Posts Tagged Amazon KDP

Improve Amazon KDP Keywords

If you’ve published on Kindle or in paperback via Amazon KDP, you’ll be familiar with the concept of keywords. The purpose of these keywords is to make your book more discoverable in Amazon searches. But deciding which seven keywords or phrases (a keyword can be a short phrase rather than a single word) to use is difficult, especially for works of fiction.

A few days ago I watched an online presentation organised by the the Alliance of Independent Authors, featuring Darren Hardy who is the UK Author and Editorial Programmes Manager at Amazon KDP. He was talking about how to increase book sales via KDP and he gave some useful tips about keywords:

  • Keep them generic but relevant
  • Don’t use punctuation or ‘stop’ words. A ‘stop’ word is something like ‘also’, ‘and’ or ‘because’. These words are skipped over by the automated search logic.
  • Don’t waste words by repeating words already in the book’s title or subtitle.
  • Avoid using things like, ‘brand new’, ‘amazing’, ‘free’ etc.
  • Do not use the names of other authors or the titles of other books.
  • Include synonyms or alternative spellings of words. Readers may use these in their searches.
  • Include the setting of your book.
  • Include character types, e.g. ‘single dad’.
  • Include character roles, e.g. ‘strong female’.
  • Include plot themes, e.g. ‘coming of age’ or ‘forgiveness’.
  • Include the story tone, e.g. ‘feel good’ or ‘dystopian’.

Darren also mentioned the importance of category selection in making a book more discoverable. I’ve previously written about Amazon categories in this post.

If you’d like to generate more sales for a book, it’s well worth reviewing your keywords and categories to see if they can be improved.

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Get Your Book into More Categories on Amazon

Amazon KDP only allows the selection of two categories at the time of publishing a book and it can be difficult to decide which two categories are most important. For example, with Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners, I toyed with, ‘Speaking and Speech Writing’, ‘Communication’, ‘Assertiveness’ and ‘Practical & Motivational Self-Help’ amongst others.Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners
But there is a way to get a book into up to ten categories after publication.

There are two main advantages to a book being in more categories:
• Increased exposure on Amazon. The more categories a book is in, the more people will see it.
• An increased chance of the book gaining one of those coveted little orange ‘bestseller’ badges for a particular category. Some categories are small and therefore the number of sales required to win this badge will be correspondingly fewer.

Before we start, an explanation about categories:
The categories available for selection during the KDP publishing process do not exactly match the categories seen by buyers on Amazon and these categories seen on Amazon can differ between countries and between book formats (e-book, paperback etc.) The categories available during KDP publication are based on the Book Industry Standards and Communications Code. The categories you select are used, along with your keywords, to place the book in Amazon’s own categories. It is Amazon’s own categories that we are interested in for the purpose of this exercise not the BISAC ones.


The steps required to access more Amazon categories are listed below:

  1. Decide on the most appropriate Amazon categories for the book. 
    Go to https://www.amazon.co.uk/ and on the search bar change ‘All’ to ‘Kindle Store’. Click on the Search icon.
    On the left side of the page click “Kindle eBooks” under “Kindle Store” (which is beneath the Department heading). 
    Scroll down a little and the available categories will now be available on the left, beginning with Arts & Photography.
    Click on a category to view subcategories. Choose the most suitable ones and make a list of category paths. As an example here are the first three entries in my list for Public Speaking for Absolute Beginners:
    1. Kindle Store/Kindle eBooks/Education & Reference/Words, Language and Grammar/Public Speaking & Speech Writing
    2. Kindle Store/Kindle eBooks/Education & Reference/Words, Language & Grammar/Speech & Pronunciation
    3. Kindle Store/Kindle eBooks/Education & Reference/Words, Language & Grammar/Communication

  2. When the list is complete: Within your KDP Bookshelf, click the Help tab at the top of the screen. On the next screen, scroll down and click ‘Contact Us’ on the left-hand side of the screen. On the next screen, click ‘Amazon Product Page & Expanded Distribution’ and then select ‘Update Amazon Categories’. You will be presented with a form to fill in with your selected categories, book format, ASIN/ISBN and market place. Press submit.

  3. When your request has been actioned, you will receive a confirmation email and this comes from a real person! The first time I did this I wasn’t explicit enough about the categories and was asked to confirm exactly what I wanted, so pay attention to detail.

