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How to Increase Book Sales on Amazon without Breaking the Rules: A Clear Guide

Publishing, Marketing, & Writing Tips

To play any game (and win), you have to know the rules. Self-publishing is no different.

How to Increase Book Sales on Amazon without Breaking the Rules: A Clear Guide
Table of contents

Either you play by Amazon's content guidelines and score with book royalties, or you pay the price with account penalties and–in extreme cases–closures. The good news is that most of the guidelines are pretty straightforward, and, in most cases, Amazon will warn you about any problems way in advance to give you the opportunity to fix them. 

We've put together this guide to following Amazon's rules based on our team's combined 100+ years of experience with self-publishing. Make sure to bookmark it and revisit it every time you get a new book idea!

See how big you can score with Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing royalties: Our free webinar showcases real-life stories of self-publishers who made even their craziest career, income, and travel goals a reality with just a free Amazon account.

Getting the Most Out of the Amazon Marketplace

In this section, we'll cover the basics of the Amazon algorithm, the importance of Amazon categories, and how to leverage Amazon Author Central (even if you don't have any prior experience with any of these things).

How Amazon Algorithms Work

Amazon's algorithm is designed to prioritize the books that are most likely to sell. The algorithm takes into account things like:

  • Sales history
  • Customer reviews
  • Search terms

The goal of the algorithm is to match the reader's search query (what they're typing into the search bar) with the most relevant and popular books on the subject. 

Pro Tip: If you take away just one thing from this article, let it be this: It’s always about the reader and their experience. 

Amazon Categories Basics

Amazon has a huge selection of book categories, and these categories influence their recommendation engine. Basically, their advanced algorithm scans every book to make sure that its content matches up with the category it was listed in. If there's a mismatch, Amazon might automatically change the category for you, or they may issue an account warning for "misleading readers." Do this too many times, and you might get banned (but you shouldn’t worry because this is entirely preventable). 

To choose the right category, research your competition and see where their books are listed. Consider the popularity of the category and the number of books competing in that category to see whether there’s “Proof of Concept” and profit potential for your idea.

Pro Tip: You can choose up to three categories for every book, so make 'em count!

Amazon Author Central

Amazon Author Central is a free tool that lets you create a profile and manage your books on Amazon. To get started with Amazon Author Central, you need to create an author profile and claim your published books. 

You can optimize your author page profile by including a bio, author photo, and links to your website and social media accounts (if you have them). Otherwise, just the page alone adds some credibility to you as an indie publisher. 

Optimizing Book Listings

Your book page is made up of multiple parts, including the book title and subtitle, book description, and metadata. Here's how to nail each piece!

Crafting an Effective Book Title and Subtitle

Your book title is your chance to grab the reader's attention, and you don't have a whole lot of space to work with. The thing is, confused readers won't add your book to their shopping cart, which means you need to use clear and concise language that accurately reflects the content of your book quickly. 

The trick is to think of your title in two parts: the Title and Subtitle.

Your subtitle should provide additional information about your book, such as its genre, theme, or unique selling point. This can help readers quickly understand what your book is about and whether it's something they're interested in.

Here are some examples:

  • Main Title: "Vegan Made Easy" Subtitle: "Family-Friendly Plant-Based Recipes for Busy Parents"
  • Main Title: "Calm in Chaos" Subtitle: "Mindfulness Techniques for Overworked Professionals Seeking Balance"
  • Main Title: "Startup Success" Subtitle: "A Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Tech Empire"
  • Main Title: "Ancient Secrets" Subtitle: "A History Buff's Guide to Lesser-Known Historical Mysteries"
  • Main Title: "Home Gym Essentials" Subtitle: "Tailored Fitness Routines for Small Spaces and Tight Budgets"

Pro Tip: Amazon doesn’t like it when you repeat keywords within the title and subtitle, so make sure to differentiate between the two. 

How to Write a Great Book Description

After the readers glance at the book title, if they’re still undecided, they’ll usually scan the book description next. This is your last chance to get them on board and hit the “check out” button. A trick for writing a better book description is to use bullet points, bolding, and italics to make it easier to read.

Avoid making exaggerated or false claims, which can harm your credibility and lead to negative reviews. Instead, focus on the benefits your book provides and why readers should choose it over other options.

Let's take a look at a potential book description for one of the hypothetical books we crafted a title for earlier:

Startup Success: A Young Entrepreneur's Guide to Building a Tech Empire" In “Startup Success,” [Author's Name], a tech entrepreneur and mentor, shares their journey and lessons. This book is an essential guide for anyone looking to navigate the tech startup world.

