How to sell books on Amazon? You have probably asked yourself this question if you are thinking about how to sell used school books, for example, your university books, or if you are a bookshop owner or a writer who would like to self-publish. This is because, when it comes to how to sell books online, the first marketplace that comes to mind is the e-commerce giant created by Jeff Bezos.
And it is not so singular to think of Amazon for the sale of used and new books because this web-based business platform started out as an online bookstore. Learn the ins and outs of how to sell books on Amazon and navigate the world of online book sales.
In this article, I will show you:
- how to sell books on Amazon as a private individual and as a professional
- the benefits and costs of selling books online and self-publishing on Kindle (i.e. Amazon’s bookstore)
- the different opportunities for vendors and authors
- some useful best practices to increase sales of your used/new books and your self-published manuscript.
Finally, I will suggest some marketing strategies that can boost the sales of your books. These are also valid for other products that can be sold on the Amazon marketplace. In fact, a marketing strategy is crucial to online selling: If you are interested in selling your products online and taking advantage of the opportunities offered by the largest marketplace platform, the Digital Coach’s Course on Selling on Amazon might just be for you!
If you have a bookshop, consider selling online. You can do this either with Amazon, by opening your own e-commerce business, or by taking advantage of both opportunities. Looking to monetize your writing? Find out how to sell books on Amazon and start earning royalties.
To make your choice easier, I have included a video explaining the pros and cons of these web-selling options!
Selling books on Amazon: why do it and what are its advantages?
Is it worth selling books on Amazon or selling used books online? The AIE (Italian Publishers Association) report of January 2021 gives some indications of this.
In the first quarter of 2021, there was an increase in book sales both online and through traditional channels. The increase is 26.6% compared to the same period in 2020 and is due to Italians spending more time at home due to the pandemic and government measures to support publishing.
The IEA reports an increase in the number of readers: while in 2019 in the 15-74 age group, readers were 58%, in 2020 they became 61%.
Moreover, and this is a very important fact, while in 2019 there were 27% of book sales on e-commerce platforms, in 2020 there will be a considerable 43%. This is partly due to the lockdown, but it is a clear indication of an increasing trend in the use of online channels for book purchases.
Benefiting from this increase was Amazon, which is the most widely used platform for online purchases.
The market for traditional books, i.e., essays and fiction, increased by 2.4 percent last year, and e-books by 36 percent. In short, 104.5 million books were sold in Italy last year, including e-books. So, people are reading in our country, although they think exactly the opposite, and, above all, they are increasingly favoring the online purchase of books.
Therefore, selling books on Amazon is convenient precisely because there is a constant increase in online book sales and, as we shall see, it offers opportunities for revenue and free services.
So, what are the reasons and advantages of selling books on Amazon?
Along the way, I will explore some aspects of the platform that are valid reasons for using it for one’s online business, but for now, I offer a list of the main reasons for choosing Amazon for sales. In fact, Amazon:
- is the reference marketplace for online book purchases in Italy
- has millions of visitors worldwide, so your books are visible to readers in all latitudes and longitudes. Although it is possible to sell on both the Italian and foreign markets, however, for private individual sales are limited to Europe; in particular France, the UK, Spain, and Germany
- is an established, valued, and reliable brand for payments
- is particularly suitable for the private individual who wants to sell his or her products without incurring the costs of setting up and running an online sales site.
Regarding the benefits of the services and opportunities presented:
- opening your own seller account is easy and free
- running your own online book storefront is simple and costs are low
- there is the possibility of selling as a private individual, as a professional, or using self-publication services
- for self-publishing, Amazon allows much higher earnings than classic publishing contracts
- you have the option of choosing the shipping method you prefer. This is something to take into account because shipping management is crucial in online sales, bearing in mind that on Amazon you are exposed to user reviews.
However, the platform presents a critical issue that we have to take into account in our approach to selling. In fact, while Amazon has millions of users, which, therefore, makes our products visible to a vast readership, there are many other sellers, hence competitors, with whom we compete.
For this reason, as we shall see, there is a need to adopt an appropriate strategy to increase sales.
