Tag Archives: Amazon


B18Every writer dreams of hitting #1 on the big dog’s Bestseller List. Amazon is the world’s biggest bookseller and has the largest search engine capacity—second only to Google. Amazon offers over four million books in their online store and grows by 4,200 per day. That’s a whack of competition. But—in the last 3 weeks—3 of my Amazon Kindle eBooks nailed the #1 spot in their free categories.

How’d I pull this off? And how can you do the same?

Well, the Bestselling Secret is not in organic sales. It’s in manipulating SEO. Search Engine Optimization. It’s worked for me and here’s how manipulating Amazon’s system will work for you.

B6First, credit goes to my friend and fellow author, Susanne Lakin. Susanne writes as C.S. Lakin and under her pen-name, Charlene Whitman. She also hosts the popular website Live Write Thrive.

Susanne just released a new online course properly called Targeting Genre For Big Sales. I worked with Susanne as a beta-tester—an online lab rat—and came out a winner. I also did this without spending a dime.

Regular DyingWords followers know I’ve been blogging for the Huffington Post since November and now have thirty articles published on the Huff. That makes me a bit of a self-appointed expert on how the Huff Post works so I decided to share my experience with others by writing two straightforward, no BS guides.

Huff Post 21 RevisedOne’s a primer called How To Blog For The Huffington Post—21 Proven Tips for Getting Published on the Huff. It serves as a lead-magnet to the second book—a main guide not-surprisingly called How To Blog For The Huffington Post—101 Proven Tips for Getting Published on the Huff.

I researched the material with help from other Huff Bloggers who have way more Huff Post experience than me. I drafted the manuscripts in a Word.doc (Duhs). I did my own editing (Gasps!) by using the Grammarly app. I designed my own covers in Word (Groans!) and then sized them as a jpeg in Paint (Huh?). I did my own eBook formatting (How?) in Calibre and then uploaded to Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing (Simple!).

And nothing happened. Zilch. SFA.

Like most, I was near the bottom of the list and spinning fast into the black hole of self-publishing. I did some Tweets and a few blog posts which saved me from imploding and then went on to work on other projects.

A4But I’d been following Susanne Lakin’s emails promoting her course on Targeting Genre For Big Sales and she was making sense to me. I knew my problem lay in “Discoverability”. My Huff Guides were okay as technical publications and they’re definantly the right information if you want to get published on the Huffington Post, but nobody was hearing about them.

So, I decided to try something out.

Susanne generously gave me access to her about-to-be-released course—for free as a beta-tester—in exchange for sharing my results.

B7Now, there’s a lot more to this process that Susanne thoroughly covers in her course than I have room to tell you here. I highly recommend you pay for and take her lessons if you want to achieve the same success I have. It’s a hundred bucks off till the end of April 2016 if you use the DyingWords coupon code TARGET44 at this link:

http://cslakin.teachable.com/  Click Here

But, in a nutshell, this is what I did. And remember—it’s all about Discoverability.

1. Proper Key Word and Key Phrase Research

B8Amazon lets you enter up to seven “keywords” into your dashboard as metadata to allow the search engine to find and promote you. Go beyond the term “Key Word” because the trick is in “Key Phrases”. Amazon allows you to use any combination of words to make up seven phrases. The phrases just have to be separated by commas.

Finding effective key words and phrases is not difficult, but it’s time-consuming. There’s a tool called KDSPY that Susanne says is very effective and well worth the forty-seven bucks. But I didn’t use it. I looked at this as a money-making venture, not a money-spending one, so I did this the old-fashioned way. I used pen and paper. You could also use Excel but, personally, I hate that program.

The first thing to do is bring up Amazon.com Kindle Books on your browser. If it’s a Kindle eBook you’re promoting and not just a print book, make sure you’re searching in the Kindle Department. And make sure you’re at the Amazon.COM site (the American site) because that’s where the heavy traffic is specifically searching. Don’t worry—the information will work on all the Amazon sites worldwide.

Do not use the Google Keyword search tool, though. It’s too general and will lead you astray from what Amazon knows.


