How to market your book (or your business) on Amazon

I recently conducted a webinar for the Internet Marketing Club on the topic of using Amazon to market your book or your business. Rather than getting into the nitty-gritty or summarizing it, I’ll just provide the entire webinar here in its entirety. I hope you all find it helpful. It’s long — 60 minutes — but filled with content about how to establish your presence, your content, and your expertise on Amazon in order to promote your book or business.

Just click on the image below to watch. You’ll be taken from WordPress to MetaCafe’s website, since WordPress doesn’t support embedded MetaCafe videos and YouTube’s maximum video length is 15 minutes… 

Here’s also a convenient way to purchase the two products mentioned in the video.  You can save 10% on my book, Sell Your Book on Amazon, by clicking here.

And you can save 25% off a la carte pricing on three specific Amazon Marketing options (Kindle, Search Inside, Keyword Tagging) we offer with the Amazon Extreme package by clicking here (and in that case, we’ll include a free copy of Sell Your Book on Amazon).


Advertising on your YouTube channel

If there’s one thing Google knows how to do, it’s make money offering advertising options. And with their acquisition of YouTube, they’ve now “spread the love” to everyone’s favorite video site as well.  Obviously, the easiest way to advertise on YouTube is to upload a video that advertises your book or company.  The only bad thing about that is that videos that play on YouTube are not “clickable” which makes creating a “call to action” all that more difficult.  Sure, your video can feature a call to action — i.e., “visit such and such website today for a 10% savings — but this requires the viewer of your video to remember the webpage URL and then asks that viewer to actually type the webpage address into his or her browser.

We’ve become a society of clickers.  We don’t write freehand anymore and we barely type anymore.  Unless we can “click” from one place to another on the internet or tap our iPhone/iPad screen, the chances of us reacting to your “offer” is decreased exponentially.

Fortunately, adding an “overlay” to your videos on YouTube solves that problem.  Unfortunately, in order for your video to be eligible for an overlay, it needs to be submitted to YouTube’s PPC Promoted Video’s program.  This is where you bid on search terms (in much the same manner online marketers do within Google).  So while the overlay itself doesn’t cost any money, you are committing yourself to some level of advertising cost by submitting your video to their Promoted Video program in order to activate overlays on your video.   

At Outskirts Press, we are just starting to experiment with actively using video for the promotion of our company (we’ve been doing it passively for a number of years).  As we watch the results, and the costs, we will better be able to determine whether this is a marketing option we want to offer for our authors and their book videos as well…

Self publishing book marketing services

I have been discussing the differences brought about to our business model with the introduction of Version 4 of our website at Outskirts Press.  The main difference is that we are starting to offer a la carte services to writers regardless of where/how they publish their book(s).  Of course, authors publishing with Outskirts Press get deep discounts.

I previously summarized the Writing Services. We also introduced a la carte book marketing services with the launch of Version 4 on Memorial Day weekend, and like with the Writing Services, we launched with a limited number of available options as a compromise to maxed resources and an aggressive launch date.

Out of the gate, the Marketing Solutions “aisle” of our new site featured 7 items:

  • 5 hours of Personal Marketing Assistance with one of our professional marketing experts
  • 5 Celebrity addresses and pitches with our Celebrity endorsements option
  • 500 customized bookmarks
  • 500 customized postcards
  • 500 customized business cards
  • 5 large posters (roughly 2 feet by 3 feet)
  • 25 small posters

We quickly added the Amazon Kindle Edition within a month after launch, since it is one of our most popular marketing services month in and month out. To encourage authors to publish with us, we offer deep discounts to our authors on all our new a la carte services. For instance, authors who have published their book with Outskirts Press can get an Amazon Kindle edition for 25% less than someone publishing elsewhere.   Even still, at $135 it’s the lowest price I was able to find for what we deliver (although I didn’t spend hours and hours looking around). And the best part of the deal, and one few of our competitors can match, is that the author keeps ALL their profits.  Amazon pays them directly, so they know Outskirts Press is not taking any of the Kindle revenue. We’re not even involved in the financial loop at all.  This alone is enough reason for many authors at competing publishers to eschew their publisher’s Kindle edition (if they offer it all) in preference for ours.

But with 8 marketing solutions available on an a la carte basis, we have a long way to go to introduce ALL the marketing services and products available to our authors. And a growing number of authors from elsewhere are starting to join us on that journey. We welcome them, and are excited to be helping them.

