What do you know about Amazon categories and keywords? Do you know how to add them to your book? Where they should go on your product page and how to find the best ones for your genre? If not, read on. This is advice I wish I’d known when I released my very fest book!
Last week I was doing some keyword research for my next release. Prison in the Sky. It’s a fantasy with romantic elements, and I was browsing similar books to see what they put in the Amazon Product page. As I was looking, I wrote down keywords I wanted to use, and I realized that keywords have been huge in helping my organic book sales.
In addition to being the giant marketplace that it is, Amazon is also a search engine. People look for items based on keywords, and when they are looking for a new book to read, they use keywords for that search! To help your book show up organically, you should use keyword terms not only when you create the book on KDP, but also in your subtitle and product page.
My most popular series has the keyword epic fantasy not only in the title, but several places in the actual book description. I believe this has been a game changer for helping my organic reach. (That, and every loves a box set deal).
When you set up your book in KDP you really can’t choose any categories. While you can select a general category (like fantasy) – Amazon will choose what categories your book appears in based on the keywords you type in! You can have up to 10 categories, but often, you’ll need to email Amazon and ask them to add your book to additional relevant categories. Relevance is everything. If you’ve been studying the charts, you’ll probably see category manipulation is popular to try to get the bestseller tag. It certainly works, but I also believe if you aren’t getting conversions in your category, your book won’t fly as high as it could be.
Want more about Amazon Keywords & Categories? Read this:
How to Choose the Right Kindle Keywords
Kindle Keyword Strategy for Fiction Authors
Organic keywords are a must have when releasing a book on Amazon. But, what if you don’t know what keywords you should use? Or the most searched for keywords in your genre?
If you don’t know, this is where keyword tools like Publisher Rocket come in. In the past I’ve used Publisher Rocket a couple of ways.
#1 – To find relevant keywords for my Amazon Marketing Services (AMS) Ads.
#2 – To find keywords to put on my product page which allows my books to show up higher in organic searches.
As a result I have a book which easily brings in at least $500 a month without advertising!
If you’re struggling with keywords and your book sales, I highly recommend checking out Publisher Rocket (yes I am an affiliate). Click here for details on Publisher Rocket!
Want more? Book a one on one coaching call with me and we’ll talk through and add specific keywords to your book(s).
In 2018 I released a box set at 99 cents. I wrote my heart out with over 300,000 words of stories I’d held onto for the past 15 years. It was a labor of love and something I’d never imagined coming to fruition. After all, I created the world when I was a teenager and spent years hammering away at world building. Aside from maps I even outlined 3,000 years of history and brought the world to its epic conclusion. Publishing the book felt like giving my heart away and I glowed when people LOVED it, wrote me notes and left reviews expressing how much the story meant to them.
But. As always. There are those who hate everything. A multitude of reviews came pouring in. Some people expressed their issues with the story line which was fair enough–to each their own–but that’s not what got my goat. When people started out and out bashing the story I felt like I was getting a personal slew of hate mail. It crushed my soul and I even toyed with pulling the book off the Amazon store.
I think readers often forget that writers have feelings too. We hurt and bleed and have imperfections along with everyone else, and words can hurt!
However, even as I thought about pulling the book I realized I couldn’t because it was making 4-5 figures a month. A month. And I’d never seen jaw-dropping income like that. It felt like I had won the lottery!
I recall crying to my boyfriend (currently my fiancé at the time of this blog post. Woohoo!). Then I decided to get my act together. I read through my reviews and decide what actions I would take. Months later it was a fantastic idea and I certainly see an improvement in my ratings.
1. Editing – reviewers complained about editing. Although it was expensive I had a re-edit. It’s not perfect but it fixed several errors. Editors are imperfect humans too and I’m sure some things were still missed, many issues were fixed.
