Amazon International Markets Explained

Amazon has 13 different book markets internationally. But, no matter where you are in the world, when you go to publish your book on Amazon, there is only one Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) that covers all of those markets, and that’s at kdp.amazon.com.

This is a bit odd because if you’re an Amazon Associate, you need to apply for each one of the individual markets. If you’re a shopper, you need a proven Amazon account in each one of the markets. But, not with Kindle Direct Publishing. You just need one account.

So, when we publish, we can either select for Amazon to sell our book in all of their markets or just the original one. But, this begs the questions:

What happens to our book in the other markets?

And…

What can we do to help boost our sales in those other markets?

There are actually steps you can take to help improve your book sales and ranking in markets other than your own. But there are also some limitations and strategies that need to be explored in order to do this correctly.

Therefore, I have created this master guide to help demystify the international book markets of amazon.

In this article, you will learn:

  • What happens to your book in other international markets
  • When an author should market internationally
  • How to optimize your book for more sales internationally
  • The effect of Amazon ads and when (and when not) to do them
  • When and how to translate your book
  • The potential benefits of selling your international rights

Let's dive in!

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What Happens To Your Book in Other International Markets

When you publish your book on Amazon, there are three fields Amazon truly takes to heart to decide what your ‘main’ market is:

  • Selecting your “Primary Marketplace” under Royalty and Pricing (Primary)
  • Selected Language (Tertiary)
  • Chosen Keywords (Tertiary)

The first, “Primary Marketplace” is your direct way to tell Amazon which market you think is the main market for your book.

choosing your amazon primary marketplace

But that isn’t all. When you select the language of the book, Amazon knows how well your book will perform in the other markets. You see, Amazon knows what percentage of shoppers either use that language or buy books in that language. Therefore, some markets are tied closer to each other than others.

Say, for example, you write a Spanish book. Amazon knows that that book will perform well, to varying degrees, in the Mexican, Spanish, and US markets. However, a German book will probably not do well at all in those markets, and so it will be relegated to obscurity.

That's unless a shopper in that market uses a German keyword to shop. And this is where your selected keywords can play a role in the foreign markets.

So, as you can see, Amazon takes into account your selected markets, language, and keywords in order to decide how they will show you in those respective markets. You’re in all of them, but by how much depends on these three inputs.

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Recommendation: Analyze Your International Sales First!

Now that we understand what factors go into Amazon’s decision on your book and how to place it in other markets, let’s talk about when and how an author should take up the below options to help your international sales.

The truth is, if your book is not performing well in your main market, the below options to increase your international sales probably aren't a worthwhile endeavor.

Therefore, to help you decide if you, as an author, should expend precious resources and energy on international sales, I’ve developed the below list. If you meet one of these criteria, then it might be worthwhile to use one or all of the international sales options discussed:

  • Your book is very successful in your main market
  • After checking your sales report you see that your book is doing well in a foreign market
    • Consistent sales over time
    • Even a surge or two–signs that there is popularity brewing
  • You have reason to believe your book would do well in a different market
    • Like having a Spanish book in other Spanish speaking countries
    • Or covering a topic that is gaining popularity in another country

If your book doesn't meet any of these criteria, you can still do the below steps anyway. But you’re probably better off focusing on your main market than trying a new foreign market.

How to Optimize Your Book for More International Sales

Based on the above recommendations, if you decide that you should look at improving your sales or presence in international markets, there are four options or methods you can use to do that.

Method 1: Select Categories in International Markets

A little known fact is that you CAN change your book categories in all the different markets.

However, the number of categories in each market is different. Based on our research from Publisher Rocket, we have the following:

MarketCategory Amount
United States Books5847
United States eBooks4615
United Kingdom Books4351
United Kingdom eBooks1975
German Books3995
German eBooks7347

So, finding the right category in each foreign market can be time-consuming. I have a full article on international categories here. But to sum up the process, here is the easiest way to find international categories and change your book to them.

For those that own Publisher Rocket, you can select a different market and either use the ‘Unleash the Categories' feature to find what other categories books are listed in or use our international categories database to find the right one:

international category gif-min 2
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Once you’ve found the right categories for your book, here is the process to get your book included in those categories:

Step 1: Contact Amazon using this contact link. 