Migrating a website

Any entrepreneur, business owner, CEO, or manager knows that running a successful business is hard. People with conflicting personalities push and pull, motivated by their department’s agendas. Fortunately, most of these internal struggles remain where they belong–inside, away from the microscope of the customer/client’s eyes.  The goal is to keep these struggles internal even when the product instigating the struggle is for “public consumption” like a new consumer product, or a piece of software, or a new website. 

The world is filled with examples of these internal struggles if you look hard enough. You might periodically notice a movie poster or advertisement announcing the date the movie opens, only to discover later that it was moved to a different date altogether.  Or you might be waiting anxiously for a new computer game based upon its release date and then become frustrated when the game is postponed another six months.

The two opposing forces in all these cases are usually the same:  the marketing (creative) people VS the business (financial) people.

They are each motivated by their own agendas, albeit for the overall betterment of the company. They just have different perspectives. Creative people want to broadcast their accomplishments with marketing and PR. After all, what’s the point of working so hard on something if no one knows about it?

On the other hand, business people want to manage risk (what’s the point of bringing a whole bunch of people to something if it “doesn’t work?”).  There are a variety of different definitions of something not working.   In the case of the movie example above, the definition of “doesn’t work” usually falls into one of two camps to motivate a release date reschedule. Either the movie is literally not completed yet, or a different, potentially better, movie is “getting in the way” – which might dampen box office receipts.

In the case of the computer game example, the definition of “doesn’t work” is typically quite literal. The release date might be moved simply because the game does not run– or does not run properly.  Ironically, in many cases, the business (financial) people can be responsible for releasing a piece of software like a computer game too early, even if it doesn’t work properly. After all, they are also motivated by quarterly revenue projections and stockholder expectations, etc.

We have four  main departments at Outskirts Press, and the launch of the Version 4 website involved all of them. We have two “creative” sides, i.e. the sales/marketing side and the book production side.  We also have two “business” sides, i.e. the technical (website) side and the accounting side.   Sure, there are technicalities involved in properly producing a book, but when compared with the technicalities involved in creating a dynamic, database-driven e-commerce website, producing a book falls squarely into the “creative.”

The creative sides wanted to start announcing the new website a while ago, to build excitement for new authors as well as inform current authors of the functionality and navigation changes.  The business sides wanted to wait until 4-6 weeks after it was live, to put it through its paces and make sure everything was working flawlessly.

Like all business relationships, and most relationships of any sort, a compromise was reached. We let our current authors know about the changes over Memorial Day weekend, but are holding out any big announcements for a few days, not withstanding some brief mentions of it on my blog — this one and a few early mentions of it in the past (I just couldn’t help myself; it is all I’ve been working on for months).

So why do we feel Version 4 of Outskirts Press is so special? We’ll get to that in an upcoming posting…

Press Release Happy

Speaking of press releases, Outskirts Press was recently complimented when it was referred to as “press release happy.”  That’s true!  We are press release happy, and we are happy with the results of press releases.  In fact, we have a systemized “Press Release System” to try to make the process of creating and distributing press releases as effective and efficient for both us as a company and all our authors as possible.

We send out three different types of press releases:

1. Standard Publication Announcement Press Releases

These press releases follow a very standardized formula of composition to ensure they contain all the necessary elements to announce the publication of a book, be optimized with keywords, and contain enough content to serve the author’s purpose. When you release as many of these types of press releases as we do (between 50-100 each month), it becomes necessary to standardize them both for consistency and quality control. Each of our Diamond authors  receive one of these standard press releases included with the package; and therefore, the majority of the standard press releases we distribute are for our Diamond authors. Press releases help these authors draw attention to the publication of their book and also get their feet wet with the process of promotion by starting with a common initial tactic.

2. Custom Press Releases

These press releases are also exclusively for our authors and can be used either to announce the publication of the book itself, or any other special occurrence the author wishes to promote. They are custom drafted by one of our press release writers according to the wishes of the author.  Unlike our standard press releases, the sole purpose of which are to announce the publication of the book, the custom press release can be used multiple times by the same author, to highlight author events, the winning of an award, or any number of other accomplishments. 

