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How Do I Sell More Books on Amazon | IBR Book Marketing Series (Part 3)

"How Do I Sell More Books on Amazon" is a book marketing resource for authors trying to increase book sales. Check out these pro tips from indie book marketer and IBR founder Joe Walters.

How Do I Sell More Books on Amazon | IBR Book Marketing Series (Part 3)

by Joe Walters

Book with green background and somebody's hand writing the question "how Do I sell more books on Amazon?"

Ask me, “How do I sell more books?” 

And watch me sigh before I tell you, “This question is a mountain.”

Get just a little bit more specific, “How do I sell more books on Amazon?”

And we can start talking.

There are so many things you can do to sell more books, like an actual infinite amount of things. Don’t fall into that trap. Thinking about all of them at once is a good way for you to spend the rest of your author career trying to sell books rather than writing them.

So let’s phrase this question as directly as we can.

If you want to sell more books on Amazon, you need to ask these two questions:

  • How do I send browsers toward my Amazon page?
  • How do I convert browsers into buyers?

There are a number of different book marketing strategies you can execute in order to achieve both of these goals.

Here are 22 ways to sell more books on Amazon.


#1. Have the coolest book cover

It’s no coincidence that I started this list with book covers. Book marketing & publicity is heavily reliant on how good your cover is. It can make or break every single sale.

So my advice? Don’t break it.

Hire a professional designer you believe in. If it comes back and it’s not what you’d expected or hoped for, ask the designer if they are open to revisions. If the designer ends up not being able to do it for you, maybe get another cover done.

This is your most important selling tool. Make it count. I receive hundreds of book review requests per month, and the very first thing I consider is, “Is this book cover strong enough to take up space on my website? Is it strong enough to sell a copy to my readership?”

#2. Thrive with the “Look Inside” feature.

The Look Inside feature on Amazon is a simple one. If a browser visits your book product page, they can click on the cover to read the first few pages of your book. You know what’s another staple of book marketing? A damn good book. This starts with the first few pages. If it’s nonfiction, is it a clever introduction with promise? If it’s fiction, is it a promise of exciting things to come?

#3. Have a strong title & subtitle

One of my favorite things to do at Sunbury Press is to brainstorm titles and subtitles.

Fiction titles are important obviously. They should be good and enticing and steer clear of cliche, but their subtitles aren’t quite as essential. You can use them; they can help with the searchability of your novel on the Amazon search engine (like this one), but they also should be relevant. They aren’t always the right move for certain genres either. Literary fiction readers, for example, might find one unnatural and become uninterested in the book because of it. 

But with nonfiction, oh, man, do subtitles sell books!

Let readers know what to expect. Be quick and snappy and funny and spot-on and indicate why your book is about to come in and provide them something valuable.

Not only are subtitles good for nonfiction just from a “This is exactly what the book’s about” standpoint, they also give way to some of the best metadata possible on Amazon’s search engine.

If you have certain keywords in your subtitles, your book can be found just by existing in the Amazon search engine. People who are typing in certain topics are greeted with your book without you having to send pitches, newsletters, social media posts, advertise. You can sell books on Amazon without doing anything other than having a strong subtitle.

So if you have an opportunity to include a strong keyword in your subtitle, I’d definitely recommend it.

#4. Have a TON of ratings

A bunch of stars falling on a guy with a hurt head to indicate getting a lot of ratings to help your book sell more on Amazon

A book with a lot of ratings communicates with browsers that it has been read by a lot of consumers.

If you’re an indie author, you should definitely include some hours in your book marketing time to make sure people are leaving ratings/reviews on Amazon.

This includes–but is not limited to–pitching reviewers, organizing review teams, and asking the reader kindly and naturally in the final pages of your book if they’d leave a rating or review.

Since these stars are at the top of your product page and show up on Amazon’s search engine feed, it’s good to have a lot of them and hopefully have them continue growing.

But before I go, notice that I mentioned them as “ratings!” Readers can leave only a rating if they want to. They do not have to write a review. It’s obviously helpful for them to leave a review (if it’s good), but having some shy readers leave you stars is good too. So, write that down: get more ratings to sell more books on Amazon.

#5. Utilize your Amazon author central account.

Using your Amazon author central account is a good way to sell more books on Amazon

Have you set up your Amazon author central account yet?

If you’re a debut author, you can’t do this until you have a product page; this means a pre-order page or an already published one. When a browser visits your book page, they can click on your author name. This link can either take them to a curated page which includes your author photo, your other book(s), your author bio, and even your blog; or it can take them to a page featuring a number of books written by people who have your name or have a similar name. 

You want them to visit a professional sales-friendly author profile page (like this one), and the only way to do that is with Amazon author central.

