Half of Amazon book sales are planned purchases, according to Forbes–meaning that by the time people get to Amazon, they already know what they intend to buy.
This statistic doesn’t surprise me; it backs up what common sense indicates–that people visit websites with a mission. Not many readers “browse” online retailers looking for suggestions the way they might browse shelves in a bookstore. By the time they get to Amazon, they likely have titles written on a post-it note, gleaned from some other source (word of mouth referrals, Goodreads, book reviews in newspapers, magazines, or blogs).
For most people, Amazon is a point of sale location, not a community or referrals engine.This is why I tell my independently published author clients to write–or have someone like me write–a strong Amazon book description with a good hook; this piece of copy is your final hurdle to a sale.
On to some quotes from the article:
“. . .only a piddling 10 percent of Amazon book choices are made because of its ‘bought this/also bought’ recommendation engine. Bestseller and top 100 lists influence 17 percent of book choices, with 12 percent down to promotions, deals, or low prices. Only 3 percent came through browsing categories. Planned search by author or topic, however, makes up a whopping 48 percent of all book choices.”
“Amazon is a destination for purchase, the place you funnel your fans to, not a discovery mechanism in and of itself. People are simply not browsing for books based on Amazon’s recommendations, not in any significant numbers.
“Self-published authors have limited resources for promotion and these figures show that you should focus not on trying to woo Amazon’s algorithm, but on building awareness outside of Amazon. Rather than hoping to gain traction within that 10 percent of people who pay attention to Amazon’s recommendations, or trying to crowbar your title into bestseller or top 100 lists, you should be focusing on building an independent fan base. No one can search for your books if they don’t know you exist.”
The bottom line: authors, you must build your platforms. Generating word of mouth is critical. As I’ve always maintained, this means a few things: hiring a traditional publicist (for TV, radio, and magazine placements), writing and submitting guest blog posts, and publishing your heart out in every conceivable venue.