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Independent Authors: How Apple Compares to Amazon

Two platforms dominate in the independent publishing arena: Apple and Amazon.

Historically, many independent authors avoided Apple because a Mac was required to get published, but recently Apple has eliminated this requirement and it is now remarkably similar to Amazon.

If you are scratching your head wondering which platform would work best for you, keep reading!

Getting Published on Apple Books

Apple has a landing page that is dedicated to authors, and a perk is that it also gives you the option to upload your book to the Apple Book store through their online browser-based port and/or iTunes Connect. Learn more about this process and tips on how to set up your book on this Reedsy blog post. You can access the store through the Apple Book app, which you can obtain from any Apple device.

How to Get Noticed on the Apple Books Store

Every author wants to be noticed and have their book make the “Bestsellers List’, and to do this, your content needs to get noticed by the Apple Book Store curators.

The Apple Books merchandising team notices and promotes books that set Apple apart from Amazon. This process differs from Amazon, as they rely solely on algorithms for their featured books.

So, how do you catch the practiced eye of the Apple merchandising team? Start by doing a little selling of your own.

There are several categories to target to get noticed, including:

  • Bestsellers

  • New This Week

  • Limited Time Offer

  • Read It Before You Watch It

  • Coming Soon

  • First in Series

How to Grab Rankings and Hit the Charts

Of course, you want to grab rankings and hit the charts with your book. Whether Amazon or Apple, bestsellers always get the most attention and visibility, as they are typically showcased on the ‘Featured’ page and at the top of the next two tabs.

With both Amazon and Apple, Top Charts are split between free and paid, ranked by the number of recent sales

So how do you know whether Apple or Amazon gives you a better chance at topping the charts? Let’s explore this further.

Keywords Take Center Stage: Title and the Description on Apple

Do you have to be a wordsmith or SEO specialist to make it on Apple?

This answer is a bit frustrating: kind of.

It helps if you have a basic knowledge of the audience you want to reach and the keywords they are searching for in order to grab the treasured top spots. Discovering this is a combination of intuition and keyword research.

The categories and subcategories are difficult to find with Apple. You can find them in the relatively hidden drop-down menu on the homepage sidebar or go to the ‘Categories’ tab in the navigation bar.

Categories are listed as top-level first, like Sci-Fi or Fantasy, and then leads to ‘Collections’ where you can further tailor each main category into niche genres. Take note of the naming protocols used for both the main and niche categories to utilize the appropriate keywords in your title and description.

To find exactly what they want to purchase, readers use the search function (where they will find your accurately named title and subtitle). Bear in mind that readers also use keywords to hunt through subtitles and author name. From there, the book’s ranking is often the deciding factor.

Does your book have to sell well to gain rank?

This is a chicken-and-egg situation. Yes, selling more books improves ranking, but the keywords you use in your title, subtitle, and description matter substantially and will increase your ranking so more people can find your book. So, in a nutshell, both are important.

During a keyword search, even books that don’t sell well come up using a keyword search if the keyword search matches the words in the title or subtitle. Clearly, on the Apple Store, an exact or nearly exact keyword search help ensure that your book comes up first.

Does your book blurb/description matter?

Although keywords in the blurb/description are not as impactful as the wording of the title, they do matter and will help ensure that your book comes up in a generalized query.

Sales and Downloads Matter: Apple vs. Amazon

Does a bestseller always lead the way on Apple and Amazon?

Yes……. and no. One important distinction to be aware of is that Apple counts both free and paid downloads but Amazon prefers sales.

Apple Books’ search algorithms take sales and downloads into consideration for ranking, even though it’s not apparent in the ranking like it is on Amazon. If no keyword matches a reader’s inquiry, then sales and downloads matter most to rank on Apple Books.

If my book is free, will it still rank?

Interestingly, Apple Books also doesn’t appear to discriminate against sales or downloads which means a free book that is downloaded more frequently can rank over a book for sale.

Amazon’s search algorithm, however, is geared towards higher-priced sales. Amazon weighs free downloads at only 1/100th of a sale.

When comparing Apple to Amazon, keywords always matter, but on Amazon, the use of keywords is more important to drive sales to adhere to Amazon’s algorithms.

Because of Apple’s human curation of posts, and its ability to prioritize ranking over sales (even if your book is free), Apple may be a more effective platform for independent authors who are just starting out. For established authors with a loyal audience, book sales are likely more important, and Amazon’s platform could be a better fit.

Digital Content Creators Can Help

Publishers and independent authors are facing unprecedented challenges in garnering the attention of potential readers as well as getting their books to market. No longer is it enough to just have great content. It is now essential to have that content create an experience for their readers.

Besides the competition of other books, authors and publishers face the daunting task of competing with free quality content, the attention span of the new generation of readers and the emerging immersive technology that will yet again disrupt the publishing industry.

Digital Content Creators is uniquely positioned to assist both publishers and independent authors to create and implement a strategy that includes all aspects of this brave new publishing world.

We want to help your book get in front of the largest audience possible. Contact us today to get started.


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