Do you want to know how to inspire readers to buy your book?
Listen in as Casey Demchak, author, expert copywriter, and consultant shares his secret sauce for writing engaging, conversational-style marketing copy to multiply your book sales.
Do you want to know how to inspire readers to buy your book?
Listen in as Casey Demchak, author, expert copywriter, and consultant shares his secret sauce for writing engaging, conversational-style marketing copy to multiply your book sales.
In this week's powerful episode "How to Best Inspire Readers to Buy Your Book" you will discover…
And a whole lot more…
[00:00:00] Susan Friedmann: Welcome to Book Marketing Mentors, the weekly podcast where you learn proven strategies, tools, ideas, and tips from the masters. Every week I introduce you to a marketing master, who will share their expertise to help you market and sell more books.
Today my special guest is Casey Demchak. Casey is an expert copywriter and consultant with more than 25 years of experience. He's the author of the book "Essential Sales Writing Secrets". He writes for Jeff Walker's Product Launch team and has written book marketing copy for dozens of authors who've achieved Amazon Bestseller status. Wow, we're going to talk about that, Casey. What a pleasure it is to welcome you to the show and thank you for being this week's guest, expert, and mentor.
[00:00:47] Casey Demchak: Well, thank you, Susan, it's a pleasure to be here and I look forward to having a good chat with you today!
[00: 00:52] Susan Friedmann: Oh, we're going to have a great chat, I know! Casey, marketing copy, strong marketing copy. Our listeners want to know why is that so important.
[00:01:05] Casey Demchak: Yeah, Susan, it's really important for three big reasons. And the first reason - it just gives you and your book a much more professional edge. If you have a well-written book, but then your marketing copy, let's say, your back cover copy, Amazon description, website sales page, if it's not written well, it just kind of brings down your book. If you have strong marketing copy, it's immediately going to give you much more of an edge and, kind of, elevate your stature with your buying audience.
The second that's so important is these days we put so much emphasis on building a buzz about our book through social media. There are so many great platforms out there, but a lot of people use social media to build a buzz and get a conversation going and that's a great strategy. It's an important tactic. But, ultimately, at some point, you need to have a compelling marketing copy that's going to motivate people to buy your book right now, instead of later or never. And to do that you need marketing copy that's really going to move people. You need to kind of bring them through a motivating sequence, so they all make their decision to buy your book right now.
And the third reason that's so important and this might be the most important reason. If you know you've got strong book marketing copy that's compelling and engaging and dynamic, you're going to feel so much more confident about marketing your book. You know, whenever I did marketing copy for authors, at the end of our time together, you know, usually they'll say, "Casey, I really like the copy and you did a great job, it was fun working with you." But in the end what they'll say to me, "And now that I've got this copy, I feel so much better about putting myself out there. I feel more confident and vibrant and I'm ready to get out there and spread my message and make an impact."
[00:02:48] Susan Friedmann: That strong marketing copy being compelling, I think that's such an important aspect. It sounds so easy, but I know that writing a book is one thing, but writing a marketing copy is a whole different skill altogether. Let's go down that route of compelling marketing copy. What makes marketing copy compelling?
[00:03:10] Casey Demchak: One thing that makes it compelling and is very simple is you need to focus your marketing copy on what readers will gain from your book. When I start working with authors, a lot of times they come to me about the book description that maybe they can use for their back cover and then kind of repurpose it for the Amazon description.
If they take a shot at writing their own marketing copy, they tend to start writing what their book is about. Because they think, "Well, I'm going to describe my book. I have to tell readers what it's about." And that's not the mindset you want to take.
What makes marketing copy compelling is when you write from the mindset of, "I'm going to let readers know what they're going to gain from reading my book. I'm going to let readers know the benefits of reading my book or the lessons of reading my book." So what you need to focus on, communicating to people what they're going to gain, and what they're going to get out of reading your book.
