As a writer, it can be easy to get caught up in the creative process. However, in order to be a successful author, you also need to get savvy when it comes to marketing. Selling your book on Amazon can be a great option for both first time and seasoned authors.
It is fairly straightforward to sell a book on Amazon, and because of this, competition on the platform is stiff. Therefore in order to stand out, you need to take advantage of all the tools available to sellers when it comes to launching and selling your book.
Let’s take a look at some top tips for a successful book launch on Amazon.
1. Pick The Right Categories
Listing your book in the correct category is one of the most important things you can do to drive sales. Many Amazon users look for books based on category, and so it is vital to pick the correct ones. On Amazon, you are allowed to select up to two categories and it is essential to use both of these for maximum exposure.
One approach is to pick a high-volume category which receives a lot of traffic, and therefore has a high potential for exposure. However, these categories are also highly competitive, and so ranking can be difficult, making it less likely that your book will be awarded Amazon bestseller status. Getting on the best seller list is not critical, however ranking in the first few products or at least on the first page makes a huge difference to your products visibility and therefore the number of sales.
On the other hand, it can be worthwhile targeting very specific categories in order to try and get on the Amazon bestseller list for that category. Every category has a bestseller list and it is obviously much easier to rank on smaller categories with less competition. Rather than listing in broad categories with high volumes of products, take the time to research smaller, niche categories which are relevant to your book.
To find the categories and sub categories with low levels of competition, as a rough guide you can look at the volume of daily sales. This means that if your book is effective in generating sales you will easily rank against the competition. This is in no way a concrete reflection of the competitiveness of the category, but it is a good place to start. Once you are successful in ranking in your category, you are likely to attract more organic sales.
Whatever approach you take, be sure to pick categories relevant to your book and your audience. Start by identifying all of the categories and sub-categories that are in any way relevant to your book. You can then put each of these categories through the lenses of popularity (high traffic) and low competition.
2. Optimize Your Listing
To position your book for its best chance of success, it is important to develop a strong listing which will help you to rank on Amazon
The main aspects to think about when creating your listing are:
- Persuasive text: does your listing sell your book? Use persuasive language and sales techniques to convince visitors to buy.
- Images: images are one of the key elements which influence Amazon users’ purchasing decisions, so make sure these are engaging, visually attractive and fit with the theme and feel of your book.
- Keywords: having the correct keywords can improve your ranking in search results. Conduct keyword research and integrate as many primary keywords as possible, especially in your product title.
- Mobile Friendly: the majority of users view Amazon products on their smartphone or tablet, so make sure your listing presents well on mobile devices.
- Instantly Converts: today’s consumers have an incredibly short attention span, so you need to capture their attention instantly through a strong title, engaging images and initial text which encourages them to read more.
Although all of these steps are fairly straightforward, there can be a lot to think about in optimizing a product listing for Amazon. Working with an Amazon agency can help you to optimize your listings and create the perfect product launch.
3. Upload On Amazon Kindle In Advance
Once you have set a launch date for your book, plan ahead and make sure you upload it to Amazon Kindle 1 or 2 weeks before the launch date. Don’t upload your book too early, however, or you risk missing the window to be featured as one of Amazon’s “Hot New Releases” in your category once you do launch.
One or two weeks will give you time to download the book yourself, check for any formatting errors, and adjust them accordingly before uploading a final version. Doing a pre-launch upload, or a “soft launch” also gives you the opportunity to collect some positive reviews before your official launch. See more on this in the following section.
Uploading your book to Amazon is fairly simple:
- Login to Amazon, or register for an account
- Make sure you have registered your tax info for royalties
- Select “Bookshelf” and then click “Add New Title”
- Complete all sections of the listing, taking into account the advice for optimizing your listing
- Upload your cover file and any other images
Once uploaded, before you do anything else, download the book yourself. Start with the “glance-test” and skim over the file for any obvious formatting errors. Then have a final read through to check for errors.
4. Encourage Lots Of Reviews
Having as many reviews as possible not only encourages users to buy your book, but it will also help to rank your listing. As already mentioned, it is a good idea to start gathering reviews before you have even launched your book, to have the best chance of securing a #1 ranking in your category once you do launch it.
