Have you tried selling books on amazon? Did you feel like getting ripped off? At the most recent Digital Book World conference on discoverability and marketing, Jon Fine, Director of Author and Publisher Relations, gave authors a series of guidelines for getting the most out of Amazon.
Most of them are essential tips that book publishers and authors can apply to sell more books in any bookstore, but Fine customizes them and adds some that are nothing more than using in-house features. Here is how to sell and promote your book on Amazon:
The word metadata probably bores publishers and authors the most, but it is the most critical piece to increasing Amazon sales. Metadata is the online version of what publishers used to sell books before digitization: cover, synopsis, author information, counter text, sleeves, etc. Ignoring the digital version of these elements can condemn a book to obscurity.
Covers on paper only work on digital, and vice versa. What looks good in print only sometimes looks good on mobile. On the other hand, publishers need to ensure that their books are categorized correctly and associated with the correct keywords.
As a novelty, in the case of Amazon, the best metadata to help readers find their titles is in the book’s text. If publishers allow it, Amazon will also search within the book when readers search the web. Allowing keyword searches within the book’s text increases the chances that your book will appear in search results. But it is a free option for the editor. Also, publishers should think of Amazon as a website for their books. Your book page on Amazon is the front page of your book on the Internet. More people discover you through this page than anywhere else, so it’s in your interest to strengthen it.
Authors are the best defenders of their work. According to Fine, Amazon is focused on making it easy for readers to discover authors and for authors to engage with readers through Amazon. For this reason, Amazon is improving its author pages. So it is convenient for publishers and authors to incorporate Facebook integration into them and other dynamic content: Twitter, videos, and much more. The information on the author page should be dynamic. It shouldn’t be static. They should constantly look for ways to enrich, build and update them.
Amazon is also beginning to add functionality to author pages that could help authors make marketing decisions. Taking authors from Amazon’s publishing division as a starting point, the company now offers them sales information. Author pages already include a “sales map” that shows authors where their books are selling best, allowing them to target their marketing geographically. If these tools work well, Amazon will extend them to all authors on the platform.
In general, publishers and authors need to make it easy for people to buy their books, Fine says, noting that Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and other bookstores have affiliate programs that reward sites that refer buyers to them. He also added that a large volume of reader feedback is more valuable than a small number of more starred reviews. The more people talk about your book on our site, the better. Even a bad review can make people want to read your book.
Have you written a book? Do you plan to write one? As a writer, you may think that you have already done the most challenging part, and it is, but it is not the only thing you will have to do if you have self-published. You have to sell and promote your book. You have almost all the work done if you have popularity and a book publishing company or hired a book publishing service from a well-known company. If, on the other hand, you are alone in this complicated world, we advise you to continue reading.
Today, we give you some tips, so your book has a quality promotion on Amazon and similar platforms. Do not be scared. If you are faithful to the paper, you can sell it on Amazon. Most of the tips we tell you today are valid for conventional and electronic books.
Judging a book by its cover is the most common thing on Amazon. Unlike a physical bookstore, on this platform, you can’t browse the book for a while: the cover will make your book stand out from the rest on the Amazon product list. Work on it, make it attractive and think that if it is an exclusively electronic book, you can update said cover whenever you want.
Planning a correct cover will determine 80% of the sales of impulsive clients, making your book a best seller on Amazon. Some keys by experts:
If you don’t know what metadata is, nothing happens. You are a writer, and your job is to write, not sell, on these platforms. A book’s metadata are those details that define it: title, description, and theme. Take good care of these texts and consider how any user would search for a book like yours. Amazon’s SEO will do the rest, and you will be able to appear in the first positions of Google. Or you can hire SEO services as well to optimize your book on Amazon
In these 4,000 words that Amazon offers you, you must feed that interest you have created in the reader with the cover and the title. A perfect strategy is to create an index with many chapters and put suggestive titles in them. This platform often allows users to see a sample of the content that usually includes the first few pages. If you use each of those entries as a little “bait” to hook them to your writing, you have a better chance of them buying your book. This strategy is valid for both fiction books and nonfiction essays.
