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Guest Post by Tom Corson-Knowles
By now, we’re all familiar with Amazon. It’s become the #1 platform for selling books, both in print and in digital form, and it’s done more to help nourish the self-publishing explosion than any other company out there.
But simply sticking your book up for sale through KDP and waiting for the sales to roll in is a recipe for disappointment. Succeeding as an independent author involves a lot more than just writing: marketing and PR are part of a modern author’s job, too.
And guess what? Amazon can help here, too! It’s more than just a distributor or sales channel: Amazon also offers a variety of ways for authors to promote their work on the site, reaching more readers and making more sales.
Some of Amazon’s programs are only open to bestsellers, which can be a little daunting for a new author—or even an experienced author who’s launching a new book or a new series.
So let’s take a look at Amazon promotion strategies that can help you boost your Kindle sales even if you don’t have a bestseller…yet!
The road to strong Amazon sales starts even before you write your book. With the right planning, strategies, and launch techniques, you can jumpstart your sales from the very start—and begin taking advantage of all the promotion opportunities Amazon has to offer!
Many of Amazon’s best promotional programs are only available to bestsellers. Now, there are more than 19,669 bestseller lists on Amazon, so becoming a bestseller is a little less of a challenge than it seems on the surface.
Choose Your Categories
Getting that “bestseller” status still takes a little strategic groundwork, though. First, you need to choose your categories carefully when uploading to KDP. You’re only allowed to select two of Amazon’s internal categories, so it’s best to choose two in different top-level categories if you can, to maximize the potential for showing up in search and making a bestseller list (or two).
For example, your romantic ghost story has a better chance of moving up in the ranks if you list it under both the Romance and Science Fiction & Fantasy top-level (or “parent”) categories, then choose the appropriate sub-categories. So you might end up with Romance > Paranormal and Fantasy > Romantic, which gives you a lot more opportunities to rise up in the ranks among different audiences.
Use KDP Select to Launch Strong
The first 30 days are the most important time for making an impression on Amazon. There are multiple programs that highlight strong-selling new titles, making it even easier for them to gain momentum and make exponentially more sales.
This means that you have to really make an impact with your new book when it first hits the Kindle store. For new authors, or authors with a new series, this can be a bit of a challenge. One way to turbocharge your launch is to offer your book free for a limited time by enrolling in KDP Select, which lets you set your price as free for up to 5 days out of every three months.
This helps you take advantage of Amazon programs in a few ways.
More Readers for Amazon’s Algorithms
Amazon is known for its strong recommendation engine, where it displays titles that might be of interest to customers as part of “Customers Who Bought This Also Bought…” Of course, you can’t get into this promotion area if people haven’t bought your book—which is why offering your new title for free or at a discount for a limited time when you’re launching is a great strategy! Those free downloads count as purchases for the purpose of getting into the recommendation engine. And once you’re there, more readers will see your book and potentially purchase it.
The more reviews you get, the better you perform in Amazon’s search rankings. So launching strong with plenty of four- and five-star reviews automatically shoots you up the search and recommendation rankings, increasing the chances that more people will buy your book when it goes to regular price after your launch.
Using Amazon’s pre-order function can also help you off to a strong start, because it lets you drive your newsletter subscribers and other contacts to an actual sales page even before you’ve finished the book. Any pre-orders count toward your bestseller status and can help you land in Amazon’s Hot New Releases section before your book is actually live. From there, the sales will just keep growing as more people discover your book!
Amazon Marketing Services (AMS)
Another great way to boost your visibility and sales on Amazon is to make use of Amazon Marketing Services (AMS). These paid ads let you promote your books alongside similar titles or to readers who have searched for similar keywords, kind of like using Google AdWords.
These ads send readers straight to your book’s sales page on Amazon, where they’ll see all those great reviews you’ve gotten through your smart launch strategy.
Now the sales start snowballing as more and more people find and buy your book, helping you appear in more places in the recommendation engine and moving you up that bestseller list so that you can appear in even more places through Amazon’s internal promotions!
Kindle Countdown Deals
Once your book is launched and selling, you might want to try using sales or discount deals to help climb the bestseller lists and unlock the power of Amazon’s algorithms.
When you’re enrolled in KDP Select, you can take advantage of Kindle Countdown Deals, which let you put your book on sale for a short, specified period of time and shows a countdown timer of how long the promotion has left, encouraging readers to buy now rather than waffling.
You can run one Countdown Deal of up to seven days every 90 days, discounting your price by at least a dollar (and going all the way down to a sale price of 99 cents).
Best of all, if running your deal (and promoting it to your newsletter subscribers and others) helps land you a coveted bestseller slot, Amazon will help you even more with promotion!
If you have a bestselling book that’s currently doing a Countdown Deal, Amazon will promote it on the Special Deals section of Kindle devices, in the Kindle app, and on the Kindle Countdown Deals page in the Amazon store. And what does that mean? More exposure and more sales!
By launching your book with a smart strategy, ramping up interest by using a KDP Select giveaway, taking out targeted Amazon Marketing Services ads, and using Kindle Countdown Deals to maintain your momentum, you can not only boost your Kindle sales, you can also climb the bestseller ranks.
From there, Amazon will start promoting your book more and more to its customers through its algorithmic recommendation engine, putting your work in front of readers who are ready to buy.
Through the magic of smart strategies designed to take advantage of Amazon’s algorithms, you can go from “new launch” to “bestseller” and build the kind of momentum you need to make a full-time author income!
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