Step 2: If you haven’t signed into your KDP Account, you’ll need to do so now

Step 3: On the left, click “Amazon Product Page and Expanded Distribution”

Step 4: Then select “Update Amazon Categories”

Step 5: Write in the title of the book, ASIN, which market (US, UK, DE, etc) and which category you want to be added to, and or which ones you want to be taken out of.

Example email:

Dear KDP Team,

I would like to update my book's browse categories. Please find the relevant information below.

Kindle Store: DE
Title: My Book Rocks!
ASIN: B01BB4YC78

Categories I’d like to be added to:
Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Krimis & Thriller > Detektivromane > Detektivinnen
Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Krimis & Thriller > Detektivromane > Historische Krimis
Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Krimis & Thriller > Detektivromane > Privatdetektive
Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Krimis & Thriller > Thriller > Psychothriller
Kindle-Shop > eBooks > Krimis & Thriller > Thriller > Übernatürliche Thriller

There you have it. Within 24 hours, you can use Publisher Rocket to check if your book was added to the necessary categories.

Method 2: Selecting Keywords for Other International Markets

When it comes to selecting keywords, you are not able to select a specific set of keywords for each market–otherwise, this would be an AMAZING opportunity for legitimate authors.

Instead, you only get your 7 kindle keyword boxes and those keywords represent your book in all markets.

Kindle keywords boxes

So, what should you do?

Well, this depends on the language of your book:

  1. If your book is in English and you’re looking to expand in the UK, then look at your current keywords and ask if there is a UK variation of the word (Defense, or Defence, etc)
    • If so, then add it inside one of the boxes.
  2. If there is a marketplace that you want to improve in, then consider using one of your 7 kindle keyword boxes for translated versions of your top keywords

This will increase your book’s searchability and discoverability in those respective markets.

And, in case you’re worried, this does not violate Amazon’s keyword rules.

Method 3: Amazon Ads for Other International Markets

One of the best changes in 2019 was the inclusion of many of the markets in the Amazon ads system. However, not all markets follow the same rules. In some Amazon markets, you can’t write a blurb and others are limited in what type of ads you can use.

Currently, you can run ads in the following markets:

  • Amazon.com
  • Amazon.co.uk
  • Amazon.de
  • Amazon.fr
  • Amazon.it
  • Amazon.es
  • Amazon.ca
  • Amazon.com.au

Regardless of which market you are targeting, the dashboard, steps, and functionality are all the same. All you need to do is select your book in the KDP dashboard, select “Promote and Advertise” on the book you want to advertise, and then (on the below screen) select which market you want to advertise in.

running amazon ads for international sales

Then, after that, you can set up the ads just like you would the normal Amazon US ads. However, if you don’t know how to do Amazon ads, be sure to take my full free Amazon Ads course. In it, I show you how to create effective and efficient Amazon ads for both nonfiction and fiction books.

Take My Free Amazon Ads Course

But here’s the big question: Do Amazon ads in other countries work for English books?

The real answer is better than you’d think…even in non-English countries.

According to recent figures, it is estimated that 56% of Germans speak English; and other European countries like France, Italy, and Spain hover around 35-40%.

Better yet, not many authors in those countries, as well as US authors, are advertising in those foreign markets. Therefore, the competition is low and the market is open to your English books.

To experiment with this, we had Todd Brison take his US book and advertise it in Germany. You can see the results in his case study here.

Another example is Marc Reklau. He is a Spanish author who has written both English and Spanish books. When uploading his English book in Germany, he found that Amazon ads kickstarted his process. A book that had made 0 sales in Germany started making consistent sales once he launched his Amazon ads.

Mark Dawson also saw this effect. At first, his books weren’t doing well in the German market. But once he started doing Amazon ads for his English books in Germany, sales started taking off.

The point is, a good book can do well in other markets. But in order to get them out of obscurity, you need to infuse them with traffic and sales–this is where Amazon ads come in. Doing ads in foreign countries can be quite profitable because the competition is low, and many countries speak and read in English.

Method 4: Book Translation — When to Do It and How

Getting your book translated should only be done if you truly believe your book will do well in that market. Translation is a bit of an expensive and tricky situation. It can cost thousands of dollars and, if done poorly, can lead to major 1-star reviews, which will kill your marketing efforts.

Therefore, if you do decide to translate your book for a certain market, be sure that you’ll at least make your money back on the costs of translation. If you’d like to learn more about this and how to do it effectively and efficiently, check out our full article on book translation.

