How To Get Reviews When Self-Publishing On Amazon

How To Get Reviews When Self-Publishing On Amazon


Self-Publishing On Amazon


When self-publishing on Amazon you are responsible for getting book reviews. An important part of your marketing strategy is to get Customer Reviews as soon as your book is released.  

Reviews don’t just happen automatically. We would all love it if they did. How would it be if reviews just appeared on our listing like being on autopilot?

Getting reviews is just not that simple.  You have to go to work to get reviews.

To obtain Customer Reviews put a campaign strategy in place to get them. 

Customer Reviews are those that give your book a rating and they help customers learn more about your book providing genuine feedback. 

self-publishing on Amazon

Amazon likes you to get Customer Reviews. They provide an independent assessment of your book and they help you to make sales, so get as many reviews as you possibly can.

Reviews validate your book and they provide feedback that can add to your book’s credibility.

Reviews help your book to get discovered on Amazon and this can help sales adding to your income every month. Reviews can also help increase your Amazon Best Seller Ranking (BSR).

Getting Customer Reviews is not an easy process. Getting them is tough and the process requires some mastery if you plan on becoming a successful publisher.

When self-publishing on Amazon there are guidelines for acquiring reviews. Amazon regards some methods as inappropriate so if a review violates Amazon’s Terms of Service then Amazon will delete the review.

Underlying the Amazon Terms of Service is the fact that Amazon will only publish honest reviews that are submitted by unbiased reviewers.

There are multiple methods for getting book reviews but here I’m giving you just one effective way.

You need to have some reviews for your book as soon as you launch it or at least have them in the first few days of release.


Advanced Review Copies(ARCs)

self-publishing on Amazon


One method for getting early reviews when self-publishing on Amazon is to give out Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) to influencers, bloggers, and others who might be interested in reading your book.

An Advanced Review Copy(ARC) is not the final version of your book. Rather it is an advanced draft of your book that you give to interested readers. It’s usually given out as a digital copy.

By giving out Advanced Review Copies the expectation is that

  1. some readers will submit a book review to Amazon
  2. other readers may provide feedback on your book, and 
  3. influencers or experts are great for getting endorsements or positive quotes that you can use for publicity purposes
  4. But giving a free copy of a book is not be conditional on actually getting a review.

Advanced Review Copies are an effective way of getting your book to readers in the expectation that they will give you feedback and hopefully a review.

On the ARC give a disclaimer. Say that this ARC is a draft – an Advanced Review Copy  – and briefly explain that the content is subject to change and to revision.

Also, inform the reader of the date you plan on launching the book.

Why give out Advanced Review Copies?


In this digital age, it is now easier than ever and an effective method to get advanced drafts of your book out to avid readers. An advanced draft in the form of a digital copy is an efficient way of distribution because of the time saved.

It eliminates the cost of printing and postage. ARCs in digital form can be sent out in seconds rather than weeks.

If you can succeed in getting a few reviews published as soon as your book is launched this can help with getting sales.

As a result of giving out Advanced Review Copies, you can get recommendations from influencers and experts in your field which you can then use for publicity purposes. Get a quote that you can put on your paperback’s back cover blurb, or as part of your book’s description, or as an editorial review that you can insert into Amazon Author Central.

Another benefit of giving out Advanced Review Copies is that readers can identify errors in your manuscript because no matter how carefully you’ve edited your book, there will always be mistakes and typos. These errors can then be fixed prior to the publication of your book.

How do you set up this system?


self-publishing on Amazon


The first thing to do is to build a launch team. A launch team consists of people that you know and think might be a good fit to read your book before it is published. In an ideal world, readers in a launch team will leave a review as soon as your book goes LIVE on Amazon.

As I said earlier you cannot demand that a reader write a review for your book. This is not conditional on giving them a free, advanced copy but you could suggest that they leave a review if they so wished.

Building a launch team


Building a launch team does take time because you need to connect with appropriate people, build a relationship with them, and gauge whether or not they qualify to be a reviewer.

There is nothing more frustrating than if you’ve succeeded in getting some reviews only to find that those reviews have been deleted by Amazon because the reviewers didn’t qualify to write a review.

I stress “qualify” to be a reviewer. If a reviewer submits a review for your book on Amazon they must be eligible to leave a review. There are guidelines on Amazon for reviewers.

To qualify a reviewer must have spent at least $50 on using a valid credit or debit card in the past 12 months.  

As you build your launch team include the email addresses of your team members in your email database. Have a dedicated email list of reviewers for ease of connection.

As you are getting ready to publish your book inform your team about the forthcoming book. Keep them in the loop.

At least a couple of weeks prior to your launch date give advanced drafts of your book to your team and explain that you plan to launch the book on a specified date. 

You will need to send a reminder to your team to get them to read your book and to provide some feedback. Then if they wish to submit a review that they should do this as soon as the book is launched.

This approach is recommended particularly when self-publishing on Amazon for the first time. 

Explain to your launch team how to submit a review.

When a reviewer on your launch team does submit reviews they should state that they received an advance copy and that they are offering their honest review. 