Learn about all the training paths for selling online
How to sell books on Amazon with a seller account
How do you sell your books on Amazon? To do so, you need to create a seller account. You have two options:
- Register as a private seller, in which case you can sell books on Amazon without a VAT number. You have a sales limit of 40 books per month, but you pay no subscription to the platform.
- Register as a professional. You have no sales limits, but you pay a monthly subscription.
Create a seller account
But from an operational point of view, you may be wondering, What do I have to do to sell a book on Amazon? Nothing could be simpler!
First of all, to sell on Amazon, you must have an account. If you don’t have one, follow the steps I show you; it’s quick and easy!
- To create, go to the Amazon homepage, click on Accounts and Lists, and then on Start Here.
From this point on, follow the wizard, enter the required data, and in a few steps, you will have your new Amazon account. Discover the step-by-step process of how to sell books on Amazon and become a successful self-published author.
Once created, you can move on to opening your online bookshop.
- For seller account creation, click on your name, and on the return page, go to the Selling on Amazon section.
- You will then be directed to the registration page. To register and choose the correct profile, do not click on Register Now, but on Plans and Tariffs. You will be directed to this page:
You can choose between two types of accounts available: Basic, for private individuals, and Pro, for professionals.
For registration, which will give you access to Amazon’s Seller Center, you will need your personal details, telephone number, ID, credit card, and bank account details. For the Pro Account, you also need to indicate the type of company, place, and date of foundation, VAT number, and company registration number.
To register as a private individual, scroll down the page, and at the bottom you will find the word Register for Basic Seller Account.” Click on it; now the registration process begins!
After clicking on it, the following page opens:
You must indicate your country of residence (or company) and the type of company. Six types are shown:
- State-owned company
- Listed company
- Private enterprise
- Charitable association
- Sole proprietorship
- None, I am an individual seller.
How to proceed, then?
- For the Basic Account, you have to enter the last option; for the Pro Account, you have to enter according to the type of your company.
- Then enter your First Name and Last Name in the space provided, then scroll down the page and click on Accept and Continue, where you accept the Contract and the terms of service and privacy (don’t forget to read the Contract and the terms of service and privacy).
- At this point, check that the data entered concerning the name is correct. Then enter in the spaces provided: your identity document with the number and expiry date and your telephone number.
- For identity verification, with a tick, choose between Call Me or Send Me an SMS. Clicking on Call me now or Send me an SMS will give you a verification code that you must enter in the one-time PIN space. Once you have completed this step, click on Verify and Save.
- The Set Payment Method page opens. Here, enter your credit card details and check the billing address for accuracy. Then proceed with Save.
- At this point you are asked for the Name to give to your Amazon shop: choose it and proceed.
- Creation is completed by activating the Two-Step Verification. You have two choices to indicate by ticking the corresponding box. You will receive the access code by telephone number with a call or SMS, or with the authentication application.
Put your books up for sale.
Once this step is completed, you have access to your online bookstore and inventory, where you can easily and intuitively enter your books and offers.
- Under Add Product, in the field Product Title, enter the title and the ISBN (International Standard Book Number).
- By clicking on Search, you can check whether the book is already on the platform. This way, Amazon searches for the title, and you only have to decide whether to create a customized ad.
- If the book is present, click on Put on Sale.” On the page that opens, enter the quantity, conditions, and price.
- If it is not present on the platform, create the ad by clicking on Create a new offer. In the relevant field, select Books as a category and indicate the subcategory. By default, sub-categories such as “Biographies, “thrillers,” “leisure,” etc. are presented.
- After choosing the category, click on Select to create the advertisement. Proceed by filling in the Essential Information of the product sheet by entering the Title, Author, Date, and Publisher of publication, ISBN code. If you select Offer you can enter Price, Book Condition (ranging, for a used book, from Acceptable to As New), and Quantity. Select Images: you can upload multiple images.
- Before saving and publishing your ad, choose the shipping method to be used. If you decide to subscribe to Amazon’s logistics, you will have to ship the books to the collection center that will be indicated to you, and Amazon will take care of the shipping. You will be notified of your order by email and on the control panel. You will receive payment directly to your bank account.
