How to Sell Ebooks on Amazon
Nothing frustrate an author more than to spend time time and resource in writing and publishing book but couldn’t make a dollar from the book. Thanks to platform like Amazon who gave self-publishers the opportunity to sell their book by connecting them to readers all over the world.
As big as Amazon is, many do publish on Amazon but only few authors actually sell. But the formula behind how to sell ebooks on Amazon is actually very simple:
Traffic x Conversion = Sales
Traffic gets visitors to your book page, while conversion turns them into buyers.
In this post, I will be talking about this formula and how you can use it to make money as an author selling your book on Amazon. We will start with conversion, and show you how to optimize your Amazon book page. Then we’ll discuss strategies for increasing the amount of traffic to your book page in the first place.
1. A good book cover design
The very first thing that will introduce your book to the readers is your Book Cover. There maybe over 10,000 books on Amazon that has the same title as yours and also fell on the same category. To different your book and to attract readers in a competitive market and sell ebooks on Amazon, you’ll need to hold your own among Big 5 books — starting with your cover design. This is why we recommend that self-published authors hire a professional cover designer. Think of it as an investment: you’ve spent all this time and resources writing your ebook, so don’t give readers a reason not to read it by publishing it with a cover that looks unprofessional.
Understand that every genre has its own visual style and favored motifs, and you should use them to your advantage in case you want to design the cover by yourself. In the end, they serve to communicate with potential buyers, showing them that they have found what they are looking for in your book.
2. Write a catchier book description
Another thing you should give your attention too, is the book description. This is another strategy that can determine if readers will buy your book or not. Your book description tells would-be readers what your book is about and, more importantly, why they should buy. Use it as an opportunity to hype it up — think sales copy, not high school book report!
Remember, your book description will be most readers’ first point of contact with your writing. If they don’t like what they see, they’ll have no reason to want another several hundred pages of the same. Let’s quickly go through the basics right here.
Hook the reader with your opening line
Your opening needs to immediately grab readers’ attention. One foolproof way to do that is with social validation: offer evidence that other people like your work, whether that’s an impressive sales figure or a quote from a glowing review. Don’t have anything like that just yet? Not to worry — just make your headline snappy and exciting.
Amazon supports formatting for your book description, so feel free to make your headline pop with some different visual styles. You will want to keep your blurb relatively simple, visually speaking, but this opening is the perfect place to grab attention with one or more of the following:
- Bolding: <b>this is the text you want in bold</b>
- Italics: <i>this is the text you want in italics</i>
- Blockquote: <blockquote>this is the text you want formatted as an indented quote</blockquote>
Don’t explain every detail — just give the reader a taste of what to expect
The book description is where you tell readers what your book is about, without giving away the goods before they have paid. Don’t overwhelm them with a blow-by-blow summary. The last thing you want is to sound like you’re trying to prove you have actually read your own book.
Instead, focus on high-impact keywords that play to your target market. Terms like “serial killer” for a thriller or “personal development” for a self-help book will signal to readers that they will find exactly what they’re looking for. In the end, your blurb is all about building intrigue and drumming up anticipation for the moment when buyers get to read the book in full.
Leave the reader wanting more
Finish strong with a snappy takeaway that explains why readers should pick up your book in particular. What will they get out of it?
3. Write an author bio that doesn’t put readers to sleep
Another key thing to pay attention too is your author bio. A strong author bio humanizes you in the eyes of your readers. Write a strong one, and they will feel like they are tapping into a genuine connection every time they read your words. The world of online advertising often feels faceless and cold, so playing up the personal touch can boost your sales. Think of your author bio as a perfect opportunity to do just that: showing off the brain and heart behind your book.
As a KDP user, you will set up your bio through Amazon Author Central. This service, available to all authors on the site, gives you access to a dashboard for tracking your sales and managing your reviews. Most importantly for our purposes, it also allows you to personalize an Amazon Author Page with a warmly engaging bio.
4. Avoid Amazon book categories that are too competitive — or obscure
The first thing to know about Amazon categories? There are a lot of them, more than 10,000. Here’s how to navigate this particular minefield without missing out on possible readers.
When publishing your book through Amazon’s KDP dashboard, you are prompted to select a maximum of three categories for each of your formats (ebook, paperback, hardback). These reflect the categories that readers can browse on the Amazon store.
Amazon may still add your book to more categories based on your keyword choices and “customer experience,” but as of mid 2023, you are not able to request any additional categories.
Note: If you published your book before mid 2023 and had requested your book be in more than three categories, your book will keep its existing categories until you update them in your KDP Bookshelf.
