More and more in my work as a book publishing consultant, I am asked the simple question about how to publish a book on Amazon. This makes a lot of sense. Authors are becoming savvier every day and they know very that success in self-publishing is a reality within grasp and that Amazon is the key to author success.
The numbers are quite clear. If you want to reach more readers and sell more books, Amazon is the sales platform for you to master first. Getting your book onto the sales platform is easier than ever too, but there is a lot you need to know before you go in.
These are the four most important things to keep in mind as you look at self-publishing your book on the world’s biggest retailer.
How To Publish A Book On Amazon: Book Descriptions
After a good cover, which draws readers from the listing to your book’s page, the next most important thing is a well-written book description. Studies have shown without a doubt that the quality of the 2-300 words that describe your book translates directly to sales.
Learning how to write a good book description is an art form. Believe me, I wrote twenty bad book descriptions before I got a good one down. Book descriptions are an example of copywriting, the short-form writing that sells customers on buying a product.
The skill of copywriting is worlds different than the skill of writing a novel.
My tip is to look at books in your category. How are they described? What words do they use?
Avoid the major name brand authors like Stephen King and JK Rowling (they’re selling books on the strength of their reputation). Instead, focus your study on books within your peer group. Look at successful indie authors. Think of small authors.
And don’t worry, imitation is fine. Until you develop copywriting skills, use successful book descriptions as examples or templates.
This is an often overlooked aspect of how to publish a book on Amazon, but being in the right category really matters to the overall success of your book. There are two reasons why this is true.
The first reason is that your book needs to be grouped with other books like it. Why?
Well, think of the brick and mortar bookstore. If your romance novel, for example, was mistakenly shelved with the Tom Clancy military thrillers, do you think that would be a good thing? Is there any crossover between Clancy readers and romance readers? Probably some… but not many.
Your readers shop in a digital book store. Those Amazon pages are like virtual shelves. A romance reader is looking at the romance shelves. You want your book to stand out because the cover looks good and fits in, not because it looks completely out of place.
The other reason to hone in on categories is that competition is fierce. Your ultimate goal is to be ranked number one in your category, but some categories are simply way out of reach for new authors. Think of broad categories like mystery or fantasy. They’re way too competitive.
Getting into less competitive categories allows you a chance to reach higher in the rankings, and thus, reaching a larger number of readers.
How To Understand Keywords
This is Digital Marketing 101, but your book’s metadata needs to be focused on the right keywords.
What are keywords? Well, keywords are the words, groups of words, or longer phrases that users type into any search engine (which is what Amazon amounts to) in order to find a product. If your product is marked with the right keywords, it will appear in those searches.
If it does not, your ideal reader won’t see your book.
Amazon allows you to enter seven keywords in your book’s description. The good news is that you’re able to change them. As a book publishing consultant, I am often tinkering with a client’s keywords until traffic picks up to the right level.
Researching the right keywords to find your ideal reader is challenging, but once they’re in place, the uptick in your sales and visibility will be evident.
How To Publish A Book On Amazon: KU?
What is KU? Well, KU stands for Kindle Unlimited and it is a program in which readers pay a monthly fee to get access to thousands of enrolled books.
Amazon allows you to enroll your books in KU and I say, go for it. For new and still establishing authors, your best release strategy is to make yourself available to as many potential readers as possible.
There are downsides to KU. For one, when you sell a book, you get your royalty and that’s that. In KU, however, your payment comes in the form of page reads (what amounts to roughly .02 per page). While the royalty is fine, as an author, you don’t know how many people downloaded your book. You also only get paid for what they read, so if they get twenty pages in and drop it, you’re out.
For all the downfalls, I say KU is great for authors. Especially if you write in heavy reading genres like romance and fantasy.