You have to imagine there's someone sitting across from you and they're looking at you and they're just saying, "Okay, so what's in it for me?" When people are looking at Amazon descriptions or back covers, and website sales pages, really, in the back of their mind, they might not even be conscious of what's going to make them buy your book.
They want to have a clear picture of what they're going to get out of reading your book. And when you focus your marketing copy on what readers will gain from your book, it'll be very evident what your book is about.
[00:04:25] Susan Friedmann: And that side is also so critical because people say, "Well, I've written a book. Do you want to buy it?" It's like, why should I buy it? What's the value of the book? As you rightly say, what are the benefits that I am going to gain from reading your book? What am I going to get out of it? And I think that's the piece that people don't always get. It's like, "Oh, I wrote a book!" That means you can be excited about it and want to buy it.
[00:04:54] Casey Demchak: Another mistake authors make, who, you know, think, "Oh, marketing copy, gasp, I gotta go on a Madison Avenue mode. And I gotta come up with something kind of clever and snappy, and zippy and sexy." And you don't! When you're focused on telling people what they'll gain from your book, you can do that in a very conversational way, so that your writing doesn't have to have some snappy flair to it. It can be very straightforward, and very down-to-earth.
If you're letting people know, "This is what you'll gain from reading my book," you don't have to be all razzmatazz and jazzy. You can be very straightforward with people. And the authors I've worked with, prefer to be that way. They prefer to write that kind of marketing copy.
[00:05:34] Susan Friedmann: And I think things have changed a lot. I mean, you've been in the industry for 25 years. You've probably seen a lot of changes in marketing copy over that time. And I think, once upon a time, as you said, that Madison Avenues, slick, snazzy, clever words. But now, it's like very conversational.
[00:05:55] Casey Demchak: And it needs to be because a big change in the marketing copy over the last decade I've seen is you can no longer be at the top of the mountain, speaking down to your audience. Now, your audience wants to interact with you. So when you're writing your marketing copy, a part of your call-to-action is letting people know how they can engage with you, whether it's on your website or on a social media platform.
People want to interact with authors. So you have to be kind of down-to-earth because you're probably going to end up, you know if you build a fanbase, you're going to have to actually interact with them and speak with them. And you can't come across as the big voice on the mountain, speaking down to the crowd.
So you can't be in this razzy-jazzy mode, because nobody talks like that. You have to, you know, write in a conversational way, but when you're communicating benefits to people, or when you're communicating value to people, you can do that in a very conversational way. And you have to.
[00:06:49] Susan Friedmann: Yeah, you have to, as you rightly say, because authenticity, being genuine, wanting to like and trust you that you've got to be real. And the more real you are, I think, the more you're embracing and attracting people to you.
And, obviously, your marketing copy has to reflect that as well. Talk to us about, let's say, writing headlines. I mean, there's a big thing about how to write a headline that grabs people's attention. And are there some special tips and techniques that you would be able to share with our listeners?
[00:07:30] Casey Demchak: Yeah, absolutely, Susan. That's another area where, in fact, that's probably the number one area where authors when they try to write their marketing copy headline, think, "I've got to write something snazzy and clever." And you don't.
Often, a very clear benefit written in headlines is the most effective type of headline that you can write. The first thing you want to do before you write a headline is to understand the goal of a headline. And the goal of the headline is simply to engage readers and motivate them to want to learn more about your book.
So if they're looking at your back cover and they read the headline, the goal of that headline is to get their attention and make them want to pop on down and read the body copy. The same thing with your Amazon description, you should have a nice headline. If you've got a website sales page, you want your headline to grab people and motivate them to want to learn more.
So the goal of your headline - you don't have to entertain people, you have to grab them and make them want to learn more. And to do that you can draw from some proven headline formats that are very straightforward and basic. And I can give you a few examples.
[00:08:33] Susan Friedmann: I'd love you to.
[00:08:35] Casey Demchak: I'll do a set for some non-fiction books. One of them would be a problem-solution headline, so think of this headline maybe for a healthcare book of some kind. "Reverse your chronic pain without drugs." Okay, well, you've promised a benefit, okay, I'm going to show you how to reverse your chronic pain without drugs.
