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How to Sell Books in the UK

More and more of my followers are from the British Isles and the same question keeps popping up, “Is there something different about selling books in England? Should I change my strategy to sell books to the English?”

 

There is a reason my audience is growing in the UK and now is a great time to share my strategy with you for:

How to Break into the British Book Market

At first blush, it seems like selling books in the UK should be a snap.  Most of the world thinks of the US and England as two countries that are joined at the hip.

 

Having lived in Wales, Newcastle, Guildford, and Whitechapel, I can say that looks are deceiving.

 

Often we expect the people to be the same and when we realize that our cultures are quite different, it comes as a shock.

 

Before we tackle our approach to the UK, it's important to talk about the elephant in the room.

Amazon.com is the King

King of Books is Amazon.com

Before you start selling books in jolly old England, it's critical that you focus on your US sales.

 

UK sales will never surpass 25% of your US sales.

 

And most likely they will over around 10%.

The British market exists, but it's much smaller than the American market.

 

That means you should focus all your strategies on the biggest market before you tackle the little brother.

 

Even if you are from England, you should go to the market where you will make the most sales.

 

I focus all my efforts on the US market, whether I'm hunting traffic or reviews, the UK is simply second fiddle.

 

Do you think Harry Potter made more money in his homeland or when he hopped over the pond?

 

All of the primary strategies that I implement are focused on the US market, but this piece is focused on what to do next.

 

British People Like Paperbacks

As you head into this market, it's critical that you have a physical edition of your book available.

 

My paperbacks are currently printed by CreateSpace, but I KNOW that Amazon wants more and more of us to print using the new KDP paperback option.

 

They have opened up these books to wide release, so it's quite possible that CreateSpace will shut down in the near future.

 

Either way, you must have a paperback edition before you hit the UK market.

 

I sell FAR more paperbacks across my catalog in the UK than I do ebooks.

 

Kindles and Kindle Unlimited are much further behind in adoption in the UK.

 

This may shift, but for now you absolutely, positively must have a paperback edition before you try to break into this market.

 

Without one, you won't make any money.

 

I would also recommend a hardback edition.

 

I print my hardbacks through IngramSpark and other than a single $50 setup fee, there are no other big hurdles.

 

This fee is the biggest barrier for most people, but I have some good news.

 

Keep your eyes peeled for coupons – Ingram often has promotions that wave this fee.

 

If you're worried about ISBN numbers, they are a worthy investment.

 

I bought a pack of one hundred last year and they are going to last me a very long time.

British People Have Ears

british people have ears

Just as important as physical copies, you must have audio versions of your books as well.

 

British people commute just as much as Americans.

 

Living in London, I remember the crush on trains at rush hour.

 

It's hard to pull a book out when the subway, or the tube as they call it, is rammed full of commuters.

 

Many of those people are listing to audiobooks and you want to accommodate them.

 

The more versions of your book you have available, the more copies you are going to sell.

 

Don't cut corners and just launch with an ebook.

 

The British market is too small and you'll drown.

Amazon Ads in the UK are Better

The Amazon.com ads platform is atrocious.

 

The technology and reporting are more than a decade out of date.

 

They only opened their API a few months ago to give authors a hope of tracking their data.

 

I have to use third party software to see how much money I spent yesterday and figuring out how many units I sold requires an abacus.

 

It's a nightmare.

 

The UK platform, by comparison, is a dream and allows you to do some VERY cool things.

 

You can sort your ads by day, week or month.

 

You can track performance over time.

 

These basic features are missing on the American platform.

 

If you want to break into the UK market, you cannot avoid Amazon Ads.

 

While I teach many strategies for driving traffic within Breaking Orbit and Kindle Sniper, those strategies don't work in the UK.

A Small Budget is Enough

Each money I spend ten times more money running ads in the US.

 

It's expensive to keep the machine running.

 

Right now British ads are not very competitive and you can get clicks for less than ten pence.

 

Across ALL my ads, I'm currently paying .04 to .08 British pounds per click.

low adspend on ams uk

As you can see from this screenshot of my ads, sorted by CPC (cost per click) they start at 8 pence and only go lower.

 

Notice that my daily budget is just £3 per day.

 

I only have 3 campaigns out of 81 that have ever hit the daily budget and those are now at just £5.

 

Look at these killer ACoS numbers.

 

Almost every single campaign in the UK is profitable without the brutal and expensive testing my USA campaigns required.

Copying and Testing Campaigns is a Breeze

I have similar books and that means that they target the same audiences.

 

Breaking Orbit and 20K a Day are books that the same people want to read.

 

When I'm setting up my USA ads, I have to use a spreadsheet and start each campaign from scratch.

 

It takes HOURS to copy and paste the same campaigns over and over using my spreadsheets.

 

On the British platform, I can copy the Breaking Orbit campaign and with one click of the mouse, I can change to target 20K a Day.

 

I can even run a campaign targetting multiple books.

target multiple products with amazon uk ams ads

Run Ads to your Free and Physical Books

The absolute best feature of Amazon.co.uk's ad platform is that I can finally sell ALL of my books.

 

I have a few coloring books and that is a tough market to break into.

 

It's crowded with low and high-quality books and most authors doing well there rely heavily on luck.

 

They can't explain or replicate their success, so they spend most of their days with their fingers crossed.

 

That's not how I like to do business.

 

Right now, I can only target ebooks in the US store.

 

But in Britain, I can run highly profitable ad campaigns to my coloring books RIGHT NOW.

 

They love physical books and that includes the coloring kind (or should I say colouring?)

sell coloring books on ams uk

My most profitable UK ads campaign is to a coloring book. 😉

 

Run campaigns to the free book at the start of your fiction series and watch the rest of the books fly off the shelves as well.

 

The one caveat is that you MUST find a way to sell a physical copy of your book.

 

One of my friends sells really long collections of books, but unfortunately, his ebook collection is too long to fit into a single printed book.

 

He ran into a wall there and campaigns that worked in the US failed in the UK for this reason.

Welcome Aboard my British Friends

There is a reason that my British following is spiking.

 

I'm pouring money into my UK ads.

 

It feels like the cycle of life – I buy more ads in England, so more English people read Serve No Master and start following this site. They then email me asking for the secret to breaking into the British book market.

 

Selling books in the UK isn't that hard, it's just a smaller market than the US.

 

Once you have a book doing well in the states, it's absolutely worth crossing the pond to make a few more sales.

 

What do you think?  Have you had experience selling books across the pond?  Share with us in the comments below.

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Jonathan Green
 

Living the dream on a tropical island, Jonathan is the author of Serve No Master and the host of the Serve No Master Podcast.

Click Here to Leave a Comment Below 2 comments
Jim Cassidy - August 2, 2018

Very interesting post Jonathan.
One of things US authors, especially in the business, marketing, self help niche, need to realise also is, the majority of Brits prefer to listen to an audiobook in one of the many U.K. accents.
Had a discussion just the other day about this..the group I was with felt an American accent was too much in your face..a bit similar to all those webinars where everything is “awesome” and presenters are so “pumped up”
Maybe the US authors should look to the many UK based voiceovers to see if that, along with your excellent points, would also help boost sales.

Reply
    Jonathan Green - August 7, 2018

    That’s an interesting perspective. I have a british voice for the Serve No Master audiobook, so you may be on to something there.

    Reply

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