In addition to getting to curate an author profile page, you can also do a number of behind the scenes things with your Amazon author central account like add editorial reviews, monitor stats, and now even advertise on Amazon. These features are super helpful to have if you want to sell books on Amazon.

#6. Indicate whether your book is part of a series

If you are writing a series, you or your publisher can indicate this in their KDP dashboard when uploading or editing the metadata.

By doing this, the browser can click on the series title to find a page dedicated to your series.

Want to know why it’s helpful to have a series page?

When browsers go to a single book product page, they can scroll down just past the book description to see Amazon’s recommended picks and sponsored picks. There are a lot of options for them to buy a book that isn’t your book.

With a series page, those picks aren’t until you reach the bottom–if they’re there at all! The series page’s primary purpose is to sell multiple books, so they prioritize that and give the browser less distractions and more ways to buy.

#7. Price it appropriately

Unfortunately, book prices play a big role in making and breaking sales. And sometimes, presses and authors do a number of things to bring down the price of their book for consumers—accounting for the price of printing books on demand.

I’ve seen authors and presses shrink the font to make a book $19.99 instead of $24.99. I’ve even seen authors take a lower royalty percentage just to keep it affordable (JoeAdvice: don’t do this). It’s expensive to make books sometimes, and people might have shorter pockets than they did a few years ago.

The things I’d recommend most in pricing your book on Amazon US are the following: 1.) Use a variant of $.99 to end it 2.) Keep an eye on the prices of your competitors in your genre 3.) Don’t back down from royalty percentage unless it’s a funnel book (like the first in a series or a book designed primarily to sell services rather than books).

Quick break! Breathe. Stretch. Chill. Have a grape juice and tacos, I guess? We’re almost done making sure the top half of your Amazon book product page is working effectively.

Keyword: Almost. There’s some super important stuff left, like:

#8. Have the best book description possible

And this starts with the hook.

I don’t know if you’ve noticed, but a lot of product pages use bolded text at the top of their product descriptions. Why is this?

When browsers reach your book page, they can only see the first few lines of the book description before having to click the “Read more” button. 

So authors and presses use those first few characters to be as enticing as possible. This is where your book’s hook goes—its biggest selling point. Whether it’s catchy enticing fiction or informational nonfiction, these first few lines are the most important part of your book description.

It’s very possible that viewers reach your page, look at your title, cover, ratings, and the hook and then immediately either buy or leave the site without clicking. So make those initial words count with your book’s hook. 

Sometimes authors and presses use blurbs from people or organizations to start off their book descriptions. That’s cool too. I’ve also seen a good amount of authors and presses putting their contest and award wins at the top of the description. This is cool too, as long as they really are impressive. 

But I still want you to make sure that the first line or lines of your book description are short and catchy. 

Which brings me to my next point…

Short sentences and paragraphs reign supreme in book descriptions. The days of long block paragraphs are over thanks to our struggling eyes on these digital screens. So know this beforehand: make sure to use multiple paragraphs in your book description. Even consider multiple short paragraphs to improve scanning.

I have soooooo much to say about book descriptions, but it just won’t fit in this blog post. So come back here for part 5 of the series.

#9. Utilize Amazon’s editorial reviews section

Okay, so, cool news! You can add blurbs to your Amazon product page.

What are book blurbs?

I wrote about it in part one of this series, but essentially, they’re nice things that authors and experts in your niche have said about your book.

If you get Stephen King to say your book is the coolest thing, you can put that quote on your Amazon page in the “editorial review” section. You can do this by using your Amazon author central account or you can ask your publisher to do it for you.

If you’re doing it yourself, make sure to format it attractively. Use quotation marks. Don’t italicize what the reviewer said. Use an en-dash. Italicize and bold the author or expert’s name. Here’s what they could look like:

  • “This is not just a story of prohibition in America, it’s a story of womanhood and strength. The feeling one is left with when closing Gathering Storm is one of steely determination and hope.” – Steph Huddleston, Independent Book Review

I don’t know if you know this, but…it’s tough to get Stephen King to read and blurb your book. You have a few different options of how to get book blurbs, as I outlined in that post I already told you about. 

And just so you know…

I have a team of 20+ niche book reviewers who will read your book and provide a 400-750 word review within two or five weeks in our editorial book review service. You can also submit for a chance of being reviewed on platforms just by pitching them, which you can do with us here.

You can add trailers and interviews to the editorial review section too. But be careful. Bad trailers have definitely stopped me from buying books in the past. Make sure you and other people love it before putting it up there.

#10. Use the “From the Publisher” section (Amazon A+ Content)

You might be asking, “Joe, what kind of mumbo jumbo are you talking about?”