I am always looking for ways we can improve our services for our authors and I feel one of those ways is in further educating authors that press releases are not ONLY for the publication of a book. Yes, the publication of a book is a good “excuse” to send out a custom press release, but the goal of any good press release should be to make the release news worthy; and in this day and age, the simple publication of a book is rarely news worthy on its own.  The responsibility lies with the author and press release writer to come up with something more news worthy. On the other hand, when a book wins an award, or multiple awards, that makes better content for a compelling release, particularly at the local level.  I am of the opinion that a Standard Press Release should be used to annouce the publication of a book and a Custom Press Release should be used multiple times to announce the accomplishments of the book.

The quantity of Custom Press Releases for authors that we send out every month varies, but is almost always less than the number of standard press releases we distribute (not surprising, really, since one is free with the Diamond package and the other has a cost to it).

3. Company Press Releases

The third type of press release Outskirts Press distributes are custom-drafted press releases focused on a new service or product or feature of Outskirts Press.  We try to distribute one of these every Tuesday.  Like all of our press releases, we have made efforts to systemize this PR schedule for the sake of efficiency, so there is a method to the madness. The first Tuesday of every month we will typically distribute a press release about our monthly promotion. The last Tuesday of every month we will typically distribute a press release about our bestselling books of the previous month. That leaves two or three remaining press releases that require a topic for each month. 

This requirement, in turn, compels us to meet website enhancement milestones or introduce a number of new products and/or services each month. In other words, our press release schedule prevents us from becoming complacent and motivates us to constantly improve and grow. Plus, as I’ve mentioned before, press releases that are distributed throughout the Internet are good for optimization purposes.  SEO and consistent service improvements? Who says you can’t kill two birds with one stone?

So, whether you’re an author or a business owner, if you’re not press release happy, maybe you should be….

Seek awards and/or recognition for your book or company

Another tactic both the book promoter and company marketer can do is seek awards. “Contests and Awards” are an industry onto itself, and there are awards and contests for just about everything under the sun, like “happiest employees,” “best places to work,” “best benefits,” “most profitable,” “minority-owned,” “largest headcount increase,” “best website design,” “CEO of the year,” “entrepreneur of the year,” “best invention,” “best product,” etc., etc… The list goes on and on.

The options are just as endless for published writers seeking book awards.  From widely recognized and established contests like the Writer’s Digest International Self-Published Book Awards to local contests being held for members of small writing groups, published authors have a daunting list of contests and awards to consider pursuing.

Adding insult to injury, most of the contests have entry fees, so not only is it a matter of time, there is also a financial investment one is making when choosing to pursue these recognition programs.  For companies, the fee is often nominal, but for an author faced with thousands of contests each costing between $10 – $400 each, it becomes important to separate the wheat from the chaff.  

For example, in an effort to help our authors successfully and conveniently pursue valuable awards and contests, Outskirts Press offers an optional Book Award Submission Marketing package that includes all the details associated with submitting books to 6 widely recognized and established book awards, including the Writer’s Digest award mentioned above, the ForeWord Magazine Book of the Year award, and 4 more.   As I often say, this isn’t something an author can’t do himself — double negative alert! — but it matters not whether published authors take advantage of marketing services offered by their respective publishers, or seek award entry independently; the important point is that authors do it, one way or the other.

For a convenient way to search for awards or contests to enter, visit

Winning an award gives you “something to say” and when it comes to marketing a book or a company, having “something to say” is worth its weight in gold, as we’ll discuss next time…

Establishing your expertise

Whether you are promoting a book or promoting a company, one integral step is establishing your expertise in your field.   If you are a novelist, your “field” is your genre. If you write non-fiction, your “field” is your topic or subject matter. If you own a clothing store, your “field” includes the clothing lines you carry. 

The question is not whether you are an expert in your field, since, presumably, you are if you have either written a book or started a business.   The question is, how do you establish that expertise publicly by sharing it with others, either your potential readers or your potential customers?

There are a number of ways to establish your expertise, and they are the same regardless of whether you have written a book or started a company.  One way is to write a blog. Another method is to write articles and distribute them through “article banks” on the Internet.  These are not mutually exclusive.  In fact, once you are doing one of these things, you can easily do the other. The writer’s maxim is the opposite of the old carpenter’s maxim: you should write it once, and use it twice — or even more!

Interestingly, if you own a business, one of the best ways to establish your expertise in your field is to write a book and publish it.