Optimizing your Amazon page will maximize your sales. A good Amazon page will make all your other marketing efforts more effective. Conversely, a bad Amazon page will adversely affect your sales, and it can torpedo all your other marketing efforts.
So how do you create a great Amazon sales page?
I interviewed one of the foremost experts in the world on Amazon page optimization. Bryan Cohen is the cohost of the Sell More Books Show and has written copy for thousands of Amazon sales pages. He’s a USA Today bestselling author with over 100,000 books sold. He’s the founder of Amazon Ad School and Best Page Forward (Affiliate Link).
Through Best Page Forward, Bryan and his team have written over 2,500 Amazon sales pages, which is more than most copywriters from traditional publishers have ever written.
What is an Amazon sales page (or book page)?
Thomas Umstattd, Jr.: What exactly is an Amazon book page?
Bryan Cohen: Many of us shop on Amazon and see sales pages for socks and protein bars, but there are also sales pages for your books.
An Amazon sales page is where online book buyers who haven’t yet purchased your book will see the information about it. Your sales page shows your title, cover, book description, and how many customer reviews you have.
Is my Amazon page still important in 2020?
Thomas: How important is my Amazon sales page in this new decade?
Bryan: In my opinion, the Amazon sales page matters now more than ever because more books are published and listed on Amazon every year. And every year, more people are doing more shopping on Amazon. To stand out from the rest, you must have your Amazon sales page optimized.
It’s easy to copy and paste text and assume it’s good, but minor changes can make a positive difference.
How did you get started with Amazon book page optimization?
Thomas: You weren’t an expert on Amazon sales pages when you began. How did you get started?
Bryan: I have been a freelance writer since 2008, and I was doing ghostwriting for CEOs for articles in Forbes and Fast Company. I was writing how-to articles on ehow.com and other sites. I started cohosting the Sell More Books Show in 2014, and I was really into authors.
At the time, I was in a mastermind with Simon Whistler of the Rocking Self-Publishing podcast. Simon told me I should combine my freelance work with my author work. I thought it was a good idea, and I planned to help authors optimize their book descriptions. I created my sales page on my website and announced it on the podcast that week. I got 100 orders in the first 30 days.
At that time, it was priced much lower than it is now.
Thomas: There is a lot of demand because, as James L. Rubart says, “It’s hard to read the label when you’re standing inside the bottle.” Those few paragraphs about your book are so important but also so difficult for the author to write. It’s often the hardest writing an author has to do.
What are the different elements of an Amazon sales page?
I’m looking at the sales page for How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis by Bryan Cohen. My eyes are first drawn to the book cover. How do you design a good book cover that will work on Amazon?
Bryan: A good book cover starts with understanding and researching your genre. How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis is a nonfiction book for authors. Many nonfiction books have a large title, an object in the bottom third of the cover, and then the author name, which is either at the top or bottom.
When you look at 20-30 book covers in your genre, you’ll start seeing some patterns. You want a book cover that fits those patterns. Readers may say they want something unique and dynamic, but in reality, their brain responds to cues of familiarity. Your goal for your cover, whether you write epic fantasy or romance, is to evoke the style of your subgenre. Your cover designer may not do the research, so you may need to do the research for them.
Thomas: We created a Book Cover Design Brief to help you communicate with your designer. Don’t assume they’re doing research. Even if they do, a good design brief will be a great starting point. You can learn more by listening to our episode about How to Create a Design Brief for Your Book Cover, and you can download the free Book Cover Design Brief.
When I worked for a traditional publisher in my early years, traditional publishers found white covers no longer worked. In the 90s, a white book with different elements would pop off the shelf in a striking way. But when you put a white book on an Amazon page, the white cover makes it look like the text is floating on the page.
Choose any color except white for the background of your book.
What is the strategy for a good title on an Amazon page?
Thomas: Your book title is “How to Write a Sizzling Synopsis: A Step-by-Step System for Enticing New Readers, Selling More Fiction, and Making Your Books Sound Good.”
What’s the strategy for creating a good title for an Amazon page?
Bryan: Particularly with nonfiction, you want to stoke the keyword SEO, even if you’re not doing it to get Google traffic. Many aspects of an Amazon page aren’t SEO searchable. For example, if you put a weird character name in your book description and search for that name on Google, it won’t show up in Google’s search results.
