Yesterday was the first of the IBPA's 2 day conference. There was quite a bit of fascinating sessions, but the one that caught my ear was #202, Amazon Success Stories. The session was moderated by Cevin Bryerman, with Jon Swipe (Amazon) and Danny Snow (Unlimited Publishing).
I know this might look like a promo for Amazon but this session had some really good ideas that can be applied elsewhere.
Amazon are beginning to notice that once a title gets popular, you can raise the price not damage the total income. Danny Snow cites the case of one author who put her book on Amazon for $1.99, dropped it to $.99 to build the buzz, and now sells it for $2.99. The total income is still good.
Amazon have also been doing a cross-promotion technique that I think is worth copying. They now insert an extra page into the ebooks they publish. These pages promote the print and autographed editions of the ebook, with links to where you can buy them. Amazon have figured out that the reader who paid for the ebook might also want to pay for a print copy.
I was somewhat surprised. Of course, I focus on ebooks so much that I regularly forget about paper.
There was another tip from the Amazon rep, Jon Fine, which I think also applies to Google Books. He noted that the books sold on Amazon sell better if they've been added to Amazon's “Search inside the book” feature (average is 6%). This increases the chance that the book will show up in a relevant search. I would bet that publishers can get much the same effect of they do something similar with Google Books. Actually I think it would have a greater effect (who doesn't use Google?).
Continuing the idea of search, the next key point is that metadata is the new cover image. The subtitle, description, category, and other extraneous data are now ways for someone to find a title they're interested in. The panel also encouraged the audience to add and improve their author pages. This helps readers find related titles and track the latest releases. (Of course, a lot of publishers and authors are already doing this.)
BTW, there's a site that you should use to distribute info about your book (link to sales pages, description, metadata) to search engines. It's called dmoz.org, and it's free. It takes 6 to 9 months for the data to propagate,.