Distributing Advanced Review Copies (ARCs) a couple of weeks prior to self-publishing your book on Amazon is an effective method for getting the review process started.

You may want to learn more about self-publishing on Amazon.    ACCESS HERE the How To Become A Self-Published Author subscription program. This consists of weekly online lessons that educate you about the self-publishing process.


Marji Hill

Author and coach




Fast Self-Publishing Online

5 Steps To Finishing Your Book

5 Steps To Finishing Your Book



Many aspiring authors talk about the book they plan to write but how many actually finish their book?

If you put a number of would-be authors in a room and asked about their book creation, only half would even start their book and out of those that did, probably only half of those would ever finish it.

5 steps to finishing your book



Step 1 – Complete the first draft


Every writer’s immediate goal should be to complete the first draft of their book. Some authors may take years to do this and others may take months.

I suggest that you aim to complete the first draft of a manuscript within 30 days.

Why? Finishing the first draft of a manuscript is an achievement. It is psychologically sound for you to know that you can do it. It helps you create momentum.

If you take on the challenge of creating a book within 30 days then set a word count that is achievable. Let’s say you set a word count goal of 10,000 words and your aim is to write some words every day and you keep writing until you achieve those 10,000 words.

You may decide to write 1000 words a day, or just 500 words. By setting a bite-sized word count each day you will complete the first draft of your manuscript.

As you write your first draft do not edit it. The editing mindset is very different to the writing one so refrain from editing that first draft.

The purpose of that first draft is very straight forward – it is simply to exist.

The important thing is to get the words down no matter how rough. Don’t be concerned if you think the writing is all junk and that it is full of mistakes and errors.


Step 2  – Take a break


5 steps to finishing your book

When the first draft is finished print out the document. A good idea is then to bind it so that it looks like a book.

Your next move is to put the manuscript away. Put it in a drawer or cupboard.

Don’t look at it. Don’t touch it. Even forget about it.

Refrain from looking at it for 1 or 2 months, or if you have a tight deadline, put it away for at least a week.

Relax. Let your mind unwind for a bit before taking on the rewriting and editing of your manuscript.    

When you do look at the manuscript again you will look at it from a fresh perspective.

As you read through it you will notice the errors more easily.

On this rough first draft scribble notes, ideas, cross things out, add bits.


Step 3 – The 2nd draft


You are ready now to start the rewrite. This is when you can start to self-edit.

Here’s a tip: Save a copy of the first draft and then create a new document for the second draft. That way you will always have a copy of the first draft.

Create a schedule for completing the second draft.

Work on the manuscript and revise it until you get it to an acceptable state; something that you are happy with.

Then it’s time to get some beta readers. They could be family, relatives, trusted friends, or acquaintances. You want their feedback. 

Beta readers evaluate your book from a reader’s perspective. 

Once you have given the manuscript to some beta readers put your second draft away and out of sight again. 

Once again take a break from the manuscript.   

After some time has passed come back to it. As before, print a copy of the second draft and write your notes and comments on the pages of the manuscript.

Collate the feedback from your beta readers.


5 steps to finishing your book


Step 4 – Do more drafts as need be


Depending on the genre and your level of expertise, you might rewrite your manuscript two or three or more times. 

Newer writers may create many drafts until they gain competence and experience at producing a manuscript.

Before you hand the manuscript over to a professional or independent editor make sure you’ve read and revised it a few times until you’ve got it to an advanced state.


Step 5 – Professional editor


When you are finished with your self-editing hand over the manuscript to a professional editor or to someone who has at least had plenty of experience as an editor.

Your manuscript does need to be seen from another person’s eyes – ideally a set of professional eyes. So yes, you can certainly do your own editing but as the creator, you are a bit too close to the writing. 

Accept that, and know that an independent edit only makes your manuscript better.

Once your manuscript has been edited and proofread it can then go through the final stages of preparing it for publication.

To learn more about writing, self-publishing, and marketing your book ACCESS HERE the How To Become A Self-Published Author subscription program which consists of weekly online lessons that educate, motivate and inspire.

Marji Hill

Author and coach




Fast Self-Publishing Online

11 Powerful Marketing Strategies To Promote Your Book 

11 Powerful Marketing Strategies To Promote Your Book 



Marketing strategies


Authors in 2021 need to be responsible for their own marketing so I am giving you 11 powerful marketing strategies to promote your book.

Gone are the days when authors could leave all the marketing of their books to their publishers. Even if you have a mainstream publisher it’s now expected that the author do a lot of their own marketing.

No matter whether you are with a mainstream publisher or you are a self-publisher you have to get the word out about your books.

Unfortunately, marketing is one of those things that will stress many authors and it is something that a lot of authors prefer to avoid.


How to market your book


How to market your book

Here is a brief overview of how to market your book. I’m breaking this large topic down into 11 powerful marketing strategies that you can implement – the end goal being to sell more books.

Marketing your book is about communicating your message to your target audience and letting that audience know that your book is available for purchase. You give that audience a reason why they should buy your book. 

