|Amazon Bestseller Campaigns
Copyright © 2008 by John Kremer
All rights reserved. As the buyer of this program, you have the right to use this material in the promotion of your own book and/or those of your clients. If used with clients, you are not allowed to reveal all the details of this program to your clients without applying for an additional license from Open Horizons and John Kremer.
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The Amazon Bestseller Campaign
Below are the basic steps you need to take to create and carry out a New York Times bestseller campaign in the style of an Amazon.com bestseller promotion.
1. Locate your campaign partners.
Your partners should include all the authors, publishers, ezine editors, bloggers, and website owners you know who have something to sell to a similar audience to the one you want to reach. If these people aren’t already in your network, you need to do more research.
1. Websites: Use Google, Yahoo, or another search engine to target the websites with the highest rankings for your key words.
2. Blogs: Use Technorati.com to search for those blogs that are targeting readers who would be likely readers of your book. Again, search by the key words to target your audience.
If you are a business author, check out: Todd And’s Power 150 List of marketing blogs: http://www.toddand.com/power150.
For a list of book review and literary blogs, check out this site:
When contacting bloggers, be sure you don't violate any of the rules major bloggers live by. To read about these rules, see http://customscoop.com/resources/ whitepapers/Seven_Sins.pdf.
3. Ezines: Use one of the following online sites to locate appropriate ezines, ones that are again targeted at your key audiences.
Freezine Web — http://www.freezineweb.com
ZineBook — http://www.zinebook.com
Ezine Universe — http://www.ezine-universe.com
Zinos — http://www.zinos.com
Ezine Directory — http://www.ezine-dir.com
2. Send out emails or make phone calls to all your potential partners.
Ask them to join your bestseller campaign.
Why would they want to participate in such a campaign? Easy. They will get promotional exposure to everyone who receives the sales promotion since their bonus offering will be featured in the sales copy. In addition, they will get to add each buyer’s name to their list when those buyers come to their website to download their bonus.
To get enough partners involved, you will have to follow-up a number of times. Once they commit to sending out your campaign, to be sure they mail to their list, you will need to send reminders probably several times leading up to your email drop date.
3. Compile great bonuses.
You must get a list of 20 to 30 bonuses to be included in your promotion. Help your partners identify the bonus each can offer that will be most attractive to the lists you will be mailing to. Remember: The bonuses often determine whether or not someone acts right away to buy your book. They might buy your book anyway, but to get them to act right away, you must offer must-have bonuses.
Here are a few items your partners could offer: reports created from book excerpts in DOC or PDF format, an MP3 audio interview, a recorded speech MP3 download, a discount coupon for consulting, a PDF report created by consolidating several articles, an ebook in any format, or a teleseminar delivered in MP3 format.
Don’t include hard copy bonuses. All bonuses should be delivered via online downloads (cheaper and a lot easier to fulfill, plus then each participant can capture the email addresses of the buyers to add to their ezine lists).
4. Write the sales letter.
Once you’ve compiled the list of bonuses, you need to write a compelling sale letter, making an offer that knocks the socks off your readers. If you’re not good at writing sales copy, research some of the others sales letters previously used in bestseller campaigns. Copy their structure and language, but adapt it to your book’s benefits (and reasons to buy) and the bonuses included in your offer.
You can find examples of the sales letter (both the email to be sent and the website sales letter) in the Appendix.
Some people try to carry out a bestseller campaign with few or no partners. They’ll write something like the following:
Our new release XYZ Book is starting to get great reviews. We are going to try to get high on the charts at Amazon.com. In order to do this, we are requesting that if you plan to purchase this DVD for a daughter, son or friend, please do so on April 15th at Amazon.com.
Now, try to guess how well such a campaign performs. That’s the campaign. Maybe it sells another 10 or 20 or even 100 books (all depending on how many people receive the note), but it will not create an Amazon.com bestseller. It can’t. Not enough people will be exposed to the plea. There’s no incentive to act even if you get the plea, other than to help out a friend (if the sender is a friend).
The above note is taken from an email I received from someone I barely knew. No incentive, unless I had someone I wanted to buy a gift for this week. That’s a poor paltry luck of the draw chance. Nada.
