A lot of people elect to go the independent route for a variety of reasons. Amazon is a key component. Eddie Jones recently offered a one-hour online seminar covering ways he feels you can obtain amazing results on Amazon.
Here are a few of things worth mulling over:
1. Short non-fiction can help pay the bills. Brevity sells. Understand where your background and experience can translate into a platform for non-fiction. Consider putting together an incredibly easy, short, book to sell on Amazon. Or, if you have more than 200 pages for one of these, consider a series. $$$
2. Optimize your title. Has anyone ever seen a sub-title applied to fiction before? That's my question. It didn't come up in the class, but it could catch some attention. On Amazon, your title is 'shelf space', and the longer the title is, the more shelf space and attention you get. You have 200 characters. Use all of them.
3. Cover. You can do the typical, or you can do the a-typical. A square cover. Square is good because square is different. Different gets noticed. Since there is no hand-selling on Amazon, your cover is very important.
4. The Search Inside feature can be wonderful because the entire book is searched for key words/phrases. (Probably more important for non-fiction.)
5. Ranking. Although this is changing based on the sheer volume of new books, a ranking of 50k - 200k is not quite hot. 50k-10k is a fairly good performer. Better than 10k and you have a winner over time.
6. Customer reviews are key. The more the better. Even if some of them aren't that great. The more reviews you have, the higher your book will appear in the 'relevant' search rankings. 10 reviews or less = not so much. 100 reviews? Way cool, even if some of them are poor. Having a neutral or even a negative review actually increases the credibility overall.
7. Tags. Tags (via votes) will increase your presence in search results. (One online loop in particular had a HUGE push for tagging amongst its authors.) I find that to be one of the cheating/unethical things LJ Sellers referred to on a recent post on Crime Fiction Collective.
8. Author page. KEEP IT CURRENT. Duh. Make sure it reflects not just your bio, but a passion for your subjects and books. Plug your blog with an RSS Feed. Video/Trailer . . . you can ask customers to drop trailers into their reviews, but keep it real. If the trailer was an instigating 'buy' for the customer, cool.
Okay, you guys have the benefit of an hour of my time. I hope there's at least one thing in here that can inspire you and move you forward.
Do you have any tips to add?
NOTE: Through the Memorial Day Weekend, my partners at Crime Fiction Collective are donating their profits to a family in Joplin, Missouri who lost everything. One of my other partners is splitting hers, to include victims of the same rash of tornadoes in Minnesota. Please, please, please . . . if you're looking for a good read (and I can recommend all of them), consider buying either a download or a paper book. Crime Fiction Collective.
CR: Alone by Lisa Gardner.
It's all better with friends.