Nonfiction Publishing Success With KDP

by Bennett R. Coles

Publishing With KDP

Is it possible to achieve nonfiction success publishing with KDP? Absolutely, but you won’t achieve it just by uploading your title and hoping people will find it!

Yes, the Kindle Direct platform will make your book available on the largest online bookstore on earth at the push of a button, with localized websites in dozens of countries. But you’ll be also competing with thousands of books published the same day you publish yours, plus thousands more published the next day, and the next, and the next…

That’s the bad news. The good news? Only a very small percentage of those books will bother to follow the critical promotional steps you’re going to learn below.

So, let’s get to it!

The Four Legs of KDP Nonfiction Success

How successful your nonfiction book will become after you publish with Kindle will naturally hinge on the quality of your content and the quality of your production. That goes without saying – that’s the minimum you’ll need as a baseline to compete for the attention of the reading public.

So, to start, make sure that you hire a professional editor, a professional layout artist and a professional cover designer. You’re going to be competing against traditionally published books that employ all three.

But having a professionally produced and edited book doesn’t guarantee success (this is actually the good news for you!). You also need to establish a solid promotional foundation under you by building the four legs of nonfiction KDP success.

This article serves as an introduction to the work you’ll need to perform. In order to learn more you’ll need to click the links in the sections shown below to go in-depth into each area.

Leg #1) Master the Amazon/Kindle Book Review Algorithm

The Amazon.com bookstore search ranking process is driven by software, not humans. So, in order to have your title appear on the first page of search results after you publish, you’ll need to master the signals that Amazon’s ranking algorithm relies on for showing you those results.

Of the many signals that the algorithm uses to establish the pecking order of search results, book reviews is by far the most consequential. Specifically, the number of positive reviews that your title has accrued over time.

Now, here’s a pro trick: The second you publish your title on KDP, the platform has no historical sales record for your title so, to make up for this deficiency, the algorithm will give out-sized influence to the number of positive book reviews that you garner in the first 30 days after publication.

If you’re able to generate a large number of reviews in this time frame (and book reviews do not necessarily equal sales), then you’ll be off to the races.

Based on this statistical information, the algorithm will automatically give your new book prominent exposure in the days and weeks following your initial 30 days on the Amazon bookstore, making your title available to tens of thousands of searchers (or more, depending on subject) looking for books in your niche.

Now, if you don’t build this leg, in other words, you don’t do the work necessary to get a lot of positive book reviews in the first 30 days, then on day 31 the algorithm will programmatically sink your title to the deep underbelly of the massive Amazon.com catalog never to be seen again, unless you search for the exact title and exact author name, which virtually nobody will do outside of your friends and family.

In order to build this leg, read the following article:

Leg #2) Master Your Title Metadata in KDP

The Amazon bookstore is not only the largest online bookstore in the world, but it’s also the largest book search engine in the world. Not unlike the Google search engine, it relies on user searches to find those titles that most closely approximate user search keywords.

So, you want to make sure you do some serious keyword research on your target audience before you upload your title to the KDP platform, which involves knowing what the vast majority of your readers type into the Amazon.com search box when they’re looking for a title like yours.

By creating your title description to cater to those keywords, and by finding a list of highly relevant of keywords to enter in your title setup, you’ll be maximizing your chances of being found on customer searches. In addition, you’ll need to place your title in those sub-categories in the Kindle platform that have the least amount of competition so that you can float up to the top of the list with the fewest book sales.

In order to build this leg, read the following articles:

Leg #3) Develop Relationships With Online Influencers

Now that you’ve mastered how to publish on Kindle, you’ll need to begin developing an audience outside of the platform.

One of the most reliable sources of online promotion for nonfiction titles is online influencers, or bloggers that specialize in your niche. These bloggers have a large following reading their articles on websites that command thousands of daily visitors plus thousands more syndicated to other sites.

Your job then is to first find and then develop mutually beneficial relationships with these influencers so that they’ll promote your title to their audiences, simply because if you’ve done your research, you’ll find that the content of your title is exactly what those audiences crave – and bloggers will love you for that.

Once you develop those relationships, you’ll be invited to contribute guest posts, you’ll be interviewed on their podcasts and your book will be reviewed by them.

In order to build this leg, read the following article:

Leg #4) Build a Solid Public Speaking Schedule

Finally, it’s time to start building your offline audiences. Once you publish your nonfiction book, you’ll be deemed to be an expert by the world, and there’s always a constant demand for expert speakers by thousands of associations and organizations around the country.

At the beginning, you’ll have to do your fair share of free public speaking events since many of these organizations, especially at the local level, don’t necessarily have budgets to pay for speakers, but often times they do have a budget for book orders and, more importantly, they will promote your title internally to their mailing lists.

If you stack the deck with a large number of public speaking events immediately after you publish your book, you’ll be not only selling a lot of books from the back of the room, but those people will recommend your title to their associates, colleagues, friends and family, and guess where they’ll look you up? That’s right, Amazon.

In order to build this leg, read the following article:

In Summary

To find nonfiction success on KDP/Amazon you need to equally cater to two separate audiences: humans and computers, and you can’t focus on one at the exclusion of the other.

The first two foundational legs shown above allow you to generate the information that the computer (Amazon’s product-ranking algorithm and the Kindle platform) needs to showcase your title, and the last two legs will drive more humans (your target audience) to the computer to search for your title and make a purchase.

If you build these four solid legs and have them firing on all pistons, you’ll find the success you’re looking for after you publish your title.

All the best!

If you enjoyed this article and are in the process of promoting a nonfiction book, be sure to check out my free nonfiction success guide, drawn from years of experience editing books for bestselling authors (including a New York Times bestseller) and ghostwriting for CEOs and politicians. Simply click here to get instant access.


Leave me a comment below if you have any questions or a specific need that I can help you address – I operate an author services firm that specializes in helping entrepreneurs, professionals and business owners who want to publish books as a calling card for prospects, to establish their status as an expert or to just to generate additional leads for their businesses.

Here are some related posts I highly recommend:

The 7 Most Effective Book Promotion Ideas For Nonfiction Authors

Learn How to Market a Nonfiction Book to Get Solid Results

Write Your Own Book and Become an Expert: 11 Reasons Why You Should

Make Your Own Book And Add 7 Revenue Streams To Your Business

Bennett R. Coles is an award-winning author of six books published through Harper Collins (New York) and Titan Group (London). He is also the publisher at Promontory Press, editor for multiple bestselling authors (including a NY Times bestseller), ghostwriter for CEOs and politicians and the founder of Cascadia Author Services, a boutique full-service firm that specializes in premium author services specifically designed for busy professionals. Our end-to-end services include writer coaching, ghostwriting, editing, proofing, cover design, book layout, eBook production, marketing, printing and distribution.

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