40-70% of US consumers begin their product search on Amazon. Fortunately for authors, Amazon is also the largest bookselling platform. If you’re an author wanting to maximize book sales, Amazon provides various marketing opportunities. I’m here to explain what you need to know about self publishing your book on Amazon, using their Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform, so you can rock your book launch!
What you need to know about self publishing on Amazon
To explain what you need to know about self publishing on Amazon, I’ll answer these 10 FAQs:
1. How can I use categories to increase my book’s visibility?
Increase your book’s visibility on Amazon by selecting the three most appropriate and relevant categories during publishing. Amazon suggests new books to readers based on the categories of the books they purchase, so when you categorize your book correctly, Amazon presents it organically to the right audience.
Selecting niche categories is beneficial. For example, instead of choosing a broad category (Biographies and Memoirs), you can select a niche category that better describes your book (Books > Biographies & Memoirs > Professionals & Academics > Business). When you choose a niche category, you inform the algorithm that your book is best suited for readers who like business biographies/memoirs.
Related: 7 Marketing Tips for Fiction Authors
2. How can I find which categories to use?
While you can view the selectable categories in Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), I recommend investing in the digital app Publisher Rocket. This app provides an up-to-date list of potential categories and essential data, like which categories your competitors are using. You can also better understand how many copies you'd likely need to sell to rank in a category before selecting it. Publisher Rocket costs a one-time fee of $97 (as of June 2023).
3. How can I improve my book’s search ranking organically using Amazon?
Include targeted keywords and phrases in your book description that your readers may search for when perusing books to buy. Your keywords can depend on your book's genre, sub-genre, and topic. For example, if you’re writing a marriage book for couples, you might include these keywords:
communication techniques for couples
save your marriage
how to love your spouse
4. How can I use sponsored product ads to increase my book’s search ranking?
If a traditional or hybrid publisher publishes your book, they should set up your ad campaign. Contact your publisher and ask them if they can run Amazon ads for your book. It’s also possible for you to set up an Amazon ad campaign through Amazon Author Central.
If you’re self-publishing your book through Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), you can set up an Amazon ad campaign! Access the advertising dashboard in your KDP account under the Marketing tab.
If you’re self-publishing with a different distributor, you may still have the option to use Amazon’s marketing platform through your Amazon Author Central account.
5. What other advertising opportunities are available on Amazon?
While Sponsored Product ads are the most popular for authors, here are two other types of ads you may run:
Sponsored Brand ads: These targeted advertisements display prominently at the top of search results, promoting a brand's products to increase visibility and drive traffic. You need at least three products to run these ads, so consider this option if you’ve written multiple books or a series.
Kindle Lockscreen ads: These advertisements display on the lockscreen of Amazon Kindle devices when they’re in sleep mode. They feature promotional content such as offers, deals, and sponsored images.
Read more: 7 Things Every First-time Author Should Know
6. What should I consider when creating an Amazon ad campaign?
If you’re able to set up your own Amazon ad campaign, here are three things to consider:
1. Shoot for a list of 50+ keywords
This number may sound like a lot, but the more keywords you have, the greater the number of impressions you’ll get. Put yourself in the shoes of your target reader and consider what they might type into the search bar. Keywords can include:
general search terms/phrases related to your book
2. Keep your bids at a reasonable price when you start out
With Amazon ads, you pay when a consumer clicks on your book. The amount you pay depends on what you bid on the keyword.
The average bid varies by genre and depends on the popularity of similar titles in your category. When you create your campaign, set your default bid in the $0.30-$0.59 range to ensure you don’t overspend and deplete your marketing budget. You may find you need to adjust bids of individual keywords in order to win the bid.
Remember, to acquire the winning bid, you only need to spend $0.01 more than the next highest bid.
3. Give your campaign some time.
It can take an Amazon ad campaign a couple of weeks to find its groove. Be patient if you’re not seeing results in the first few days. If you’re still not seeing results after the first two weeks, then it might be time to take another look at your campaign. Ask yourself the following questions:
Are you low on impressions? Add more keywords.
