Last week I noticed a lot of complaints in a forum that I lurk over some changes in Amazon’s algorithm over which books it chooses to display in certain places such as the “Also Bought” lists. This was causing some Indie authors to panic as their books were no longer being recommended as often and therefore they were losing sales.
Let me be clear for a second. Amazon doesn’t owe you books sales. Just because you put your book on their site does not mean that you should rely on them to sell your book for you.
That’s your job.
Amazon will help you by getting you more exposure, and once your book starts to take off, the sales magic will kick in as you start appearing on more and more lists allowing more and more people to find you. But this will only happen if you have a good book that is selling well to begin with. You’ll need to help yourself first.
You’ll need to find your own readers.
But luckily if you are a nonfiction indie author like I am, there is a lot you can do to get the ball rolling.
Now I’m going to assume that you already have a blog setup somewhere. If you don’t then that’s the first thing you need to do. As a non-fiction indie you NEED a blog. Seriously. SERIOUSLY. That’s how you’ll find your readers.
Obviously this blog is going to promote your book, but it can’t be just a sales brochure. One thing people want on the web is information. As a nonfiction indie that’s what you excel at. Information. Now while the majority of your info will be in your book, you still need to provide tons of information on your topic on your blog.
This will serve two purposes. The first is that it will provide search engine fodder for those searching online for the info. Those people will then find your blog and get the answer to their search query. Now they might at this stage also see in the sidebar that you’ve written a book on the topic as well. That’s good, although they may not be quite ready to buy just yet. But it establishes you as an expert on the topic. It makes you look goooood.
The information on your blog will also gain readers trust in you. If you are giving away all this great info for free then your book must be AMAZING. So you’ve got to have good content on your site. In fact I would say that you should give away 80% of your best stuff for free.
But Tracey if I give away all my best stuff, then no-one will want to buy my book?
You would think that, but in reality that’s not the case. By giving away your best content on your blog not only will people trust you more (and therefore are more likely to become fans and buy your book), but they’ll LINK to your blog or share it on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook as well.
The more people that see your blog, the more traffic you’ll potentially get. And the more traffic you get the more book sales you get.
And the more book sales you get, the more Amazon WILL help promote your book because they will see how popular you are.
Nonfiction authors have a tremendous advantage over fiction authors in that the web helps connect people searching for information to those that provide it. To be honest I have no idea how to even start to promote a fiction title – but for us, by building a content rich site that people want to read and visit that is related to our topic then it’s going to attract more and more people and we’ll find our fans.
So it doesn’t matter if Amazon changes its algorithms or not. You want the majority of the traffic to be finding you at your blog anyway because you’ll have much higher conversion rates once people trust you.
You still do want to send them to Amazon, and B&N, and iBooks etc to buy your book though because if you do have increasing rankings on these sites (particularly Amazon) then you’ll climb the ranks and make more sales internally. But since you can’t control what happens on Amazon and what searches (for the most part) that you’ll appear on, then you need to use your own site to funnel the traffic there first.
It’s a really exciting time to be an author right now. For the first time we are able to reach our fans directly, interact with them via comments and through email. And of course if you self-publish today you get to keep the bulk of the profits. Ain’t writing life grand …
Now go write a new blog post and find more fans. 😉