9 Common Mistakes Kindle Authors Make When Launching Their Kindle Books On Amazon…And How to Avoid Them
This post will help Kindle authors avoid the common mistakes often made when publishing on Amazon.
Traditionally, books were sold and marketed by big publishers. Today, anyone can write a book and sell it on Amazon. This is done through the Kindle store on Amazon. These authors are known as Kindle authors and will be referred as such in this post.
While Amazon does allow you to sell your book as a paperback version, this post focused solely on books in the Kindle store.
Let’s get started. Here is a summary of the 9 common mistakes Kindle authors make when launching their books on Amazon:
- Wrong book (too long, too short, not enough books, wrong style, etc.)
- Wrong audience (no audience, audience not defined, no avatar)
- Wrong book title
- Wrong book cover
- Wrong book category
- Wrong keywords
- Wrong book description
- Wrong author bio
- Wrong pricing strategy
Before you spend any money on advertising and other promotion—and before you spend any more time on development—you must solve these commons problems that Kindle authors often make. Otherwise, you will be wasting your time, money, and effort.
There is so much noise in the marketplace that you have to be the best Kindle author you can be. Otherwise, you will be struggling to get your audience to see and buy your book on Amazon.
This post will briefly go over the nine common mistakes Kindle authors make when launching their books on Amazon. You need to have your audience take you seriously as a writer and an authority in your niche, so avoiding these nine common mistakes is paramount.
Many Kindle authors are too caught up in having the right image for themselves. This often means being “unique” or “special.” That works, but it’s risky. If you are confident and you can be a showstopper like Lady Gaga, then being unique will work in your favor.
However, if you want to make a nice steady and lucrative income from your Kindle books, then you need to follow a proven path that has worked for many successful Kindle authors.
This is not a time to be unique and special. This is a time to show your real credibility and authority without gimmicks and tricks.
Don’t be a fraud
People will quickly notice if you use gimmicks and tricks to get you that coveted bestseller badge. Just look what happened to Milli Vanilli. They performed on records and onstage using other people’s voices. The public later exposed them as frauds.
After all the controversy, they tried to make a career using their voices. Their new career with their actual voices never took off because people resent like frauds.
Don’t be a fraud. Getting to be a “bestseller” on Amazon is quite easy, but if you do it the wrong way, your audience will eventually see you as a fraud.
Avoiding these nine common mistakes that Kindle authors make on Amazon will put you on the path to authority and credibility.
Ultimately, you will win fans and make money.
Authors make these mistakes by doing all the wrong things in all the wrong ways.
#1 Wrong book
Too many authors don’t have the right book. I will go over a few examples that you may be guilty right now.
Your Kindle book is too long
I’ve seen many authors who churn out 450-500 page books on how to be happy. You can easily break up this book into three or four smaller books. People want a quick and easy answer to their problems.
Just as much as you want to show value, people still have to read your book. As a Kindle author, you are not beholden to a publishing company who wants you to pad the book, so it’s 250 pages.
Your Kindle book is too short
Some books are pathetically too short. I’ve seen books on Amazon that are only 35 pages long. No one is going to believe that there is anything of value in a book that short.
I’ve seen books by Kindle authors on personal investing that say, “Complete Guide to Investing,” that were only 77 pages long. This doesn’t match up with the expectation that your audience has in their mind. Complete? Not likely.
#2 Wrong audience
Too many Kindle authors don’t have a clearly defined audience. When I ask them who their audience is, I usually hear “everyone.”
Everyone with a pulse is not an audience.
I worked with Kindle authors who have written weight loss books. They define their audience as “everyone who needs to lose weight.”
How much weight?
Those are two different audiences and different diet plans. The woman who needs to lose the last 20 pounds to have a perfect BMI has a different approach and worldview than the woman who needs to lose 200 lbs.
Define your audience clearly.
#3 Wrong Kindle book title
Don’t come up with a book title that you think is clever. It will get you nowhere.