Are you getting high impressions but no clicks? Consider tweaking the cover design or the title/subtitle. Getting additional reviews is also beneficial.
Are you getting clicks but no orders? Consider rewriting your product description and adding in A+ Content.
7. What is a Kindle Countdown Deal, and how can I use it to get more readers?
A Kindle Countdown Deal is a temporary discount you can offer on your ebook through Amazon. For example, you might set a price promotion for up to five days, such as $0.99 or even free. This strategy can be effective if you want to:
draw more readers to your book
get more reviews
boost your book within its category and increase overall visibility
grow consumer interest in your other work
8. What is Amazon Author Central?
Amazon Author Central is a platform provided by Amazon that allows you to create a personalized author profile and manage your books' product pages. Use this platform to upload your author photo and official author bio, include editorial reviews and testimonials, or run ad campaigns. You can use Amazon Author Central whether you’re self-publishing or working with a traditional publisher.
9. What features are available in Amazon Author Central?
Here are some of the key features available in Amazon Author Central:
Author profile: Create a personalized author profile that includes your bio, author photo, and links to your social media accounts.
Claim your books: Link your books to your author profile, giving you control over their product pages.
Author page URL: Customize your Author Page URL for easy discovery by readers.
Editorial reviews: Add high-quality editorial reviews to your book's product page to highlight positive feedback.
Book description: Edit and optimize the book description to communicate information about your book's contents.
Blog and RSS feed*: Connect your blog or website to display your latest blog posts on your Author Page automatically.
Videos*: Add content related to your books or author journey to increase engagement.
Customer reviews: Monitor and respond to customer reviews, engage with readers, and show your appreciation for their feedback.
Sales and author rank: Access sales data and track your author rank to monitor the performance of your books.
Author Central Sales Dashboard: View sales trends, track royalties, and analyze sales data for your books.
Author Page Insights: Gain insights into customer engagement with your author profile and books.
Author Central Community: Connect with other authors and participate in discussions within the Author Central community.
*Note that some features are not visible on US Author pages.
10. What is Amazon A+ content?
Amazon A+ Content is a free feature you can use to make your book seem more appealing to consumers who visit your Amazon book page.
Aside from displaying book covers, Amazon book pages contain mostly text. While well-written text can entice people to purchase, many consumers rely on visuals to learn more about a book before they decide to buy it.
If you’re working with a publisher, ask them if they plan to use A+ Content. There may be ways for you to work with the publisher to get A+ Content added to your book’s page. If you’re self-publishing, add A+ Content yourself.
Amazon A+ Content offers different modules to choose from, including image-based and text-based modules. Incorporate images, text, and comparison tables that catch the book buyer’s attention. Here are some content ideas:
Endorsements: If you’ve received an endorsement from a notable figure, you can showcase this here. For example, you might include their testimonial and headshot.
Interior book pages: If your book contains charts, graphs, personal photos, or workbook-type content, this is an excellent opportunity to share some of these pages. Interior book pages give consumers an accurate preview of your book’s content before purchasing it.
Comparison chart: Use a comparison chart to showcase more of your work if you’ve published other books. For example, suppose you’re a fiction author writing a series. In that case, you might highlight the similarities and differences in a side-by-side comparison.
Book quotes: You can include an impactful quote that you’ve written that might compel consumers to purchase the book. For example, if you’ve written a motivational book, you might include a motivational quote.
Book topics: Highlighting some topics you cover in the book using a graphic can be more interesting than listing them using text.
Whether you’re in the midst of the writing process or have already finished your book, now is the perfect time to consider a marketing strategy. To help you get started, I’m offering a FREE download of my guide, 10 Things You Need For A Successful Book Launch. This valuable resource is packed with expert tips and strategies to empower you to craft an effective book launch and connect with a larger audience of eager readers.