Understand that Amazon is just like Google and, when you begin to type the word or phrase you’re looking for, it’s already thinking ahead and showing you the most-searched-for, similar matches. Copy the best of these down in a list with a priority number of where the term appears on the ten-space vertical window that Amazon is showing you.

This is where you have to be imaginative.

B10You have to think like a reader who is looking for your product. And, yes, your book is just a product to a reader who is a consumer. You have to give that consumer the best opportunity to discover and buy the product you’re offering for sale.

It took me a couple hours to play around with combinations and here are the key words and phrases I came up with for the Huff Post 21 Tip guide:

How To Blog For Huffington Post, How To Get Published By Huffington Post, Blogging At Huffington Post, Blogger, Huffington Post, HuffPost, Ariana Huffington

It makes no difference what order you put them in or if you use capitals. It’s the combinations that matter.

2. Product Description

B11Amazon’s search engine doesn’t care about what you say or how attractive you make it. It’s looking for relevancy to searches so they can sell something that’s being looked for and wanted. This is why you need to salt the description with your title, subtitle, and key words and phrases. Here’s my product description for the 21 Tip Guide with the key stuff hi-lighted in red:

Every blogger’s dream should be to get their blog published by the Huffington Post.” So says Huff Post signature blogger and bestselling writer, Garry Rodgers, who gives you 21 Proven Tips on how to get your blogs published on the Huff.
Serious bloggers know the Huffington Post is the world’s largest blog site. Getting published on the HuffPost is a significant badge of achievement — it’s the gold standard of blogging — social approval by a major media corporation that your work meets its mark of excellence. You just can’t buy this type of exposure.
As a blogger, you have something to say and you want to hear what others say back. If you have quality content — and that’s the key — you’ll want to say it on the Huffington Post.
“But how in the world do I ever get noticed?” you ask.
Well, it might not be easy, but it can be done. And it’s done by applying these 21 Tips On How To Blog For The Huffington Post in a holistic approach. In other words, applying these tips on publishing and journalism in an overall, systematic manner.
It’s also about building your platform — your brand and your profile. In this guide, Garry Rodgers gives you proven advice on elevating your platform and getting noticed by Huffington Post editors.
This guide is a primer for the more extensive book How To Blog For The Huffington Post — 101 Proven Tips for Getting Published on the Huff, also by Garry Rodgers, and is laid out in six clear, progressive sections:
Can it happen to you? Garry Rodgers can’t promise anything, but shares everything he knows about improving your chances of being noticed by a Huffington Post editor.
How To Blog For The Huffington Post — 21 Proven Tips For Getting Published on the Huff contains basic information about the mechanics of writing and publishing blogs for the Huffington Post, as well as priming you for the advanced work 101 Tips for Getting Published on the Huff. If you work these professional blogging tips — and do the work — they’ll pay off in a way that’s so, so worth it.

B12While Amazon doesn’t care about what your message says or how it looks, your product searcher sure does. This is why it’s vital to set up the description with HTML (Hyper Text Markup Language) coding by using bolds, italics, quotations, lists, headings, subtitles, paragraph structure and so on.

Here’s the bad news…

As my internet buddy, Johnny B. Truant, says, “Amazon’s dashboard sucks big, hairy donkey balls” and he’s right. Amazon’s little window for your description will accept 4,000 characters but it won’t do the HTML for you. If you try to cut & paste a nice italicized and bolded description from Word, it’ll just show up as Plain-Jane on your Amazon product page.

There’re two ways around this:

One is you can learn HTML coding and do all the <b><i><p> stuff yourself and it isn’t that hard. Susanne tells you how in her course and she has a pdf cheat-sheet for the universal HTML codes.

B13Susanne also refers you to a cool, free tool called the Amazon Book Description Generator that I used. Click Here

It’s very effective, but be aware of two things. You can’t input from Word with bold and italics already done or you’ll become very frustrated. Secondly, Amazon allows you 4,000 characters which include the HTML characters. If you write 4,000 characters in Word and then use the Generator to add your HTML, Amazon’s donkey-balls box will chop you short. So, depending on how much HTML you want to add, you need to write about 3,200 characters in Word.

