eCommerce giant Amazon has been a game changer for self-published authors. But, getting your book seen by the shoppers who want it can be a little tricky. With hundreds of millions of shoppers on Amazon each month, all you need to do is load your eBook into KDP and the money will start rolling in, right? If only it was that easy…
In this episode, I’m featuring an interview with Dave Chesson of Kindlepreneur. Dave is a Kindle publishing expert, the host of the Book Marketing Show Podcast, and creator of KDP Rocket software, which I’ve used to help my books and dozens of client books show up more often in Amazon search results. I invited him to come on the podcast to talk about his author journey, why he created KDP Rocket, and how KDP Rocket can help you sell more Kindle books on Amazon.
KDP ROCKET SOFTWARE
KDP Rocket has been tremendously helpful to me, both as an author and as a book strategist. I purchased KDP Rocket many months ago and instantly loved all of the information that I could collect quickly from a simple search in the software. In fact, I invited Dave to come on the podcast to talk about KDP Rocket because I’ve been so happy with the software and because I (and my clients) have gotten great results using it.
Click here to purchase KDP Rocket (affiliate link).
TRANSCRIPT: HOW TO SELL MORE EBOOKS ON AMAZON WITH DAVE CHESSON
(This is a direct transcript of the episode. Please excuse any typos.)
Beth Brombosz: Thanks, Dave, for coming on the Blogger to Author podcast to talk about KDP Rocket. I personally use it for my business, not only my own books but my clients’ books, and so I’m just excited to be able to feature this amazing piece of software on the podcast and to have you the creator talk about it. So thank you first and foremost.
Dave Chesson: No problem. It’s, it’s great to be here.
Beth Brombosz: Absolutely. Could you please just start out by telling us a little bit about yourself, how you became an author, and why you created KDP Rocket?
Dave Chesson: Sure. Well, I guess my author career started about six years ago and that was when the US Navy gave me orders to South Korea, but I had to go without my family. So that was two years alone and while I was there my wife kind of gave me one of those, those questions of what exactly are you doing with your life? Always great to have your spouse kind of, you know, rebalance. Yeah, a little bit. And she’s like, “What, are you trying to become an admiral, or are you trying to, you know, advance your career?” I was like, “Not really. I mean…no?” And she said…so we had one of these moments, we were trying to talk about what we want our life to look like and for us, I wanted to be home with my kids and be able to kind of have a little bit of freedom, not, you know, that nine-to-five job that sent me off everywhere.
Dave Chesson: So I did my research and I found out about the whole, you know, Kindle Direct Publishing where Amazon has now allowed us to be able to create our works and put it online. The problem is, is that I’ve never actually associated myself as a true writer. I remember in high school in a certain English class. I got my paper back and before I looked at my grade, my English teacher said, “Dave, you’re going to college to study physics, right?” And I said, “Yes ma’am.” She goes, “That’s probably a good idea.” And I looked at my grade and it was a D-, and I was like, God, and I just poured my heart into this. I thought I was being so creative and it was like, now you suck. So I was like, all right.
Dave Chesson: So, you know, I’ve got a technical background. I went into nuclear engineering for the Navy and at that time, I was actually a military diplomat. So, it’s not like I have any background that says, “Oh man, you are destined to be a legit author.”
Dave Chesson: One thing that I’ve learned in the diplomacy world is that you don’t have to always weave the best story unless you have the information everybody wants. Go to a party, and if you have the thing, you know exactly what everybody at that party wants to know, they’re going to come to you and they’re going to talk to you. They’re gonna try to pull you aside. They’re going to want your attention. So knowing what people want has always been a key competitive advantage.
Dave Chesson: So when I approached Amazon, I asked myself, all right, why does Amazon show certain books to shoppers when they type something into the search bar? Like what does it use to figure out, hey, we should show this book, because if I could understand that, then I could reverse engineer it and I could figure out what it is the shoppers are actually typing in. So, I started to dig into it.
Dave Chesson: And by the way, you know, Amazon is a search engine and it’s got its own name. It’s called A9. And the A9 algorithm even has its own website, A9.com. So any of those data geeks out there like myself, you go ahead and check it out. It’s really cool. It even talks about what it does and why it does what it does. So it kind of takes away a lot of mystery but really cool to check out.
