Things have definitely changed over the years, and these changes have many positive attributes, especially if you are artistically inclined. For example, artists, musicians, and writers always needed agents, publishers, and big names to actually get somewhere and generate money from doing something they love. But that’s not the case anymore, as this guide on how to sell books on Amazon will clearly show.
If you always had a passion to make a name for yourself as a writer, then Amazon might just be the platform you are looking for. And considering it holds about 70% of the online book market, it would be silly not to try it.
So, just to put an end to any and all possible confusion about selling books on Amazon, there is no publisher or third-party editor you have to work with. If you think your book is good enough to get published, it’s your call.
But publishing your book and actually seeing some sales are two separate things, hence the reason for this guide. While it will only scratch the surface of being a successful author, it definitely provides a fundamental start towards success.
First Write A Book
You can’t sell a book on Amazon if you haven’t written one yet. And out of all the steps you are going to follow, getting a book ready for publishing has to be your priority. Now, there are two ways you can go about this.
If you want to become an established author, you probably want to do all the writing yourself. But if you are simply looking to make money, you can contract a ghostwriter to write the book for you. Isn’t that incredible? You don’t even have to write your own books, but it will cost quite a bit depending on the writer you use.
For the sake and purpose of this guide, it is assumed you want to be an author and you will write the book. And before you can start selling books on Amazon, there are some things you have to take into consideration before you start writing.
– Fiction Or Non-Fiction
Selling books is a process that takes time, so you want to set some clear goals beforehand, starting with details like whether you want to write fiction or non-fiction? Yes, this is an important decision, and it will influence things like how much you can realistically charge people for the book.
The general rule is that non-fiction books have a higher price point, and they are more sustainable in terms of sales. Fiction, on the other hand, means more freedom of expression and you’ll probably write it quicker than you would a non-fiction.
But given that this is your passion, you should decide which category you’ll be able to stick to for a good amount of time. Can you write another one? And how quickly can you do it? In the fiction world, you have to be quick and consistent. In the non-fiction world, you need a good reputation and fewer sales to show the same profit.
– The Length Of The Book
It sounds rather simple to focus on something like the length of the book, but readers pay attention to the page count before they make a purchase. And the best way to decide on a good price is by looking at other books within the same category. What are these authors charging, and how long are their books?
By taking a few tips from the books that are selling well on Amazon, it can help you a lot. In addition to looking at the covers they use, along with the blurbs, check out their prices points and page counts.
– The Cover, Title And Blurb
The combination of the cover, title, and the blurb is incredibly important. More specifically, the cover and title are the first things the reader will see, and the blurb quickly follows if the cover and title are interesting enough.
Consider this combination the selling point for the book, and each one of them will make a big difference, even if you don’t think so now. And remember, make the cover and title relevant to what can be found inside the book.
Polish The Book
The excitement of writing your first book is enough to push you into a lot of rookie mistakes. For example, you might skimp on the proofreading part and miss a big mess right in the middle of the book. This happens, especially if the book is pretty lengthy.
Now, you should either get some friends to serve as beta readers, or you can pay for an editor. Both of these options can be very effective, although the latter is much more expensive than the former.
Whatever you do, don’t make the mistake of publishing a book without checking all the details. With Amazon, there are no quick changes you can make to the cover, title, or content. Meaning the first few copies you sell can make readers very angry.
Create An Amazon Account
If you are confident that your book is ready, the cover is according to market, and the blurb will make readers even more excited about what’s inside, it’s time to create your Amazon account. Also referred to as Kindle Direct Publishing, you have to provide some details before you can start selling.
– Details And Information
What type of details will Amazon be asking for? Well, they don’t ask more than the basics. For instance, they require a name, surname, address, and your bank account information if you want the money to be wired to your account directly. Alternatively, they can send you a check, but then you have to wait a little longer for those royalties.
You will also be asked to provide tax information and stuff like that, so have them ready when you open the Amazon account. The last thing you want stopping you from publishing your book is a technicality.
