling, Stephen King and other established best-selling authors. As you can see the use of any form of testimonial is important as is the use of specific words to identify that you are going to be reading about Spies, Codes and Guerrillas 1939 – 1945.

Book available:


Here are some more examples that show you how tag lines can provide you with that USP that makes your book stand out from the crowd.

Your genetic makeup – Your grandmother’s legacy……..”. “Training a deaf dog – The hand signal manual”. “The Passion and the Anquish”…..Horror Stories from Beyond the Grave. “Murder at the Fair……. Do you dare ride the Ghost Train?”

If you have already received an editorial or advance reader review then you can certainly put a few words on the front cover with the name of the reviewer that are appropriate. It may not be The Guardian or The Sunday Times but it is still a recommendation to buy.

Note: If you convert your print books to Ebook after you have received reviews.. make sure to mention one or two on your Ebook cover.

Note Two: If you are publishing with Kindle rather than as an independent self publisher you will find that there are restrictions on some wording that you put on the front cover. Check that out before completing your cover design.

So this is effectively your car advertisement, and when you are designing your cover, you do need to think about those select few key words you are going to include in addition to the title and your name to attract readers to buy your book.

Book Blurb.

Amazon offers you the chance to put our back blurb on the selling page so that readers can find out more about the book. This is also part of your advertisement and whilst you should not writer a chapter on the book, you should let a reader know what they can expect.

Put yourself in the reader’s shoes.. If you were looking for a book to read, what would make you click the buy button.

Genre – basic story plot – main characters and importantly work your key words into the blurb as well. Add in some teasers too..

“Can Sally get to the chocolate before the cookie monster eats it all?”

You can also put some headline reviews from any advance readers here, especially if there was not room on the front cover.

“Fantastic edge of the seat read” – T.Jones – “Couldn’t put this thriller down until I had finished” – B. Smith  –  you get my drift.

Amazon Authors Page.

I won’t go into detail about this vital element of your book marketing as I shared a step by step illustrated guide how to set up your Amazon Author Page HERE

Categories and key words on Amazon as part of your advertisement tool box.

On Amazon you do have a number of different options to choose when you upload your book in addition to your cover and blurb. These include the option to choose a number of relevant categories, and very important key words that a potential reader might search for to find their next book.

Back to the example of the advertisement for cars!

If you are looking for a used car and are searching the web you would enter some key words so that you were not faced with 3000 sites to forage through.

Used Car, scrappage, guarantee, Insurance Included, MOT, London E18.

And to show how that works.. I was looking for a car in the UK when living with my mother and this was my search. (I had seen a dark green focus and thought the colour was great and so I added that in, prepared to take it out if the search was too narrow).

Used Car, Ford Focus, Green, Automatic, Low mileage, MOT, Portsmouth.

This was the first car that popped up in my search and I did a test drive and bought the same day.

If readers do not know your name, they are not going to search for it and find you. But if they are looking for a specific genre or sub-genre they will be using certain key words. So you have to be in the right place in the bookstore so that they at least might catch sight of your title and cover.

This requires you to be very specific with your chosen book categories and key words.

On Amazon you can use up to 5 – 7 key words for your book but you may find more impact by combining multiple key words together which is useful. Two or three together have more impact than just one.

For example non-fiction

Rapid Healthy Weightloss is more specific than just weightloss Give up Smoking, Cooking with microwaves, Lancaster in 1960.

For fiction

Murderer for Hire, Romantic short stories, Love Poetry, Thrilling Flash Fiction, Historical Romance, Young Adult drama etc.

NB.I suggest that you take a look at any older books that you have on Amazon, as they have introduced more options  for categories in the last couple of years. Here is a link also to a post that might help you with key words. Also check the blurb and  see if that might need a little TLC.

Having established a place on the bookstore where the casual reader can find you, you now need to reach out and let specific fans of your genre or non-fiction book know how to find you there.

Next time… joining the right waterholes to find your potential readers for both print and ebooks.