Dave Chesson: So I started approaching it saying, all right, in order for me to create a book that gets in front of Amazon’s market and actually sells, it makes money, I need to know three things.
Dave Chesson: Number one, I need to know what the Amazon market, the shoppers, right, what they type into that search bar. Number two, I need to know whether or not the books Amazon shows for that search result, whether or not they’re making money. Okay? And number three, I need to know if I can beat them and that that last one’s really important, because statistically speaking, if you rank number one for a search term, okay, and by the way, search term, we’re just going to call them keywords from this point. All right? If you rank number one for a keyword, you can expect 27 percent of all people who typed that into the search bar are going to click on your book, but if you rank #2, it’s 13 percent, and then 11 and 10, nine, eight, seven, six, six, six, and so forth. So it’s not just about identifying your keyword, but it’s also making sure that you’re at the top so you can truly benefit from Amazon’s traffic, AKA the shoppers.
Dave Chesson: So I started developing a process that helps me to know the answer to those three things. And back in the day I was using excel sheets and some Uber Math and uh, I wrote my first book and it has proven the fact forward, matter of fact, every month I still make $1,700 from that same book and that was over five years ago. That’s huge. So for me it’s been the ability to move from, you know, one asset because that’s what I call it, if it’s making money every month, that’s an asset. So I moved from one asset to the next, and I just kinda built them up.
Dave Chesson: And the best part was, was that using that process I was able to quit the Navy and I am now home full time with my family in Franklin, Tennessee, and I’m loving it. Matter of fact, my kids are right now waking up right at this moment and probably yelling at mom to make them breakfast and I’ll go join them. But that was something I couldn’t do in the Navy.
Dave Chesson: So after all of this studying and analyzing or realized, you know, there wasn’t anything on the Internet talking about this. Nobody had kind of data, data analyzed Amazon. So I created a website called kindlepreneur.com that has been focused on advanced book marketing, just teaching authors, you know, the ins and outs of why Amazon does what it does and how we can use that to our benefit.
Dave Chesson: But the thing is is that our articles are pretty long. I mean, I’ve always said that I want, if anybody reads it Kindlepreneur article, they, I want them to know everything they needed to know to turn around and get a result. But we created the Book Marketing Show Podcast because the fact is not everybody has time to sit down and read. So in this case you can go ahead and learn book marketing lessons while you’re on the go.
Dave Chesson: And finally the biggest thing was about two years ago, I took that Excel sheet, I took all my data and I crammed it into this thing called KDP Rocket, which you had mentioned. And it is a simple to use software that answers those three questions. You type in your initial idea and KDP Rocket will show you a whole list of phrases or words that people are typing in into Amazon that pertains to what you, what you gave it. Then it will tell you the number of people that actually type in that exact phrase, it’ll tell you the average amount of money that books are making that rank for that phrase, and it gives you a competitive score from zero to 100 zero being ridiculously easy and 100 being super hard to rank for. So just right there. We now have the three answers and it’s lickety split without major numbers. And we also have a con competitor analysis where you can put in, say a term and you can analyze all the books that would show up and you can get some key insight as to why they’re selling and perhaps some ideas on the things that you should do.
Beth Brombosz: And I’ll be the first to say that it’s such an amazing tool. I mean, first and foremost, as somebody with two graduate degrees in science, I totally love the numbers as well. And I love that you have taken something that can be really complicated and put everything into just one screen, where it makes all the data so much easier to analyze, which is just phenomenal for authors of course. And yes, listeners, I personally use this. I bought the software myself with my own money. It’s phenomenal. So, Dave, could you tell us a little bit more about how authors should be using KDP Rocket to increase their book sales, get in front of more people, make more money, and ultimately help more people through their books?
Dave Chesson: Yeah. Well, one thing that I wanted to spell with authors is the understanding of keyword psychology. Okay. So in the nonfiction world, people, the key words or the words that they type in the search bar are certain things there. Their pain points are their solutions, their descriptions of problems, their demographic, like these things comprise of what they’re looking for. So say for example, here’s a. here’s a great example of where an author kind of got some of the keywords and forgot the rest of it. Okay. Somebody wrote a book on going back to school. They had done their own kind of research and they realized that, you know, there are a lot of people that are typing into Amazon going back to school. The problem is is that they forgot the demographic part, right? Because when it comes to going back to school, there’s different reasons for going back to school and those different reasons are dictated by the demographic that you’re in.
