I published my first WW2 thriller, The Black Orchestra, as an eBook for kindle on Jan 15, 2013. It took me 7 years to write. The final version had been professionally edited – twice – and rewritten several times.

Initial sales were not encouraging:

Jan sales: 19
Feb sales: 21

On the last day of February, I read this article by Joanna Penn about how to choose Amazon Categories and Keywords and how to drive these Keywords through SEO, website and blog entries.

First I searched Google Ads for suitable Keywords for my book, and came up with ‘WW2’, ‘thriller’ and ‘spy’ or ‘spy story’ as suitable keywords. I then followed Joanna’s process:

  • I altered the title of the book to include the chosen Keywords.
  • I rewrote the book description (blurb) on Amazon to include one Keyword.
  • I selected suitable Categories for the book on Amazon.
  • I entered the chosen Keywords in the KDP page for the book.
  • I wrote several blogs using the chosen Keywords.

Following these changes sales of the book showed an immediate improvement:

Mar 190, Apr 415, May 407, Jun 408, Jul 407, Aug 352, Sep 327, Oct 306, Nov 263, Dec 1,077 (including 421 in a Countdown Promotion)

Total sales for 2013: 4,192

Sales have continued through 2014. Total sales for 2014: 7,965 (including 2 Countdown Promotions)

I launched the second book in the series, The Wings of the Eagle, on Jan 7, 2014. Using the same Keywords in the same way and the same Categories on Amazon, sales of the second book for 2104 amounted to over 5,000.

If your book needs visibility to increase sales, read Joanna Penn’s article and follow the instructions.

Let me know if this works for you as well as it has for me. And let Joanna know too!



  1. Owen says:

    It’s great to see an author get the most out of Amazon by correctly configuring it and having an awareness of SEO and online marketing.

    Well done on the great sales JJ!

  2. Alicia Butcher Ehrhardt says:

    Thanks for the clear road map: I need to do all these things.

    But first I have to find the energy to do them! It’s been a physically rough half year, and I’m barely coming out of it – and I’m behind in writing the second book of my mainstream trilogy.

    I would love to have your results – so will have to find that time.

    It’s scary, though, when you thought you set up all those things properly in the first place!

    Enjoying reading all these posts which are still highly relevant.

  3. JJ Toner says:

    There are even better ways of selecting keywords (or key phrases) now. I discovered that many of the keywords I chose in 2013 were too broad and have improved on them since then. Now, I recommend KDP Rocket for keyword searching and selection.

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