If you have written and published a book or ebook, you want to sell it on Amazon.com. Not only that, you want to know how to sell it on Amazon. This knowledge can mean the difference between creating an Amazon bestseller or a book that gets buried in the on-line bookstores “shelves,” difficult for a reader to find let alone to buy.
In this last book marketing and promotion post in the Write Nonfiction in November 2010 series, Dana Lynn Smith, who is best known for her Savvy Book Marketer series, offers 10 tips for maximizing book sales on Amazon. She’s the current expert; she just released her newest e-book, How to Sell More Books on Amazon, and you can bet you can easily find it on Amazon.
Top 10 Ways to Maximize Book Sales on Amazon.com
by Dana Lynn Smith
Amazon.com is by far the largest online seller of books, and it's a vital market for authors and publishers. Below are 10 ways to maximize your exposure and boost sales through this important outlet. Although these tips focus on Amazon, BarnesandNoble.com offers some similar features.
1. Enhance your book description.
On the Amazon website, the book description appears under a heading titled Editorial Reviews. I recommend posting marketing copy (perhaps from your back cover), your most important testimonial/review quotes, and a one-paragraph author bio.
To upload text to appear in this Editorial Reviews section, use this form. The text that you enter on this form is supposed to replace existing text. The staff at Amazon reviews the information before posting it, so it may take a while.
If you need to make other changes to your book information on Amazon, try this page.
2. Increase your book's visibility in Amazon's search results.
Amazon customers search for books by author, title, or keyword. Like search engines, Amazon uses several criteria in deciding which products to display on the search results page and in what order to display them. Popularity (the number of books already sold on Amazon) and how well the book matches the keywords are major factors in keyword search results.
See this article for tips on improving your position in Amazon's search results.
3. Attract five-star reviews.
When consumers shop for books online, many of them read the reviews before making a purchase. Even if they came to the site looking for a particular book, they may read the reviews to verify that they are making a good selection. Positive reviews are especially important for nonfiction books, where consumers often compare several books on the same topic.
The best way to attract reviews is to ask people to review your book and to make it easy for them by providing a link to your book's sales page on Amazon.
4. Participate in the Search Inside program.
In retail bookstores, customers tend to read the back cover, then flip through the book scanning the contents before making a purchase decision. The best way to replicate that experience online is to use Amazon's Search Inside program, which allows customers to view the book's table of contents and selected pages from the book. See this page for details on the program.
5. Update your personal profile on Amazon.
To update your personal profile, click on "YOURNAME's Amazon.com" near the upper left corner of the screen, click "your profile" near the upper right, then click the yellow "edit your profile" button near the upper right. You can add a photo and website address, enter a bio in the "in my own words" section, and enter a "signature" or tagline.
When you review books or participate in discussions on Amazon, your name and signature will be visible to others, so it's important to create a descriptive signature such as "author of romantic suspense" or "author of Selling for Dummies."
6. Post reviews of other books.
When you post reviews of related books and products on Amazon.com, you gain visibility with consumers and with the authors of the books you review.
Be subtle about mentioning your own book when writing reviews. You don't want it to sound like a sales pitch or detract from the product that you are reviewing. For example, you can say "As a romance author myself, I really enjoyed the way that this author…" You can sign your name at the bottom of your review as "Jane Doe, author of . . .," but it's bad form to include a Web link. Amazon has been known to delete overly promotional reviews, especially those with links.
7. Enhance your author page.
Authors who have books for sale on Amazon can set up an author page through Author Central (formerly Amazon Connect). There's a link from your book sales page to your author page where readers can learn more about you. In addition to adding a bio and photo, you can import posts from your blog and make updates to your book description or reviews. See this article by Tony Eldridge for tips on setting up your author page.
8. Conduct an Amazon bestseller campaign.
An Amazon bestseller campaign is a joint venture promotion designed to drive customers to a special sales page on a specific day, with the goal of selling as many books as possible on that day. Your joint venture partners agree to send a message about the campaign to their mailing lists and also provide a bonus item that will be given to everyone who buys the book that day.
See this article from Lynn Serafinn for tips on creating your own campaign.
9. Release a Kindle edition.
One way to increase your revenue from Amazon is to publish Kindle ebooks. Shorter, low-priced books tend to sell well in the Kindle format. If your nonfiction book is fairly long, you might break it down into several sections and publish each one separately. See this page for Kindle publishing information. April Hamilton offers a free guide with detailed instructions on publishing Kindle ebooks. See this article for more information on ebook publishing.
10. Boost your profits with Amazon Associates.
As an Amazon Associate, you create affiliate links to place on your website for your own books and any other Amazon products you’d like to promote. You will earn a commission each time someone clicks on one of your affiliate links and purchases the product. This is extra revenue, above and beyond whatever you normally make when you sell your book on Amazon. You can sign up for the Associates program here, but residents of some states may not be eligible due to sales tax issues in their state.
For more information on how to work effectively with Amazon.com, see their Publisher's Guide.
About the Author
Learn more about profiting from Amazon.com in Dana Lynn Smith's new ebook, How to Sell More Books on Amazon, available in both PDF and Kindle format. Other titles in her Savvy Book Marketer series of ebooks and audio programs cover social marketing for authors and selling to libraries.