Be sure to use as many of the 4,000 allowed spaces as you can. Even if your perspective reader doesn’t absorb them all, the extra words and phrases add up to discoverability through SEO. Also, don’t just write your description to favor your key elements. It still has to flow for your reader as it’s the ambassador of your material that should make the reader “Look Inside”.

3. Category Selection

B15It’s critical to slot your book in the proper BISAC (Book Industry Standards & Communications) category. This is not something Amazon invented. It’s universal, but you need to understand the primary and secondary categories.

This, too, takes a lot of time to find the right slots that have the balance of the most traffic and the least competition. Susanne recommends using the KDSPY but, because I was doing this venture as an experiment in free, I selected my categories manually—making lists until I got what I thought were the right ones.

Here’s how I did it:

B14Again go to the Amazon.COM Kindle Department and look at the categories in the left sidebar. Beside each, you’ll see a numeric figure in brackets which lists the amount of publications in that slot. You have to play around with the sub-categories until you find a fitting place with a relatively low number to compete with. Be aware that Amazon only allows you two entries so you want to make sure you get the proper, relevant ones and not go off into some obscure shelf that no one visits.

As with key material and product description, balance is important.

Here’re the two categories that I selected for the 21 Tips Guide:



Now I went back and salted the product description with the category keywords ie – Journalism and Publishing. This is vital to complete a loop for SEO.

This system sent How To Blog For The Huffington Post—21 Proven Tips for Getting Published on the Huff to the #1 spot in Journalism on all four of the English-speaking stores; USA, UK, Australia, and Canada and it climbed to #3 in Publishing.

Huff Post #1 BS Screenshot

So was this a fluke? Did I just get lucky and surf a good wave? Or could I do it again?

I tried the same process with the 101 Tips Guide and used the same key material and categories, although I tweaked the product description to match.

Sure enough. It went to #1 in both Journalism and Publishing. Like, right away.

Huff Australia

Now I knew I was on to something. I then took my eBook Best of DyingWords—Provoking Thoughts on Life From a Retired Homicide Detective and Forensic Coroner and applied Susanne’s process using these keywords:

Blogging, Forensic Psychology, Philosophy, Health and Happiness, Self-Help Books, Positive Mental Attitude About Life, Think And Grow Rich

And I selected these categories:



This type of book required a completely different style of product description, but I used exactly the same salting technique. Click Here to read the product description.


Best of DyingWords—Provoking Thoughts on Life From a Retired Homicide Detective and Forensic Coroner went right to #1 straight from the gate and, as I write this, it’s still in first place in both categories on all of Amazon’s English-speaking sites.

My Amazon author ranking also increased over 1,000% from the start of this experiment 🙂

It’s important to say I entered these three books in the KDPS (Kindle Direct Publishing Select) program and set them on a five-day free promotion. Within half a day, I noticed enormous leaps in their list placings and, within a day, all three went to #1 in their slots.

Now I can hear some of you saying “Wait a minute, Garry. Being at the top of a free list is not the same as selling on the paid list.”

B3Ah, no. I think it’s way better for a new book to climb the free charts because that’s what generates traffic, gains new readers, starts reviews, and links to your other products including your website and mailing list. It’s all about Discoverability and that, in my opinion, is the name of the game in internet writing. You have to give in order to receive. Once you give enough, you’ll get noticed. And this carries on into your paid rankings once the promo’s over. That’s as sure as the law of friggin’ gravity.

Beyond these three elements of optimizing your book’s appeal to Amazon’s search engine, I highly suspect something else is at play. From what I know about search engines, they like two things—fresh, active content and hyperlinks.

DyingWords Life Cover jpegIn the past two months. I’ve uploaded eight new products for sale on Amazon and I’ve internally hyperlinked them to each other and to their respective Amazon sales pages, as well as to many other internet pages.

I’m damned sure Amazon’s search engine recognizes this and—combined with properly-done key words/phrases, descriptions, and categories—it’s saying “Hey! We like this Garry Rodgers guy. He’s slammin’ us with fresh content and makes it easy for us to sell all kinds of stuff. Give this boy a front seat on the bus!

It’s worked for me—three books in a row—and it can work for you… if you want to Hit #1 on Amazon’s Bestseller List—Repeatedly.

