Just a short notice:
Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That’s Not All They Do hit Kindle category bestseller status 3 days after release and has held 1-3 categories for 14 weeks since, with the exception of 5 days!
That’s what this post original said on July 22, 2012.
But as of today’s update it has been a
Kindle category bestseller
in 1-3 categories for 33 weeks!
And the print version has enjoyed several stints as a category bestseller too.
I’m honored and excited to share this news with you. Thanks to all who’ve purchased and written about the help you received. Don’t forget to use your reader-exclusive password within the book to access all the contests and freebies and info far beyond what you get in the pages of your book. You’ll find it all at the companion site, Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers.
If you want learn more about the book check it out here:
I sounded an alarm about the need for studying Amazon’s guidelines in my book, Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers. But, for the sake of all honest writers, it seems a louder warning is due concerning the illegitimate teachings/uses of Amazon.com by authors.
IGNORANCE OF THE LAW (GUIDELINES)
Over the past few years Amazon became increasingly aware of review abuses and has taken sometimes severe measures in response. In the process sometimes innocent authors and reviewers have suffered penalties.
Please allow me to state right up front I’m not pointing an accusing finger at the innocent. My goal is to pass along information so authors won’t find themselves unknowingly in violation. Amazon obviously feels, as the courts do, that ignorance of the law is no defense. So let’s arm ourselves with knowledge as our defense.
Personally I suspect the widespread ignorance of Amazon’s guidelines may stem from the belief that Amazon is just the world’s largest book store, therefore has no strenuous guidelines or fine print. But, as my book describes, Amazon is so much more – it’s the largest and most powerful publicity machine known anywhere at this time.
And it is vital for authors to take time to learn the rules so they don’t inadvertently break them and suffer the consequences, consequences many writers are not aware exist.
TEACHING FLAGRANT VIOLATIONS
Ignorance of the guidelines is not the only culprit. *I’ve read bestselling books that teach flagrant violations for promoting your book on Amazon, teachings that, if followed, will result in review deletion, and possibly your (and the teacher’s) book being deleted from Amazon’s bookstore if ever discovered.
*There is no need for me to identify the offending books or authors. If you read or hear these things being taught now you know they are false. My goal is not to bust authors but to learn. And if you take time to learn the guidelines you’ll always know whose teaching is valid and whose is not.
For a few years now the Amazon review controversy has flared, focusing largely on those who are innocent of their penalty. It’s not going to stop and there is good reason for that; the offenses don’t stop. So it’s time we focus on the guilty.
SOUNDING THE ALARM AGAIN
When I read new books written by promotional leaders that teach writers to violate the most strenuously enforced review guidelines, it’s time to sound the alarm again. Authors read these books, and not knowing how wrong the teachings are, follow them to the letter. And then when that dreaded email from Amazon arrives, they are shocked and angry.
*Tip: Watch out for books/articles using the word/words Guerilla/Guerilla Marketing. Most of them contain reliable information you can definitely use. But many advise highly illegitimate tactics. The term Guerilla Marketing means: an advertising strategy in which low-cost unconventional means (graffiti, sticker bombing, flash mobs) are utilized… Always attention-getting, but sometimes illegal.
One bestselling book I read teaches that authors should post a link to their own book when reviewing a similar book. This author advised writing reviews of books similar to yours and making sure in the first or second sentence to mention your own book and hyperlink to it. The book gave detailed instructions how to use Amazon’s “Insert Product Link Here” button to insert the link straight to their own book.
This is absolutely prohibited by Amazon. A highly respected colleague, Phyllis Zimbler Miller, followed this advice, placing the links to her books in several reviews. After reading my warning, about a week after she’d placed the violating links, she went to edit them out, but some of these reviews had already been deleted by Amazon. Thankfully one was still live that she could edit, and her previous reviews also remain safe. Read more from Phyllis.
I too teach authors how to use Amazon’s publicity machine for all it’s worth, but I spend a lot of time reading the help files & fine print to make sure I don’t add more illegitimate advice to the mire. Or even worse, provoke innocent authors to violation where they wreak penalties because of me. In that spirit, let’s take a few minutes to clarify what is NOT allowed in a review.