In addition, the note was sent within an email that included three other sales messages. Don’t ever send a bestseller campaign email that includes more than one action point: Buy this book on this date (or during this week) and get all these great bonuses for helping us out.
5. Send the sales letter to your partners.
Let them know which day to drop the mailing. They should send out the email sales letter during the week of your promotion. Remember: Anyone offering a bonus should also mail the promotional sales letter to their customer list, or include a notice in their ezine, or post a notice on their website, and/or include a post in their blog.
6. Put the main sales letter on your website.
The email sales letter is short and sweet. It spurs people to go visit your website where you will have put up a much longer sales letter featuring all the bonuses, bonus contributors, etc.
7. Drop the letter.
The letter should be sent out the week of the promotion. You need to have the letter go out to at least one million people to have any impact on sales. Better yet, it should go out to two to three million. Your goal is to sell at least several thousand, hopefully 10,000 books via Amazon.com during one specific week. In general, .05% of those on a cold email list will become buyers. 3% is in the high range of sales for a really strong list.
8. Send buyers to Amazon.com.
Be sure that your letter sends people to the right page on Amazon.com (provide them with the specific link)—and that they buy during the specific day or hours for your campaign. That’s the only way your book stands a chance of breaking out from the huddled book masses.
9. Tell them how to get their bonuses.
In the sales letter, be sure to tell them to email or fax you their receipt from Amazon.com. Once you receive their receipt, send them a return email with a link to the page where they can get the download links for all the bonuses included in your campaign. Note: Only 50 to 75% of buyers will actually go to get the bonuses. They won’t actually download all bonuses. They generally are selective.
10. Send a thank-you note to your partners.
And provide them with the details on the success of the program: How many people bought your book. What rank did your book achieve. Samples of any thank-you emails you receive from buyers. This will encourage your partners to work with you on future promotions, on-going campaigns, and other partnership activities. The true goal of any Amazon.com promotional campaign is the relationships you create.
11. Now do something more.
Any bestseller campaign only works if it is part of an integrated marketing plan. Doing a bestseller campaign is really worthless if you are not doing some other things to help keep your book high on the list. For most of the past 5 to 10 years, my 1001 Ways to Market Your Books has hovered between 2,000 and 10,000 in the Amazon bestseller list.
12. Partner with other campaigns.
If you want to be successful in doing additional Amazon.com or New York Times bestseller campaigns, be sure to participate in other author’s campaigns as well when you are asked. Remember that you are creating relationships that could last for years and profit you in many ways beyond the one-time campaign.
The above points cover the basic steps you need to carry out in doing an Amazon.com bestseller strategy. Don’t ignore any step in the process. Don’t fudge it. Don’t think you can run such a campaign without any partners. Don’t settle for poor partners. Go for the best partners, with the largest email lists, most visited websites, most active blogs. Again, use this campaign as the first step in creating a relationship that you can build on.
Biggest note: Don’t roll out such a campaign without at least 1,000,000 people receiving the promotion. Better yet, mail to 2,000,000 or more. Do the math. Make sure that you gather together enough partners to do a credible campaign. Don’t cheat here. 95% of the unsuccessful Amazon bestseller campaigns failed because they were not mailed to enough people.
Amazon.com Strategy on Steroids
Besides building relationships with key emailers, bloggers, and website owners so you are mailing to more than a million people, you can also boost your campaign by doing the following:
Write articles that you syndicate online. Post any articles you write to online article directories. You can find a long list of such directories by going to http://www.bookmarket.com/onlinearticles.htm.
Make sure that the articles you write are posted at least a week or two before your campaign. Also, be sure that the articles include a link to your bestseller campaign sales page—and a reason to go to that link.
Write a great press release and release it online. Write a press release featuring a great story that ties into your book. Include a link in the press release to your website (which, in turn, can include a prominent link to your bestseller campaign sales page.
To distribute your press release online, use one or more of the free and/or paid online PR distribution services featured at http://www.bookmarket.com/onlinepr.htm.