The best book titles from Kindle authors are the ones that show a clear benefit for the end-user. Isn’t that why you wrote the book?
Here are a few book titles from Kindle authors that are very clear:
- Bigger, Leaner Stronger
- The 4-Hour Workweek
- Think and Grow Rich
- How to Win Friends and Influence People
Here are a few titles that are not clearly defined and don’t show any clear benefit:
- The Home Workout Handbook
- The Entrepreneur’s Instruction Guide
- Self-Discipline Exercise
- Positive Thinking Meditation
The above titles were book titles of books where the author paid money for sponsored promotions. Despite the promotions, their Kindle books don’t seem to be that popular—if the number of reviews is any indication.
These don’t show a benefit because they don’t clearly state what I’m going to get from reading their book. For instance, The Home Workout Handbook merely tells me about home workouts. It doesn’t give me any benefit or advantage to doing my exercises at home.
A better title would 12 Home Workouts for Faster Fitness Results. Not the best title, but the benefit to the end-user is in the title.
People want fast results. This book would have the same content, but with a much better title.
You can also invoke curiosity in your book title. The book What They Don’t Teach You in Business School got me curious as to what is inside. The book’s title is telling you their secrets.
Kevin Trudeau wrote a highly successful book is titled Natural Cures “They” Don’t Want You to Know About.
This title arouses curiosity. Another good one is The Millionaire Next Door. The author or publisher could have easily titled the book…
- How the Rich Live
- Why Millionaires Don’t Own Fancy Cars
- Do You Live Next Door to a Millionaire?
But the actual title says it all. It almost feels like a gossip column from The National Enquirer but in a much more classy way.
People are curious about their neighbors. They are curious about what their income is and so on. This book, with its excellent book title, might dispel that mystery.
The above titles wouldn’t work. Let’s see why.
How the Rich Live. We all know how rich people live. We see how they live all the time on television. Therefore, this book’s title wouldn’t arouse our curiosity.
The second title, Why Millionaires Don’t Own Fancy Cars, clearly describes what the reader might find in the book. However, it doesn’t sound exciting or believable. Everyone knows or assumes millionaires have fancy cars.
Also, and most importantly, it doesn’t relate to us, the regular people. We want to know why the book refers to us. Finally, the last title, Do You Live Next Door to a Millionaire? runs into a major mistake when people title their Kindle books.
Whenever you ask a yes or no question, you do not arouse any further curiosity. Most people will look at that title and say, “No,” and move on. This is why book titles that ask a question can be tricky.
The title The Millionaire Next Door works because it involves us, the reader. We all have neighbors. The book title arouses your curiosity that YOU might live next door to a millionaire, but you just don’t know it.
Don’t have a confusing book title
Number four on Tucker Max’s list of The 5 Attributes of a Good Book Title is “Easy to Say.” I couldn’t agree more. Your book title must be easy to say and pronounce. Don’t you big words or words people cannot pronounce easily.
When I came across this book in the Kindle store, The Business Owner’s Compendium, I had to whip out my dictionary. Using big words in your book’s title is never a good idea.
I had a client who had several of his friends and associates beg him to change the title of his Kindle book. He titled his book For Free and For Fun. Unbelievably–judging from the title—this book was about sales. Needless to say, the book never sold, and my client quickly removed his Kindle book from Amazon.
A confusing and hard to say book title will get you nowhere.
If you’re stumped for coming up with a title for your Kindle book, you can use Portent’s Content Idea Generator. It’s a quick and easy way to come up with ideas for titles of your next Kindle book. However, I would stick to some tried and true principles that have worked for ages.
Keep it simple
One of the best titles for a Kindle book I’ve ever seen is The 1-Page Marketing Plan. It has everything in it. People want quick and easy. Nothing says quick and easy like “1-Page”. Incidentally, this Kindle author only has one book on Amazon, and this single book has over 1,000 five star reviews! That’s a fantastic feat for an author who only has one book on Amazon.
