3 Amazon Secrets Every Author Needs to Know, by Rob Eagar
Amazon is more than a website. It’s the most powerful book-selling machine ever invented. The good news is that Amazon’s power isn’t reserved just for elite bestsellers. Their system was designed to help any author capture more sales.
Jeff Bezos founded the company in 1994 under the original name, Cadabra, until a lawyer confused it with “cadaver.” Another name, Relentless, was also floated by Bezos, but people thought it sounded too sinister. (Fun fact: Type “Relentless.com” into your internet browser and see where it goes.) The name “Amazon” was eventually chosen because it starts with the letter “A” and is the name of the world’s largest river. Who would have thought the name would come to mean so much more?
Today, Amazon completely dominates the publishing industry. Take a moment to consider these mind-blowing statistics:
- Amazon sells nearly 50% of all print books in America.
- Amazon sells over 70% of all e-books in America.
- Amazon is the largest sales account for almost every publisher in America.
Nothing can stop the Amazon River from flooding its banks in South America. Likewise, nothing seems to stop Amazon from expanding its efforts to sell more books. The only legitimate competition, Barnes & Noble, continues to lose market share and struggle to survive. If these facts don’t get your attention, allow me to make things very clear:
Amazon sells more books than anyone else.
Therefore, if you want to sell more books,
you must learn how to sell more books on Amazon.
It doesn’t matter if you’re self-published or traditionally-published. It doesn’t matter if you write fiction or nonfiction. It doesn’t matter if you’re a first-time author or an experienced bestseller like Lysa TerKeurst. Today, success for every author hinges upon selling more books on Amazon.
Authors may not be able to control Amazon’s dominance over the publishing industry. But, it’s possible to use Amazon’s power to your advantage if you know these three secrets:
Secret 1: Use Amazon’s “hidden door” to improve your book’s marketing copy.
Language is the power of the book sale. If your book’s marketing description is bland on Amazon’s website, your sales will be stunted. But, if your marketing copy sizzles, your sales can skyrocket. Therefore, it’s imperative to make your book appear as enticing as possible to shoppers on Amazon. But, many authors mistakenly believe their Amazon copy can’t be changed.
For example, if you’re a traditionally-published author, maybe you’re disappointed with boring or outdated marketing text that a publisher put on your book’s Amazon page. If you self-published, maybe you used a third-party company to get your book listed on Amazon. So, you feel blocked from making important changes to your book’s marketing copy.
Here’s a little secret. Amazon offers a hidden “back door” that lets you update your book’s marketing text whenever you desire. Did your book recently receive an amazing endorsement, win an industry award or hit a bestseller list? Did you create a sizzling new marketing hook that you’d love for readers to see? You can update your book’s Amazon description with this information whenever you desire.
The solution to updating your text on Amazon is simple. You can access any book you’ve written by using the Author Central account that Amazon provides for free. Go to https://authorcentral.amazon.com/ to create an account.
Once your account is active, you receive full control to adjust your marketing text, editorial reviews and author bio at any time. You’re also able to separately manage each edition of your book, including the paperback, hardcover and e-book formats.
Use this powerful secret to improve the way your books are displayed to shoppers on Amazon.
Secret 2: Grow your author email list using Amazon’s huge audience.
Amazon attracts more book readers than anyone else on the planet. Did you know those readers can be converted into followers on your author email list? There are multiple ways to do it for free.
First, add a page to the front and back of your book manuscript promoting an exclusive incentive for readers to join your author email list. Then, provide a website link to a landing page on your website for people to claim your offer. This simple trick by itself can add a lot of new subscribers each month.
Second, you can self-publish a permanently free e-book on Amazon using their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) service. The content could be a novella, a short story or a concise nonfiction teaching guide. Within the free e-book, add a page at the front and back promoting an exclusive incentive to join your email list. I call this tactic a “bait book,” because the free item serves as appealing bait to attract new readers.
Technically, Amazon doesn’t allow authors to sell permanently free books on their site. But, they have a permanent price-matching policy against all other retailers. So, you can sell an e-book at other retailers for free, such as Barnes & Noble, and ask Amazon to match the price of zero.
Once you set up a “bait book,” it will remain a constant tool on Amazon’s website to help build your email list while writing your next book. You can even purchase Amazon ads to drive additional traffic to your e-book and generate more email signups. The best part is that everything can be created for free.
Secret 3: Amazon will help you find new readers.
Wouldn’t it be great if Amazon told you who bought and read your books? Obviously, they don’t share their customer data with anyone. But, they do offer a secret way to identify your target audience.
Go to your book detail page on Amazon and look at the section that says, “Customers who bought this item also bought …” This data reveals similar titles and authors to you and your book. Why is this data helpful? It explains where to find potential readers who would like your book.
For instance, if you see “Author X” frequently displayed in your “Customers Also Bought” list, then you know that fans of Author X may also be fans of your book. Here’s the logic behind this approach. Amazon’s system has verified that people who bought a copy of your book also bought a book by Author X. So, if some fans of Author X liked your book, then there might be more fans of Author X who would like your book as well.
How do you put this data to good use? Buy inexpensive online advertising for your book that targets fans of Author X. Amazon, Facebook and BookBub allow authors to buy advertising that targets fans of other authors. In other words, you can make an educated guess using Amazon’s purchase history that fans of Author X will also like your book.
In a short time on a small budget, you can test your hypothesis to see if it’s true. Sometimes, this approach will work, and you’ll immediately generate new book sales from your advertising campaigns. Other times, the results may not pan out. But, it’s better than shooting in the dark. Using the “Also Boughts” technique is like letting Amazon shine a light on new marketing opportunities.
Amazon has always been a mysterious organization. For example, they never reveal how many books they actually sell. But, any author can use my three marketing secrets to boost sales on Amazon. First, use the “hidden door” within your Author Central account to improve your book’s marketing copy. Second, grow your author email list by promoting free incentives to Amazon customers. Third, use the “Also Boughts” information to help target potential new readers.
It’s no secret that Amazon dominates the publishing industry. Fortunately, the secret to selling more books on Amazon no longer needs to remain a mystery.
Rob Eagar is a marketing consultant who has coached over 600 authors and helped both fiction and nonfiction books hit the New York Times’ bestseller list. His client list includes top bestsellers, such as Lysa TerKeurst, Renee Swope, Dr. Gary Chapman, DeVon Franklin, Wanda Brunstetter and Dr. John Townsend. Rob is the creator of The Author’s Guide book series and instructor of the popular online course, Mastering Amazon for Authors. Learn more about Rob’s resources and consulting services for authors at: http://www.RobEagar.com
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Thank you for this information . It was very helpful, especially for someone newer to writing.
Good info, Thank you very much.
I’m printing this to keep in my file!