7 Lessons I Learned From Publishing My First Ebook On Amazon Kindle | Tyler Basu

7 Lessons I Learned From Publishing My First Ebook On Amazon Kindle

In the beginning of 2013, I went through the exciting process of writing, publishing, and selling my first ebook on Amazon Kindle. Looking back on my experience, I definitely made some mistakes. But from those mistakes came some valuable lessons I can pass on to those of you who are about to publish your book on Amazon.

Here are 7 of the biggest lessons I learned from publishing my first book on Amazon Kindle:

1. Books don’t sell themselves

This might be an obvious point for some people, but it is an important point nonetheless. Books generally don’t sell themselves. If you think all you have to do is write a book with great content, publish it, and sit back and collect the royalties from thousands and thousands of sales you are mistaken. Sure, there might be some examples of authors whose books somehow became bestsellers almost entirely through word-of-mouth, but for the rest of us, we need to put in the work required to market our book to the people who are likely to buy it.

A well-written book that nobody knows about won’t sell very many copies. A decent book armed with a great marketing strategy will. Fortunately for me, when I published that first book I already had a few thousand followers on social media, and a few hundred email subscribers to my blog. Because of that I was able to promote my book to my audience, and while this did help me get a few sales initially, I eventually had to learn how to market my book on Amazon to make sure that it would keep selling.

[Tweet “Books don’t sell themselves. They need a #marketing strategy. #booklaunch #author”]

2. The title and subtitle are SUPER important

I only have the experience of publishing non-fiction books, but I am pretty sure this point applies to fiction authors as well. The title of your book is SUPER important – it can make or break your book’s success. Your book’s title needs to grab someone’s attention and give them a very clear idea of what your book is about. Especially in the non-fiction category, where readers are generally searching for solutions to very specific problems, your book’s title must communicate that it is precisely the solution they are looking for.

Sell Anything: A Turn-Key System For Succeeding In Sales by Tyler BasuThe first book I published was a book about selling. In this book I outlined the various steps involved in the sales process and provided many techniques and advice to help salespeople succeed, regardless of what type of product or service they are selling. This book is mainly intended for beginner salespeople, but it serves as a good refresher for those with many years of experience in this field. I decided to call the book Sell Anything – which basically implies “if you read this book, you will learn how to sell anything“.

I experimented with many different subtitles for the book until I finally settled on one that seemed to work well. I tried everything from “A System For Success In ANY Situation” to “7 Steps To Delivering The Perfect Sales Pitch” to “A Pragmatic Guide To Becoming A Top Salesperson In ANY Industry” just to name a few. This is one of the wonderful benefits of self-publishing on Amazon Kindle – you can make changes to your book as often as you’d like and see how the change impacts your sales. I finally settled on “A Turn-Key System For Succeeding In Sales”, and this subtitle has proven to be very effective. So the complete title of the book is “Sell Anything: A Turn-Key System For Succeeding In Sales”.

3. Get an attractive cover, and DO NOT design it yourself

As I share this point, I can’t help but laugh. I have literally lost count of the number of hours I spent experimenting with different cover designs before and after I published my book Sell Anything on Amazon. Looking back, I realize just how absolutely ridiculous it was for me to spend dozens of hours in Photoshop experimenting with different designs, or making little revisions to existing designs. I honestly could have written another book in the amount of time I spent trying to make a “perfect cover”.

Here is the biggest lesson I would like to share from this experience: DO NOT design your own cover. Seriously. Designing your own cover is probably one of the biggest wastes of time, especially if you’re not a graphic designer. In fact even if you are a graphic designer, that doesn’t mean you’ll be able to create a cover that appeals to your target market and sells your book. Do yourself a favor – have someone else design it for you.

Ebook Cover Designs from Fiverr.com

Here’s what I suggest you do: go to fiverr.com, find 3 different designers, and pay them $5 each to design a professional ebook cover for you. Pick which one you like best (or maybe even test all 3 on Amazon), and ask the designer to make revisions if necessary. This process will take you all of 5 minutes and cost you only $15. This is time and money well spent.

