One of the most powerful things you can do to improve your book sales on Amazon is to choose the best category for your book. It is amazing what a few tweaks and changes can do for your book rankings.
Once you publish your book on Amazon, it’s time to start marketing it. I encourage you to see book marketing as a marathon, not a sprint. As book marketing expert John Kremer says, “Do something every day to market each of your books for three years.”
However, there are many things you can easily do for free to market your book on Amazon for both print and Kindle eBooks. I published my first book in November of 2008. I wish I would have known these strategies years ago as it would have resulted in more exposure and potentially many more sales. Better late than never!
Powerful results by optimizing book categories
One of the most powerful things you can do to improve your book sales on Amazon is to choose the best category for your book. It is amazing what a few tweaks and changes can do for your book rankings! Within just a few days of optimizing one of my books, it hit #1 on Kindle for its category.
Check out this screenshot, and key in on: Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #27,046 Paid in Kindle Store.
#1 in Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Nonfiction > Children’s Nonfiction > Religions > Christianity > Prayer
I have seen similar results over and over with my other books.
The anatomy of an Amazon book sales page
The first step to optimizing your book’s sales page is knowing the anatomy of an Amazon sales page. You may think this is boring or unimportant, but it is crucial to understand how your book sales page is set up before you can fully optimize it.
- Book cover and Look Inside. Most of your potential customers will want to see a sample of your book before buying. You can apply for the “look Inside” feature here: amazon.com/searchinside.
- Reviews. Reviews provide social proof about your book. I recommend having at least 5-10 reviews for each book.
- Gift a copy of your book. This is the easiest way to send someone a Kindle copy of your book. You can send it via email to someone who has won your book through a contest or to a reviewer.
- KDP select program. This is Amazon’s program that requires that you publish the digital version of your book exclusively with Amazon for 90 days. In exchange they will give you five free promotion days to promote your book. I have had success using this program to launch new books, but everyone has differing opinions on it. It is also a great way to share the first book in a fiction series. Then, when the reader gets hooked on the first book, they will hopefully want to buy the other books in your series. Find more information at kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/KDPSelect.
- Formats and prices. This shows the reader which formats your book is available in and the prices. If your books are not linked together, the other formats will not show up on the sales page here.
- Also Bought. This is where Amazon shares books that your previous customers also bought. The cool thing is that your book can also show up on other books’ sales pages.
- Share buttons. You can share your book via e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest all from within your book’s sales page. Use these buttons when you are having a book launch, free promotion, or sale.
- Reviews. You can add your most powerful reviews to your book sales page.
- Book Description. Don’t waste this space. This is your chance to shine and hook your potential customers with why they should buy your book.
- ASIN. The ASIN is for a Kindle what the ISBN is for a print or other eBook. This number is used only on Amazon.
- Bestseller rank (overall and in categories). Your Amazon bestsellers rank will tell you where you rank in your categories and overall. To be a bestseller, you must rank in the top 100 for your category.
- Customer reviews at a glance. You can see at a glance how many reviews have been posted about your book and what the ranking is currently.
- Most Helpful Customer Reviews. Here is where the reviews are posted. The top three most helpful reviews will be posted in their entirety on your sales page. Amazon also lists whether the review is from an “Amazon Verified Purchase.” Some people post fake reviews, so more and more potential customers are looking to see if the review was from a verified purchase. In order to be a verified purchase, the person must have bought the book themselves, bought it with a gift certificate you send them, or download it on a free promotion day.
- Was This Review Helpful To You? Anyone can vote on whether they find a review “helpful” or not. On each review, any Amazon account holder can vote whether the review was helpful or not. Then, the most helpful reviews will be the ones to show up on the sales page. The most helpful negative review will show up on the review summary page on the top.
- Create a review. This is where your customers and reviewers can post their review of your book.
- About the Author. Once you add your book to your Author Central account, the “About the Authors” section will show up on your sales page.
- What customers buy after viewing item. This is another way for Amazon to sell more books. Usually the books that are viewed after yours are related by niche and so may interest your potential customer.
- Customer discussions. Don’t forget to keep an eye on this section. I have seen legitimate questions from potential customers asked in a discussion on a book page and have also seen what appears to be spam. Make sure you look to see if a discussion has been started and reply if appropriate. There is no need to check this every day, but keep an eye on it whenever you visit your book sales page.
- Your book categories. At the very bottom of the page is where your categories will be posted. You are able to pick two different categories but sometimes Amazon will add you to other categories as well.
Choosing the best categories for your book
Step #1: Go to Amazon.com, choose “Books” and press the search icon. (If you are researching categories for a Kindle eBook, then choose “Kindle Store” from the dropdown menu and then click on the Kindle eBooks link on the left hand side.) You will see a list of book categories in the left hand column. Start your search by clicking on the categories that fit your niche.
Step #2: Try to get as drill down as specific as you can within a category. Some categories have niche subcategories that are less competitive and easier to rank in. You can see the number of competing books in parenthesis after the category title. Ultimately, you want to find a category that fits your book where there is not much competition.
Step #3: Now it’s time to choose your categories. You can choose up to two for each book. Obviously, the less competition there is the better. I try to choose categories with fewer than 1,000 competitors whenever possible, though there are other considerations when choosing categories.
One example. Category: Business & Money
Let’s say you have written a print book on online marketing. You choose the “Business & Money” category and want to decide which sub-category to choose.
Here are two different options:
#1: Marketing & Sales
As of the time of writing, there are 97,823 results (or competing books) in the category of “Marketing & Sales” under “Business & Money.” Drilling down, there are 59,732 entries in “Marketing,” and 11,088 for “Web Marketing.”
#2: Small Business & Entrepreneurship
Drilling down under “Business & Money” is another subcategory of “Small Business & Entrepreneurship” that has 73,425 entries. The “Marketing” subcategory in there has 2,928 entries. That’s nearly 1/4 the competition.
Something else to consider when choosing your two categories is how many people will be exposed to your book. If it fits naturally to put your book in two different main categories, you will be able to reach a lot more people. For example, a cookbook can be placed in a sub-category under “Cookbooks, Food & Wine.” But, it may also fit in a sub-category under “Heath, Fitness & Dieting.” Instead of using two categories under cookbooks, you might reach a wider audience by straddling two main categories. But, only do it if it truly makes sense for your book.
You also want to see how well the top books are selling in your category. If you find a category without much competition, it may be that category is not selling well. If that is the case, it may be easy for you to become a best-selling author in that category, but not many people will be exposed to your book as it rises in the rankings.
So, know what your purpose is in choosing your categories. Sometimes I choose one category that I can easily rank well in and another one where I will get more exposure to more readers.
This post was excerpted from Marketing Your Book on Amazon by Shelley Hitz, available for free download at BookBaby.
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