Promoting a Book on Amazon: Boost your Backlist

by | Jul 12, 2022 | Amazon Updates & Marketing Tips

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It’s easy to overlook your prior books, but Amazon is a bit unforgiving – so when it comes to promoting a book on Amazon, remember that everything matters. And I do mean everything.

Amazon vs. Google

In many respects, promoting a book on Amazon is very similar to Google in terms of ranking. So why does this matter for prior books? It matters because everything factors into your Amazon presence.

Amazon’s Relevancy Score

Google assigns a relevancy score to every single website. If your website isn’t up to par, or you aren’t getting engagement, Google demotes your site and you wind up languishing somewhere on page 50 of search results.

When I teach search engine optimization classes, I often say if you want to hide a dead body, bury it on page five of Google search results because very few people go that far down the rabbit hole.

First off, let me say that “relevancy score” is my term – meaning this is a term I gave to this idea of relevancy to market. Second, Amazon is very tightlipped about ranking. But it makes sense that there would be a relevancy score because Google works the same way. And Jeff Bezos was an early investor in Google, fascinated with the platform, so it makes sense when you see how many cues Amazon has taken from Google regarding ranking, relevancy, and Amazon ads.

So what is this relevancy score? Well, it’s a score based on your book’s relevance to the market. And how does Amazon know this? It’s based on how much traffic you’re getting vs. how many people are buying your book.

Let me give you an example. Let’s say you’re running Facebook ads and getting a ton of clicks but no buys. This could actually be impacting your overall visibility in Amazon searches. Why? Because a lot of clicks and no buys is essentially telling Amazon that your book isn’t right for the market.

The same is true for your backlist. Let’s say you have books with outdated covers (which we’ll discuss in a minute) or bad reviews (we’ll dig into that, too) – all of this impacts your relevancy score because it impacts your buyer market.

The Good News

If you’re reading this thinking: oh, no, my books are in trouble! Take heart. Because, much like Google, Amazon will allow you to reinvent yourself.

Sometime back, we discovered that a page on our website was broken and impacting us coming up in search. We fixed the page, and within 90-days, this fix had also remedied the search results and we were coming up on page one again.

Everyone is Allowed a Failure – Just Don’t Keep It Top of Mind

Even big brands fail. Think of Subway’s “Jared’s pants dance” ad or the Ford Pinto or Chevy Nova (which means no-go in Spanish). But brand failures don’t last. Once a brand knows it’s launched a failed product, often that product is fixed – or pulled entirely.

Which leads me to ask: which of your book have been a brand failure, and if so, are they still live on Amazon? Maybe it’s time for a redo or relaunch. Even a cover polish could help a failing book and boost all of the books on your backlist.

  • Covers: Times change and covers can get dated. The cover you picked for the book may have been spot on ten years ago, but now trends are different. Or maybe the cover was just not done well, and it’s time to change it. A cover refresh can be a fabulous way to boost a backlist title or titles!
  • Book optimization: You probably spent some time optimizing your most recent book, but have you optimized your older titles too? If you haven’t, now is a good time to do that. I also recommend freshening your optimization once a quarter!
  • Bad reviews: If you have a string of bad reviews that seem to be isolated to one book, you should stop and ask yourself why? Is it the story, the editing, or both? If you’re serious about your future, maybe it’s time to consider a relaunch.
  • Are your books in the right genre and subgenre: When you add in new keywords and categories, it’s always a good time to check to make sure your genre is strong and the right one for the book – that could also be why your reviews are bad because readers are expecting something entirely different.
  • Add A+ Content: Nothing refreshes an older book like adding new content to a book page, and A+ content is really a great opportunity to add a visual boost to your backlist!
  • Book description: I love refreshing these regularly, even once a quarter, when I do my Amazon keyword and category updates.

Revamp Done? Now it’s time to strategize some marketing!

If you’re done polishing your book description, maybe book cover and book content, now it’s time to get the books out there – again! Even if they’re older titles – if the books are still current in terms of content, it’s a good opportunity to drive some renewed interest to them via eBook promos or Amazon ads. Yes, its true that unless the book is newer, you can’t push it out for review or do any influencer pitching, but there’s still a lot you can do to keep it top of mind with your readers and keep driving traffic to your backlist. Pick one title a quarter and focus on that book. Keep rotating books in and out of promotions. It’s a great habit to get into and a great way to boost your backlist!

What have you done to boost or revamp an older title? Tell me in the comments!

Resources and Free Downloads

Monthly Book Marketing Planner

Quarterly Amazon Planner

Sell More Books on Amazon

Check Out ALLi’s Self-Publishing News

The Key to Successful Book Marketing Is Making Genuine Connections

7 Of The Best Book Marketing Strategies: Great Advice from Neil Patel


  1. V.M. Sang

    Great ideas, but only if you are self-published. I have no control over things like key words or categories. I can suggest new covers, though, and add new content (or revamp old).

    • Penny Sansevieri

      V.M. we work with a lot of traditionally published and hybrid published authors who push their publishers to incorporate specific keywords. And you can make category change requests as long as you have access to your Author Central profile, another key platform element authors should push for control over. We suggest you continue to advocate for some additional say in these important aspects of your marketing potential!

  2. Suzanne Link

    Great advice. Can you please explain Book optimization? Does this just mean for the listing or inside the manuscript?

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Thanks for the question, Suzanne! So when I refer to book optimization, I mean optimizing it on Amazon – keywords, categories, etc. Does that make sense?

  3. Christine E. Robinson

    Penny, I’v been following your marketing advice posts for sometime now. I’m stuck on categories & keywords for a historical fiction book just self-published in May on Amazon KDP. Subcategories aren’t exactly right either. This is my debut book and I’m writing a sequel. Just need to get a good marketing strategy besides social media, website, and guest author posts. Maybe the key is SEO. ?? Christine

    • Penny Sansevieri

      Christine hi, I agree – categories and sub-categories AND keywords are super important. But when I say keywords, I really mean keyword strings. Have you ever read my book on optimization? That might be a good place to start. If you want to share a link to your book, I’ll have a quick look!


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