And I’m answering, “Nice use of mumbo jumbo.”

But also, “Chill. I got you.”

A browser can visit your Amazon product page and actually be greeted by promotional graphics, author info, charts, and more that influence their decision to buy the book. 

Words are cool and all, but there’s a reason that graphics and photographs have taken over your social feeds. They can arrest your digital attention. It can draw extra attention on that blurb you got or it can highlight your hook or your best selling points. Here’s an example of a page that uses the From the Publisher section effectively.

If you are the publisher, you can do this through your KDP Dashboard by clicking “Marketing” on the header menu and then A+ Content on that marketing manager page. If you are an author with an indie press, you can request that your press utilizes Amazon A+ content. (It might help if you pitch ideas and actual designs they could use. Publishers are busy people.) Just know that only authors and presses who have published with KDP can utilize Amazon A+ content. Not every publisher does.

#11. Write a strong author bio and have a good professional author photo

Have a good author photo (like the little girl in this picture) to sell more books on Amazon

What else might your browser look at? Who in the world you are!

By now you can probably tell that there are a lot of small decisions being made on this page. Not everyone will look at everything on your Amazon product page, but they’ll be scanning it if they’re interested for sure.

That’s why it’s important to make sure each section is clean and enticing. Each reader is different. Some ask a lot of validity—like, why is this person qualified to write this book?—and some don’t care much. You should be ready for both of them. I’ll have a primer on how to write a good author bio for Amazon soon, but I gotta get these posts up eventually, so…moving on!

But wait wait wait don’t rush past the need for a good author photo. It might help to hire someone, but it’s not always essential. Just make sure that you’re in a relevant background (and preferably a plain one), that you look presentable, that you match the mood of your book, and that you do NOT use a selfie with an old digital webcam. 

#12. Upload the book with 7 excellent keywords.

You or your publisher can use 7 keywords when they upload your book.

What’s a keyword?

It’s the string of words that browsers type into their search engines in order to find what they want. Amazon is one big search engine, so keywords are pretty important. It’s like being a car company that shows up number #1 on Google for “cool cars.” 

You or your publisher should definitely research the strongest possible keywords for a book like yours. Use a tool like Publisher Rocket or do it on your own by searching Amazon for what you believe to be the best keywords, noticing your competition, and assessing whether or not you’d like to rank for those search terms.

#13. Choose accurate niche categories on Amazon

Sometimes a book gets published with a Christian Living category despite being about New Age and Spirituality. Sometimes it’s marked as Self-Help when it’s primarily a memoir. Sometimes Amazon gets confused (potentially because of your keywords), or perhaps you or your publisher clicked the wrong category when uploading the book. All you can do? 

Fix it. You don’t want an atheist visiting your book they thought was about spirituality, seeing that it’s “Christian Living,” and clicking away from your book.

#14. Have a lot of good reviews

Okay, so I already mentioned having a lot of ratings on Amazon. That was at the top of your product page. Now, your browser is at the bottom. 

They want to read what other people have to say about your book. This is where quality comes in: the most important part of marketing is having a good product. So write your best book and then try to get reviews by pitching, by creating street teams, and by asking for reviews at the back of your book. Then, put up your hands and hope for the life of you that this thing you love so much is loved by others too.

And…sweet news!

If you followed the previous fourteen steps, your book page should now be doing all it can to sell more books on Amazon–so long as the browser likes your content and wants to read another book.

Now, let’s drive traffic toward your Amazon book product page. It’s time to let it do the rest of the work for you.

Hang on just a little bit longer, friend!

Up next: How to sell more books on Amazon AFTER making your product page awesome.

#15. Add extra book categories:

Amazon categories are kind of like genres & subgenres. There are big categories (like General Fiction) and smaller ones (like Family Life Fiction). Authors & presses can choose two categories when they publish a book on KDP, and not all of the categories that Amazon has are available. 

But…

After you get your publisher to categorize your book in your two primary categories, you or your publisher can add up to ten categories for your book. 

Why is this beneficial? 

Well, if you sell a lot of books on Amazon in one day, you might appear on the bestseller page of more categories. Browsers sometimes search category bestseller lists like this one for which books to buy, so it’d be good to show up on those lists. Here are a few tips on on how to add extra categories.

#16. Advertising

Advertising with deal sites allows authors to sell more books on Amazon. This is a picture of a man looking up at falling money.

I know what you’re thinking.

Or at least I’ve heard authors say it to me before.

“I don’t have the budget to just go slinging actual real-life dollars around in the hopes that someone buys my made-up story.”

And I get it. This legitimately isn’t for everybody. While I think allotting some money in your budget (if you have one) for advertising could be good, I never want you to think you are screwed if you don’t spend money. You can do other things. You are limited obviously, but you have options.

