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069 - Navigating Amazon for Your Book

amazon Sep 14, 2020

We used to buy books at book stores but now the harsh reality for many is that Amazon has replaced the ability to browse, smell, feel, and otherwise admire books. The delightful physical ability to peruse books (and all those fun little kick-knacks) down the isles of your favorite bookstore…slowly disappearing.

Now instead of leaping off the shelf screaming “pick me up, buy me!” We have to either more or less know what we are looking for or be held at the mercy for whatever Amazon serves up. Of course, there are a few advantages as well…like global distribution and generally we can find books on our subject that we would have never seen in a bookstore due to it’s giant search engine. As well, there is Author Central, which allows us to follow all of our favorite authors. And, as a buyer, we love the prime shipping.

Hey Guys! Nicole Gabriel here! Today’s podcast is all about navigating Amazon. Let’s dive in…

It’s believed that Amazon uses algorithms for it’s search results and those searches are based on keywords, number of reviews, number of sales, recent sales activity, click through rates, and more. When you set up your book for sale on Amazon or through a distribution network you will be able to set up keywords or phrases that describe your book. You may have heard this referred to as metadata. What key terms or words would your target audience use to find you or your book?

Of course, the new trend now is that keywords are how we are selling books these days…and it is necessary to include those keywords into your title and subtitle for the best search results. Honestly, this is getting quite ridiculous as subtitles are getting rather lengthy as a trend. Key words have a big impact on search results. Some are doing this for the book description as well but clearly it’s far more important to do this for the title and subtitle. This is like your personal SEO tool for the rest of the life of your book.

The categories where you list your book are also important and can have a major impact on sales. Amazon uses BISAC codes. These identify categories where books should be shelved in bookstores and libraries. You can actually place this code on the copyright page of your book. Most books include three categories. Sometimes you can change the code in the kindle edition and it will affect the print edition…if you find it’s not in the right category.

Top Sales Top Priority
Like everyone on the gravy train for your book, Amazon wants to make money. If your book sells it gets a higher priority over competing titles. Amazon won’t drive sales for you, but they will reward you if you are selling and promoting and readers are there buying.

Book Reviews
When your book is getting reviews Amazon sees your book is popular and something in the algorithms gets triggered. And, reviews trigger future buyers. When someone reviews after they purchase it will say “verified purchase” next to it and I suppose you could say that means more to a potential buyer.

Other Measurement Factors
Searches, clicks, and conversions are also watched. If people are searching and then click on your book then you know your title and cover are appealing to readers and when this happens and they actually follow through with a purchase it’s considered a conversion and Amazon tracks this sale and search history.

Sales Ranking
OK, so this is kinda funny to me. When someone tells you they are a best seller and you go to the ranking number near the publisher number on the book sales page you can see what the numbers really are. I’ve often looked at this on my books and then compared to others claiming the best seller accolade and I’ve seen in many cases that my numbers are better. The information shows how well the book is doing at the moment. It’s great to occasionally take a peek at these numbers once your book is up for sale and when you run any kind of marketing or sales campaign. You can get an idea if anyone is buying as a result. Publicity doesn’t always lead to book sales but it’s good to see what works and what doesn’t. Personally, I just never remember when I’m doing an event to give a shout out to purchase my books. I just always figure if someone wants more of me they will find me.

By the way, sales rankings are recalculated throughout the day so be sure to refresh the sales page. There is a secret Amazon algorithm as to how these standings work. It basically takes 3,000 or more book sales in a day to get in the top 10 ranking. But, honestly, you can pick an obscure category and get the same kind of recognition. The general public really doesn’t know the difference as to whether you sold 30 books or 3,000 books in a day.

Creating More Visibility
There are paid opportunities to highlight your book as well. You can pay to sponsor a particular category on Amazon. In my case, I could pay to own space in book publishing search results. You can buy a top spot or pay less and show up somewhere in the middle of the search results page. You can also buy space in related products or the kindle reader. If you want more visibility you’re going to have to pay for it. Nothing in life is free, huh?

If you have written your book with another goal in mind outside of selling books then you may not expect a profit on the book. You can also use the book to market on Amazon to create awareness and draw attention to you as a subject matter expert of your topic or for other business opportunities like speaking or consulting. It can be considered a marketing budget and it happens to utilize an opportunity in a unique marketplace because you’ve taken the initiative to write and market your book. The book gives you great opportunities to get in the door in ways you just may not have considered.

You’ll have to check with Amazon on the types of advertising or sponsorship that work best for you. You can do product displays, sponsorships, pay per click, etc. Generally when you pay when the user clicks on your ad you’ll get the best results. Give it a few months and play with it.

Author Central
This is the place where you set up your author profile and you link to the books you’ve written. You can also place a bio and additional details such as links to websites, social media, and videos you’d like to promote. Once you have this set up, and your book is in the Amazon distribution system, you can link the book to your bio.

Be Aware of KDP Select
This program will give amazon exclusive rights to the distribution of your eBook. I generally recommend my clients upload through IngramSpark and manage that distribution then go through KDP just to manage the Amazon relationship. IngramSpark didn’t used to upload to Amazon but they are now. I generally find it’s best to upload a KDF file direct to Amazon. Your book designer will need to do the conversion for you. In fact, your book designer will be the best resource to prepare your eBook for all distribution networks for you. There are services out there but the problem with them is they will ask you re-work your file and that requires you go back to the original designer and you will be charged for their time on top of the ebook company’s time. It’s just easier to pay the designer to prepare it as the printed book is completed for print. The other benefit is that the designer will hold the master file for both formats.

OK guys, that’s an earful today, but I hope this gives you a bit more clarity on how to work with Amazon. I’m working on creating a series of podcasts as it relates to design and layout of your book. Stay tuned for those in the near future.

As always, wishing you peace, love, and light…

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