What’s the hottest platform for creative marketers to increase their brand and generate passive income today? Facebook? WeChat? Twitter? I’ve never made a buck of Facebook, have you?
Amazon is the next gold rush on the Web. – Matthew Capala (Tweet This)
Now that the gatekeeper – a dreaded foe who is sure to reject your next manuscript while you are falling into greater and greater depression because nobody wants to publish you!!! – is finally out, follow the example of many creative minds who used Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) creatively to get ahead of the pack – against the odds – on the crowded Web. One of them is Harshajyoti Das.
I recently self-published my first book, SEO Like I’m 5, on both Kindle and in paperback through Create Space. I did countless hours of research about how Amazon works… What are the top searched keywords? How to create a winning marketing campaign that will pop you to the top on one of the most viewed websites in the world? And so on.
Once you are in the game, things like Author Rank and Top Sellers spot in hot Amazon Categories become the metrics you start paying attention to. When I looked at Best Sellers in the Search Engine Optimization category, both Harshajoyati and I made it to the top 6 in October. My book ranked 2nd and his book, No SEO Forever, ranked 6th. Out of the other 5 books that made the list, I liked his title and cover most. So I reached out.
As I did more research about Harshajyoti (or Harsh), I learned that he’s published seven books on Amazon already, some of which constantly rank top sellers in some of the most competitive Amazon categories. I wanted to learn everything he knows, so I invited him for a candid Q&A with Search Decoder to talk about publishing on Amazon, and his latest book, 70 Secrets Revealed: How to Write Content that Converts 600% More, which ranks top 2 in three categories and accumulated over 30 reviews with an average 4.9/5.0 star rating.
In his own words: My name is Harsh, an Entrepreneur, Author, SEO’r, Inbound Marketer, Traveler, and the CEO at Munmi IT Solutions LLP. People know me as Harsh or ‘jr_sci‘. jr_sci is my username in many Internet marketing forums. I am 24, a travel enthusiasts and an aspiring writer. Traveling is my hobby and writing is my passion. One of my many goals is to visit each and every major city and tourist destination in the world, before I am 30.
Check out my his awesome Q&A below. I agree with a lot of his views. and learned a ton from Harsh. I will definitely use his advice for my next Amazon book – look out for an announcement…sign up for the newsletter —->
How to Self-Publish an Amazon Hit?
There are a lot of factors behind writing a good book and making it a success on Amazon. It starts with “the author.” A book is a reflection of the author. We can write a good book only if we write on the niche, we are most comfortable with.
I see a lot of wannabe authors who try to copy a bestselling author and write a book on an unfamiliar topic. This is the wrong approach. If you pick a niche only because it’s profitable or in-demand, you will end up writing a mediocre book.
First, if you write a “good book,” the word will eventually spread about your book, with little effort from you. But, if you write a mediocre book, no matter how hard you promote it, you will find it difficult to sell.
For example, a week ago, a community manager of SEMrush, contacted me via LinkedIn after reading my book. She offered me a 6 month free subscription to SEMrush and was interested in hosting a giveaway with their audience on social media. Like I said, if you write a good book, the word will spread with little or no effort at all.
Second, personalize the whole book with your real-life story. Non-fiction books are basically a set of instructions on a particular topic. Instead of giving advice after advice, tell stories. If you cannot pull a story from your own life, then write about others.
Third, reference experts on the topic to increase your credibility. This will not only keep the reader interested in your book but will also offer them solid proof that your facts are correct. It proves that someone else has already implemented them and seen results. In other words, it will validate your book.
Lastly, read a lot of good books if you want to write a great book. You can automatically enhance our standards just by reading good books. Learn from great storytellers how to tell stories to captivate your audience. Stephen King rightly said, “If you want to be a writer, you must do two things above all others; read a lot and write a lot.”
- Write what you love
- Put your heart and soul into it
- Read a lot
Your recent Kindle book, “How to Write Content that Converts 600% More,” ranked as a top seller in competitive categories on Amazon. What was your ‘secret sauce’ to marketing a book on Amazon?
There is no secret sauce really. . . (wait a moment), actually there is. It’s “hard work.” I spent a lot of time researching before writing this book. I have spent countless hours reading materials, watching courses on conversion optimization and interviewing experts. While preparing the final draft for this book, I just slept for 4 hours every day for around a week. At one point, I got sick due to sleep deprivation. A lot of effort was actually put into writing this book.
