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When you set out to write a book you probably didn’t realize that being a successful author would require more than just writing the book. You also have to market that book. This is particularly true if you are a self-published author, because you don’t have the benefit of partnering with a publisher for your launch. 

When it comes to marketing, many authors mistakenly believe that if you simply upload it to Amazon, the interested readers will start finding it. But unfortunately, it’s just not that simple. You have to convince people to buy it. So how can you sell more books on Amazon?

Below are some simple steps you can take to find readers on Amazon, but it helps to understand a little more about how Amazon works first. 

Amazon is a giant search engine helping people find exactly what they are looking for, much like Google. Books are no different. The more information that Amazon has about your book (known as metadata) the more it will showcase your book to potential customers that it thinks are looking for it. 

While the Amazon algorithms remain somewhat of a mystery, the main things it looks for are: your book’s title and subtitle, keywords and categories, customer reviews, sales and/or downloads, and sales ranking. By paying attention to these areas and utilizing some of Amazon’s other tools like Amazon Author Central and price promotions you can launch your book in front of hundreds of readers and potential customers. 

Here are our basic strategies to optimize your Amazon book listing and sell more books. 

Invest in a Good Cover. The first thing anyone is going to see is the thumbnail of your book cover, and no pressure, but that has to be enough to draw them in. How are you going to do that? By not skimping on your cover. A lot of authors think their content and big ideas will be enough to drive sales and while that will be true to a certain extent, how you will find other readers is by making sure your cover is both appropriate for your book and compelling. Here are a few tips for designing a cover that will attract readers. 

Your cover also contributes to your Amazon metadata so your title and subtitle ideally will include some of the main keywords people will use when searching for your book. 

Pick the right keywords and categories. A major piece of Amazon metadata are keywords and categories. The keywords are literally a list of up to seven words or phrases that describe your book, or ask a question that your book answers. To come up with the right list of keywords, picture yourself as the reader who is searching for your book. What might they type into the Amazon search bar that would lead them to you? 

For example, if your book is about how to engage celebrities and social media influencers in philanthropy, you might picture your reader typing “how to engage influencers” or “Ways to engage influencers” into the search bar. You could include these as keywords when you upload your book into Amazon KDP, and even better would be including them in your book description (more on that below). 

Categories are exactly what they sound like – they are the section on Amazon’s virtual bookstore your book “belongs in.” You could think of categories as the shelf at the bookstore. Are you a nonfiction book? Self help? A cookbook? The nice thing about Amazon is their categories can be much more niche than what you find at a bookstore. Instead of an entire section on cookbooks, you can narrow your book down to regional cookbooks featuring Cajun & Creole cocktails.  

There are several software tools like Publisher Rocket that you can use to determine the best categories for your book, or you can do it the old fashioned way. Start by looking for cookbooks on Amazon and click on a few titles. Scroll to the bottom of their book description and see what categories those books are in and how well they are performing. If it looks like a cookbook that you would want your book next to at the “bookstore” then consider adding that category to your book. When you use tools like Publisher Rocket you can get more information about the categories you pick –  like how many books you would need to sell in an hour to make best seller status. 

When you first upload your book to Amazon you can pick two categories. After your book is live, you can add additional categories – up to eight more  – simply by emailing customer service with your list of additional categories. Being in more categories will get your book in front of more readers so do not skip this step. 

Write a compelling book description. Your keywords don’t just exist on the backend of your Amazon bookpage. They should also be sprinkled throughout your book description. Most readers who click on your book because the cover looks interesting will read the book description next, so make it compelling. You might have only a few seconds to grab their attention. 

Things you should include in your book description would be your strongest endorsement for the book, a little bit about yourself, and your hook. What about your book is different from all the other books in your category? Why should the reader hit the “buy now” button on this book? What will you teach them, or what journey will you take them on? Obviously you don’t want to give away the entire thing, so write this like a movie trailer. Give enough details (laden with keywords) to entice the reader into wanting to know more. 

Get Customer Reviews. If there is one ongoing marketing strategy you should invest in, it is getting customer reviews. Verified customer reviews tell Amazon that people are engaging with your work and the algorithm will reward you by showing your book to more readers. There is no magic number but books that have 25 reviews or more start to see an increase in sales ranking.

So how do you get customer reviews? There are services out there that will help you engage with reviewers who get a free copy of your book and then have the option to write a review if they want to. There is no guarantee the review will be positive. You can also engage other book influencers and ask for reviews, or of course you can ask your friends and family (though sometimes Amazon will catch on to this strategy and might reject the reviews). If you have a mailing list, social media channels, or other types of author platforms you can use those avenues to ask for customer reviews. You can also reach out to blog tours to get your book in front of more readers who write reviews. A mix of all of these strategies is usually best and ideally can be done before your book goes live. You can send author copies to people requesting a review for launch week so that the week your book goes live it garners several reviews from different people and places. 

Amazon Author Central. After your book is live on Amazon, you can create an Amazon Author Central Account where you can add even more information about your book and yourself as an author. To create an Amazon Author Central Account visit author.amazon.com and create an account. From there you can claim your title, which will take Amazon a few days to connect. Once your Author page is live you can optimize your book by adding a high-resolution author photo; your full bio; and other content like a book trailer, your other book titles, video interviews you’ve been on, etc. If you have social media channels or an author website you can connect all of those here as well. 

Consider Running Amazon Ads. Sometimes you have to spend money to make money and running targeted Amazon ads can be one way to reach more readers. If you have ever purchased a book on Amazon and noticed the “customers who bought this also bought this” section near the bottom, that is a paid Amazon promotion. With the right strategy and enough time to adjust it (we recommend committing to no less than three months to start making a profit) you can hone in on Amazon ads and make a profit. 

Try An Amazon Price Promotion. A great way to pick up more readers is to run Amazon price promotions for your book. A lot of authors choose to do this at launch, and then again every 3- to 6-months. Price promotions include giving your ebook away for free for five days (you will still earn royalties in pages read versus books sold) or discounting the price significantly for a period of time. All of these promotional strategies require you to enroll your ebook in KDP Select, which means you will have to remove it from distribution from anywhere else. The KDP Select period is 90 days so even if you are running a five-day promotion you will be enrolled in KDP Select for three months before you can distribute your ebook again outside of Amazon. It’s important to weigh the pros and cons of KDP Select before making this decision, but a lot of genres do really well here and you can always try it for 90 days and if it doesn’t work you can unenroll. 

Of course, you never want to put all your eggs in one basket when it comes to book marketing. There are other ways to market your self-published book outside of Amazon that can also help increase sales and bran awareness. Be sure to check out our 5 Ways to Market your Self-Published Book that Actually Work.

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