“Amazon attracts more book buyers than anyone else on the planet… and also tells you where to find your readers.”
~ Rob Eager
Results Rule… and successful authors (both fiction and non-fiction) use those results to guide their actions. You can test for yourself, but in my experience with my own authors and from conversations with other successful authors, making it easy for people to find and purchase your books on Amazon makes sense (and $$$).
Vanity Metrics: Why I Wrote This Article About Using Amazon to the Limit
There is a strong sense amongst authors and some marketing advisors that Amazon is the enemy and that you should sell as many books as possible through your own website and only direct people to Amazon when necessary (ie for the Kindle ebook).
I believe that this attitude is based on flawed reasoning and rooted in 3 key issues:
- Scarcity Mentality: if I sell my book through Amazon no-one will buy the 1000 copies I have stored in my garage;
- Unimaginative Lead Magnets: while Amazon does not give you customer information appealing lead magnets embedded in your fiction or non-fiction book will ensure that readers come to your site and give you their details; and
- Ignorance of Amazon’s Promotional Resources: like any business Amazon has its own agenda, but if you use the resources they give you to the full they can dramatically increase your sales and authority both on the Amazon site and on your own platform even if you don’t use their paid advertising.
Writing effective Amazon listings is one of my specialties, and, in the context of a total book marketing plan my authors do extremely well both in launching and re-launching their books. I am therefore quite shocked at the number of questions I’ve recently had about whether to uncouple the Kindle and Paperback listings and remove the “Buy on Amazon” option from their website. I’ve been tracking a couple of authors who have done this and watched their sales and rankings go down. In my opinion, the only reason to do this is if you have purchased so many hard copies of your book that you can’t risk selling any other copies… and this would be a strategic error, not necessarily a problem with Amazon.
It’s like any other aspect of your business. If you sell something through a referral and pay a referral commission on the first sale, that is still a sale that would otherwise not have happened so whatever revenue you generate is an increase on what you would otherwise have earned and you have opened the door to future sales. In the same way, you can use Amazon as your referrer and then maximise the opportunities you have set up.
#1: Use Amazon to Sell More Books
People go to Amazon to buy and they tend to trust Amazon reviews, especially those from verified buyers. This means that when someone actually buys your book from Amazon it not only helps your Amazon ranking directly, it also means that your book will be shown to more prospects who may also buy your book.
Amazon is quite secretive about their algorithms so the data is incomplete, but talking with other business book authors and marketers the frictionless nature of purchasing through Amazon means they’re selling about 5 books on Amazon for every 1 book sold at events or through their website.
I understand the temptation to sell books through your own website especially where you have invested in printing and storage, but I believe this is a short-sighted strategy. You don’t have to use Amazon’s own print-on-demand service, you can still ship your own (although postage from Australia to overseas is prohibitive) or make arrangements with a warehouse in the US or Europe to ship your books for you and send them stock.
Statistically, the more versions you display (Kindle, paperback, hardback, audiobook) the more books you will sell and this creates a happy circle of sales and business growth (see #3 for the reason this is true). Amazon’s internal marketing and promotion tools are also extremely useful. Between the descriptions, Look Inside, keywords, author page and all the other free tools you have at your disposal the opportunities are only limited by your imagination and experience.
#2: Use Amazon to Learn More About Your Readers
Although Amazon does not provide you with your buyers’ contact details, you can learn a lot about them through the ‘Customers also bought’ display beneath your own titles. The more books you sell on Amazon, the more useful this information is, so, once again, you get useful targeting information about your readers from selling more books on Amazon and this can help you economically attract more prospective readers (and clients or opportunities) from other sources.
The more you know about your readers, the more accurately you can hone your marketing copy and your follow-up communications to your list. This, in turn, leads to more engagement as well as more clients and customers.
One of my business authors discovered a whole new target community using this technique which doubled his client base in 3 months and trebled his profitability. This new audience, which he had previously not been aware of, was immensely profitable.
#3: Use Amazon to Build Your Mailing List
Apart from the challenge of shipping books to Amazon purchasers and the constraint this might place on liquidating inventory (which is not insurmountable, as discussed above in #1) the biggest reason I’m given for not listing books on Amazon is that you don’t get purchasers’ contact details.
This is true, but you can invite people to give your their contact details both on the ‘Look Inside’ portion of your Amazon listing (visible to people who don’t buy your book) and within the book itself by creating an enticing Lead Magnet. In fact, due to new privacy regulations even people who have purchased from you previously need to give specific consent for you to mail them promotions and updates and you should have a checkbox requesting permission for this in your shopping cart.
There are 2 reasons why authors don’t do this more often:
- They don’t realise that they can do this at all;
- They don’t realise how powerfully this simple action contributes to their overall visibility and sales on all platforms;
Free Amazon Promotions are Powerful, Ads are Great Too!
As a marketplace, Amazon can be a powerful engine for growth if you have the right attitude to its potential. Amazon Ads are also very lucrative provided you have your books appropriately listed and your backend funnel optimised to make full use of the traction you gain.