Double your ebook sales with these two words

Two words that doubled my ebook sales in less than 24 hours

PLUS: Ask and it shall be given – sometimes: removal of negative and neutral feedback!

My sales at Kindle were stagnating and I wondered why. So I checked, pretending to be a potential customer looking for elements that might deter me from buying.

I checked the title, then the sample preview and finally, the date of publication. That is when the penny dropped and the potential buyer in me noticed that most of my ebooks were dated two or three years ago, and haven’t been updated since. Now that really would disturb the buyer in me.

So even though I know my books are pretty much evergreen, I did updates and added two words to all of my titles in brackets before the main title. Those two words were: ‘(2016 Update)’.

It worked and my paltry two or three sales a day at Kindle suddenly jumped to six or seven.

For some people, knowing what they buy is up-to-date is vitally important. That doesn’t apply to antiques, of course, or items that don’t age or date, but it’s very important to information products and time-sensitive goods.

This is how to update your products at Kindle, on eBay, Etsy, Amazon and wherever else you sell:

– Look for products with dates in listings or titles or mentions such as ‘101 years old’, ‘best seller in 2015’, that sort of thing. Change those mentions to reflect a new year or several years passing since your products or listings went live.

– Look for images containing dates and other time-sensitive mentions, such as those above. Change your images. A useful example of images that quickly date is wedding invitations: when I checked today, I found hundreds of listings with images showing wedding invitations for fictitious marriages taking place as far back as 2001.

Outdated listings, titles and images give the impression of a lazy seller, and someone who might be just as tardy dealing with customer queries and product deliveries.

Ask and it shall be given – sometimes: removal of negative and neutral feedback!

Feedback: it’s a perennial problem for most eBay sellers, especially where negative and neutral comments are the result of problems outside their control, or given on behalf of rival sellers attempting to discredit their competitors, or by customers whose main aim in life is to upset other people.

So you might receive poor feedback for reasons such as:

  • Delay in sending the product, even though your delivery service has been on strike for several days.
  • The buyer always leaves negative feedback – it’s how he gets through the day!
  • The buyer’s cheque has bounced and you get negative feedback for failing to deliver his order.
  • The buyer opened a dispute and eBay and/or PayPal found it in your favour.

With a few exceptions, eBay says neutral and negative feedback for reasons like those will be automatically removed.

Those exceptions might be, for example, where eBay doesn’t know the cheque has bounced, or that your local Post Office has been closed for a couple of days and your mail is still sitting there.

For the record, this once happened to me, just after I took my mail to my local Post Office and just before the postmistress took a heart attack and died. The office was closed for two days, making my mail a couple of days late in delivery. I got negative feedback, which eBay removed when I proved the reason for late delivery.

Important: eBay says they will automatically remove negative and neutral feedback ‘For buyers who show a pattern of leaving low feedback’. I don’t think that’s true, given my daughter once received negative feedback from a buyer who always left those horrid red dots. eBay did, however, remove the negative feedback on request. Feedback is also removed – automatically – when the person leaving it is no longer registered on eBay.

Additionally, eBay will normally remove negative and neutral feedback on request where comments are obscene, blasphemous or racist, inflammatory or defamatory. I’ve heard it said that eBay also removes comments where a seller threatens legal action against a buyer, which might also render eBay liable for permitting abusive and detrimental comments being made against the seller.

Last but not least, eBay will also consider removing negative and neutral points on request, where the feedback relates to something in your listing which a buyer has not properly understood or has simply ignored.

The example is given of a buyer leaving poor feedback because an item has been used, when the seller made that very clear in his listing. My own pet peeve is negative feedback left by foreign-speaking buyers who don’t understand English. On more than one occasion I have contacted eBay and had the feedback removed.

Top tip: Try sorting out problem feedback with the customer first, and if that doesn’t work, tell eBay why you don’t think the feedback was deserved. Sometimes they will remove it.

The most important message in this is that sometimes eBay will automatically remove derogatory feedback but more often you’ll have to ask!

Learn more here.


  • Don’t respond to negative feedback with rude, abusive comments, like a seller now no longer on eBay used to do. He responded to all neutral and negative feedback using words like ‘Muppet’ and ‘ignorant buyer’. He sold millions of pounds worth of goods on eBay each year, and is no longer a registered user. One reason to remain professional at all times is to encourage buyers to revise their poor feedback, which is unlikely for an abusive seller; the other is to stay on good terms with eBay!
  • Don’t leave your own feedback until your buyer agrees or refuses to amend his entry. If he won’t revise his feedback and eBay won’t remove it, say something like this alongside the unfair comment: ‘Wish buyer had contacted us before leaving feedback. We would have refunded.’

This article first appeared on Auction Genie. Read more and comment here