[Tweet “Your #book title and cover design can make or break your book sales. #booklaunch #author”]

4. Give your book away for free to as many people as you can

You may be wondering why on earth I would tell you to give away your book for free when the whole point of publishing a book is to sell it. Allow me to explain…

People are more inclined to buy a product when they know that other people have already bought that product and enjoyed it. This is basic human nature. We don’t like to be the first to try something, and we are more inclined to try something new when there is evidence that others have tried it and had a good experience. This is precisely why a product’s reviews have such a big impact on its sales. Product reviews are testimonials from real people who share their honest opinion of a product they purchased. That opinion helps other potential buyers decide whether or not to buy the product.

If your book doesn’t have any reviews, people are less likely to buy it. And of course if no one is buying it, then it isn’t going to get reviewed. This is why you need to give away your book for free. Amazon has program to help authors give away their books for free – it’s called KDP Select. When you enroll your book in KDP Select, Amazon allows you to give away your book for free for up to 5 days every 90 day period. These are called your free promotion days.

Amazon KDP Select Free PromoYou want as many people as possible to download your book during those free promotion days. Tell everyone you know about your free promotion. Promote your book on social media. Contact various book promotion websites and tell them which days your book is free. Your goal with each promotion is to get hundreds, even thousands of downloads. This exposure will help your book climb the ranking system on Amazon, and most importantly, collect reviews from people who download and read your book.

The last time I did a free promotion for my book Sell Anything, it was downloaded hundreds of times, climbed to #2 in the Marketing & Sales category on Amazon, and received several positive reviews that helped my book sell more copies after the free promotion was over.

5. Choose the right keywords

When you publish an ebook on Amazon Kindle, you are allowed to choose 7 keywords for that book. Remember, Amazon is a search engine. People go to Amazon to search for products that they are interested in buying.

When someone is searching for a product on Amazon, they are going to use certain keywords to try to find that product. For example, if someone is looking for a book that will teach them how to start a blog, they will probably type the keywords “how to start a blog” into Amazon’s search bar.

Amazon Kindle
You want the people who are looking for your book to find it, so you need to identify which keywords they are most likely going to use to do so. Including the keywords that your target market is most likely going to use in the title of your book will help position your book as the solution to their problem.

6. Write a good description

Once someone finds your book on Amazon, there are pretty much only 4 factors that are going to influence their decision to buy your book: its title, its cover, its reviews, and its description. Incidentally the description is one of the most overlooked aspects of the publishing process. I have seen hundreds of books on Amazon (probably good books too!) with short, vague, and even terrible descriptions. These types of descriptions certainly don’t help to sell a book.

Amazon allows you to include up to 4,000 characters in your book’s description. My advice is to use up as many of them as you can. If a potential customer has come as far as reading the description of your book, they are probably just seconds away from deciding whether or not to buy it. Make those seconds count. Here are a few tips to help you write a good description:

  • Use captivating headlines throughout your description
  • Use different formats for the text (orange headers, bold text, italicized text, etc.)
  • Include your keywords in the headers and in the paragraphs
  • Include some testimonials if you’ve already collected some
  • Include a call to action at the end… tell them to buy it!
[Tweet “Your book’s description must be compelling. It is a sales page for your book. #booklaunch #author”]

7. Don’t try to make it perfect – just get it online

My last piece of advice for you is don’t try to make your book perfect before you publish it. Fortunately for me I am a pretty decent writer and I very much enjoy the process. It only took me about a week to write my first book, and another week or so to revise and edit it (yes, I edited it myself – which I actually don’t recommend). That being said, I’ve heard stories of people who spent months, even years writing their book – trying to make it “perfect”. Please don’t be one of them.

As I mentioned earlier, the wonderful thing about publishing an ebook on Amazon Kindle is that you can make changes to it pretty much instantly and as often as you want. So as soon as your book is formatted and edited (by an editor other than yourself, of course), get it online! As people read your book and write reviews, you can use that feedback to make changes to it if necessary. Over time you can take some content out, add some content in, fix a few grammar mistakes, etc. Unlike a paperback book that cannot be changed once it is printed, an ebook can be updated as often as needed.

The other reason why I highly recommend getting your book online as soon as possible is that it may not even sell. I’m not saying that you are going to write a lousy book. You might write an excellent book. But the reality is that sometimes there just isn’t a market for certain books. You don’t want to spend months, or even years writing a book only to discover that no one buys it. Write a decent book as quickly as possible, and if it turns out that there is a market for it, then consider investing more time into making it even better.

