amazon reviews

How to Get Amazon Reviews For Your Book: Top Strategies for Targeting Quality Reviewers

As a self-published author, getting Amazon reviews for your book is the hardest part of any book launch. After writing, publishing, and launching your book, all of it can be for nothing if you fail to get a healthy volume of Amazon reviews to drive traffic and sales towards your book.

But where do we start to get Amazon reviews? Who do we ask? How many people should we have on our launch team to guarantee a certain number of reviews for setting up promotional sites? How many reviews is enough?

In this post, I am going to take you through the step-by-step process for getting loads of Amazon reviews on your next book launch and, to continue to get reviews from readers and organic traffic. We will look at the ways to get legitimate Amazon reviews for your book so that you can reap the benefits of turning your book into a thriving business.

Amazon Reviews and the Review Process

When you publish a book, there are essentially 6 things that score at making your book a bestseller.

They are:

  1. A killer book cover
  2. An irresistible book title
  3. An amazing book description
  4. Stealthy keywords
  5. Targeted book categories

And…

  1. Book Reviews

When Amazon ranks your book, the ranking is based on the volume of downloads your book gets and, the amount of reviews stacked on the book’s review page . Amazon’s system is designed to take notice of books that are getting steady traction when reviews get posted.

This is why it is critical that, when you launch your book you set everything up to get as many reviews as possible to get momentum going, increase organic traffic, and drive your rankings in the search engines. This means a higher percentage of people writing reviews for your book, not just at launch but for months [and years] down the road.

The bottom line is, reviews carry big weight in the form of social proof that can drive your book to a bestseller and continue to bring in healthy passive income every month.

Why do reviews matter?

  1. The more reviews you get, the more visibility your book gets. This means more sales and potential organic reviews.
  2. You create a stronger relationship with your readers.
  3. A boatload of reviews adds credibility to your book and brand.

Book reviews for your book on Amazon are one of the defining factors that determine if a potential reader will click the BUY NOW button…or not. In fact, if your book has less than 10 reviews, there is a strong chance that your book will get passed over. People want validation before purchasing, and the best way to make that decision is on the front of the product page…reviews.

Amazon Reviewer Guidelines

You can find everything you need to know about posting reviews on Amazon right here under the Community Guidelines. Amazon has tightened the ropes on reviews and as an author, you have to be aware of the tactics that are prohibited.

Here is what you shouldn’t do:

  1. Pay someone to leave a review. This not only goes against Amazon policy but, it could get your book removed from the shelf and your account banned.
  2.  Offer a free ‘gift’ in exchange for a review. No gifts allowed. This is still considered payment for a review.
  3. Join Facebook communities offering book review swaps. These sites are bad news. Amazon prohibits review swapping and is considered gaming the system. The Amazon algorithm can easily trace reviews back to these sources.
  4. Offer an Amazon gift card after a review has been published. It works like this: “You download the book and leave a review, and I will send you a gift card.” Again, this is against policy and is considered paying for a review.
  5. Leave a review for another author, and then contact that person requesting they leave a review in return. This would be a form blackmail or trapping the other author into guilt. But this doesn’t work and if you receive any such email, inform the other author that you don’t work that way. I did this once and they just removed the review.

Verified or Unverified Book Reviews

There are two kinds of Amazon reviews: verified and unverified. What is the difference?

According to Amazon:

An “Amazon Verified Purchase” review means we’ve verified that the person writing the review purchased the product at Amazon and didn’t receive the product at a deep discount.

Amazon reviews that are not marked “Amazon Verified Purchase” are valuable as well, but we either can’t confirm that the product was purchased at Amazon or the customer did not pay a price available to most Amazon shoppers.

Verified reviews are favorable and It is social proof that the reader did in fact buy the book and has potentially read through it before posting a review. A verified review shows up as a yellow banner that says “Verified Purchase.”

For unverified reviews, in most cases the reviewer received an advance copy of the book, and was possibly on a launch team to support the book’s release. While this is still a legit practice for garnering reviews for your book, if the majority of reviews are non-verified this could affect your potential customer’s decision to buy or not.

Strategies for Scoring a Boatload of Reviews

There are many ways to get reviews and, hunting for reviewers to review your book is a time consuming process. You could waste precious time chasing bad leads and end up with nothing for your effort. So where do you get reviews without spending hordes of time?

No matter how you do it, remember that it isn’t just about quantity you want but quality as well. While we can’t control what reviewers will say about our work, we can stay focused on writing great content that adds value in order to increase our chances of getting positive reviews.

To get Amazon reviews for your next book launch, or to add reviews to an existing book, consider taking action on these following strategies:

1. The Launch Team [Advance Review team]

There are many ways to hunt down reviewers for your book. As we have seen you can contact the top reviewers, target free book review sites, or reach out to book bloggers. These methods, while they may get you a handful of reviews, is time intensive and a lot of work.

I have found, after running over two dozen book launches, that the most effective way to get reviews fast on launch is through setting up a launch team. These are the people who have agreed to read your book in advance, and follow up with a review immediately after the book is live.

When it comes to building a launch team, it is about building relationships. This is why, in order to run an effective launch team, you should focus on the relationship with your early-bird reviewers.

Here is a step-by-step process for organizing your team:

Step-by-Step Process for Setting Up a Launch Team

  1. Start building your relationships early. Launch teams don’t just happen. They take work, months of outreaching, and asking the right people if they want to help launch your book when the time is right. You can generate interest by posting snippets of the book on Social media, sharing chapters of your work with your list, and promoting your cover to people.

Share your content and advertise your brand. Communicate with people in person and through online channels about your writing. Keep in mind the purpose for this is to make genuine relationships with people and not to just add them to your launch.

  1. Create your list of potential reviewers. As you build these relationships with your fanbase, start making a list of people who express interest in joining your launch. If you have multiple books and have been through the publishing process already, take note of the readers who have left reviews already.

Contact them closer towards launch of your next book to get them on board. Set up an excel spreadsheet and keep track of the names of people who sign up.

Action Step: Contact people directly and invite them to the launch team. Keep track of early-bird reviewers in excel.

  1. Set up an email template through your email server. Add everyone to the list. If you aren’t using an email server yet you can check out Mailchimp, Convert Kit or Mailerlite. Make it as easy as possible so you aren’t wasting time searching for contact information.

Send out a welcome email with a link to your book in PDF or/and Mobi form. You can create a folder in Dropbox and just include the link to a shared folder. Make it easy for them to access the material.

Action Step: Import your list of emails onto an email server list.

  1. Send out the Welcome email. Ideally you want to send out your book at least two weeks before launch. This gives people enough time to read it through. In the welcome email I include details for the launch date and any other expectations. At this stage the book isn’t live yet so you will send another email on that day with the link.

For the book delivery, you can upload a PDF version as well as a Mobi version of the book. To create a MOBI, PDF or EPUB file you can check out the Calibre ebook management software. After you have all the files ready, you can create a shared folder in Dropbox and share the link with your team.

If any top reviewers agreed to leave a review, you absolutely want to message them to follow up.

Action Step: Create a welcome email template. Send out your welcome message to the team. Include a link to your book content.

  1. Send out your ‘Take Action’ email on launch day. Your book is live and it is time for people to step up. Contact the team on launch day as soon as the book is live. After hitting publish it should take 12-24 hours for Amazon to get it posted. In the email, include a link to your book. More specifically, a link to the review page so that team members can go straight to the page with one click.
  2. Day 3: Reminder email. I wait 3 days and send out a reminder email. In this email I thank everyone who has left a review, and thank people in advance who are still working on the book and haven’t posted yet.
  3. Final Call: This is the last email I will send out. Similar to the previous email, reminding people the book is live and is ready for a review whenever you are. You can remind your team that book is at a special discounted price if you are launching it at 0.99 or it’s free.
  4. Contact Your List: If you have a list, this is gold for getting paid downloads and possible reviews. You should contact your list on the first day the book is live and let people know that the book has just launched. Then, several days later, email them again asking if they had a chance to get into the material. You could add something of value here just to show subscribers how much you value their support. This is the email where I include a ‘leave a review’ invite.

It reads like this:

Hi there…

I have a quick favor to ask you…  

Amazon uses reviews to rank books AND many readers evaluate the quality of a title based solely on this feedback from others.

To put it simply:

Reviews are very important to an author like me!

So, if you’ve enjoyed [Book title here] ,or even if you’re still working through it, could you take a minute or two to leave a review? Even a sentence or two about what you like really helps! 🙂

Here’s a link of where you can leave a review:

[My Book Title] Book Review

I really appreciate you taking the time to check out the book and I look forward to seeing any feedback you may have in the review section.

That is it!

These are the steps I use to communicate with my launch team. Generally speaking, if you want 100 reviews for your book, you should aim for at least 200 people. That is a lot of emails but, what I have experienced is that, on average, you are batting a 50% success rate. What happens to those other 50% who don’t review?