*   *   *

If you’re serious about getting your Amazon products discovered, I highly recommend you take Susanne Lakin’s excellent online course Targeting Genre For Big Sales. Although I simplified the process in this post, there’s a lot more to it and Susanne’s tutoring is worth every penny of the regularly priced $397 online course.

And you can get a $100 (25%) discount on Targeting Genre For Big Sales till the end of April 2016 by using this DyingWords coupon TARGET44.  Click Here



BTW – Here’s a little plug for my friends at Grammarly who contacted me to say thanks for mentioning their app in this post –

“I’ve been using the Grammarly app for six months and couldn’t live without it. Grammarly is far more than just a spelling, punctuation, and grammar tool. It’s like having my old English teacher standing over my shoulder. Like her, Grammarly teaches me to become a better writer.”

Check out Grammarly. It helped me to polish my product descriptions as well as my content and it’s partly responsible for my Amazon success. I highly recommend the Grammarly app!  Click Here



B10Paul Bernardo is Canada’s most notorious serial killer. In 1995, Bernardo was convicted on two counts of first-degree murder and one count of manslaughter. He was sentenced to life imprisonment with a Dangerous Offender designation, giving him zero chance of parole. Bernardo also confessed to committing violent rapes—perhaps over thirty. Today, he’s in solitary confinement at Millhaven Institution, a maximum-security penitentiary near Toronto, Ontario. And this week, Paul Bernardo hit #1 on the Amazon BestSeller list by self-publishing an eBook spy-thriller titled A MAD World Order.

So HTF did this happen?

Before threatening to set Amazon on fire with what’s left of my hair, I decided to check out what Bernardo wrote. Here’s Amazon’s product description:

B11The top echelons of the Russian government lament for the glory days of their superpower status. Resorting to desperate and nefarious means, a secret cabal has strategized a plan to return Russia to a world power. By a fate not of his choosing, one man finds himself caught, and involved in the Russian plot.  Mason Steele with his best friend Kyle Boorem founded Social Mall. It is a 3-D social media website. It is targeted by the by the Russians for a hostile takeover to get the off-the-books financing for their operation, and the FSB uses the local Russian Mafia as its covert operatives.  NSA has picked up al-Qaeda chatter of an impending catastrophic strike against the United States. Given the size and sophistication, it is concluded small dirty-bombs are involved.  Mason prepares a plan to rescue his co-founder, revenge the attacks against them, and stop the theft of his company. Unrestrained by rules or laws, he takes the battle to the Russian Mafia in San Francisco and across the globe.

Yeah, whatever I thought. Different flavor on an old ice cream bucket. But I wonder if the guy can actually write? 

B17Now, I’m sure as hell not going to buy this monster’s work, but I did have a free “Look Inside” on the Amazon site. After skimming the first twenty pages, my impression was Hmmm. Crappy cover. Story kinda sucks. Not much of a hook. Slow… not sure how this is gonna keep anyone in it for the advertised 631 pages. But the editing’s pretty goodespecially for a self-pub. It’s fairly clean for punctuation. Grammar’s okay. Don’t see any obvious spelling mistakes. And the formatting is professional. Can’t see how anyone sitting alone in a jail cell did this, so there’s no doubt Bernardo had some experienced help putting this thing on the market. 

Now setting aside the legal, moral, and ethical issues of a human piece-of-shit like Paul Bernardo being allowed to publish from a jail cell, let me remind you what this animal did before becoming a BestSelling novelist.

B7Bernardo was the Scarborough Rapist who viciously attacked women in the Greater Toronto area in the early 1990’s. A pretty-boy who later score 35 out of 40 on the psychopathy checklist, he tangled up and married an equally evil Karla Homolka. The pair compounded each other’s sick fantasies which led to them drugging, raping, and killing Homolka’s younger sister.

14 year-old Leslie Mahaffy was their next victim. They abducted Leslie and took her to their house where they videotaped themselves raping and murdering her. Then they cut Leslie’s body apart with a circular saw before encasing her pieces in concrete and dumping them in a lake.

Kristen French, 15, was third. Bernardo and Homolka filmed Kristen’s terror over a three day period, then dumped Kristen’s naked body in a ditch.