[Tweet “A finished book is better than a perfect book. Stop procrastinating. #booklaunch #author”]


I know I have given you a lot of information to think about in this article. If you made it all the way to the end, congratulations. I wanted to make sure that I provided you with as much value as possible, and save you from making some of the big mistakes that I made when I first got started with Amazon Kindle publishing.

Becoming an author is a very exciting and rewarding process, and its even more exciting when your book sells! If you follow the advice that I have shared with you above, I am confident that your book will be a big success. Best of luck!

About the Author Tyler Basu

Tyler Basu is a Content Strategist that specializes in helping startups and online entrepreneurs scale their business with content marketing. He's the Co-Founder of Influencer Studio, a content marketing agency that provides training, consulting and done-for-you content marketing services to entrepreneurs.

follow me on:
  • Kwan says:

    Hi Tyler. Thanks for the post. I recently finished a free book promo and ended up with over 1000 downloads and ranked #1 in my category during the 5 days. But after that, i had zero sales. How do you ensure that sales will come in after the promo period? What marketing strategies do you use?

    • TylerBasu says:

      Hey Kwan. Great questions and congrats on getting your book on Amazon. Free promos are most effective for getting your book downloaded by people who don’t know who you are, and since it’s free, there is no risk for them in downloading it. To get paid sales, you should be promoting your book to people who already know who you are – do you have a blog? Email list? Social media followers? Those are the people who are most likely to buy. You should also ask people to leave a review for your book. Positive reviews encourage people to buy it. Thanks for commenting, I hope that helps!

    • Mitch Johnson says:

      Geez! I’m jealous. I’m almost done with my first day and I’ve got 12 downloads, no reviews. I’m freakin’ out.

      • Tyler Basu says:

        Hey Mitch, are you doing anything to promote your book during your free promo? Have you shared it on social media? Do you have an email list you can promote it to? Did you share it with Facebook Groups for authors & book promotions? Submit it to book promotion sites? Run some ads on Facebook? You need to hustle to get the initial downloads. Even if you can just get a few hundred people to download it, that should be enough to help it climb the ranks in its categories on Amazon, which will then expose the book to more people on Amazon. Depending 100% on Amazon to help your book get lots of downloads from Day 1 doesn’t usually work out very well.

        • Mitch Johnson says:

          Great because the nature of my book, the nature of my writing, and the nature of my marketing can’t depend on immediate success. I have submitted it to many different sites that inform people of free books. I have not done facebook and all that because I’ve written the book under a pseudonym and don’t want it associated with my real name. How much do Facebook ads cost? I wanted to run amazon ads, but they cost 30 cents a click, and I’m pretty broke, so I could only buy a few hundred clicks. Maybe that would still be worth it.

          By the way, today I got more. Today was about 40 downloads (after my mailings to the promoters started coming into effect). I imagine it will be more over the weekend. I imagine in total I’m looking at around 200 downloads, unless the weekend sees a lot more downloads than weekdays. If so, I imagine 300 is possible. More would be awesome.

  • Kola says:

    found you through my buddy, Tayo Rockson. Thank you so much for this great post!! VERY useful advice for aspiring authors like myself 🙂

  • Dion Boose says:

    Tyler….TONS of great info! I will have my book in Amazon very soon. Thanks for sharing.

  • Monica Badiu says:

    Hello Tyler. Thanks for the sharing this. It’s my first time promoting a book ever, so really appreciate the information. It confirmed the steps I had in mind.

  • Mitch Johnson says:

    I appreciate the info on perfection. I’m giving myself a heart attack worrying that there are still problems with my book. I’ve edited it a million times (no money to pay an editor). I keep going over and over and over and part of me just wants to publish it, but another part wants it to be perfect. Your post encourages me to get it out.

    • Tyler Basu says:

      No problem Mitch! You are not alone. Done is better than perfect, and your definition of perfect may be completely different from someone else’s. I would ask this: does your book, as is, have enough great content to help someone? If so, I would publish it. The nice thing about an ebook is you can always update it later if you want to and based on actual feedback you get from your first round of readers. When you finally are 100% satisfied with the book, go ahead and make it available in print. I hope that helps!