  4. It will be necessary to repeat the above exercise for other territories/book formats as you wish. However, for the time being I’ve concentrated my efforts on my UK e-books because that’s my greatest market share.

Do let me know if broadening Amazon categories results in better sales for you. Fingers crossed!

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Using HTML in Amazon Book Descriptions

This is a post for those of you who have self-published on Amazon via Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) or are planning to do so.

KDP requires a Product Description for each book. This is the equivalent of the blurb on the back of a traditional book and it is very important in selling the book. These short paragraphs help readers decide whether or not to buy the book. Therefore the product description must be set out in an easy to read format. This is not as straightforward as it sounds because Amazon doesn’t provide any formatting options within the box where the the product description is keyed i.e. it’s not possible to use bold or italics or bullet points. This means the product descriptions of many self-published books appear flat and uninteresting.

But there is a way to slip formatting into the product description and thus make it more attractive. HTML can be used. HTML stands for Hyper Text Markup Language and is the standard markup language for web pages. DO NOT GLAZE OVER OR RUN AWAY! This is simpler than it sounds.

For example, to make the word ‘thriller’ appear in bold in a product description, use <b> and </b> immediately before and after ‘thriller’.

And, to make the word ‘scare’ appear in italics, use <i> and </i> immediately before and after ‘scare’.

Put ‘A <b>thriller</b> guaranteed to <i>scare</i>.’ in the product description box and it will appear as ‘A thriller guaranteed to scare.’ on the Amazon page.

It’s also possible to use HTML to underline, create lists and give other text effects. This page lists the HTML acceptable in the product description.

To complicate matters, when publishing in paperback through KDP, the product description has a tendency to lose the line breaks. Use <br> to manually indicate where the line breaks should go and use <br> <br> to create a blank line between paragraphs.

Why not experiment with HTML to liven up your book descriptions?

 

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Improvements to KDP Paperback Offering

In 2017 Kindle Direct Publishing introduced the facility for authors to self publish in paperback as well as on Kindle. This meant it was no longer necessary to use Createspace to produce paperbacks for sale on Amazon. However, there was a downside to moving away from Createspace towards KDP paperback publishing – unlike Createspace, KDP paperback publishing didn’t allow authors to order proof copies or author copies (i.e. books for the author to sell direct to the public). I blogged about this previously.

However, that has now changed!

It is now possible to order proof and author copies of paperback books via the KDP Author Bookshelf. According to Amazon, authors will pay just the printing costs plus delivery and any taxes. And the really good news? Copies for the UK and Europe will be printed and shipped from within Europe – an improvement on CreateSpace, which ships from America.

Chris McMullen has written a detailed blog post comparing Createspace and KDP paperback publishing, which is well worth a read if you’re wondering which path to take or whether to switch from Createspace to KDP. He concludes that for most authors KDP is now the better option.

On a personal note, I’m now glad I tried KDP paperback publishing for A Coffee Break Story Collection and will consider switching from Createspace when I need more author copies of Bedsit Three.

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PLR for Ebooks

Public Lending Right (PLR) is on its way for ebooks. Until now only ebooks downloaded on library premises, to fixed terminals and then taken away on loan have qualified for PLR payments. Legislation was passed last month (April 2017), in the Digital Economy Bill, which extends the UK Public Lending Right legislation to include remote loans of ebooks. These new arrangements are expected to apply to loans from July 1st 2018, with the first payments being made in arrears in February 2020.

I have written previously about how to get self-published ebooks into public libraries via the distributor Overdrive but there are a couple of things to bear in mind before rushing off to do so:

  • It is not possible to keep an ebook in KDP Select and make it available through other channels e.g. public library loans
  • Under PLR legislation, loans are collected using ISBNs. Many of the ebooks published through Kindle Direct Publishing have only the Amazon assigned ASIN.

So, this is good news for a lot of authors, who will, in the future, get recompensed for ebook loans. Others will have to take decisions about whether it’s better to stay exclusive to Amazon in KDP Select with its marketing/Kindle Unlimited benefits or go wide to other ebook distributors and obtain an ISBN.

Any traditionally-published/self-published authors have an opinion on this new legislation?

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Generating Publicity

It’s a universal truth that marketing and publicity are difficult skills to master. If an author constantly shouts ‘Buy my book! Buy my book!’ then people get irritated and start pressing ‘unfollow’ or ‘unsubscribe’ (No! Don’t all rush to do that now!). But if the same author says virtually nothing at all then very few people know that he has a book available or how good that book is.

