Being on Amazon Doesn’t Sell Your Book

Hope ClarkToday’s guest post comes from Hope Clark, founder of Funds For Writers and author of the mystery Lowcountry Bribe. Hope’s previous post “Should I Just Do an Ebook?” resonated with many readers  and I am very pleased to welcome her back today.


So many fresh-faced writers dream of having their books on Amazon. The thought of a complete book, gorgeous cover, and a storefront on Amazon.com is a dream come true. However, they soon learn that Amazon is no more than a link to a store. And if that store is the main online location for an author and his book, then alas, sales will flounder.

Some naïve, unsuccessful writers may wonder if Amazon is pocketing sales, and not sending the royalty checks, but the truth is Amazon is so huge, that a book cannot be located for purchase without serious nudging and promotion by the author. What’s more important is that you have a landing site for readers to find you, find your wares, and realize you are worth reading.

Let’s say a bookstore opens shop in a strip mall in an average part of town. Not a run down section, mind you, but nothing with high traffic, either. The owner works hard to stock it, set up great posters, and order comfy chairs for readers he hopes will find his store a home away from home. Opening day arrives. Nobody shows up. Second day, one person happens to stumble in. After a week, the owner has made ten sales. He’s frustrated, wanting to blame the economy, the industry, anything but the fact he forgot to advertise, promote, spread the word, and establish an online presence. How do you sell without letting sellers know where you are, who you are, and what the heck you represent?

You need a website or blog to act as your home base. There readers can learn about your book, your history, your expertise, and where your book is located for purchase. One stop shop. If you want to take it further, and attempt to drive more people to your site, Amazon, and other book vendors, then you list on your site where you manage your blog, Twitter, Tumblr, Facebook, Pinterest, Goodreads, and so on. No, you don’t have to do them all; however, you have to do more than throw a book up on Amazon. All your activity is online, at your fingertips. The days of selling from the trunk of your car, and making a serious go of this bookselling gig, are about over.

But your online footprint isn’t just about your book . . . it’s about the reader’s experience. Blog, social network and website all matter, because today’s reader is savvy enough to study the book, the author, and the story behind it before ordering it. The Amazon Buy Now button is the last button they’ll visit, once they’ve learned enough to trust you and what you represent. They’re seeking reasons to invest in your book. Your job is to capture their interest, and prove your worth.

When I speak at conferences, I find that the majority of attendees are scared to death that: 1) they don’t have an online voice, 2) they don’t have the technical skills, and 3) they don’t have the time to manage an online presence. Truth is, a decade ago, they would have drooled over such opportunity to reach so many readers with so little effort, without leaving home.

Let’s cover how you get started:

  1. Complete your Author Central Profile at Amazon and include your website, blog and any other social media.
  2. Post on your blog, weekly or more.
  3. Post comments on other blogs where potential readers can be found.
  4. Offer to guest post on other blogs, again, where you can find readers.
  5. Tweet at least twice a day, during the beginning and the end of the average workday, when traffic is at its peak.
  6. Anything else is extra, as you feel comfortable and find time. Of course, the more you do, the more people see you.

Dare to be quirky, using the very voice that makes your book good. Don’t sell. Converse in a refreshing way. Start with the basics like Blogger.com or Twitter and get your feet wet in social media. Set 25 percent of your writing time for self-promotion.

Amazon is a game-changer when it comes to selling books. As a result, everybody puts his book on it. You, however, know how to be more savvy, so that customers realize you are an author who has it together, with an aim to please readers. And you did it all in about fifteen minutes a day while remaining true to your writing.

 

Lowcountry Bribe

C. Hope Clark is editor of FundsforWriters.com, chosen by Writer’s Digest for its 101 Best Websites for Writers for the past twelve years. She is also author of The Carolina Slade Mystery Series with Lowcountry Bribe being the debut release from Bell Bridge Books. Find Hope at the following online locales: Author Site – Blog – Twitter – Facebook – About.Me
Goodreads – Pinterest 

Comments

  1. Lots of food for thought here. My wife and I (mostly my wife…) have written several e-books, and have actually sold some, but the results have not been overwhelming. Guess I’m going to have to learn more about effective marketing. Writing has been fun, but it would be a lot more fun if it paid enough to live on.