Start Publishing Books On Amazon
When the account has been created, you are in a position to start publishing. Yes, the excitement is building, and you are dying to skip through all the steps. But you have to take a breath and be patient, seeing as these steps are critical if you want people to find your book on Amazon.
Always keep in mind that thousands of books are being published on this platform on a daily basis, meaning you have a lot of competition coming your way. In fact, you are going up against authors who have been there a while, and they have set a high bar.
If you want to compete with these authors, you want to use every section of the publishing process to your advantage. Because you can’t control what consumers are ultimately going to buy, it’s important to focus on what you can control. In this case, you want to pay attention to the publishing steps.
– Upload book and cover
You’ll be asked to upload the book file and the cover. Take note that Amazon provides a cover creator if you don’t want to pay a professional or figure out that complicated creative software. But if you did invest in a professional cover, you should be uploading the correct format, a rule that also applies to the book.
– Enter Blurb And Keywords
This is the part where your blurb gets inserted, as well as the keywords that are relevant to your book. For example, if you wrote a romance novel, you will be looking at keywords like an alpha male and passionate bad boy.
You should also note that the keywords you use will play into the categories you choose. Unfortunately, explaining how the sub-cats work and how you get into them are still debated among authors. But Amazon offers a helpful keyword list you can use, and it tells you what sub-cats your book is most likely to land in when you use them.
As for the blurb, you know what to do. Make it exciting and interesting. Of course, this is much easier than it sounds. But as mentioned before, take a moment to see what other authors in the same niche are doing. They could help to release some great ideas for selling your books on Amazon.
– Set the price
Many first-time authors either set their price too low, or they expect too much. And finding the perfect price balance for a book can be very tricky if you don’t pay attention to what is popular in the current market.
Now, just because the best sellers are charging big prices doesn’t mean you can do the same. Keep in mind that they probably have reputations behind their names, and you have yet to build one. So, instead of focusing too much on the royalty percentage, try not to under-value your work and give readers a reason to try out your book.
Make no mistake; the book market on Amazon is big, and readers don’t mind spending money. But they are not going to pay outrageous prices for an author they don’t know. They will, however, take a chance if the book is reasonably priced, and the blurb entices them enough to put in the order.
– Wait for the review process
Yes, Amazon has a review process the book and cover will need to go through. And if you are not trying to mess with the system or plan on selling explicit adult material, the review process shouldn’t be a problem. How long it can take will vary though, but it usually takes about a day or two to get approval.
From this point on, most changes will take the book through the review process. The good news is that the book will remain available for purchase when you make updates. The downside is that you can’t depend on the updates being published within a certain time-frame.
This is why you want to make sure the first time you push “publish”, everything is spelled correctly and in place.
How You Make Money
There are different channels you can use for selling your book on Amazon. And you will find that some channels sell better than others, depending on the niche you focus on. They include:
– Direct Ebook Sales
Electronic books are very popular, and when Amazon promotes new Kindles, it means new readers. The most common option when publishing on Amazon is to make the digital version of the book available on Kindle.
The royalty percentage you get depends on the price you set. For instance, $2.99 and up get 70% royalties, while anything under this price point only gets 30% royalties. Either way, you only make money when a reader makes the purchase and downloads the book.
– Kindle Page reads
The second option is to put your book in the Kindle Unlimited program. This has advantages and disadvantages like you get more exposure, but the book has to be exclusively published on Amazon for the time it stays in the program.
The money you make depends on the amount of page reads you get throughout the month. At the time of the article, the average money you get per page is .0045 cents, which isn’t a lot of you plan on writing short books. If you are going to write longer works, this can definitely be profitable, seeing as readers only pay a low subscription in order to read all the books in the KU program.
However, the money you get per page changes every month, so there is no way of telling how much you will actually get until Amazon releases the number much later.
Amazon also has a section for paperback books, and several authors only use them as a sales channel. Naturally, the price for a paperback is more than what readers typically pay for Ebooks, but there is still a big market for this option.
