Wednesday, September 28, 2016

Launching a book tour? Welcome to the Jungle

By: KL Cooper, Social Media Director for PPW

Well, Amazon DOES have fun and games, and it can surely bring you to your knees… with frustration. AM-A-ZON… (Insert dramatic music here) Practically every published author knows that word and all the negative connotations that go along with it. Often treated with disdain, most authors neither understand this mysterious digital jungle nor do they care to. Did they remove a perfectly good review simply because their spies suspected you KNOW the reviewer? Did your book fail to launch like a rocket after all those pre-orders? I’ve heard many more grumblings about this daunting book seller in the not-so-hallowed halls of social media. It’s easy to become mired in mud and lost under the canopy. Do not despair, dear author, for I bring good news! And machetes. Let’s unpack these suckers and start clearing a path to success.


Yes. Yes, it is. If Amazon doesn’t crack down on abusive sellers who bend the rules by getting their friends or paid services to put up favorable reviews for their book of questionable quality, then Amazon, in turn, will stop making money, and so will you. As the world’s largest retailer of e-books and e-book readers, that’s not a good thing for Amazon or for you. So yes, you may have had a review or two removed, but you have to understand how many books they are trying to quality control on a daily basis to keep their credibility. The reason for keeping reviews honest is so that potential buyers can have confidence in that five-star rating. The solution? It’s got two parts. 1) Get more reviews. (That’s a whole other topic—so, let me know in the comments if you’d like me to talk about that in the future or expound on any other points here, because I’m just skipping stones off the surface of a very expansive lake—yes, this jungle has a lake.) 2) Do not simply copy and paste the URL for your book’s Amazon page to solicit reviews from your friends and family. Amazon uses that to track where the review came from.


Amazon is a search engine. Just like Google, your Amazon success has more to do with how you position your book with relevant keywords than it does with how many times you tweeted about it or asked all your Facebook friends to buy it. If you want your webpage to show up at the top of a Google search, you have to know a thing or two about SEO (Search Engine Optimization) or hire someone who does. The same goes for Amazon. Make sure your book is in the right category and sub-category listing. Then, use targeted keywords in your book blurb to attract Amazon’s search party. This is not the ONLY way to get your book on that coveted first page of search results, but it’s a good start. A super easy way to get those keywords is to search books in your genre and see what appears in the first twenty listings. Check out their copy and see what words they have in common. Also, when you start to fill out the search box, Amazon makes suggestions, much like Google does. Pay attention. Those suggestions are NOT random.


Amazon uses a fairly simple algorithm to determine sales rank. This could change at any moment, but for now, this is how it works. Did you know that Amazon ranking favors long-term sales over short-term spikes? Each sale or download counts for 1 point toward that day’s “score.” The tally of today’s points are added to half of yesterday’s score, and so on. This means that dips in your ranking that may seem arbitrary could actually be due to the long term performance of competing books. So, what about that awesome promotion you just ran that sold 500 copies in a few days? The ranking effect of a sales spike will quickly fade as the promotion ends and your book sales drop back down to “normal” numbers. That other book that only sold 150 copies will outrank you again after a week or two, because their “normal” numbers, which are usually above yours, remained steady (Again, please let me know if you’d like to hear more about that in a future post.) But the take-away here is this: don’t fret if your book launch doesn’t spike your initial ranking (Amazon counted your pre-orders on the days they were made). Or, if your promotion didn’t result in a longer run at the top. That’s actually a good thing. Slow and steady progress will get you through the jungle more effectively than setting fire to the underbrush.


I’d like to tip my pith helmet to Chris Fox (a YouTuber and writer) for this next section. Be careful who you push your book to when you launch it. Amazon needs to “learn” who your book appeals to so it can recommend it in the “readers also bought” section of their product pages. Asking all your friends and family to rally and buy your book may seem like a great strategy, but you could be killing your book’s long term success as cook books and romances show your military sci-fi book as an “also bought” recommendation. It’s better to target your book sales to the kinds of readers who would buy your book organically. Meaning, they didn’t buy it simply out of pity or to show support. If targeted readers buy your book, then Amazon knows who to market it to and will largely do the work for you! You can watch Chris Fox’s video on this here à


Not perfect? Surprised? Probably not. Despite its flaws, Amazon was, and continues to be, a game changer. There are few places independent authors can sell their books to such a large audience. Amazon is challenging to be sure, but it’s worth taking a whack at. Just be sure to bring the “write” tools for the job.

About the Author: KL Cooper spends most of her free hours writing PNR, but when she’s not doing that, she’s rocking social media for Pikes Peak Writers or creating new graphics and book covers for other writers through UnderCover Press. You can connect with her anywhere on social media using these handles: @KLCequalsME @UnderCoverKLC @FleshandFeather


  1. Appreciate the details on this topic.

  2. Thanks a lot. I just discovered I was a bit too naïve (to be euphemistic!)?

    Do you have any books to recommend reading on the subject?

  3. Nice to read your article! I am looking forward to sharing your adventures and experiences.
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