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You will need a couple of things before getting started with these freakishly helpful Amazon tricks:

  • Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) account. If you’ve already self-published your book through Amazon KDP, then this is a no-brainer. In case you’re new to the publishing world, watch my 15-minute how-to video: Amazon KDP Print & Ebook Tutorial.
  • Amazon Author Central account. To set up your Amazon Author Central account, make sure you’re already signed in to your KDP account and follow the prompts. Be sure to add your book to your Amazon Author Central account if you haven’t already. Once you’ve set up your account, you should have a URL like this: amazon.com/author/shaylaraquel. Having an Amazon author page allows your headshot, bio, and other information to show up on each book page you own, like so:

Get it? Got it? Good! Now on to the tricks:

1. Request eight extra browse categories (for a total of ten).

When you set up your book on Amazon KDP, you’re asked to choose two categories—or genres—for your book. The more specific you get, the better. For example, rather than a broad genre such as Science Fiction & Fantasy, go the niche route with Cyberpunk. This means you are choosing drop-down options to get to that subgenre: 

Science Fiction & Fantasy > Science Fiction > Cyberpunk

Once you’ve ensured your two KDP categories are as specific as possible, it’s time to request eight more! Here’s how:

  1. Find a category you want to rank in that you didn’t choose in Amazon KDP. For example: Workplace Behavior.
  2. Go to your Amazon Author Central account and click the Help button. Select Contact Us on the right-hand side.
  3. Select My Books under Select an issue.
  4. Select Update information about a book under Select details.
  5. Select Browse Categories in the fields that appear.
  6. Select I want to update my book’s browse categories.
  7. Select Email as the method through which Amazon should contact you.
  8. Type in your name and email address and write the following: “I’d like my book, (TITLE) with ASIN number (ASIN NUMBER), to be added to the following category: Workplace Behavior. (PASTE THE FULL CATEGORY STRING HERE).” A category string looks like this: Kindle Store > Kindle eBooks > Business & Money > Organizational Behavior > Workplace Behavior.
  9. Wait for an approval email from Amazon.

Pro Tip: I recommend keeping a running list of these categories in a Google Doc so you don’t forget. Here’s what a list of 10 browse categories looks like for my latest author, Bobby D. Eaton, for The Boy in the Window: A Mennonite Memoir:

  1. Mennonite Christianity (Kindle Store) — 1st main KDP category
  2. Dysfunctional Relationships — 2nd main KDP category
  3. Amish Christianity — Requested
  4. Spiritual Warfare — Requested
  5. Memoirs — Requested
  6. Men’s Inspirational — Requested
  7. Biographies of Christianity — Requested
  8. Cults — Requested
  9. Spiritual Self-Help — Requested
  10. Personal Transformation — Requested

2. Bold, italicize, and bullet your blurb. 

Your blurb should stand out. Since this article isn’t meant to teach you how to write a compelling blurb, what I mean in this case is that it should really pop! You can use bold, italics, bullets, and numbered lists to make your blurb stand out on Amazon.

Here’s what you need to do:

  1. Sign in to Amazon Author Central. 
  2. Click Books at the top of the dashboard.
  3. Select the book you want to work with.
  4. Under Product Description, click Edit.
  5. Use the bold, italics, bullet, and/or numbering tools.
  6. Click Preview to make sure it looks good.
  7. Use hard returns (shift + return) to add paragraph spaces.

Before

After

Pro Tip #1: I always use this free tool to convert my text to HTML and then paste it into the Edit HTML block next to Compose: Seller App Amazon Product Description Editor. 

Pro Tip #2: Learn how to write blurbs for novels here: Writing Compelling Book Blurbs.

3. Use phrases such as “how to cook vegan food” or “how to help an alcoholic” for nonfiction keywords.

In Amazon KDP, you are allowed seven keywords. Amazon KDP provides a list of keywords to avoid, such as:

  • Information covered elsewhere in your book’s metadata (title, contributors, etc.)
  • Subjective claims about quality (e.g. “best novel ever”)
  • Spelling errors
  • Quotation marks in search terms. Single words work better than phrases, and specific words work better than general ones. If you enter “complex suspenseful whodunit,” only people who type all of those words will find your book. For better results, enter this: complex suspenseful whodunit. Customers can search for any of those words and find your book
  • And more! Read them all here: Make Your Book More Discoverable with Keywords.

Coming up with keywords for novels, it seems, is a cinch. But sometimes my nonfiction authors get stuck. I’ve seen more success with nonfiction keywords being used like a Google search term. For example, rather than the keyword “memoir writing,” I would recommend “how to write a memoir.”

Look at the photos below. Would you rather compete with 10,000 books or 1,000?

