I just read a great article on the ins and outs of selling books via Amazon. These principals can be applied to any commercial endeavor. It works on the principal of the 4 P´s.
Today´s post is mostly concerned with Placement.
The product is your novel, tutorial, autobiography or whatever self-published work you consider worthy of selling on Amazon and other distribution channels. I only sell with Amazon at the moment so I am focusing on them.
The first and obvious issue takes me back to the refrain ´Don´t judge a book by its cover.´ Well, people do judge a book by its cover. It amazes me how many people out there are trying to sell their books with a less than professional cover. If it looks like you whipped it off yourself using MS Paint, you are not going to sell many covers.
This of course is a question of economics. I have 11 Ebooks and 4 print editions. Of these I paid for 4 covers. I adapted one of the covers using my limited skills with Corel draw but even at its worst, the result is much better than acceptable. One cover I did from scratch – I went with a basic black design with a single white graphic and lettering. I think it is fairly professional. Again, economics enters the equation here. Spend what you can but get a good cover.
Price is something we all struggle with. Too low a price vs. too high a price. 35% royalty vs. 70% royalty. Most of my books are 40 – 50 pages so I am selling them at $1.69 and getting the 35% royalty. Keep in mind that 70% of ZERO is Zero while 35% of $1.69 ….. well, you do the math!
Let´s skip over to Promotion. A real hard nut to crack. Blog, twitter, facebook, .com etc. It seems I spend more time on promo than on writing. This is a hard road for the first few years until you learn the ins and outs and get your platform built. Good luck and share your tips with others. Get help where you can.
So that leaves us with placement. This is where some research and creativity will come in handy. Now I am not a specialist. I am writing this post to make you aware of the issues – hopefully you will find a balance here.
Placement is the ability for the customer to find your book in the Amazon store. There are three elements that come into play here.
1. Setting up the book in the correct category. I have a horrible time with this issue since ´Dog Ficion´ doesn´t really exist as a category.
2. Keywords – this is a touch easier.
3. Book description.
In a nutshell, what you need to do is go to the Kindle book store and type in one word that best describes your book. I typed in Dog and Dogs. The Amazon search engine will drop down some suggestions in an effort to help speed up your search. In this case the options were dog training, dog care, dog breeds, dog fiction, dog food recipes etc.
What you can also do to see the full range of dog related books is to run through the alphabet – dog a, dog b, etc. Every time you add a letter, new categories appear. By the time you have run through the whole alphabet, you should have found the most popular categories that would relate to your book.
So you pick the 7 best keywords and fill in the keyword section of your book in the KDP bookshelf. In my case I am slowly renewing my keywords.
Then you have the Book description. This can be up to 4000 words. I believe in keeping it short but the trick here is to be sure to incorporate all your keywords into your description. Simple as that. The idea is that Amazon has BOTS – little programs that are constantly running in their search engine and they correlate and categorize and move your book up in the page ranking depending on how well you manage all these elements. So having your keywords in your description just makes their job all that easier and as such, they work for you instead of against you.
So I will admit, all of this is speculation. I don´t know how it works exactly and I won´t really know if it is working after I finish renewing my keywords and descriptions of all my books. If I search Dogs in the Amazon kindle story I get thousands of pages of books. I could take days to find my book via their search. I will only know if it works if I start to see an increase in sales. Or maybe not. The point, and it´s a valid one is that this is the accepted wisdom concerning the Amazon search engine. I figure I can´t afford not to do it.
Will post further on any and all success related to this theme. In the meantime, read a few of my previous posts about promotion. Build your platform. It can only help.
David Gordon Burke
Find my books here.