Today I received an email from Amazon trying to sell me a copy of my own book.
Superflous, you might think, but it’s helpful to open these emails and see what else they’re recommending.
I’m pleased to say that (most of) the other books in the email are the kind of books I can imagine my readers enjoying.
This is exactly as it should be. Amazon’s algorithms understand my book and my readership and are selling it appropriately. It’s referred to as also-boughts and it’s important for book sales.
Your also-boughts are the books that people who bought your book also bought. Amazon uses this data to work out who else might like your book, and to recommend it to them.
Having clean also-boughts is important as it means the people Amazon recommends your books to will be the people who are likely to buy it.
So, how can you get yourself some clean also-boughts? Here are my tips:
Don’t encourage your friends and family to buy your book. This sounds counter-intuitive I know, but if your mom normally reads high-octane thrillers and you write cozy mysteries, then if she buys your book, Amazon will start recommending it to other readers of high-octane thrillers. I get round this by encouraging my family and friends to buy paperback copies directly from me (and by giving copies to close family). A book launch party is a great opportunity to do this!
Run Amazon ads targeting ‘comp’ authors and books. Those are books and authors who you share an audience with. Amazon advertising lets you laser-target individual books so this can be powerful. But Amazon ads also have an unpleasant habit of not delivering, as it’s a competitive platform.
Run Bookbub ads targeting comp authors and your genre. This is how I’ve managed to manipulate my also-boughts for my psychological thrillers. Bookbub ads are easy to use and will deliver (keep an eye on your budget) but only really drive sales for books that have a discount or a permanently low price.
Every now and then, cull your mailing list, weeding out people who don’t engage with it. Your mailing list then becomes a list of your true fans. You can use it to build lookalike audiences on Facebook, which will enable you to target people who are like your fans and run ads to them.
Consider using a different pen name for different genres. You don’t want Amazon trying to sell your self-help books to your fiction audience. You might think there is crossover between the audiences, but there really isn’t.
On the US Amazon site, also-boughts are no longer visible on your book page. But that doesn’t mean they aren’t important. Keep an eye on your also-boughts and they will help you sell books.