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News room: A is for Amazon Algorithm: How to Keep Your Books Listed

A is for Amazon Algorithm: How to Keep Your Books Listed by Jessica Barrah

For anyone selling print on demand books online, the majority of sales tend to come via Amazon. However, there are a few issues that can affect the way your book is listed. In this article we show you some tips and tricks to keep it available for purchase.


With millions of people worldwide who already have Amazon accounts, it’s easy for customers to buy your book with just a few clicks. Plus, Prime members get free delivery. So Amazon is likely to be a key part of your print-on-demand book sales. However, there are a few issues that can affect the availability of your book on Amazon. Alas, we don’t have any control over the Amazon algorithms but we’ve spoke to others in the supply chain and we can show you a few tactics that may help.

Setting Up Your Book on Amazon

When publishing with CompletelyNovel, you’ll ask us to upload the files to the distributors (Lightning Source International) when your book is ready. When approved, the distributors sends details to Amazon as well as other retail sites and book databases. In around 2-3 weeks your book should be listed on Amazon. And that’s that, right? Unfortunately not.

Some authors might find that their book when first listed on Amazon will say ‘Temporarily Out of Stock’ or with an estimated delivery date of 1-2 months. Obviously this is not ideal. When we contacted the distributors and Amazon about this they said:

“Amazon’s system contains an algorithm that uses data to produce a turnaround time for titles displayed on their website. Lack of data produces results such as ‘Temporarily out of stock’ (…) the more orders that pass through Amazon’s system the more realistic the turnaround time as their system can then calculate based on the data that passes through it.”

A similar thing can also happen with books that have been on Amazon for a while, if books aren’t being ordered regularly or if there’s no activity such as clicks or views on the book’s sales page. Amazon’s system may automatically change the lead time and eventually display as ‘temporarily out of stock’. If the book page hasn’t seen any activity for a long time, the book will no longer be offered as a print on demand title, and only second hand copies will be listed for sale.

So what can you do about this situation?

When the book is first uploaded, it can help if you or friends order the book to provide data for the algorithm, so that it will show ‘In Stock’. You should be able to order normally, despite the ‘out of stock’ sign. Your book, as a print on demand book can never actually be ‘out of stock’, since copies can be printed as and when they are needed. The more books that are sold, the more data the algorithm has to base the ‘turnaround’ times on.

No one outside Amazon can be exactly sure how to ‘manage’ the algorithm they use, but recently things do seem to be changing. We have noticed that Amazon occasionally have not listed a book as ‘in stock’ until they have received enough orders to justify ordering a larger batch of books to keep in stock in their warehouse.

But even if you have a large marketing push when your book first launches, you will want to keep your book listed for as long as possible. With millions of book titles on Amazon, to sell your book you need to continue marketing it to keep it available for purchase.

Getting More Clicks

The good news is that even if the books are not being sold, if potential customers just click on the page it can make it more ‘popular’. Getting more views and ‘clicks’ on your book page is the aim, and hopefully therefore selling more in the long run. In order to do this, you need promote your book more. How can you do this?

Set Up An Amazon Author Page

One of the easiest ways of getting more visibility and popularity with the Amazon algorithm is setting up an author page. Just go to Amazon’s Author Central and link to all your books. Your can also add photos and information about yourself.

Easy Ways to Link to Your Book

Face to face contact with readers is wonderful – but be sure to get their email address for your mailing list! Because you want people to click on your book page, using email and social media is the best and easiest way to promote your book.

Do create a ‘footer’ in your emails with a link to your book.

Are you on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram? Be sure to have a ‘pinned’ link to your book with an image of the front cover at the top of your page, and links to your book, your Amazon author page, and your website in your profile.

You don’t want to bore people with the same old messages about buying your book, but do be sure to link to it if you’re putting on or attending any events linked to your book, or can link your book to something else in the news.

Start a regular blog or newsletter about the topic your book deals with, (or writing and self-publishing in general) and always contain links to your book within it.

The good news is that all these methods will help sell more of your books, as well as maintaining the listing on Amazon.

If you have any tricks or tips to keep your books popular on Amazon, please do share them with our community of authors.

Further reading:

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Written by
Jessica Barrah
Published on
Publishing, Self-publishing, Amazon, Algorithm, Books, Authors, and Writing