2. Change the price – selling my box set at 99 cents was awesome for visibility, but I ended up having tons of people who one-clicked to buy just because the price was low. And guess what? Those who did read ended up leaving nasty reviews and even returned the book. So I changed the price to $2.99 and then $4.99. It made all the difference. People who actually want to read the book now buy it and the glowing reviews returned. Of course all the reviews aren’t good but I have a much better pool of readers who aren’t making snap decisions because of price.
3. Read the good reviews – sometimes I sort my reviews and just read the good ones. It reminds me why I write. And overall I have a higher percentage of positive reviews – however Amazon shows the critical reviews first which is a bit of a bummer. I’d love for them to mix in more positive reviews so readers can get the full picture. And there is a way to do this. I could ask everyone I know to go vote the positive reviews but I also don’t want Amazon to think I’m gaming the system!
4. Focus on improving your writing. I wrote an entire blog post about this. Read it here. But it is important to focus on improvement. My goal is to be better every single time I write. And while I know my older books have issues I’m not going to waste time rewriting them. It was a learning experience and I love my books – so much that I personally read them over and over again. The fact that others enjoy them and I can make a full time income off my books just makes my day.
5. Recognize life is full of ups and downs. Sometimes snarky reviews are such a downer – but I am in control of my attitude and I don’t have to let it ruin my career. Instead I save and savor all of the positive things that are said and dwell on them instead of the negative. But if you can’t handle it, come up with a mindset and process. I try to read all my reviews because it signals to me where I can improve.
6. Get with a network that can encourage you. I fully realize I am the kind of person who tends to clam up and hide when things go wrong – but having a strong network of support makes all the difference. I’ve found mine on social media (yes, on Facebook) but it’s important to have that! You’ll need the accountability and support especially when things are going wrong and you want to freak out!
There you have it. A few things to do when you get bad reviews. Relax. Take a deep breath. Every single author gets them – even the ones who are always always always on the top of the bestseller list.
Do yourself a favor and let it go. Don’t reach out to the reviewer, but do what you need to do to make changes and let life go on. It will not ruin your career – please keep writing!
Share in the comments below. How do you deal with bad reviews?
You have a beautiful website or landing page but now what? How do you drive traffic to it? Build your email list or sell more autographed books?
Without a doubt this is one of the top questions I hear from clients. They have a great website and have completed all the right steps in building their author platform.
Curious about the steps? Read this post.
A huge influx of traffic is possible and often takes time to build. Here are the seven steps you can take drive traffic to your website, grow your email list and increase your book sales.
1. Advertise your catalog of autographed books
Fans love autographed books but it’s hard for them to buy if they don’t know where to get them! I have a store on my author website and I use three ways to sell autographed books:
Tell your email list – about once a month I let my email list know about autographed books. Since I have 8 books I feature an excerpt along with the cover and remind readers they can get some bookmarks with each order.
Use Facebook – Ads take a moment to understand but you can set up an Ad for $5-$10 a day and send people to your website to buy books.
Use Google Adwords – I target people who have visited my website and promote my autographed books to them.
2. Advertise your free reader magnet
One way to build your email list is to give away a free short story (reader magnet). I have a landing page on my website and I use advertising to send readers to the page. The page does the rest. Take a look at the landing page here.
3. Advertise your books and link back to your website
When running ads, it’s smart to link directly to the vendor sales page. For example, if you’re trying to sell more books on Amazon, link to your Amazon product page and thus forth.
But if you want to drive more traffic to your website, advertise your books and link back to your website.
If you’re using a pop up, this can help you build your email list.
If you’re using a Facebook Pixel you can build custom audiences and advertise to them.
If you’re selling autographed books this can increase your revenue.
4. Use a giveaway to drive traffic to your website
If you’re doing a giveaway, I recommend that you focus on giving away something readers in your genre will love. Generic giveaways tend to attract freeloaders who may not be excited to be on your email list – however, you don’t have to use a giveaway to build your email list, you can use it just to drive traffic back to your website.
What items should you give away?