Dave Chesson: So a 20 year old who is typing into Amazon, going back to school, they might be looking at probably their ged. That’s a completely different pain point. That’s a completely different reason for solving their pain point. Then say for example, the 65 year old woman who is, you know, she’s retired and she’s looking for something to do and she decides she wants to go and maybe get her college degree. You know, that, you know something to tell her courage, friends that hey yeah, I’m now a college graduate and there’s also the 35 year old guy who is trying to go up the extra rung in the ladder and you know, get another check in the box. And so he’s going to get his master’s degree. The point though is that this author wrote a book on going back to school and the picture showed a young girl, you know, his cover showed a young girl holding a book, but he kind of shotgun all over the place and he sold nothing.
Dave Chesson: Why? Because the book wasn’t specific to a demographic. If he had done his research, um, you know, like using KDP Rocket, he would’ve found that by using terms like going back to school for your GED or going back to school, you know, I think it was like I’m having to pull back from my memory here. But it was something like online, you know, and like these were things that people were truly typing in and what it would have helped him with was understanding who the true market is. Hey, the online people are spending a lot more money than the GED people, which kind of makes sense. But um, you know, the guy who’s going up the rung in the ladder, you know, he’s got a lot more money and yeah, they’re buying books. That kind of thing would have helped him to sort of adjust his book a little bit so that he would target a market that does exist, that does pay money instead of targeting something that wasn’t making money.
Dave Chesson: So that’s a prime example of where understanding the market, you know, it’s, it’s a wonderful thing to do, I would say, not like after you publish it, but do it before you started. So now you have an idea of who you’re speaking to and you can create a better book.
Dave Chesson: Another example of this was back in the day, it was a book idea that I had and I actually never followed through on it and I’ll tell you why, but uh, uh, it was years ago and there was that whole Evernote craze. Everybody was writing books on Evernote. Right. Well, you know, let’s face it. Okay. During those three questions, right? Are people typing in Evernote into any Amazon? Yes. Are People paying money for Evernote? Yes. How about that competition? There was a way too many people. There were way too many books. It was crowded. You have to be a super ninja or you would have to have amazing fans, you know, to be able to beef up your numbers and beat out the competition where you just had to be the most phenomenal writer.
Dave Chesson: Instead, I use my back-in-the-day Excel sheet, and I found out that there were certain demographics that existed that were not getting what they wanted. For example, Evernote for teachers, Evernote for project managers, Evernote for students. Those are phrases that back then people were legitimately typing into Amazon, but there was no book that said, “Hey, this is the book for you.” Now granted, a lot of people would be like, yeah, but there’s a lot more money to be made in Evernote. Like just going for Evernote. And I’d say, yeah, that’s true.
Dave Chesson: But again, competition is so high that unless you’ve got a huge following and an ability to kind of pump it up and get you to the top, it’s not gonna happen. So instead what I’d prefer is to be able to write that book for Evernote for teachers so that every teacher, every person that types in Evernote for teacher or maybe if they happen to see my book, you know, and they’re like, oh, I’m a teacher, they’ll say that’s the book for me because that’s like no other book speaks to me more than that one. And so therefore I will get that sale every time. My conversion rate will be higher and it will be every month I get those sales. So while you may say I’ll get a huge surge of sales going after Evernote, that could be, but good luck. I’ll take that long steady stream of sales because I know the market exists and I know that I’m the only one.
Beth Brombosz: Yeah. It’s like what they say in business: the riches are in the niches. And it’s absolutely true for books as well.
Dave Chesson: Right. Exactly. Now the funny thing is is that I had on my list of like, okay, this will be a great book idea to write. However, though Evernote kind of shot themselves in the foot and they did that whole paid account thing and then all of a sudden everybody’s like now in the market for that drop before I ever got to do the book. But as you can see though, these two examples kind of highlight that, you know, the problem with with authors is they’ll sit down when they choose your seven keywords, when they go to publish, they’ll just kind of gas or they’ll go after the most broad thing and their book can’t differentiate itself from the other thousands of books out there. And that’s why a lot of authors run into this problem of I know I wrote a good book, I just can’t get found on Amazon.