In essence marketing is very simple – it’s about getting the word out.

Publishing your book on Amazon doesn’t end there with just a click of the Publish button. Clicking the Publish button is really just the start   of the action. 

Your job is to get the word out there that you have a book, and that your target market should buy it.

There are many marketing tactics you can use to do this so I have selected just 11 fundamental strategies to help you along your way.


1. Marketing starts even before you start writing


Marketing your book starts even before you start writing it. You have to do your market research to validate your idea to ensure that your chosen niche is one which could be profitable.


 2. Create an attractive looking book


Readers do tend to judge a book by its cover and so your cover is one of the most important elements of your marketing package.  

As well as the cover the interior needs to look appealing and be professionally designed, edited and formatted.


3. Build a sales page


The cornerstone of your Amazon sales strategy is to have a strong listing page – in other words a compelling sales page with a description of your book.

Once readers visit your book’s listing page this is when and where they make a decision to buy or not to buy.


 4. Learn the secrets of the Amazon ecosystem


Amazon offers a suite of marketing tools ranging from paid advertising to free promotional options.

If you enrol your eBook in KDP Select  you can access a range of promotional tools such as Kindle Unlimited, Kindle Countdown Deals and Free Book Promotions to help you get the word out to more readers and make more money.  Not only that you can set up an Author Page on Amazon Author Central


 5. Get Book Reviews


Customer Reviews, together with Editorial Reviews, help add to a book’s credibility and provide social proof helping customers learn more about your book. You need to get as many reviews as possible because they carry a lot of weight on Amazon.


 6. Build your author website


Wordpress website

Your own author website should be a central element of your book marketing strategy. It is your hub from where you’ll communicate with your audience and it is where your readers will learn about you the author, your books, the way you think, links to your social media platforms, and all things pertaining to you and your books.

On this website you will have a lead magnet to attract new people to your readership and it will be from here that you will build your email list and data base.


 7.  Email list


An email list, together with an author’s website, would have to be one of the most valuable assets any author could have.  

The idea is to have an email list of followers with whom you can communicate. Communicating with these people on your list helps you to build your audience and you can establish  relationships of mutual respect and trust.

When the fans in your data base get to like and trust you they become your raving fans. These are the people who will buy your book.


8.  Create valuable content


An author may want to blog to create valuable content in the form of blog posts and articles to gain and maintain readers and followers. 

But blogging is not for everyone – it is not a must for authors – but if you are inclined or wired that way it can be an effective addition to your marketing strategy and aid in the building of an author platform.


9.  Social media


Social media links

In the current world we live, a social media presence is essential for all authors whether they be fiction writers, poets, non-fiction writers, children’s book authors, or any other kind of writer.

Social media puts you on the map and helps to boost your audience.  

Start building social media profiles immediately on Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn, Pinterest, Goodreads and YouTube.


10.  Podcasts


Podcasts are trending as a marketing tool because while radio is less popular these days, people are still interested in audio content. Podcasts have taken over from radio and they help you build credibility, drive brand awareness, and grow your audience. 

Podcasts help you position yourself as an expert so think in terms of cementing your authority by hosting a podcast.


 11. Value of offline promotion


While online marketing is the primary focus for your marketing activities there is still marketing power in doing promotions offline particularly if you have published a paperback.

There are mary activities you can do to promote your book, activities such as:

  • having a book launch to promote and sell  
  • participating in a trade show, book fair, festival or market
  • offering your book as a prize at a charity or community event
  • doing promotions in bookshops and libraries
  • do a press release
  • get interviews on community radio, local newspaper, or television
  • and, build your personal network.

Marketing strategies to promote your book

There you have it. 11 powerful marketing strategies to promote your book. 

To learn more you may like to ACCESS HERE the “How to become a self-published author” program consisting of 52 weeks of online lessons that educate, motivate and inspire.

Marji Hill

Author and coach




Fast Self-Publishing Online

How Long Should A Book Be?

How Long Should A Book Be?



The question about how long should a book be is a common one among aspiring authors.

A short eBook can be just as satisfying to read as a long eBook, and a short paperback is the same. The issue is really about giving the reader good value; it’s not about how long a book should be.

Kindle eBooks


Nowhere can I find in the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) guidelines information about the minimum size for an eBook. They do not appear to set a minimum size.

KDP hasn’t set any definitive limits on the minimum length of a self-published Kindle eBook.

Kindle Short Reads


On the Amazon website, there is a category called Kindle Short Reads.

When you drill down a bit further you will see that Kindle Short Reads has a number of sub-categories. These categories are broken down into the length of time it takes to read an eBook and then the number of pages the eBook has.


    • 15 minutes (1-11 pages)
    • 30 minutes (12-21 pages)
    • 45 minutes (22-32 pages)
    • One hour (33-43 pages)
    • 90 minutes (44-64 pages)
    • Two hours or more (65-100 pages)


It is quite obvious that the minimum size for a short read eBook ranges from just a few pages to about 100 pages and the reading time ranges from 15 minutes to two hours. These Kindle Short Reads give you some idea of the acceptable sizes for Kindle eBooks.