#4 Wrong cover design for your Kindle book
I can safely bet that 97.2% of Kindle authors on Amazon are not graphic designers. With that said, don’t even try. Leave the book cover design to a professional designer.
You can find many great designers online.
Joanna Penn at The Creative Penn has a nice list of book cover designers on her website. Be sure to check out her list.
Be careful about going to cheap places like Fiverr and Upwork. You will find that many people falsify their portfolios.
I had an incident a while back where I chose a graphic designer to design a cover for my Kindle book. Her portfolio looked great on Upwork. However, when she came back with my book cover design, it was clear that she didn’t know one thing about designing a book cover. A two-year-old, blind monkey could have created a better book cover for my Kindle book.
So what did I do?
A little sleuthing. I did an image search on Google for some of the books covers she had in her Upwork portfolio. This led me to the real book cover designer on 99 Designs. I knew she was the one faking her portfolio because she only showed two book covers of a particular style, while the real book cover designer on 99 Designs had dozens of book covers in the same style.
So be very careful where you shop. If you’re spending less than $100 for a book cover, you’re not spending enough. Not to scare you off, but some book cover designs can cost $1,000.
However, it may be worth it. A professional book designer knows what they are doing. Many of them moonlight as freelancers while working at a major publishing house and getting paid nicely for their expertise.
Here my top favorite book covers designers:
BEAUTeBOOK: “We are a niche design studio that specializes in Book Cover Design, and we provide design services for self-publishing authors.”
Book Designer Fiona Raven: “We offer top-quality professional book cover and page design for authors worldwide. Linda Parke is now our senior designer and will treat you to a beautiful book design!”
Jessica Bell Design: “Hey there! I’m Jessica Bell, and I’m here to make your life a little easier. I love to create one-of-a-kind book covers.”
Reedsy: “Crafting beautiful books is at the heart of everything that Reedsy does.”
Vision Press: “HI, I’M RICK, and I have been working as an artist, designer, and internet marketer for over 20 years.”
Streetlight Graphics: “Our mission is to provide an affordable, customer-service oriented, one-stop-shop for authors. We want to provide the independent publishing services they need so they can spend their time doing what they love most… WRITE!”
Damonza: “Everyone likes an underdog story. Show me a person who doesn’t love Cool Runnings, and I’ll show you a liar.”
Mayfly Design: “We are committed to taking your finished text and creating a beautiful and engaging book, with a process that is collaborative and based on clear and continual communication.”
Kindle Station: “By now you know Kindle Station is all about helping indie authors like yourself to publish and sell books online with better design and marketing.”
Ebook Launch: “Ebook Launch is a family business spanning three generations! The spark was ignited in 2009 when John helped his father with book cover design and print book formatting.”
After reading that list, I will say that my go-to designer is GusTyk at 99Designs. He has done fantastic work for me.
He designed the covers for my two Kindle books that I published on Amazon:
I’m not just talking about the execution of the design; I’m also talking about micromanaging it as well.
Let me tell you a quick story. I had a client who had written a Kindle book about dieting. As a Kindle author, she didn’t know much about designing a book cover. On her book cover was a woman in a black evening dress on a black background. She was staring right at the camera (or in this case, the audience). This is for a book about dieting!
I have not seen one book where someone would do this. Diet books come in three flavors:
- The expert/author is on the cover preparing food—or looking pretty.
- Mouthwatering food is on display.
- No photos. Just graphics.
While I was working with this Kindle author, she kept showing me photos of models. She thought I didn’t like the picture of the model she had on her book. That wasn’t the case at all.
I told her that the only person on the cover of her diet book should be the author. Otherwise, display some food.
To make a very long story short, I insisted that she should hire a real book designer. Without my intervention, she would have repeated the same mistakes as her previous cover and accomplished nothing.
