10 Things Authors Should Know About Retailing on Amazon

By: George Hancock Jr.  |  February 25, 2015

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If you’re thinking about selling your book on Amazon, Brooke Warner has some points for you to think about. This post shall serve as a condensed version of hers and should help you learn some things if you’re not already an Amazon expert.

1. Your Amazon Ranking is not related to sales.

Your ranking is really just an indicator of how many people are looking at your page. While more views is better, views don’t always lead to sales.

2. When Amazon says there are few books left in stock, it may not be representative of the real situation.

According to Brooke, Amazon prints books on demand. That’s a scenario in which “Only 3 left in stock – order soon” doesn’t mean much.

3. More reviews means better visibility to potential buyers (we think).

Authors report their sales really starting to grow after they receive 50 reviews. Thus, 50 reviews gets you noticed by Amazon’s algorithm. After that, the more reviews, the better.

4. CreateSpace uses Ingram’s services to get its books to the trade.

If you use CreateSpace, you might want to upload your book to Ingram as well. It has a better reach and a more streamlined system. Use CreateSpace for any usefulness it has as an Amazon Partner and use Ingram for everything else.

5. Use the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” feature to your advantage.

Once you’ve begun to establish yourself, encourage your readers to buy a book that you want to be associated with yours (by Amazon’s algorithms). If you pick a well-known author, people who browse that author’s books may see your book in the “Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought” section.

6. Amazon wants to control the price of your book.

All powerful retailers have the ability to do this.  Amazon gives you a much higher share of the sales price (70%) if you price your book between $2.99 and $9.99. If you don’t do that, you’ll get 30%. Like it or not, that’s the way it works.

7. Amazon may discount your book, but you don’t lose money.

If Amazon chooses to discount your book, the total profits on sales will be less.  However, Amazon will pay you as if the book sells at its regular price. It forfeits money on its share of the profits, but you don’t lose on yours. Amazon might even lose money on your book when they discount it, but you will not be adversely affected.

8. Update your profile and claim your books via Author Central.

This will generally improve your visibility. You’ll also get access to sales statistics and customer service.

9. Author Central’s sales information tab doesn’t give you the best possible stats.

Unfortunately, your stats may not be as accurate as you’d like them to be. Warner says it will probably report about 70% of your sales and it’s not a good tool for benchmarking.

10. Amazon is friendlier to authors than to publishers.

You’ll get excellent customer service if you’re self-published. However, Amazon seems not to understand the limitations of authors who are working with publishing houses, according to Warner. Take advantage of all the tools Amazon provides and work with your publisher, not around them. Also, don’t rely on Amazon only. For most publishers, it accounts for only about 30%-40% of sales.

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