  • Real-World Insights: From a successful tech entrepreneur.
  • Step-by-Step Guide: For building your startup.
  • Funding and Marketing: Key strategies for success.
  • Inspirational Stories: Learn from successes and setbacks.
  • Take the First Step: Secure your copy today and begin building your tech empire!

Pro Tip: This book description has a clear hook, talks about the author’s credibility on the subject, includes several specific reasons why this book might be helpful, and ends with a “Call to Action” to get people to purchase the book. 

Choosing the Right Keywords and Metadata

The metadata and keywords help your book show up in relevant search results. Just like crafting a good title and book description, you’ll want to choose the best Kindle keywords that accurately reflect the content of your book and are likely to be searched for as your ideal readers are browsing Amazon.

Here's a quick list of tips to finalize your book page:

  • Understand Your Audience: Think about the terms your target readers are likely to use when searching for a book like yours. Are they stressed parents? Are they fitness enthusiasts looking for results? How well do you know them? 
  • Research Genre-Specific Keywords: Look at successful books in your genre to identify common and effective keywords.
  • Use Tools for Keyword Research: Utilize tools like ChatGPT or Amazon's search bar suggestions to find popular high-ranking keywords.
  • Balance Specificity and Broad Appeal: Include both specific keywords that describe your book’s niche and broader terms relevant to your genre.
  • Incorporate Keywords in Metadata: Place keywords in your book’s title, subtitle, description, and even in your author bio where they’re most relevant.

Designing a Professional Book Cover

Your book cover is the first thing potential readers will see, so it's important to make a good impression. Here are some tips for designing a professional book cover:

1. Know Your Genre and Target Audience

2. Keep It Simple and Eye-Catching

3. Hire a Professional Designer

4. Test Your Cover

5. Format Your Cover for Different Versions of Your Book

Read more about creating a book cover design that captures readers' attention here!

Pricing Strategies for Scoring Maximum Sales

When it comes to pricing a Kindle book, it isn't really a "set it and forget it" thing if you want to maximize your take-home royalties. Here are some pricing strategies to consider:

Competitive Pricing

Research the prices of similar books in your own book's genre and set your price accordingly. A price that’s too high may deter potential buyers, while a price that’s too low may suggest low quality.

Pro Tip: We generally tell our students to price their books slightly higher than the competition to generate more reader interest and more book sales. And it really works!

Promotional Pricing

Another strategy to consider is promotional pricing. You might choose to offer your book at a discounted price for a limited time to encourage more sales and book reviews (especially when you are launching your Amazon book). You can also use this strategy to coincide with holidays or special events to attract more buyers.

Kindle Direct Publishing Pricing Options

Kindle Direct Publishing offers the most flexible book royalty rates out there for self-publishers. The 70% royalty option allows you to set a price between $2.99 and $9.99, while the 35% royalty option allows you to set a price between $0.99 and $200. Consider which option is best for your book and pricing strategy.

To navigate these choices and optimize your pricing strategy, we encourage you to use our free eBook calculator. This tool helps you estimate your earnings under each royalty option

Maximizing Visibility Through Promotion

Promotions go hand-in-hand with pricing and book sales. 

Here's how to get the most out of them:

Utilizing Amazon Ads

Amazon Ads is a powerful tool that can help increase your book's visibility on the platform. You can create ads that appear in search results or on product pages, and you only pay when someone clicks on your ad.

To get the most out of Amazon Ads, you need to make sure that your ads reach the right audience. This means selecting the right keywords and regularly adjusting your bidding strategy accordingly.

Automatic Amazon Promotions

If the Amazon algorithm detects potential in your book sales, it might put your book “on sale.” You’ll see this reflected in the list price when you search for your book on the Amazon or Kindle platforms. This will NOT affect your royalties, and you should capitalize on the free promotion by boosting your other marketing efforts!

Recruiting ARC Teams

ARC (Advance Reader Copy) teams are groups of people who receive your book before it’s released to the public. They read it and provide honest feedback, which helps you improve the book and generate buzz before the launch. You can recruit ARC teams through your email list, social media, or by reaching out to book bloggers and reviewers.

Book Bundles

Book bundles are a great way to increase your book sales on Amazon. You can bundle your books together as a chronological series or collection of similar material. This way, readers can get more value for their money, and you can increase your exposure.

Cultivating Reviews and Feedback

Once you get enough book reviews, your books essentially begin to sell themselves because you have established credibility and social proof (AKA readers know purchasing your book won’t be a waste of their time or hard-earned money). 