Don’t spend too much time worrying about the best size for your eBook. There is no hard and fast rule with Kindle eBooks.

Try to ensure that your minimum word count is not lower than 2500 words – the length of a short-short story.

Amazon is more concerned with Kindle eBook file size rather than with word count or the number of pages. You can upload eBook manuscript files up to 650MB. 

Focus on outlining your Kindle eBook, plot out the story or information, and decide how to best present the information. Then get into serious business of writing.

It doesn’t matter if your book is 2,500 words or 250,000 words the important thing to remember is to provide your readers with value.



For Paperbacks the Paperback Submission Guidelines in KDP state that the minimum page count for a paperback is 24 pages.

Does a paperback need to be 150-200 pages or more?

No. There is no hard and fast rule for how long a paperback should be. 

The genre may impact the size of a paperback. Many illustrated children’s books are about 32 pages with just a few words and a lot of illustrations.

A short story could be at least 24 pages while a full-length novel could be 500 or 1000 pages.

For a non-fiction book, I personally try to aim for a minimum of 10,000 words. Depending on the size of the font and the number of illustrations or photographs a 10,000-word book can be anywhere between 50-100 pages.

But again there is no hard and fast rule.

A paperback book should be as long as is needed. What is being communicated to the reader should be told in as many words as it takes.

If you want the author name and the title to be on the spine of the book the paperback needs to be about 110 pages. Amazon specifies this, otherwise, a book with fewer pages is unlikely to have the information on the spine of the book.

There is no definitive answer to this question about how long a manuscript should be.  

You could examine books in your genre and look at the number of pages. Model your book on some of these.

But ultimately the size of your paperback is your decision.

In a couple of weeks, I will be launching an online program of 52 weekly lessons on how to become a self-published author. In the meantime learn more about self-publishing in my Free Online Class. 


Marji Hill

Author and Coach


Fast Self-Publishing Online

Want Raving Fans With An Author’s Email List?

Want Raving Fans With An Author’s Email List?


Email list of raving fans

An email list would have to be one of the most important assets of an author’s tool kit. As well, it would have to be a focal point of any author platform.

You’ve heard the saying, I’m sure, that  “The money is in the list”. An email list is a way of getting a group of raving fans.

The idea is to have an email list of followers with whom you can communicate. Communicating with these people on your list helps you to build your audience and you can establish relationships of mutual respect and trust.

Your followers want to hear from you, they want to learn from you, and they are happy to receive your emails. 

Permission for communication was given when they gave you their email address and if they don’t want to communicate with you they will unsubscribe. 


Why an email list?


With an email list, relationships are built and its members become your followers. As this author-audience relationship evolves it eventually becomes a relationship of trust.

The email list is about building your own audience – an audience that gets to like and trust you.

These are the people who become your raving fans. These are the ones who will buy your book.

When you release a new book you’ve already got a list of people excited to buy it.

Just imagine building a large audience, let’s say the list is 5,000 or 10,000. It’s a no-brainer – you’d just have to make sales, wouldn’t you think?



With an email list, you can build a list of reviewers. They become your review team. Whenever you release a new book you can tell the review team about your latest book.

You can source people who would be interested in joining your ARC (Advance Review Copy) team. These are readers who would like to receive an advanced copy of your book prior to its publication. 

Then when the book is published on Amazon they post a customer review.

Own your database


Even if you build large followings on social media you still need to build an email list that you own. The problem with having large lists on social media you don’t own those lists.

You can lose those followers. Social media accounts can be blocked or suspended and you can find that you have no access to your followers because you did not abide by their rules. You did not play their game and you’ve been relying on these platforms for your success.

As a priority, you need to direct your contacts to your email list, the list that you own.

Build an email list in 4 easy steps


To successfully build your email list you will need to invest in a few tools:

  1. Get a domain name
  2. Build an author’s website or landing page
  3. Select an autoresponder
  4. Put a Lead Magnet onto your website (that is, have something that will give people an incentive to give you their email address)

With your Lead Magnet, you collect email addresses and these go into your autoresponder. You then send out automated emails on a regular basis giving your audience real value. 

This way you keep your audience up-to-date with your latest book, or that book you are currently working on, or you will share fresh ideas or anything else that is relevant or of value to your people.

You as the author are in control of your marketing. You are not dependent on a Publisher’s distribution system, social media, or anything else.

Lead Magnets

Brainstorm incentives that you could offer people so that they will give you their email: 

  •       free chapter of your book
  •       free ebook
  •       a report
  •       an article
  •       checklist
  •       free online class
  •       webinar
  •       video

When should you start building your list? Start now. If possible start even before you’ve written your book.

Your takeaway?


  • Find an autoresponder that is right for you. When starting out the most popular one is Mailchimp. It’s a good place to start. And it’s FREE.  
  • Aweber is a low-cost autoresponder, there’s Get Response, ConvertKit and Active Campaign. I use Keap which is part of Infusionsoft.
  • Get a domain name and build a website or landing page
  • Offer a great incentive with your Lead magnet

Remember, the idea is to build an email list and to communicate with these people on a regular basis.  

