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September 16 2013 Editor Assistance Newsletter

Greetings and Salutations -

I am now finally mostly set with the server rebuild I've been working on all week. Thank you all for your patience. A key lesson I learned in that effort was to have patience and to persevere. Being stressed about it wouldn't help, and it would hinder my ability to focus. Giving up on a hiccup wouldn't help either. Instead I kept at it, tried different things, and worked around problems. In the end, everything worked out well. And, in fact, that server is now on brand new hardware, with brand new, upgraded software, and I didn't have to pay any upgrade fees :). So one could say this worked out extremely well.

It's all about hanging in there, and taking things one step at a time!

I do have some backlog now, as a result, and I am going to work through that as quickly as I can.

In the meantime, I wanted to share some thoughts with you on how to get your Amazon e-books and printed books higher in the Amazon results. To give a bit of background, I run a writing group here in Massachusetts. Someone in my writing group was complaining that books with typos were receiving high rankings in Amazon. I wrote this response to help her out – I thought it might be interesting to some of you guys too :).

… I want to comment that Amazon and other sales systems don't "judge" books based on typos and poor grammar :). If 80 million people want to buy a trash book, Amazon is happy to promote and sell it. So when a search is done, books aren't "given higher rankings" by being well edited or "given lower rankings" for being poorly edited. The search results key only in on the search phrase used. On the other hand, if a person is *browsing* and not searching, i.e. simply looking in the "medieval romance" category, then it's usually listed by sales. As we know from all areas of publishing, an awesome book with zero marketing can have zero sales. An awful book with heavy marketing can receive enormous sales.

Forbes ran an article indicating that HALF of people in Amazon are there looking for a specific title. The users want to type in the title, find that specific book, and buy it. So Amazon wants, if someone searches on a phrase, to find that matching title. The user isn't doing a "topic browse". They're looking for a title.


(if that URL wraps onto two lines, be sure to paste it onto one line before you try to go there)

So, knowing that, receiving a high ranking is two entirely different things in two different areas:

1) For a word search, it's all about the title you use. If I search on "Watercolor Basics" and someone has titled their book "painting primer" I am not going to see it high on the list, even if that book has "watercolor basics" as a search term. This is a correct operation of the search engine. The match is always against titles first. The system assumes I'm looking for the book titled "Watercolor Basics". So if you're concerned about matching a word search, then you need those words to be in your main title. When I titled my book on Low Carb Charts I named it "Low Carb Charts" - that way people searching on that phrase found me. Cute titles work well in magazines, but not as non-fiction book titles. Now I'll comment that the OPPOSITE is true with fiction titles. When I write my fiction novels I explicitly look for titles that are not used (or barely used). If someone is out looking for my Aspen Allegations novel, I don't want them finding someone else's novel and buying it instead by accident. People don't tend to "search" for random new fiction - they browse. So someone "browses" in the medieval romance area for books on that topic. To be found there, we go to:

2) For a browsing search, it's all about sales. Amazon doesn't judge books based on their insides. It suggests to people what the community has shown is popular. I.e. it ranks based on sales. Sales comes down to marketing. It's not just about free giveaways - everyone is doing those. It's about the whole marketing effort. The book launch. The daily Facebook, Twitter, and Google+ feeds. The snowball of word-of-mouth. The attending of book signings. The giving out of business cards to every person you meet. The people who market well get more sales - and then earn higher listings in the browse results. Which then gets more sales, and it self-feeds. Now certainly, if the book is atrocious, then the book will start to rack up a ton of negative votes and even all the marketing won't be able to overcome it. But that's a different issue. Amazon's ranking in browse is solely about its sales - and that is solely about the marketing campaign driving people to buy it.

So it's important to understand how those two different areas work, and why.

Let me know if you have any questions! And Happy Monday!

Lisa Shea, owner


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