TGIF Book Marketing Tips: Ten Ways to Sell Books On Amazon

Guest Expert: Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Know this: I hate talking about book sales for a whole lot of reasons. The thing is today I have to talk about them because I want to to talk about Amazon ratings and I can’t talke about them without talking about selling books.

You may be asking why I don’t like to talk about book sales. It’s that there are more important things to talk about like cross promotion and branding. You may know that I believe if you network well, you won’t have to sell anything, ever. Not in the traditional sense.

That is my disclaimer. I’m done. Now, I’m going to tell you how to let Amazon help you sell more books anyway!

A promotional drop in the bucket can move Amazon ratings drastically! Especially if you keep dripping promotion into the pail. Use the perks that Amazon provides for you (see the list below), and you’ll find your book selling. Especially if you don’t give up. Just keep dribbling little bits of information into these Amazon tools (and all the other avenues of promotion that you use). Success is about frequency and longevity. Here they are. Pick one (or more) and keep at it:

1. Use Listmanias on Amazon and, along with your own book, sprinkle in the titles of your author-friends. Let these authors know you included their books in your targeted Listmainia list. That’s a way to make a new promotion friend. There is a chapter in The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t that tells you how to use this free promotional perk along with tips for making Listmanias more effective. It also includes information on other free tools on Amazon.

2. When you read a book by an author you know (or even one you don’t), do yourself and them a favor by adding a review to Amazon. It takes but a minute and you and your book get exposed, especially if you use a promotion-savvy signature. Simply type in a couple of dashes and then add “Reviewed by xxxxx and your book title.” Don’t link to your own sales page on Amazon, though. Amazon cops don’t like that!

3. Tell other people about what you’re doing, how your book relates to current events and more by posting on your Amazon plog or blog. Another name for that page complete with a blog is Author Central™. You are using it aren’t you? It’s much like a profile page you find on social networks.

4. In your Amazon blog, spread the word about your fellow authors’ books and then ask them to pass on the word about your blog, complete with URL. This is cross promotion at its best.

5. Flesh out your book’s page on Amazon by using Amazon’s Wiki (or Amapedia) to add information on your awards or other publishing you’ve done.

6. Add to the tag window on your book’s sales pages. Use keywords from your book. As an example, for my novel This Is the Place, I use Big Love, Mormons, polygamy, Utah, western history, women’s fiction, coming-of-age story, New York, Latter Day Saint, and a whole lot more. Do it for others’ books, too. It only takes a few seconds.

7. Ask your friends and professional associates to review your book on Amazon. See that word “ask?” They will be happy to do it. They just need a nudge!

8. If you have a book suited to it, you add pictures to your book’s page. Check out my “Promote or Perish” picture on The Frugal Book Promoter sales page. Here’s the URL: .

9. Don’t avoid Amazon because you’re mad at them. Getting caught up in the idea of trying to sell your book only on your own Web site is counterproductive. You may make more per book, but you’ll make less over all and your promotion will suffer. Read that word “promotion” as “readership.” Read it as “exposure.” Read it as “credibility.” You and your book need to be seen more than you need a couple of extra dollars profit on any given book.

10. Look into the So You’d Like Tos . . . on Amazon. They will allow you to rant or write essays to your hearts content and gather readers as you do it. They work similarly to Listmanias but they’re lots more work.

Make friends. When someone adds a review to your page. Thank them. Follow them on their social networks. Get to know them. Then invite them to trade links with you. By the way, when someone reviews your book, it  may show up on their profile page. Their friends buy books, too!

Note: Updated 21st August 2010. Thanks Jerry Schwartz for the heads-up :)

The author is Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t, winner of USA Book News’ Best Professional Book, and Book Publicists of Southern California’s Irwin Award. Its sister book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success is also a multi-award winner. Her new booklet of word trippers is Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy. Learn more at:
Her complimentary newsletter Sharing with Writers is always full of promotion tips, craft, and publishing news. Send an e-mail with “subscribe” in the subject line to

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15 thoughts on “TGIF Book Marketing Tips: Ten Ways to Sell Books On Amazon

  1. Caveat lector!

    Please note that like the book itself, this article (which seems to be lifted straight from the book) is outdated. Amazon dumped AuthorConnect in favor of Author Central, and there is no longer any such thing as an Amazon Friend. The latter was ditched because it gave authors easy access to its top reviewers–at least that is how I understand it.