Another thing to consider when having your book cover designed is to look carefully at how your book cover looks when it is very tiny. This is known as the thumbnail view on Amazon. That’s the most likely place where people will see it on Amazon.
Testing your book cover!
Once you have your book cover, you can optimize it using a split test: https://www.pickfu.com. If you have an active community, you can ask people on LinkedIn or Facebook for their opinion. Be sure to give them many options, so they don’t just pick anything that you present to them.
I would recommend PickFu since the people voting are people who don’t know you and will provide you a more objective opinion.
#5 Wrong book category for the Kindle store
As discussed at the beginning of this post, many Kindle “gurus” often advise Kindle authors to engage in some gimmicky practices. One such practice is putting their Kindle book in some obscure and unrelated categories. This is so the author can reach that bestseller status in the Kindle store for that category.
It may work for the short term. However, in the long term, it’s a disastrous strategy.
Would you look for an evening dress in a grocery store?
You want your book to have longevity. Therefore, you want to have your book in the proper Kindle category on Amazon so people can find your book.
Another mistake Kindle authors make is not using all three categories that are allowed by Amazon. This comes from not putting enough thought into your strategy.
Check out this blog for a list of Amazon book categories: https://thinkclickrich.com/authors-amazon-kindle-categories-list/
Strangers to Superfans highlighted the serious dangers of picking inappropriate categories for your work. In short, anything that isn’t absolutely your target audience should be avoided or there is a serious danger of Also Bought pollution.
The bottom line is you should use the Kindle categories that match your genre. Otherwise, you will create confusion and distrust from your fans.
For more in-depth and technical aspects of finding the right category for your Kindle book, I suggest you read David Gaughran’s blog post: How To (Ethically) Hack Amazon Categories. It goes way into depth — more than I could ever do here.
#6 Wrong keywords for Amazon
The engines that power the Internet run on keywords. Keywords are the lifeblood on the Internet. Get these wrong, and you will find yourself in a world of obscurity. It’s kind of like being on a small spacecraft 10 million miles away from Earth.
I’m sure you’ve experienced this with your website. If you don’t have the right keywords or keyword phrases (i.e., direct response copywriter, SEO copywriter, etc.), Google and other search engines cannot find you.
Amazon is the same way. Amazon is getting pretty crowded these days with all the new Kindle books coming on the scene every single day. There are roughly 600,000 books published every year, according to Forbes.com. So, do the math. That’s about 1,643 books published on Amazon every single day! That’s a lot of books!
When choosing keywords, you don’t want to engage in any gimmicks and “secret” strategies. You need to select your keywords carefully and the kind that makes sense to your audience. You need to use them in…
- Your book title
- Your book’s headings
- Your biography
These keywords will define you as a Kindle author and make you much more marketable.
#7 Wrong Kindle book description
This is where many Kindle authors drop the ball. However, this is where you will make your money. In your book description, you will tap into your audience’s most primal desires.
Not writing a clear description for your Kindle book will only invite the wrong readers or none at all.
There are two main things you need to understand about your book description. One is the actual words that humans will see, and the other is the code that Amazon will see. Of course, I’m talking about HTML code for your book description.
First, let’s talk about what your audience will see. I won’t go too far into depth because I’ve covered this topic more in-depth on other posts on this website. I recommend reading: How to Create a Powerful Amazon Book Description In 10 Easy Steps.
One of the first things you need to understand is that a Kindle book description on Amazon is a little more than a book blurb that you would typically see on the back cover of a physical book in a bookstore.
As you are well aware, fewer and fewer people are buying books in bookstores these days. Therefore, you should focus on Amazon’s extensive Kindle book description feature versus a typical short book blurb.
As discussed in other blog posts on this website about book descriptions, you will want to take advantage of all the space Amazon offers you for your Kindle book description.
In the HTML code, Amazon allows for up to 4,000 characters. Depending on how much formatting you use, you can get roughly 600 words of text in your book description. This is a lot compared to a book jacket of a physical book.