Make use of social networking websites to create relationships to expand your bestseller campaign. Besides blogging websites, there are also knowledge-sharing websites such as Squidoo and Helium as well as photo-sharing websites such as Flickr and Photobucket, video-sharing websites such as YouTube and Metacafe, and social networking websites such as Bebo, Coghead, Digg, Linked to, Shelfari, Xanga, etc.
How to Sell More of Your Books
Besides developing an Amazon Bestseller Campaign to sell your books, Amazon continues to offer many new ways for its users to comment on books and other products for sale on the site. Below are a few of the sections appearing on book pages that you can use to sell more of your books — and set up an Amazon.com book shop on your web site to make even more income!
Write a So You’d Like to Guide
You can write a guide on how to do anything, whether you’re an expert on that subject or not. Obviously it makes most sense to write guides on your expertise. The guides are currently limited to a 100-word minimum and a 1,500 word maximum. For example, I wrote a guide, Self-Publish and Create a Bestseller, which is now featured on the book page of every book I listed in the guide. So now my name is in front of anyone buying one of the major books on self-publishing. People read these guides and are also encourage to rate them. Chris Epting wrote a guide, Plan a Road Trip, that featured only his books. Thus far, it’s been read 230 times.
Create a List for Listmania
Amazon allows users to create all sorts of book lists on whatever hits their fancy. Any list you create will be featured on the pages of the books you list. It’s a great way to tie into related books and get your name and book noticed by people already looking to buy competitive titles.
Use Tags to Help People Discover Your Books
Amazon now allows readers to tag any book with key words. Be sure to tag your book for key words that you think people would use to find your book on Amazon when they don’t know the title or when they’re simply searching for books in a specific subject area. Here are the tags I’ve added so far to my book: marketing online, book marketing, books, self-publishing, writing books, book author, authors, book publicity, publicity, bookselling, promoting books, self-promotion, book promotion, promoting online, and Internet marketing.
Write reviews of other related titles and include your book title as part of your signature on the review. This is one way to piggyback on the popularity of related titles. If you have time, write a review for every book related to your book. But only write reviews for books that you have actually read and enjoyed. Don’t be critical, glib, or superficial. Dan Poynter, author of The Self-Publishing Manual, has written 198 book reviews on Amazon.com as of April 2006. 1,739 people have said that his reviews were helpful to them.
You can now add more images to your book’s page besides the book cover. There’s a link under the book cover where you can share your own customer images. If you note the current listing for 1001 Ways, I’ve added a photo of myself speaking at BookExpo America, a copy of the new cover for the 6th edition, and a photo of one reader’s copy packed with sticky notes and tabs. These images can only help sell the book.
This is a new beta program where users can share their questions, insights, and views about books and other products. Amazon is encouraging people to give reviews, ask questions, compare products, and join in the group discussions. I used this section to alert browsers on the page featuring the 5th edition of 1001 Ways to Market Your Books that a new edition is coming out by May 15th. I encouraged readers to wait to buy the new edition rather than buy one of the used copies currently offered for sale.
When you send in the table of contents, biography, index, and other key sections of your book to Amazon to enhance your book’s listing, be sure to include a bibliography, even if there isn’t one in the physical book. Each citation you make will be noted on the pages of the books you cite (in the Citations section). This is just one of a number of ways to get your book featured on the pages of related titles, including the bestselling titles!
This powerful new program allows readers to receive messages directly from their favorite authors. It opens a what could be an incredibly intimate channel of communication between you as an author and your readers. Participating authors can post messages on their book detail pages and to the home page of readers who have bought their books on Amazon.com.
Amazon shoppers can subscribe to receive every new posting from their favorite authors. These new postings will appear in the user’s plog. That’s Amazon’s new name for a personalized web log of their activity on Amazon, including author postings, changes in their orders, new products that have just been released, and much more.
These are new short works from well-known authors that are available only on Amazon.com (you have to give them an exclusive for a minimum of six months). These short stories and essays are delivered electronically and sell for only 49 cents. Amazon notes the following benefits to authors for participating in this new program: it can promote the author’s backlist titles, maintain author visibility between published books, introduce readers to unfamiliar authors, provide a new outlet to sell short fiction, and create an author profile page.
