Rebooted: Will a Makeover Help a Book with Slumping Sales?

Well, it’s live! The completely made-over “Passion Play” is updated and on sale at both Amazon and Smashwords.

passion playHopefully, the sexier, more dynamic cover and the more provocative title will attract a little more attention to it. To read my thinking on rebranding and repackaging the story formerly known as “The Coronation of King Charles III”, click here.

One of the things I didn’t discuss in last week’s blog was how to place the story in Amazon’s (and, to a lesser extent, Smashwords’s)  marketing machine.

If you read lasty week’s entry, you know I did a search on hot keywords in Google Adwords. “Passion” was a big one, so I included that in the title. Naturally, “sex” was a big winner too (504M hits per month), as were “witch” and “magic.”

The latter two were easy enough to include as keywords. The main character is a witch; she uses magic.

But sex is trickier.

Searching Amazon using the keyword, “sex,” brought up two major sub-search terms: “sex books” and “sex stories.” Given that I wrote a book with sex magic in it, both of those sounded good initially.

But the thing is “sex books” turned up a lot of nonfiction — sex manuals, sexual positions, sexual disorders, etc. That’s not at all a fit for “Passion Play.”

“Sex stories,” on the other hand, was solidly fiction, but it was also mostly erotica. That’s not “Passion Play” either. There is a lot of sex in the story, but it’s not described, and it’s certainly not there to titillate.

The problem was there didn’t seem to be a category I could choose that fit “Passion Play” and its use of sex. But sex is a big part of the story, and, as I noted last week, sex sells.

So I chose “passion,” “sex,” “sex stories,” “magic,” “witches,” and “witch” as my keywords. I’ll be monitoring how the book does in the same way I did “Sleeping Beauty: A Modern Fairy Tale,” and it may be some of this needs to change. At the moment, this is my best guess.

Which leads me to categories. That is the even more mysterious, difficult way to target the book. Amazon has a list of categories and subcategories for you to choose, but they don’t always seem to reflect how customers search. Moreover, there appear to be categories customers use, you can’t choose.

Prior to the reboot, I had the story categorized as Fiction>Fantasy>Short Stories. That hasn’t been doing me any good, but there isn’t a fantasy subcategory I can choose that in any way describes the sort of book “Passion Play” is. Worse, there isn’t another subcategory of fiction that seems to fit it. I left that category alone for the moment and went exploring elsewhere.

I landed in Religion>Sexuality & Gender Studies. That seems wrong at first. “Passion Play” isn’t a religion book. But religion is a major theme in the story. So is sexuality and the role of women in society. You get two categories, and I couldn’t find another one in fiction. I decided to roll the dice and see what happens.

Likewise, I came across a category on Smashwords that seemed to say things about the story the standard fantasy fiction categories didn’t: Fiction>Women’s Fiction>Feminist. Again, “Passion Play” isn’t typical of that kind of book, but it features a strong woman struggling to protect herself from persecution. Once again, I decided to roll the dice.

I’ll see how all this goes. Will a sexier cover, bolder title, better book description, and targeted category placement yield higher sales? I wonder. But they can’t have been any worse than what the book was collecting. We’ll see if I transform “Passion Play” into a dynamic seller.

Stay tuned.

And while you’re waiting, why not head over to or and pick up a copy of “Passion Play”? I think you’ll enjoy the read, and it might just tell me I’m on the right trail.


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