It’s hard to deny that Amazon is coming ever closer to achieving omnipresence in the publishing industry. Amazon and Kindle can sell books to readers all over the world. And if you’re an indie author, you may also know that Amazon self-publishing is an increasingly popular route for many writers.
Given its far reach and accessibility, Amazon is a factor in your publishing equation that shouldn’t be taken lightly. In fact, there are a number of specific features that come with Amazon distribution that can be incredibly useful to your marketing strategy! With that in mind, I will share with you five things that authors may not but should know about Amazon.
1. Amazon Author Central can be your best friend
If you take one thing away from this article, it should be this: make the most of Amazon Author Central. What’s this big fancy tool? you may ask. Well, it is your very own author dashboard on Amazon. You can use it to edit the content of your book product pages, such as your book description, and add featured editorial reviews to make it more attractive to readers.
More importantly, you can use Author Central to put together your Amazon author page, a hub for readers who are interested in you as a writer. This is where you display your books, photos, and videos of your events, and even updates from your blog or author interviews — it’s the perfect place to build your author brand! By filling your author page with strong content pertaining to you and your work, you project a more professional appearance and invite readers to visit your other titles. Readers who click to this page are already interested in you — there’s no reason not to capture that interest and turn it into loyal readership by optimizing with Amazon Author Central.
2. Having multiple titles is a plus
Following from the first point, having several books to your name is definitely going to boost your book sales, so long as each book has a strong marketing plan that connects it to your other titles.
With multiple titles, not only can you build up your readership and more effectively nurture your fanbase, but you can also create promotional book bundles. If you have a connected collection of books, you can bundle them together into a series collection and apply price promotions to it. Bundle discounts create a great incentive for people to buy books, and again, it enhances your author brand. (Of course, the hardest part about this will probably be the continuous writing — but if you’ve already written a series, you’re golden!)
3. There are several ways to rank on Amazon
Now let’s move on to the slightly more technical side of the platform. Since Amazon is an e-commerce site, authors tend to focus on achieving the “bestselling” title with their books, thereby increasing the book’s visibility to customers.
However, the first thing to note is that there are several ways to be a bestseller. Amazon has a Print Best Sellers List, a Kindle Paid Best Sellers List, and a Kindle Free Best Sellers List. Depending on your genre and audience’s buying habits, it may be more worthwhile to scale one of those lists than another, so make sure to do your research! Indeed, if you’re publishing an ebook for the very first time, you’ll probably want to run a price promotion to attract new readers and aim for the Free Best Sellers list. On the other hand, if you’re already published and have a substantial readership, the other bestseller lists are more viable for you.
Secondly, and more excitingly, there are even more ways — potentially easier and equally effective ways — for your book to rank on Amazon and gain traction. This includes, among others: the Hot New Release List, which is categorized by genre, and the Popularity list, which is based on the average sales you make per day. And rather than dividing it in free and paid sections, the Popularity list counts free downloads, too. So perhaps you don’t have the highest total sales to top the Best Sellers list, but if your book sells steadily, you will gain traction. The Popularity list determines a big part of Amazon’s email recommendations to its users.
With knowledge of these lists, you can tailor your marketing strategies to try and climb the list(s) that you think will be most useful to you.
4. You can influence the “also-boughts”
When checking out a book’s product page, you can see a section below the description with the heading “Customers who bought this item also bought”, which lists titles similar to yours. You can also think about it in reverse: your title can appear in the also-bought sections of your popular comp titles!
The fact that you can influence can be a blessing or a curse. For an example of the latter, say you’ve somehow channeled the wrong audience to your book — e.g. you’ve successfully promoted your post-apocalyptic dystopian novel to a predominantly sci-fi audience, perhaps through an ad campaign. In such a case, Amazon will automatically group your title with sci-fi books, thereby listing it as an “also-bought” under sci-fi titles. And while some of these readers might have enjoyed your story, chances are the majority of them aren’t looking for dystopian narratives. As a result, your sales may fall flat, and recovering from this won’t be easy.
On the other hand, if you set up your categories correctly and target your specific audience consistently, you will thrive off of the email recommendations that Amazon makes based on the also-bought function. So be careful with tactics like category hacking and other-platform advertising — you don’t want to accidentally mess up your also-boughts.
5. Amazon favors steady sales growth
Tying into the previous points, you don’t want to see your sales skyrocket for one or two weeks and then take a dive in the following period. Unsustained growth doesn’t get your book to rank on Amazon — a steady, gradual rise in sales is much better.
This means that it does, and should, take time to build up your ranking on Amazon. Perhaps you can take this as a reminder as to how book marketing isn’t something that you do for one or two months after the book launch — it’s an ongoing part of your publishing career.
Amazon’s algorithms are complex, but hopefully this post has shed some light on them and how you can better navigate them and strengthen the exposure of your book.
Thao Nguyen is a writer at Reedsy, a platform that connects authors and publishers with the world’s best editors, designers, and marketers. She enjoys writing non-fiction, especially the historical kind, and is delighted by the prospects that self-publishing provides for aspiring authors nowadays.
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