Fifty ways to lose your sales


Okay, I'm not going to list fifty ways. I just like the Paul Simon song and needed a pun.

My job is to get readers to the author pages Amazon / Nook / Kobo / Smashwords / iBooks page. I'm a tour guide who brings readers into your store, but it's up to authors to make the sale.

The best authors convert — make sales — to 40 to 50 percent of the visitors to their page. So you can imagine my frustration when I look at the Amazon Affiliates data and see visit to sale ratios like 39:3 or 41:4 or 35:2. That's a LOT of lost sales. Drives me crazy.

Here are some of the ways authors are losing sales:

  1. Typos. Seriously? There's a typo in the second sentence? If you can't bother to make sure all the words are spelled correctly here, how sloppy is your book going to be?
  2. Capitalization run amok. When you Go Crazy and Start Using Capital Letters all the time, readers will wonder if you do this in your novel, too. Yes, I know you want to make a Big Point, but you can accomplish that with your writing. This is an annoying gimmick that turns readers off.
  3. Speaking … of gimmicks. Ellipses … keep increasing on Amazon book pages. They're like "Tribbles" in that episode of "Star Trek." They keep multiplying until they take over everything and become a distraction. Don't use an ellipsis more than once on your page. Otherwise, it loses its effectiveness.
  4. Praise from people or blogs no one knows. Stephen King doesn't blurb reviews from "Amazon reader Mitzi R." on his book jackets because that looks amateurish. Neither should you. If Booklist or Entertainment Weekly or the Chicago Tribune praises your novel, then yes, promote that. And if Lee Child or someone else who has been No. 1 on the New York Times bestseller list loves your novel, promote that too!
  5. Using hyphens instead of long dashes. Some people even wrinkle their noses when they see — instead of —. They want to be reassured that the novel is professionally written and edited. Don't give them an excuse to think otherwise.
  6. Unusual formatting. I see Amazon book descriptions where someone has copied and pasted text that had some hard-returns included, so the width on the page is shorter than it should be.
  7. Long-winded book descriptions. This is a subjective thing. It's like how Justice Potter Stewart once described obscenity — "I know it when I see it." I'm generally not a fan of anything that slows the reader down. Why write "Jeffrey Bruner, dinosaur hunter, aimed his rifle" when you can write "Dinosaur hunter Jeffrey Bruner aimed his rifle"? Also, do you really need that compound sentence? Most of the time the answer is No.

Bottom line: Treat your Amazon page like the first page of your novel. Read it over and over and over. Get two other people to examine it for flaws. Polish, polish, polish. That will let you close more sales.