The next menu point in Author Central (link) is the Sales Info. Below that, you’ll find
NPD Book Scan
Now, before I explain in detail what that means and how seriously you should take it, I want to say something about the emotions that might come up looking at that data.
And it’s not necessarily good.
Because sales rank and author rank are markers you might confuse with success. And if they are unpleasant, you might get frustrated.
I want to suggest that you ignore these ranks. Or use them for entertainment. And most of all, that you can look at this graphs and simply smile. Because the biggest success is – especially if you are a first time author – that you got a book up available for sale.
Now, NPD Book Scan only tracks print sales in the US, and it is SLOW. But it has one nifty feature and that is a map of where your books sold. Of course, that’s practically useless. But it’s fun to look at.
Sales Rank gives you data on each of your books, and shows you how well it performs compared to all other books on Amazon COM. You’ll see a spike for every sale (or borrow, if your book is in Kindle Unlimited), and then a gradual curve down again. It also doesn’t update quickly.
Author Rank is a little more fun. It’s calculated from your book sales, against all other authors on Amazon, but at least here you can drill down a bit into genre. My personal best was #1,594 in Fantasy.
Does that mean anything?
First of all, Author Central is store based, unlike your sales dashboard through KDP. Right now, we’re looking at Amazon COM, and it ignores any sales in other stores such as UK, DE or Canada. Or India. So you’re only getting part of the picture anyway.
Here’s where you get to choose.
You can start getting desperate about the competition, or about the lack of sales, or about your dropping rank – or you can basically ignore it and work on your definition of success.
That means you can look at this once in a while, have fun with the sales and rank spikes, take a gander at where your print copies landed, laugh a little, and just get back to writing your next book.
I know what I prefer.
You see, getting frustrated and obsessing about sales and rank and all that data will hurt you in many ways, but most of all it’ll do this:
It will hurt your writing. It will hurt your creativity. It will make writing the next book harder.
And nothing sells your current book or books better than the next release.
Using Author Central for Personal Growth
Yes, that’s totally possible. Here’s how.
First, I would like you to take another look at that author rank. Go there. Look at it. Look at how many authors are doing better than you on Amazon COM.
Second, be aware of your feelings. Allow yourself to sense them. Don’t judge, just let them be.
And if they are negative (anger, disappointment, frustration, sadness, envy…), watch what’s coming up.
Are you judging yourself? Blaming yourself? Getting angry at other authors?
This is awesome tapping material. This is, in fact, what’s holding you back.
Third, use EFT tapping to release those beliefs, rants and feelings. Free yourself so you can be more creative, have more fun, and enjoy writing your books even more.
(And if you want to learn more about how to do this, shoot me an email or write a comment.)
*image source F. Möbius
PS: My monthly newsletter contains a full tapping round to go with my blog posts. Sign up through the form on the upper right hand corner, and receive that tapping round plus occasional special offers.
PPS: I can help you overcome mindset blocks and emotions like resistance, fear, frustration or sadness. EFT is the fastest way I know to shift limiting beliefs, old thought habits and other kinds of blocks. Click HERE and send me an email. Together, we’ll figure out how I can support you best.
Author Central is an interface you can access and set up on Amazon once you have published your first book through KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing).
There are plenty of reasons why you should do that.
You’ll get your own Author Page on the Amazon listings, so people can see all your books in one place. This will help your marketing immensely.
You can add your bio, as well as links to your websites etc. so that readers can find you easily on the interwebs.
You have better customer service. You can send email through Author Central, and you actually get responses from people who know the author system.
You get nice graphics about sales rank, both for books and your author rank. They look pretty. They don’t mean a lot.
People can sign up to become your “Followers”, and that’s huge. Trust me. It means Amazon will send out email when you publish a new book. Free advertising. Take advantage of that.
And I know that people have lots of resistance to actually set this up.
The biggest one is Imposter Syndrome.
That’s the feeling we don’t deserve to be treated as a full-fledged author, if we have only one book out, and possibly no sales. Or fewer than ten sales. Or mabye fewer than 100 sales. Or no prize. Or no fans, or no gaggle of fans, or only 20 people on your newsletter, or whatever qualification you want to put on “really being an author”.
The thing is… practically everyone suffers from Imposter Syndrome. Even people as famous as Neil Gaiman. (Check out his story about Imposter Syndrom here.) It’s nothing special.
It was surprisingly easy, once I got the advertising interface to work – it was an Amazon glitch, so I don’t expect you to run into that problem.
I followed Brian Meek’s guidelines in how to set it up, although I’m fairly certain that the keyword bids are too low and will need fixing. (And yes, this probably sounds all Greek to you right now.) Still, it worked well.
It’s worth buying his book “Mastering Amazon Ads”, as well as joining his FB group. Because this is not something you can do on autopilot. Use that experience, make it available to you. All you have to do is go and get it.
So now I have two ads approved and running now – and no data whatsoever.
Because reporting is notoriously delayed. Fun times.
However, it took me quite a bit to actually be able to do this.
This is the mindset part.
The part where emotions, limiting beliefs and simple fear meld into a nasty barrier. Continue reading →
Today, I’m documenting my keywords for my first Amazon Ad, for my book “Dragon Prey” (Hannah Steenbock is my pen name.) Gathering them was quite a chore, because I was a bit picky.
You see, keywords are supposed to drive those people to your ads who have a large chance of liking your book. Basically, you’re trying to guess which keywords they put into the search bar on Amazon, so your book can be displayed to them.
