If you are an author, here are some tips for selling books on Amazon. There is no silver bullet for success. I cannot guarantee you will sell books if you follow my Ten Commandments. However, failure is almost surely guaranteed if you don’t have a successful plan. Keep in mind that it’s a tough world out there. It’s very difficult to sell books.
These commandments are written in order of importance and production sequence:
1- Write a good book
The foundation of your success is based on writing a good book. Without a good foundation, no structure, no matter how well built, will last. When I say write a good book, I mean it! It must be a compelling story that “hooks” the reader. Make the reader want more of your art! You could spend a lot of money on marketing, but when potential customers read the first few free pages on Amazon, they will be turned off if you can’t compel them to want more (or if the writing style isn’t good). They will simply go off to peruse the 2.5 million other e-books Amazon offers.
2- What is your competition doing?
I do a lot of research on my competitor’s material. I read their books. I want to know why they are selling books! There is a difference between plagiarizing and imitating. If you don’t know the difference you may end up in court. Do your research and be careful.
Find out what is popular and write something similar or even better.
3- Story Engineering
All buildings, no matter how strange and bizarre they seem, have to follow certain architectural engineering rules. It’s the same with stories. Follow the true and proven structure. It’s rare when an author becomes a success because he or she deviates from the established rules of story engineering. There are only seven basic stories in the world, but a million ways to tell them.
4- Peer Review
All authors (including myself) suffer from delusions of grandeur. We think our manuscript is the next great American novel (or some other nonsense). So how can you tell your novel is awesome? Is it because your spouse, your best friend or the editor who charges you to edit your manuscript told you? Nope! Your mother, partner, husband or wife won’t hurt your feelings, and the editor needs money. If his/her payment was based on a percentage of your book sales, then that would be a different story. But they get paid up front and walk away.
Get unbiased people to read your novel and tell them to please hurt your feelings. I’ve had my feelings hurt! But I went back and rewrote my manuscripts. I had to get out of my own way and see the manuscript through their eyes. The results were great!
Most books have typos, including the ones published by the big name publishing companies. One or two might be acceptable, (this blog probably has editing issues) but too many typos or bad grammar will be the death of your career. Pay for an editor or get it done in house or outhouse, it doesn’t matter, just get it done!
6- Work the Amazon Rankings
Amazon rankings tell the potential customer how well your book is selling. Commandment Seven will explain how to work the rankings.
7- Free is a four-letter word
We offer all of our books for free on Amazon once or twice a year (I ain’t telling when). There were a total of 1,300 of our books that people got for free in 2015. All of our books reached the TOP 100 on Amazon. That’s where the eyeballs are! Amazon also reports to us that an average of 3K pages of our books are being read daily. Some of those readers become cheerleaders and tell others about our books because sales spike afterward.
8- Write more quality books
You can’t survive on just one book. Start writing more quality books. ‘Nuff said.
9- Social media
Get into social media. Research all the hashtag links, Facebook, newsletters etc., etc.
Enter well-known book contests. I got blurbs from The Clive Cussler Society and Writer’s Digest book contests. The results? Priceless!!
Did you notice half of the above “Ten Commandments” involve making a good book? There is no shortcut for selling books. Now start writing!!