They…

  1. Didn’t like the book.
  2. Forgot to review altogether.
  3. Didn’t read the book.
  4. Couldn’t be bothered to review.

If you can get 30+ reviews on launch after one week you are looking very good. This is enough to get momentum moving and the Amazon algorithm will see that your book is doing well.

2. Contact Amazon Top Reviewers

There is a list of top 1000 reviewers on Amazon. These people review everything, although certain reviewers target books specifically. If you can get an Amazon Top Reviewer to look at your book, this is well worth it. Check out the Amazon Top Customer Reviewers list. This is  time consuming process but, if you can get 2-3 reviewers to agree to a book review, you’re all set.

Here is what you can do:

  1. Go into the reviewers profile and check the books they have reviewed. To be specific, you want to check for books in your genre. If you wrote a book on weight loss and the reviewer has written most of their reviews for romance novels, it’s a good indication what they favor. Target the reviewers interested in your topic.
  2. Check for contact information. Due to the large volume of spam and requests for reviews, most top reviewers have removed their personal email. If they have a website set up, you can send a direct email to request a review.
  3. Wait for a reply. Most reviewers, from my own experience, did not reply. I would recommend targeting 20 reviewers and wait one week. You can then resend the request again.

This is a time consuming process but, if you get a top reviewer to agree to a review, keep that person’s contact information in an excel file. Then, when you launch your next book, you can reach out to them again and again.

3. Book Review Sites

There are a number of sites out there that will find reviewers for your book. This is not the same as buying reviews for your book which, I’ll restate again, goes against Amazon’s review policy and should be avoided. In fact, Amazon has taken action against over 1000 sites on Fiverr that were selling fake review services. Yes, avoid.

Review services however can speed up the process and find reviewers for your book. One of my favorites is BookRazor. It is a paid site but they promote a system of honest reviewers for your book by providing a contact list of potential readers.

There are many other sites you can check out as well, and many of them are free while some are paid:

Kindle Book Review

Rainbow Book Reviews

KO’s Stuffed Shelf

The Kindle Book Review

4. Include a Kindle Book Review Request Page

Here is a tactic that works well. Did you know that you can include insert a request in your book for readers to leave a review? It’s a great way to invite people to review your book. I have a page at the back of my books that looks like this:

What Did You Think of [Your Book Title Here]?

First of all, thank you for purchasing this book [Your Book Title Here]. I know you could have picked any number of books to read, but you picked this book and for that I am extremely grateful.

I hope that it added at value and quality to your everyday life. If so, it would be really nice if you could share this book with your friends and family by posting to Facebook and Twitter.

If you enjoyed this book and found some benefit in reading this, I’d like to hear from you and hope that you could take some time to post a review on Amazon. Your feedback and support will help this author to greatly improve his writing craft for future projects and make this book even better.

You can follow this link to [Book link here] now.

I want you, the reader, to know that your review is very important and so, if you’d like to leave a review, all you have to do is click here and away you go. I wish you all the best in your future success!

When you do this, you want to have a link directing customers right back to the review page on Amazon. Make it so easy for them that it requires as little effort as possible. Many authors will include a cute ‘cat photo’ or even pictures of their kids begging asking for a review. This strategy can work well if you sell a large volume of books during the initial launch phase. But remember it takes readers time to go through your book and so, if you don’t see the reviews appear in the first week, you might get them trickling in weeks or even months later.

4. Relaunch Your Book

You can relaunch your book if book sales drop and the reviews stop coming in. When you relaunch your book, you can put together a new launch team, and even add a new chapter to the book to generate a renewed interest in your book.

I have tried this strategy several times in the past year and, by relaunching the book, adding new value to the content, I put together another small launch team of 30-40 people. This brought in another 20+ reviews for a book that was suffering from lack of sales and poor rankings. It happens, so we have to stay on top of keeping the book active.

Dealing With Negative Reviews

Getting positive reviews on your book is a great feeling. In a perfect world, we all want to have just the good stuff when it comes to our review platform. But alas, there will always be that dissatisfied reader that was expecting something much different than what your book was offering. Readers will leave a negative review for various reasons, and in most cases, there is nothing we can do.

But first of all, receiving a negative review isn’t the end of the world. In fact, it can lend to a book’s credibility. Look at it from a reader’s perspective. If a book has 100 positive 5-star reviews, although the reviews may be legitimate, we know that not every book is perfect. Having a load of positive reviews and nothing that is under three stars could create doubt for the browser, just as having a book with only a handful of reviews turns browsers the other way.

While negative reviews aren’t all bad, there are steps we can take to reduce the amount.

So how can we prevent our book from getting a lot of negative reviews and turning away potential book sales?

Here are four areas to pay attention to:

  1. Book quality: the single biggest reason a book will get panned by negative reviews is poor quality. This is credited to sloppy editing. A book that is not up to the quality expected by readers will get hit with a high amount of bad reviews. Then, it could get pulled off the shelf by Amazon until the author upgrades to better quality. Make sure your book is up the high standards people expect. Always respect your readers.
  2. Inaccurate description of the book: make sure that your book description, title and cover all point towards the theme of the book. If your book is titles “How to become rich in 21 days” and, after reading through the book the reader isn’t rich, well, they bought the book because of the promise you made. So, if reading a book delivers a negative outcome for your audience, someone is going to shout about it in a review.
  3. Your book is a sales pitch for your other products. If there is one thing readers don’t like, it is being hit up with offers and the push to check out other services or products in the book. This could come across as spammy and devalues the content that the readers paid for. While your goal may be to use the book to attract customers for your online business, you want to avoid any sales pitches in the book.

Writing and Submitting a Review

Writing a review for a book you like is a great way to drive potential readers to the title. If you read a great book recently and you want to tell people about it, you can take a few minutes to write up a positive review.

Writing a review is easy. Just go to the book’s front page and, under the heading Customer Reviews, you will see a button for write a customer review. Click on that and you will be taken to a page set up for ‘Your Reviews’ where you can write reviews for your purchases. What you do is:

  1. Select the rating of the book from 1-5 stars, with 5 being the best score.
  2. Write your book description in the box provided. Keep in mind that if you leave this page before submitting your review, you’ll have to start over again. I would recommend writing the review first in Word or Evernote and then copy and paste.
  3. Create a headline for the review.
  4. Hit submit. Your review will go live within a couple of hours, although it could take up to 24 hours.

One point to note here is that, with Amazon’s policy for posting reviews, you have to have an account that has made a purchase of at least $50 using a valid credit or debit card.

Your Checklist for Getting Reviews

  1. Set up a launch team for your book. Send your team a PDF/MOBI file and follow up with email right up until launch. Follow up with several reminders after the launch.
  2. Include a ‘Review Request’ page at the back of your book. Insert the link taking customers directly to the review page. Make it so easy they don’t have to search around for the book on Amazon.
  3. Contact Amazon Top Reviewers. Send a personalized email to each, targeting the people who review books similar to your genre. Wait at least two weeks before following up.
  4. Contact people in your business. This doesn’t include friends and family. Contact professionals in your field who would be willing to read the book with the possibility of leaving an honest review.
  5. Hire a site that specializes in finding honest reviewers for your book. I recommend BookRazor.
  6. Relaunch your book. Add more content, a new book cover, or make it appealing for people to join your relaunch of an existing book. You can relaunch a book as many times as you want.

There are a lot of strategies out there to get reviews for your books, most are legit, and some are not. As an author, make sure you are aware of what Amazon considers to be authentic reviews when it comes to gathering reviews for your next book. Keep review hunting and adding more to your book. This increases value and credibility for your work, boosting sales and making your book stick as a bestseller.

writing a book

8 Steps to Start Writing a Book

One of the biggest challenges to writing a book is starting. Putting actual words to “digital” paper can create stress, anxiety, and instill that fear of failure.

Writing in and of itself isn’t that hard but the trap that many people fall into is, where do I begin? Do I write chapter 1 first? Should I start without an outline? Do I need to finish that course on book writing before doing anything?

Resistance to the craft just seems to show up at the beginning of each writing session as we become flooded with feelings of overwhelm, perfection, and the fear of failure. We want to do everything right, to navigate around potential mistakes when writing your book. But this could be the very thing holding you back from starting your book.

So how do you start writing? How do you keep the momentum going each day until finished? How do you deal with the most common sticking points for writers and creatives that show up disguised as procrastination, self-doubt, and uncertainty?

Why do we stop ourselves from starting the things that would bring us the most joy?

If we procrastinate and put off the writing by telling ourselves “I’ll do it later” or “I I’m just not in the mood today”, you’ll walk away from your writing project full of frustration.

Writing a book is like any other project: You have to stick with a schedule, be resilient, and push through the resistance when you get stuck. Small details and not sure what to do next can keep you from making progress.