- Popular books in your genre
- A kindle e-reader
- Book swag
5. Host a group promo on your website with other authors in your genre
Bookfunnel and StoryOrigin are easy ways to create a promotion with other authors in your genre. Often the goal is list-building, but you can also create a promo to feature books on sale. 99 cent sales are recommended to drive traffic to your website and increase your book sales. Most promos I’ve been part of generate thousands of page views and sales. Here’s an example promo page.
6. Do a blog series
I have a short story that has ten chapters. To increase my website traffic I did a blog post for each chapter and told readers they could download the entire series for free.
I promoted the blog posts via Facebook and Pinterest to drive more traffic to my website and build my email list.
Pinterest is a powerful tool for generating website traffic and I usually using Pinterest Ads to promote my blog posts and gather more traffic.
See the first post in the series here.
7. Do a video series and repost them on your website
Read aloud, talk about your inspirations, or chat with another author. The sky is the limit on video and you can drive traffic a few different ways. YouTube, Facebook and Instagram TV are popular places for videos.
Post a preview of the video on Facebook or YouTube and link back to your website for the full video. Here’s an example of a video on a website.
Want more? Get more details by booking a 1:1 Book Marketing Call.
Share your thoughts:
1. How do you drive traffic to your website?
2. Do you have a tip that wasn’t mentioned here?
3. What action will you take to improve your website presence?
Leave a comment below and then share this post with a fellow author.
Today I want to talk to you about perseverance and patience even though things aren’t going the way you want them to.
It takes time to become a full-time author and reap the benefits of success, especially if you’re self-published and need to work on marketing.
It takes even longer to make a full-time income off of your work and it can be depressing when you see other authors making four, five or even six figures a month. What about you? When will your time in the spotlight come?
Here are some thoughts from my personal experience.
Success is different in each of our minds and it takes time and energy to get where you want to be.
Looking back, I realize it took me almost four years to become a full-time author and make enough to pay the bills, afford ads, covers, editing and everything else that goes with becoming a full-time author.
So I’ll share the tips that got me there, but the most important thing I want you to know is that it takes time.
When you publish your first book, you might not see the results in 4 weeks. You might not see results in 4 months. Each of us has a different story and we must remember to put in the work, day in and day out.
Put in the work when it feels like you can’t sell a single book.
Put in the work when it feels like you’ll never reach your target audience.
Put in the work when you feel like going home and doing something else.
It took me 5 books and 4 years to make my first $50,000 from publishing books.
It took collaborations and studying and marketing.
It took taking a risk and trying new things.
It took thousands of dollars.
And let me tell you, I have bills and loans and things to do with my life. But my desire to be an author is deep and passionate. And even when my books weren’t paying for themselves I worked three different jobs to make it happen. I saved up for editing and book covers; I studied marketing and took courses. It was a long road but looking back I can say it was worth it. So hang in there. Keep going.
Follow these tips to put you on the road to success:
Write your best story.
Writing a story is hard but rewarding work. While there are many different ways to write a book, it’s helpful to study story structure. One of the many mistakes authors make it writing something without regard for industry standards. While the work may be good, it might not be something that readers enjoy. Pacing, setting and character development are a combination which makes books delightful to enjoy. Here are some of the books I recommend to help you succeed with storytelling.
Read this blog post for more about writing.
I used to turn up my nose at pre-made covers, but not anymore! It’s important to have an attractive cover in your genre, and you don’t have to spend an absorb about of money to get it. Covers these days range from pre-made to stockphotos to custom illustrations. After writing and publishing seven books I cannot stress the importance of a beautiful cover that fits with your genre.
Read this blog post for more about covers.
Study marketing (free and paid)
As an indie author, book marketing can make or break a career. Personally I consumed as much free information as I could and spent time working with entrepreneurs to practice the marketing basics. Some of my favorite sites for resources include:
Read this blog post for more about book marketing.
Build and grow your brand grow your email list.