And by saying, "Reverse your chronic pain without drugs," people think, "Oh, I'm interested in that, how do I do that?" So you've kind of implied a promise that you're going to show them how to do that somewhere in the body copy. So that could be all you need to do to grab people and get them to want more. A book for people over 50 on how to accumulate wealth and manage money. A headline could be, "How to build big wealth after age 50?"
Again, you're implying your benefit or a promise and motivating people to think, "Okay, well, how do I do that? I want to know how." And they'll go down to the body copy to start finding out how. Another thing about these two examples I've just given you and the next one I'm going to give you - very simple words, very simple words, very basic, easy to understand, easy to remember.
Again, it doesn't have to be razzy-jazzy. If you have a really hard time coming up with an idea, here's one you didn't go to, go to a reasons why headline or numbered list headline. Something like, this could be another financial book, "7 Reasons Why Day Trading Can Set You Free." Well, you're implying that day trading can set you free and I'm going to show you how.
Now they have an idea that your marketing copy is going to be organized into seven easy steps to follow, okay? Another one, a numbered list headline. This could be maybe for a career book. 9 Habits That Lead to Career Fulfillment. What are those habits? You promised people there are nine habits I can show you. They're going to just, "Well, I want to know what those 9 habits are!" So they're going to jump down into the body copy to find out what they are.
And if you're going to use "7 Reasons Why" or "9 Habits", if you're going to use a number, a great tip would be to start your headline with that number. Don't put that number in the middle of the headline or- You can put it at the end, but that's kind of hard to do. Always kind of put that number first. And again, you use that number, if you want to imply a benefit, like, here's the promise I'm making you. Also, by using a number, it lets people know that you're going to present your information in a kind of very organized fashion.
Then I give you one more. This is for an adventure book, let's say, a travel book. And this is the third book that I've actually worked on. I worked with an author who went to what he thought were the most dangerous countries on the planet, just to visit them. He got arrested in three of them and managed to get out. And his headline was "Escape from the most dangerous places on Earth". And that's kind of, okay, you're not really making a promise there but people are going to be curious, "Well, what are those most dangerous places and how did you get out of them?"
[00:11:27] Susan Friedmann: Intrigue, yeah, the intrigue, that curiosity, I mean, that's, yeah. I love it.
[00:11:32] Casey Demchak: Yeah, so these are simple headline types, they're proven formats. They're not zippy or clever, or witty or sexy, none of that stuff. But they engage people and they motivate them to want to learn more.
[00:11:43] Susan Friedmann: Yeah, and that's really what I wanted to hone in on, the simplicity of each one of those, but you're right, they all beg the question, "Well, how do you do that? I want to know more."
I'd love to talk to you a little bit, just to pick your brain on numbers. Are there any specific numbers for instance that are more attractive than others, with 3 or 5? I was told that odd numbers are better than even numbers.
[00:12:09] Casey Demchak: Yes.
[00:12:11] Susan Friedmann: Is there anything behind that or am I making that up?
[00:12:13] Casey Demchak: I have been told that I've read that and learned that and talked to people about that throughout my career and everybody says the odd numbers. I wish I could give you a great reason why, but I don't know. And they say the same thing with bullet points, either you use one, of course not one, but three or five, you know, use odd numbers, you know.
[00:12:37] Susan Friedmann: That's so interesting.
[00:12:39] Casey Demchak: I don't really know the odd number thing but, yeah, go with an odd number.
[00:12:43] Susan Friedmann: Go with an odd number. Yes, yes, yes. Except a hundred, people like a hundred, but then they also like a hundred and one. Or ten, ten seems to be a good number, you know, like, the 10 commandments.
[00:12:55] Casey Demchak: Yeah, and another thing with numbers in your headline is if you have, let's say, seven or five, or none, use the digit. It just grabs people quicker. In an English class, we were taught any number that's less than ten needs to be spelled out.
