Smorgasbord Media Training for Authors – Advertising – Covers, Titles and Key Words by Sally Cronin

I am continuing the series on media training and marketing for authors which is adapted from my media training course for small businesses and charities. 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.

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.

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 newish 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.

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.

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 advertisment and whilst it is not a good idea to crowd the cover with text, having a tag line can help.

This is a recent release by Jane Harper:

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 prevously?  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.

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.

Authors Page.

This is a headliner and a place where not only can a reader find your books but also something about you the author. A photo does help.. it makes you relateable.  Then something that gives a reader some confidence in your writing ability before they buy your book. This does not necessarily mean listing everything you have ever written, but by the way your write your biography.  This is an example of your work and if you don’t interest the reader or impress with your style of writing they may not feel like buying the book.

Check out the bios of succesful authors and find a style and content that you like and use that as a formula.

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 readers do not know your name, they are not going search for it and find you. 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 Rapid Healthy Weightloss is more specific than just weightloss Give up Smoking, Cooking with microwaves, Lancaster in 1960.

For fictionMurderer for Hire, Romantic short stories, Love Poetry, Thrilling Flash Fiction, Historical Romance 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.

Here are the previous posts on Press Releases, preparing for radio and television interviews:



How you can help me share your blog and promote your books, art, music for FREE

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As a writer I am delighted when a fellow blogger or contact on social media shares my work or my posts. In turn it gives me great pleasure to reciprocate but it helps when people come to me or make it easy for me to share their books, posts, tweets etc.

On WordPress there are a number of buttons that you can install that enables others to follow and share. I notice that some bloggers choose not to display the Reblog button which is quite useful as a sharing method… If a post is special, relevant, contains important information or is entertaining reblogging helps bring traffic to your blog and also gets your post to a wider audience. When it is reblogged only the first paragraph or sentences are shown and then you have to click a link to be taken to the original. It is also best if the person who reblogs puts in a note about who the blogger is and the nature of the post.

By setting up the Facebook, Twitter, Google, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Tumblr, etc buttons you enable readers of the post to share the link to your post on their sites. This means that if 10 people read your post and share via all of these sites you could be reaching thousands of potential readers.

If you are on Twitter then I do suggest that you put in a profile indicating your interests and also a link to your blog. A photo or an image of some sort is a good thing. I tend not to follow an egg image with just a name and no details. You have 160 characters and if you want like-minded people to be interested enough to follow you, use to its best advantage.

I also go into the twitter accounts of my main list of contacts that I regularly interact with. It is very useful to if there is a pinned tweet with a specific message about some important aspect of your work. Use it as an extension of your profile to put the link to your book promo video or to your author’s page on Amazon… Change your pinned tweet every few weeks to promote another aspect of your work.

If you are not familiar with this facility it is really easy.  When you have posted a tweet.. go into your tweets directory under your profile and you will then see your latest tweet at the top.  Click on the three little dots and you will be given an option to pin the tweet. Click this and it will tell you that by doing so any previous pinned tweet will be deleted.. click that you agree and at the top of the stream you will see a button which invites you to view the tweet in the pinned position.. very easy and an important promotional tool.

So please make it easy for me to share your talent.

I am on social media and tend to work mainly with the following sites.

LinkedIn. I have been on LinkedIn for many years and used primarily for my work related posts. In the last year more and more Indie Authors are using the site to promote their own work and others and it is also a great place to lay out your shop front in more detail. I do believe that people buy people first and sharing your career background can build credibility and illustrate that you have gained some life experience. As with most sites you can like, comment and share posts so it is another opportunity to build up a circle of like-minded people who support each other and their work.

LinkedIn has an invitation system in place. You will be asked how you know a person and if you do not click one of the boxes then you need to enter an email address. If you would like to connect to me then click that we have done business together as blogger at Smorgasbord, my job at Moyhill publishing or put in my work email address which is

Facebook. You will see two Facebook addresses and one is for my personal account and the other is my book site and where I also post my blog articles. I would be happy to connect with you on either or both.

Twitter is a bit like marmite and some people do not get it at all. I set up my account to help build a presence on social media that I could use not only for my books but also as I intend to return to radio presenting as some point, pick up my nutritional therapy practice and also my training consultancy.. A strong web presence including LinkedIn and FB will be useful when I do as well as giving me an opportunity to keep up with new trends in health, music and books.

What I did not expect was that Twitter would become my second largest referrer to my blog in the last year which for me is a good indicator that it works. I have found some amazing guests for the Sunday Show including William Price King who is now such a key contributor to the blog.

I am very happy to retweet your important news about your work so if you tag me on @sgc58 when you are releasing a book, had a rave review, a new promo video etc then I will share it.

All my links are here and look forward to hearing from you

Guest posts and interview opportunities.

Even if you have lots of followers you still might like to reach a few more by guest posting on various subjects. My blog covers a number of topics and I would love to hear from you if you have an interest, hobby, skill, film review, recipe etc that you would like to share with my readers. You get to have a bio and a promotion of your own work too. Apart from being promoted on my social media sites you can reblog on your own site and also post again a little later for those who missed the first time around.

The Sunday Show New Format October 2015

This is open to all creative writers, artists, musicians and bloggers

The new show is in the format of a Sunday Lunch where guests bring a virtual guest who has inspired them and either a main course or a dessert that means something to them.  Send me a note to and I will put you on my list.

Sally’s Christmas Grotto

This series was very successful last year and this year is proving to be no exception. If you would like to feature your books, artwork, design, jewellery, clothing, music or any creative gifts then let me know.  Here is an example.

Five Star Treatment.

If you have had a great review for you work and would like to share that then please get in touch. Whilst nobody responds to people who feel the necessity to talk about themselves and their work continually there is also no place for false modesty when you are a writer. You write for others to read. If you have a great review for your books, art, poetry, photography or music then let me know. This also means that previous books can get another boost particularly if you are about to publish new work.

If you have converted your print versions into Ebook it is a chance to use reviews from that edition to promote the fact that you are now available to download.

New Book Fanfare

If you have had a book released in the last month and would like to add further promotion to your launch then please consider a New Book Fanfare which reaches out across social media to 20,000 of my contacts and thousands more when reblogged and retweeted.  Details and previous posts here.

All these promotions are completely FREE and you have nothing to lose but a little time submitting your details.

Look forward to hearing from you. best wishes Sally Cronin

So that is just some of the ways that I can share your creativity.. Thank  you as always for dropping by and I am very grateful that you have done so.. Please leave a comment so that I know who you are..