Building your brand is essential for forming a fan base. Even if it’s nothing something you’re excited about doing, you can build your empire on automation. The start up steps take the longest, but I highly recommend having a website or landing page to collect email address. If you’re not a fan of email, you can also use a messenger bot and use that as your way of communicating with readers. Focus on both organic and paid ways to grow your list. Many tried and true methods include writing a short story (less than 10,000 words) and offering it as a free giveaway. This serves to give people a preview of your writing before they make a monetary commitment.
Read more about email marketing.
I remember releasing my first book, and trying to figure out how to get reviews. A few weeks after the release I booked a call with a book marketing guru to figure out next steps. A lot of people talk about launching a book but there’s so much more that goes on behind the scenes after release. How do you keep book selling? What marketing tactics should you use? Booking a call and getting help from other marketing gurus helped set off on the right path to success.
Talking to a marketing guru can be both good and bad, so I also recommend chatting with successful authors. Follow them on social media, read their emails and do everything you can to emulate (not copy) their success. I recall following some USA Today Bestselling Authors and the number one thing they did that I didn’t do was newsletter swaps. It was very eye opening because it opened up an entirely new way of reaching more people.
Aside from talking, it’s also important to do something actionable. Taking courses may not be right for everyone, but I love seeing video examples of what I need to do and following the steps to make it happen. A few courses I’ve enrolled in include a writing course, an Ads course and a few other marketing related courses.
Collaborate with authors in your genre.
One of the biggest mistakes I see authors make is collaborated across different genres. Someone who writes nonfiction will ask a fantasy author to promote them. Why is this a mistake? Because you’re not reaching the kind of people who read your book. It’s extremely important to collaborate with authors in your genre. It makes a huge difference in book sales if you are selling to the right audience.
Read more about author collaborations.
As a final note of encouragement, it’s possible to become a full time authors, but in most cases it takes more than one or two books to get there. So decide what you want from your work and get to work. Write your book. Read as much as possible. Save up for expenses. Take a risk. You’ve got this.
Want to chat further? Schedule a call with me.
Do you have the right graphics for your book launch?
Recently I released the first book in a new epic fantasy series I’m working on, marking my 7th book release. Since my last series (The Four Worlds) did so well, I decided to level up and focus on excellent visuals for my book launch. Whether you are releasing your first book or tenth book, here are some suggested graphics for your next release.
Before I dive in, a word to the wise. Book launching is hard and takes a ton of time and energy. Because of that, there’s no way I could do it all myself. I outsourced as much as possible and collaborated with other authors to make the book release a success.
During a book release I always run Facebook Ads. As a student of Mark Dawson’s Ads for Authors course, I like to spend time testing out Ads and determining what converts to clicks and sales. Ad copy can vary, it’s important to test different wording as well as different graphics. The three kinds of graphics I usually test include stock photos and branded photos.
Stock photos are usually downloaded from Pexels or Depositphotos, depending on what vibe I’m going for. Stock photos do quite well with Ads, however, on the flip side, I do want people to know I’m selling a book which is why I also use branded photos.
Branded photos use my book cover or associated graphics. See below for the three kinds of graphics I use.
Standard Cover File
Free in Kindle Unlimited
While I don’t often run Ads on Instagram, it’s fantastic for organic views and connecting with book bloggers. In all honestly, I often don’t have to the time to connect with book bloggers on Instagram so I hire someone to do it for me. However, posting daily on Instagram is an awesome way to get my book in front of readers who are looking for something new to read. Plus the cover is so pretty, it draws the eye. See below for Instagram graphics.
View my Instagram account here.
Bookbub Ads aren’t something I’m versed in. While Bookbub allows authors to run Ads on their site, it’s still something I’m learning. Bookbub Ads are usually a loss for me so I run them for visibility. Usually I can set aside a few funds that are strictly for visibility and not for ROI. See below for the one Bookbub Ad I used.
There you have it. If you’re looking to create graphics for your next book launch, here are the sources I recommend.
Realm of Beasts is an Epic Fantasy Adventure with Mythical Beasts.