And so I've worked with some authors, they're going to put a nine or seven in their headline and they spell it out and I go, "You can just use the digit in a headline, it's just going to get... People notice it quicker." And they go, "Well, you've got to spell it out." And I go, "Don't worry, your junior high school English teacher is not going to hunt you down." You can break a couple of grammar rules with marketing copy in general but especially in a headline.
[00:13:31] Susan Friedmann: I'm going to say, just overall, I think, English teachers, many of them, could be just turning over in their grave to see what comes out now, the conversational type of way books are written these days. And as you say, the headlines, yes, just break all the rules.
[00:13:49] Casey Demchak: Yeah, as long as you know what rules you're breaking, that's the outline, you know. You don't want to hack up the language, but marketing copy is conversational so you write the way people talk.
[00:13:59] Susan Friedmann: Exactly.
[00:14:00] Casey Demchak: You're going to end some sentences with prepositions and split infinitive here and there.
[00:14:05] Susan Friedmann: Let's focus on book covers. Not book covers, back covers, that's what I meant to say. Is there a formula for a back cover that's more attractive than others, or are there certain things on the back of the book that need to be there? Especially, obviously, we focus a lot on non-fiction here, so if we stay with the non-fiction, what do you suggest?
[00:14:28] Casey Demchak: I'll give you a really quick simple formula. In copywriting we use what's called a motivating sequence. There's a whole bunch of them, but I'll give you a really quick one. When you start writing your back cover, a great thing to do is after you have that engaging headline, you want to start your copy talking about the reader.
A lot of times authors start by talking about themselves or they really just want to start talking about the book. Talk about thirst or a need or a challenge that the reader has. For example, if your book is on, we'll go back to that headline, "How to build big wealth after age 50?" Someone who's going to read that book might be in their fifties, thinking, "God, I haven't managed my money quite the way I wanted to or I haven't made enough. I haven't made the most of my career yet." That's a frustration they have or a need, or an obstacle or a challenge.
Write about that first! Say, you know, have you had a good career but maybe not managed your money exactly the way you would have liked? Or maybe you haven't followed through on your career dreams the way you wish you would have. Well, you still have time. Right away, you talk about the reader, okay. So you're talking about them instead of yourself. You want to talk about the need or the challenge that they have.
And then we have a thing called agitation. You kind of want to amplify that a little bit. The extreme consumer ads we've heard are like, "Are you tired of being ten pounds overweight? Are you bummed every spring when you can't put on the best clothes you want to wear?" They really can rub it in. So you really don't want to rub it in too much, but just recognize the challenge or the need that your audience has and remind them what that need is.
Because what that does to the reader, okay, they're, they saw that he's talking about me and they understand the challenge that I have. On a back cover, you mainly do that in a sentence or two, but you can do that if you really, you know, you really work at your copy. Then the next step, step two is to paint a little picture of how life can look if that challenge was met. Just think of, okay, so then you just identify, maybe somebody hasn't saved enough for retirement yet.
But what would life look like if you kind of shifted gears and made a change and started putting more money away? You'd be able to take that vacation you want. You'd be able to go visit your grandkids more often. You'd be able to leave more behind for your grandkid's education. You kind of paint the picture, "This is how life could look if that challenge is met." So you start with, "Here's the challenge you have. Here's how life could look if you meet that challenge." So they go, "Yeah, that's the challenge I have. Yeah, it would be great if my life looked like that."
Now in the back of their mind, they're thinking, "Tell me how to do that." Then you can go from there to step three and give a little nutshell description of your book. Maybe a sentence or two that sums up the primary promise of your book. Then from there, in step four, go into some nice bullet point benefit statements. Here is what you're going to gain from reading the book, okay.
Step five, you've answered- When people are saying, "What's in it for me? What am I going to get from your book?" Well, you've just told them. The next question in their mind is, "Why should I believe you?", okay. What you want to do below your bullet points, what you can do is have either a nice endorsement that you have.