Here are some tips on how to get more reviews and feedback without breaking any of Amazon’s rules and guidelines. 

Encouraging Readers to Leave Reviews

Amazon reviews help potential readers decide whether to purchase your book, but they also influence Amazon's algorithms, which determine where your book appears in search results. 

Here are some ways to encourage Amazon reviews:

  • Include a request for a review in your book's back matter.
  • Offer a free copy of your book to readers in exchange for an honest review.
  • Purchase reviews through a compliant review site. 

A Bad Review Isn’t the End of the World 

Even the less enthusiastic readers might be able to offer you some value in the form of constructive criticism. Here are some tips for moving forward from a bad review (which happens to the best of us): 

  • Try not to take it personally and focus on the book from the reader’s perspective instead of your own. 
  • Take time to let the emotions settle before you take any drastic action. 
  • Decide whether it’s worth publishing a new edition of your book or using the feedback for future works instead. 

Gaining Editorial Reviews

Editorial reviews are reviews from professional reviewers, like book bloggers, journalists, and other authors. These reviews can help lend credibility to your book, draw readers, and increase its visibility on Amazon. They’re not always as powerful as regular reviews, but they certainly don’t hurt! 

Here are some ways to gain editorial reviews:

  • Research book bloggers and other reviewers in your genre and reach out to them with a request for a review.
  • Join author groups/publishing groups and participate in review swaps with other authors or publishers in your genre.
  • Submit your book to reputable book review websites, such as Kirkus Reviews or Publishers Weekly.

Leveraging the Power of the Kindle Ecosystem

Amazon has built an entire system for self-publishers to make publishing, marketing, and promoting your book as easy as possible. Here are a few ways to take advantage of it.

Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) Select Program

One way to increase book sales on Amazon is by enrolling in the Kindle Direct Publishing Select program. This program allows you to offer your book for free for a limited time or at a discounted price. This can help increase visibility and generate buzz for your book, which can lead to more sales in the long run.

Creating A+ Content for Your Amazon Page

Another way to increase book sales on Amazon is by creating A+ content for your Amazon page. A+ content is essentially bonus material for readers that can include images, videos, and more detailed information about your book. This can help make your book stand out from the competition and provide potential buyers with more information about your book.

Exploring the Benefits of eBooks

eBooks are another powerful tool in the Kindle ecosystem. By offering your book in eBook and audiobook formats, you can reach a wider audience. Additionally, eBooks often have lower production costs than print books, which can help increase your profit margins.

How Far Can You Take Publishing? 

Our AIA program focuses on the quickest ways to make Amazon book royalties without sacrificing quality. For that reason, we like to keep the marketing process as simple as possible. Although we don’t teach our students how to start their own podcasts and sell physical products based on their books, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. 

Jacob’s self-publishing journey earned him an award and even led him to start his own radio show: 

Michell went from busy mom to branding queen: 

Student-turned-coach Ed sold his self-publishing business for six figures: 

This is a choose-your-own-adventure business model that puts you fully in charge of your income, time, and freedom. 

Measuring Success and Making Adjustments

To gauge and improve your book sales on Amazon, consider these methods for checking your progress as you scale your publishing business:

  • Track Amazon Rankings: Regularly check your book's sales and category ranks to compare its performance against others. Remember, these rankings change daily, so look at longer-term trends for the most accurate data. 
  • Monitor Reader Feedback: Reviews and ratings give insights into reader satisfaction. Use this feedback to refine your marketing efforts and book content.
  • Check Search Visibility: Does your book appear in relevant Amazon searches? Adjust keywords and categories as needed, and consider Amazon ads for better visibility.
  • Stay Compliant with Amazon's Guidelines: Always adhere to Amazon’s Kindle publishing rules while implementing these strategies.

Discover How to Attract Readers and Consistent Book Sales

Maybe you're like Nicolas & Marie-Lou, a married couple trying to juggle kids, work, and a boatload of other responsibilities. Or maybe you're like Troy and just want to learn how to make more money every month to stop worrying so much about the grocery bill and your car payment.

The thing is, anyone can learn how to create and sell books online. Yes, even with no experience or background in writing, publishing, or even tech. Here's what they had to say about their self-publishing journey:

And there are thousands more of these success stories if you're still unsure about the type of person who can benefit from this proven business model. An Amazon account and a little effort are all it takes.

When you're ready, our free publishing webinar is here to arm you with the exact blueprint you need to make this happen for yourself!

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