You can’t sell books. You can only bring your books to the attention of book buyers.
The most challenging task for all authors who are using Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and selling books on Amazon is maintaining consistent book sales.
There is a catch 22 that applies to most new books listed on Amazon. It is that you need book sales to get book reviews, but you need book reviews to get sales.
Then you need to get enough regular unit sales to keep a good sales rank so that you can sell more copies. It is a fact that the top-ranking books in a genre, sell far better than lower-ranked books.
Self-published ebooks sell
The good news is that ebook buyers are equally likely to buy a self-published or Indie title than a traditionally published title.
Whatever discrimination there was when ebooks first became available has evaporated.
Although the graph below is a little dated now, it does give you a snapshot of the ebook sales market.
Of course, self-publishing is a tough business, and every Indie author knows how hard it is to build consistent ebook sales.
But from the data in this graph, there is no doubt that there is a huge Indie book-buying market. Like any other business, though, only the best will succeed.
How can you tap into this market and succeed in selling books?
It’s all about having a quality product and knowing your market niche.
Can you answer some of these questions?
What can I do to give my books the best chance to start selling?
What are my niche genres?
What are my best performing keywords?
How can I make my book more visible?
How can I get potential book buyers to notice my book?
Are you planning to sell on Amazon exclusively?
Who are the best online book retailers for my book?
Have I set the price too high or too low?
Are you having trouble answering these questions?
Here are some step by step tips to help you answer the questions and learn how to sell books on Amazon and improve your book sales potential.
Does your book get an A grade pass?
These first three elements are essential if you want to sell books online.
1. Your book cover
You know you need a great book cover and probably have one. But have you considered that the color or font might be a problem?
Look at the top-ranking books in specific genres. You will see that there is often a commonality about colors. For instance, science fiction books are generally dark, and very often blue.
For romance, pastel colors are predominant. For mystery and thriller, heavy and dark, with black shades, are common.
What about your title font?
Romance titles use a lot of fancy script fonts, whereas mystery and suspense use bold san-serif fonts. But paranormal and fantasy often use fine serif fonts.
Compare your cover with the 50 top-selling titles in your genre. See if you can make your cover better suited to what readers expect.
You can use a free book cover maker to experiment with your new book cover ideas.
2. Your manuscript
Yes, you checked it one hundred times. But check it again. Is it totally error and typo-free?
If it has been some time since you published, it is an excellent time to revisit your book and make sure it is perfect.
You might think about working on improving your manuscript.
Prowritingaid is a writing assessment and correction program that is perfectly suited to analyzing and improving long texts such as a book manuscript.
It includes over 20 different writing reports to help you analyze your manuscript in detail.
Of course, there are many grammar and writing checkers. Make sure you use one to help you polish your writing.
3. Your book description
Did you write your book description in a hurry when you published it?
Your book description is second only to your cover in attracting reader interest. Make sure it contains hooks that will instantly gain interest or intrigue.
It should scream, you will love this book! Also, why not write three versions, and then you can test which one works best?
Have you included a question to help attract reader interest?
Like a book cover, compare your book description with bestselling books. Can you get a few clues from them to improve yours?
Do you know your niche genres?
When you published your book, did you quickly choose your two broad categories? Romance and Fantasy?
If you did, your book is lost amongst thousands of other similar types of books.
You need to drill down through the categories to find two niche categories for your book.
It will have a much better chance of being found by search on Amazon. It will reduce competition and help you to rank better and sell better.
Again, check top-selling books in your genre and look at their categories. Here are two examples of a good niche.
Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Teen & Young Adult > Science Fiction & Fantasy > Fantasy > Sword & Sorcery
Books > Mystery, Thriller & Suspense > Thrillers & Suspense > Spies & Politics > Espionage
Another way to get your book into a niche category is to ask Amazon. Yes, you can ask Amazon to add a specific category to your book.
Your seven Amazon search keywords
Did you do any keyword research? Do you have a list of your book’s keywords? Have you checked if they are performing well?
Your seven search keywords on Amazon, and sometimes more on other retailers are vital for getting book sales.
It is because these keywords are how people will find your book when using retailer search.
