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Amazon Tips for the Up-and-Coming Author
New authors can have an uphill battle ahead of them in regard to getting attention for their books, and knowing avenues to assist with that struggle can be helpful. For instance, Amazon can be beneficial in getting your books into readers’ hands through these concepts:
Free Book Promotion
In order to take advantage of a free promotion on Amazon, you have to join KDP Select. What is KDP select, you might ask? It essentially means you’ve promised Amazon your book will not be available in electronic format through any other site. The bad news is that this decision rules out any other company you could use to digitally distribute your book. Any time you have to limit yourself in this way, you should stop and give it very real thought. If you just can’t bring yourself to box your book in like this, skip this section!
The good news for KDP Select is that you don’t have to stay enrolled. When the time comes to renew, you can simply decline the offer, and when your membership expires, you’re free to digitally sell your book where you want. This means you can take advantage of these KDP benefits, and then step away from the program to expand your book horizons. While you’re enrolled, as well, you can post scenes and excerpts from your book for promotional methods, so it doesn’t prevent you from pushing your book in that way.
Now that KDP Select pros and cons have been covered, let’s get into free book promotion’s benefits! What this means is that for a time, your book is available for free through Amazon. You might be wondering why in the world you’d want to give your book away, but keep in mind that when you begin as a writer, you don’t have a J.K. Rowling fanbase. You’re not known, overall, and you have to catch your readers’ eyes. One great way to get readers to give you a chance is to offer them one of your books for free.
If you do this, readers are being introduced to your stories and writing style without it costing them a penny, so you’re reaching audiences who might have been reluctant to part with money for a new author. Maybe they’ll love your book and leave a review to draw in more readers. Perhaps they’ll adore it and be a life-long fan. If either of those things happen, you win!
This is a particularly great strategy to utilize if you’re promoting a series since readers can become invested in the first book, and then have to pay for the rest of the series. See? It can be an effective marketing tool!
Keep Your Author Page Up-To-Date
One of the perks of utilizing Amazon as an author is the Author Central page that allows you to create a page for yourself. This page can include a picture of you, your biography, and other details that a reader might find interesting. For this reason, keep your page current so your reader isn’t finding the release date to last year’s book noted with “Look for my upcoming novel!” These kinds of discrepancies can have a reader believing you don’t care enough about writing to keep these details accurate, which can be a poor representation of how passionate you are about writing or how appreciative you are of your readers. After all, you’re giving them outdated information!
Since you can also list upcoming events on your Author Central page, being current becomes more pressing. If you’re going to be at a book signing next month, make sure your readers know they can find you there by letting them know on your author page. This way, you’re boosting the odds of meeting your fans face-to-face and revealing how seriously you’re taking this writing business.
You can also upload interviews, trailers, or other media to your author page, and this concept elevates the already mentioned details of showing your readers they matter and keeping your details up-to-date. An interview, as an example, allows your readers to get a look into you as an author, and a book trailer can promote that new release you’ve been working on for over a year. These details, however, are at their most effective when they’re dealt with in a timely manner. A reader might be less likely to care about a book trailer for a novel they read three years ago, and an interview about how you felt when you were at that book signing five years ago feels dated and irrelevant. For these reasons, keep that author page current!
Quickly Add Your Books
One detail that you certainly should consider with your Amazon author page is what books show up on your site. If you don’t show your readers all of your available books, the odds that they’ll overlook one or two elevate drastically, so be sure to keep your list of books current.
Fortunately, Amazon makes doing this very easy. All you need to do is sign into Author Central, click on “Books,” and then click on “Add More Books.” From there, you can search for books that need to be added, and then claim them with the “This is my book” response. After a bit of time, the book will show up on your author page, and readers can find all of your available books just by going to your site.
Keep an Eye out for Bad Reviews
Sometimes, little to nothing can be done about bad reviews. Even if a person is just choosing to be mean, there’s little you can do to counter that negativity if it’s technically about your book. Other times, however, people with too much time and too many cruel intentions can discolor your book’s reviews by adding 1-star ratings with descriptions that don’t fit your book. Trust me! I’ve had this happen! Two reviews were on my books that were plagiarized from a website and concerned books that were very much not mine.
Luckily, Amazon seems good about taking care of these details. I reported both of these instances with links to the plagiarized reviews and had my friends take action as well, and both of the reviews went away. Had I not looked to see those reviews, though, they could still be there and hindering my sales. Basically, keep checking on your books, and if something looks fishy, report it!
As great as Amazon seems, it pays to be aware. While Amazon is one of the main online sellers in the world, they’re not the most author-friendly venue. For instance, all book reviews do not make it onto the site, and some of them can just disappear if the site decides they’re not appropriate or relevant—such as reviews that are from people you know or people you gave free books to for a review.
One problem, of course, is that Amazon does not know everyone know, but still makes these kinds of calls. Beyond that idea, authors logically utilize the free-book-for-review idea, particularly in the early stages of a career. So if you’re going to offer free books for reviews, think about directing reviewers to other sites so that reviews won’t vanish on a whim if Amazon decides they’re not appropriate.
Additionally, you might want to brush up on rules and regulations since it’s very easy to step over-the-line in regard to what Amazon will and won’t allow on their product reviews. For instance, you can’t post a URL to a product outside of Amazon. If you have a review deleted, by the way, you don’t get another try at it. You’re basically banned from reviewing that product.
It’s also worth noting that you can’t review your competitors, which means authors who review your book might have their reviews refused or deleted, and you have to spend a certain amount of money on Amazon before you can post a review.
None of this means you shouldn’t utilize Amazon for reviews, but be sure you’re keeping tabs on what can and can’t be done there, and encourage your reviewers to post their reviews on other platforms. If not, all of your good critiques could fade.
If you take the time to educate yourself on these details, Amazon can be used to promote your book in a number of ways. Since it’s such a big online organization, why not give it a try?