Here’s a tip that most newbies aren’t aware of: Amazon does most of the selling for you.
Whenever a person visits your product page, Amazon will store cookies in their computers and re-target them again and again. Amazon will run Facebook ads for your book for FREE (via retargeting). They will also recommend your book to these old visitors via email. Your book is also promoted inside Amazon under various categories, namely “Related to Items You’ve Viewed,” “More Items to Consider,” “Inspired by Your Browsing History,” “Additional Items to Explore,” “Get Yourself a Little Something,” “New For You.” “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” and “How & New Release,” etc.
So do your very best to send traffic to your Amazon product page and Amazon will take care of the rest of the promotion for you. Harness every traffic source you can. Books like “SEO Like I’m 5” can come in handy while promoting your book.
You need to realize that Amazon will only promote books that sell well. What good will it do them if they promote a book that cannot sell by itself? Thus, promote your books to your audience (social media and email subscribers), network, and get the initial sales… or your book launch will be a flap. After that, Amazon will do the work. However, don’t stop once you climb the charts. Make a continuous effort to promote your book everyday through blogging, speaking, and any other creative way you can come up with.
Here’s another tip: Promote where the audience already is. Don’t try too hard to create a new audience unless you have a lot of money to invest in advertising and marketing. Mike Del Ponte wrote a guest post on Tim Ferriss’s blog on how he launched a successful Kickstarter campaign. He was able to raise $100,000 in 10 Days. An author can apply the same techniques to launch and promote his/her book.
Recently, I teamed up with a publisher who already has an email list of 30k readers. We worked on a profit-sharing model during the promotional period (they acted as my affiliate).
My book ranked just behind Robert Cialdini’s Influence under the “Marketing & Sales” category. This was an achievement in itself. After the promotion, the book ranked #1 in a lot of other categories, including web marketing, blogging, ecommerce and sales. The secret was to promote my book to an audience (not mine but someone else’s).
I have applied the same technique to launch my book, Engagement Interaction Conversion. This book currently has an Amazon sales rank of 10k-15k. It’s selling around 5-10 copies per day. This is a brand new book with just 5 reviews. I haven’t done any promotion yet; not even a tweet. I will do a second relaunch in a few days but this time, it will be on social media instead of email marketing. See the campaign results below.
- Do a big launch
- Do another re-launch
- Repeat every few weeks/months
- Promote where your audience is
James Altucher gives this book marketing advice on his blog: the best way to promote a book is to write a second one. Do you agree?
Of course I do. James Altucher is a big motivation for authors like me. To be honest, he inspires me to write.
Books are like movies. If I enjoyed watching Spiderman 1, I will run to the theatres once Spiderman 2 releases. I will even recommend the movie to my friends. Now my friends who haven’t watched Spiderman 1 will want to watch the first movie before watching the second one, so they can follow the story. Hence, the second movie will ultimately promote the first one. That’s the reason why movies like Twilight were so successful. People are desperate to know what happened in the previous movie and what will happen in the next movie.
I interlink all my books and most of my new readers are my old readers. These old readers help me get the necessary reviews to boost my sales rank. (Sales rank is nothing but my book ranking inside Amazon is based on my sales figure.) Amazon will then heavily promote my second book because of my preliminary sales. This will bring in new readers. These new readers will discover my first book since I interlink them, and promote it to new email opt-ins. Now, my new readers will buy the first book and I will see a boost in “sales rank” for my first book, which will again trigger Amazon to start promoting my first book. It’s like a continuous cycle. You get the idea now, right?
If you have ten books and you interlink these books and promote it to new email opt-ins, it will create an automated system where each book will promote the other.
- If a book fails, write the second one.
- Interlink and cross-promote your books
I recently self-published my first book, “SEO Like I’m 5,” and you’ve already published seven Kindle books. What advice would you give to first-time self-publishers based on your experience?
I haven’t found the time to read your book, but I have added it to my wish list. I have read the description and it sounds like a damn good book on marketing. Something that stood out about your book was the “Book title.”
There are two elements in writing a good book title: “Assurance” & “Expectation.”
“SEO Like I’m 5” creates an expectation on what the book has in store for readers.
“The Ultimate Beginner’s Guide”gives an assurance that it’s written for a newbie and is easy to understand.
I have a guide for authors on how to write the title and description for your book on Amazon. Interested people can download it here.
