The Also Boughts on your page are an important indication of what readers are buying along with your books. But those particular Also Boughts are only part of the story. What’s really important is which books are pointing back at you. Let’s use my long-suffering book Liberty Boy as an example again.
As I explained yesterday’s post – Please Don’t Buy My Book – Liberty Boy was dragged down into the ranking depths after having no Also Boughts for months thanks to an Amazon snafu. I eventually fixed that problem in a fairly crude way by running a 99c Countdown and throwing whatever ads I could get at it.
The promo itself did okay and sold a few hundred copies for me. But I didn’t target the campaign in an optimal way. If you look at the Also Boughts which appeared afterwards, I had lots of books outside my target category (Historical Fiction). This meant I suffered a dead fish bounce – i.e. no halo effect – something I’ll talk about more in a future post.
For now, just look at these Also Boughts:
Not a complete disaster but far from ideal. The first is a Western, the second is one of Mel Comley’s psychological thrillers, the third is a box set of two of my historicals (I think I ran that free at the same time to try and pair them), next is a mystery, and then, I think, some action/adventure. Bit of a hodge podge.
Glancing at your Also Boughts is a just a quick-and-dirty way to check if you have a problem or not. A bit of triage, if you like.
To dig deeper, you need to try and find out who or what is pointing at you in the Amazon system. What are you paired with? Amazon doesn’t make it easy to find this out, but there are two ways of doing it.
First, you can manually click on the books in your own Also Boughts, and then page through to see where you appear on their Also Bought strip – with closer to the front being better, obviously.
If I click through to that first title, Yellow Hair by Andrew Joyce, I’m nowhere in his Also Boughts. Which means some of the purchasers of Liberty Boy bought his book, but very, very few of his overall purchasers bought mine (the discrepancy probably being explained by his book outselling mine by a fair bit, and my only sales really coming from that promo period when they were likely featured on the same day).
The second title tells the same story. I know Mel Comley – she’s a New York Times and USA Today bestselling author. She has sold well over 1 million books. Should I be excited by her appearance in my Also Boughts?
While she has a rabid audience for her thrillers, those people do not read historical fiction. There is no crossover, not in any meaningful terms. And you can see that in her Also Boughts – all similar books to hers, and mine doesn’t appear anywhere. The only reason she is in my Also Boughts at all is probably because we were on something like ENT on the same day and were likely grabbed at the same time by a bunch of dealhunters (and I haven’t sold much of that title since).
Checking the connections this way is a little time-consuming. There is another way to see, at a glance, the connections between your books and others – yasiv.com – which uses the Amazon API to give you a visualization of which books you are paired with. It’s a free tool which can be quite illuminating. And disturbing.
This is the hood where Liberty Boy is hanging:
Wut? Where did everyone go? This is not a good sign. Maybe if we zoom back a bit we can find some friends.
Hmmm. It appears I have a very diverse group of friends, but that means I kind of end up hanging with no one. Michael Reisig’s adventures are all in a nice tight group above me. Bill Myers’ mysteries are a close-knit group on the right. A bunch of Mark Dawson and Dale Brown and James Barrington thrillers are hanging together to the south – different authors but similar audiences… to each other.
But not to me.
They are not my people, nice and all as they may be. These authors aren’t writing for my readers, so when my book gets recommended to those readers, they don’t buy, Amazon thinks my book is terrible, and buries it in landfill.
(Note: if your curious what yasiv.com looked like when Liberty Boy was broken and had no Also Boughts, it was basically like it was the last book in the world and had no readers to enjoy it. Which… was apt.)
To contrast, here are the Also Boughts for Let’s Get Visible – all the right types of books, including the other book in the series in the #1 spot. Perfect.
And here’s Let’s Get Visible on yasiv.com (note: when searching on yasiv.com, make sure to switch to the Kindle Store, as it defaults to Books, and give it some time to load up):
Man, look at all those connections. How To peeps know how to hustle, let me tell you.
Visible and Digital have now moved to the edge of the party after not being promoted in forever, but they used to be right in the middle of that wonga-orgy and it was quite something.
I’ll dive back into the sweaty throng soon enough, both with those books and some new stuff for writers (more on that soon, but if you really want a sneak preview, check out my Facebook page).
But even being on the edge of this brings you a bit of action – which just goes to show that a sustained period of well-targeted marketing will yield pristine Also Boughts. And then they will have a huge pay out over time, even years later.
Visible is hanging out with all its buddies, so when the system decides to recommend my book (usually after a sales spike), then it’s emailing my cover to all the right readers, and they generally respond with clicking on the over and buying, and then Amazon decides to keep recommending my book.
Talk about friends with benefits.
But let’s also look at a fiction example. Here’s that Mel Comley book that popped into my Also Boughts. What does her Yasiv friendzone look like?
Sorry for zooming back so much, but I had to capture the full awesomeness of this picture. You can zoom in yourself here, but let me talk through what you are seeing.
Bottom left is a super tight group of Mel’s main Justice series. It has something like 12 books, it’s hugely popular, and those books are all paired tightly together. This is perfect, and it means that whenever Mel promotes one of these titles, she’ll get a ripple effect across the whole lot (yet another reason to write a series!).
In the middle is a bunch of other books Mel has written on her own, and some she has co-authored with Linda Prather. And then up top are more of Linda’s books, with groups of other books in the same genre off to the right.
Great stuff all round.
Takeaways & AMS Ads
Also Boughts aren’t just about what is on your Amazon product page. You really need to pay attention to what is pointing towards your book.
I thought it was important to make the clarification as sometimes people can see Big Name Author as #1 in their Also Boughts and start celebrating. That’s not bad, don’t get me wrong, but it doesn’t mean that all of Big Name Author’s readers are suddenly going to get recommended your book.
However, if you somehow pop into the #1 slot of Big Name Author’s Also Boughts, then that is great and you should see some action from it. Especially if you can rustle up some promo for yourself before you get dislodged.
Finally, I had a question yesterday about AMS ads, and particularly the scattergun approach some authors seem to be adopting, and whether this affects you – the example was given of my book Liberty Boy and the different genres being advertised there.
Not quite historical fiction but it’s nothing to worry about. If it’s going to hurt anyone, it will be the authors targeting you in a such broad way, not your own book.
You don’t need to worry what others are doing. All you need to do is figure out who your Ideal Readers are, where to reach them, and how to do that exclusively – with some laser guided marketing bombs which will explode dollars all over your royalty checks.
And I’ll have much more on all of that very soon.