Writing a great book is only the beginning.
Once the manuscript is done, there’s the editing, cover design, layout, ebook formatting—oh, and don’t forget the marketing.
Never forget the marketing!
Just putting your book up for sale isn’t nearly enough. You need to make sure that readers know you’re ready and waiting with the answer to their problems.
The best way to do that is to be where your customers are—and for most of us, that’s Amazon. The world’s largest bookselling platform, for both print and digital, Amazon has helped hundreds of thousands of indie authors create amazing careers.
But getting results on Amazon can seem scary—how do you get noticed among all those millions of books? How can one lone indie author crack the secret of Amazon’s internal algorithms?
Amazon itself has provided the solution! When you publish your book through KDP, Amazon gives you an array of ways to get your book in front of eager readers. It’s all about making smart use of the tools you’ve been given.
Here’s how to use Amazon’s programs and services to plan your writing, position yourself right, turbocharge your launch, increase sales, and fine-tune your strategy.
Write the Right Book
All the marketing in the world won’t help you if you’ve written a book no one’s looking for.
That’s where writing to market comes in. This technique involves researching hot or trending keywords and searches to figure out what to write about.
It’s kind of the opposite of “write what you know.” Instead of picking a topic you’re passionate about, you look to see what people are currently searching for, then apply your knowledge and expertise to that area to put your unique spin on the idea.
By targeting the keywords that actual Amazon customers are using right now, you can write a book that you know has a built-in market and sales potential.
Plus, you can figure out what your competition in that area is and work out ways to minimize it. Sure, a zillion Amazon users might be searching for “romance,” but it’s hard to stand out in such a broad category. Instead, you can drill down through keywords to come up with very specific sub-categories that are also trending for search but that have much less competition.
Think about it: just listing your epic historical love story under “Romance” doesn’t give readers a lot of ways to search for you. But listing it as Romance > Romantic Heroes > Vikings sure does! It’s more specific and targeted, and it’s also a trending category without as much competition as others.
Scope Out the Competition
Once you have some keywords and a category in mind, use those to check out the competition. You can do your own keyword searches on Amazon or you can use a software package or service to do the work for you.
This is particularly helpful with nonfiction titles. You can see what’s at the top of the Hot & New lists for your chosen topic and what books seem to be perennial bestsellers.
Use that information to help you shape your book: choose a title that capitalizes on popular keywords or includes action words that get results in your category. You can also see the kinds of descriptions and covers that get the best response from readers.
Think of it as market research—you’re seeing what others have done so you can put your unique spin on the topic, along with making sure that your visual appeal and description are even catchier than the current bestsellers in that field.
Once you’ve figured out your category and competition, it’s time to think about launching your book. The first few days after a book goes on sale are a critical time for landing on the Hot & New lists on Amazon, which turbocharge your exposure and put you in front of a lot of potential new buyers.
Getting there requires a lot of sales—but it’s completely doable if you launch smart.
By enrolling your book in KDP Select, you can offer it for free for up to 5 days out of every three months.
This has a couple of advantages: you can get more people downloading your book, counting as sales, which spikes your rank on Amazon’s charts and, in turn, leads to more appearances on “Also Bought” and “Recommended” lists.
It also tends to result in more reviews as people read and enjoy your book, which can also bump your rank on Amazon’s search results.
Another way to boost your launch results is to offer pre-orders for your book. You can promote your upcoming book to your newsletter subscribers and other contacts by sending them straight to the pre-order page, and all sales count towards that critical first 30 days.
By getting this initial sales bump, you can land in the Hot New Releases section for your category and start off with an incredible amount of momentum that will just keep growing as people discover your book.
Stay on Top of Search
Tagging your Kindle listing with the right keywords is critical to making sure you stay on top of search results when Amazon customers are looking for a topic related to your book.
By improving your discoverability, you can get in front of many more readers who are trying to find a book just like yours.
You can further boost your rankings, visibility, and sales by participating in paid search services, like Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) or Google AdWords. These paid ads let you promote your books alongside similar titles or to readers who are searching for similar keywords.
But keyword-based advertising can be expensive, so you want to make sure you’re using the right terms! Doing smart keyword research before you even write your book ensures that you’re already loaded with an arsenal of terms that people are searching for.
Feed those keywords into AMS or AdWords and you’ll be able to start driving people right to your book. You can also use keyword search strategies on Goodreads if you advertise there.
Increase Your Kindle Rank
All of these strategies come together to increase your Kindle ranking—maybe even launching you to bestseller status!
You need to write a book people are looking for, create a title and description maximizing the use of those hot keywords, tag your book with specific and targeted categories and keywords, launch strong to build your momentum fast, and promote using the most popular keywords for your niche.
As more people start finding your book, more will buy it, review it, and tell their friends, bumping you up the ranks. Those sales and reviews trigger Amazon’s internal algorithms to start recommending you more, advancing you higher on searches and landing you yet more sales.
All of this has a snowball effect—the more you’re seen, the more sales you get, and the more sales you get, the more you appear around Amazon, including on “Also Bought” and “Recommended” lists and, eventually, the bestseller list!
Making the Most of AMS
The most powerful of all these Amazon strategies is AMS, because it gives you the most control over where your book appears and how it’s presented to people searching for similar topics.
Amazon offers a variety of ways to advertise directly to readers interested in your topic. You can get your book listed alongside similar titles and authors—that critical competition you scoped out earlier—or target customers based on their specific keyword searches.
By boosting the number of ways readers can find and interact with your book, you can drive a new release to amazing heights—or reinvigorate an older book that you’ve struggled to find a market for.
But keyword-based ad campaigns can blow an indie author’s budget incredibly quickly. And results are far from guaranteed if you’re just winging it.
That’s why it’s important to have smart advertising strategies from the start.
Kindlepreneur offers an amazing free online training course on how to make the most of Amazon Marketing Services. It walks you through setting up your campaign, then helps you make the right decisions to get the best results. You’ll learn how to choose your keywords for maximum impact, create display ads that get attention, and create campaigns that chain your successes.
Once you’ve got your AMS campaigns up and running, you’ll learn how to manage your advertising and increase impressions while lowering your cost.
And all of that is totally free!
Before you know it, you’ll be running AMS campaigns like a master and watching as your book’s sales soar.
Use keywords, targeted Amazon advertising, and effective launch tactics to grow your Kindle sales and take on the bestseller lists.
For more on marketing your Kindle book, check out these articles:
- List of Sites To Promote Your Free Amazon Kindle Books
- How Kindle Matchbook Can Help You Sell More Books
- How to Setup Your Amazon Author Profile with Author Central in Every Country
Kate Sullivan is an editor with experience in every aspect of the publishing industry, from editorial to marketing to cover and interior design.
In her career, Kate has edited millions of words and helped dozens of bestselling, award-winning authors grow their careers and do what they love!