Give them valuable content because if you don’t they will unsubscribe.

Don’t put off building your email list! It has proven to be one of the best assets authors can have when establishing a database of raving fans.

Coming soon is an online program of 52 weekly lessons on how to become a self-published author so watch this space. In the meantime learn more about self-publishing in my Free Online Class. 


Marji Hill

Author and Coach


Fast Self-Publishing Online

Are You Wondering What To Write About?

Are You Wondering What To Write About?



Are you wondering what to write about?

Are you racking your brains wondering what to write about? Are you struggling to come up with a good idea?

Do you want to write in a profitable niche?

You know that you need to write in a popular niche but you don’t know how to go about researching this?

A niche is a focused, targeted area that you serve particularly well. It is small and it’s specific.  When a buyer looks at it they can instantly connect to it, they can relate to it, and they can even say “That’s me. I’m in.”

Profitable niche

A profitable niche in the context of writing refers to producing a book in a niche market. There are so many niches you can pursue. You can start by examining a general, broad niche and then you can niche down and write a book in a very specific and defined niche. 

On Amazon, a niche is also known as a category.

The key to finding a profitable niche is to do some market research to identify a market that is popular with readers.

Here are some examples of broad, profitable niches:

  • health and fitness, weight loss
  • finance – how to get out of debt
  • relationships & dating – helping men for women find their ideal partner
  • personal development – how to be successful in business,  
  • self-help – how to meditate, how to de-stress
  • pets
  • technology
  • beauty and how to look young

Steps To Researching a Profitable Niche

Choose a broad niche that appeals to you.

Step 1

Visit the US Amazon website ( In the Search Bar enter the name of your niche. You will see that the Pet niche gets over 70,000 results; Mindfulness gets over 30,000; health and fitness get over 100,000. These are all very big niches.

Step 2

Drill down to find a more specific niche. Check niches that interest you in Books and also in the Kindle Store. In Books, the Health & Fitness niche gets results of over 60,000. In the Kindle Store, there are over 50,000.

Step 3

If you examine the drop-down autosuggestions you will see different aspects of these niches. Explore these. Look at the weight loss niche. The autosuggestions suggest specific angles to weight loss like:

  • weight loss for women
  • weight loss and menopause
  • weight loss cookbook
  • weight loss hypnosis

Step 4

Become familiar with the books that are available in your niche. Identify the pain points, the problems and challenges your niche has. 

Think about what could be the biggest pain or problem this market is experiencing?

Is there a problem or a challenge that you can solve?

When doing your research keep at the front of your mind how your target audience could benefit from reading your book?  

Step 5

The book that you write should offer a benefit to your reader so that they will feel so compelled to read it that they will hit the buy button. 

At the end of the day, people buy things that they NEED.

Once you are comfortable with the niche market you’ve chosen you can then do more research.

Step 6

You want to find out if the topic you’ve chosen has the potential to make sales.

This process involves finding out if other books in your niche are selling because you want to put the odds in your favour.

Step 7

Two methods for doing this are keyword research and research into a book’s categories.

Keyword research and research into categories are fundamental elements for successfully publishing on Amazon.

As a self-publisher, your job when listing your book on the Amazon platform Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) is to give the right metadata to Amazon so that readers can find your book and so that you can make sales.

Being able to analyse profitable keywords and categories will help you with your market research because if you get this right, tweaking your metadata may result in hundreds of more visitors to your book’s detail page and this can equate to greater sales.

It’s an area of learning where over time you need to develop mastery and it requires a lot of hard work, experience and knowledge. 

You will need to learn the techniques for doing it and learn to analyse the results so that you will know in advance, before you even write your book, that your idea has some chance of being successful.

If you’d like access to more tips and advice tune into my free video Masterclass on writing and self-publishing in the Fast Self-Publishing Online community.



Fast Self-Publishing Online


Marji Hill

Author & Coach

How To Get Your Book Found In A Crowded Amazon Marketplace

How To Get Your Book Found In A Crowded Amazon Marketplace


Amazon categories for Kindle


You’ve created a book people will love, made an amazing cover, done your keyword research, written a persuasive description, and now as you enter 2021 and you are about to publish your book you’ll be up against millions of competitors, who are likely to outrank you on Amazon.

How will you ever be found in the crowded Amazon market place?

Having done all of the above there’s still something else you need to do. You need to place your book into appropriate categories.




What are categories and how do you find the best categories for your book?

First of all, categories are those sections of the Amazon website where customers can find your book. 

Imagine you are walking into a bookstore. Books are divided up into sections: fiction, history, adventure, cooking, children’s picture books, biographies, and so on.

Categories are the big broad terms that describe a book and they indicate where a book fits.

If a customer wants a book about how to get rid of skin blemishes and then finds it in the fiction section they will not be all that impressed and will probably not buy the book.

Learning how to find the right categories, just like selecting the best keywords, increases the chance of a book being found on Amazon.  If a book gets found on Amazon then it may convert to a sale.

