As an author myself, I am a big advocate of spreading out the risk when it comes to book marketing. That’s one of the reasons why I don’t encourage authors to just master one platform as much as some do. In fact, I feel as though authors should try out every bookselling platform that they possibly can, and they should consider going direct to fans with their work. With that being said, it’s really hard to just completely ignore Amazon KDP.
For most authors, Amazon KDP is by far their top revenue-earning source. And believe it or not, with the predictable collapse of NookPress, the earning potential of Amazon KDP is predicted to grow even further in the coming months and years.
Not to mention email marketing promotions like BookBub and eReaderNewsToday tend to have the greatest impact on Amazon sales. Simply put, it is the largest reader platform out there, and if you’re having trouble selling books on Amazon, then I am sorry to say this, but it’s likely you’re not selling many books at all.
The truth is you can read as many How-To books about how to dominate Amazon Kindle all you want, but the fact is: there is no one life-changing secret to selling more books on Amazon.
However, there are several best practices and habits that the top selling Amazon authors tend to use frequently. Here are five ways some of the biggest names on Amazon get their books to the top of the bestselling charts:
#1 Beware of the 90 Day Drop Off
Believe it or not, there has been talk within the blogosphere of a 90 day drop off after which your books will make fewer waves in the Amazon algorithm. Think of it like the Google algorithm. If you are not posting often on your website or blog, then the same thing will happen for your website/blog and you will fall deeper and deeper into the Google black hole, or what I like to call, Google quicksand.
Simply put, this means that 90 days after you publish a book on Amazon, it’s less likely to sell, or get noticed. And the fact of the matter is that the most successful authors on Amazon have used this 90 day drop off to their advantage by making sure they publish a book every 90 days without fail. In other words, they have made it a successful habit of theirs.
Now, before you go on sending me comments and asking me, how in the world can you produce a bestselling book in 90 days… understand that this book of yours doesn’t have to be a full-length novel. Although there are some authors that are able to produce a well-written and well thought out novel in record time, the reality is not many are capable of accomplishing this. Therefore, your book could be a novella, a short story, or a multi-author box set. The point is it doesn’t matter what you produce, as long as you’re publishing something every 90 days.
Currently, within the blogosphere, there is talk that this 90 day drop off is now actually closer to a 30 day drop off. However, despite this news, don’t stress yourself out over needing to publish every 30 days. Simply make sure you’re publishing as often as you can to keep your books higher in the Amazon’s rankings.
#2 Get Your Keywords and Categories to Go to Work for You
On your Amazon KDP submission page, you’ll see that you’re able to select up to two categories. But did you know that when you use certain keywords you can actually get into at least five categories, if not more? You see, the trick is that you want to get into categories that make the most sense for your book’s visibility. It’s been said, “I don’t make cents, I make dollars”, but I say, “In order to make dollars, you have to make sense”.
Examine the categories that you’re thinking of putting your book in, and make sure that you pick at least one category that you could potentially rank in. To evaluate this, look to see what the sales rank is of the 100th-ranked book in your chosen category. Ask yourself if your book could rank that number or higher in Amazon’s sales rank on a consistent basis. If not, continue to look around, because having your book in one of these bestseller categories is a great way to make sure your book is getting the attention it deserves.
Bonus Tips: Believe it or not, you can also try to get more traffic to your books on Amazon by using SEO techniques. For example, test out multi-word phrases related to your book’s subject matter. To do this, type some words that correspond with your books subject matter into Amazon’s search bar and see some of the phrases that Amazon brings up underneath. Using tools like Kindle Samurai and KindleSpy let you do this with ease. However you choose to find these phrases, make sure to include some of them in your book’s description to improve your chances of ranking for those keywords. Nick Stephenson’s book Supercharge Your Kindle Sales (AFF) may help you go more in depth on the subject.
#3 For Series Authors, Make The First Book in Your Series Permanently FREE
There are many success stories of indie authors who shot up the charts after making the first book in their series permanently free. Since free books are downloaded almost 100 times as much as paid books, these freebies give you a major opportunity to reach new readers.
However, to do this you’ll need to use another platform other than Amazon to make a book permanently free, since Amazon doesn’t allow for you to set a book’s price at $0.00. But once you do succeed at making your book free, start to employ your email marketing skills (or try to connect with someone that has a large list and will advertise your book through their email marketing) and advertisers your series to spread the word about your FREE book offer. This will help you to sell more books throughout the series, and it will move your free books higher in the rankings.
#4 Can KDP Select Really Work?
KDP Select is Amazon’s exclusive loyalty program for authors. There are several benefits that come with KDP Select, including Kindle Countdown Deals and Kindle Free Days. Not to mention, your book will also automatically be included in the Kindle Unlimited program.
I do have to say upfront, enrolling in KDP Select is no guarantee for success. In fact, some authors have had less success on Amazon because price-per-borrow rates from Kindle Unlimited have dropped since the program started in late 2014. Not to mention that authors who’ve had success with KDP Select usually aren’t completely dependent on Amazon for their revenue earnings.
However, considering the tip I gave previously, one strategy includes setting the first book in a series as permanently free and making the rest of the books in the series exclusive to Amazon. Another possible income earning strategy could be using your email list and email marketing skills to send out book release announcements to make sure that your loyal readers and subscribers buy or borrow the books over the course of several days.
Whether or not you decide to try to get your feet wet with KDP Select, it’s probably a good idea to keep at least some of your books from being solely exclusive to Amazon.
#5 Promotions Should Be Spread Out, So Consult Your Marketing Calendar
Your instincts may tell you that it’s best to get a giant sales boost on the first day of your book’s release or launch. However, in this case, your instincts would be wrong. The way the Amazon algorithm works is that it rewards books that have several consistent days of sales. With regular sales for 3-5 days, your book will become stuck at a better sales rank than it would with a one-day sales spike. This is why it’s so important to spread out your promotions.
Consult your marketing calendar and set up at least five straight days of equal promotion. If you have a mailing list (which you really need to work on getting), then you should split it up into several parts. In other words, your marketing should be spread throughout your email list and your social media following. For example, your Facebook-specific promotions should be on one day, your Twitter on another, and your Pinterest on a third. The more you’re able to spread it out the better. This is a great launch strategy, but it’s also a wonderful anytime strategy as well for boosting an existing book with poor sales.
Truth Be Told, Amazon Owes You No Favors…
I know that may be hard to read and just because you may not be making as much from the platform as you once were doesn’t mean that there’s something wrong with the system. Amazon is a multinational corporation and it’s primarily concerned with profit. And the thing that you need to understand is that the system works if you working it properly. Amazon wouldn’t be so successful as a thriving company if it didn’t. In fact, it’s a very strong company, and it helps to establish many self-published authors.
It may not be perfect, and it may take some time to master, but it’s probably the best way for you to make money selling your books online. Apply the above strategies and you’ll see your efforts rewarded.