Pick categories with under 10,000 titles
Some categories are more competitive than others. If you can, try to slot your book into niche sub-categories with under 10,000 books, which will give you a much better chance of climbing up the Best Sellers and Popular Lists. (Hitting #1 on the Best Sellers List will get you an orange “Best Seller” badge, which is great for conversion!)
5. Tag your book with related KDP keywords
Now that your categories are golden, it’s time to turn to the business of choosing KDP keywords. Amazon uses keywords to index your book for related searches, which will impact the future discoverability of your book.
When you pick your two initial categories in the Kindle Direct Publishing dashboard, you’ll also have to select seven keywords to tag your book with. You should pay as much attention to these keywords as you do to the categories.
The logic for choosing keywords is the same as that of choosing categories: you want to include keywords or phrases that have a high search potential, but not so high that they’re too competitive.
6. Leverage Amazon’s algorithms to help sell your ebooks
Now that your KDP book’s product page is polished for maximal conversion, it’s time to increase your traffic and get as many eyeballs on it as possible! While there are plenty of ways to market your ebook off-platform, this section will focus on how to make it easy for relevant readers to find it on-site.
Remember, when it comes to books, Amazon is the world’s leading search engine and recommendation system. There are many ways to send readers to your book page. But what you really want is to reach the point where Amazon does the bulk of the marketing for you. Let’s start by demystifying the Best Sellers Rank.
Amazon Best Sellers Rank
Amazon’s algorithms might sound like black magic, but they work according to an elementary principle: they prioritize the books they think people are most likely to buy.
What do they use to figure that out? The #1 factor, by far, is how well your book is already selling. While Amazon won’t tell you how many copies a given book is selling, you can estimate it through a figure called the Amazon Best Sellers Rank (ABSR), which is listed in a book’s product details.
Amazon’s algorithms are suspicious of books that suddenly get a huge influx of sales before they sputter off into nothing. Instead, they favor books that achieve a high level of sales and manage to hold on to it for at least a few days. Spikes don’t make the algorithms happy.
Amazon Hot New Releases List
As we’ve mentioned above, Amazon gives extra exposure to new releases — books in the first 30 days of their launches. You might have heard of “the Amazon 30-day cliff”: a term authors use to describe how their sales plummet a month after their book’s release.
What’s responsible for the extra exposure given to new books? Mostly, the “Hot New Releases” list. The list itself isn’t that easy to find while browsing Amazon — it’s also hidden in the sidebar. But it’s often featured on the main Kindle Store homepage, and is also a primary driver of email recommendations. Whenever you receive an email from Amazon promoting “the best new releases in Self-Help,” you know where that email is coming from.
This means that you have 30 days from your launch date to record a maximum number of sales and make the most of the additional visibility granted to new releases.
Amazon Also Boughts
There’s one final factor to grapple with when you’re directing traffic to your book, and it might be the most important one: Also Boughts.
Every product on Amazon has its own Also Boughts. These are Amazon products that customers purchased before or after that product. Amazon often displays these “Also Boughts” directly below a book’s description on its Amazon Kindle page.
Also Boughts are central to Amazon’s recommendation system. If Amazon notices that most readers who buy book X also buy book Y, its algorithms will be tempted to recommend book Y to all book X readers who haven’t purchased it already.
This is both awesome and dangerous. Let’s illustrate why: say you have a popular knitting blog, and you’ve published dozens of knitting manuals on Amazon. Now you’re looking to branch out into a new passion: crime fiction.
You release your first crime thriller, and decide to let your knitting fans know about it. They love you, so even if they’re not huge crime readers, they’ll grab a copy. And before you know it, your crime thriller starts showing up all over the Also Boughts for knitting manuals.
The Amazon algorithms will take this as a go-ahead to market your book to all the scarf-makers and yarn enthusiasts, sending them emails, and showing it on their feeds. When these crafters see your book in their inboxes, they’re (most likely) going to pass.
Now, remember what we were saying about the importance of conversion earlier in this post? If Amazon sends your book to thousands of readers, and none of them buy it, Amazon will stop recommending your book. Forever. Or at least until you clean up your Also Boughts.
I know this might feel like a lot of information, so if you’re feeling overwhelmed, just focus on the simple formula we started with: Traffic x Conversion = Sales.
To sell ebooks on Amazon and earn money as an author, you need to start by ensuring your book page is polished and conversion-friendly. This includes: a professional-looking book cover, engaging book description, strong author bio, and relevant categories and keywords.
Once you have all that, you should craft a careful marketing plan that will leverage the Amazon algorithms we’ve outlined above to bring people to your book page, turn potential customers into loyal readers, and make a living as a writer.