Ricci Wolman of Written Word Media recently published a detailed post on “Also Boughts.” As the post explains, Amazon is using every trick to increase sales. A particularly powerful one is Also Boughts; the list of items people who bought something also bought.
- People who buy baby formula also buy Diapers
- People who buy a bathing suit also buy suntan lotion
- People who bought Jurrasic Park by Michael Crighton also bought Ready Player One by Ernest Cline
You see this play out all over the Amazon website in the Also Bought items that appear on every product page on Amazon.
How Can This Help Your Book?
First of all, you want to make sure your “Also Boughts” are aligned with your specific genre so your book is targeted toward the right kind of reader.
A common mistake (from Amazon’s point of view) people make is to ask friends and family to buy their book. Think about it from Amazon’s point of view: let’s say it is watching your new book, which is classified as science fiction.
- Then a sale comes in from your mom (who usually purchases mysteries)
- A sale comes in from your dad (who usually purchases biographies)
- A sale comes in from your aunt (who usually purchases romance)
Amazon is going to have a hard time figuring out who the target readers are since there is no common purchase history or preference among these initial sales.
However, as more people buy the book, Amazon will figure out that the common thread among these customers who liked your book, is that they like science fiction. And then the magic begins, as Amazon will now start recommending your book in the Also Bought section below relevant products.
To determine your current Also Boughts you can simply go to your book on Amazon in incognito mode in your browser and scroll down to take a look. There is a nifty tool out there called Yasiv that will visualize your Also Boughts for you. Check out my own post for more information on Yasiv, and David Gaughran’s post on how to use it: it’s a gem.
How to Optimize your Also Boughts
Now that we know how Amazon operates, how do you get your target readers to purchase your book so that you can help Amazon promote it best? Or how do you fix your Also Boughts if they are ugly? Here are the steps:
Step 1: Identify your sub-genre
To get Also Boughts to work for you, you want your book to be featured in the Also Boughts of books similar to yours. So the first step is to identify your genre. Defining your genre broadly, as Mystery/Thriller or Romance, for example, is not good enough. You need to identify the specific sub-genre within your main genre. For example:
- Culinary cozy mystery
- Psychological thriller
- Step-dad steamy romance
To get a sense of the sub-genres that are out there, go to the Amazon Best Seller charts and navigate into your genre and then navigate deeper into the sub-genres available. It’s worth clicking on many of the genres and sub-genres so you can feel certain you have picked the best sub-genre for your book. Here is an example of the Psychological Thriller sub-genre:
Step 2: Evaluate your Cover
Once you have identified your sub-genre, take a hard look your book cover and compare it to the book covers populating the bestseller list for your genre. You want your book cover to look like it belongs with those books if it was featured on the bestseller list with them. If your book cover looks markedly different, take the time to redesign it so it fits your sub-genre. You are facing an uphill battle if your cover does not fit your genre and the next steps will not work if your cover does not appeal to your target reader.
Step 3: Make a List of Books and Authors for your Also Boughts
Once you are comfortable that your book cover is appropriate, go back to the bestseller list and make a list of the authors and books that are most like yours. Don’t confine yourself to just the bestseller list. As you click on books like yours, also look at the books populating their Also Boughts and click on those, and so on. Eventually, you should have a list of 50+ books and/or authors where you’d like your book featured in the Also Boughts.
Step 4: Populate your Also Boughts with Books Like Yours
Now that you know what your specific sub-genre is and which books are like yours, it’s time give Amazon the data it needs to include your book in the appropriate Also Boughts. There are two effective ways to do this. Written Word Media recommends both:
Use book promotion services to send hundreds of your target readers to purchase or download your book
The first tactic is to use book promotion services like those offered by Written Word Media to inform Amazon fast of what readers of your book also like (check also my Call To Arms post for which promoters offer the best service for your buck).
To get this right you will want to make sure that the promotional site that you’re using has narrow genre definitions (sweet romance is separated from steamy romance; mystery is separate from cozy mystery; science fiction is separate from fantasy). That will ensure that readers within your sub-genre are the ones feeding the algorithm. The lower your price when you run a promotion, the more readers will engage with your book, and the more data you will feed the algorithm. Offering your book for free upon release can be especially effective since it allows you to feed the algorithm hundreds to thousands of data points in 24 hours. Running a discounted promotion at 99c is effective, but not as effective as a free promotion since fewer readers will download your book. The benefit to running a book promotion is that it is quick and easy to set up and once it’s set up your work is done.
Book promotion services allow you to get in front of your target readers in a specific sub-genre. However, you cannot target a specific author or book with book promotion services.
Which brings us to the second tactic.
Run Amazon Ads targeting the authors and books on the list you made in Step 3
If you need any help with understanding Amazon ads, check out my post, Don’t Advertise On Amazon Until You’ve Read This.
When running ads, you will want to choose the Sponsored Products option as that allows you to target specific keywords, authors, and books. You can first set up an Automatic Targeting campaign at a low daily budget. Next, you will set up Manual Targeting campaigns for each of the books and authors you identified on your list. This means you will likely have more than 30 campaigns running if you choose to target everyone on your list. The benefit to Amazon Ads is that you can specifically target authors and books. Running Amazon Ads can be time-consuming as you have to monitor your ads on a daily basis and it can take time for you to see results as ads may take time to get impressions and clicks. But once those ads start rolling you are feeding the Algorithm on a daily basis.
Both these tactics will help you get your book in front of the right readers. When these readers browse and purchase your book they are feeding the algorithm useful, actionable information.
A Note on ARCs
Many authors recommend using your “street team” to promote a book launch. A street team is a pool of beta readers and super fans cultivated by authors by joining the conversation in Facebook groups, Goodreads groups and other reader forums where their target readers hang out. Once authors have established a rapport, they ask these readers to join their beta readers group or mailing list.
It is important to remember that providing an ARC to your beta readers will not help your Also Boughts as the transaction is not happening on Amazon and Amazon, therefore, will not be able to link that reader and that reader’s data to your book. If you want your beta readers or mailing list readers to help cultivate your Also Boughts, these readers must download or purchase the book on Amazon.
An easy way to facilitate that is to run a free or discount day and tell your readers to go and purchase the book then. This will feed the algorithm valuable data points AND it will improve your Amazon sales rank.