Amazon fees and commissions
How much does it cost to sell books on Amazon? What percentage of sales does Amazon take? Want to turn your passion for writing into a business? Here’s how to sell books on Amazon and generate income. Are you an aspiring author? Learn how to sell books on Amazon and reach a global audience.
The private individual only pays at the time of sale; in fact, as indicated, there is no monthly subscription fee. The expected costs are:
- a commission of EUR 0.99 per sale
- a referral fee (for books it is 15.45% of the total price)
- a closing commission of EUR 1.01 per book.
For professionals, on the other hand, the expected costs are:
- a monthly subscription of 39 euros plus VAT
- a reporting fee of 15.45% on the price
- a closing commission of EUR 1.01.
With this plan, you can manage inventory, monitor order reports, and have a 30-day free trial.
For both plans, if the FBA service, Fulfillment by Amazon, is desired, Amazon’s logistics take care of the storage, pick-up, packing, and shipping, thus eliminating many of the tasks associated with selling.
The cost of handling by Amazon consists of a fixed monthly storage fee and a handling fee based on the weight and size of the product shipped. In addition, with FBA membership, one participates in Prime offers, which facilitate sales because Prime membership has millions of subscribers and offers the guarantee of shipping in less than 24 hours.
Of course, one can take care of the packaging and shipping themselves. The option is called FBM, or Fulfillment by Merchant, and is preferable for limited-quantity sales because it prevents Amazon’s logistics costs from affecting revenue.
Selling books with Amazon Kindle
Now that you have seen the procedure for how to sell books on Amazon, you might be interested in learning about self-publishing services, i.e., how to sell books on Kindle. In fact, if you are an author and own the copyright to your work, you can use Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing service, called KDP, to self-publish. With this self-publishing service, you can publish on Amazon’s Kindle Store.
I would like to remind you that for those who have a company or are professionals, self-publishing a book, even in e-book format, is an excellent marketing strategy for your business. It is a way of giving visibility to your personal brand and enhancing your expertise and skills.
Discover proven strategies on how to sell books on Amazon and build a successful author platform.
Before looking at the advantages of choosing KDP, I would like to share a quote from Amazon’s explanatory video in which it is indicated that one of the reasons for choosing the service is to “appear next to famous writers you have always admired”: it is certainly not a material advantage but, for a writer, it probably represents one of the dreams he or she would like to see realized.
And now here are the material advantages of choosing KDP for self-publication:
- Not needing an editor and a literary agent: in this way, you have a higher income than traditional publishing, as the royalties, i.e., the fees, are much higher than in a contract with a publisher. For this reason, books cost much less than traditional publishing, and this translates into the possibility of selling more copies. In addition, you retain ownership of the author’s rights, thanks to the envisaged non-exclusivity agreement. So, as an author, you do not have to be subject to the classical constraints set by publishing houses for copyright.
- To be present on a platform used by readers with the intent to buy and, therefore, to be visible in a market with potentially high sales performance.
- Choose which version to publish: print, e-book, or both.
- Publish free of charge: the price of printing will be deducted from the royalties at the time of sale.
- Choose the price yourself and even get up to 70% of the royalties.
- Reaching millions of users.
- Publish within minutes and get listed in Kindle Stores within 24/48 hours.
- Having the book constantly available: you publish according to the number of requests and, therefore, your work will never be sold out.
- Get a real account of sales reports.
- Create your own personal page on Author Central and manage it independently, deciding what to include in your biography and, thus, taking care of your personal branding yourself.
- You can further increase your earning opportunities by registering for KDP Select. The service involves placing the book within Kindle Unlimited and Kindle’s Prime library. Kindle Unlimited is a subscription that gives readers the opportunity to read their favorite books without limits. By joining KDP Select, the book is included in this subscription and you earn money based on the number of pages read by those who have borrowed it. The service requires Amazon to have a 90-day exclusivity period in which you cannot distribute the digital format through other channels, while no limit is imposed on the print format.
Create your account on Kindle Direct Publishing
How to sell books on Amazon Kindle? The platform provides, with the KDP Jumpstart service, the necessary directions and steps to take advantage of KDP and start publishing.