Not another thing, but there is a lot of competition on Amazon. Remember that it is one of the platforms where offers prevail and that it positions by Price. If you are considering offering your book for 12.50 dollars, it may be more interesting to do it for 11.99 dollars. You will be able to win the battle against all those authors who are above this figure.
On the other hand, you should remember that Amazon’s algorithms to position “best sellers” books give more weight to high-priced books than to low-priced ones. In other words, if a $7.99 book sells 1,000 copies and a $0 book sells the same amount, it will position the seven books first. After all, Amazon does not get any commission from the $0 book, and you are using their platform without reporting any direct benefit. And finally, speaking of commissions, when setting prices, you must consider Amazon’s royalty system.
There are two modalities: the 70% copyright and the 35%. The first of them is the one that generates the most royalty income for authors, but it is not available for all books: only those books in a price range between $2.99 and $9.99 are eligible for this modality. Any book that falls outside that range (and this includes books both above and below, for example, at $1.99) will generate a 35% royalty for its author. And watch out for currency conversions!
A common denominator among the authors who have managed to earn a regular income on Amazon is that they manage the pricing strategy with great flexibility. Javier Cosnava, an Amazon best-selling author, explains in his book How to Live From Literature that “An unknown author must give away his books for free promptly to have new readers.” Cosnava says he published several novels for free or cheap to see which would work. When he found one that readers liked, he worked on a sequel. There he made a risky move: he put the novel he sold for the most and released its continuation for free. Later, with the third and fourth books of the same saga, he did not put them out for free because he had already “hooked” thousands of readers, and that is where his high income came from. It has become a long-seller. That is, his books continue to sell long after their release. “It was obvious: the first book of mine that people liked was going to put it for free,” says Cosnava in his manual for writers who want to make a living. As an experienced user of the platform, I recommend paying attention to the number of sales since if you allow a very high number of sales in accessible mode, it will reduce potential customers later paying for it since they will have acquired it at zero cost. Around thirty copies, it would be a good number to be a bestseller in the top 100 free books.
Did you know that 15% of the eBooks on Amazon have sold at most ten copies? Publishing is not synonymous with visibility. Try to contact different media related to the theme of your book. They can offer you an analysis, a dedication, or even a banner to promote your book on their website. Do not look for the general press. Always attack niche media. You can also contact the local media where you live, especially in a small town. There is a service that can help you promote your book if you start with a low price or decide to make it accessible for a few days. There is a portal that notifies its subscribers when there are free or low-priced books through a weekly newsletter. A one-time injection of readers can make all the difference and jump you up to the bestseller rankings in your category! On the other hand, consider other publishing platforms. Of course, you must consider the conditions you have signed with Amazon. For example, the Kindle Unlimited service, which allows users to read up to 10 books registered in this system in loan mode, and remunerates authors with approximately 0.005 euro cents per page, requires that they sign exclusivity conditions.
Social networks are paramount in the times we live in, and you should take them into account. Contact influencers in your niche and offer them some collaboration. Sometimes, you can have thousands of impressions for a few euros, even in exchange for the book. It is about choosing those collaborations with a magnifying glass: profiles that fit your potential audience. Do you like mystery literature? Do you offer marketing tips? These are just two examples of two very different targets for two different types of books.
You can invite your readers to share the experience of reading your book with other people. You can achieve this with a simple QR code allowing users to share a preset text published on networks. Another strategy that many authors use is to dedicate one or two pages at the end of the book to invite the reader to follow them on social networks or read other books. It is also essential that you encourage reviews. It is advisable to have at least seven reviews, and it is also vital that these reviews have positive ratings from other platform users.
Keep in mind that a bad review in the launch phase can have a devastating effect on your chances of selling. If this were to happen, what is recommended, according to Javier Cosnava, is that you try to “minimize the damage by encouraging your readers on Facebook and Twitter to say what they think” of your work.
Once the writing process is complete, every author must face a significant dilemma: which method should I choose to publish my book? The two most common formulas are: to go to a professional book editor or self-publish it. Although different, both are exciting possibilities with advantages and disadvantages.
We will establish the main differences between hybrid and traditional self-publishing in the following lines. This way, you will have a complete vision of the possibilities that these offer you.