If it’s only a limited budget for advertising, I’d recommend checking out some deal sites like Bargain Booksy, eReader News Today, and Fussy Librarian. BookBub is the biggest of these with some great results, but it’s more expensive than those other sites. 

These companies have email lists of thousands of interested eBook readers, and they usually convert into sales. Now you might have discounted your eBook so it’s not the same amount of money you get per sale, but…you’ve got more readers!

And don’t forget—you want your books read.

You want to create lifelong fans who buy your books in the future. You want the chance to captivate and inform them for as long as you are creating. So if you’ve got some bucks in the budget, I’d recommend checking out these deal sites, especially after you’ve added extra categories to Amazon. The more downloads you get, the more lists you can get on.

And that’s not even mentioning Amazon ads! If you’ve got more money in the budget after promo sites & book printing, I’d recommend experimenting with Amazon ads. Just make sure you do your research before funneling money into Amazon’s ocean of cash.

Read about my favorite advertising strategy to help you sell more books on Amazon in this book promotion post.

#17. Your newsletter

When you have something exciting to announce, you’re going to want to be able to share it with your fans. Newsletters might be the best at this.

But!

It’s not easy. Newsletters take a lot of tender loving care. Your subscribers want original content about your niche, freebies, promotions, and a reason to click open your newsletter when they see it in their email.

If your newsletter is doing its job, then you can definitely sell more books on Amazon with a newsletter than without one (like if you’re depending solely on social media for your announcements).

I’d recommend doing your research and giving it real time and effort to do the best you can with your newsletter.

#18. Publicity:

You probably know about publicity already, so I’ll keep this one short. This is when you or your book is featured in a media outlet. There are a lot of benefits here, and you can try to get featured in these places by hiring a publicist or doing some pitching yourself. Pitch big and small, like People Magazine and a niche blog with good engagement.

#19. Social media (but not in the way that you’d think):

Yes, social media can drive traffic to your Amazon page. There’s no doubt about it—especially, for example, on the day of your book launch. All you have to do is announce to your friends, family, and followers that your book is live, and they will visit your link to buy it and support you.

BUT

You can’t just keep doing that.

Buy my book, buy my book, buy my book doesn’t work. So steer clear, Daddy-O, and start using social media as a way to have fun, let your readers have fun, and announce cool things like kind reviews, sweet new features, book events, actual good content, your favorite Pop Tart flavors, and more. 

You know how this works to help drive traffic toward Amazon? People become a fan of you. They visit your profile, and they click on a link in your bio to find out more about your book. They might not buy right away (although sometimes they do), but they could add your book to their TBR list until a later time when you make them laugh.

#20. Your Website

I like author websites. It’s nice to have a hub for your fans to go in order to do the things you want them to do most: find more about you, sign up for your newsletter, and buy your book.

Clean and simple websites are my favorites for authors. Have a welcoming home page with your newsletter sign-up on it, include some blurbs, a page dedicated to your most recent or forthcoming book, an About or Bio page, a contact page, and then get out of there.

How can you sell more books on Amazon with your author website? Well, link your book on there! In your book page, you should have your cover, the description, some blurbs, and multiple buying options–Amazon, Bookshop, and your publisher. Let your fans support you the way they want to.

#21. Word of mouth:

"How Do I Sell More Books on Amazon" is a book marketing resource for authors trying to increase book sales. Check out these pro tips from indie book marketer and IBR founder Joe Walters.
My Volcano by John Elizabeth Stintzi

It’s impossible to get out of this section without mentioning this—perhaps the splashiest way of selling your book. If your book is blowing people’s minds, they’ll want to talk about it—everywhere. You can’t control this much. The only way I can think of really is to write a damn good book that makes reader’s grab their loved ones by the lapel and whisper, “You’ve got to read this.”

How to write a damn good book? Take your time, listen to some self-editing tips, and get feedback.

#22. Write more books:

And last but maybe most important, write more books! Nothing sells books like more books do. So quit spending all your time selling and make the time to create. That’s what you got into it for, right?


Now it’s up to you! Go write. Go market. Go sell more books on Amazon. I’ll be waiting–and writing this series–until the next question comes!


About the Author

Joe Walters IBR founder

Joe Walters is the founder and editor-in-chief of Independent Book Review. He is a book marketer for Sunbury Press, and formerly, he was a marketing specialist at Paper Raven Books & the marketing director at Inkwater Press. When he’s not doing editorial, promoting, or reviewing work, he’s working on his novel and trusting the process.


Thank you for reading “How Do I Sell More Books on Amazon?” by Joe Walters! If you liked what you read, please spend some more time with us at the links below.

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