Amazing Results with Amazon. Any typos associated with this presentation are solely the responsibility of Eddie Jones and in no way reflect the quality of work offered by Christian Devotions Ministries, its board or staff. How to Leverage Amazon.com to Your Advantage [email protected]
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Amazon flattens the world of book selling by giving every author the chance to sell big. When Amazon notices your book is selling, it automatically displays your book higher in its search results and higher in its category lists. More importantly, Amazon starts plugging your book into book recommendations on its Web site and in e-mails to customers.
Books that sell moderately well may eventually be assigned to multiple categories. Imagine your book shelved in a dozen different sections of a brick-and-mortar bookstore. The difference is, Amazon is the world’s largest bookstore and may send thousands of readers to your book.
Increasingly, readers turn to online reviews written by peers to learn if a book is worth purchasing. Many “professional” reviews are simply rehashes of publisher-generated publicity.
Today, all it takes is a quick skim of customer reviews on Amazon to know if you’ll like a book, and what amateur reviewers lack in highbrow sensibilities, they make up in credibility and relevancy.
What percentage of buyers at brick-and-mortar bookstores made their choice by reading Amazon customer reviews? There’s no way to know, but chances are it’s a substantial and growing number, so seed your book’s success by garnering reviews on Amazon.
If buyers are making their decisions based on Amazon reviews you can bet bookstore buyers are, too. Amazon is ground zero for your online campaign. It provides free worldwide exposure. Simply having your book properly listed for sale on Amazon can create demand for it everywhere.
How can these reviews help you? Credibility. Amazon doesn’t say it explicitly, but the more reviews your book receives, the higher it will appear in the “relevant” search rankings. This is why you need to begin working to gain reviews for your book before its release. How?
With book giveaways on Goodreads, blog tours, promotions and sending galley copies to friends. In return ask those individuals who say nice things about your book to post a review when your book releases. (Depending on the publisher’s arraignment with Amazon, sometimes they can post reviews before its release.)
When it comes to book sales, you have to be popular to become popular. (How’s that for circular logic?) Amazon reviews are a quick indicator of your book’s success. A low number of reviews or a low star rating and the reader may exit your page before scrolling down.
Encourage anyone who tells you how much he or she enjoyed your book to write a review on Amazon.com. As your positive reviews grow, so may your sales.
It is YOUR job to drive reviewers (friends, family, fans, Tweeters, bloggers, etc) to your Amazon page and fill these reviews. Your book will need 10 to be taken seriously - 100 to be considered a serious book. The bar is high because customers are reluctant to post reviews. Readers know this so when they see a book with 50 reviews they know merits consideration.
Even a poor review can be good—if the reviewer shares pertinent facts about your book that other readers might find interesting. For example, a comment like: “Too preachy” might turn off some readers and attract inspirational readers. Multiple 1 star reviews can slow sales or kill your book’s momentum, so balance low star reviews by asking friends to post a review after negative reviews appear. Here’s how.
When friends congratulate you on your book ask for their help. Send them an email or contact via Facebook and say:
Thank you for the kind words about my book. If you have a spare moment, it would be a great help if you could post a review on Amazon and let other potential readers know why you liked it. It’s not necessary to write a lengthy, formal review—a summary of the comments you sent me would be fine. Here’s a link to the review form for my book:
(Note: you will need to put your book’s actual ISBN in place of the letters ISBN)
Save this canned text to be used anytime you see a negative review appear about your book. Then seek out those fans that praised your book but did not post a review. Maybe add that their comments are needed and appreciated.
The reality is a review on Amazon is gold. The next time your author friend has a birthday don’t send an eGreating Card – post a positive review of their book on Amazon. This will mean more to their career than you can imagine.
Dear John Doe: I found your name from the list of Amazon Top Reviewers. My book, “Dead Man’s Hand” released last November from Zonderkidz. I noticed from your Amazon profile that you frequently review middle school books. If you think you might be interested in reading my book and posting an honest review on Amazon, I’ll gladly send a complimentary copy if you’ll reply with your postal mailing address. There is no obligation, of course. Best Regards, Eddie Jones
Another valuable source of potential reviewers is people who’ve posted Amazon reviews for previous books in your topic or genre.
“Dear Jane Doe: I found your name from the Amazon book review you posted of the 2011 book “A Zombie’s Guide to Zin.” I recently wrote a book that appeals to the same audience, “Mummies Little Helper.” If you think you might be interested in reading it and perhaps reviewing it on Amazon, I’ll gladly send a complimentary copy if you’ll respond with your mailing address. There is no obligation, of course. Best Regards
A great way to launch your campaign is to find 100 to 300 readers in your book’s target audience and ask them to post an honest review on Amazon. This costs nothing more than mailing review copies of your book to reviewers. Once you send the book follow up with the recipient to see if they have finished or have thoughts on your book. Not everyone will respond. In fact most will not. But gaining positive reviews can boost your sales so be persistent.