64 thoughts on “Sally’s Cafe and Bookstore – Book Marketing – Attracting your readers, Covers, Book Titles, Tag Lines and Key Words by Sally Cronin

  1. Excellent advice. As the previous books I had written and had published were factual, I was cautious about the one and only novel I have penned. Still based on fact, I was aware the title was important and checked new titles just released. I titled mine THE CATALYST,and blow me down, by the time it was published, there were another 18…books similarly named. For a few reasons, I didn’t ‘t have a book signing and sales were, not surprising, abysmal. I have now decided to change the title and put it – chapter by chapter, and ‘tweaked’ – on my WordPress site. The new title is DEATH IS NO OPTION. What do you think, Sally? Hugs xx

    Liked by 2 people

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  3. Reblogged this on The Write Stuff and commented:
    A very helpfpul post by Sally Cronin on book marketing, covers, titles, and more. Check it out, and take notes. (I bookmarked this one for future reference.) And as always, pass it along! Thanks, and thanks to Sally for such a useful post! 🙂

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  4. Sally, yes, I learned this lesson with my other books – I had only 3 words each per book, now I have 7 phrases for my new release and I check all the time my author page on Amazon, to see what else I can add, especially a top notch book review and several if possible. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

      • Sally, yes, as you know as an author, the hardest part about being an author is the marketing. I do hope it does have that special…’come buy my book” look. I had two male betareaders who absolutely loved it and raved about it. Shocking actually. It is a balance between want a man likes to read and a female. Perhaps the cover could have represented that in more mixed male/female manner. I will probably wait 6 months or a year before changing the cover. Thank you so much for all of your amazing support and not just for this book, in all the other many things you that you have supported, shared, given, and to so many of us newbie writers. Karen Anna:)

        Liked by 1 person

  5. Great advice, Sally. You’re right about Amazon and their rules as well, and these days they heavily promote their own titles and the authors those that are advertised, so competition is fierce.

    Liked by 2 people

  6. Sal, this was a fantastic post! You covered everything in great detail (as usual) 🙂 This is a fantastic series, which I will be reblogging in a special edition of my writing tips, just on your series. ❤ Oh, and thanks for the reminder and going back and checking our books for new categories. I am sooooo bad with hardly visiting the dashboard lol. ❤ xx

    Liked by 2 people

  7. Thanks so much for this post, Sally! I’ll be going over my previous works and taking a close look at those tag lines. something I had never thought of doing until now.😊

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  9. This is superb! It’s clear, straightforward and convincing. I’m ready to put your last advice re-author blurb into action now that I have a working computer again. I think I need to re ‘cover’ and brand my first book and use some of these suggestions. My second book is a whisker away from formatting and publishing and so this couldn’t be timelier – many thanks!

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  10. Great post, and not a mention of AIDA anywhere, but she still does the trick.

    I want to take up the issue of author placement on the cover, though. I agree it doesn’t mean much for a first book, but later I think authors should make sure their name can be read on a thumbnail size cover. That’s what online buyers are going to see, and in ads, often in a block with other covers. If I’m looking at a bunch of scifi covers together, I’ll scan to see if someone I’ve already heard of is there, and I’m likely to buy if so. If I can’t see the names – gone.

    ‘Another in Jemima Pett’s series’ is more understandable than just the title of the ninth book. (Not that I’m plugging it, of course).

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  11. Great suggestions, Sally. I’m definitely a sucker for a great cover. The title comes next and then the blurb. They are so important! Those keywords are critical and hard to come up with. Thanks for sharing your tips. 🙂

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  14. Great article, Sally. Lots of food for thought and, obviously, much more work is ahead once the book is finished! I’ve never been good at keywords, so I’ll practice that and let it sink in. Good info about the title as well. My memoir still touches on a few themes and my current title only reflects one of them. In regards to my name, I’m covered. There’s only one Liesbet Collaert in the entire world. 🙂

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