I listed keywords in three different categories in my spreadsheet, to make it easier on myself once I get to tweaking ads – by changing out keywords. These categories are:
1) Author and Series Names that are similar to what my book is about.
2) Positive Keywords, identifiying general features of my book.
3) Negative Keywords, telling Amazon NOT to show the ad to people typing those specific keywords.
Now, I don’t really want to share those author names, but I will share where and how I dug them up – and this was the really hard work. Continue reading →
Also-boughts are the recommendations Amazon gives you when browsing (almost) any product. They are generated from their sales database and try to match your preferences. The full text is basically:
Customers who bought this (whatever you’re looking at) also bought that (and images apper on the product page). Among authors, we also refer to this jokingly as “also-bots”, since they are generated by an algorithm.
You can easily check them by looking at your books on Amazon and see what else gets recommended.
There’s also a nifty tool that actually visualizes your also-bots for you: Yasiv.com Be warned. They have a highly annoying no-robot captcha. But they give you nice visualizations.
However, even as you can choose other stores in the menu, it only works well for Amazon COM, unfortunately. I have no idea how often they crawl Amazon in order to get their data. And if you’re looking for your books, chose “Kindle Store”, for better results.
Now I’m going to show you my also-bots for the book I want to create my ad about. It is a little cringe-worthy…
My writing self has walked around those for a year or more. Now it is time to actually get into the game, to become visible, and that’s difficult on two levels.
One level is craft, and I will take you through the steps to set up an ad during this month. And I’ll show you how it works with my books and my genre, so you can make decisions about ads with a bit more material at hand. I’ll also tell you about two great books to make this easier.
The other level is, obviously, emotional.
Buying ads means spending money, in the hopes of making it back through sales.
But of course, it’s a risk.
I’m planning to keep the risk low while experimenting and playing with the ads.
Playing with ads.
That’s the mindset I want to achieve while doing this. I want to stay in a playful mode and have fun choosing the keywords and writing the copy and then following advice to choose the other settings. And then you send your ads out into the wild and watch them perform.
How exciting is that?
The steps to take are:
Select the keywords.
Create the ad copy.
Set up the parameters.
Set up more ads.
Today, I’m going to wind up the series on creating a Clean Manuscript with some words about Styles.
You may have heard about them. If you’re like me, you have ignored them for way too long.
Styles tie in your manuscript with CSS (Cascading Style Sheets), which in turn are an essential part of ebooks.
Remember I said ebooks are basically websites?
Well, websites use html for content, and CSS for looks.
In other words, you use Styles to determine how your ebook looks. And using them also makes formatting for print easier.
And that’s why I’m suggesting to use Styles in your manuscript even as you write. It’s shockingly simple for a novel manuscript – you need exactly two Styles: Text Body (if you want to get fancy, you can also use First Line Indent, as I do), and Heading 1. That covers the normal text of your manuscript and the chapter headers. Oh, and using Title for your title is kind of obvious, which makes it three.
Every decent word processor uses Styles. And once you define how exactly your First Line Indent and your Headers look, all you need to do is mark the header when you start a new chapter because the First Line Indent becomes the default you get by adding another paragraph. Continue reading →
If you’re even a bit like me, you like straight quotation marks. I actually loathed the curly ones, and set my word processor to use straight ones. And it felt really good to have those clean characters in my manuscript.
Until I had to format one for print.
Oh, the pain.
Because, you see, curly quotes are the standard in print. And what’s worse, German print uses different quote signs than English print. *rolls eyes*
In other words, you need to be able to find and replace the quotation marks in your manuscript. Because that beats going through a 100k word novel and changing them all by hand. And you need to prevent them from happening again.
But straight quotes are just ONE character, front and back. A simple Search and Replace doesn’t work!
So go and watch the video – where I demonstrate the problem, as well as the solution, and where I explain the settings for LibreOffice, since that’s what I use. Continue reading →
Last week, I talked about the importance of a clean manuscript, and why it’s a business asset. Today, I’m sharing the first hands-on video of three.
I’ll show you how to use the paragraph settings of your word processing program, as well as how to add page breaks.
Both are incredibly important for a clean manuscript, and not doing it this way will cause all kinds of trouble in ebook creation. And if you pay someone to format your books, it will drive that person batty – and cost you more.
In the video, I use LibreOffice Writer, so don’t be surprised if it doesn’t look quite like what you might be used to. The concept is still similar in MS Word, and I believe you can find the settings there. (Actually, mastering those is part of learning your craft. Just sayin’) Continue reading →
As you know, Writers’ Dream Coach is about supporting writers and authors. It’s mostly about mindset, but this year, I am expanding into hands-on craft. And I will write about all those pesky emotions coming up when talking craft.
Craft and emotions…
Now, as authors, we should do our work with the final end product in mind. And our final product are books. We want them to look good and read well.
Most of that is the actual writing, the creation of content, of your story. You’re working on that, I know. And that’s awesome and important.
The other part, however, is craft, and that’s often more difficult. Because it involves tech, and trust me, I know a lot of authors who hate tech with a passion. We’re creatives, after all!
And we can have a lot of resistance to hearing and learning about tech, and we have to drag ourselves to it, and yet… learning that tech and making it a habit will make your life so much easier. I promise that few tweaks on how you use all that awesome tech we now have available for writing and publishing will make a huge difference. And I will teach you.
Let’s start with the most fundamental part of the writing craft: the clean manuscript. Continue reading →