      • Mitch Johnson says:

        Thanks, that’s exactly what I am planning to do. I just published digitally last week, and now I am waiting in absolute dread for the reviews to start coming in . . .

        And even more dread with the thought that they’ll never come in.

  • Jeremiah Say says:

    Just got my first kindle book published today. I have no idea if I should use the FREE promotion amazon offers. Do you recommend me to use it straight away?

    • Tyler Basu says:

      Hey Jeremiah, unless you have an audience (and more specifically, an email list) to promote your book to, then yes, I would suggest doing a free promo. The idea behind a free promo is to get as much exposure for your book as possible and collect some positive reviews before charging people for it =)

  • Willy Gatehi says:

    Hello Tyler, i would like to have audiences for the book titled BUSINESS START UP IDEAS on amazon.com. Can you help even it is for a fee

  • Alexandra Goedrich says:

    Great advice Tyler. I have a book I wrote that contains many images, colors and fonts and is not a good fit for a Kindle version. Is there another way to publish my book on Amazon without having to have a Kindle version? So far I have been selling it as a PDF (49 pages). Thanks for your response, Alex.

    • Tyler Basu says:

      Hi Alexandra, there are a couple of options I would recommend. One option is to charge a higher price for your Kindle book (to help compensate for the higher delivery cost of the Kindle version). To publish a paperback version, you can use Createspace.com which would then list your paperback book for sale on Amazon. Or keep selling the PDF version. What sort of book is it? Non-fiction?

      • Alexandra Goedrich says:

        Hi Tyler, I wrote a book about kitchen organization and it is pretty much all image driven. http://inspiredkitchenorganization.com.

        I’d love to just sell it as a download on amazon and not a print version. Kindle does not accommodate images – which my books has lots of. Is there a way to sell pdf downloads on amazon without them having to be a Kindle file? I was thinking about a print version, but I’m torn over it. I’ll take a look at Creatspace.com. I have been selling the eGuide on my website, but I’d like to increase sales (a lot :).

        Thank you so much for your time.

        • Tyler Basu says:

          Hi Alexandra, yes.. having a book full of images is a bit of a tricky one. Have you considered creating an online course instead? That way you would be free to use whatever media you want (text/image/video etc.) and charge a higher price than what you typically charge for books.

          Maybe even keep your book on Amazon to help promote your course? Just an idea =)

    • Lydia Lin says:

      Hi Alexandra, I have just published “Tame Migraine the Delicious Way” with KDP. There are over a hundred recipes and images in this ebook. I used the same font but used different font sizes, italics and bolding for highlighting. I used the free calibre software to prepare my ebook from an html file. The calibre software will let you add a TOC as well. The images and font styles/colors show up fine in the Preview. I believe you can load a docx file to KDP. You can take a look at my ebook using the “Look Inside” function at amazon dot com. I have also released the ebook to iBooks and other outlets via an aggregator named D2D (Draft to Digital). You can upload a Microsoft Word file and they will convert it to ePub. The images still show up fine, but the font colors are lost, which is fine with me. Having a lot of images increases the manuscript file size and therefore the “delivery cost” if you choose the 70% royalty option. Please take this into consideration when setting the sales price of your ebook.

  • Pete says:

    Thanks. This totally confirmed my thoughts on almost publishing my first novel. I’m the sole provider in the house with a 16month old son, so writing is hard man! I was revising a second draft when I thought, “just send it to the dam editor/proofreader!” I love writing storys in the sci-fi genre and this is supposed to be the first in a series – if successful… Whatever happens I’ll keep writing but hopefully it doesn’t go down like a shake of spuds. Fingers crossed anyway. Keep up the good work.

  • tasos says:

    Hello ! I am a new publisher in KDP .Thanks for great content! 1) Do u believe it is a good strategy to run ams campaigns along with KDP? if yes, product related or keyword related because ppc costs very much and u must raise your book price otherwise even when they buy the book but click it u pay more than u earn. 2) What promo website u think are the best? for how many days and how much budget? Thanks in advance

  • David says:

    Thanks for this great article. Can I add images inside the ebook?

  • Publishing my first book, and your 7 lessons are so timely. I have until 11:59pm to upload my manuscript to Amazon. Taking your advice, letting go of trying to make it perfect…and looking forward to spending time on it later to will make it better. Thank you!

  • >