Understanding Amazon for authors marketing their book is a smart strategy for most authors. Of course, Amazon isn’t the only place where you can sell your book. In fact, in my third book, Self-Publish and Succeed, I have dedicated an entire chapter on places to sell books that aren’t Amazon. My own marketing efforts expand outside of Amazon as I partner with organizations like Winning Writers and sell directly to readers on my own webpage.
But, for many self-published authors, Amazon is where you’ll sell a huge chunk of your copies outside of bulk arrangements or large events.
So what are the things that you don’t know about Amazon for Authors but probably should? Here are five:
1. BISAC Codes Do Not Equate to Amazon Categories
BISAC codes are an essential aspect of your book’s metadata. It’s a way for the platform to classify your book by its specific genre and subgenre.
If you’re looking for a particular book in a store or library, you’d usually know where to start your search based on the kind of book you’re looking for. Poetry collections will be in a totally different section than, say, cookbooks, or nonfiction business guides.
But imagine if that cookbook gets placed on the same shelf as that poetry book. Chances are, it’s not going to be found by anyone who’s looking to purchase or borrow a copy.
That is why your books have their own BISAC codes.
Bookstores and libraries use the BISAC subject headings list to figure out where your books should be listed and shelved, so readers won’t have a hard time finding them.
One thing about Amazon for authors to understand is that Amazon categories help potential readers search for your book, Amazon uses its own category list that doesn’t match the BISAC codes or any other industry standard. In fact, every country comes with a different Amazon category for both Kindle and print. Thank you for making it so difficult Amazon.
Don’t get me wrong, BISAC codes aren’t useless when selling your books on Amazon. Amazon uses your book’s first two BISAC codes to determine which categories best fit your book.
That’s why it’s vital to get your BISAC codes right the first time. Your discoverability on Amazon heavily depends on it.
2. User-Curated Lists Help You Build Presence
Did you know that Amazon has a collection of tools and features that shoppers can use to promote themselves and their interests?
Two of these valuable features are user-curated lists and guides.
You can take advantage of these to share your book with a community of shoppers invested in a particular topic, subject, or interest.
When your product is included in a list or a guide, it’ll be featured on your public profile page.
Getting included in a list or guide is a sure-fire yet, little-known way to build your presence, share your expertise, and even discover new experts within your subject matter.
3. A Lot of Amazon’s Book Sales Are Books You Won’t Find on Bookstores
You probably don’t know this, but more than half of Amazon book sales are from books you won’t find in a bookstore. The majority of their book sales aren’t even from bestsellers.
You’ve heard that right. If you’ve been following me long enough, you probably already heard me say that your book doesn’t have to be a bestseller to be considered successful.
The main reason is, Amazon sells a ton of books, and they don’t need to rely on blockbuster successes anywhere near as much as a bookstore does.
Bookstores can’t carry every book – they have limited shelf space. This means that the books there need to earn their spot. You may have noticed that when you walk inside a Barnes & Noble, you’ll only get to see the most popular titles and names on the front.
On the flip side, Amazon can take advantage of what’s called a long tail business model. We cover that with an image in this video:
You’ll notice that you have your best sellers on the top left, a small number of titles with a considerable amount of sales. Think “Game of Thrones,” “Atomic Habits,” and even “The Very Hungry Caterpillar.”
As you go down the curve (that’s the tail), you’ll see a much higher number of unique titles making up the majority, each with lesser sales.
Here’s the kicker: you have more collective sales than that little spike of bestsellers when you add up all of those unique titles together.
It’s estimated that book sales make up 10% of Amazon’s total revenue, which, according to Amazon’s latest released data, totaled a whopping $386 billion in 2020.
We don’t have an exact number, but it’s safe to guess that Amazon’s book sales come in at about $38.6 billion. And a lot of those sales are from that tail, NOT from the handful of books topping the bestseller list.
4. Amazon Ads Are Run Opposite Google/Facebook Ads
Amazon ads are run almost precisely the opposite of how you would run Google and Facebook ads.
With Google and Facebook, you generally set up a campaign around a single keyword. But when you run Amazon ads, you have to dump 300 or more keywords into one single campaign. You then have to monitor, test, and tweak from there.
Think of what you type into an Amazon search box when you’re on the hunt for the perfect product to solve whatever problem you’re having.
Running ads for your book go the same kind of way. You want to put together a collection of relevant words that your target audience would plug into Amazon if they were looking for your type of book.
Relevant words include descriptive phrases like, “book to help my kid realize he’s not a dinosaur,” as well as related book titles and authors that are similar to you and your book.
So even if you pick a handful of perfectly relevant keywords, it still won’t generate enough impressions for the campaign to impact book sales. You’re going to need a lot more than one keyword to get your money’s worth for Amazon ads.
Lucky for you, I have a video all about setting up and running profitable Amazon ads right here. Isn’t that nice?
5. Your Amazon Author Central Page Has NPD BookScan Data for The US
Having up-to-date insights into how your book sales are trending can be essential to crafting your marketing strategy. Your Amazon author central page includes visuals that show how your book is performing over a period and where your book is performing.
These NPD BookScan estimates reflect about 85% of your print book sales, but it doesn’t include eBooks, so it’s not perfect. But it does offer insights into your sales, which can also help you tailor and refine your marketing efforts to get the best results. Whew.
So, which one of these things surprised you? Now that you know a couple of hidden ways to take advantage of this massive platform, maybe you can leverage this newfound knowledge into your current Amazon game plan.
This video gives you the crash course on Amazon Author Central as of 2021:
Have a powerful story to share? Here at Book Launchers, we help authors like you succeed on Amazon and anywhere else when it comes to getting your book discovered by your valuable readers.
Book a call with us today, and let’s take the first step in getting your book to every retailer from here to Canada and beyond.
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