The key is subtlety. And in my own subtle fashion I have been popping up in different places this week.

Gadgette.com is the smart woman’s guide to tech, style and life.  Because I am a smart woman, I was invited to give them 6 Easy (and free!) Steps to Publishing Your First Ebook. It’s only a two-minute read and worth it if you want to find out what this e-publishing lark is all about.

Kobo Writing Life is the self-publishing arm of Kobo (similar to Kindle Direct Publishing) and has a very useful blog. As many of you know, Bedsit Three was shortlisted for a competition partly organised by Kobo, so when the novel was published they invited me to do a blog post for them. Bedsit Three by Sally Jenkins
Birth of a Novel explains how Bedsit Three emerged from NaNoWriMo 2013. If you’re struggling with last few days of this year’s NaNo, you might find some encouragement in this post.

Readers’ Favorite is a US book review website. It’s readers review books for free (sometimes there is a long wait). The review isn’t posted on Amazon but it can be quoted from in book descriptions and it appears on the Readers’ Favorite website. Here’s the Readers’ Favorite verdict on Bedsit Three.

I hope I haven’t irritated you too much – and keep your finger OFF that unsubscribe button!

 

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BookLinker

A year ago I told you about GeoRiot, a service which creates universal Amazon and iTunes links. These universal links detect where visitors live and redirect them to their own national Amazon store. For example, a customer clicking on the link in the US will automatically get directed to Amazon.com and a customer in England will see the equivalent Amazon.co.uk page.

Using these universal links when promoting an e-book online gives both a professional image and a smoother customer journey in two ways:

  • There is no need to list different Amazon links for different countries
  • The customer always lands on the Amazon page where he or she can make an immediate purchase, without having to re-route themselves from Amazon.co.uk to Amazon.com or vice versa.

When GeoRiot first started it was essentially a free service, funded by taking a small percentage of Amazon affiliate earnings. However recently GeoRiot introduced a charge. The first 1,000 clicks per month are free and then the cost is $10 per 10,000 clicks. This charge doesn’t affect the very small user (I haven’t yet paid anything) but all users have to give their credit card details to GeoRiot.

But there is now an alternative which is always free and may suit indie authors better. BookLinker is also managed by GeoRiot but directed specifically at indie authors using Amazon (it will not convert iTunes links). Like GeoRiot, BookLinker provides statistics so that you can see how many clicks you are getting and from where in the world. BookLinker is more basic than GeoRiot but, for most writers, will do the job just as well. I intend to move over to it in the near future.

If you are an Amazon affiliate, both GeoRiot and BookLinker will allow you to include your affiliate code in the links.

There is more useful information about using BookLinker on Nick Daws’ blog, Entrepreneur Writer.

My original post, explaining how universal Amazon links work, is here.

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Updated for 2015 – Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

In February 2014 I pulled together everything I’d learnt about publishing a Kindle e-book and produced Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners. This concise e-book covers everything a writer needs to know in order to publish their first Kindle e-book and it’s written in simple language. Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners

But nothing stays the same and over the last twelve months there have been some changes over at Amazon KDP. For example, UK writers who enter their National Insurance number in the Amazon on-line tax interview (not as scary as it sounds!) no longer have 30% tax withheld on their US royalties, pricing for EU Amazon sites is now inclusive of VAT (see my previous blog post for more information) and it’s now possible to allow pre-orders of a new e-book before it is published.

Therefore, I have updated Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners to reflect these changes plus a few more bits and pieces, such as the advent of Kindle Unlimited allowing e-books enrolled in KDP Select to be borrowed and earn royalties and the ability for authors to run paid-for ad campaigns on Amazon.com.

So, if you’re thinking about e-publishing a collection of short stories, a ‘how-to’ book or a novel then Kindle Direct Publishing for Absolute Beginners will show you the way – and it currently costs less than a nice coffee (but I’m toying with the idea of putting it up slightly to reflect the extra work that’s gone into it).

And remember, the nice thing about e-publishing is that anything goes! There’s no rules about genres or word counts – as long as the product description and price reflect the content.

Extract from one of several 5* Amazon reviews:
“The field of e-publishing through Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing is full of tall grasses and hedges, but Sally’s straightforward advice offered a tidy path for my first foray into becoming an online author! Easy-to-read, this guide is clearly written by a writer who has experience with the format, and can either be read as a standalone account or dipped into as you’re on the Amazon website.”

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