Bernardo was caught through DNA. Before the video tapes were discovered, the prosecution cut Homolka a deal, letting her cop to a 12-year manslaughter sentence in exchange for testifying against her now-divorced husband. And that’s the sum of the Paul Bernardo story.

How—in a sane world—is cesspool scum like Bernardo allowed to still breathe, let alone be allowed to profit from his mind? His eBook lists at $5.97 USD so he pockets $4.18 per copy. How many copies is he selling? Well, as I write this, A MAD World Order is #1 on Amazon.ca in the Spy Thriller category and #45 on Amazon.com in the War Fiction category. To me, that says a lot of sold books and a lot of coin.

Bernardo screenshot

And it’s getting a ton of reviews—over 600 on Amazon’s Canadian site, so far. The vast majority are 1-Star hates, but some people are sticking up for the right of free speech and uncensorship.

Here’s a sample of what they’re saying: 

By Paula McLeod — Hello to the powers that be at Amazon… seriously what were you thinking??? I realize that as an American company that you have very little interest in what goes on north of the border. I also understand the extra work involved in checking up on a vendor prior to allowing them to flog their wares on your site is time consuming but come on…really??? In case you were not aware; there is the little thing called “Google”. How about it??? Do not allow this waste of a life to profit in any way after all of the horrific things that he has done. I do not make idle threats…I will not spend my hard earned money on products that are sold by a company that support a sadistic piece of trash, serial killer, serial rapist, dangerous offender. You must remove this immediately or I will cancel my account and never purchasing anything from your site again.
By Robert Truszkowski — It’s not so simple. Amazon publishes OJ Simpson’s “If I did it”, Charles Manson’s autobiography, Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”, and many other deplorable works, and/or works by deplorable people. We live in a society that is so conflicted. We want to be safe from hateful garbage, and we seem willing to fight in far off lands for freedom and democracy, but it’s a catch-22. Don’t want to read crumby fiction by a twisted freak? Don’t! But it’s a slippery slope once you start banning books.
By Sandy M. — WTH Amazon would even allow this b@stard to sell anything on their site, shows me that Amazon is very sick. Anyone that would support what that good for nothing a-hole has blood on their hands from the 3 girls he murdered after raping them repeatedly, as well as all the other women he raped but were fortunate to get away before he killed them too. Paul Bernardo and Karla Homolka should not be breathing. DON’T BUY INTO THIS SICK B@STARD’S CRAP! Murderers and rapists should not be making money from anything!
By Sarahon — To all the upset with the following book…get over it. Yea he is in jail…yes he committed a crime..and now he is serving that time. For life. Yes he is going to make money..however he will never get to touch it because he is incarcerated..those not familiar with the wat it works..if you make revenue while in prison.. You can’t have it until your out. Not to mention the amount of money he would still owe for victims restitution. That money will never reach his hand. Further more at least he is not wasting tax dollars abusing the system. He is at least doing something. The book..amazing read. Loved to story. Very interesting and intrigued me. Buy the book based on the description.. Not the author. Lets help pay those victims family’s for what’s happened.
By Mica — Too bad there isn’t a minus star! Cannot believe Amazon/ca would publish a book by a convicted killer/rapist currently serving 25 years without parole and allowing him to pander to his self-grandizement. Did anyone bother to check out the name when he came into the system or does anyone work for Amazon old enough to remember the horror of what he and his then wife did? I remember. I remember the total state of disbelief most Canadians felt over what this perverted psycho did. I will seriously look at changing my shopping source for ebooks if this book remains on your available list.
By Amazon Customer — Kudos to Amazon! I am so HAPPY ,that Amazon decided to carry this book on their site, without prejudice. It is up to readers (buyers) to decide whether a certain book is appropriate or not. That is NOT the job of Amazon. Thank you Amazon for recognizing the difference. I will continue to buy items from Amazon because of this. Thank you Amazon for carrying Hitler’s Mein Kampf as well. By the way, I haven’t bought this book. I have not decided yet. I may or may not. That decision is still mine. Oh yes, I am Canadian.
By Amazon Customer — Amazon, you are taking too long. The damage is growing by the minute.
By Amazon Customer —Ignore the people who choose to hate. To deny someone access to selling their work just because of criminal convictions is criminal. Plain and simple. Amazon, all the power to you.
By Scott M. — Had it not been for all the bleeding hearts bringing attention to this book, I would have never known it existed nor would I care. Now that you all have, I think I’ll buy it as a collector item. Not because I really care about the content of the book, but as a reminder of the notorious, heinous crimes he committed and people like him still exist in our world. Yes, had we brought back capital punishment when we had the chance, this wouldn’t be an issue. The best way to boycott is not give it attention. Now every news media outlet is letting the world know. This could very well now be Amazons new best seller. Good job everyone.