If you are feeling overwhelmed when it comes to starting your book, you are not alone. This is a common obstacle for most authors, even after they have been doing for years. But there are a few effective strategies we can use to get over this hurdle and become book finishers instead of book dreamers.

In this blog post, I’ll give you some simple strategies for:

  • Getting started on your book
  • Building momentum
  • staying focused on your writing project.

We will look at 8 strategies you can put into action to assure you show up again and again with a game plan to get your thoughts out of your head, down on paper, and into the minds of your readers.

Develop the Writing Habit

To get started on your book, it requires the mindset of “just do it”. Remember the Nike commercial? Doing it means you are moving beyond just thinking about your book. By taking action, you can immersing yourself deep into the process of putting words to digital paper. But to get there, you have to show up and do it. Write that first word, first sentence, and first page.

This can be accomplished with building the writing habit. The #1 reason authors fail to publish a book is because they never finish the book they intend to write. Why? They didn’t do any writing. Or they tried for a few days but realized that, unlike the myths of a writer creating the great American novel and earning millions of dollars from a book deal, writing is hard work.

But you can do this. The resistance you have towards starting your project is just fear. Do you know what the cure is for removing fear? Yes, taking action and just doing it.

Every book I wrote has been published. Why? I finished it. How does a book get finished and ready for publishing? One word at a time. Where would you be if you could write a thousand words a day? One thousand words a day is about an hours work. We spend longer than that a day watching TV or surfing the Net looking for mindless distractions.

Your writing habit can start small. You can commit to five-hundred words a day first thing in the morning. Build up to a bigger word count over the days and weeks to come. If writing is difficult for you, write a page of three hundred words. If that is difficult, write a paragraph of one hundred words. If it still persists, make it a sentence.

Keep breaking it down until you can show up everyday to work on your book. The writing habit isn’t about writing quantity, it is building the behaviour at first. You can scale up as you go.

What most people get stuck on isn’t writing once or twice but to keep it going, to start writing every morning. It is breaking past the first ten minutes of bad writing when the ideas are not flowing and you have to keep pushing forward to get into the flow.

8 Strategies for Starting Your Book and Building Momentum

1. Write in Bite-Sized Chunk Method

Feeling overwhelmed about writing your book is a natural feeling. If you pull a book of your shelf and hold it in your hands, you can feel the weight of it, the amount of words it contains. You know a lot of work went into this book you are holding.

You might think about the author and how much time they spent writing, researching, planning, editing, and all of the other steps that went into getting the book to market. As you think about this, it isn’t any wonder overwhelm creeps in and steals our creative moment.

But remember, every book successfully finished had a beginning. The author started somewhere, even if he or she wrote the ending first. If you are having trouble starting, you can write just a paragraph. Or a sentence. Or the first word. Start with something.

Momentum begins with taking that first action.

Remember what Lao Tzu said: “The journey of a thousand miles begins with one step.”

Well, the journey of writing a book begins with that first page.

The bite-sized chunk method works because it breaks your project down into a manageable state. It is the act of staying present in the moment and focusing on the Deep Work we can do in the now.

2. Stay Focused on One Project

One of the challenges many authors face is dealing with the horde of ideas that continue to pop up as they are fixated on the one project. I hear it all the time:

I often hear people say: “I have so many ideas for other books I don’t know where to start.”

So most don’t.

Or, “I’m going to write three books at the same time and then publish all three within weeks of each other.”

But they never finish any of them.

My favorite: “I don’t know where to start because I’m so overwhelmed. I’ll just research some more before writing.”

Then the research takes months and nothing gets written.

Staying fixed on one project is challenging but, if you spread your energy thin, you’ll get weak results. When you start something, start it with the decision that you will finish it within a set time period. Have a plan for everyday, even if it is just “write for thirty minutes on my book.”

Writing two or three books at the same time requires high-end organizational skills and experience. Stick with your one project until finished. Having ten books in first draft mode will not do much for your self confidence if you don’t finish any of them.

Remember: only published books can earn you money and get you interviewed by podcasters who want you to tell your story.

Focus on your One Thing until finished.

3. Know Where to Start

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

You decided to wake up early to start writing your book. You sit down. Time  passes by. After twenty minutes you still have a Blank page.

You realize you need coffee first to get things moving so you get up to make some.

Come back. Sit down.

Blank page.

Before writing that first sentence, you decide to check your email. Might as well do something while waiting for inspiration. Several emails marked urgent require an immediate response. You take care of that first, still thinking you are in warmup mode.

Then you get several FB notifications on your desktop. You jump over to FB to check it out because that will just take a few minutes anyway while you’re here, and then you’ll start.

Thirty minutes has passed and you are still reading up on today’s current posts that run in an endless loop. Now one hour has passed, you’re tired, and you need a break to stretch.

But, you never make it back to your book for that day.

This is a familiar story with writer’s. We have the best intentions to start writing and then, when we show up to get it done, we make ourselves feel so busy by buying into cheap distractions that nothing gets written.

Once again, we fail to start. This is why you need a plan before you show up to write. Without a game plan, you are inviting distractions in to take over your schedule for the day.

Starting a book the first time isn’t difficult. But starting your writing session everyday can be. Depending on the time of day you write, it is important to be clear about two things:

1. What are you writing about right now? Is it your introduction? The first 1000 words of chapter 7? If you don’t know what you are writing, you’ll lose momentum from the start. Be clear about the material you are working on. Of course you can start cold just to warm up if you aren’t sure, but when you are short on time, every minute counts.

2. How much are you writing? Set a target goal for your session. You can approach this in two ways. Write for a set amount of time [30 minute session]. Or, set a word target goal [1000 words].

Now that we have a plan for what to write, we can…

4. Write With Focus

Once you get into the flow of writing, you want to stay there for the duration of your writing session. Suddenly stopping to check that email notification can break your concentration and set you back 20-30 minutes.

By the time you are done chasing digital data down the rabbit hole, you might not get back to your writing. You started something but you couldn’t finish it.

By jumping around we become less efficient and it takes twice as long to complete our writing. Stay centered in the moment and leave the distractions on the outside.

We can do this by following a few simple strategies.

  1. Use focus enhancer apps such as pomodoro, coffitivity.com or StayFocused to build more focus into your writing time.
  2. Turn off your phone during your writing time.
  3. Inform friends and family you will be unavailable during this time.

Get yourself into the writer’s flow and you’ll become unstoppable while working in this mode. I work with a 25 Minute Timer that tracks the time spent on a project. Take a break and then get back into it.

5. Set Your Creative Mood

The environment you write in plays an important role in writing. Some writers can get focused in a noisy cafe; other people need solitude and the background of quiet music.

Create the environment that is relaxing and settles you into the mood for writing. If you are constantly feeling distracted, you’ll struggle to get into the writer’s flow.

Set your writing session up for success: favorite music, inspirational quotes, or reading a section of your favorite book to get you “feeling” it.

You can even decorate your work area with the pictures of your favorite authors or best writing quotes. Spend 30 minutes to create your ideal space for writing. You will feel more inspired to show up and write even on those days when you are not feeling like it.

Inspiration will not always be there, so you have to create your inspiration for those days when dealing with writer’s fatigue.

6. Use the Seinfeld Method to Stay Accountable

In the early days of his career, Jerry Seinfeld was asked how he managed to create such great content. He said: “The way to be a better comic was to create better jokes, and the way to create better jokes was to write every day.”

Well, as authors, this definitely applies to the craft. The way to be a good writer is to write everyday, and to write everyday you have to set yourself up for success even before the pen hits the paper [or the fingers tap the keyboard]. Jerry Seinfeld used what is now the ‘calendar method’. He called it the “Don’t break the chain” method. It works like this.

Get yourself a calendar and hang it on your wall. Then, for every day that you write, cross an X on the day. You should have a calendar week with a row of Xs at the end. If you keep the chain going, you will have your book written in less than 30 days. But you have to start somewhere.

So start right now and work on your book for 30 minutes today. When you are finished, mark that X on your calendar. If you miss a day, start again and see how many days you can get in a row before you break the chain.

7. Review Your Mindmap and Outline

If you don’t have a well constructed outline, you run the risk of getting lost in your book. This could waste time as you write just for the same of writing without purpose. Your outline provides clarity and direction to your story. Before you write, spend five minutes reviewing your outline.

Create a checklist of chapters and another checklist for the subtitle themes in each chapter. When we can check things off, it gives us a boost in confidence and we know that we are getting closer to our goal: finishing the book.

8. Free Flow for 10 Minutes

You can start with a strategy known as free flowing. This is a random series of thoughts about anything written in word or notepad. Julia Cameron, the bestselling author of The Artist’s Way, called these morning pages.

You don’t have to publish or edit these words. They are for your eyes only. But the key is to start writing something. It’s like working out at the gym. You can’t just walk in and start lifting the heavy weights before you warm-up. It is best to do some stretching with “words” and ease your way into it. You’ll find this will loosen your thoughts and get things moving. I have rarely had a day I couldn’t write if I did this first.

