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Understanding Amazon by Alison Stuart

This week Alison Stuart talks about Amazon and her latest release, The King's Man.

Award winning Australian author, Alison Stuart learned her passion from history from her father. She has been writing stories since her teenage years but it was not until 2007 that her first full
length novel was published. Alison has now published 6 full length historical romances and a collection of her short stories.  Her disposition for writing about soldier heroes may come from her varied career as a lawyer in the military and fire services. These days when she is not writing she is travelling and routinely drags her long suffering husband around battlefields and castles.


Connect with Alison at her websiteFacebookTwitter and Goodreads.

UNDERSTANDING AMAZON

 

Does anyone really understand how the great ‘Zon works when it comes to books (or really any other kind of product – but I only deal in books)? There is mention of mysterious algorithims and the words ‘SEO’ and ‘Discoverability’ are thrown around like confetti.

Let me begin by saying I am a ‘Hybrid’ author… I have several books published through Escape Publishing (the digital imprint of Harlequin Australia) and I have several books I independently publish. I have no control over my 3rd party published books but I do over the ones I independently publish.

I had my indie books spread across all the platforms – through Smashwords and separately on Kindle. They were doing OK but Amazon was my mainstay. In July last year they didn’t just tank, they stopped selling altogether. Why? I suspected at the time it was to do with Kindle Unlimited coming on line and effectively any indie authors not prepared to commit books to Amazon exclusively were relegated to the end of the queue in that great mysterious ‘algorithim’.

For 12 months I watched my sales figures slide and in July this year I decided SOMETHING had to be done. SOMETHING RADICAL. At that time I signed up to an online course offered by English author Nick Stephenson and the ‘Ah Ha’ moments began.

What did I learn?

1.      Amazon is NOT a book shop it is a search engine – the same as Google and if you want readers to discover your books, you need to understand ‘search engine optimisation’.

2.      Key to discoverability is having the correct KEYWORDS. As I mentioned I have no control over my 3rd party books which may explain why my regency romance,  LORD SOMERTON’S HEIR ended up as #1 in Vikings, but I do control my own books so I went back and changed my categories and keywords.

How do you find which are the right keywords for your book? Open Amazon.com and imagine you are a reader trying to find a new historical romance. Type ‘Historical Romance’ into the search bar and what do you get…






Things to note about this screen shot

·         In the top right hand corner you will see there are 205,472 results for ‘Historical Romance”… and you wonder why no one ever discovers your books?

·         What you will also see in the right hand column are break downs of historical romance… these are the ones you want to aim for eg. Regency Historical Romance etc. Keep typing the search terms into the search bar and narrow down the number of other books showing in the results. Optimum is about 1000 books.

Having fixed my keywords, what did I do then?

·         I moved all my indie books over to Kindle Unlimited. Yes I sold out to the devil.

·         I recovered and retitled 2 of my books so ‘keywords’ showed up on the cover eg ‘SECRETS IN TIME’, A Time travel Romance.

·         I ran my first ‘free’ promo with a Book Bub ad. You have no idea how counter intuitive this was for me! However I got 31k downloads and hit several best seller lists (which continued into paid after the free promo ended). I accept only a small proportion will ever read the book they downloaded but what I did see was my book, HER REBEL’S HEART, appear on the first page of several general searches. Type in English Civil War Romance and there she is… ready to be discovered.
·         The tangible benefit has been in reviews, sign ups to my email list and from a monetary point of view the number of readers in the KU program who downloaded my book.

I still have a long, long way to go… away from promotions, my books still struggle but what I am doing is maintaining my author rank and my discoverability on Amazon. I am still doing MUCH better than I was 6 months ago.

So if you are indie published and your book sales are flagging, have a look at your keywords and categories, whether those keywords appear on your cover and  in your book descriptions. It may feel like a small step but it is worth investigating further.



Alison’s latest release THE KING’S MAN

The second in a tantalising trilogy from award-winning author Alison Stuart, about warriors, the wounds they carry, and the women that help them heal.

London 1654: Kit Lovell is one of the King’s men, a disillusioned Royalist who passes his time cheating at cards, living off his wealthy and attractive mistress, and plotting the death of Oliver Cromwell.