One of the formulas for a nonfiction description is
- Slightly artistic title
- Info-packed subtitle, which tells readers that the book will solve their problem.
Thomas: A subtitle makes the specific promise of how the reader’s life will be better if they buy this book. If your promise is clear and resonates with your target reader, they’re likely to buy your book.
With nonfiction, you’re actually selling a transformed life. You promise the reader that your book will transform some aspect of their life because it will solve their problem.
What are some strategies for writing an Amazon page for a fiction title?
Bryan: I still like a subtitle that explains the genre, especially if it’s the first book in a series. I often see authors use subtitles like “A Thrilling New Adventure with Keyword A, B, and C.” That’s not the greatest way to use keywords.
A good subtitle would be something like “A Young Adult Superhero Novel” or “A Detective Thriller.” A new reader won’t necessarily know what your book is, so there’s nothing wrong with telling them right away.
Thomas: When you say genre, you mean your subtitle should indicate your specific sub-sub-genre.
Bryan: Yes. If you’re trying to appeal to sub-genre readers, a subtitle like “An Amateur Female Sleuth Novel” is nice for searchability. It also helps readers immediately get a feel for what kind of book it is. Sometimes we get too creative with our titles, and they become unclear to the readers.
Which elements does the Amazon search engine look at?
Bryan: Amazon looks at the title, the seven keywords and phrases you chose, the metadata, and your author name. The words in your description may be found on Google, but they’re not searchable on Amazon.
Thomas: Amazon sometimes indexes reader reviews, even though they don’t index your description. It’s really hit and miss, and it depends on how many reviews you have and how common the particular phrase is. For technical products, sometimes reviews are indexed.
However, books are a “low-consideration” product, and readers will take a quick look at the elements of your page and make a buying decision in a matter of seconds or minutes. For a high-consideration purchase, such as a $1,500 computer, consumers will spend hours reading through the page, asking questions in the forum, and deliberating about the purchase until they’re comfortable.
Not so with a $2.99 ebook. Readers won’t study your sales page, so it needs to be immediately clear. That’s why you must write it in a way that pops. No human will pay more attention to your sales page than you do.
What is your strategy when it comes to reviews?
Bryan: More is better. Amazon recently merged international reviews, leaving them as ratings on your US page. Sizzling Synopsis used to have 255 reviews, and now it has 302 ratings.
You’re always looking to hit that next milestone, whether you’re aiming for five, ten, 50, or 100.
Getting early reviews is more important than making early sales. If you have to sacrifice 20 sales at the beginning by giving away review copies to get ten new reviews, that social proof will help you get 300 sales in the future.
Thomas: Your first reviews set the tone for future reviews. Research shows that in brainstorming sessions, the earliest loudest voices have the most impact, even if they don’t have the best ideas. The same is true for your reviews.
How can authors get more reviews?
Thomas: Besides giving away review copies, how can authors get more reviews?
Set up an email list where people can get free review copies. There are some paid tools to help you:
You might consider connecting with an author who writes similar books and is at relatively the same place in their career. Ask if you can share your ARCs with their readers. It might be that their readers have been clamoring for a new book, and yours is just the ticket.
Thomas: I love the idea of connecting with another author. More than likely, the readers who like your writing will also like the books you like to read. So when you recommend a book you like, your readers will probably like it too.
You are offering it to the ARC team, not the author. Amazon does not allow authors to leave reviews on competing products, and you could find yourself in Amazon jail if you do. So offer it to readers, not to authors.
More reviews are better than high reviews. It’s better to have 50 reviews consisting of three, four, and five-star reviews than it is to have 15 five-star reviews.
Is the blurb still important if Amazon doesn’t index it?
Thomas: After the cover, title, and reviews, there is a big block of text called the description or the blurb. Tell us about the importance of the blurb.
Bryan: Researchers have used heat map technology to see where people click on a certain page. People pay little attention to the cover because they have already seen it in the search results. When they click on the cover, they don’t stare at the cover on the sales page, but they do examine the title and reviews closely.
The last thing they look at before they make their purchasing decision is the book description.
You want your book description optimized to bring out the best parts of your book. Make it clear what your book is about and what kind of character journey your protagonist will take. All of that must be front and center in your description.