B15Hey! Scott M. The voice of reason! (I know this guy from chats around the net. He’s a bright dude.) Scott’s 100% right about the capital punishment issue, but I’m not going to turn this into a death sentence debate. And I’m not going to turn this into a free speech debate either. To me, there’s something bigger that’s the real issue. That’s HTF was a convicted serial killer in isolation inside a maximum security, federal institution allowed access to outside help to self-publish? 

And there’s no doubt that Paul Bernardo had some help. I’m no stranger to self-publishing and I can tell you that his manuscript reeks of higher help.

So what’s Corrections Canada’s position on this? 

Here’s their official statement:

B19The Correctional Service of Canada (CSC) has been made aware of the (Bernardo’s) e-book that has been published and understands the content may be offensive to some. Offenders are not permitted to profit from recounting of their crimes, however, we are advised that this e-book is a fictional piece that does not relate to this offender’s specific crimes. Materials contained in this book may provide additional information relevant to decision-making regarding the offender. While inmates incarcerated in federal correctional facilities have limited access to computers, they do not have access to the internet or email. They are able to communicate with members of the public in writing and are entitled to privileged correspondence with their legal counsel. 

My understanding of A MAD World Order is that the content does not refer to Bernardo’s personal crimes and that’s fine. It’s a novel and many novels are graphically violent. (You should read mine.)

But come on, Corrections Canada. Limited access to computers? No access to the internet or email? Only communicate with outsiders by writing? Except with their lawyer? 

I’m calling bullshit.

008It’s taken me four years to become a relatively competent fiction writer and that involved thousands of internet hours in learning the craft of fiction writing and researching material. Hundreds more in drafting a manuscript in Word. Hundreds of emails in networking with editors, proofreaders, formatters, cover designers, marketers, and peer writers. And the time learning the computerization necessary to upload to Amazon…

Nope. Paul Bernardo had help. Lots of help. From the outside, which he didn’t get telepathically. Remember—this guy was already locked up before Amazon was formed.

Jeff Bezos didn’t visit Bernardo in jail to self-publish this novel.  Bernardo sent it to them, ready to go, and Amazon is perfectly within their rights to keep selling it for him. I hope Amazon acts morally and takes it down, but don’t bet on them trashing a BestSeller.

The real issue is the failure of the system to control incarcerated serial killers like Paul Bernardo.

Corrections Canada. Do your fuckin’ job!


Thank you for making No Witnesses To Nothing such a monster success!

garry6This is the perfect example of team players believing in a common goal – writing, publishing, and marketing an AMAZON TOP-TEN BESTSELLER.

Today, after 72 hours of promotion by Amazon’s KDP Select Program and our team, No Witnesses To Nothing went from obscurity to #5 on Amazon’s Kindle Best Selling List in the Horror/Occult genre.

The still-climbing downloads went all over the world; Canada, USA, UK, Denmark, Spain, France, Italy, India, Japan, New Zealand, and Australia. The reviews are coming in and they don’t get better than this from Rene Benziam in Morocco:

“I’ve been waiting for the release of this book for some time and I wasn’t disappointed. I downloaded it yesterday and spent most of the night reading. I couldn’t put it down.” 

I hope this post inspires other writers going through the same lonely, doubting process that I went through. Please believe in your dreams, build your team, and above all…

Never, ever quit!

3D1If you missed the Amazon promo, give me a shout and I’ll download you a free copy.  You can preview it here at:

No Witnesses To Nothing: Garry Rodgers: Amazon.com: Kindle Store

Another thanks… to you as a reader and hopefully a reviewer.

I’m dying to know know what you think.