So, the best advice would be to make both available and gain double the exposure. It won’t cost you anything, and you stand to sell more books.
Audio books are becoming increasingly popular for several reasons. And now you have the option of getting your book converted to audio through Amazon. Many authors are doing very well with their audiobooks, and some only focus on them given the popularity.
Create An Amazon Author Page
After deciding on the sales channels you want to use for your book, it’s time to set up an author page. More specifically, you can only set up an author page once have a book that is live on Amazon. Once your book has been approved, you can move on to this specific step.
An Amazon author page provides information about your book sales, rankings, and you can add a bio to personalize the author name you use. While it won’t guarantee sales, a little bit of information about the author can help readers to connect with the book.
Tips For Making The Book A Success
If you think that writing the book was the hard part, think again. Amazon will only give you a limited amount of exposure before your book falls away in the ocean of competition. It is up to you to boost sales and make people notice it. And here are some tips on how you can do it with a tight budget.
– Market Research
Researching your market should be done before you publish the book. In fact, you want to research markets before you start writing. But the point is to learn about your readers before you cater to them. Playing guessing games about what they are looking for is not the way you should approach writing a book.
– Investing In Marketing
There are several ways you can invest in marketing, and it doesn’t necessarily involve money. A good example would be using social media platforms. These are free if you can build a following. Alternatively, you can spend a few bucks to get on some mailing lists or even promote the book on Amazon itself.
Whatever way you can think about to create hype around your book, use it to your advantage. Because if you can get people to notice the book while it is still fresh, there is a much better chance it can make some good money.
– Build An Email List
It’s always a good idea to build up a mailing list. Getting the contact info from readers who like your book can serve you well when you publish the next one. And just think about the attention you can get. After sending out an email blast with 300 names on it, letting them know you have another book available, that’s how you make Amazon notice you as an author.
But wait a minute. This sounds like it could be a lengthy process, and how many books will take exactly to start making money? The truth is there is no telling which book will bring in the money. It could be the first one you publish, or it could be the 10th. A matter of luck also plays into the success of a book, which is why the importance of using the right blurb, cover, and title should be repeated.
– Write The Next Book
There is going to be a point where you can’t do any more marketing for your first publication. In fact, you should be thinking about writing the next book, even if you haven’t started selling anything.
Don’t let the sales discourage you from writing that next book, because with Amazon you never know when something is going to take off. Plus, if you do some research, you’ll find a lot of indie writers making some good money selling their books on Amazon.
We are going to end this guide with some additional tips for boosting sales, and they are not directly connected with Amazon. Instead, you want to look to outside sources for traffic, and this is how you can do it.
– Start Networking
Every dream job or career has something that might not always be fun. And many authors don’t like the idea of networking after publishing their first book. But the truth is that networking can help you to build a presence.
Start with your peers and work your way to readers. Join forums and reach out on social media, but start making friends that can aid you in creating visibility at a later stage. Besides, the bigger other authors can make their network, the better. Everyone can win when you start networking with the right people.
– Get A Website Or Blog
As mentioned earlier, Amazon will only offer you so much traffic before it moves on to the next book fresh from publication. If you don’t keep the flow of traffic alive, you can’t sustain the passive sales.
Running a website or blog surrounding the niche you are writing in can be very helpful in this case. First off, you’ll be attracting people interested in the same niche as your book. And secondly, this traffic will most likely be organic, meaning better conversion rates.
Some Final Thoughts
Before you start your journey as an indie writer, there are some realities you have to deal with. One of them is that critical review that is bound to come up somewhere. The fact is you can’t please every reader, and you will feel bad about those isolated negative reviews. But try to keep your mind on the readers that appreciate your work.
Plus, with the number of books being published every day, it means you won’t just be able to sit back and get royalties like a rock star. Unless you can come up with the next big thing, you will have to publish constantly and consistently. Otherwise, readers quickly replace you with a new and fresh indie author.
Get ready for some hard work, but the rewards can be more than amazing. You just need to decide how seriously you take yourself as a writer.