When we look at how to market a book, we know this for sure: Amazon is a great place to list your book – but it requires some work. A focused effort to stand out on the site itself, amidst all the other noise, but also keeping readers on your Amazon book page, which has become decidedly more cluttered.
At the same time, Amazon still offers a number of free ways to drive more attention to your book (think keywords) and keep readers longer on your book page (think: Amazon Author Central). Let’s explore some of these – and a paid option – to market a book and gain more exposure on the uber-busy Amazon site.
Find the Right Keyword Strings for Your Book: When it comes to marketing a book, I’ve taught a lot about keywords in earlier blog posts, and though the algorithms change constantly on the Amazon site, one thing remains constant: you need to have a great set of keyword strings. Why strings and not a single keyword? Because we know that a consumer who pops in the term “romance” into Amazon is not a serious shopper. This method of searching single keywords vs. strings was based on a test Google ran a few years ago. They discovered that the more keywords a consumer pops into their search bar, the closer they are to a buy. Think: car vs. hybrid Toyota 2020 – if you’re typing in the latter, you’re probably ready to buy a new car. That’s why typing more keywords into a Google search bar will prompt all sorts of ads on the sidebar of other locations like Facebook and even Skype.
Remember that what you’re offering them (your book!) is a solution to some problem they’re having. Even if it’s entertainment. Keying into what solution you’re offering will begin to help you formalize your keywords. I have a bunch of blogs on keyword searches, which I’ll link to at the bottom of this post. If you’re ready to dive deeper into this, you’ll find more in our Resources section below!
Make Sure You’re Sitting in the Right Categories/Genre: As crazy as it sounds, this is a big one. Mostly because as authors we often aren’t great at knowing which category we should be in, which is why it’s often good to get an outside perspective on this. Not sure what category/genre you should be in? Take a look at other/similar books and see where your book fits in. It’s one thing to market a book, it’s quite another to market it to the right audience.
Add a Fun Author Interview to Your Book Page: This is a cool idea – a fun get-to-know-you interview with you, the fabulous author. Maybe something like: 5 Things You Didn’t Know About Me. Play with it, have fun. Let your readers get to know who you are. Be human. Consumers really gravitate to people who show their humanity. Yes, you want to market a book, you want to market YOUR book – but you also want to appeal to your consumer in a very real way. The more you can humanize your book page, the more you’ll keep your potential reader on the page. You’ve got the Amazon real estate, why not use it?
Enhance your Book Page with Author Central: Aside from the author interview, there’s a lot of other stuff you can do with your Amazon book page – via the backend of Author Central – which offers some great tools to market a book. Regardless of how you’re published, you can access this backend and add things like the author interview I mentioned earlier, and so much more. If you’re a non-fiction author, why not add your table of contents to the book page? If you’ve written fiction, maybe a book excerpt? You can also use Author Central to add reviews that didn’t get put up on your book page or re-add ones that got pulled from your awesome list of book reviews.
Amazon Video Shorts: I love this so much and yet, sadly, so few authors use this tool. Most, I think, assume that this is for the reader to post reviews – and it is! But you can use it, too. Just record a video, maybe telling readers how much you appreciate them spending time with you, or a tip from your book, or a snippet of your book trailer. The sky is the limit, really. Once your video is approved, you’ll get access to the backend of all the videos you’ve uploaded and can delete any that you no longer wish to use: think book updates, etc. that have maybe become outdated.
Take Advantage of the Pre-Order: The Amazon Pre-Order function is an awesome tool to market a book. But here’s the deal-breaker: don’t promote it too early. You might be thinking: well if it’s up for pre-order I can promote it, right? Sure, you can, but here’s the thing: unless you have a massive platform (think: Harry Potter), most consumers don’t buy books that are months out from release, even pushing a book 30 days prior to launch can be iffy. You need to weigh this against your mailing list, and the open/response rate of your followers. If you aren’t sure what the response rate would be, your platform isn’t as big as you’d like it, or if you’re a new author, stick to my rule of thumb: promote your book heavily within a 2-week window. So, two weeks prior to launch you go full on, pushing to your social media, mailing lists, and using Amazon ads to aid your push as well. This is also a good time to coordinate with any launch partners you may have – so folks who have agreed to help you push your book out to their audiences.
Explore Amazon Advertising: If used correctly, AMS ads are a great way to market a book – but they should be used as a booster, and not a stand-alone book marketing piece. What do I mean by booster? Well, to enhance anything you’re already doing. For example, a new book launch, or a short-term pricing discount. Lots of folks like to run ads continuously and while that’s not a bad goal, you’ll have to watch your dashboard carefully so you don’t spend a lot of money for very little return.
The other piece of Amazon Ads, which I’ve talked about in prior blog posts, is that you want a lot of keywords (300-400 to start) and you want to make sure that the keywords match what’s on your book page. Meaning – if you have used “Dracula thriller” as one of your keywords, make sure that term is reflected somewhere on the book page. For most keywords – for example suspense thriller, or contemporary romance – if your book cover, title and optional subtitle make it clear that your book fits that genre, you don’t necessarily need to include these keywords in your book description. But when you use specialized terms – holiday romance, or in the case of non-fiction, I used “sell more books on Amazon” as one of the keywords for my 5 Minute Book Marketing for Authors book – if I use that keyword string, it had better be in one of the bulleted benefits in my book description. Otherwise, you’re paying for someone to click the ad, go to your page, and be disappointed when the benefits don’t match what they were searching for. I dig deeper into Amazon ads in many of our blog posts as well as our Master Amazon Video Program (all links below).
Marketing a book is already tough enough. One reason I released How to Sell Books by the Truckload on Amazon – 2020 Updated Edition is to make it a bit easier and accessible to all authors, and using some of the free tools Amazon offers – as well as one paid one, is a great way to boost a promo or new title.
Resources and Downloads
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