feature image amazon logo on tablet on stack of books

If you’ve ever wondered how some self-published books are selling thousands, tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of copies on Amazon, here’s the good news: it’s not magic.

I’ve been a New York Times bestselling Author 4 times. Through Scribe, I’ve taken that experience and helped over 1,500 Authors self-publish their books over the past 5 years. We’ve seen plenty of Amazon bestsellers during that time.

So, if you want to know how to market your book on Amazon, here it is:

  1. Deliver a specific benefit to your readers
  2. Reach the audience that needs that benefit most
  3. Convince them that your book will deliver that benefit

That’s it. It’s surprisingly simple.

But if it’s really that easy, why isn’t everyone doing it?

Because the formula might be simple, but it takes a lot of work to apply. Like most things in life, you get out of it what you put into it.

It’s true for your career, and it’s true for your book. But that’s great news for self-published Authors.

Why? Because the harder the task, the more you can stand out from the crowd by putting in the work.

If you’re ready to learn what to do to market your book to the right audience and (potentially) sell thousands of copies on Amazon, this post will walk you step-by-step through the whole process.

The Nonfiction Author’s Checklist for Marketing Your Book on Amazon

Step 1. Write a great book

Writing a great book might seem obvious, but if you want your nonfiction book to take off, it needs to be great in a few specific ways:

  • Provide a benefit or solve a problem for your readers
  • Flow logically from one idea to the next
  • Have clear, concise writing

To do these things well, they need to happen in that order, starting with the perfect book idea. So before you start writing, you need to know exactly who you’re helping and how.

Once you’re clear on your book’s message, you need to organize it with a smart outline. This will help your book flow smoothly from one part to the next, so your reader will have an easy time following it.

Finally, your writing needs to be clear, concise, and well-edited.

Readers are just as busy as you are. They need to get the benefit of your book quickly and efficiently. Give them what they want, and never make them work to understand it.

Step 2. Choose the right title & subtitle

If you were getting ready to launch a new product, you wouldn’t just slap a random name on it in 5 minutes, right? You’d take your time thinking about it. Maybe conduct a few marketing studies.

Your book title deserves the same level of attention.

It’s often the first thing readers are going to see or hear about your book. It needs to be catchy and memorable, and it needs to convey the essence of what your book is.

The subtitle is just as important but in a different way.

Once your title hooks the reader, the subtitle explains the benefit of the book. That’s the only thing readers actually care about—what your book will do for them. So your subtitle has to get it right.

If you’re reading this and thinking it’s too late because your book’s already out there, don’t.

It’s never too late to change your book.

science experiment with stack of books

One of the best things about being a self-published Author is that you can experiment as much as you want with any part of your book’s marketing. You can even rewrite it and launch it all over again.

Step 3. Create a great book cover

It’s never too late to create a new title, and it’s never too late to create a new cover.

From the right imagery to the perfect font, your cover needs to work with your title and subtitle. It should convey the essence, benefit, and professionalism of your book immediately.

If you’re not a trained cover designer, don’t do this yourself. Hire a professional.

Step 4. Create a professional interior

The same thing is true of your book’s interior. If your cover did a good job and drew the reader in, you don’t want them to open it and change their mind.

Remember: Amazon gives readers the option to preview any ebook that you publish through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP.) Don’t waste that opportunity.

Chances are you’ve put a lot of hours into organizing and writing your book. Make sure the interior design holds up to the same standard.

Step 5. Write a great book description

Finally, you need to write a description that will actually sell your book.

I say “finally” because the rest of this post covers topics that are more in line with what people usually think about when they talk about book marketing. But these first 5 steps are critical to your sales, so don’t skip over them.

There’s an art to writing a great book description. It comes down to proving the unique benefit of your book to a specifically targeted audience.

If you want to learn more about that, you can read my step-by-step guide. Just make sure all these things are in place before you start putting your book in front of more people.

Step 6. Gather blurbs (optional)

Blurbs, or endorsements, are positive statements about you or your book from people your readers will be impressed by.

That doesn’t mean your readers have to know them by name. A title can carry a lot of weight—like “Olympic gold medal winner” or “managing partner” at a top accounting firm.

But they do need to see how those credentials are connected to your book. An Olympic athlete doesn’t necessarily know anything about accounting. So make sure your endorsers make sense for the benefit your book is selling.

But before you worry about finding endorsers for your book, let me be clear: blurbs are completely optional.

You do NOT need them to market your book on Amazon. We’ve worked with plenty of Authors who’ve had successful books without blurbs.