Penniless and friendless, Thamsine Granville has lost everything.  Terrified, in pain, and alone, she hurls a piece of brick at the coach of Oliver Cromwell, and earns herself an immediate death sentence. Only the quick thinking of a stranger saves her.

Far from the bored, benevolent rescuer that he seems, Kit plunges Thamsine into his world of espionage and betrayal – a world that has no room for falling in love.

Torn between Thamsine and loyalty to his master and King, Kit’s carefully constructed web of lies begins to unravel. He must make one last desperate gamble – the cost of which might be his life.

BUY THE KING’S MAN:  AMAZONiBooks, and where all good Ebooks are sold (see Escape Publishingfor the full list)





TO CELEBRATE THE LAUNCH OF THE KING’S MAN, ALISON IS GIVING AWAY A KINDLE EREADER TO A LUCKY READER. CLICK HERE TO ENTER THE RAFFLECOPTER CONTEST.
 
 


28 comments:

  1. Great post! Keywords are vital, and that's a good idea to add keywords that work for yor book as a subtitle. I've found that ads are key in gaining any traction these days too.

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    1. That's interesting, Cherie. I have given up on ads for exactly the opposite reason. I guess it depends on genre and timing.

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  2. Great post Alison! I've been pleased with KU as well. Still I'll be sure to check those key words.

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    1. That's great, Lee and yes be sure to give your keywords a spring clean. You'll be surprised!

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  3. What a great tip! I probably haven't chosen the key words for my book very well at all. I'll definitely look into it. Thanks!

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    1. I only really skimmed the surface of this topic... but I hope it is a bit of a help. Key is to think like a reader looking for your book!

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    2. Thank you for sharing Alison, I hope I can get my publisher to do something with my key words.

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  4. Thanks so much for this info and advice! Off to check the keywords for my books. :)

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    1. As I just said to the last poster, the key is to think like a reader...

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  5. Great advice! Amazon definitely confuses me at times and I wish I had more control over my keywords!

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  6. That's really good advice and something I never would have thought of.

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    1. Me niether, Mary. It was doing Nick Stephensons course that opened my eyes!

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  7. Great advice. Thanks so much.
    The King's Man sounds like a winner.

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  8. I've seen one review and I was totally interested in reading this... I do love historical romances as you learn more about the past ♡

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    1. Hi Launna... lots of terrific reviews for The King's Man on Amazon and Goodreads. It's a story that's a little bit different and totally grounded in historical facts!

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  9. I've played around with keywords on my self published titles (I'm a hybrid author, too) and I definitely noticed a difference.

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    1. Glad to hear that, Kelly. It is also about working your keywords into your title and blurb too that helps with discoverability. Seriously an author could spend their whole time just on this aspect of the business. #mustwriteabook

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  10. What great tips! Alison really knows about Amazon secrets!

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    1. Thanks, Lexa but I wouldn't go that far. I think I have only just grasped the tip of the massive iceberg that is Amazon. If I really understood it I would be a permanent fixture on the best seller lists... which I'm not!

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  11. As a reader rather than a writer I found this intriguing. An author's lot is a great deal more complicated than I had ever realised, and the hard work certainly doesn't stop when the book is published.

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  12. That's a lot of hard yakka, but the training in your previous life, regarding research, would be beneficial in that regard. So glad you're moving forwards, Alison. I'll have to keep closer tabs on you to check up on your outcome. All the best for super results.

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  13. It's certainly important to have good key words so you can be found on Amazon.

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  14. What an eye opening post. I had heard that key words were important on Amazon- but no one ever spelled it out and I didn't quite know what they were talking about. Things are very clear now. Thanks for sharing and wishing Alison the best of luck. I like the sound of her latest book. :)
    ~Jess

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  15. Fantastic post. I learned a lot.

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  16. Interesting! I wonder if my publisher is using SEO when typing my book description. Of course, I've found even with Google, I can put "books for tween girls" and similar keywords on my website all I want, but there are so darn many other sites out there that have those keywords, I can't even make a dent!

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  17. Hello, Alison! Congrats and best of luck.

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