Once you are ready and the ideas are clicking, pull out your mind map or outline and get to work. You can sprint for thirty minute increments or less. I usually go for sixty minutes and then take a five minute break. In two sessions of this I can get on average two thousand words written.

Don’t worry about the word count. We are going for habit building here. Writing is hard if you are not used to it. You need to break yourself into the habit at first; after a couple of weeks you’ll be flying straight ahead.

Dealing With Resistance

It is a common obstacle that resistance to the writing is going to show up and hold us back from creating. Resistance is a form of fear that latches onto the mind and pulls us off course. If you let it, resistance will turn into a heavy form of procrastination. For years I resisted my natural urge to write. I would give into the resistance and take the easy path: watching TV, playing games or the like.

Resistance doesn’t have to defeat you. As long as you follow the first two steps you’ll be fine. But getting started, even if it is one word on paper, can turn the momentum into a powerful snowball. There are several levels to this obstacle and each one can be stronger than the last depending where you are in the process of writing.

Start-It-Up Checklist

So to revamp, here is your checklist for getting started on your book. If any of the components are missing you can go back and complete them. When you have a checklist it sets the pace for your writing schedule. I use this still even though I’ve been wiring for years because the urge to procrastinate and get stuck still shows up.

Know when to write. Set your writing session for the same time each morning. I set mine at 5:30. In order to start I have to show up at least by 5:25. This gives a few minutes to get relaxed and comfortable. I’ll spend a few minutes thinking about what I’ll be writing about. Then, using the Pomodoro technique you can set your writing session for twenty-five minutes. Take a five minute break. Go for another session.

Be ready with your outline. Have your outline ready to go. This keeps you on track and makes sure you have all your ideas organized in a natural flow. When you get stuck you can go back to your outline and find what comes next. Your outline is the roadmap for your book. Make it as detailed as you can and you’ll get finished faster with a solid outline ready to send to the editor after a quick self-edit.

Read morning affirmations. Affirmations are powerful snippets of positive “juice” that set the tone and atmosphere for writing. An affirmation for a writer could be a quote from a writer, motivational or inspiring words from someone who has been there and done that. I keep a collection of affirmations in a journal and, when I am struggling with a writing session, I’ll warm up by flipping through these affirmations for inspiration.

Here are some inspiring quotes to start with:

“It doesn’t matter how slow you go as long as you do not stop.”

— Confucius

“A writer who waits for ideal conditions under which to work will die without putting a word on paper.”

— E.B. White

“Have the courage to follow your heart and intuition. They somehow know what you truly want to become.”

— Steve Jobs

“It is impossible to live without failing at something, unless you live so cautiously that you might as well not have lived at all, in which case you have failed by default.”

— J.K . Rowling

Ready…Set…

You can do this. You now have ten mini-strategies for starting your book. The fears of writers rejection are being stamped out as you set out on an incredible journey to becoming a published author. I know there is a long road ahead, but you plug at this everyday and you’ll get your book done.

Just do it.

Start with that first word.

Build with small steps.

Your next bestseller is closer than you think.

how to get isbn

How to Get an ISBN: Cracking the Code for Self-Publishers

Did you ever wonder what that string of numbers is all about on the back of books carried in bookstores, libraries, or online stores such as Amazon? Have you also wondered how to get an ISBN? That 13-digit number is used to identify a book title, in a specific format, from a certain publisher, for the purpose of identification and inventory control.

The acronym ISBN stands for “International Standard Book Number” and, before it was implemented in 1967, the method and system for cataloging, ordering, organizing, and locating a specific book was a chaotic mess.

In the early days of World War 2, when the Japanese military were sending messages back and forth, the allies needed to crack the numbering system to get an edge in the war and turn the tables. How did they crack the complex system? MI6 recruited young mathematician Gordon Foster to work as a codebreaker at Bletchley Park, where he would go through millions of numbers to look for patterns in the code.

Decades later, when the book industry needed a standardized system to track in order to coordinate the increasing number of titles being published each year, Gordon Foster was approached by WH Smith, a British retailer, to write up a report on how a standard numbering system would look for books.

This report led to the 9-digit standard book number which went live in the UK in 1967. Several years later this turned into a 10-digit numbering system when it was decided a system was needed for new editions and variations. Then, in 2007, the ISBN switched to a 13-digit format, and is now the standard for all ISBNs. Later we will look at what these numbers mean.

how to get an isbn

Reasons Self-Publishers Need an ISBN

The ISBN is a unique numeric identifier that is used globally to identify a specific version of a book title. Without an ISBN it will be almost impossible for your book to be found at the bookstore, local library, or online retailers. Although it is possible for self-publishers to get a free ISBN through Createspace, there are definite benefits to buying your own.

What Is an ISBN Used For?

The ISBN is a critical part of any book because it:

  • Identifies the specific title
  • Identifies the author
  • Identifies the type of book they are buying
  • Identifies the physical properties of that particular book
  • Identifies the geographical location of the publisher

Do I need an ISBN for my book?

This is a common question writers ask before they publish their book. You need an ISBN for your book if you are planning to have your title available in bookstores, available with online retailers such as Amazon or Lightning Source, and in libraries. Note that an ISBN is, as of now, not necessary for publishing an eBook.

But if you plan to publish multiple books and you want your publishing business to gain greater access to the global community, buying a block of ISBNs through Bowker is definitely the way to go.

How do I get an ISBN?

If you live in the USA, you have to get an ISBN through myidentifiers.com, run by Bowker, the only company that is authorized to administer the ISBN program in the United States. You can purchase ISBNs as a single unit or in bulk of 10, 100 or 1000.

If you are planning to publish more books, it would make sense to buy the bulk of 10 or 100 ISBNs. A single number will cost you $125.00 but in bulk of 10, only $295.00. For larger publishers, the 100 pack is purchased at $595.00. You can purchase 1000 ISBNs for $1500.

Authors and Publishers Living Outside the USA:

You can check out the ISBN Agency in your local area. ISBNs are assigned locally but are used internationally. Once you buy your ISBN and your book is published, be sure to register your title with Bowkerlink.

The bottom line is, having your own ISBN gives you greater control over your book as well as maximizing your global reach.

Free ISBNs vs. paid: Createspace or Bowker?

Self-published authors have the option of being assigned a free ISBN through Createspace, the On-Demand Publishing company that is part of the Amazon group of companies. While this is totally fine to do, in large part because ISBNs will add an extra expense to your book publishing costs, if publishing is a long term plan for you, consider buying your own ISBNs.

The main difference between an ISBN that is assigned for free and one you pay for is, in the case when a self publishing house issues the ISBN it is identified as the publisher. When you buy your own, the author [for self publishers] or the publisher is listed as the publisher. This publisher is always identified within the 13-digit ISBN.

If you print a paperback or hardcover book through Lightning Source [Ingramspark] you will have to purchase ISBNs to publish because they are not provided.

10 Common Questions About ISBNs: How Much Do You Know?

  1. How many ISBNs do I need? What if I intend to publish multiple books and multiple editions?

In this case, you would want to buy a block of ISBNs in bulk. With every format of the book and all future new versions, an ISBN needs to be assigned. If your book is just getting a few typos fixed up, it isn’t necessary to assign a new ISBN but only if the product changes format. If you plan to write and publish a series of books, each book in the series will need its own individual ISBN.

  1. Do I need an ISBN to sell in each individual country?

No, ISBNs are international. They are just assigned locally. If you live in the US, you can purchase your ISBN through Bowker. If you live in Australia, you would go to the Australian ISBN Agency to get your ISBN. In Japan, you would go here. For a list of the international agencies, you can visit the International ISBN Agency.

  1. If I create a series of books, can I use the same ISBN for all the books?

Many authors, both in fiction and nonfiction, have an ISSN number assigned to their book series. ISSN stands for International Standard Series Number. But, each book in the series will also be assigned its own ISBN. The ISSN can be purchased from the Library of Congress. The ISBN can be bought through Bowker, or your local ISBN agency.

  1. When do you need an ISBN?

If you are selling your book in bookstores, online distributors, wholesalers, or carrying in libraries you will need an ISBN. Self-published authors have the option of being assigned a free ISBN through Createspace, the On-Demand Publishing company that is part of the Amazon group of companies.

  1. When you copyright your book, isn’t the ISBN included automatically?

Buying an ISBN is not the same as copyrighting your book. ISBNs are sold through Bowker, but the copyright is filed through the Library of Congress.

  1. Is a barcode the same as an ISBN?

The ISBN and barcode are different, and they are sold as different products but both can be purchased through Bowker. The barcode is used to scan the book and includes information about that book such as the price [fixed] or the currency that it is being sold in. You need a barcode to sell your book online or in bookstores. You also need an ISBN number first in order to buy a barcode.