Pro Tip: When choosing keywords, don’t duplicate anything. For example, if your book’s title or subtitle uses the word “abuse” in it, then don’t use that keyword in your list of 7 keywords for Amazon KDP. Rather, try “trauma” instead. Or better: “childhood trauma healing.”

4. Add Editorial Reviews or From the Author content.

It’s time to sign in to Amazon Author Central once more. I love these features so much as a reader and as an author. If you want to add more content to your Amazon page, then you can do so by clicking Books, choosing the book you want to work with, and clicking Edit on any of the following:

  • Review (also known as Editorial Reviews)
    • Got endorsements or brilliant reviews? Add them here! 
  • From the Author
    • Use this space for a quick interview, a brief excerpt, or any best-seller stats. 
  • From the Inside Flap
    • Did you print a hardcover with a dust jacket? Then that content can go here.
  • From the Back Cover
    • Your back cover content might not be the blurb itself. For example, Shari Bower, the author of Before They Executed Him: A Wife’s Story of Death Row uses the back cover content to show off a Washington Post quote from a reporter. I’ve also had poets use this space for a sneak peek at their strongest poem.
  • About the Author
    • Your bio already shows up once you’ve added it to your Author Central account, but some authors use this space to list their awards or accolades. 

5. Find your target audience, the best pricing for your book, and the most relevant categories using the search bar.

My dad, a business owner, taught me a very valuable lesson as a kid that I’ve used throughout adulthood: Keep an eye on your competition. I want you to know everything about your competition. I do market research for my clients, and here’s a sneak peek at what I did for Martina Wing, author of Notch, the Rescued Dolphin:

  1. A Whale of a Tale! All about Porpoises, Dolphins, and Whales
    1. Categories & Rankings (Kindle): 
      1. #81 in Children’s Water Books (Kindle Store)
      2. #312 in Children’s Marine Life Stories
      3. #237 in Children’s Mammal Books (Kindle Store)
    2. Categories & Rankings (Hardcover):
      1. #31 in Children’s Oceanography Books
      2. #137 in Children’s Mammal Books (Books)
      3. #32 in Children’s Water Books (Books)
    3. Prices:
      1. Kindle: $9.99 — too high, which is why his rankings are low; but it could be to sway people to purchase his discounted hardcover copies
      2. Hardcover: $7.99 (Retail: $9.99)
    4. Notes:
      1. 87 reviews
      2. Traditionally published, which explains the high ebook price
  2. Inky the Octopus 
    1. Categories & Rankings (Hardcover):
      1. #3573 in Children’s Humor
      2. #268 in Children’s Marine Life Books
      3. #3602 in Children’s Action & Adventure Books (Books)
    2. Prices:
      1. Hardcover: $13.25 (Retail: $17.99)
      2. No Kindle — Shocking. I have no idea why they don’t have that out yet.
    3. Notes:
      1. 53 ratings
      2. Traditionally published
      3. Not a dolphin, I know. But a great book, which I personally own and have read, with a few things to learn. In the blurb, the first two lines are straight from the book, which was smart. The cover says it’s “based on a real-life aquatic escape,” which tells me, if it’s not too late, that you could do something similar on your cover. Definitely in the blurb on Amazon, if not the cover!
  3. If Sharks Disappeared
    1. Categories & Rankings (Kindle):
      1. #32 in Children’s Marine Life Stories
      2. #5 in Children’s Earth Sciences Books (Kindle Store)
      3. #27 in Children’s Earth Sciences Books (Books)
    2. Categories & Rankings (Hardcover):
      1. #316 in Children’s Marine Life Books
      2. #67 in Children’s Earth Sciences Books (Books)
    3. Categories & Rankings (Paperback):
      1. What on earth. No categories for paperback!
    4. Prices:
      1. Paperback: $10.95
      2. Hardcover: $14.99 (Retail: $17.99)
      3. Kindle: $9.99
    5. Notes:
      1. 73 ratings
      2. The 1-star reviews are quite interesting.

But what are you supposed to do with this information? All sorts of things.

  1. Save the categories for later so you can select the strongest two KDP categories and request eight more categories from Amazon Author Central.
  2. Determine the best pricing for your genre and book-length by taking note of the prices listed from your market research. 
  3. Take note of any 5-star reviews by any notable book bloggers or endorsements by relevant influencers under Editorial Reviews. Save their names so you can reach out to them.
  4. Dig into the negative reviews. What can you learn from them?
  5. Reach out to some of these authors—since they write in your genre—and ask to write a guest blog for them or see if they need another podcast guest. 

That’s all for now, writers! There are plenty more freakishly helpful Amazon tricks, but that should get you started for now. Have fun!