Your keywords can also be used on your blog or website to help get organic traffic from Google.
So they are very, very important.
One mistake new authors often make is that they select seven individual words, thinking that a keyword must be one word.
It is not true at all. It is one of the most common mistakes new authors make.
A keyword can and should be a short phrase.
Think about your book and make a list of seven keyword phrases related to your book’s story that you can use. Then test them by using Google and Amazon search.
Good keywords often use only verbs, adjectives, and nouns, so avoid prepositions and conjunctions.
Short questions can sometimes work too. But you don’t need to add a question mark.
Examples of search keywords
Italian love story
Where was she killed
Hot tropical island adventure
Dark days long nights
If you want to take a more professional approach to Amazon keywords for your books, you might consider Publisher Rocket to find profitable book keywords as well as niche categories.
You get access to real-time Amazon data so that you can find the best seven keywords and the two best categories for your book.
You can also access competitive data and sales volume.
Online book retailer visibility and discoverability
Can you tick off all the tips so far in this article?
If you can, you will be a long way towards getting your book seen more often. You will start to attract online book buyers and readers who have an interest in your genre.
Getting your book looking right and in the right place is the very best you can do.
Book buyers make the decision. But make sure you give them the best means to find your book and every reason to consider buying your book.
Outside the Amazon bookstore
You can help your book a lot by listing it in narrow niche categories and using well-researched keyword phrases.
It helps your book discovery in online bookstores such as Amazon, iBooks, B&N, and Kobo.
To promote your book more broadly, you will need to leverage the Internet. Your two best avenues are your website or blog and using social media as best you can.
One overlooked avenue to gain a lot of potential readers is Google.
To give you an idea of how powerful Google Search is, I can give you the example of one book that was listed on our book promotion site, Whizbuzz Books.
During an SEO upgrade of our site, we began adding sub-titles where possible in an H3 tag and the SEO title.
This book had gained some traffic during the time it was listed. But after these two simple SEO improvements, it began ranking quickly on Google.
What did we change? The title and author could not change, of course. But by adding the sub-title, “Japanese Love Story” as a keyword, traffic soared.
As I mentioned before about keywords, it obeyed the rule of only adjectives and nouns.
Apply strong keyword phrases and add them to your title or sub-title. Also, add them to H2 or H3 tags, as well as your SEO title and description tags in your blog editor.
For your blog posts and web pages, it is the best way to get your book discovered organically on search engines.
For social media, the best lure by far to gain clicks to your book is your cover. Images are the most powerful means of attracting attention on social media.
Find other powerful images you can use for your blog posts. It will add variety when you share it on Facebook or Twitter.
Make sure that they are connected to your book’s theme. This will stop you from blasting your cover all the time.
For Google Search, keywords, and text rule. For social media, images rule. That’s the rule.
Are your books exclusive to Amazon or widely available?
It is your choice. There is no winning answer here.
Some authors do very well selling books exclusively through Amazon KDP Select and Kindle Unlimited.
Others do just as well offering their books for sale on every retailer they can find.
The choice is up to you.
Books are price sensitive
I don’t like repeating myself, but as far as price is concerned, again, look at competitive books in your genres.
Is your book price higher or lower?
A high price can give a buyer a sense of worth, and a low price, a perception of cheap. Getting this balance right is crucial.
Also, look at the price gap between your ebook and paperback, if you have one. Amazon, in particular, uses this gap to make ebooks look like great value.
If you are trying to earn more through Kindle Unlimited or other ebook subscription services, is your selling price too low to make it look attractive?
Depending on your sales objectives, always think about how buyers will perceive your book price. Try changing your price from time to time. You might be surprised by the results.
Wrap-up – make changes
If there is one great way not to sell books, it is to do nothing and change nothing.
The best way is to take some clues from competitive books in your genre that are top sellers and adapt to what you discover.
It is a big job, and expensive to change your cover, but it could be well worth it. Ask your friends and online contacts for their opinion.
Changing your categories and keywords costs you nothing except your time. But it really could be a high-value adjustment.
Altering your price is easy and can be done as often as you like. Experiment.
Write a new and much better book description. While you are at it, why not update your author bio?
What’s the best way to help your book sales?