  1. Can your eBook be published without an ISBN?

Yes, it can be. However, you can assign an ISBN to your eBook, but as of now, it is not necessary to publish on Amazon. Your book will be assigned an ASIN number that identifies your book as a product being sold through Amazon.

  1. What is the difference between ASIN and ISBN?

ASIN numbers are used by Amazon to manage and identify the products they are selling on their site. An ASIN, Amazon Standard Identification Number] is the  number that identifies the exact product that you are selling. It’s a 10-character alphanumeric unique identifier that’s assigned by Amazon.com and its partners. You can find this on your book page. In your browser, the Amazon ASIN will be after the product’s name and “dp”. The next place to find this is in your book details [or product details] area of your book page.

  1. How many times can I use the same ISBN?

The ISBN number is a unique number for that particular book that can only be assigned once and, once it is assigned, will never be used again with any other book in the future, including second versions of the same book.

  1. Do I need an ISBN if I am not selling in bookstores, say, selling on my own at speaking events? NO. An ISBN is not needed.

How To Read an ISBN: What do the Numbers Stand For?

As of 2007, the ISBN number is made up of a 13-digit number. This came about in large part because of the large volume of eBooks now being published every year. Have you ever wondered what all those digits mean? If you are like most people, probably not. But to a book publisher, knowing how to break down these digits is definitely something you want to pay attention to. You can tell a lot about a book [and its author] by reading the ISBN number.

Let’s break it down and look at what all these numbers mean.

Here is the ISBN for a particular book:

978-1-545070-17-8

You’ll notice this sequence is divided into 5 number combinations. But the first three digits “978” indicates that this string of numbers is for an ISBN. if we remove these digits we have:

1-545070-17-8

First is the initial digit, in this case: 1

The 1 is the language group identifier which here indicates English. Either 0 or 1 is used for English speaking countries. These numbers for language identification generally range from 1-5.

Here is a list of the most common Group identifiers:

0 or 1 for English

2 for  French

3 for German

4 for Japan

5 for Russian

7 for Peoples Republic of China

It’s worth mentioning that the rarer the language, the longer the number identifier will be. For example, Indonesia is 602 whereas Turkey is 9944. You can reference the complete list at the International ISBN Agency.

Next is the six digit series: “545070” — This is the “publisher code,” and it identifies the publisher on any book that has this number series. This number can be as long as 9 digits.

“17” — This number represents the title of the book. The publisher assigns this to a specific book or edition of the book, such as a hardcover version or paperback. This could be a single digit or stretch to multiple digits.

8” is the last digit and is known as the #check digit”. This number is mathematically calculated as a fixed digit. This is always 1-digit only. This number indicates that the rest of the ISBN numbers have been scanned and, is calculated based on the other digits in the code.

How to Register Your Book and ISBN

As soon as you purchase your ISBN through Bowker [or the International equivalent in your local area] and you publish your book, you should register here at Bowkerlink. This is an automated tool that will add your book to Bowker’s Books In Print and Global Books In Print. I recommend you download the free PDF “ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration” with step-by-step instructions on setting up your title.

how to get an isbn

The ISBN and Barcode

You’ll notice on the back of the book that the ISBN and the barcode appear together.The barcode is a graphic made up of vertical lines that encodes numerical information about the book. The barcode is not an ISBN. To buy a barcode, you have to purchase the ISBN first. The barcode is a necessary element for most retailers and distributors as it provides a scannable version of the ISBN. The standard barcode is known as the EAN [European Article Number] barcode. If you sell your book in bookstores, you must have the standard EAN barcode.

Reading a barcode: If you look at the picture of a standard barcode, you’ll notice two barcodes side by side. The barcode that appears on the left is the EAN generated from the ISBN number. The other number appearing on the right is a 5-digit add-on, called an EAN-5, that contains the price of the book. The first digit is a 5, and is a must for scanners to read. The 4-digits after the five indicates the price of the book.

For example, if the number reads 51495, this means the price of the book is set at $14.95. If the price of the book changes, a new barcode must be used, but the ISBN doesn’t change. This would only be replaced by a new ISBN if the book is published as a new edition or new version.

You can buy your barcodes at Bowker and they even offer a barcode-ISBN combo:

  • 1 barcode + 1 ISBN is $150.
  • 1 barcode + 10 ISBNs is $320.

Wrapping It Up

Now that you have a very good idea how to buy and use ISBNs for your own books, all the best on setting this up. If you want to be recognized as a publisher and have your books available to a larger global audience by registering through Bowker, consider investing in your own ISBNs. Think of it as buying a piece of property: You own it and it is registered in your name.

For more information, you can find out anything you want to know by visiting the official Bowker page or at myidentifiers.com

I will leave you with a simple actionable checklist for ISBNs.

If you want to buy an ISBN for your next book, here is what you can do:

  1. Go to the website https://www.myidentifiers.com
  2. Under the ISBN drop down tab, click on ISBNs—Buy Here. You can select 1, 10 or 100. For a bulk purchase, go to “Buying ISBNs in Bulk” and you can contact Bowker directly to discuss your options.
  3. Once you have your ISBN assigned, you can then use it everywhere that requires your ISBN number.
  4. At Createspace, under the “Setup” channel, you can choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN. When you buy your own ISBN at Bowker, just put in the 13-digit number and Createspace will use this in your paperback.
  5. If you publish your paperback through KDP [Kindle Direct Publishing], you can fill in your number in the “Paperback Content” section of your book when you log into your bookshelf. If you choose to have Createspace assign you an ISBN, KDP will ask for your 13-digit number if you are transferring your physical version over to KDP.
  6. Register your ISBN here at Bowker as soon as your book is ready for sale. Download the free ISBN Guides: Title Set Up & Registration step-by-step guide.

Helpful Links & Resources

These links appeared throughout the post but here they are for easy access.

International ISBN Agency

https://www.isbn-international.org

ISBN.org by Bowker

http://www.isbn.org/faqs_general_questions

Bowkerlink Publisher Access System

https://commerce.bowker.com/corrections/common/home.asp

Bowker Identifier Services

https://www.myidentifiers.com

U.S. Copyright Office

https://www.copyright.gov

ISBN Set Up Guide

ISBN Guides: Basic Information

book launch

How to Run a Book Launch Like a Pro

Every self-publishing author needs a solid book launch plan. Writing a book takes planning, time, diligence and then, some tech know-how. You spend months [or years] crafting your novel, you’ve spent a small fortune on a cover, editing, proofreading, formatting, and various other expenses on your writing journey. The worst of the storm is behind you.

You’ve made it.

You’re now ready to hit publish.

Almost…

Do you have a book launch plan for your book? Is your launch team standing by ready to review the book when it hits the digital waves? Will you be using paid promo sites to boost your sales and garner potentially thousands of downloads during your launch window? Are you set up to promote your book in various channels and using the top social media sites available?

I know, launching a book is a big deal. All the work that you’ve put in up to now will fall short of nothing if you launch badly. So, in this post, we will show you how to launch your book on Amazon like a pro.

In this post you’ll figure out how to:

  • Price your book during launch
  • Set up your complete launch strategy during soft launch
  • Collect reviews from your launch team
  • Set your book up with the best promo sites for both paid and free
  • Stick to a minimalist launch plan

Before we even get into launching your book, we need to take a look at the pre-launch checklist and make sure everything is ready to go. There is nothing worse than a few days into launch and you realize you’ve missed an important piece of the puzzle.

The Pre- Book Launch Final Checklist

Here is a short checklist to make sure that you have taken care of these things before launch. These steps don’t have to be perfect and can be changed or tweaked later as needed.

  • Book Description — Create your book description using the Book Description Generator at Kindlepreneur.com
  • Keywords — Select 7 keywords for your book. I use KDP Rocket and Kindlespy. There is also Merchant Words and Google Adwords
  • Choose 2 main categories for your book in the KDP dashboard. Once your book is live you can email Amazon and request to have your book put into eight additional categories.
  • Create a landing page for your book. This can be used to collect email addresses and give away a chapter of your book before its release. [optional]
  • Upload your manuscript to KDP. Proofread your book using the KDP online previewer.
  • Upload your Kindle cover to KDP.
  • Set your launch price at 0.99.
  • Insert a lead magnet into your book, both at the front and back. Connect this with your email server such as Mailchimp or ConvertKit.
  • Get your audiobook created. Set up to release with your book through Audible or ACX. [Optional]
  • Paperback version created. You can set up your paperback here at Createspace. Optional: Your paperback can be launched after the Kindle release.
  • Emails written for pre-release during launch week to send to launch team.
  • Goodreads account created and author profile setup.
  • Launch Plan Model: Map out the specific action steps you are taking for each day of your launch. I have provided a model for this further down the post.

First of all, there are many different launch strategies and actions to take leading up to a book launch. For this launch strategy I am teaching you here, we are keeping things simple. This will be for a twelve day launch including 3 days free promo through Amazon where readers can download your book for free.

