Your book is finally live on Amazon, congratulations! But now what?
In this post I'm going to reveal the five things you must do once your book is live on Amazon. These will make sure it gets discovered and bought. Plus I have a bonus tip that you're not going to want to miss.
Being on Amazon is not enough
You probably know by now that it's not enough to simply have your book listed on Amazon. For readers to find it, you need to position it in such a way that it can readers can actually discover it. And when people do find your book, you need what we in marketing would call a ‘conversion focused' listing. That means when people land on your book page, they're more likely to click the buy button.
Two things that are really important for a book to do well on Amazon are a great cover and a good title. I'm not going to go into details on either of those here because I would hope that if you got to the point where you've uploaded your book, that you have done your work here.
But if you haven't invested in a professional cover design, and you're not sure if your title meets reader or genre conventions, then definitely go away and do your homework to make sure that your book fits with what people expect to find for your type of book.
I highly recommend Geoff Affleck's free online training on Amazon Optimization. (And if you decide to buy his paid program, I can vouch for that too.)
So with that out of the way, here are my top five things for you to focus on for a well-optimized Amazon listing.
You're allowed up to seven keywords on Amazon. Keywords is a little bit of a misnomer because they're not necessarily individual words. You can use phrases or keyword strings.
If you use something too short, such as a single word, you may find that the results are too broad and there's too much competition. Whereas if you go for something really long and specific, you may find that no one is actually searching for that.
The key is to use something that people are actually searching for on Amazon, but not necessarily something that's so popular that you can't stand out. I find that the sweet spot is usually two to three words for each keyword or key phrase.
For more help with keywords, check out this post from Kindlepreneur.
Not everybody knows this, but you're allowed up to 10 categories for your ebook and 10 categories for your print book on Amazon. When you first upload your book, you will see that you can choose two categories from a limited number of category options, but you can actually get into more categories. All you need to do is do your category research and then email Amazon to request they add you to those categories.
What should your categories be?
You want to choose categories that are a really good fit for your book. There's no point listing your book in a category that's not relevant. Now, some people might advise this as a way of getting a category bestseller, but that's gaming the system. If it's not relevant to your book, you don't want to be doing that. You do want to play fair and put your book where it belongs so that people are more likely to find it and buy it.
That said, you do want to drill down into a category that's much less competitive. If you go for those high-level categories then there's a good chance that there's going to be too much competition and you will appear on page 20, 25, and that's not going to help you. So it's definitely worth drilling down. Try to get as specific as you can so there's less competition. You're more likely to rank higher in those categories, but they still need to be relevant to your book.
If categories and keywords have got you in a bit a spin, then I highly recommend a tool called Publisher Rocket, which will help you drill down to the perfect categories and keywords for your book.
Your book description on Amazon is really, really important, but so many authors overlook it. Sometimes it's difficult to write a description when you've written the book. You're far too close to it, you know it too well and suddenly all your creative juices just disappear. If that's the case, then I recommend you hire somebody else or ask somebody else to write your description for you.
Sell your book
The key thing about your book description is that it shouldn't be describing your book. It shouldn't be telling people about the book, it really should be selling the book. It should be answering the question, should I buy this book? So you need to make it compelling, you need to make it exciting. You need to entice the reader and convince them that out of all the books they might have been browsing, this is the one for them.
So if you dashed off a description just to get your book uploaded onto Amazon, then I recommend you go back and look at it objectively and think, is this really selling my book? If you've managed to get people all the way to your listing on Amazon, which actually is quite a difficult thing to do, once they're there, are you enticing them to click the buy button? Are they going to read it and go, Hmm, that doesn't really sound like my kind of book, and leave? You need to put the effort into your description if you want people to buy your book.
And one little trick you can do to really entice people to click the buy button is tell them to click the buy button. Say, ‘if this sounds like your kind of book, then click add to basket now'. Put a call to action on the end of your description and it can make all the difference.
Reviews are the bane of most authors' lives. They're really difficult to come by and you can spend a lot of time chasing reviews and feeling like it's a complete waste of time. And authors tell me that when they do manage to get reviews Amazon takes them down. I'm not going to go into that here, but let's just say that reviews can be a little bit challenging.