Here are a couple of the services out there that do book translation:

ServiceCost
BabelcubeNothing. But has royalty share.
Today TranslationsInquire for a quote.
Translators BaseBetween $0.03 and $0.22 per word.
First Edition TranslationsInquire for a quote.
Mincor Book TranslationInquire for a quote.
Translation CompanyInquire for a quote.

Getting your book translated by a reputable company can be expensive. You could go with things like UpWork or Fiverr. However, you do run the risk of getting someone who isn’t good and you might end up with a poor product.

So, if you do get your book translated, how do you add it to KDP?

Well, first off, you can’t just make an addendum to your current book. Instead, you need to upload it as its own book. You can see here how Marc Reklau did that with this book 30 Days:

uploading translated books for international markets

So, be sure your book is a good fit for that market, and find the right person or company to translate… don’t skimp on this!

Method 5: Publishers and Selling Your International Rights

Here is a viable option that has major promise: selling your book’s rights to an international publishing company.

I think the best way to discuss this method is through a case study:

Stephen Guice wrote the wildly successful book Mini Habits. A couple of years later, an international book agent contacted him and asked if he could represent him and his book to international publishing companies.

At first, Stephen was a bit taken aback by the approach. However, after doing some extensive research into the agency, he decided to give it a go. In no time, the agent came back with an offer from a Japanese publishing company. I mean, after all, he wasn’t selling any copies in Japan, and nor did he have any plans to translate his book.

What could go wrong?

Nothing. Actually, everything went right. Not only did the Japanese publishing company do an amazing job in translating it, but they also made an incredible cover…

new book covers for international markets

Okay, now I know what you’re thinking, “Dave, you’re joking right? That cover stinks!”

Stephen thought the same thing and became extremely worried. But the Japanese publishing company told him they knew what the Japanese market would like and to trust them on this.

So, he did….and guess what? They were right!

His Japanese version went on to be the best selling self-help book in all of Japan–which is no small feat.

You see, the Japanese publishing company knew that his book was good–the US market had proven this. All they needed to do was market it for Japanese people. This included changing the way his cover looked, how his blurb was presented, and using Japanese-centric marketing tactics. These are all things Stephen couldn’t do himself.

Since then, Stephen has gone on to replicate this process with other markets like Korea and China. Just recently, he informed me that his Chinese book has brought in over $200,000 in revenue.

So, how or when should YOU do this?

Well, if your book is doing extremely well in the US market, there is a good chance foreign publishing companies and agents are already contacting you.

If an agent or publishing company contacts you, you should do some of the following:

  • Look up their agency or publishing company online
  • Type in their agency or publishing company name plus “review” in Google
    • Look to see if someone has left a scathing review on them and their practices
  • Ask them for a couple of US author names that have signed this sort of deal
    • Then contact those authors and see what they have to say

This is because, while Stephen’s international rights story was a major success, there are some horror stories out there.

If you’re looking for an Agent or Publishing Company, here are some things to consider and try:

  • I’d only recommend doing this if your book is successful in the US. If not, agents and publishing companies will disregard you.
  • Find other authors who have done this, and ask them which agents or companies they used.
  • Google search [name of country/market] + publishing company or book agent.

The benefit of selling your international rights can boost your sales in a location where you never would have. So give this a thought, but also do your due diligence in deciding on an opportunity if one presents itself.

In Closing

Most of us already have our books selling internationally. However, most of them are only geared toward one market and therefore wallow in obscurity in the others.

There are some steps you can take to improve your international sales — like changing categories, keywords, advertisements, translations or even working with international publishing companies.

While that might be beneficial, I still caution that authors should only focus on these tactics if they have reason to believe their book will do well in other markets if given the chance. Investing in other markets can be extremely time-consuming — as well as a resource drain. But if done right, as we saw with Marc Reklau or Stephen Guise, it can be a major boon for your sales.

Cheers,

Dave-signature


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32 thoughts on “Amazon International Markets Explained

Comments
  1. David

    Hi love the article

    I’m based in the US.
    And was wondering how does selling books internationally? And even using amazon ads in foreign countries/markets affect taxes? Do we have to file extra forms during tax season? Is there a change when using amazon ads?

    Does anyone have any experience with this?

    1. Dave Chesson

      It doesn’t because Amazon processes all those sales, but pays ‘you’ for the sale. Basically, they handle that pain haha.

      1. David

        Nice thanks

Comments are closed.

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