How to Make a Killing on Kindle: Michael Alvear Interview


Michael Alvear has been a frequent contributor to National Public Radio’s All Things Considered, and his work has appeared in Newsweek, The Washington Post, Reader’s Digest, The New York Times, The Los Angeles Times, and The Huffington Post. He is the author of Make a Killing on Kindle, and today, he's going to answer our burning questions about the 2018 edition.

1. What are some of the big differences in the 2018 edition of Making a Killing on Kindle?

I might as well have made it a whole new book. I revised every chapter and then added ten more! Plus, I developed entire systems for finding categories, high-sales keywords, even a system for writing seductive copy—all with downloadable, customizable worksheets. It literally took me a year of playing around with them to get them right.

Oh, and the other thing that will surprise people? The book is really funny (if I may say so). I’ve always loved writing humor and I took the opportunity to make this book my magnum opus in both serious content and humorous delivery.

2. Can we have a sneak peek of your rankings of the  200+ book promotion sites? Which ones did you find to be the most effective?

These sites are like hookers on a sidewalk trying to get your business—almost none of them deliver what they promise. I don’t think the very top ones are going to be surprises. What is surprising is how many of these sites didn’t even make the cut to “middlin’.” What the list does best is give you a sense of order and priority. You can’t possibly use 200 sites, so which ones do you cut out if they all claim to have massive email lists and social followings?  

3. You have an exclusive heat map to improve sales. Tell us about it!

I commissioned a research company to do an eye-tracking study of book shoppers on Amazon. Where do their eyes fixate? Do they scroll “below the fold”? Do they look at Amazon ads? All will be revealed when the book comes out!

4. You’ve packed this book with 12 downloadable worksheets. What a steal! Which ones are you most excited about giving to your readers?

I’d say it’s a tie between how to select categories and how to optimize your campaign with keywords. Both of these are hard to do and I’ve created the first step-by-step system—with directions—on how to arrive at the right answers for your particular book.

5. What has changed the most in categories and keywords since you first published this book (2013)?

It’s gotten even more confusing! Amazon is to categories and keywords what Godzilla is to city planning!

6. How does SEO play a part in Amazon Kindle?

Let’s say I’m looking for a funny romance novel with a billionaire. I put some combination of the words “romance, comedy, billionaire” in the search engine. It’s only going to pull up books that have those words in the title, subtitle, copy, or in one of the seven keyword search fields in your KDP account. If you have a book that fits the bill but didn’t embed those keywords somewhere in your campaign, you’re going to be looking at a lot of nothing in terms of sales.

7. Your book mentions snazzles. What on earth does this cool word mean?


It’s a word my friend made up to describe how it makes your covers sizzle. A friend is selling them for $60 (for a set of 3). I’m introducing them for the first time to authors in Make a Killing on Kindle 2018 Edition. They are just a terrific way of merchandising your book covers. They impute importance and popularity. Here are some examples:


8. Authors are frustrated because peer reviews can be taken down by Amazon. Oof! What’s an author to do? Do you discuss dealing with Amazon reviews from Facebook friends?

Reviews are hard to get, I’m not going to lie. The only proven way to get them without spending a lifetime cajoling, manipulating, and begging friends and family to do them is to make sure you ASK READERS at the end of your book. And always ask in a particular way—always give them a reason. Studies on influence show that if you give people a reason (not necessarily a good one, but ANY reason), compliance goes up by 50%. So don’t just say, “Write a review.”  Say, “Write a review because you’ll help other people make a sound buying decision.”  Or something like that.

9. Is it possible to sell thousands of books without an online platform, and if so, how?

Blogging, Facebook, and other social media get you closer to sales like jumping up and down gets you closer to the sun. They do not work unless you’re a celebrity so STOP BUILDING YOUR PLATFORM and concentrate on marketing within the Kindle Ecosystem. The money, time, and resources spent on social media could be spent on getting better covers, launching free and $.99 campaigns, and writing better copy.

10. Author Marisa Porter asks, “Do you offer free versions of your book for a period? What are the pros and cons to this method?’’

A lot has been written about this subject so I don’t know that I have a lot to offer on it except that you SHOULD try free/$.99 campaigns because enough authors have had success to warrant trying it.

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Visit Michael's website here, or buy his book here.


An expert editor, seasoned writer, and author-centric marketer, Shayla Raquel works one-on-one with authors and business owners every day. Her blog posts have been featured on popular websites like The Book Designer and Positive Writer. She is the author of the Pre-Publishing Checklist and her novel-in-progress, The Suicide Tree. She lives in Oklahoma with her two dogs, Chanel and Wednesday.