Authors who self-publish know Amazon is their friend. Author considering self-publishing learn this fact pretty quickly in the game. Aaron Shepard's book Aiming at Amazon should be mandatory reading and so should Morris Rosenthal's POD Book Publishing.
Simply put, both advocate driving your business to Amazon as your primary point of sales. The reasons for this are spelled out clearly in both books, particularly in Aiming at Amazon. The Long Tail and the so called virtuous thinking of Amazon's search engine which moves a book up higher in the results based on sales make this a sound business or marketing plan.
So, every POD author who self-publishes or uses an Author Services company to get their book in print and listed on Amazon is interested in marketing practices to improve their sales on Amazon. If you are interested in using Amazon's own CreateSpace, you may be interested in my own book on self-publishing, Self-Publishing with Amazon's CreateSpace.
I have come to the following conclusions about this process that might be helpful to others.
1) You have to have a good book for which there is a market. Otherwise, this is all a waste of time.
2) Ignore the book Sell Your Book on Amazon. I did not and wasted a lot of time and had no results to show for the time spent.
3) Take your time and work your way through the myriad of details in Shepard's Aiming at Amazon.
4) Understand that there is very little you can do once you have worked at the features of Amazon to improve things for your book by continuing to direct all of your time and energy JUST on the features on Amazon.
5) All of the real experts say it takes time for a good book to reach its full potential on Amazon and for the Long Tail to kick in and boost sales in the virtuous cycle.
Having tweaked all that can be tweaked on Amazon, what more can author do?
The answer is quite a bit actually, it just cannot be done on Amazon. This does not mean you can ignore Amazon. You will need to check your product page to make sure quirky things don't happen, to make certain the book is listed as in stock and available and to monitor sales ranking and estimated sales.
But your primary marketing efforts will have to take place somewhere else in order to create demand for the book. Then you must successfully drive your customers to Amazon to purchase your book. The more customers go to Amazon to purchase your book, the more Amazon will boost the book up the list when the book's topic is searched for. Amazon's other features will start kicking in, presenting the book more often to potential customers and best of all, many of these customers will be predisposed to purchasing your book.
More about marketing your book away from Amazon in Part II.