PROMOTIONAL CONTENT IS NOT ALLOWED IN REVIEWS
It’s as simple as that. To quote from Amazon, they do not allow:
- Advertisements, promotional material or repeated posts that make the same point excessively
- Sentiments by or on behalf of a person or company with a financial interest in the product or a directly competing product (including reviews by authors, artists, publishers, manufacturers, or third-party merchants selling the product)
- They also prohibit: “The upload, download, or transmission of any domain names, URLs, or hyperlinks. The use of the Service for commercial purposes such as advertising, promotion, or solicitation.”
That’s all pretty straightforward. Amazon’s primary rules prohibit self-promotion throughout their site, but this is especially stringent regarding reviews. If you violate Amazon’s rules if/when their ‘bots catch you, the punishment can be banishment.
WHY BREAK THEIR RULES ANYWAY?
And why would we want to break the rules? As described in my book, Amazon has already provided a unique and powerful publicity platform unlike anywhere else. All we have to do is acquire a basic understanding in order to place our books in the RIGHT categories and attach SEO optimized tags.
Then Amazon’s top secret algorithms take over to promote our book continually and indefinitely, in ways we could never afford to purchase outright. This is why Amazon makes bestsellers out of more authors than anywhere else. And why I’m more than happy to comply with all their rules and regulations when they benefit me so greatly. I explain their ingenious engine in more detail in my two white papers on the subject, How Book Categories Can Doom Sales or Make Amazon Your Personal Publicist. And, What Authors Must Know About Amazon Before Selling Their Books There.
Still violations are more prevalent than you’d think, whether through ignorance or purposeful deception. Keep a watchful eye because they can be, and are, taught in books sold right on Amazon.com, misleading honest authors. This is why I devoted part of my book to teaching what the review guidelines really say.
Make Amazon your own private publicist legitimately
to reap their vast promotional benefits
and none of their penalties.
Purchase: Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers:
How Semi-Self-Published Authors Can Overcome
Amazon Category Complications
Listen in as Aggie interviews power marketer Phyllis Zimbler Miller (bio below) about the unexpected loss of rights to her own Kindle ebook, which she discovered when following instructions from Aggie’s bestselling book, Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers: But That’s Not All They Do. Find out how vital it is to retain you rights on every level no matter who publishes your book.
Click here to Listen in:
More Info to Help You Overcome Hurdles
to Categorizing your Amazon Books
Aggie’s Bio: Published at Thomas Nelson before age 30, award-winning author Aggie Villanueva is now a self-published fiction & nonfiction author at Amazon/Kindle with The Rewritten Word, Rightfully Mine and Amazon Categories Create Best Sellers, all of which reached bestseller in multiple categories shortly after release. Aggie founded Promotion á la Carte, author promotional services and 6 months later was voted #2 at Preditors & Editors in the Promotion category, and then #4 in 2011. She teaches author promotion across the Web. My Book Marketing Systems is her sister company that saves authors $100s – $1,000s on author apps. She is also an award-winning critically acclaimed photographic artist represented by galleries nationwide, including Xanadu Gallery in Scottsdale, AZ. Contact Villanueva at email@example.com.
Phyllis’ Bio: Phyllis Zimbler Miller has an M.B.A. from The Wharton School and is the co-founder of the online marketing company, Miller Mosaic LLC, which builds websites for clients and coaches them about online marketing. She is also the author of fiction and nonfiction books — including her newest ebook CIA Fall Guy – and she blogs about book topics at Phyllis Zimbler Miller. Twitter. Pinterest.
Smartphone users can just find me on Google, Right? No. Not the Google we know on our desktop computers anyway. Because of the numerous viewing limitations mobile users’ frustrations have stopped them from searching the internet. The Google we know is nearly useless because its search results just send them to more web pages that their devices can’t successfully browse.
Google added a mobile search engine, Google Mobile (image below). If you go there on the desktop internet you can send a text message to your mobile phone with the Google Mobile link included. Or just use your phone’s Google search window to type in www.google.com/mobile. Here you can also download mobile search apps for various smartphones.
But even if found through Google Mobile your internet site still won’t be browse-able unless you paid big to have your site made truly mobile friendly. But why spend money for that when you can invest instead in an app (which is where mobile users will search first) that allows you to market to mobile devices in ways websites never will, mobile friendly or not? (See mobile marketing articles in this series for details.)