For publishers, the main benefit is the ability to feature excerpts from forthcoming books to boost pre-orders or to sustain on-going sales. Amazon wants pieces that are between 2,000 and 10,000 in length. They are encouraging participants to contribute new items on a regular basis. If you’d like to participate, email them at firstname.lastname@example.org. Tell them why you would be a good addition to their program.
This new weekly podcast is hosted by Bill Maher where he interviews book authors. Thus far, he is leaning heavily toward interviewing famous authors from bigger publishers. We can hope that policy will change soon, or that Amazon will add other programs favoring lesser known authors and books. If you’d like to host such a podcast, you can always propose such a program to Amazon. They are always looking for ways to feature and sell more books.
This is a free original podcast about books, movies, music, and those who create them. Any Amazon.com visitor can listen to the podcast online or download it for playing on their iPod. The April 2006 podcast featured interviews with Oceans 11 movie director Steven Soderbergh, Chris Stein of Blondie, and Steven Drozd of The Flaming Lips. It also included an exclusive audio essay from Freakonomics author Stephen Dubner on teaching monkeys to use money.
You can also sell your book directly to people on Amazon by clicking on the Sell Yours Here link on your book’s page at Amazon. You can set your own price. Be sure to indicate that your book is new and signed (that makes it more valuable as a collectible). When someone orders from you via this link, Amazon collects the money and sends you the order to fulfill. Then once a month they send you a check for 85% of your sale price minus 99 cents. They even give you a postage credit for sending the book via media mail. It’s real easy to set this up.
When I checked Amazon’s listing for 1001 Ways to Market Your Books on April 15, 2005, there were 37 listings for new and used copies of my book for resale by others. Most were new copies probably obtained from Ingram, so I’m making money on most of those sales just as if Amazon had made the sale direct.
If you are worried about people selling used or review copies of your book on Amazon, stop worrying. It’s not worth the worry. Remember: Every book that gets into the hands of a reader somewhere will result in the sale of another copy (if your book is any good).
If you are still worried about used copies, there’s a simple solution: Sell your own new copies at a price lower than the used copies listed at Amazon. You’ll still make money on the sale as long as the used copy price isn’t too low.
Buy X, Get Y Paid Placement
Amazon provides one key advertising options: the Buy X, Get Y paid placement, which links two books together with a suggestion to buy both. You can pay to have your book title linked with a better known or better selling title. Your title is linked on the page of the better-selling book, bolded, and given an additional 5% discount to encourage sales. Nominations for the BXGY program must be submitted one month before the desired start date but not more than three months in advance. You can only link with one other title at a time. BXGY promotions are displayed on the first or the 16th of the month following receipt of payment (by check only at this time). It currently costs $1,000 for a one- month link to a top 250 title; only $750 for a title ranked over 250.
Some self-published authors who have paid for this placement program have report significant up-ticks in sales. It is certainly worth testing.
Help customers find your books using Search Suggestions
As a valued Connect author, you have early access to our new Search Suggestions feature. When you sign into Amazon.com using your AmazonConnect account, go to your book detail page and find the heading "Help others find this item" that appears below the book image. Here you can click on "Make a search suggestion" to create additional search phrases which will help customers find your book. Your explanation of why your search phrase is relevant will appear together with your book in a customer's search results.
Make changes to your book detail page using our Online Catalog
If you see an error or missing information on your book page, go to our Online Catalog to submit your changes. You can access the Online Catalog directly from your book page using the "Would you like to update product info?" link, located beneath your Amazon.com sales rank. Because you are a trusted author participating in AmazonConnect, your change requests will receive priority service from the Online Catalog team.
Amazon.com Bestseller Campaigns:
A Few Samples
If you ever thought of doing your own Amazon.com bestseller campaign, then you might want to check into the campaign now being done for Diane Lu's Daughter of the Yellow River. Why? Because she has so many participants, including people mailing to their lists as well as dozens and dozens giving away free reports, audios, etc. to buyers of her book. Her list of movers and givers could be contacted to help you as well, especially if your book is on relationships, health, self-help, business, motivation, or related topics.