But if you do want to get influential endorsements and you aren’t sure where to start, I wrote a whole post on blurbs. Read that to learn how you can get great blurbs, press mentions, and testimonials. I even provided a sample email template.

Step 7. Choose the right categories

Nonfiction readers like to browse Amazon categories when they’re looking for a specific answer to a specific problem. So putting your book in the right categories can help readers find it at a time when they’re motivated to buy it.

That’s pretty powerful.

To take maximum advantage of that opportunity, you’ll want to target those categories as narrowly as you can. The better a category describes your book’s specific benefit, the better the chance that your book will rank high in that category. This puts it in front of more readers.

If you want to learn how to choose the best categories for your book—and get a great tip on getting extra category placements—read the Scribe guide to choosing Amazon categories.

Step 8. Choose the right keywords

Like categories, Amazon keywords also help readers find your book, but in a different way:

  • Categories help readers find your book when they’re browsing
  • Keywords help them find it when they type a specific search into Amazon’s search bar
amazon search with suggestions and keywords

Think about that for a minute. Someone just typed a question into Amazon. If your book answers that specific question, keywords let you tell Amazon to show that customer your book.

So you can see how important it is to get those keywords right.

Step 9. Set the right price

Setting the right price on Amazon is a complicated topic. It really depends on two things:

  1. How many copies you want to sell
  2. How you want your book to be perceived

Dropping the price lowers your book’s perceived value, so a lower price doesn’t always sell more copies.

That said, we recommend setting your book’s price at $0.99 during the week of your book launch. This helps you run promotions and push as many copies as you can.

After that, you can set the regular list price of your book using this pricing guide.

Step 10. Create an Amazon Author Central page

Once your book is listed on Amazon, go claim your Author Central page, a powerful promotional tool authors can leverage for branding and marketing opportunities, including:

  • Promoting your own Author brand on your book page
  • Sharing blog posts
  • Posting podcast links
  • Linking videos & webinars
  • etc.

You can’t claim your page until your book is listed on Amazon, so do this once that’s live and make the most of Amazon’s book promotional tools.

Step 11. Create a book launch marketing plan

A book launch is by far the most complicated of all the things you can do to market your book on Amazon. It has a ton of moving parts, resting on 6 pillars of success:

  1. Your target audience
  2. Amazon reviews
  3. ​High-value relationships
  4. Media placements
  5. Paid promotions
  6. Logistics

Ideally, the work starts months before your launch date:

  • Building your audience & email list
  • Working with a core list to build reviews in the first week
  • Cultivating high-value relationships for endorsements & publicity
  • Researching and seeking media placements
  • Setting up paid promotions for the launch week
  • Managing the logistics of all those moving parts

Obviously, that’s a lot of work. But remember what I said at the beginning: the harder the task, the more you can stand out from the crowd.

If you want more details about what a full book launch plan looks like, start with our Scribe book marketing guide.

Step 12. Gather Amazon book reviews

Amazon doesn’t let people post book reviews before your publication date. So, getting positive reviews during your launch week can take some real planning.

You can apply marketing strategies like Goodreads book giveaways to help boost your numbers, but the best thing you can do involves some good old-fashioned networking.

Reach out to friends and family members and let them know how excited you are about your book. Send them each a copy—preferably an advance copy, but you can also do this any time after the book is out—and ask them to review it on Amazon.

Amazon reviews affect book sales directly. They also affect your ability to run book promotions through paid newsletters like BookBub.

For more tips on gathering Amazon reviews, read the Scribe book reviews guide.

Step 13. Consider an Author blog

If you’re not excited about blogging, don’t do it. It’s not critical to marketing on Amazon.

But if it sounds like something you’d like to do, you can connect your blog feed to your Amazon Author page. This will put more content on your Amazon page automatically.

For more information about building an Author website to host your blog to reach more potential readers, read this post on websites.

For more ideas on the kind of blog content that can actually sell books, visit these 5 Author blogs for inspiration and consider starting a blog of your own to help with your promotion efforts, too.

Step 14. Use Kindle book promotion sites that work

Book promotion sites are great during your launch week. They’ll boost those early sales and get people talking about your book. However, you can use them anytime down the line to bump sales.

We ran a test to find the best Kindle book promotion sites, and BookBub was the winner by far.

To learn more about the sites that worked and how to get a BookBub promotion for your book, read the full report.

Step 15. More ways to promote your book

Ready for even more book marketing ideas? Try these 19 ways to promote your book.