The point is that smartphone use is already overtaking computer internet users. Just think how many more millions will never see your book promotions by next year if your marketing is still exclusively online.
Mobile users search the apps marketplace when they need something; they search the internet less and less. Let’s not miss out just because this is a new and mysterious area. The internet was also once a mystery but we are now making promotional use of it daily.
If you have any further questions, please check out the remaining articles, or leave them in the comment section below. I’d love to hear your thoughts.
If you wish to know more about Aggie Villanueva and her company check out this page.
Reviewing: Why is it imperative to Have My Own App?
The iTunes Store (for iPhones) and Apps Marketplace (Androids & compatible) is mostly ignored by authors. This is a mistake. It’s a market of billions of users who probably won’t ever see your website/blog even though their smartphones are capable of internet browsing. (Why they won’t see your site is explained in-depth in another post of this series.)
Smartphone users browsed over 97 million apps (in 2011), up from 37 million the year before. And on February 24, 2012 the iTunes App Store announced it was about to hit 25 billion downloads.
That’s how fast it’s growing, and it’s growing at this rate because businesses have discovered there is money in being represented in this vital market. Today there are literally trillions of apps downloaded weekly.
As with Mother Nature, it’s not NICE to ignore such vast opportunity.
But understandably businesses/authors can’t even consider entering the mobile marketplace with their own app until they grasp where and what that is — until they get some answers. Each post in this series addresses a different set of question and aspects of mobile marketing with your own app.
Summary: Can I Afford an App?
True, there are cheap do-it-yourself-type apps available online, but they begin and end with the entry level app you purchased and a few add-ons. Plus they can’t take full advantage of smartphone functionality like the Location Based Search (mentioneded in the marketing techniques articles in this series) or most other marketing campaigns.
Each app must be programmed specifically for your needs. This from-scratch-programming is the most desirable, but where the high costs could come in.
But it doesn’t have to be expensive — offering you competitive prices for an entry level app is what my company, My Book Marketing Systems, is all about. Imagine your own app for just a few hundred dollars.
Even more importantly, we differ in that our apps can be upgraded a la carte to your heart’s desire and as you can afford it, all the way to our high-end super interactive stand-alone e-reader. Having a stand-alone built-in e-reader in your app is extremely desirable. (That desirability is beyond the information addressed here, but will be covered in-depth in an upcoming article of this series).
The Internet is losing users and
business people by the millions
We authors can’t afford to ignore the already billions of smartphone owners. A huge population of those users read only on this device.
They don’t own a Kindle or iPad or Nook or any other e-readers — only their phones. For that matter more and more smartphone users no longer even own a computer!
We can’t afford to ignore this market any longer.
View this remarkably informative video, The Next Internet by expert Roger McNamee to learn just how important it is to have your own author app.
No one is saying we should ignore our traditional Internet marketing using our computers. I’m saying we authors can’t afford not to have our own author app for the billions who might otherwise never see our books.
Even social media is no longer the major marketing arena it once was. It is becoming more and more a feature of mobile apps, although a vital one, as explained in Roger McNamee’s dynamite video, The Next Internet. Click image to view.
We authors understand the importance of Being Earnest(LY REVIEWED). Please forgive the literary pun, I couldn’t resist. My bad.
We also know the hardships of getting books reviewed. We’ve watched those old standard venues shrink to nearly non-existent, and they usually cover only huge names anyway. Even when someone finally agrees to review our book we may be 6 months down their waiting list. And often, by then they forget and might slightly resent a reminder letter, shunting us further down the list.
But there is hope. These success stories and tips can make a huge difference for your book campaign.
Success Story 1: Get Reviewed by “Amateurs”
Keith Donohue’s story about his novel The Stolen Child, rising to the New York Times extended bestseller list, illustrates the significance of gaining reviews on Amazon.com, whose reviews are solely responsible for his success. At release Keith’s novel was shunned by all the big time reviewers and critics. An Amazon article relates:
“A review copy ended up in the hands of Linda Porco, Amazon.com’s merchandising director. She passed it around in the office and everyone loved it. So Porco tried something new.”
