ASP 05: Amazon Defined — 9 Parts of Amazon Publishing You Should Understand
Quote of the Day
Whatever you may have heard, self-publishing is not a shortcut to anything. Except maybe insanity. Self-publishing, like every other kind of publishing, is hard work. You don’t wake up one morning good at it. You have to work for that.
– Zoey Winters
We hear a lot of talk about Amazon, but you may be wondering why it is such a great short-term strategy. The simple answer is that a lot of authors don’t have platforms—and with Amazon, you can reach a lot of people that you wouldn’t be able to reach on your own.
But if that is the case, why go beyond Amazon? Why bother growing beyond this convenient, easy-to-use platform? First of all, Amazon can change the rules anytime they want (think Google). They could one day just decide to change tack or go with a different model—sort of like what happened with Netflix.
If you are just getting started, then by all means, use Amazon. Use it to establish yourself, to build up your list and brand. But from the very beginning, you should also be thinking about eventually turning Amazon readers into independent customers.
Here is a short list of valuable Amazon tools:
1. Normal KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) account: https://kdp.amazon.com/
With this account, you can publish books that are published elsewhere, such as:
However, you can’t publish a book elsewhere if you’re enrolled in KDP Select.
2. KDP Select
This program requires 90-day exclusivity. Fortunately, this only applies to your book, not to you. So you can’t publish the enrolled book elsewhere, but you can publish your other books elsewhere. (More specifically, a maximum of 10% of the enrolled content can be published elsewhere. They are very strict about this.
There is also an option for five free days, which can be a good marketing strategy, especially if you don’t yet have a strong platform. This strategy can result in new readers and increased reviews. However, the downside is that you may attract readers who are not actually interested in your topic material.
Another option with KDP Select is to do countdown deals. This involves dropping the book price to $0.99 or below for a week. You get 70% royalty (including Brazil), and get to feature a countdown timer on your Amazon book page. This is typically only available in the US and UK.
*This is a great deal, because with a normal KDP countdown deal you only get 35% royalty.
A great way to use countdown sales is to market them as seasonal sales (St. Patrick’s Day, “Summer Sale,” etc.) to increase sales during “down” months.
To do a countdown sale, go to the KDP dashboard, find your book, click on “Promote and Advertise,” and then click “Run Kindle Countdown Deal.”
3. Kindle Unlimited (version 1.0)
Kindle Unlimited version 1.0 were the glory days! This was similar to the Netflix model, and customers paid $10/month to have a borrow a list of books, with authors receiving part of the income.
4. Kindle Unlimited (version 2.0) (aka Kindle Edition Normalized Pages Read)
Instead of a flat rate for having your book on someone’s list, they give you a commission per page read. Essentially, this means that people with longer books get more money.
5. Amazon Dashboard (Graphs)
There are a number of different graphs inside the Amazon dashboard that can be very helpful. For instance, you can create data for the past 90 days. There are also color codes. For instance, red = sales, green = free books, and blue = Kindle Normalized Pages Read.
So how should a new author go about using this information? What approach should they use when tracking their sales? First of all, just accept that there will be good days and bad days. This is the nature of the game, so don’t let it bother you. Second, keep record of your sales and free downloads, and compare this with your marketing efforts on specific dates. This will give you a good idea of what works and what doesn’t.
6. Top 100 Lists
There are a number of different lists on Amazon. These include:
- Main categories (i.e., Business, Self-Help, Health, Fitness & Dieting)
- Paid List vs. Free List
- Sub-categories Top 100 – (Getting new books into these subcategories is a valuable strategy, so focus on doing so..)
When it comes to picking the right subcategory, the best approach is to find books that are similar to yours and check what categories they are using, then follow their lead—especially if these books are doing well. (It is important to note that you may have to email KDP directly and ask them to put your book under a certain subcategory.) Finally, it’s worthwhile to play around with categories, evaluating what works best with your different titles. Don’t get stuck in a stagnant mindset.
7. Author Central – A great tool for authors who want to add extra info on their books.
You will need to sign up in order to get an Amazon author page, and can do so here: http://authorcentral.amazon.com/. With Author Central you can claim books, set up an author page (profile, pic, add social media, blog content), track history of book sales and author rank, plus add “from the author” information, editorial reviews, and other notes.
* It is important to add an author page. This will allow you to highlight who you are and how you and your books can help the readers. Plus it’s a great way to demonstrate your credentials, and allows Amazon customers to “follow you” and be alerted when your new titles release.
8. Amazon Associates: http://associates.amazon.com/
Amazon’s Associates is Amazon’s affiliate program, where you can promote anything Amazon has on their website. There are a number of ways to maximize your efficacy when promoting affiliate links. One-day cookies is a great tool, and helps you to know where your traffic and sales come from. However, don’t use Amazon Associates links in your email. Also, you can’t use your associate links in your books.
9. Author Marketing Services https://ams.amazon.com/
With Amazon’s Author Marketing Services, you can run ads for any book in KDP Select (similar to FB ads or Google Adwords). This can become super specific and narrowly targeted, but a good strategy is to first test it small (e.g., category targeting vs. keyword/product targeting).
These are a few of the tools that are available on Amazon to help you promote your books. However, it is important to remember that Amazon is always changing. Stay on top of these changes and ahead of the pack, and you will be able to maximize your exposure without a lot of effort.
Thanks for Listening to ASP!
We appreciate you taking the time to listen to the Authority Self-Publishing show.
Did you enjoy this episode?
If so, please do one (or all) of the following:
- Leave a comment on this page or ask a question if you need us to elaborate on the topic.
- Use the social media buttons to share this episode with your friends, family, and contacts.
- Go over to iTunes or Stitcher to leave a rating/review and to subscribe to the podcast.
We appreciate you taking the time to check out ASP! And we look forward to providing you with more content in the next episode!