Find out how to sell books on Amazon and tap into the world’s largest online marketplace. Below, I summarize the basic steps.
- First of all, you must have an Amazon Account. You will then need to access the home page and enter your Amazon Account credentials and password.
- After accepting the Agreement and Terms of Service, enter the author information by clicking at the top of the page on Account of followed by your name.
- The page directs you to My Account, where you have to enter your details under Author/Publisher Information: name, telephone, and address.
- In the Payment Receipt section, enter the required bank data (bank name, account number, and bank details are needed).
- In the Tax Information section, enter your name, address, and tax code. Finally, click on Save, and your account is now active.
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Publish with Kindle
To publish the book, the creation procedure must be implemented. On this page, Creating a Book, Amazon provides guidance on the procedures, which I summarize below.
- First of all, you need to access your KDP Account Library, once in Create New Title, click on the +.
- Then upload your manuscript, enter the ISBN code, and, for the paper version, also the printing options. Finally, in Preview view how it appears.
- To conclude the procedure, under Rights and Prices, enter the price and royalty. Finally, accept the conditions and terms; the publication procedure is finished.
For entering the correct price and royalty rate, KDP has set up the Price Setting page. In addition, you can order a test copy before publication so that you can see the result for yourself. Learn the step-by-step process of how to sell books on Amazon and reach a wider audience.
KDP costs and fees
There are no costs for publication on KDP, but royalty fees are charged at the time of sale. There are benchmarks for the list price, between a minimum and a maximum, based on the size in megabytes of the ebook. For the application of the correct royalty rate, reference must be made to the size and sales territory of the ebook. Want to reach Kindle readers? Here’s how to sell books on Amazon.
- For e-books, KDP has two types of royalty: 35% and 70% on the list price excluding VAT, the application of which differs depending on the list price charged and the territory where it is sold. To this must be added the shipping cost for the 70% royalty. Thus, the calculation to obtain the royalty will be 70% x (list price, VAT, and shipping costs). Italy is among the territories where the 70% royalty is applicable.
- The shipping cost is calculated per megabyte of the digital book: for Italy, it is 0.12 euros per MB.
For books in hard copy:
- the royalty rate is 60% of the list price, from which printing costs must be subtracted
- print on demand and there are no upfront costs, as printing costs will be deducted from the royalty
- printing costs depend on the number of pages, the ink, and the market in which it is sold
- so, to calculate the royalty, one must multiply the royalty rate by the list price, and from the resulting figure subtract the printing costs
- for the US and the UK there is the opportunity to join the extended distribution (royalty is 40%). It provides for the availability of the book outside the Amazon circuit.
To publish, it is necessary to comply with the text and cover formatting parameters set by Amazon. Discover the secrets of how to sell books on Amazon and maximize your online book sales.
I will not go into the specifics of exceptions and particularities of the application of royalties and formatting characteristics because each publishable work has its own case.
Best practices for selling and publishing on Amazon
Having reached this point, you are probably asking yourself: “How to sell books on Amazon effectively, in order to increase sales?”. Interested in reaching millions of readers? Here’s a comprehensive guide on how to sell books on Amazon. I will suggest some useful best practices, but before proceeding, it is necessary to emphasize that selling on Amazon requires a strategy because there are so many competitors and, therefore, we need to offer something that distinguishes us.
I start by considering the approach to be taken when selling used and new books on Amazon. Two factors above all play a role here:
- the conditions of the book: if they are very good, the chances are better
- the price: the more advantageous it is, the better your chances of selling. When setting the price, take into account the condition of the book and the price proposed by other sellers: with a lower price than the others, you have a better chance of selling but also consider the costs you will have to bear for Amazon’s service.
- Take care of the description: use storytelling to tell the story of the book for sale, and include details of the topics covered. The user must be attracted to the book you propose and notice it within the platform. Therefore, use keywords in the description, taking care of optimization through a Google search, in the relevant topic area and niche. Also, help yourself with Amazon’s Suggest search tool. Try to understand the most used terms and current trends. Remember, to sell you need to be visible.
- Use the reserved space on the seller account to describe what your business is, if, for example, you are a bookshop owner.