Categories help readers find books they want to buy. The right categories increase a book’s conversion rate because they attract the ideal buyer.

If your book is featured in the wrong category, your ideal reader won’t be able to find it.  If readers can’t find it they can’t buy it. 


Two sorts of categories


Categories can be very confusing for newbie self-publishers. This is because there are two sorts of categories.


When you enter your book’s details on the KDP Bookshelf you are asked to select two relevant categories from the drop-down list.

These categories are called Bisac Codes (Book Industry Standards and Communications) and they are designed to help a reader find your book.

These BISAC codes are an industry-wide standard for classifying books and they are commonly used in libraries and bookstores. Amazon uses them. 

The BISAC Codes are a pathway for customers to follow and to find your book.

Amazon may also assign additional browse categories depending on your BISAC selections and assigned keywords.




The other categories are Amazon browse categories. In reality, Amazon allows up to ten categories for your book but when you are doing your book’s listing on KDP you will start with just two. 

You will select just 2 BISAC categories for your book’s listing and then after you publish your book you will need to contact Amazon and request the 10 browse categories you want.

The more categories you can put your book into the more eyeballs you can get on to your book’s sales page.


Best Seller Badge


If you select the right categories an author increases their chance of getting a “Best Seller” badge – that orange icon you sometimes see on a book’s listing.

The ideal game plan is to rank #1 in a category on Amazon so that you can get a Best Seller Badge.

This in turn will help you to increase your sales.

To get a Best Seller Badge you need to find out which categories are best for your book. If you list your book in a category that is not too competitive it may be easier to get a Best Seller Badge.


How to choose categories? 


  • Brainstorm the categories you think will apply to your book
  • Get ideas for categories when doing your keyword research.
  • When you are analysing ebooks and books listed for certain keywords take a note of the categories of books similar to yours.
  • You will see Categories listed under the Best Sellers Rank (BSR).



  • Select Kindle Store
  • Then find Best Sellers & More
  • Select Kindle eBooks  
  • Under Kindle eBooks you’ll see a list of categories eg.
  • If your book is a positivity motivational self-help book you could select
  •       Self-help>Happiness
  •       Self-help>Personal transformation


Search for other categories that your book could fit into.

  • Select a category and examine the 100 best selling books in a category. Look at the book in the #1 position and then look at the book in #100. Identify books similar to yours.
  • Examine the BSR. Does a best selling book have a BSR of 100,000 or less? 
  • If the BSR is under #25,000 be assured that the book is selling well. The higher the BSR the less it sells and the lesser the competition.
  • The optimum position for your chosen Category is a BSR # 25,000-50,000. (Some say to consider books between #10,000 and #100,000.) 
  • Find a category where book #1 is under BSR #2500 and book #100 is between #25,000 and #50,000. 
  • This kind of analysis will give you a snapshot of the whole category and you can quickly determine whether or not a category is worth pursuing.
  • Sometimes in a category, it’s only the first book that is making money.  


Do your research. Make a list of relevant categories that could apply to your book.  

Select the best 10 categories and try to select ones with the least competition. It is easier to achieve a higher BSR if the competition is smaller.


How to change your categories


After you’ve published your book change your categories. Make the changes after logging into your KDP account.

Once you’ve found the browse categories you want, contact KDP on the Help page and in an email, put in a request to change your categories to the ones that you want.

When requesting a change in categories write them out according to the following format.

Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>Education & Teaching>Teacher Resources>Curricula

Kindle Store>Kindle eBooks>Nonfiction>Politics & Social Sciences>

Social Sciences>Sociology>Race Relations


If you’d like access to more tips and advice tune into my free video Masterclass on writing and self-publishing in the Fast Self-Publishing Online community.



Fast Self-Publishing Online


Marji Hill

Author & Coach


Do You Want To Self-Publish Your Paperback In Australia?

Do You Want To Self-Publish Your Paperback In Australia?





Amazon’s domination of the world book market is one of its great attractions and many authors choose it as their preferred publishing platform.

Customers are there ready to buy and pay for books with their credit cards. With just a click, a Kindle eBook is delivered immediately to your Kindle or free Kindle app on your laptop, iPad or mobile device.

Amazon’s gigantic sales platform with its Expanded Distribution puts your book into global markets.  It is regarded as the standard for self-publishing books.

If you are an Australian and you have just published your first-ever book on Amazon you’ll find it’s a great place to start your career in self-publishing.

And you are desperately wanting to hold that paperback in your hand and glory in the excitement of having just published your first book.


The challenge


As a new author and self-publisher, it’s natural that you’ll want to market your brand in Australia. This being the case it will be in your interest to provide your followers with an additional path to purchase your books.

When you published your book on the Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) platform you would have selected Expanded Distribution. Then when you looked at your listing on Amazon Australia you would have noticed that your paperback was listed at a dreadfully, inflated price.

How will your readers in Australia ever buy your book?

This is serious and very off-putting for Australian authors and self-publishers.

Australian self-publishers do have a problem if they want to publish a paperback in Australia, be able to hold it physically in their hands, show it off to friends, and market it to other Australians.  

