Is your book selling to its best potential? Be sure to follow these Amazon optimization musts
This is a guest post by K.C. Neal
Scan the pages on Amazon.com, and it’s obvious: the website is designed to move product. From books to blenders to beekeeping supplies (really!), every product page is loaded with features and links to help you buy. It’s part of what makes shopping on Amazon fun! And if you’re selling on Amazon, specifically if you’re selling books, it’s essential to have all of your product pieces in place and looking their best.
3 Basic Product Page Elements
One of the most important pieces of your product presentation is the packaging – the cover. This topic could be a whole post (or even a series!), but really it comes down to this: don’t cut corners with the cover. Hire an experienced professional designer. Make sure the cover accurately conveys the book’s genre (this can be tricky). Don’t rely on feedback from friends and family to determine whether a cover is good. And if you later realize it’s not right for the product, be open to changing the cover. Books get new covers all the time, and a better cover truly can give a book new life in terms of sales. One of my author friends changed a cover, and the book went from an Amazon rank in the 80,000s to the top 100. These results are not typical, but still, it’s something to think about!
Another essential element is a great product description. I admit I find this one of the most challenging parts of writing a book, but especially when you’re starting out and relatively unknown, a great cover combined with a compelling blurb can make all the difference in turning a browser into a buyer. One of my author friends alerted me to this post, which I found very helpful for writing book blurbs. Don’t forget to have your product description edited and proofed, just as you do with your book.
Another very important feature on your book’s page is the reviews section. What do you think when you see a product that has only one or two reviews… or worse, zero? Everyone is different, of course, but a glaring absence of reviews usually prompts me to move on to a different page. Reviews help with buyer confidence, and book bloggers are an awesome resource for getting reviews. I have a few tips for working with bloggers on my blog, another topic I love to talk about.
What You Can Do on Amazon
So far, I’ve mentioned product page elements that are important for selling a book on any website, not just Amazon. Here are a couple of Amazon-specific things you can do.
Scroll past the reviews on your book’s product page, and you’ll see a place to add product tags. This is where you can add keywords associated with your book. Tags are another way for people to find your book in Amazon’s vast system of product listings. How do you get more tags when you’re only allowed to add 15? Here’s what I do: when I ask book bloggers if they’d be willing to cross-post their reviews on Amazon, I ask them to tick tags (or add different ones as they see fit).
Another way to add more details and value to your product page is through Shelfari. You can get into Shelfari using your Amazon login (it’s an Amazon subsidiary), or you can create a new login. Once you’re in, you can add, update, and edit all kinds of details in your book’s Shelfari listing, some of which will show up on the book's product page. I’m just getting into Shelfari myself, and it’s a really cool community.
In addition to product page elements, Amazon offers some special features and programs for self- and indie publishers. Lately there’s been a lot of talk about the KDP Select program, which allows self-published authors and small publishers to run free e-book promotions (yet another topic for a separate post!). As with any new tool, platform, program, or feature, people talk about the pros and cons. Discussion is great, but I’ve also seen a lot of misinformation passed around in author forums and groups. At times, these forums can be breeding grounds for bad info and dare I say it… unnecessary paranoia. It’s vital to keep up-to-date with the changes in publishing. Author forums can be great resources for that, but don’t forget it’s JUST as important to make sure the info you’re getting is accurate. Never stop educating yourself, and ALWAYS consider the source of the information. Avoid getting caught up in the swirl of conjecture and speculation, and you'll avoid a lot of stress and potentially costly mistakes.
About this post’s author:
K.C. Neal is the author of the YA paranormal PYXIS series (StoneHouse Ink). She also co-founded StoneHouse University, an educational resource for authors and publishers that offers affordable online courses on a variety of topics that are most relevant in publishing today. You can contact K.C. Neal at her blog, Twitter, Facebook, and StoneHouse University.