Credit for this release goes to:
Shayla Raquel for Editing
Amalia Chitulescu Digital Art for Cover Design
Stephanie BwaBwa of Story Creative HQ for Graphics
Have you considered boosting your book sales with autographed paperbacks? As an indie author, one of the things we focus on doing is maximizing sales. We need those book sales and we need them to come in on a regular basis. One of the ways I’ve found that helps is having a store on my website. A store? But that’s what Amazon’s for…right? True…but I’ve found fans still enjoy physical copies of books, and while they are going to go through the trouble of purchasing a paperback, they might as well snag an autographed copy. I’m always pleasantly surprised to find the demand for autographed copies and specialized book bundles is there.
Here are a few reasons why you’ll want to have autographed copies in your store:
- Fans love a personal touch and sending autographed copies allows you add a personalized message.
- With autographed copies you can include a special note or extra book swag like bookmarks, candles, coffee mugs, etc.
- My store does between $100-$500 in book sales depending on the month.
- Paperbacks are a great way to help you recoup your return on investment from self-publishing and marketing expenses.
From my personal experience, I have found the demand for autographed copies comes out about a month before and a month after I release a new book. A few things that help is the covers are gorgeous and makes people want to have a copy to hold even if they own the ebook. The average order on my website is $30 which gives me a much higher piece of the pie than ebook sales.
Need an example? Visit my store.
How do you create a store?
My website is built out on the WordPress platform and I installed WooCommerce which is an e-commerce plugin. Now, there are a few things to know when you are setting up an e-commerce solution, regardless of which platform you’re using.
PayPal is a popular payment method and another payment processor is Stripe. Keep in mind if someone is making a purchase from your website, there are processing fees. Be mindful of these fees and if you need to, build them into the cost of your product so you don’t get blindsided by the extra cost.
Don’t shoot yourself in the foot – make sure you’re not losing money when you ship out books.
I order books from KDP and I can calculate how much the book costs me to purchase and ship to myself. Typically books cost me between $5-$10 depending on the size of the printed book (I write big books that are an average of 500 pages). As always, the more you order at one time, the lower the cost.
For shipping I use the flat rate shipping from USPS.com. If I’m shipping one book, I can also use Media Mail which costs $3-$4 per book, however, Media Mail takes about a week or so, and I prefer for my customers to get their books fast. Therefore I can also use the $6 flat rate envelope from USPS.com.
If I’m shipping 2 or more books, I use the medium sized flat rate box which is $13. The higher priced shipping makes my cost go up, so it’s only effective if I’m shipping 2-4 books.
My out-of-pocket cost for one book is around $11-$15 so I sell books for $20 in my website which includes the cost I paid to ship books to myself, how much it costs to ship books to someone who made a purchase plus a nice little royalty for myself. If I’m selling books in person, I can sell them for cheaper because I can take out the cost of shipping.
It’s important for me to capture the email addresses of people who make purchases from my site, so I can email them when deals and sales come up. Plus it’s a no-brainer way to grow my email list. WooCommerce integrates with MailerLite and creates a list of people who purchase from my shop.
Coupons are a way to reward customers or give a limited time offer to increase sales during a specific time period. WooCommerce allows me to create coupons for a certain percentage off a product or free shipping.
I have 5 books which can be shipped out as autographed paperbacks as well as bookmarks, candles, coffee mugs and other book swag. One of the best practices I try to implement it always to have books on hand. I never known if/when someone is going to order an autographed copy, so my best plan is to have 5-10 copies of each book at home at all times. If I run out, I’ll place an order which tends to take a couple of weeks.
If you run out of stock, be up front. Add a notice to your store or add it to the product description. Let people know when the books will be back and stock and when they’ll ship out.
There you have it. Creating a store for autographed paperbacks is a fun way to boost your book sales, plus you can add book swag to your store and thrill your fans with fun book-related items.
Need help creating your website or adding a store to your website?
Have you created a store for your books?