Ordering paperbacks from Amazon in Australia is expensive. It’s affected by the exchange rate, the GST and the freight. The cost is prohibitive.

I understand that this is tough for the Australian author and self-publisher.

This downside is that many Australians will decide that it is not in their interest to publish on Amazon.

But it’s not all gloom and doom. There is a way – another option that solves the problem.


Another option


As I said earlier one of the great benefits of publishing on Amazon is its domination of the world book market.  

Because of its Expanded Distribution, both paperbacks and eBooks have access to worldwide markets through Amazon distribution channels. 

As an Australian author and self-publisher, you do need focus on these global markets because in comparison the Australian market is small. Your books can be sold in the United States, the United Kingdom and many other countries.

However, this doesn’t satisfy that need for Australian self-publishers who want to be able to see, physically hold, and market their book to Australian readers.

Within the Australian self-publishing scene, Australian authors should focus on publishing and marketing Kindle eBooks. There is no issue with the selling Kindle eBooks in Australia using the Amazon platform.

The problem lies with publishing paperbacks.



Australians could think about publishing their paperback with Ingram Spark.

IngramSpark is one of the largest book wholesale distributors in the world and it can be used in conjunction with Amazon. IngramSpark and Amazon work in together as they have a collaborative relationship.

IngramSpark, like Amazon, has relationships with other countries and they help publishers get their books into the wholesale channels of these countries. Its global distribution is very broad.

You can use both IngramSpark and Amazon at the same time. However, you must have your own ISBN.

Not only that do not select KDP’s Expanded Distribution. If Expanded Distribution is selected this will cause a conflict with the ISBN when you upload your manuscript to your Ingram Spark account.

IngramSpark is very big in the United States distributing to Barnes & Noble, Apple, big chains, independent bookstores, libraries, schools and universities. They grant access to their global online and print distribution partners so that indie authors can have their titles distributed throughout the world.

They even distribute to Amazon.


KDP Expanded Distribution


Do not worry if your paperback is already in KDP’s Expanded Distribution.

You can remove your paperback from Expanded Distribution, set up an Ingram Spark account, contact their customer service team, and have your book transferred from Expanded Distribution to your IngramSpark account.

IngramSpark’s print facility is in Melbourne.  This means Australian self-publishers will save on shipping costs and your paperback (and even your hardback) will be more easily accessible to Australian customers.

To get over the problems of publishing in the Australian landscape publish on both platforms – both Amazon’s KDP and IngramSpark.  


Cutler, Robin 2018    IngramSpark vs Amazon KDP.

Lovell, S.G. Self-Publishing Paperbacks in Australia   


If you’d like access to tips and to the free Masterclass on writing and self-publishing, become part of the Fast Self-Publishing Online community.


Marji Hill

Author & Coach



Fast Self-Publishing Online


What Do I Need To Fix If My Book Isn’t Selling?

What Do I Need To Fix If My Book Isn’t Selling?


Not selling

  1. Unprofitable niche

Here’s the thing: you may be an excellent writer and you’ve created a manuscript. But is the topic you’ve chosen to write about something that other people have some interest in?

If there is not much interest in your subject matter then your book won’t sell. But your motivation to self-publish may have nothing to do with money; in which case choosing an in-demand niche may not be relevant.

However, given that most writers love it when their books sell then selecting a niche that you know already has a proven market is the way to go. Getting this right is essential.

Your takeaway: if you have already published your book in a niche for which there is no demand and you are disappointed that your book is not selling then do proper market research for your next book. You need to write in a niche you know that has a market.

It is only by making mistakes that you learn.

 2. Book cover

You’ve heard the phrase that readers judge a book by its cover.  Buying decisions are frequently made on how a cover looks, and it is the cover that can make or break your book.

The look of the book – the cover – is the first thing a reader sees.  In a crowded and competitive market place, it is your cover that will help your book stand out.  

Book covers help readers discover your book and so can stimulate sales. Covers need to be: appealing, arouse curiosity, capture attention and be engaging.


They set the tone helping your target audience to take notice.


Takeaway: If your cover is not working for you then change it. Keep testing until it works for you.


3. Book description


Have you a compelling description?

A good description helps the reader make an emotional connection to your book so that they really feel that they need to read it. So ask yourself, is your description taking the reader on a journey from where they are currently at to what could be a new and better place? In other words, will the reader experience a transformation as a result of reading the book?. 

Re-examine your book’s description which you’ll find on the Amazon listing page. Is it compelling? Is the description likely to influence a reader to make a buying decision?

Does it have a powerful or grabbing opening sentence that hooks the reader in? Are there three or five bullet points outlining the benefits a reader will get from reading the book?  And is the description offering the reader some outcomes that will result from reading the book?

Takeaway: Do a critical analysis of your book’s description and get some feedback from others as well. Return to your KDP book listing and revise your book’s description

 4. Keyword selection


Keywords help your book to get discovered so that it has some chance of selling. To put the odds in your favour go to the Amazon search bar to do your research and you’ll find plenty of keyword strings in the drop-down menu.