Beth Brombosz: Absolutely. Let’s back up and walk people through the data that KDP Rocket does give you. So can you give us…I know I’ve spent a lot of time looking at the user interface, but could you give us just a quick rundown of all of the data that you can collect using KDP Rocket?
Dave Chesson: Yeah, most definitely. So the first thing is, is that, like we said, if you go KDP Rocket, one of the big features that everybody likes to use and we’ve added so much to it over the years just because the best part about having a, um, a programming team at this point is that I can just kind of go in there and be like, hey, you know, it’d be great if, oh, hey guys, why don’t you go do that?
Dave Chesson: So anyways, when you type in an initial idea, KDP Rocket will go through Amazon and it will basically pull from Amazon all of these other phrases that people have typed that kind of pertain to your idea. So now you’re going to get a giant list of these keywords. Okay? Potential keywords. The next thing we’ll say is the number of competitors. So basically it’s come through and it says, Hey, Amazon believes that there’s 7,996 books that will show up in the results.
Dave Chesson: So technically you have 7,996 competitors for that keyword. Okay? And I’m going to get back to this one because I got a little inside on that number, that in a bit of a story. So anyways. All right, the next one is the average monthly earnings. So you can quickly see how much money books that rank for that keyword are making. On average. This is kind of a good indicator of knowing if there’s any money at all or not.
Dave Chesson: We include the google searches per month because it’s kind of fun to be able to see if people are typing in that phrase into Google itself. Understand is two different search engines. But it’s neat to see that and see, you know, if it’s also popular in Amazon, right? We have the Amazon searches per month, which is the most important number because nobody wants to target a keyword that nobody types in, right? So you want to look for keywords that definitely get traffic.
Dave Chesson: And then finally there’s the competitor score of zero to 100. And so that you can quickly get an understanding of, you know, the, how hard it’s going to be to rank. Now, let’s go back to that number of competitors. So I’m not going to lie. I personally didn’t want that in the software. Right?
Dave Chesson: So when we, when we originally designed the software, I didn’t have number of competitors in there and we sent it through this Beta, which by the way, my own grandmother was a Beta Tester. I wanted to make sure that it was like super easy to use and believe me, if Muzzy could get through it, we’re good to go. So anyways, well I had, I had some of the book people will be like, where’s the number of competitors? And I’m like, it shouldn’t be there.
Dave Chesson: Like. And they’re like, “No, we want it.” I’m like, “Why?” And they were like, “Because that’s something I was taught to always have.” And I’m like, okay, fine, we’ll put it in, but here’s my take on it. The number of competitors I’ve never. That was never part of my excel sheet or my process. It’s like, it’s funny, but like a lot of authors use it as like, oh, that’s the big indicator of how competitive it is. No, it’s not. I need to beat, in order for me to benefit that keyword, I need to beat the book that ranks number one, two, and three, right? We talked about the statistics. Number one gets 27 percent of the clicks. Number two gets 13, number three gets 11. Those are the ones that are benefiting from the keyword. If I can beat them, I benefit from the keyword.
Dave Chesson: It doesn’t matter if there are 48,000 books behind it. If I can beat one, two, and three, I’m fine, and so therefore our competitive score analyzes how hard it would be to be one through five specifically and I, and by the way, our competitor’s score does not take into account the number of competitors for that very reason. However, though the Beta testers really wanted that number in there.
Dave Chesson: So for all the listeners out there, if you’re using the number of competitors as your way to indicate how competitive a keyword is, I’d personally tell you don’t.
Beth Brombosz: And then there’s also a competition area in KDP Rocket where you can go in and actually look at other books in the same niche as you to figure out how they’re doing, which I think can be really informative too. Could you tell us a little bit about that?
Dave Chesson: Yeah, absolutely. So we have a competition analyzer. Another, you know, another one of the features and just the list, the four features. We have, keyword search, competition analyzer, AMS keywords and category. I’m in competition. I analyzer. It’ll list the 12, 10 to 12 books that would rank on the first page of Amazon based off of the term you typed in. And then it tells you the title, the subtitle, the author, the age of the book, the Amazon best seller rank, whether or not the keywords in the title or subtitle the number of reviews, the book has the review grade it’s price. And here’s the fun part, the daily sales and the monthly sales that the book is making. And then it will have a link to direct you to the sales page. So now what a lot of authors are doing is that they’re actually, they’re just tracking their competitors.