In marketing and sales jargon, there is a saying that goes like this: The more you tell, the more you sell.
Don’t question it. Just absorb it. It’s been proven millions of times. Long copy usually wins out over short copy. This means that you should write as much as possible for your Kindle book description.
The reason why long copy wins is because you can provide answers to people’s objections. You have to remember that when people are considering your book, they are also considering other books.
Amazon makes it hard for you to get your customer to hear only you. Many other things are screaming at your customer. Amazon throws everything they can at your customer, such as:
- Sponsored products related to this item
- Selected items
- Buy it again
- Your Browsing History
Amazon doesn’t care about selling YOUR Kindle book. Amazon only cares that your audience buys SOMETHING on Amazon. Remember that.
If your Kindle book description is short or not very captivating, your audience will consider buying something else on Amazon.
Remember that if someone is looking at YOUR book on Amazon, then you must have done something special to get their eyeballs to see your Kindle book. You either ran a paid promotion or busted your ass for some free marketing. Either way, don’t blow that opportunity by having a lame book description.
In your Kindle book description, you’ll want to…
- Have a great headline that grabs people’s attention
- Say something your audience has never heard before
- Use the word “you” generously
- Keep paragraphs short for easy reading
- Use bullets for easier reading
- Have a call-to-action at the bottom
Here’s a huge mistake many Kindle authors make in their book description: They talk about themselves. A lot! Remember, people are trying to solve a problem for themselves. Therefore, you want to address that problem right away.
Believe it or not, people don’t care about your credentials as much as you think they do. If you have to tell them who you are, then you’re probably not important enough to make a difference. Focus on solving the problem your audience is having.
#8 Wrong Author Bio on Amazon
This is where many Kindle authors seem to neglect their sales process. You may not think that sales happen here, but it does.
With a well-thought-out Author Bio, you could easily bump up your sales every month.
Make sure you have your photo and posts from your website. You can also have posts from Twitter, but it’s better if they are from your website.
Since most people know that just about anyone can upload and publish a Kindle book on Amazon, they will look at your author bio on Amazon to see if you’re the real deal.
Think about the last time you were in the Kindle store, and you were browsing a book that looked interesting. If it only had a few reviews, you might have looked at the author’s bio to establish their credibility.
#9 Wrong pricing strategy for your Kindle book
First time Kindle authors get a little greedy when it comes to selling their books on Amazon. The overall strategy you want to follow is to start low.
People buy Kindle books on Amazon because they expect them to be cheap. If you sell your Kindle book for $7.99 and everyone else is selling theirs for 99 cents for less, your book will be overlooked.
You need to have a good pricing strategy in place if you want to be a successful Kindle author on Amazon.
If you are a new Kindle author with only one book, then you need to start low with your Kindle pricing strategy.
Once you have established yourself, you can price your book higher. There is no rule saying you can’t raise you’re the price of your Kindle book.
Here are some good resources for an effective Kindle book pricing strategy:
In the end, you must put yourself in your buyer’s shoes. How much would you pay for a book that you never heard of before? What if it’s an unknown author?
This is not the time to get greedy. Your first couple of books should be practically given away. See what other authors are doing, and determine if it makes sense for you.
All these components must come together for Kindle book. As a Kindle author who is trying to sell books in a very crowded space on Amazon, you must overcome these common mistakes that most Kindle authors make.
Once you have all these pieces in place, you will have an easier time advertising to your audience on Amazon or anywhere else. Your ad expenditures will be lower.
Finally, don’t fall into the trap of “If you build it, they will come.” No. As a hardworking author who wants to really sell books in the Kindle store on Amazon, you must take yourself seriously as a Kindle author. You must make sure you take care of the marketing, not just the writing, of your Kindle book.
Ash Waechter is a direct response copywriter who helps small businesses sell more products and services online. He also writes SEO copy for attracting readers from around the web.