The keywords you see in the drop-down – the autosuggestions -are the most actively used search terms. This means you can be sure that they are terms and phrases that people are searching for on Amazon so you may consider using them in your metadata.

Select profitable, low competition keywords for your title, sub-title and the seven keyword slots in your book’s listing.

Publisher Rocket is a useful piece of software that helps you with your keyword and category research.  

Think about your keywords as they are just so important. Don’t limit them to a single word; you’ll do better to use keyword phrases and fill all seven keyword slots.

Takeaway: Regularly revisit your book’s listing on KDP and review your keyword selection. By doing further keyword research you can improve and keep testing them.

5. Have Amazon put your book into the right categories


To make sure you find the most relevant and useful categories for your book, do category research. When you have chosen 10 categories contact Amazon and send them an email requesting the categories.

Amazon usually responds within about 24 – 48 hours.

Categories like keywords are just so important for your book’s discoverability.  You need to understand how to put your book into appropriate categories to help your book to be found.

Categories help readers find books they might like to buy

Categories, if they are the right ones, will increase your conversion rates because they attract the ideal buyer.

Readers won’t be able to discover your book if it has been put in an inappropriate category.


Takeaway: Review the categories you have for your book, and then do further research. Select categories that will work more in your favour.

 6. Errors


Once your eBook and paperback have been published check it for errors. If you find mistakes revise the manuscript to remove them.

Takeaway: If you find mistakes in the published version of your book revise the manuscript to fix the errors.


One of the great benefits of publishing on Amazon is that once your book is published you can return to its listing in KDP to revise it. Mistakes can be fixed and your metadata can be improved.

Through a process of testing you the self-publisher can have a better cover, create a compelling description, discover profitable keywords, select more appropriate categories, and rectify any mistakes.


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Marji Hill

Author & Coach

10 Tips On How To Write A Blurb For The Back Cover

10 Tips On How To Write A Blurb For The Back Cover


Back cover blurb

What is it that influences a reader to buy a book? On Amazon, a reader will look at the description that’s posted on the book’s detail page or they will flip to the back of the book and read the blurb about the book.

The purpose of the blurb, that brief description found on a book’s back cover, is to entice readers to purchase your book.




But what about Kindle ebooks? Do you need a blurb for the back cover?

When a reader looks at a paperback they glance at the cover and title and then they turn the book over and look at the back cover. So the focus is on cover design not only for the front cover but also for the back cover so there needs to be a blurb to capture the reader’s attention.

On the internet, however, readers go to the Amazon book’s listing page to find out more about the book. There they see the book’s description, the price, information about the author, reviews and so on. So the listing page or the sales page takes the place of the back cover blurb.

For Kindle ebooks, then, the blurb is the description that you see on the eBook’s purchasing page.

Unlike physical, print books, Kindle ebooks have no spine and no back cover; they have dynamic layouts formatted with reflowable text.

While you could put an image of the back cover into the Kindle ebook manuscript most publishers do not bother with a blurb on the back cover.

It’s the description on the ebook’s detail page that functions as a blurb.




Before you start writing a blurb do some analysis of other bestselling books in your niche. Select 3-5 bestselling books and examine the way their books descriptions have been done.

Build up a file of book descriptions and blurbs so that you’ve got a reference point from which to develop your own book description and blurb writing skills.

Crafting a blurb for the back cover is a marketing exercise.  The focus needs to be all about the prospective customer and meeting their needs and expectations.

Its main purpose is to highlight the reasons your readers should purchase your book right now; it’s not about giving them an abstract or a synopsis of all that they can find inside the book.




A back cover blurb for a non-fiction book should:


1. provide a hook to get the reader in

2. have an attention-grabbing opening line 

  • which could be a question, 
  • address a reader’s problem,
  • make a promise
  • testimonial
  • statement from a review

3. it should be short    approximately 100-250 words

4. written in the third person

5. be punchy and interesting


[Title] is the self-help book for those wanting to have a better life but who don’t want to end up broke and down and out

6. appeal to the specific interests of your target market

7. Demonstrate the benefit that readers will get out of your book

8. have 3-5 bullet points


In this entertaining how-to guide … [author] provides  10 short, succinct chapters which will help you to:

  • Identify and change the self-sabotaging beliefs and behaviours that stop you from getting what you want.
  • Create a life you’ll totally love.  
  • Generate an income of the magnitude you’ve never experienced

9. Tell the readers what they’ll take away as a result of reading the book



By the end of [the title], you’ll understand why you are how you are, how to love what you can’t change, and how to create the life and income you’ve always wanted


10. Include, if possible, some kind of positive endorsement from a distinguished person but don’t stress if you can’t.

Writing a good blurb can be easy once you get the hang of these tips. Start collecting some of your favourite blurb examples and then incorporate these ideas into creating your own.

If you’d like to book a complimentary call with me visit to access the FREE ONLINE CLASS. At the end of the class click on the link to schedule a call with me.


Marji Hill

Author & Coach

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