How to Sell Your Book Online Before It’s Even Published

ignatius-huan-book
You may have seen our FB post last month about Fr Ignatius Huan and his upcoming book on the Catholic Mass.

It is quite the success story as his books sold on his ecommerce website before it was even published!

How did that happen? Divine intervention, you may ask?

Well, it all started when we were asked to help create a website to help sell Father Ignatius’ book on the Catholic Mass.

When we take on a website design project, we usually look at ways to strongly position the business. In this case, this wasn’t a business per se.

This was a Catholic priest and his book and how to promote/market/sell his book using the online platform.

His book is meant for Catholics to understand the significance of Mass.

However, the fundamentals are the same.

When we design and develop a custom website (including the copywriting as well as the SEO*), we think like a potential buyer of the book.

What would a potential buyer (a Catholic) want to see and feel?

What would she like to know in order to raise her confidence about buying a book from a priest?

This is the same process we undertake when we design websites for businesses. Asking the right questions means the website will offer up the right answers to the potential book buyer.

Just as an aside, a big part of any e-commerce website isn’t just about the selling but making sure people who wanted to buy could easily find the buy buttons as well as understand clearly what the product was about.

Here’s the success that our client shared with us.

The morning after the website was launched, we received an email from our excited client informing us that 2 pre-order copies were sold via Singapore Paypal. And we hadn’t even sent out an official announcement or update yet!

We were just as overjoyed as our client.

(Here a few key things to keep in mind when designing a website that is focused on selling a product.)

First impressions count

What your online viewers see first (on your homepage) should tell them who you are and what you are selling. On Fr Ignatius’ website we stayed with our tried and tested formula – less is more. 

The landing page shows a brief intro and foreword by the author himself preceding the call-to-action. Graphics are minimal and focuses on the person and product. Search field (a vital feature on any homepage) is clearly located.

You can reverse the order of where you place the call-to-action as seen on our Web Wisdom page but what matters is that it is unmissable.

Moderation and management

Keep e-commerce website design simple and uncluttered. It’s easier for visitors to navigate and find what they are looking for quickly and efficiently.

Instead of crowding the homepage with details of the book’s content and author, we created separate tabs for each, this allows for the homepage to do what it is meant to do – SELL!

SEO the S*** Out of Your Page

How else can you explain how a book (or even copies of a book) that hasn’t been published yet, could be sold via a website that wasn’t even announced yet???

Once you understand the purpose of SEO you will know what to do with it.

SEO is essentially a digitally encrypted trail to your website. The more ‘clues’ you leave behind the more chances you have of people finding your e-commerce website.

Of course, it helps that Father Ignatius is a well-known Catholic retreat leader and teacher. Also, what with being Lent and all now, we can see a definite uptrend in the search for all things related to Catholicism, Mass and Lent.

His website is still getting orders daily!

The books are only shipping in April so essentially these are pre-orders. People are paying money for what they will be receiving later.

One of the key things that help the book sales is that people want to do good while buying a product they like. It helps that 20% of the proceeds of Father Ignatius’ book go to The Little Sisters of the Poor in Batu Lanchang, Penang. If you can tie in a really good cause to your product, you have a winner!

*SEO or Search Engine Optimisation means we take the effort to research the keywords that potential buyers are using and use these keywords throughout the website in order to attract the search engines naturally. Using this method, our custom website clients have good rankings on search engines even if they don’t advertise. This is also a more sustainable method of getting visibility online. No web designer we know uses this method. Why? Because it’s manual work. It’s tedious. It takes up a lot of time and effort. That’s why our custom websites are priced at a premium and certainly not for everyone.

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