Through your “Author Central” account (https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/home ) you can control the content that appears on your book’s Amazon details page. Note: your publisher owns the book’s description but you can add other text that might draw readers to your book.
For example, many readers like to learn how an author came up with the idea for the book, its characters, theme, and any charities or causes affiliated with the book. Once you log into your Author Central account (you will use the same email address and password you use for your Amazon purchases), select which books are yours. If your account name matches the author name, your book will appear under your bibliography. Now begin making changes.
The Books tab (bibliography) in Author Central lists the books displayed on Amazon.com that are claimed by you. If any of the books listed have incorrect information or are not correctly assigned to you, it's easy to correct them using Author Central. When you join Author Central and manage your bibliography for the first time, it may take us 3 to 5 days to Create Your Author Central Account and build the Author Page.
If you have written a book that doesn't appear in your bibliography and is available on Amazon.com, you can add it. On the Author Central Books tab look for the button and click Add more books.
To add a book place your book title, ISBN, or author name in the Search field and click Go.
Once you've found the missing title, click “This is my book” below that book. If our catalog lists your name as the author, you're all set.
The order of books is determined by a book’s relevance, the same way your books appear on the Amazon.com Author Page. The most popular books, based on a set of rules designed to provide the best customer experience, appear near the top of the list. We cannot change the order. Remember that customers can sort books in several different orders on the Author Page.
If you have positive reviews from trade publications list them on your book’s Amazon page. Click on the button and post the review.
In the “From the Author” section add personal information regarding the writing of the book. This is your chance to stand at the front of the Amazon store with customers streaming in the front door and pitch your book. Be classy and give readers a reason to pick up a copy and browse.
Even if you do not have a hardback novel, you can still add text to these two areas that will grab the reader and give them a reason to pick up your book.
As noted, your publisher owns the content of your book’s description but you can add elements to your book’s details page.
Do NOT use this area to describe your book.
Think of this section as your ¼ page magazine ad area.
First, note any awards or accomplishments for you or your book. Establish yourself as a subject matter expert. This suggests your book is worth reading. Keep the description brief. This initial portion of your Inside Flap / Back Cover should be at most 2-3 sentences.
No awards? No problem. Put your 3 best quotes/blurbs/reviews (if you did not use the Reviews area) for your book (punchy, short, exciting). Again, each quote should not be longer than a few sentences.
Most customers do not scroll down past the “Product Details” to the official reviews section of the Amazon.com page. So place your most glowing, punchy, exciting quotes up top. The top section of the page is where most buyers stop scrolling. Get them excited about your book first, explain later.
After your three quotes, add a brief description of your book. Do not go on-and-on about the book. Pitch your book, state its promise, benefits and list your guarantee (yes, you will refund their money if they return the book to you – most won’t even if they don’t like your book). Then stop talking.
Finally, include your bio, a final sales pitch and mention any giveaways, or other pertinent information that might close the sale. Think of this area as your “Amazon book signing” table. Work it!
On your book’s detail page Amazon now includes a ‘like’ feature next to the reviews. Similar to other social media sites, the more ‘likes’ the better. Ask friends and fans to like your book. It is much easier to get likes than reviews – it all helps.
If a reader does not see the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” bar filled in below your book, they know your book is a slow seller. The longer this row remains blank, the lower your sales will be.
While you cannot control what books appear on this row, you can help fill the bar. Have your fans buy your book during a ‘soft’ launch (pre-advertising, or promoting your book on social media or during a free Kindle copy day). Once someone purchases your book (assuming they have already bought other books) your book’s “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” bar will begin to expand.
With customer reviews, you can ask friends to add a video book trailer to your book's detail page. Supply them with the file (Not a YouTube link) and ask them to upload your video under their name. Be careful, though, since these customer reviews are supposed to be just that-reviews. Still it's one of the only ways to get a video on your book's detail page. (Unless you're a major publisher with close ties to Amazon.)
Promote yourself to potential readers by keeping your author page current on Amazon Author Central. Use this opportunity to sell yourself, promote your expertise, and explain your passion for the novels you write.
From your Author Central page you can :
Update your author biography
Feed your blog to your author page
Add Twitter feeds
Maintain your book tour calendar
View and edit our list of your books
Add a book to your bibliography
Track your book sales
Promote yourself to Kindle readers
Begin by logging into your Author Central account: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/home
On your profile page you can update your bio, add blog feeds and list speaking events, book signings, etc.
Your Biography - On the Author Central Profile tab, click edit next to "edit biography.” Enter text that meets the following guidelines:
At least 10 characters, plain text only—no bold, italics, HTML or other rich formatting
Amazon recommends you write your bio offline and keep a saved copy. When you are satisfied, click Save biography. Your uploaded biography will appear on the Author Page within 30 minutes.
