Why I Don't Tell My Friends & Family About My Books

You're an indie writer, and your bread and butter is Amazon.com. Don't argue with me, if you're an indie writer, Amazon is the Top Dog of e-book retailers. You've typed 'The End, ' and your manuscript has been edited (tell me it's been edited) and the first thing you want to do (other than taking a stiff drink) is tell all your friends and family about it. You want to shout from the FB rooftop that your book is available for sale on Amazon.com. But you shouldn't.

Amazon is an amazing company, and one of their most amazing things is their search engine. I believe Amazon is second to Google as a search engine (amirite) and one of the amazing things about Amazon's search engine is its algorithm. The Amazon algorithm is personalized to YOU the user. Which means that it bases results on factors pertaining to the signed in customer only, factors surrounding that customer’s behavior on Amazon and online, and what is popular that day. It also learns about you, and retains those learnings for search and suggestions.+

So, what does that mean and what does that have to do with telling my friends and family about my book? Because Amazon's engine/algorithm is personalized and knows what it's customers are buying and potentially interested in, half of selling on Amazon is tricking the algorithm to recommend you to readers. This means that Amazon can do a lot of the work of selling for you, but ONLY if it knows who your 'ideal reader' is. And your ideal reader isn't your mom or your classmate from Jr. High. Your ideal reader is someone who reads in your genre, A LOT.

Okay, that all sounds great, but HOW do I find my ideal reader and get Amazon to show my book to more of my ideal readers? Here's how in order of cheapest to most expensive.

  1. Promote your book in FB groups (IN YOUR GENRE). That means instead of promoting your book in the FB group Kindle Readers, you promote it in BADASS BILLIONAIRE ROMANCE LOVERS FB group (if that's your genre). **caveat: make sure the group you join does self-promo, and if they do what are the rules surrounding it, you don't want to get kicked out of the group
  2. Market to your mailing list. You do have a mailing list, don't you? You don't? You need one. Your mailing list should have rabid fans of YOUR BOOK/GENRE. Want to know how to build a QUALITY mailing list? Maybe, I'll talk about that tmw. 
  3. Facebook ads. Yes, they can get pricey. Yes, there's a learning curve. But the upside is you can target who you want to see your ads very well with their audience specs. If you're new to FB ads, do one that's $1 a day to see what type of traction you get. **note: FB takes their money at the end of the month, so don't be surprised when your coins are snatched on the 31st!
  4. Amazon ads. Same as above can get pricey, learning curve. But also like FB ads you can curate your ad to fans of certain authors and up to 200 keywords. 

Okay, so you've done one or all four of the above methods, then what? What you'll notice is that when you go to look at your book on Amazon (you know you do it, I'm not the only rank watcher) under your book in your 'Also Boughts' will be other books in your genre. Which means that when you look at those books, YOUR BOOK should be in their "Also Boughts' which means MORE EYES ON YOUR BOOK. Or let's say your ideal reader is on their Kindle, they've come to the end of Dragon Eyes Prophecy of the Slayer (not a real title, I don't think) and right when Amazon asks them if they want to review the book they just read, under that is a list of OTHER BOOKS they might be interested in. Your goal is, if Dragon Eyes is in your genre, your book comes up as a recommendation from Amazon.

Now, if you haven't done the above and instead you tell any and everyone you run in to, to buy your book, Amazon's going to get confused because what does Knitting in Your Retirement, Romancing the Baron, and Cash Money Honeys have to do with your book about dragons. And you know what Amazon does when it can't easily put you in a nice little category based on their algorithms? It ignores you. Your 'Also Boughts' will look schizophrenic and Amazon won't be recommending you because it doesn't 'know' who your ideal reader is.

So, I know you're happy about finally publishing your book. But wait to tell your friends and family about it until it's been on Amazon a month (after you've let your ideal readers read it) and Amazon has had a chance to figure your book out and who it should show it to. Oh, and if you really must tell your friends and fam, just buy a whole bunch of paper copies bulk and sell it to them in person, leave Amazon out of the equation.