- Insert pictures because they increase the chances of a sale and, for used books, allow the condition to be checked.
As far as self-publishing is concerned, there are some elements to which you will have to pay more care and attention:
- The price: setting the price is one of the most fundamental and difficult decisions. This is because if a too-low price were established, it could be seen by the buyer as an indication of poor quality; on the other hand, a price higher than that of the other authors could be perceived as too high and discourage the sale. Therefore, when deciding on a price, check the prices of the other authors in your category and set a price that is competitive. It might be useful to offer to read certain parts for free, perhaps the first few chapters, so that the reader can assess the price and quality of your book.
- Title and Subtitle: these are important to increase views on the Kindle search platform because the purchase decision depends on them. Therefore, when selling your book, choose a title and subtitle that attracts the reader’s attention, arouses interest, and satisfies the user’s search.
- The description serves to make the topic immediately clear, so it must be written in such a way that it is useful to the user with detailed information. Point out the benefits of reading your work, and write them simply and clearly. Use storytelling techniques in the description; try to involve and excite the possible buyer, especially if your book is narrative in nature. Remember, emotions are very important in the purchase decision.
- Keywords: these are the terms that users will type in to find the books they are interested in on the platform. So, research your book’s subject area and see what trends and terms are most commonly used in the niche you refer to. Then use them in your description.
- The Category and Subcategory: these are lists provided by Amazon within which you should place your book. Choose the appropriate category, also considering the subcategory: if you can, favor a specific niche.
- The Cover: Choose one that tickles the reader’s fancy. The cover affects the reader’s attention span, and a better cover is often perceived as indicating higher quality. Again, look at the covers used by other authors and take care of the images. You may want to have a professional cover designer follow you, or you can use Kindle’s Cover Creation tool. You could run A/B tests to see which cover performs best.
Since you do not have a publisher behind you, you will have to apply marketing techniques to promote and increase sales. To promote, you can:
- Contact newspapers and journalists, blogs dedicated to your subject matter, cultural centers for presentations, reviewers on the web and in print, and influencers, preferably from your sector.
- Get in touch with other writers’ groups, e.g. on Facebook, to exchange opinions, advice, and reviews.
- Participating in events and fairs.
- Create a blog in which you talk about yourself and your book, and use social media for promotion. Creating a blog and using social media can also be useful when selling used books or as a professional, as it allows you to create articles and content related to the topics of the books you sell. Use social media to post content related to the topics of your book. In this case, you must take care of your personal branding by expressing consistency with your values, choices, and topics. Create a tone of voice on social media that is consistent with your personal branding. Take care of your communication with regard to your target audience.
- Create a mailing list and send e-mails to make your work known.
- Create videos, video tutorials, and webinars: use them to explain aspects covered by your book or provide useful content, e.g. if you have written a Gardening manual, you could create a video in which you explain how to prune a particular plant.
Conclusions and Strategic Coaching
As we have seen, today selling books on Amazon as a private or professional seller or selling your own manuscript through self-publishing has many advantages and can be done with limited costs, using Amazon’s logistics to manage and process orders. Looking for a step-by-step guide on how to sell books on Amazon? Look no further!
Opening a basic or professional account or publishing a book is easy, and you can choose to do these activities on an occasional basis to acquire extra income from your main activity, or you can decide to devote time and resources. Want to maximize your book’s exposure? Find out how to sell books on Amazon.
I hope I have provided you with a useful guide on how to sell books on Amazon by suggesting some best practices to use. Indeed, Amazon is definitely the right platform for online book sales and for giving visibility to your work. However, to obtain appreciable results, there is a need for different skills in the choice of some fundamental elements, such as title, description, cover, and price.
But, above all, there is a need for marketing and promotion skills. Therefore, it may be useful to turn to professionals in the field for advice on how to create a strategy capable of bringing positive performance.
Learn the best practices for pricing, promotion, and distribution of how to sell books on Amazon. If you too have seen the potential of the digital marketing world, you will find one of the most popular courses in the list below:
- Digital Marketing Specialist certification
- Web Analytics Specialist certification
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Request a personal consultation with one of our experts. He will guide you in defining the right strategy to start selling your books on Amazon