You can also check out Steve Scott’s 5-Day Launch Plan That Works post here to see how he effectively launched his [and co-author Barrie Davenport’s] bestselling book 10-Minute Digital Declutter. Nick Loper of Side Hustle Nation had a successful launch when he published his bestselling book Buy Buttons with 2600+ copies sold. Another great launch was for Rob Cubbon’s latest book The New Freedom and his detailed launch plan is right here.

Looking at the different strategies that are out there, it is easy to see that launching a book requires a strategic plan. But it doesn’t have to be overly complicated. Your launch plan will depend largely on: 1. Your objectives and purpose; 2. Your platform. The bigger your platform and access to influencers, the bigger [and complicated] your launch is.

In this post I’ll provide you with a simple, step-by-step process for setting up your book launch, including your free promo, and the corresponding promo sites to use that can increase your category rankings and generate potentially thousands of downloads.

If everything is ready, it’s time to hit publish on your book. But first, a few things you need to know about Amazon’s algorithm and overall product launch strategy. Remember, Amazon wants you to succeed. If you make money, Amazon makes money: it’s a win-win!

The Amazon Algorithm: A Few Basics

Amazon uses an algorithm to measure and track book sales [and everything else]. Knowing a few basics of how this works to your advantage can better help you to have a greater launch and, to sustain the life of your book for months [and years] after the launch buzz wears off. Basically, your book starts ranking as soon as browsers make a purchase.

Every purchase of your book pushes the ranking of your book up the ladder. As a book moves up, it jumps ahead of the other books in your selected category. The rankings are based on recent sales and Amazon favors a book that is getting consistent, ongoing sales.

A book that runs a promo and gets 200 sales in one day, but then nothing else for the week, will not perform as well as a book that gets the same amount of downloads over the course of a ten day period. Slow, steady traffic and a long-term plan is the way to succeed with your author business. Steady, organic growth will always outperform a sudden burst of downloads.

It’s also worth noting that reviews and the price of your book do not affect the sales rank, but, the more quality reviews you have, the stronger your book’s credibility will be viewed by readers. This does affect the decision-making power of browsers, which funnels into more downloads. Focus on getting as many reviews as you can during this launch phase.

Setting Up Your Amazon Bestseller

The 0.99 Launch Strategy:

What? Launch my book at just 0.99? But that’s like giving it away for free, and it’s worth more than that? Yes, I know how you feel, but trust me, there is a reason for launching it at this price that we will get into shortly. Remember: think long-term. You are selling it at a super-low point now, but the rewards are coming later. So, if you haven’t already, go into the KDP dashboard and under the section on pricing, set your book at 0.99. With the exception of the free promo period, your book will be at 0.99 for the duration of the launch.

The Free book launch Strategy:

Setting up your free launch is easy. If you plan to run a free promo for your book, you can set this up as soon as your book is live on Amazon. To run a free promotion, your book has to be enrolled in the KDP Select program for 90 days. A book that is listed for free will be ranked in the free store and books set at a price are ranked in the paid store.

If you are debating on doing a free promo, I would suggest you do if you don’t have a following [email list] or you are just getting started. The free promo will get your book into more hands [that will hopefully read it] and increase the visibility across more platforms.

Book Promotion Sites: Free and Paid

Book promotion sites can be very powerful when launching your book. You can take full advantage of these sites for both your paid and free launch. I’ll show you a generic scenario for batching these sites together to give your book that boost it may need. If you have a healthy email list, then you won’t have to rely on these sites as much as authors that are just starting out and don’t have a strong platform yet.

Keep in mind that results vary for and that your performance for each site will depend largely on the quality of your book. You still need the essentials: a great cover, compelling book description, and a title that catches the browser’s attention.

Below is a list of my personal favorites that I have used, in combination with an email list,  to launch multiple bestsellers. Also, you can check out Dave Chesson’s blog on this as he covers the best sites to use for both free and paid.

The price for each promo site varies depending on the niche and category.

Top Recommended Promo Sites

  1. Buckbooks. If you can get onto any of these promo sites, Buckbooks is the one you want to try to get into. You need 10 reviews before they’ll schedule you. Note: You can promote a 2nd book on the same day for only 25% of the price. Great deal. But you can only promote once every 6 months for each book. If you use their Archangel Ink book production services you’ll get a guaranteed placement.
  2. Robin Reads — [need 10 reviews and a 4.9 rating] Takes a couple days to get approved [$55]. Great results. I usually get anywhere from 60-100 downloads with this one. https://robinreads.com/author-signup/ Note: They have a calendar that is usually booked out weeks in advance. In this case consider using Robin Reads for future promos of existing books already launched.
  3. BookSends — $40. If you can match this up with Robin Reads or Bucks on the same day it’s a great little boost. http://booksends.com/
  4. BKnights [Fiverr] You can’t go wrong for $5. I would also take the extra gig for $5 and get in on their daily newsletter. Downloads average 12-30 depending on the book.
  5. eReader News — Great gig but hard to get approved at times. takes several days for a response. Various prices. http://ereadernewstoday.com/
  6. Booksbutterfly. You are basically paying for downloads, one of the few [if only] site that does that. They have various packages for everything. I recommend the Silver Eagle [$90] that gets you 50+ downloads + KU borrows. [https://www.booksbutterfly.com/bookpromo…/paidbookpromotion/]
  7. The Fussy Librarian [http://www.thefussylibrarian.com/]. Great promo but very hard to book in advance. They are usually booked out 2-3 weeks ahead. Need 10 reviews to get accepted. Various price ranges. Strong results.
  8. Bargain Booksy. I love this one, no reviews needed and you can sign up right away and get approved. $25 for nonfiction. Lots of categories and good results. https://www.bargainbooksy.com/sell-more-books/
  9. eBooks Habit. Great little promo, I recommend the guaranteed placement for $10. http://ebookshabit.com/for-authors/
  10. Awesome Gang. This one is great for the price, $10. They have a free option but go with the paid. http://awesomegang.com/submit-your-book/
  11. Many Books. Great little gig, average returns, $29. You can also sign up to become a featured author. http://manybooks.net/promote
  12. Digital Book Today [$40]. Good gig, average returns and works better with fiction than non fiction. http://digitalbooktoday.com/
  13. eBook Stage. Another great little promo site, reasonably priced. $10. https://ebookstage.com/
  14. Book Runes [http://bookrunes.com/]. Global reach with over 50k mailing list, $25. Average to very good results.
  15. BookBub. This is by far the biggest and the best promo site. Very tough to get accepted and it is expensive, but worth every dime. At the very least you should set up an Author profile on Bookbub and start to get people to follow you. They have a great blog too that gives powerful tips on how to get a BookBub feature. https://insights.bookbub.com
  16. Email your list [if you have one]. if you don’t, BUILD one. This is by far better than all of the promo sites combined. If you don’t have a list yet, start building one with Mailchimp, Mailerlite or Convertkit.

The Book Launch Sequence and Set-Up

To make this simple, I’m giving you a sample of a book launch that covers 12 days. This is similar to the launch that I did for my book Relaunch Your Life, except that I didn’t run a free promo this time around. Here we will look at the plan to include the free promo as well. Your launch will look and perform differently than this. You can use this as a model and tweak if needed. This launch is if you are launching your book at 0.99 with a free promo set up through KDP for 2-3 days.

What is the difference between a soft launch and the actual launch?

Your soft launch begins the moment you hit publish. If you plan on launching your book on a Sunday, I would recommend hitting the publish button at least 24 hours early. It takes Amazon about 24 hours to set up your book. It could take less or more time. In this launch model we will use 3 days for our soft launch window, and then begin the actual launch on day 4.

The 12-Day Book Launch Model

Day 1: First day soft launch.

The first day of your soft launch is critical. This is the day when you are going to set up your book to have a successful launch for the next 10 or 11 days. The price point is set at 0.99.

Here is a brief checklist of what to do on day 1 of the soft launch:

  1. Create your Amazon Author Page. Set up your bio and upload an author pic.
  2. Claim your book by hitting the ‘add more books’ tab. This will appear on your author page within 24 hours.
  3. Email your launch team. Let them know the book is ready for verified reviews.
  4. Email Amazon customer support. Request that your book is placed in additional categories.
  5. Set up a few promo sites for days 2 or 3 while your book is at 0.99. This starts to build momentum. Recommended Awesome Gang, Bknights, and Booksbutterfly.
  6. As soon as you have ten reviews, set up the rest of your promo sites for the week. Not all of these promo sites require a set number of reviews. Check the list for links to the sites and submission requirements.
  7. Set up your Free promo in the KDP dashboard. Your free promo will be 2-3 days. This would start on day 4 [or however long you decide to run your soft launch]. If you do a 5-day soft launch your free would start on day 6. Set up several paid promo sites to advertise your book for free. Although your book is free, the promos will cost you.

For your free promo on days 4-5 contact:

James H Mayfield [Note: his calendar is very busy. You might not get on for the days you want with short notice. Consider using your remaining free days at a later date and arrange to have James promo your book.]