Your book has a decent sales rank for a book priced at $9.99. Although, here are a few suggestions:
Use html tags if you want your description to stand out. E.g. – You can use <h2> tag for “Why Read this Book?” and “Who is this Book for?” to make them Bold, increase the size and make it orange in color.
I’m on it – Matthew Capala
Come up with a good sales rank/price ratio. If you are selling three copies per day at $9.99, you will earn around $18 per day (at 70% royalty). If you reduce your price to $4.99, you are likely to sell more copies and make more or less the same profit. Let’s forget about revenue for a second. If you reduce your price and see a growth in sales, it will increase your reach as an author. It will also increase your email opt-ins. You will be able to leverage the sales of your first book to promote your second book, your consultant services, or digital products worth hundreds of dollars.
I like but I’m testing a differnet book marketing staregy at the moment, and will hold the ground for now, but I agree wit what you are saying – Matthew Capala
Here are couple other recommendations:
A writer should write daily, no matter what. Whenever I take a break from writing (even for one day), I find it difficult to write the next day. Words don’t flow as smoothly as they should.
Connect with your audience via email and social networks. It becomes even more important when you are a newly published author. Get personal and share their pain. Make an effort to know what’s happening in their life. Most of my readers have become my friends now. They help me every time I publish a new book.
Invest in a book cover and a proofreader. You will get your investment back within a month.
Treat your book as a business. You are the salesman. Explore every opportunity to promote your book.
Grab every opportunity you can. You never know what will turn your life upside down. I regularly like to test my luck (luck’s nothing but opportunities). I apply for giveaways on Goodreads quite often. Last month, I won a giveaway and received two books. The books were not proofread and had a few errors. It was published by a traditional publisher. Instead of writing a negative review about it on Amazon, I contacted the author and offered to help him. I hooked him up with my proofreader.
We have now become good friends and share publishing and book marketing opportunities. He gave me some solid tips about a few literary agents, how to approach them and get a book published with a traditional publisher, with a big fat check as a signing bonus.
Wait, there’s more . . . he signed up for my email list to get notified when I launch The Art of Book Marketing. He also advised me to create a course on book marketing and charge a monthly fee, since I was already writing a book on the same subject. He said, “I want to sign up right now and book my spot by paying $100 per month for this course.” I sent him the first chapter last night. Thanks to him, I now have another channel to cash in on.
What was your Kindle book pricing strategy on Amazon?
Once we publish our book, we need to optimize our book for our audience. It’s similar to SEO, where we do competition analysis, but in a much broader sense. I found out that most of my competitors are selling their books for $6.00 to $10.00. For market penetration, I priced my book at $3.99. I run regular promos to get a spike every now and then. Even today, I am running a $1.99 promo. I have also added a print version for $12.99 on Amazon. I sell fewer paperbacks compared to my kindle version, but the $12.99 acts as an “anchor price” to $3.99. It ultimately helps me to sell more digital copies.
- Pricing depends on the niche, author, no. of pages, category selection etc.
- Keep testing
- Selling a book at a lower price can be profitable in the long run.
What are your tips for authoprenuers to write effective Amazon copy that converts?
- Create an official website as an author. Some people like to call it a press kit. Check out mine – www.harsh.im
- Have all your books, interviews, reviews, photos, and contact info on this site
- If someone wants to interview you or invite you to speak, your official author’s page should have all the info about you and your book
- Get a one-page template instead of a traditional website with multiple tabs.
- Don’t try to sell your books via your official site. It’s a business card, nothing else.
Bonus Tip: Get a domain for your book and 301 redirect it to your Amazon product page. It’s easy to share via email and social networks.
Are you working on your next book?
Yes, I am. I sincerely want to help self-published authors; hence I am writing a book called the The Art of Book Marketing. Interested people can sign up here: http://book-marketing.org/. I will send my book for FREE to all my beta readers. It will help me get feedback and I can improve my book before the official launch. I have started working on FireYourMentor.com, a platform for self-published authors. It will play a vital role in building an audience and promoting The Art of Book Marketing.
I am also planning to test the waters with a traditional publisher very soon. So far I have self-published all of my books, but I need to know how the traditional publishing industry works.
Matt, thanks a lot for having me.
Below is Harsh’s contact info, drop a question for him in the comments section:
Author Website: Harsh.Im
Amazon Author Profile: http://www.amazon.com/author/harshajyotidas