Reach out to your friends, family and anyone else in your network and ask them to read your book and leave you a review. You may choose to give them your book for free (by having them buy it and reimbursing them for the cost), in exchange for being part of your test group. Prepare you test group in advance, by getting in touch with them well ahead of your “soft launch” and asking them if they’d be prepared to be involved and that you will send them more information once the book is live.
Once you upload your book and have corrected any formatting errors, get in touch with your prepared contacts and send them a link to your listing. Request that they buy the book and then leave a review two or three days later. For good measure, send a follow up message after that time-frame reminding them to leave a review and telling them the link again. You may even like to give a step-by-step rundown on how the leave a review, in order to make it as easy as possible. Emphasize how important it is that you have positive reviews before your official launch.
After the launch, be sure to follow up all of your customers and ask them to leave you a review. Generally good practice is to follow up two times: this is the optimum level to be proactive without annoying your customers and having the opposite to the desired effect!
5. Have Kindle and Paperback Versions
You will almost certainly find that the majority of Amazon sales for your book will come through Kindle format, but this doesn’t mean you should ignore hard copy. There are still buyers who want to buy actual books, but more importantly having a paperback version listed on your listing is great for marketing. You make your book available in paperback format through Createspace, and then linking this through Amazon to your listing.
Firstly, it will allow you to list two prices: one for the paperback version, and a cheaper price for the Kindle format. This is a classic marketing technique which makes the Kindle version seem more cost-effective to customers, even if it is the same price as you would have listed for Kindle alone. Having a paperback version also makes you and your product seem more professional and legitimate.
This helps to brand you as an established author, therefore encouraging sales.
6. Work Your PR Skills
An effective book launch needs to go beyond what you do just on Amazon. Submit your book to the many book promotion sites which exist online. Compile a list of all book promotion and industry sites which are relevant to your audience, and reach out to them ahead of your launch, telling them about your book and your launch date. Examples of major book promotion sites include Bargain Booksy, New In Books and BookBub, but there are many others for niche and specialist markets. As part of the research phase take note of their publication deadlines and try to match your contact to those dates as closely as possible.
For example, if the publication releases an issue on the 12th of every month, with the cut off date for submissions being the 5th, and your book launch date is the 20th, you want to make sure that you get in touch with them before the 5th in order to make the issue which comes out before your launch. A simple, professional email is sufficient to promote your launch: however make sure you include all relevant information such as the book title, launch date, link to the listing, book synopsis and a brief bio of you, the author.
7. Use Content Marketing
The idea of content marketing is to create useful and engaging content which provides a vehicle for you to reach a wider audience without directly advertising your business or your product. The content itself, which could be blog articles, social media posts, videos, infographics or more, attracts attention of potential customers, building your brand, widening your customer base and bringing in sales leads.
Therefore when writing articles for content marketing, the articles don’t have to directly promote your book, in fact the best content marketing does not involve direct promotion. Rather it will be a piece of content which is interesting and useful to your audience, raises awareness, builds your brand and subtly directs them to your product.
You can use content marketing to promote your book, by publishing articles on your own or on other websites relevant to your audience. If you don’t have your own website, or better still if you want to publish articles on both your own and other sites, start by researching relevant online publications, blogs and other websites. These could be related to books and literature, or may simply be related to your book topic or your target audience. For example, if you are launching a fiction book about a woman who moves to the South of France, your target audience you may be women aged 25 to 45 with an interest in France, or in travel and living overseas in general.
In this case, you could look for publications and websites related to travel, France, Europe, relocating overseas, living as an expat, and any site with an audience of women aged 25 to 45 which publishes articles related to travel or lifestyle. You would then write an article on a topic related to living in France or life as an expat, and submit it to the site for publication. Critically, make sure you include a link to your product listing or website either in the article text or in your bio, so that interested readers can click through.
By applying certain techniques and strategies, you can give your book launch on Amazon the best chance of success, which will see better sales, ranking on the Amazon bestsellers’ list and establishing your career as an author!
Tom Buckland is a digital marketing consultant specialising in technical SEO & Amazon Marketing. He’s the founder of Ghost Marketing and Amazon SEO Consultant in the UK and loves helping businesses profit through smart digital marketing strategies.