If you've got it from the nice market influencers giving you a nice endorsement, a nice endorsement quote that kind of supports the benefit statements you've made, put it right under your bullet points. Or if you have something about your story, your personal story that makes you an expert and gives you really strong credentials, you can use that as your social proof. Or maybe you have some nice statistics or something like that.
When you've made these benefit statements, the next thing you want to do is provide some social proof. And that can come in different forms as I said. Then the next step is to have a strong close. You want to have a nice, good closing one-liner, either reiterate one of the main benefits that you talked about in step four or maybe set up a revelation. Like, "In addition to the benefits I've already given you, in chapter 4 I'm going to reveal free great ideas that will help you get your business started. In fact, you may even want to read that chapter 4."
Something to get people inspired, pumped up, leave them wanting more so that if they go from looking at your back cover copy, now they're going to start looking inside of your book. Or if it's for Amazon description, they're going to hit the look-inside feature or the "Buy Now" button if you've really gotten them excited.
That is kind of a little basic, I think, I just gave you a five or six-step motivating sequence that you can use on your back cover. I've used that sequence many-many times. Think of it as a recipe. Once you get comfortable with it, then you can kind of maybe mix a couple of steps, kind of make that recipe your own, and give it your own little individual touch.
But that's just kind of a basic motivating sequence. But I think the two big keys there are to start your back cover talking about the need, challenge, thirst, and obstacle that your audience is facing. And then that step four with those benefit bullet points, those quick-hitting, sharp bullet points that really let people know what they're going to gain from your book. So I think if you follow that little formula, you'll be off to a really good start.
[00:19:26] Susan Friedmann: Oh, yeah, that's brilliant, I love it! I've never heard it broken down quite that way before so I really like that recipe. Yeah, got to listen to it again, so that I make sure that I got everything that I needed there. Then the back cover, would that translate into, let's say, the Amazon description or would you have more in that description or less, you know? How does that work?
[00:19:52] Casey Demchak: With the back cover, typically, depending on the size of your book and the graphics that you have on your back cover, the word count that I always go by is 225 to 275 words. That includes your marketing copy and the endorsement that you have on there and also if you have an author bio at the bottom of the back cover. I'm fine with that word count, so split the difference between 225 and 275, say, 250 words.
If you turn that over to the designer, they can fit that comfortably in most back covers without having to make the font size really small or something like that. At 250 words it fits nice, you can write a very strong message at 250 words. But invariably when you write your first draft or your second draft, you're going to find yourself being, "Hey, I like this copy, but gee, it's 310 words!" Gosh, I have to cut out a bullet point I really like. Or benefit statement or I have all of these really great endorsements, but I can use one!
You can get a little frustrated. That's part of being a writer. You have to ruthlessly cut your copy to fit the back cover. But save that first draft, that 310-word draft that you really like, save it. Because that can be the basis of a really good Amazon description because you don't have a restricted word count as you do on a back cover. You do have a character count limitation, but the last time I checked, the way I worked it out... It left you a room of 600 words or something like that.
And you maybe don't want to go that long, but that 310-word version of your back cover that you really like - you can definitely use that for your Amazon description. So that's the difference with the Amazon description. You do have some extra room to work with, so if you had three great bullet points you used on your back cover, but you really wanted to use five, you can use five of them in your Amazon description.
[00:21:38] Susan Friedmann: Our listeners love mistakes. You alluded to one earlier. What other common mistakes do you see that authors make with this whole process of writing copy, back covers, front covers, descriptions, etc?
[00:21:54] Casey Demchak: Well, the biggest one is focusing too much on what your book is about instead of what people get out of your book. I'd say, razzy-jazzy headlines. People want to see- A huge one with headlines is that they want to make a clever statement. I'll give you an example.
I worked with an author once who was writing a financial book for kids because, you know, they typically don't teach money in school. And he had a headline "Dollars and cents: one doesn't come with the other." And he spelled cents, S, E, N, S, you know, as in brain sense. So he thought that was kind of witty, dollars and cents: one doesn't come with the other.