She sent it to Amazon’s most active amateur hobby reviewers who review books and products for free. Rave reviews soon covered the author’s Amazon sales page. Read the full story. The article continues,
“Critics argue that amateurs’ reviews are meaningless, that they don’t apply the professional critics’ intellectual rigor. But whatever the amateur reviewers do or don’t lack in highbrow sensibilities, they make up for in credibility and relevancy. “
I also wrote about how, until recently, only authors and readers seem to give allegiance to not only Amazon reviews, but the thousands of internet book bloggers. See “Publishers Finally Listening to Book Bloggers’ Reviews.”
“Amateur” Reviews Can Create a Bestseller, or at Least a Hefty Income
We no longer must be reviewed in huge metropolitan newspapers and slick magazines by nationally acclaimed reviewers to end up with a bestseller. Even publishers are taking notice of what book bloggers and Amazon reviewers have to say.
Many authors already know that Amazon reviews and those appearing on book blogs are the meat and potatoes of the reviewing arena. But it’s the readers who’ve alerted everyone to their importance. They devour these “amateur” reviews to discover new reading delights. And they buy the recommended books.
Reviews are your path to a bestseller, or at least a hefty income. Don’t ignore their powerful persuasion. Spend as much time as necessary seeking them out, and not just when you launch your book.
Getting Amazon “Amateur” Reviewers for Your Book
Don’t skip this step. eMail these top “amateur” reviewers with your request. The Amazon article quoted above includes detailed instructions to get the attention of Amazon’s top hobby reviewers in “So you’d like to… Get your book reviewed on Amazon and boost your sales.”
Probably because my books target such a tight niche I’ve never had a top Amazon reviewer accept, but maybe this book will be my first. And maybe your book will snag their attention. We should never stop trying.
One of my many favorite book marketing experts, Dana Lynn Smith, wrote a comprehensive guide to gaining reviews in How to Get Your Book Reviewed. As a matter of fact, I reviewed her book and recommend you get it. (I endorse her work so highly I’ve become an affiliate.)
Success Story 2: Ask a “Name” in the Industry
My story also illustrates the importance of being earnest(LY REVIEWED) using a different route. And this is the result.
This April (2012) on the 4th day after my book, Amazon Categories Create Bestsellers, went live on Kindle, it hit bestseller in two categories. The book held both categories steady until the ninth day after publication, adding a third bestselling category and rising to #12 and #20 in two of them. See Figure 1.
Figure1: day 5 rises to 3 category bestsellers:
It’s important to Note I had not even started book publicity. Because the print version was not yet live on Amazon (and my mother was here visiting), I hadn’t announced its release to my social media following or initiated any of my other campaign plans.
A Huge But
But, and this is a huge “but,” I had sent a prepub copy to the CEO of BookBuzzr.com, Vikram Narayan requesting a review or a few comments of endorsement. He posted his review on their blog just two days before my book made multiple category bestsellers lists and started its climb. Coincidence?
I’m convinced the sales came from this one review.
Though all reviews are of great help, those from prestigious leaders in your field can catapult sales too. It takes guts to approach the leaders in your industry, but if they happen to like your book the payoff is huge.
Reviews from influential names are always a long shot, but if you don’t ask you certainly can’t get one. If I hadn’t sent my eBook to BookBuzzr’s CEO I wouldn’t have his wonderful review, and most likely wouldn’t have hit bestsellers three categories in five days after publication.
Success Story 3: Another Step to Influential Reviews
When my print version goes live at Amazon my next step is to mail it to their staff editors, requesting a review. If they like a book they have been known to create feature presentations along with reviews. There is also a coveted editor’s pick list called Best Books of the Month you just may get chosen for.
Mail Your Book to Amazon Editors:
333 Boren Ave North
Seattle WA, 98109
Be sure to indicate your book’s categories and its Amazon sales link along with your own contact information in your mailer, though you most likely will not receive a response unless they decide to feature or review your book. Like most reviewers you won’t get your book returned either.
Author’s Also Need to Review Books
We rely almost completely on reviews to gain readers, especially with the high cost of advertising. Conversely we should review every book we ourselves read. It only takes a few minutes and, as writers we know it means the world to authors.
So, in the spirit of this post, to those of you who read my book(s) I request you post a few sentences about it on my Amazon sales pages when you get a spare minute. You can find links to all my books through my Author Central profile.