Bknights [free promo]

Awesome Gang

Freebooksy

Booksbutterfly

Combine these promo sites with the organic traffic from Amazon and you should do very well for free downloads.

  1. Email your list [if you have one].

Day 2-3 Soft launch [Note: You can extend this to 5 days, it’s up to you]

  1. Social media burst to your FB page, mastermind groups, and other sources to spread the word.

Day 4-6: FREE Promo. Scheduled promo sites on day 1 to advertise your book. Send an email to your team to notify your book is now free. Promote to social media.

Day 7-10: Run paid promo sites recommended from the list above. You can cluster these a day apart or combine 2-3 promos a day.

Day 11-12: Launch is winding down. If you followed the plan you should have had a considerable number of downloads for both free and paid. Remember: numbers vary depending on your platform, book quality, niche, and sometimes, luck. Email your list and remind them the book will be 0.99 for only one more day. Contact your launch team and thank them for reviews and their support. Last call for reviews and downloads.

Day 13: Increase the price to $2.99. Leave it there for one week and raise it to $3.99. You can test the pricing by going up to $4.99 and watching the action. Monitor the sales and adjust to however you feel comfortable.

I spend around $300-$400 per launch minimum on promo sites but how much you spend is up to you. Stagger them out over the course of 10-12 days.

Beyond the Book Launch

One of the biggest challenges authors have is, where to go with the book after the initial launch is over. How do you promote, market and keep bringing in traffic so that your book you have worked hard for doesn’t just drop off into oblivion. There are three things you can focus on.

  1. Write another book. Multiple books create momentum. Do you have a series of books you could write? Writing a series is a great way to build your brand, a list, and keep traffic growing with increased interest in your books.
  2. Build your business on the back End. Create a business around your book with coaching, a course, or an automated email course that gets readers engaged after they are finished your book. They want to know more about you and so, if you have a business set up to kick in for subscribers, this is the start of what could be a great author business.

Wrap Up

Launching a book is  combination of strategy, imagination, and hard work. If you have a great book to promote and a team of people [a small team will do] backing you up, you can have a great launch. With every book launch there is more to learn. If you keep launching, you’ll get better at it. Eventually you’ll turn your launch into a massive movement with thousands of fans standing behind you pushing your book towards New York Times Bestseller status. Imagine that. 

self publishing on amazon

The Definitive Guide For Self Publishing on Amazon

You’ve just finished writing a book and now you want to self publish your soon-to-be-bestseller on Amazon. But wait…after doing some research into self publishing, you have come up against a wall. It seems there are a lot of steps involved before you can publish your book. Maybe you’ve just come across a checklist titled “99 Steps for publishing your book” and you don’t know where to begin. You thought writing your book was the hard part, but now?

We know how you feel. Publishing your own book the INDIE way is a lot of work. There are many steps to the process that stretch beyond just the writing phase that you hadn’t considered. That’s okay. We have your back here.

In this post you are going to learn the definitive method for self publishing your book on Amazon. Let’s assume that you have successfully written your book, it has been professionally edited and formatted, you have a professional cover, and now, you are ready to follow through with hitting that orange publish button on Amazon.

Here are the definitive steps you should take for self publishing on Amazon.

It begins with…

Setting Up Your KDP Dashboard

Amazon has a platform for creating and managing your Kindle eBook, paperback and audio books. In the KDP Dashboard you are going to build your book from the ground up. The first step to publishing on Amazon is to set up your dashboard. Setting up your KDP account is easy.

Simple Steps to Setting Up Your KDP Account

1. Go to the Take Control With Self Publishing page and sign in with your Amazon password.
2. In the Publish To Kindle box click get started.
3. Sign in with your Amazon account
4. This directs you to the KDP main page. Under Create a New Title click Kindle eBook
5. You’re in! This is the first of three pages for setting up your book on Amazon.

Under the heading Kindle eBook Details, set up your book by providing the following information.

Book Title/Subtitle

In your KDP, you will fill in the title and subtitle of your book. The subtitle is listed as optional but, if you are writing nonfiction, having a good subtitle is something you should definitely consider.

You need a great title and subtitle to grab the reader’s attention. A book title should be:

  • Attention-grabbing
  • Persuasive
  • Results Driven: What will it do for the reader?

Some examples of great titles are:

The 4-Hour Workweek: Escape 9-5, Live Anywhere and Join the New Rich
Think and Grow Rich
The Productive Person: A how-to guide book filled with productivity hacks & daily schedules for entrepreneurs, students or anyone struggling with work-life balance

Here are a few tips to crafting a great book title:
Use a book hook: This is what gets book browsers to stop and think twice about picking up a book. Your book hook should speak to the reader in a unique voice that grabs their attention. If not, they’ll browse on to the next book, looking for that special title that feeds into what they are looking for.

Include keywords: You want your book to show up in the search engines, right? For that, you’ll need the right mix of keywords that target your book. You can check the SEO ranking and popularity of your keywords with the KDP Rocket.

Give the Benefits: Your potential readers want to know what they are getting out of the book that has just grabbed their attention. So tell them. Don’t hold back. The trick is to deliver the benefits in a subtitle that is not overly long [under 15 words] but provides enough tantalizing information that it gets browsers to “flip” to the description. In an eBook this is the book description found on the book sales page. For a paperback, browsers turn the book over to read the back cover copy.

Book Description

Your book description is posted in the KDP dashboard and not your Amazon author page. But when you do this, you want your book description to sell your book. There should be no doubt that your book is the one they need to read.

Creating your description

When creating a book description, you want it to appear as a professional sales page. To do this, it’s recommended you use some basic HTML coding to give your text an appealing look. For example, bold the words you want to pop out, use italics, or create larger text for the call to action blurbs such as “Scroll up now and hit the buy button.”

You can check out the HTML tags here Allowed HTML Tags and CSS Attributes.

But I’ll give you a shortcut for putting together a book description that eliminates the need for learning the HTML lingo. Check out the Book Description Generator on Kindlepreneur.com. You just type in the text, format as you like with the tools, and it will generate the HTML coding for you. Done.

Check out the book descriptions on these books to see how it’s done:
Champion Mindset: Tactics to Maximize Potential, Execute Effectively, & Perform at Your Peak – Knockout Mediocrity!
Novice to Expert: 6 Steps to Learn Anything, Increase Your Knowledge, and Master New Skills

Your book description needs to target the benefits and end with a call to action. You want your browsers to do something, such as clicking on that buy button and reading your book.

Choosing Keywords

Amazon allows only seven keywords to be used per book. Selecting the best keywords for your book is critical to being discovered both on Amazon and Google.

You can research the right keyword phrases by using keyword search tools such as:

KDP Rocket: This is a great tool for comparing Google search results to Amazon. It gives you a competitive score from 1-99, gives you a number of how many people type the keyword into both Google and Amazon, and how much money other books are making.

KW Finder: Gives an analytical view of the keyword popularity using a competitive ranking. This is free for only five keyword searches a day.

Amazon’s Autofill Function: Take advantage of Amazon’s search box to find good keywords. First, log out of Amazon and plug in your keywords using incognito mode [thanks to Dave Chesson for this suggestion]. Amazon’s suggestions are based on search history so you want to search for words that are high in demand but have little competition. This is the fine balance that can narrow in on the keywords specific to your book that positions your title in the view of book browsers.

With the right keywords you can also open up specific secret categories. By adding keywords to your title and subtitle will also increase search results for your book.

Make a list of possible keywords for your book and then, begin the strategies process of testing your keywords with the keyword search and test tools mentioned. This requires an investment in time but it is definitely worth it.

Choose Two Browsing Categories

As we see by checking the category selections in the dashboard, Amazon provides a branch of categories and subcategories to choose from. You can select two categories from within the dashboard, but actually, it is possible to have up to ten categories in total.

In selecting categories, you want to look for those areas that are popular but, without tons of competition making it impossible to rank. You can browse the genres of books like yours and check the rankings of the top three books on the first page of each category.

Book Rankings: What Do I Need to Know?
Generally speaking, any category where the best selling book is ranked at 2000 or less is going to be competitive. You can still beat that if you have a strong launch with significant downloads and reviews. Try to aim for the sweet spot between 3000-7000. You can always switch categories at anytime and Amazon will update your request within 24 hours.

Do you want to know how to rank for ten categories? Check out this blog post that covers how to get approved for more categories on Amazon.

The Preorder Option: Yes or No?

Amazon offers a pre-order option on kindle books. If you have a book coming out, you might be considering setting your book up for a pre-order release.

How It Works:

  • Under the Pre-order option, select the “Make my Kindle eBook available for Pre-order” option.
  • Set the release date for your book. Note that your pre-order can only be scheduled four days or more in advance of the actual release date. Once your book is set up in pre-order mode, you can use the Amazon page and book URL to drive traffic through a sales page.