  2. Thank you for letting me know,Jerry. In the new edition, I plan to get far less specific because Amazon changes its mind so often. I’m loathe to do that because I believe (as you can see) that specifics are so essential, but where some sites are concerned, general information may be best. I mean, notice they don’t even stay with the same name for any given feature! Woe is me!

    I loved the friends feature. It’s too bad.

    Actually, this was excerpred from my book, but updated only about a year ago. I should have known to check again. (-:


  3. Carolyn,

    Thank you for your response. It IS too bad about the Friends feature. It would have been nice if Amazon had given reviewers the chance to opt out of the feature instead of eliminating it altogether. As things stand, however, authors will need to exercise their Google skills more often. :-)

    When will the new edition of your book be available?

    Thanks again,


  4. Hi Carolyn,

    Looking forward to the new edition of your book.

    Also, with regard to item 5 in the list above – Amapedia is also not functioning.

    From the Wikipedia entry – “In February 2007, a senior editor at Business 2.0 said “The Amapedia appears stillborn, as Amazon users stick with what they’re used to: individual, rather than collaborative, product reviews.”[7]

    As of February 2008, the logo for the site, on every page, includes the word “beta”. In spring 2010, it looked the same, with copyright indicating “2005 – 2007”, so the project appeared to be on hold.

    As of June 2010, the site is now inoperable, with the Home Page simply displaying the site logo and the words “Amapedia is not available at this time”, with no datestamp or information pertaining to whether it will become live again.”

  5. Thank you for this article, as outdated as some area(s) may be. It’s fabulous food for thought.

    – Jeff Emmerson, author of an up-coming gritty Memoir in early 2011.

  6. Jerry, I’m working on that 2nd edition. Finding time!! Yikes! But the basics are all still there as Jeff suggests. Examples are the information on marketing, how to write a great media release, how to put together a great media kit, etc. (-: Those parts that teach authors to handle their own publicity are still true and necessary.

    Want to drop in a special thank you to Penny Sansevieri for including a link to this article in her newsletter. She’s one who understands the importance of Amazon in book sales.

    Best to you all. And thanks!

    Carolyn Howard-Johnson
    Blogging writers’ resources at Writer’s Digest Best 101 Websites pick

  7. hi there,
    Slightly off topic you mention Amazon ratings? Do these mean anything – my publisher says not!
    My book ‘A Dead Man’s Debt’ went from ranking 70,000 to 6,500 (a difference of 62,500) and yet still my publisher says it doesnt mean I’ve sold books – Hugely disappointing to say the least.
    What does the ranking reflect if not sales?
    many thanks for an interesting post,
    Grace x

  8. Grace, it is easy to dismiss Amazon ratings. They are hard to understand; in fact, as my book points out, probably Bezoz himself doesn’t know quite what they mean. But they are vague indicators. It helps to have a vague understanding of them, though. There are several things you can do to keep them–well, at least, so they aren’t embarrassing. (-: One, direct your book-buying traffic to Amazon to keep them looking good.

    Jackson, the blog feature is still working for me–yes, an outside blog. Maybe yours just needs a little tweaking.

    Again, thanks to all. And about that 2nd edition. Still working on it but don’t let that keep you from buying the book. I’ll have an e-edition special once it comes out–probably offer it on the honor system.



  9. This was one of THE most helpful articles I’ve ever read on marketing. My book comes out on amazon tomorrow, the paperback version and I was looking at last minute Marketing info for Amazon, and I had never known about the Listmania and didn’t think to add to my tags which is such a simple but effective tool. I know I look for books written by authors from my area so I’m sure other people do the same and simply adding “Boston” to my tags is something I didn’t think of until now yet it’s so basic! Thank you for sharing these great tips for authors!!
    Erika Cormier, Author of…
    As the Smoke Clears, a Memoir
    (Mental Health/Addiction)

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