    • Howard,

      A lot of books are on Amazon, so it’s hard to find yours without some other way to direct readers to it. Writing is indeed fun. I, too, wish I could forego the marketing, but alas, it’s part of the business. With every profession comes parts we don’t like. Good luck!

  2. This information is so useful for new writers. Sometimes when just starting out, writers don’t even know the right questions to ask in order to effectively market their book. Thank you for sharing, Hope.

  3. Excellent advice. As the founder of the Marketing for Romance Writers Organization, I see both sides of this situation. It can be panic-inspiring when faced with the plethora of social media options, but the step-by-step little at a time action is what works. Kudos for a well written and savvy article. I shared the link on Facebook and Twitter.

    • Kayelle,

      Thanks so very much for spreading the word. Sometimes stepping back and simplifying the process makes it more doable.

      Hope

    • Kayelle, thanks for sharing the article and I agree that all the social media options can be overwhelming at first. I only started using Twitter myself around a year ago. At first I didn’t have a clue what it was all about. But I made a start. Once I got my head around that, I added a Facebook page and Google+ page. Now it’s paying off as my author platform improves.

      Hope, thanks for this good advice!

  4. Thanks for the great information. I’ve been writing for a number of years, and last year started going through Amazon and Smashwords via ebooks. I can tell when I’ve been doing my marketing and when I haven’t, the sales reflect it. For me blogging and guest blogging do a lot more good than Twitter. But your mileage may vary.

    • Yes, AM. Once you get started with online marketing and social networking, you can definitely tell when you take time off. The results are directly relater, for sure!

  5. Great article with lots of helpful tips. I’ve written an e-book, but I need to format kit for Amazon. What is the best way to do that? Thanks!

    • Hi Jane, I’m glad you liked this. To get your ebook formatted for Amazon the best place to start is Amazon’s own Kindle Direct Publishing. They have a fair amount of helpful advice on how to prepare your book for upload. It can be a bit tricky to format for Kindle the first time but after you’ve done it once it becomes much easier with your next books! If you find you still need further assistance then my own book has very detailed, step-by-step instructions.

  6. Thank you so much for this information, Hope. I have so many limitations I have to overcome to be able to sell my ebooks. One, I depend on people from other countries to buy my books, as Nigeria is not included in the countries that can buy kindle books. And that also makes it difficult for me to have a blog (laziness apart). But I’m encouraged to do a little promotion each day. Thanks again.

  7. This is one of the most enlightening blog posts that I’ve read about marketing your books on Amazon … and I read a bunch of them. 😉 It’s succinct and offers such amazingly practical advice.

    Thanks … you rocked it! Now, I’ve got a simple marketing strategy to put into action.

  8. Fantastic blog post. Great overview of all the important processes in writing. So many authors question why their books aren’t magically selling, but through a few little new habits like the ones you have suggested, the interest will increase.

    I would like to recommend Bufferapp for writers. Let’s you schedule a few tweets throughout the day. I find it a great way to share useful links with my followers.

  9. Pauline Webb says:

    Really very, very encouraging, and practical too. Many thanks. I am an older woman and find the idea of blogging rather frightening – who the hell is going to read it? However, I can see that this is the way forward, so will have to get going. Best wishes, Pauline.

  10. Great article.
    Yesterday my ebook Lights! Camera! Gallop! The Story of the Horse in Film was published in Amazon’s kindle store. Yay! BUT – and here’s another tip for all enthusiastic ebook writers – I was in such an excited hurry to get the blurb (Amazon calls it the product description) done, I checked it three times, yes, but the eye saw what it expected to see and right in the first sentence I ACTUALLY WROTE THE WRONG TITLE. So maybe get someone else to check it too.

    It was the old error of cut and paste etc. I used its old, working title, Lights! Camera! Canter! you see.

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