You know that best friend from high school or college? The one you hung out with everyday, who knew all your most embarrassing secrets (but liked you anyway) and the one who would do absolutely anything for you and you them? Well now that you’re an author, you have a BFF who is supremely loyal, super helpful and there for you 24/7/365. No, we’re not talking about your mom. We’re talking about Amazon. Trust us, they’re a whole lot more than just a humongous online store. They have an almost bottomless toolbox of services and programs designed to help authors promote their books to the millions and millions of Amazon customers worldwide.
But despite all their efforts, a surprising number of authors are giving Amazon the cold shoulder. They’re either unaware or don’t take advantage of all the creamy goodness Amazon is offering. Big mistake. Huge, even. But no worries. Amazon is totally chill. Even if you’ve been blowing them off, you can still swing by the author party. In fact, we’ll be your host for the evening. You ready for a guided tour of the palatial Amazon estate? Great, let’s get started.
Welcome, come on in
Amazon’s Author Central is the entrance to the Amazon kingdom. It contains all kinds of great features and benefits if you know where to look. Unfortunately, some authors just drop off a short bio and a hastily snapped photo and bolt out the door without stopping to take a look around. C’mon inside, let me take your coat and I’ll give you the rundown of what those authors are missing:
Let’s get cookin’
Now that you’ve seen all the bells and whistles in the foyer, let me show you the heart of the Amazon palace—or any home really—the kitchen. This is where the Amazon e-commerce geniuses really show their stuff with a smorgasbord of promotion and merchandising options. Authors who don’t take the time to learn about them are doing themselves and their book a disservice.
Detailed information about all of these programs is available on the Kindle Direct Publishing site but as with any kitchen the real magic happens when you figure out how to combine all the ingredients in creative ways. For instance, rather than just sending out a tweet about your book, offer to gift a free copy of the book to the first five people who email you the last word found in the sample chapter. (Just make sure you’re not breaking any of the rules if you signed up for Kindle Unlimited) It won’t cost very much and even the people who don’t win might be tempted to take a look at your book.
Don’t leave money on the table
Everyone help yourself to a beverage before we leave the kitchen and follow me down this hall—watch your step on the stairs—to the luxurious home office/library. This is where the Amazon folks fire up the full power of their money machine to help their customers take full advantage of every opportunity. One of the best ways they do that is with the Amazon Associates Program. As an Amazon Associate, you actually get paid to help sell almost any product on Amazon. They have over a million different products and they provide you with simple tools for generating links and banners to use on your website or social media accounts. (Just like the one above which you can totally feel free to click on if you want to.) You not only make money from selling your book, you make money from selling anything on Amazon. And the best part? It’s free. Yup, no signup fees, no membership fees, nah-da. Heck, they even given you the ability to set up your own custom Amazon store on your website or blog. Yeah, that cha-ching sound you’re hearing is all the money going into your bank account.
Get out there and mingle
Circling back towards the main section of the residence, we arrive at the living room, the prime gathering spot for hanging out and chatting up friends both old and new. This is commonly known as the reviews section where people provide their thoughts about books they love, hate and everything in between. Most authors know about the importance of getting reviews for your book but how many actually take the time to respond to those reviews? If someone took the time to read your book and felt strongly enough to leave their thoughts, it’s kinda rude not to respond. Even if they didn’t like your book, their feedback can be valuable. Just be careful about getting too defensive or even worse, becoming argumentative or abusive. There’s nothing to be gained from getting into it with a reviewer and everything to lose. Bottom line, get into the habit of checking for reviews on your book page and take the time to respond. It will build goodwill with readers and show you care.
Kickin’ it old school
The last stop on our tour is the full print shop set up in the east wing. Seems a little strange for a mega-retailer known for starting the ebook revolution to have an old school print shop but some people still prefer to read physical books. Yeah, we don’t understand it either but to each their own. We don’t judge. As a self-published author, the cost of printing and distributing thousands of print copies of your book is simply out of reach. Luckily, Amazon offers the CreateSpace print on demand service so authors can easily make their books available in print format without all the upfront costs. It also opens up all kinds of promotional opportunities for signed giveaways, on-site book signings and gifts to libraries and schools. It’s not likely to shoot your book to the top of the bestsellers list but anything that gets your work in front of more people is a step in the right direction.
Oops, look at that word count. We’re already up over 1,400 words again and we haven’t even touched on author websites or social media yet. Looks like this topic is going to extend into Part 3 at the very least. In the meantime, if you've seen Amazon’s tools being used in creative, interesting and fun ways, drop us a line and let us know. We’d love to hear about it.