Ideally you want genuine, honest customer reviews, reviews from people who have actually bought your book and read it and felt that they want to share what they thought about it. And hopefully that will be positive. The thing is, that can be really difficult. If we leave people to their own devices, most of the time, they're not going to leave a review.
This is another reason why I encourage authors to grow their own readership and their own platform and mailing lists, because then you have a pool of people that you can go to and ask for reviews. You can promote your book when it first comes out. You can email them, tell them about it, and then you can follow up with a campaign asking for reviews.
If you don't have a platform or you've done all of that and you still haven't got many reviews and it's becoming really, really challenging getting them, then the next thing you can do is try to get editorial reviews. These are reviews that go in a separate section on your listing page. They're not customer reviews. They're reviews from magazines and journals, and they might be reviews from other authors in your genre.
You're only really going to get these if you go out and ask people for them. You send out review copies of your book and try to get these reviews back. In my last post, I explained that it's a good idea to start building relationships with other authors early on before your book comes out. This is one of the perfect reasons why that is worth doing. If you have relationships with other authors in your genre, when your book comes out you can ask them if they'd be willing to leave an editorial review. You can do the same for them, if they would like you to.
This is a much better option than asking author friends to leave a customer review, because Amazon is unlikely to take down these reviews, you actually upload them yourself.
Why are reviews so important?
Reviews provide social proof. So if you have a lot of customer reviews that are three, four, five star, they're generally positive, then other people browsing and looking at your book will think, okay, other people have bought this book. They found it to be a good read, I'm going to give it a try too. And even if you don't have those kinds of reviews, if you have some good editorial reviews from trusted people in your space, from other respected authors, then again, people will look at those and think, I trust those people, they've said this is a good book, I'm going to give it a shot.
So reviews, whether they're customer reviews or editorial reviews, they are really, really useful. And they will make your listing look a lot more professional and a lot more enticing to a reader.
Pricing can be an issue for self-published authors who have to set their own price. If you're trade published, this isn't something that you get a say in and you don't really have to worry about it. But if you're self-publishing, then this is a lot of responsibility.
Price is important because obviously you want to get paid well for your work, for all the effort that you've put into your book. But there are a few factors to consider.
One, is what your costs are. How much does it cost you to print and publish a book? What is your royalty rate, for example. So there's how much you want to make from your book and making sure you cover your costs. But there's also what are other books in your genre or space charging and what is the market expectation? What are readers willing to pay for books like yours?
You need to balance these two things, because if you're way out, then people aren't going to buy your book. Either you're over-priced and people simply won't pay it, or you're under-priced, and then people may think there's something wrong with your book, or they assume it's going to be very short. You want to make sure you're where the expectation is; you're similar in price to the other books in your genre, but also make sure you cover your costs as well.
I promised you a bonus tip and that is, get off of Amazon! We've covered the five things that you have to do once your book is on Amazon, but really they're all about optimizing your listing, and that's great once you get people to your listing. As I mentioned earlier, you have to do a lot of work upfront to get people over to your listing, to find your book.
So I encourage you to get off Amazon and do more marketing elsewhere to let people know you and your book exist and to then drive them towards your Amazon listing.
So what do I mean by that? I mean do your outreach, do your guest posting, do your podcast interviews. Talk to other authors and see if they would give you a mention in their newsletter. Perhaps you can do a newsletter swap, and you'll mention them in your newsletter. Concentrate on building your community on Facebook or on Instagram. Make sure you're getting in front of readers every single day.
3 things a week
If you can think of three things you can do each week to promote your book, then you're going to be way ahead of most authors. And those things don't have to be complicated, time-consuming or expensive. There's lots of things you can do to get in front of people and keep letting them know about your book, driving them towards Amazon.
And then if you've done the five things here and optimized your listing, people are more likely click buy and actually download your book and read it.
I've talked about growing a platform again in this post, and I know it's a little more complicated than I make it sound. So download my free 7-step guide to growing your author platform and I promise that will get you started.