Pre-order Points to Remember:

  • You can promote your book up to 90 days before it is released.
  • Your book will start ranking early weeks or months before it is released [depending on launch date]. However, your book will only rank for sales on the day it is actually purchased in pre-order. It will not help your rankings on the day it is published.
  • You cannot upload any revisions to your book 72 hours prior to launch. Amazon blocks you out during for this duration.
  • If you cancel your pre-order once it is set up, you’ll lose pre-order privileges for one year

The pre-order option works well with some benefits if you want to start promoting your book early, getting advance purchases, and gathering emails for list building.

DRM [Digital Rights Management]

This option is unclear for many authors. The default choice is set to NO and so, many authors select NO as the default. The purpose behind DRM is to protect the author’s work, giving them complete control over how it is distributed.

But the choice to go DRM or not is debatable. You can check the discussion here on Goodreads and then decide if selecting Digital Rights Management is for you

Here is what Amazon says regarding the DRM selection:
DRM (Digital Rights Management) is intended to inhibit unauthorized distribution of the Kindle file of your book. Some authors want to encourage readers to share their work, and choose not to have DRM applied to their book.

If you choose DRM, customers will still be able to lend the book to another user for a short period, and can also purchase the book as a gift for another user from the Kindle store. Important: Once you publish your book, you cannot change its DRM setting.

Upload Your Manuscript

Finally, the moment you have been waiting for…uploading your book to KDP using one of their recommended formats. After formatting is complete, you can upload your book very quickly.

Hit the orange button that says Upload eBook Manuscript, select your formatted file, and it takes Amazon a few minutes to run through the files. If there are any formatting or grammatical issues, you’ll be asked to fix these before finalizing everything.

Another great feature is the online previewer. You can actually see how your book will appear on a device from a reader’s perspective.

You can upload the manuscript as many times as you have to. The new version will override the existing. When you’re done, hit Save as Draft on the bottom right.

Upload the Cover

Your book cover is uploaded as a separate file from the manuscript, and needs to be a JPG or TIFF [Tag Image File Format]. You can also change your cover at any time if you decide to replace it down the road.

When it comes to publishing a successful book on Amazon [or anywhere for that matter] the cover is definitely the one thing you want to pay attention to. Make sure it is created by a professional designer and that it’s going to stand apart from the rest of the books in your genre or category. The metaphorical phrase ‘you can’t judge a book by it’s cover’ may have been true back in 1860, but in today’s market, your cover is exactly what your book will be judged on from first glance.

Unless you’re a designer and you know what you’re doing, I’d suggest using a professional service or well-known cover designer.

Some recommendations are:

99 Designs / Price Range: varies depending on the level of service
Happy Self Publishing / Price Range: $149 [Kindle Design] — $199 [Complete Design Pack]
100 Covers / Price Range: $100 [eBook cover] — $300 [Print Pack]

On the cheaper end, Fiverr is another route you can take. Our suggestion is, choose a designer who has solid reviews and is a Top Rated Seller. If they have a premium cover design option, take it. Be clear in your instructions about what you want by providing definitive guidelines for the cover you are visualizing for your soon-to-be bestselling book.

Fiverr Recommendations:
Pro_eBook Covers
mnsartstudionew

Kindle and ISBN

Many authors ask the question: “Do I need an ISBN for my Kindle book?” The answer is no. You can purchase ISBN numbers through Bowker.com if you are located in the US. For overseas authors you will need to contact your local ISBN agency.

Amazon issues eBooks an ASIN (Amazon Standard Identification Number) unique to your book and is the identification number for your book on Amazon.com.

For paperbacks, if you go through Createspace, they give you a choice to use your own ISBN number or, if you’d rather, CS provides authors with a 13-digit createspace-assigned ISBN. You still have complete control over your content with the ISBN being used as an identifier only. If you plan to sell your book retail, it’s recommended you purchase your own ISBNs.

KDP Select Enrollment

It is recommended that you enroll your book in the KDP select program for at least the first 90 days from the date of publication.

The benefits to joining KDP Select are:

1. Access to promotional tools such as the Kindle Countdown Deal or the Free Book Promotion. If you’re thinking of taking advantage of either of those promotional tools just click on the links and check out the requirements for both.
2. Included in the Kindle Owner’s Lending Library [KOLL] and Kindle Unlimited [KU]. This means you get a share of the KDP Select Global Fund depending on the amount of pages read by customers. This can add a nice bump to your monthly royalty payments.

self publishing on amazon

The main drawback is that your digital book titles can only be available exclusively through KDP. You can’t have it for sale on Kobo, NOOK, Smashwords or iBooks. This includes your own personal website.

The KDP Select gives your book a great advantage, especially for beginning authors, in order to promote your material to a larger audience. Once your platform grows bigger, you can choose to opt out and sell on multiple book platforms.

Book Pricing and Matchbook

A question I’m asked a lot is: “How much should I be pricing my book at after the initial launch is over?”

This is entirely up to the author but, I’ll add some clarity. Any digital book priced under $2.99 recieves 35% royalty. Between $2.99 and 9.99 it is 70%. Over that and you get 35%. So the best place to have your book prioced at is between the 2.99 to 9.99 range.

The royalty payments vary depending on the country but you can check right under the pricing page.

Generally, the majority of eBooks are priced under 9.99, and the majority of those are priced between 2.99 to 4.99, with the greater percentage closer to 2.99.

When it comes to pricing your book, several factors to take into consideration:
The size of your platform: let’s face it. Famous and well-known authors and speakers can charge a lot for their eBooks and paperback/hardcover books. But charging more doesn’t necessarily mean more sales or money. We only get 35% royalty after 9.99.

The Price of Books In Your Genre: Compare the price of your book to the books around you. Would you be able to sell yours for a higher price point?

The Size of your book: Size makes a difference when it comes to books. if you are selling a 75 page book and charging 8.99, customers will be less likely to buy unless there is something groundbreaking on the inside they must have.

Reviews: Yes, reviews have big weight. A book with 1200 reviews can definitely get away with going high on price, compared to a book with less than thirty reviews. You should always be trying to increase the reviews on your books. You can get legitimate and honest reviews from:

  • Your personal launch team
  • Amazon’s top reviewers
  • Fans of your book
  • Personal email list

This proves to the Amazon algorithm that the book is still relevant and of interest to readers. But, to launch your book effectively, you really only need around ten reviews. This is enough to get you onto any book promotion site that will promote your book during its free or discounted period.

You can price your book at 2.99, and test the pricing from there. Increase to 3.99 for a week, and monitor how it does. You can expect a dip in sales the higher you increase but that isn’t a bad thing. Find that comfortable place for your book to sit and then leave it.

Finally, the Matchbook feature allows you to offer your eBook at a discounted rate when they purchase the paperback edition. This is a great way to cross promote and gain more sales. The print version of the book can be created through Createspace. Having a paperback version of your book increases the marketing capability of your work and makes it more effective when running AMS ads. If possible, have your paperback launch together with the Kindle eBook and you’ll have a significant increase in royalties during launch week.

Wrapping It Up:

Are you ready to publish your book on Amazon? If you need some extra help here are a few books I would definitely recommend to help you on your publishing journey:

Published.: The Proven Path From Blank Page to Published Author
Crush It with Kindle: Self-Publish Your Books on Kindle and Promote them to Bestseller Status
The Miracle Morning for Writers: How to Build a Writing Ritual That Increases Your Impact and Your Income (Before 8AM)

Now, I’ll leave you with a brief checklist for publishing your bestseller. Good luck!

The Publishing Checklist:
Now that we’ve run through setting up and publishing your book on Amazon, here is a brief checklist for your definitive publishing guide.

  • Write your book
  • Send your draft to an editor.
  • Send the edited draft to a formatter
  • Create a title/subtitle
  • Hire a professional cover designer to create a cover
  • Sign up for your KDP account
  • Choose two main categories
  • Write a book [sales] description
  • Use keyword tools to research your seven Amazon keywords
  • Select pre-order or publish right now
  • Upload formatted and professionally edited manuscript
  • Check the quality using online previewer
  • Upload professional looking cover in JPG format
  • Enroll in KDP select [or not]
  • Price your Kindle book [0.99 for your launch and set the price 2.99 — 9.99 after launch]
  • Enroll in Matchbook [for print books]
  • Schedule your launch date, and then…
  • Hit ‘Publish Your Kindle eBook’
  • Set up your FREE campaign
  • Set up book promo sites
  • Start writing another book

Interested in learning more about Amazon Kindle SEO? Check out The A to Z of Amazon Kindle SEO for Self-Publishers.

About Scott Allan

Scott Allan is the bestselling author of several books that includes Rejection Free and Do It Scared. His passion is creating content that helps people change old behaviors, develop positive habits, and implement disciplined strategies for taking immediate action towards their dreams. You can check out his books on Amazon, or follow him at scottallansite.com