Thomas: You can use some light HTML in your description. It’s not simply a wall of text. A tiny bit of web design experience can be helpful. For example, a series of bullets is a strong strategy for a nonfiction book. You can do a lot with a little HTML. You can format the text to make it more readable.
What mistakes do people make on their Amazon pages?
Thomas: The next major element on the page is called “also-boughts.” You’ll see a line that says, “Customers who bought this also bought…” and then it lists some books. What are the mistakes people make when it comes to also-boughts?
Bryan: When you run deals with promotional sites, be careful about the kind of sites you’re using. It doesn’t mean you can’t use promo sites, but they tend to work better for genre fiction.
I’ve had situations where I’ve polluted my own nonfiction also-boughts by doing a discount promo with paleo cookbooks. For a while, only paleo books appeared in my also-boughts.
I had to slowly but surely rebuild my also-boughts by running Amazon ads to the books I wanted to appear with mine.
Thomas: This can be reciprocal. Your book might be on the also-boughts of one of your competitors. To get featured in the also-boughts beside a competing book, you want to target your ads to their book. You might not appear in their also-boughts, but you’ll appear in the second row of “Sponsored Items.”
If enough customers find your cover and appealing, you’ll earn your way to your competitor’s also-boughts, and then their book will be in yours as well.
That’s one way to build your credibility with readers. If a reader hasn’t heard of you, but they’ve heard of the other three authors in the also-bought list, you will benefit from the credibility the other three authors already have simply by appearing in a list with them.
Also-boughts can also get polluted when you don’t have a specific brand, so having your brand nailed down can really help you.
Bryan, since you write fiction and nonfiction craft books, you have two different audiences. Some authors with two audiences will segment their email list so that when they release a nonfiction book, they only email their nonfiction readers about it and likewise with their fiction books and readers. That way, their also-boughts list will be filled with similar books and not a mish-mash of fiction and nonfiction.
Bryan: I always try to keep fiction and nonfiction separate. Joanna Penn does a good job keeping things separate by using a pen name for her fiction. I hope to do that next time around because the also-boughts are so important.
Thomas: The more types of writing you do, the harder and more expensive your marketing becomes. Most successful authors are doing only one kind of writing. One well that is 100 feet deep will produce more than two wells that are 50 feet deep.
What do you wish you had known when you started as an indie author?
Bryan: I tell almost every new writer I meet to read Write to Market by Chris Fox. When you’re starting, no one will read your book unless readers are already interested in it. Chris’s book will help you focus and write for readers who already exist.
Thomas: I interviewed Chris about that book. Listen to How to Write to Market with Chris Fox to learn more. It’s super important to write books for people who are already reading. It’s nearly impossible to convince people to read your book when they’re not readers in the first place.
Write for readers.
What final tips and encouragement do you have?
Bryan: It’s popular to run ads, whether on Amazon, Facebook, or Bookbub, but it’s important to know whether your book is a good candidate for ads. Before you spend money on ads, you need to figure out whether your book will return a profit. I run a free 5-Day Amazon Ad Profit Challenge. Everyone does the fun work at the same time as a community, and you can join the challenge. Our goal is to create one profitable ad in one week.
Avoid being in the writing vacuum where you don’t share your writing with anyone until it’s published, or the marketing vacuum where you don’t know if your book can even sell. If you don’t look at other sales pages, you’ll remain in the vacuum.
Spend time researching to get yourself out of the vacuum.
Some authors worry about being inadvertently influenced by ideas from other authors when they read similar books. They fear they’ll accidentally “steal” ideas, but it’s unlikely to happen because you’re unique. Even if you are influenced, you will write your specific version because it will go through your imagination.
Thomas: You must work through that by reading similar books to see what is out there. Learn what is working and what’s not.
Persuasion is one of the most important things we do as authors. Persuasion is not only part of the selling process for fiction it is also at the heart of good nonfiction writing.
Yet, persuasion is hard to do well and easy to botch. In this video course, I break down the science of how to help your readers truly change their minds for good. This is one of my most popular and enduring talks.
This course is ideal for:
- Bloggers wanting to make a difference in the world.
- Nonfiction writers wanting to change minds.
- Authors wanting to persuade people to buy their book.
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