Amazon - for Indie Authors

Contributing Author: Cyaxrex

Selling Books on Amazon - Indie Author Sales Hacks

Amazon attracts independent authors more successfully than the average ultraviolet light does flying insects. All dream of being the next Danielle Steele, Stephen King, or Stephenie Meyer. However, for the vast majority of indie authors, selling e-books on Amazon is ultimately loss-making.

How Much do Authors on Amazon Earn?

Amazon revolutionized the publishing world when Kindle Direct Publishing opened its doors to indie authors in 2007. However, selling e-books on Amazon isn’t the money-spinner many people imagine it to be.

Of 200,000 authors selling e-books on Amazon in 2016, only 5,000 hit sales figures topping $10,000. Of authors who did make $10,000 or more, over half were traditionally-published authors. The chance of retiring early on e-book royalties for most indie authors is, therefore, a slim one. The only question is, could you be part of the 1% who do make it?

How to Sell Books on Amazon & Succeed Where Other Authors Fail

Because only 1% of aspiring indie authors make enough to make a living on Amazon, it is crucial never to rush publishing an e-book. Doing so only ever leads to disappointment. Moreover, when it comes to sales hacks, there is also only one which is guaranteed to work.

Don’t Just Write an e-Book, Write a Good e-Book

Everyone selling e-books on Amazon think that they have what it takes to be the next J. K. Rowling. In reality, most don’t. However, this isn’t always because indie authors aren’t talented.

Most traditionally-published authors spend several years working on manuscripts. When they are finished, they invest in professional proofing and editing. By comparison, most indie authors cut corners at every step of the creative process.

The average length of a traditionally-published manuscript is 80,000-words. By comparison, most indie author manuscripts average just 40,000-words in length

Most indie authors poof and edit manuscripts themselves

Traditionally-published authors spend years working on manuscripts. In contrast, most indie authors try to condense entire creative processes into 24-months or less

Slow Down Your Creative Process

Because only 1% of indie authors selling e-books on Amazon hit meaningful sales targets, it never pays to rush writing or skip proofing and editing. At the very least, indie authors need to let manuscripts ‘rest’ for six months or more.

Almost every indie author has read one of their e-books a few months after publishing and felt overwhelmed by glaring plot holes and spelling and grammar errors. For this reason, it pays to put down manuscripts for six months after writing. Returning to them later will then help authors better polish their writing.

Invest in Professional e-Book Formatting & Cover Design

As well as cutting creative corners when writing e-books, many indie authors cut corners when it comes to preparing e-books for distribution. However, amateur looking e-books don’t sell well.

If you need to create your own e-book cover, use tools like Canva to create a professional-looking design

Never upload Word files or PDFs directly to Amazon. Either invest in having manuscripts formatted into .epub or .mobi files, or learn how to use programs like Sigil to do this yourself

Don’t Just Start Selling e-Books on Amazon

Indie authors who don’t rush the creative process and who present books professionally, sell more books on Amazon than authors who do otherwise. However, indie authors also need to decide whether or not to publish exclusively on Amazon.

When e-book authors publish exclusively with Kindle Direct Publishing, Amazon puts several promotional tools at their disposal. However, granting Amazon exclusive sales rights is a high price to pay for the occasional free giveaway.

Given the above, authors should always consider publishing e-books on alternative platforms like Smashwords. Authors who do, after all, can then publish e-books simultaneously across several platforms including Amazon, the iBook Store, and Barnes & Noble.

Publish in Print and Invest in an ISBN

One benefit of self-publishing (exclusively or not) with Amazon in 2019, rests with the fact that Amazon makes it easy to publish print editions of books, by partnering with Create Space. When authors do so, they can also purchase an International Standard Book Number (ISBN).

With an ISBN, self-published print on demand books can be ordered in-store in real-world bookstores. Syndicating ISBN details to fans and followers on social media can, therefore, sometimes help put books on the radar of major retailers.

(In every case, though, a book will still need to be worth reading before anyone will buy it.)