I don't generally participate in these Amazon.com bestseller campaigns. I think they've been overdone, but I do know their power in getting attention for your book online. So I still encourage authors to do an Amazon.com bestseller campaign at least once in the life of their book, no matter how new or old the book is.
Anyway, to check out Diana Lu's offer, see http://www.bookbonuses.com/lu.
Diana's book went from an Amazon.com ranking of 304,648 on Tuesday, April 4, to a rank of 8,366 on Wednesday afternoon, a rank of 4,516 on Thursday morning, a rank of 992 by Thursday afternoon, and 271 by late Thursday evening. Her campaign began on Tuesday and went through Thursday.
Now that rise is nice, but it doesn’t signify enough sales to justify what it might have cost her to mount the campaign — at least not by the numbers alone. But think of how many people were exposed to her book. Think of how many will end up buying the book weeks or months later. Think of how many people will be inspired to talk more about her book after seeing the promotion.
Have you done your Amazon.com promotion yet? When do you plan to do it? It is still one of the most effective online sales tools ever created for books. Its power to draw attention and create sales is still unparalleled, especially for having a fast and measurable impact on the sales of a book.
Here’s another example if you want to see how an Amazon.com bestseller campaign is done well — with a wonderfully designed web page to make the sales pitch: http://www.trainone.com/special/april4. It includes great graphics, a short video from the author, some fresh bonuses I’ve not been offered before, and an overall effective and attractive web page design.
Except for one thing, it would be a perfect page. What is the one caveat? It apparently takes too long to load if you have a slow Internet connection. So if you model this page in your Amazon.com promotions, be sure to have some sort of alternative for people who still have slow connections to the Internet.
The page promotes Jeff Gitomer’s The Little Red Book of Sales Answers. Gitomer is a wonderfully succinct author who provides practical information that anyone can follow. His weekly ezine Sales Caffeine has 80,000 subscribers!
How did I find out about this promotion? Not through a newsletter. Not through an email campaign. Instead, I found out via an RSS feed to a blog I regularly follow. What does this mean to you? It means that when you do your Amazon.com promotion, be sure to include all avenues: website updates, ezine promotions, and lots of notices on blogs.
His book ranked #623 at Amazon.com on Wednesday and #3 by Thursday morning (it did hit #1 sometime on Wednesday or Thursday).
Pro Merchant: Your Products on Amazon.com
Amazon currently has over 66 million active customers.
Pricing: $39.99 plus 15% referral fee to Amazon
There are no individual item listing fees and no credit card processing fees; only a flat monthly subscription fee of $39.99 and a referral fee when your items sell.
Sell your stuff (Amazon Marketplace)
You can sell individual items via this page.
The item must already be listed in Amazon.
To sell unlisted items, you have to be a Pro Merchant.
Amazon Honor System
Your Web site's visitors return time and again for great information, entertainment, and community. The Amazon Honor System lets them show their appreciation--by giving you cash. People can donate to any cause you specify or give to you to donate or give to you in simple appreciation for what you do. You pay Amazon 2.9% of the donation plus 30 cents for each payment.
WebStore by Amazon
WebStore by Amazon an Amazon Services Product, includes your own branded, custom online store powered by Amazon technology, support, and transaction processing all for only $59.99 per month and a referral fee of 7% on items that sell.
Fulfillment by Amazon
They handle your fulfillment for Amazon products and other products. You ship them inventory, they take orders, handle fulfillment. Pricing info here: http://www.amazon.com/gp/seller/fba/fba_pricing.html
You can find all of the above services by clicking on the Sell Items link at the bottom of most Amazon.com pages. There you will also find the Amazon Advantage program for listing your books, AmazonConnect for blogging, Amazon Shorts to sell short ebooks (fiction and nonfiction), on-demand publishing for books and DVDs via their CreateSpace program, and their Kindle ebook program.
Want to advertise on Amazon.com, go to:
They offer display ads, package inserts, and product ads (where you pay per click)
Also sponsored links via ClickRiver
The sponsored links are provided by Clickriver Ads and by other 3rd party ad networks. Clickriver Ads lets businesses create, track and optimize pay per click campaigns on Amazon.com. Clickriver is offered by A9.com, a wholly owned subsidiary of Amazon.com.