What’s dangerous is not to evolve. ~Jeff Bezos
For the moment, Amazon has the upper hand in the book market. There are plenty of competitors fighting to dislodge them, of course. However, Amazon.com is currently providing the most—and the most creative—support for authors and publishers. They want what the authors and publishers want: to sell lots of books. Therefore, do not neglect the wealth of book-marketing tools Amazon offers. As you develop your website, integrate or emulate Amazon.com features.
I don’t mean this post to be a blatant promotion for the online bookseller gorilla in the room, but the more I look into it, the more they have to offer our authors, mostly for free.
Enroll your book. If you are starting from scratch as a self-published author to get your book into the Amazon.com system on your own, you will enroll in the Amazon Advantage program. Unless you like this sort of thing and were born after about 1989, I recommend you hire your Internet tech support person to set this up for you. For the intrepid author, Amazon.com provides all the instructions. Get started here.
Display your book. If you do not have a shopping cart for direct sales on your site or a direct link to your publisher’s cart, then you will be selling your book through Amazon from your website. There’s a bit of an education required to set this up, but once it’s running, sales are clear and channels for promotion are legion. Sign up to be an Amazon Associate.
Build visibility on Amazon. Here is a solid stack of features on Amazon.com available for you to employ. I recommend you get started immediately.
- Beg or bribe friends to post five-star reviews of your book. Reader reviews strongly influence buyers.
- Create a user profile so you can write reviews of related titles. Take the time to write assiduous, useful reviews because these also add to your “expert” status.
- People love lists, and the folks at Amazon know it. Create your own topical list in Listmania to strengthen your position as an expert and a player, with a link back to your site, as well. Obviously, you can include your own books in your list.
- Add images to your product page. There is a link for this just below the picture of your book on the product page. Set your page apart from millions of others.
- Also on your product page, below the reviews, you can add tags that will link your book to keyword searches.
- Add your author profile to your product pages through Author Central. (Check out these examples: William Shakespeare, Delia Smith, Wayne Dyer). Amazon offers a useful Author pages FAQ.
- If you’re already blogging on your own, you can display those posts automatically on your Author Page. Add a blog you already write using an RSS feed.
- Amazon will host a video on your author profile. “Share a video interview, book trailer, or book signing video with your readers.”
- View and edit Amazon’s list of your books. Even if your publisher is responsible for loading the data in the system, it is good to check all the details yourself.
- Opinions fly in the Communities on Amazon. If you have a niche and strong opinions yourself, you may want to participate. And your lists may be tagged in a discussion.
- Offer Search Inside! for your book. Insist that your publisher submit material for your book to the Search Inside! program, or do it yourself if you hold the copyright and marketing/promotion rights to your book. According to Amazon, “The Search Inside! Program helps customers discover your books. With Search Inside! customers can search every word in your book and browse sample pages, helping them find the title that’s just right for them.” You are more likely to buy a music CD if you can hear some sample tracks, right? This is the same for books. Join Search Inside the Book.
- Create a widget for your product page and install it on various pages of your own site. To create widgets, you need to become an Amazon Associate. Check your contract, but if you have the right to sell your own title independently, this is how you do it. Joining is free and you earn up to 15 percent in referrals by featuring Amazon products on your web page.
- Add links and banners to your site. Another way to present your book with a direct product link. Ask friends to place your banner on their sites, too.
- If you hold the digital rights to your book, you can make it available as a Kindle Book on Amazon.com. Enroll your books in Kindle. If your publisher has this responsibility, make sure it gets done.
Even more Amazon resources
- Author and Writing Groups – This page explains, “Amazon.com offers grants for nonprofit author and publisher groups that share our obsession with fostering the creation, discussion, and publication of books.” You may nominate non-profit author and publisher groups for Amazon’s support through a contact link on this page.
- Amazon Content Guidelines – Official guidelines on what is not allowed for selling or publishing on Amazon.com’s site.
- Amazon.com Publishers and Book Sellers Guide – Amazon’s own guide with FAQs and details for selling books on Amazon.
- Amazon Encore – Amazon’s program for promoting little-known authors with a growing readership based on rave reviews.
- Tools for Nonprofits. Amazon.com is able to support nonprofit organizations to raise awareness, collect needed supplies, and solicit funds. Amazon customers support thousands of nonprofits and worthy causes. You have to admit this is a powerful additional use of the machine they have built.
What we want to be is something completely new. There is no physical analog for what Amazon.com is becoming. ~Jeff Bezos