Dave Chesson: You know, they just want to see like, all right, how much money is this guy making, you know? Or, um, but from our perspective though, one thing that’s important for authors is that if you’ve identified a keyword, you can now go in and click the analyze, analyze that keyword, and we’ll list these books and you can start to see who your true competitors are, what are they doing, what is working for them and what is not a. It can also help you to generate better book titles and subtitles. I’m not saying copy them, but you may start to see themes you know, in that target market and that will help you to make better decisions. Or You could also analyze their reviews and ask. And one thing I love to tell authors is that the key thing is, is you gotta look for the weakness of the other books and make sure that you can do better.
Dave Chesson: So I wouldn’t jump in if you have like no fans are followings and you haven’t, you know, this is your first book ever. I would not be trying to compete against books that have like 100 plus five star reviews. Right? But if you’ve done your keyword research and you find there is a key word, people are typing it in and they are paying for the books and then when you go to look at your competition in your like, that book cover sucks. Wow, boy, people are still buying this book, but they’re given a bad reviews. That’s the sweet spot. That’s where it’s like, Oh man, I know there’s a hungry market and they’re paying for it, but they don’t like what they’re getting. I could do better. And that’s when it’s like, oh, there it is. I got this.
Beth Brombosz: Yes, yes, absolutely. And I think it’s smart, smart analysis, and everybody listening, make sure you’re also listening to Dave’s podcast because he does go into a lot of these things. And again, before we started recording, I was talking about a podcast episode that if you’re on my list, you got a link to this recent emails, but just about the importance of a cover and everything. And he really does go in depth about all of these things. So if this is sort of sparking some ideas for you, make sure you go subscribe to his podcast and listen to every one of his episodes because it’s really, really helpful.
Beth Brombosz: So there’s the AMS keywords feature, which I think is mostly for people who are wanting to run Amazon ads, correct?
Dave Chesson: Yep. And we have a full free course out there for anybody who’s interested in doing it. You can find at amscourse.com, pretty easy URL, and it’s a full video course that teaches you everything you need to know about AMS. I actually teach you how to do it without KDP Rocket. But the reason why we designed the KDP Rocket AMS keyword feature is because it will save you hours and hours of time because in the AMS world you have to, like, you have to have hundreds of keywords, not just a couple. A matter of fact, Amazon themselves say on their, on their like manual of AMS that you should have at least 200 keywords. So, uh, again it was one of those times where I was like, I was doing it manually, copy and paste and building, you know, building an excel sheet and then importing it. And I was like, wait a second, I got to programming team, hey guys, here’s my process.
Dave Chesson: Let’s automate this. Save me some time. And that’s one of the big things that I love that you know, that I love about KDP Rocket is that it saves so much time and you get it for life. So it’s $97, one-time fee for life. And I tell people, look, if in your entire writer life, if it saves you, say five hours and that’s assuming you value one hour of your time for 20 bucks, then it paid for itself. So, um, so I’m, I’m all about like trying to save time too. So the AMS keywords will help you to generate your AMS keyword lists like lickety split.
Dave Chesson: The other feature that we have is categories. And that was the one thing I, I actually dislike doing the most was category research. There’s 31,000 different sub-sub categories on Amazon. Thirty-one thousand. Some of them you would have to sell thousands of books in order to be in the top 10 of that category.
Dave Chesson: Some of them, some of them. All you have to do is sell one book and you’ll be a best seller in that category. The hardest part is trying to find a category that truly represent your book and isn’t going to make it impossible for you to be a best seller.
Dave Chesson: So of course I said, hey, programming team through this process for me a lot quicker. The key is, is that you type in a certain phrase into our category feature and it will go through and basically pull all the category strings from all the books that rank for that. So you can now quickly get a list of all the different categories and you can also see how many books you need to sell in that day in order to be the number one best seller. So you choose your categories and all right, say it says, all right, five books. Great. If you sell six, you’re the new best seller.
Dave Chesson: It takes out the guesswork and it helps you to generate those lists, but I’m going to give you some insight. We’re actually doing a new update and it’ll be a free update for everybody, but I’m pre-programming all 31,000 categories in there and all you have to do is type in like a word and it will literally find every category in all of Amazon that has that word in it, so you could. If you just type in like science fiction, you’ll see every science fiction category I want to recommend that recommend niching down, but say for example, you type in, you know online now every category string that has the word online will be presented and then you know, you can click to see how many books you need to sell in order to be the number one and you can select your categories. Lickety split.
