I’ve had my short story, “The Interview,” on the Kindle store for a while now, and it hasn’t sold very much. Of course, that’s to be expected with a non-erotica short story, even at the bargain price of $0.99. Even so, I’ve been able to see what doesn’t work in promoting the book and make notes for my future releases (I’m working on a couple right now, when I’m not busy writing blogs).
If you go way back to the start of the blog, you’ll see the first lesson I’ve learned — make certain your cover art is clear to read and nice to look at in a thumbnail version. It led me to change my cover art from a purple, green, and orange monstrosity to the cool design you can see accompanying these paragraphs (and which also acts as a handy link to my page in the Kindle store).
And now I think I can add one more tip to the pile this short story has produced: Don’t name your book “The Interview.”
Or, more accurately, name your book something that doesn’t sound generic. I did a search on the Kindle store for The Interview, and my results look something like this:
As you can see, none of the first five results are “The Interview” by C. Glen Williams. Instead, you have four books with the actual title “The Interview,” and then “Knockout Interview Answers.” You can also see that searching for that title also returned over 3,600 results.
My short story doesn’t appear anywhere in the first 15 pages of results. That’s probably a lot farther than somebody who wasn’t researching a blog entry would search. If you use a search string like “The Interview C. Glen Williams,” then I pop right up — but that’s a lot to expect people to type into a search field.
In a world where digital publishing is fast, easy, and free, titles take on more than an artistic element — they become significant to marketing, as well. Your competition becomes infinite, and you have to rely on people who half-remember your title typing it into a search.
For comparison’s sake, I searched for the titles of three books from people I talk to on Twitter — three people who were smart enough to not imitate Ray Bradbury’s “Mundane title, strange fiction” pattern like I did. Search for “Tin Hero” and you’ll get the one and only Tin Hero by Sabrina Zbasnik (@introvertedwife). Search for “Must Love Dragons,” and the second result is Must Love Dragons (The Linus Saga) by Monica Marier (@lil_monmon). The first title is a romance by the same name — but there aren’t enough similar titles to return even two pages of results.
And then there’s Caissie St. Onge’s (@caissie) Jane Jones: Worst. Vampire. Ever. Interesting note: It’s the first title to pop up whether your search string is “Jane Jones” or “Worst Vampire Ever.” Even if you only half-remember the title, you’re going to find Caissie’s book.
Your title does more than grab attention these days — it’s also the way people find your book in digital stores. Make certain your title has enough character to stand out in the search results.
Of course, if your name happens to be J.A. Konrath, feel free to completely ignore this advice and call your books all the common words you can think of — Origin, The List, Trapped, Afraid — because you’re somehow going to wind up in the top results for all of them. The man knows his marketing.