I said, "Yeah, that's kind of clever, but it's just a clever statement. It doesn't necessarily drive people down into your body copy." So what we came up with was, "7 things every high school kid should know about money." Much more simple, but like, people are going to say, "What are those seven things?" And it's going to motivate them to go into the copy. So that's a big mistake.
And again, focusing on what your book is about instead of how people will benefit from the book. I'd say the big one is the authors don't identify the challenge of the reader. They don't write enough about the reader, they talk about themselves too much. So what you want to do is spot-check your copy.
When you write your marketing copy, and I call it "give it the I-I test or the we-we test", if it's a... You know, do you find that too many of your sentences are starting with the word "I" or with the word "we"? You know, if you're writing as a team or if you're writing about your company or something like that. You often see, if your marketing copy starts off, in the first four sentences, three of them start with the word "I", you need to rework your copy, so you're talking about your audience instead of you.
[00:23:27] Susan Friedmann: Yeah, that's so key. And I know this with speakers. You go to a speaker website and it's all about, "I do this and I've done that and I've spoken here, and I've spoken with this person." And it's like, who cares? What can you do for me? Like, going back, what's in it for me?
[00:23:45] Casey Demchak: Write about, as you start off, here's the challenge that you face, here's how your life could look if you overcome that challenge. And then, if you do that, people go, "Okay, the author relates to how I feel. They know what I'm going through and they know what I want to achieve." And now they're on the edge of their seat. They want you to tell them how they can achieve that. But you have to start off by talking about them first.
[00:24:05] Susan Friedmann: Yeah. That's so key, thank you. Casey, how can our listeners find out more about you and what you do, and your book?
[00:24:14] Casey Demchak: You can go to caseydemchak.com. And if that's too hard to spell or they don't have it in front of them, you can go to caseycopy.com and it'll redirect you to caseydemchak.com. And I've got programs on my site that teach authors how to write marketing copy. So you can check those out.
I've got a free ebook you can download. I'm always putting some goodies up there. I've got a Youtube channel; you can find me on Youtube at youtube.com/caseydemchack. I have a lot of training videos up there you can check out. And even from there, you can link to an ebook that I'm happy to give you, called 7 Must-Know Copywriting Secrets That Sell More Books.
Kind of my little formula, I've got some free stuff that gives you a lot of general information about how to write better book marketing copy. And if you were to look at any of my paid programs, there would be more specific formulas for writing back cover copy, Amazon descriptions, first-person interactive author bio pages, and other marketing materials.
[00:25:12] Susan Friedmann: Yeah, I know you're very generous with your information, so thank you. And that free ebook is well worth getting, listeners. I got a copy after I heard Casey speak at a summit and it's dynamite. Fabulous. Casey, if you were to leave our listeners with a golden nugget, what would that be?
[00:25:31] Casey Demchak: I'd say the golden nugget is, and I'm going to be repeating myself a little bit, but really focus your marketing copy on what people will gain from reading your book. Again, you know, if, like, I gave you a little formula and if it sounds kind of complicated and you're thinking, "Just give me something simple." Write marketing copy that lets people know how they will benefit from reading your book.
If you let people know how they'll benefit from reading your book, they don't know what your book is about and be very-very clear about what your book is about. I've worked with authors, so I gave them that one tip, and they go, "Okay, I don't need you anymore, I'll do that." They didn't worry about the motivating sequence, or a formula, they just started writing, "Here's what you'll gain from my book." And that's just a simple mindset thing, it is to focus on that one plan and you'll be in a really good shape.
[00:26:18] Susan Friedmann: Yeah, that's dynamite, thank you. And thank you so much for sharing all this great wisdom. Listeners, like with so many of our guests, you're going to have to go back and listen to this over and over again to really absorb all the different great golden nuggets throughout this interview, so Casey, thank you.
And thank you all for taking time out of your precious day to listen to this interview. And I sincerely hope that it sparks some ideas you can use to sell more books. Here's wishing you much book and author marketing success.