Beth Brombosz: I love that, and it’s so nice to have that help. I know I have clients asking me all the time, “What category should I put my book in?” or followers as well, and one of the reasons why I love this tool and I’m such an evangelist for it, is because it does really simplify things.
Beth Brombosz: I know, listeners, you are busy. Most of you are trying to run a business at the same time as trying to promote your book. You don’t have time to spend researching a bunch of stuff and that’s why I think KDP rocket is such a godsend is that it does a lot of the heavy lifting for you. So all you need to do is type in a couple of search terms into this software and it’ll give you, you know, through a little few clicks, everything you need, all of the data you need to really get the right keywords for your book to get the right categories for your book and so on. So that it makes it easier for you to get your book in front of more people.
Dave Chesson: Absolutely.
Beth Brombosz: So you’ve touched on this a little bit, but I just want to kind of end things by really honing in on how essentially KDP Rocket will help people make more money and just to make that crystal clear because I think a totally fair investment. I think that it’s a steal at what you sell it at, but just for those people who are trying to do a cost-benefit analysis on the cost of the software versus the money they’re going to make. So how does KDP Rocket help you sell more books so that you can bring in more royalty payments?
Dave Chesson: Well, if knowing what people are actually typing in and having a target so that you can get your book in front of them, uh, that right there should definitely help you sell more books. I’m also not just people who are writing a book, but people who have written a book, there are lots of cases where people went in, changed up there seven kindle keywords and saw immediate results because they had chosen these phrases that everybody else was going for. So the book was like, you know, sitting in the dungeon of Davy Jones locker. So there’s that aspect of it and, and in the end and since it is lifetime, if it helps us sell you 32 plus books in your entire author lifetime than it paid for itself directly right there. And again, like we said too, like if it saves you five hours, if you value your time at 20 bucks a, you know, there you have it.
Dave Chesson: It just saved you all of that as well. And the other thing that you know, it will help too, is that doing your research before you write your book could be a huge difference on whether or not you succeed. You know, using this research like we talked about, the guy who just sat down and invested all this time and energy and money into a book cover and editor and formatting only to find out he wrote way too broad and went back to school. The money wasn’t there, the money was in niching down. Finding that existing niche. So setting yourself up for a much better chance to success by understanding the market. And just tweaking your writing a little bit to address the already existing market on Amazon. That’ll definitely pay for itself.
Beth Brombosz: Absolutely. Well, thank you so much for taking the time to tell us about KDP Rocket. Before we go, can you tell our listeners where they can find you, and maybe just a little bit about your podcast if you want to? I feel like I’ve pitched it a lot already, but seriously, people, you need to be listening to it. It’s amazing. And just tell us where people can get in contact with you if they want to learn more about Kindlepreneur or if they want to learn more about KDP Rocket.
Dave Chesson: Yeah, most definitely. If you go to kindlepreneur.com, we’ve got a contact me a link in the top right. Hit me up. I spend probably the first part of my morning answering every email. I remember when I started, it made me sad when people didn’t respond back, but I’m there to answer any questions.
Dave Chesson: The Book Marketing Show podcast–a difference about it is that I make it that every podcast is a lesson. We have one strategy, one tactic that we focus on, give you everything you need to know, and then the interviewee that I have on is the case study, somebody that applied, what we just learned, so we get to hear why they failed or why they succeeded and what they would do different, and then I do a recap. So hoping to help teach while people are on the go.
Beth Brombosz: Yeah, absolutely. It’s phenomenal, and I think everybody listening to this should be subscribed to the Book Marketing Show Podcast. It’s going to be very helpful. It’s inspired me with my own books to redo covers and all sorts of things, so I think that listeners, you’ll get a lot out of that, so please go follow Dave on Kindlepreneur, go subscribe to the Book Marketing Show podcast, pick up a copy of KDP Rocket. I really think it’s going to help you with your books. And thank you, Dave, for taking the time to let me interview you for the podcast.
Dave Chesson: Well thank you, Beth. It’s been fun.
Beth Brombosz: Absolutely.
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