Publishing a book takes time, and in traditional publishers, the release schedule is usually set by the budget and the marketing strategy of specific titles. First of all, every manuscript must pass a quality filter, which is carried out by one or several editorial team members. If the work is accepted, a date must be defined for publication based on economic possibilities, time of year, etc., and sign the contract. In some cases, this means that the book sees the light once one or two years have elapsed since the receipt of the manuscript.
In the self-publishing business, the deadlines change completely, self-publishing services can be contracted immediately, and the complete process can be carried out in about 2 or 3 months (this includes proofreading, typesetting, and printing). Likewise, most self-publishing companies can adapt their deadlines to the author’s request. Consequently, when choosing between traditional publishing and self-publishing, it is vital to consider the calendar we want to apply to our book.
Royalties are the percentage that the author receives based on the sale of copies of his work, which is included in the contract of traditional publishers. This usually oscillates between 8% and 10% of the PVP of the books sold and goes to the author once a year. The contracts usually last between 3 and 8 years, depending on the publisher. In the case of self-publishing, the author will retain copyrights and obtain 100% of the royalties unless he has signed a contract with a distributor, which usually takes around 60% of the profits.
One of the decisions that can mark the future of a book is its PVP (Retail Price). Many books miss their targets because they sell too high, while others need help to recover the initial investment because they sell below their Price. In the case of the standard edition, the PVP is determined by the book publisher, while if it is self-publishing, it will be the author who chooses it.
Beyond the quality of the text, its design, or the printing finish, a large part of a book’s chances of success depends on its distribution. And it is that a good placement of the copies in bookstores, platforms, or department stores is essential to make it visible.
By opting for hybrid publishing, the publisher will decide the number of copies to be released and which distributor will move them around the national and international territory. In the case of self-publishing, if the author signs a contract that includes distribution, the publisher will manage the process under the latter’s requirements, being able to decide the characteristics of the printing, where to promote sales, etc.
In any traditional publisher, proofreading service is the first step in publishing a book. This is usually carried out by an expert in the field, who will leave the manuscript sufficiently polished as a step before the layout. If the author chooses to self-publish his work, he must correct it himself or go to another person to do so. This aspect usually distinguishes self-publishing from traditional publication since a professional appearance and the absence of spelling errors influence subsequent work sales. Hence, even if the author decides to publish on his own, it is always advisable to go to a quality correction professional.
One of the best advantages when deciding to publish with a so-called “traditional” publisher is that the author can relax and leave his book in the hands of professionals. In this case, the book editing service will make most of the decisions. However, consulting the author throughout the process. In self-publishing, the author decides at all times, being able to request the collaboration of the editor on his needs as long as he opts for a company dedicated to these services.
Make sure your book is always available. The first step is to ensure that the book’s print edition is in stock. When people visit our website and see a book in stock, they know they’ll have it within 24 hours. If a book is not immediately available, that person will buy another book, and you will have lost a sale. The next step is to ensure that the title is available wherever there are readers worldwide through print-on-demand or high-quality digital versions. Publishers and authors must also ensure their book is available in whatever format and language readers seek.
We often interchange these two terms to differentiate the traditional publication from the one where the author is responsible for the entire process. However, both do not mean the same thing.
If “publish” is the action by which a person makes a piece of news, sentence, secret, etc. known, or disseminates a writing, stamp, etc., utilizing printing or another procedure, self-publishing would be the formula through which said individual makes something known by any means and without the intervention of anyone. No process controls or takes care of the result, lacking, in turn, an ISBN code, legal deposit, etc., and cannot be sold in bookstores.
In the book business, self-publishing is the act by which a person pays professionals to publish their work. Or what is the same, when carrying out the process, it has the advice of professionals who ensure its final quality, with its corresponding ISBN, legal deposit, etc., and can be sold in bookstores. If we are strict when it comes to using both terms, the author who publishes a book on his behalf is self-publishing, while the one who goes to a company that offers publishing services is self-publishing.
Then there is much more work that you must do to get your work sold or publicized. At WriterCosmos, we can help you with many of the points we have mentioned, such as book marketing service, eBook writing service, ghostwriting services, book cover design, book promotion on social networks, or managing the sales of your Amazon book.
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