Your biography will appear when someone clicks on your author number under book’s title and visits your Author Page so keep your bio current. List awards, new book contracts. Your bio also appears on your Kindle profile page (more on this later).
Plug your blog from your author page. An RSS feed allows your blog to flow directly into your author page. Your latest posts will appear on your Amazon author page. As far as I know, this is the only way Amazon allows you to hyperlink to another site from Amazon.com. For this reason, when you post a blog consider linking the first sentence of your blog and pointing to your Facebook page, website or anyone other site where you want readers to find additional information about you.
When you add a blog feed, you are linking to a blog you created elsewhere. Whenever you update your blog, the blog teasers that appear on the Author Page on Amazon.com update automatically, within 24 hours of being posted on your blog.
Add a video book trailer to your author page. You can also share video interviews, book signing videos, and other videos with readers. Your videos should focus on specific features of your books or your experience as an author. Your videos should not include any of the following: Obscene or distasteful content. Phone numbers.
Announce your speaking appearances and book tour stops. Keep your events calendar current. This gives readers a chance to connect with you in person. Plus, groups, schools and churches may invite you to speak. After you've created an event, it will be displayed in the Scheduled Events section. Customers can see the detail of the Event: Venue, location, time, a short description of the event, and the book you're touring with. This information appears on the Author Page and on BookTour.com. Your personal information is not shared with BookTour.com and remains confidential.
Authors can now see Nielsen BookScan weekly sales data (sales info) going back to September, 2010! Nielsen BookScan data does not report every book sold, but it is widely regarded as the industry standard for tracking print book sales.
On the Sales Info tab, you can see BookScan Weekly Sales. From here you can view weekly sales data for the previous 4, 8, 24, 52 weeks and all available data that dates back to September, 2010. To see sales of your top three selling books plotted, click the box in the control to the right of the graph by the book title you wish to add. View a breakdown of sales by format (e.g. paperback, hardback) by clicking on the orange arrow next to “All Books” and selecting the title from the list.
You will also be able to see Sales by Geography for the same date ranges. Select “Sales by Geography” from the navigation on the left and as with the Weekly Sales graph, you can select how many weeks of data to display.
The Sales Info tab lets you see how your print books are selling across the U.S. for the past four weeks. Figures are provided by Nielsen BookScan and include approximately 75% of all retail print book sales in the U.S., including most of Amazon print sales*.
Print sales figures from more than 10,000 retailers including:
Amazon print sales*
Barnes & Noble
Deseret Book Company
Follett College stores
Sales from Wal-Mart and Sam's Club
Sales to libraries
Purchases by wholesalers such as Ingram
Sales of used books
Books published through CreateSpace
Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA) sales
Pre-orders—orders for a book before the book is released (for this reason you may want to discourage readers from pre-ordering your book)
* Note about Amazon print sales: Sales reported depend on which retailers selling your book participate in Nielsen BookScan, and whether your book is registered with one of the companies from which Nielsen derives its list of reported ASINs. If your book is registered with the Ingram Company, for example, you will see sales info. If your book is Print on Demand, your publishing company may not report ISBNs to Ingram and you may not see sales information.
You can now share your book with Pinterest followers from Amazon.com.
Create several boards on Pinterest and plug your book during key intervals. For example, I have an “eBooks for Under a Dollar” board on Pinterest and whenever my publisher offers one of my books for 99 cents or less I Pin and share it.
Below is a screen grab of Dead Man’s Hand pinned on my “Books Worth Reading” board. This is a great way to share your book’s cover. Like any social media venue be careful you do not spam your followers with too many pins. Save your pins for key events: book signings, Goodreads giveaways, award announcements… things of importance to readers and your followers.
Word-of-mouth is the primary reason books sell and now Kindle readers have access to your “About the Author” page and your book’s highlights through their Kindle. Every time you or another Kindle reader highlights a passage from the Kindle copy of your book that highlight appears on your (their) Kindle profile page.
On your Kindle page you will find yourprofile and public notes of the Kindle books you are reading or read. There is also a brief social media chart showing how many followers / following fans I have.
Think of your Kindle profile page as a virtual book club. The more times you or someone highlights a passage from your book, the more often it appears on other reader’s pages AND ON YOUR BOOK’S AMAZON PAGE. Start by purchasing a Kindle copy of your book and highlighting key passages.
Below is a screen grab from Facebook of a “shared highlight” of my devotional book My Father’s Business. I typed the text “peace on earth through Christ” as part of my share (typed on my Kindle) and the words “Shared from My Father’s…” is hyperlinked back to that passage from the book. For every three shares I pick up one new follower (on average). This creates brand awareness of the book. eBook sharing is the beginning of virtually book club participation so you can expect this area to grow in the months to come.
With Amazon you are not looking at a six-week blitz but a six-month or two year sales strategy.
By using Amazon to your advantage you can rise above the chatter of the crowd and create buzz for your book in the one store that matters most.
Take charge of your career!