Luring Book Buyers: Getting the Most Out of Your Amazon Page

For authors promoting their books, there are so many methods of marketing online that one can often overlook the most essential platform second to your website: your Amazon book page. Much like your website, this is your showcase—but unlike your website, you’re not allowed the same freedom to design beyond Amazon’s basic infrastructure. So, if your page will appear at least superficially like everyone else’s, how will you hook a potential reader in those very first seconds he or she is scanning your page? How will you stand out? Here are our top 6 hints.

1. Create an Author Amazon Central Account
Make sure you or your publisher has created an Amazon Author Central account for you. The biggest advantage? More visibility for all of your titles. This means that even if a fan only remembers your name and that you have a new book, but doesn’t recall the title of the book, he or she can see your entire literary portfolio just by searching for your name and finding your Amazon Author Central profile. (In any kind of marketing, always minimize the steps between navigation and purchase.) For self-published authors, an Amazon Author Central account allows the ability to play with pricing, view your rankings, create a “See Inside” excerpt option, and more. Of course, Amazon has reasons for providing free Amazon Author Central profiles, but that does not negate the fact that authors stand to benefit from them.

2. Be a Pro
Make a smart investment and get a professional photo taken for your author page. You wouldn’t create a LinkedIn or a Match.com profile without a photo, or a book without a jacket! Your Amazon Author page is no different. In a world where readers can and wish to engage with authors in tangible, interactive ways, using a photo is the first step toward proximity with your reader. Aim for warm and attractive but professional. (What if I’m a first-time author? Do I need a bio? Yes. Discuss other experience in your profession or outside writing relevant to the book you’re promoting.) Spend as much time and energy crafting your bio as you would your book synopsis. And then have both edited by someone you trust.

3. Cultivate Virtual (and Visual) Introductions
With your account now established, add any social media platforms – your blog, Twitter feed, youtube, etc. – to your book page. You don’t want to create a virtual circus, but you do want to encourage readers to stay on your page, latch to you on Twitter, and get introduced to you in the way they feel most accustomed to (many people are visual, and might prefer a youtube interview as a means to vet your value; others might prefer your tweets and blog writing for a sense of whether your narrative style generally appeals to their taste). If possible, provide both textual and visual additions to your page. Here is an example of an author’s book page that even links Shelfari discussions to prompt conversation.

4. Get the Reviews that Matter Most
You’re clamoring for a review in the New York Times or Washington Post, but you haven’t noticed that, in the 2 weeks your book has been on sale, you’ve only garnered 4 reader reviews. (If you have noticed, you’re focused on that 2.5 out of 5 star review. Why?!) Is it more important to have the stamp of critical approval, or masses of real readers who cannot vocally contain their enthusiasm for your book? As recent successes of self-published books have taught us, it isn’t always mainstream publicity that moves the needle. Real readers appreciate the testimony of other real readers. An Amazon page with dozens and dozens of largely positive reviews is far more impressive, no matter how your book was published, than a book with a blank reviews page, suggesting that no one is reading it!

5. Do Not Neglect…
Because many of us still think by the laws of hardcovers (i.e. blurbs have to be in by a certain deadline, and book publicity has an expiration date), authors can forget that, with the advent of the Amazon page, it is never too late to obtain a great book endorsement. Continue, or prod your publisher, to add editorial reviews and blurbs as they come in, well after publication. Aim to max out your page’s capacity with all of the virtuous things that might be said about your book. While Amazon has been known to make “fake” reviews from you or your relatives disappear, sending a mass email to friends and colleagues asking for reviews often brings unexpected results. And did you know you can also ask readers to submit a review on the last page of your book?

6. Optimize Keywords for Search
You don’t need to be technology-savvy to optimize your book page to be findable among the thousands of titles on Amazon. Adding tags and categories related to your book’s topic means you can make a grab for any reader looking for books like yours. According to this comprehensive article on optimization, “popular tags generate communities and discussions around them, and if your book features in such discussions, it can be a real boon to sales.” And if you’re not doing so already, think along the same lines for your blog. Is there a nice repetition of keywords? Do these words correlate to subjects discussed in your book? Are you using “hot” search words on most or all pages of your site? (Find out with Google Sandbox.)

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The above tips apply to all authors: self-published or traditionally published, and everything in between. If you’re working with a publisher, make sure you’re granted access to your Amazon Central account so you can integrate and update frequently. Or if you’re entrusting everything to your publisher, it’s worth sharing a comprehensive document of everything you’d like to see integrated, and checking regularly with your editor to see that new blurbs and reviews are added.

A final word: don’t rely on your Amazon page to do your marketing for you. Most people still come to Amazon with a specific title in mind, meaning they have learned about the book elsewhere. But using the tips above, you may just be able to get seen while they’re there.

Examples of stellar Author Amazon pages:
Tim Ferriss, The 4-Hour Chef (interactive videos)
Mohsin Hamid: Moth Smoke (intriguing photo, lots of reader reviews!)
Rosie Schaap: Drinking with Men: a Memoir.(short critical reviews, intriguing concise bio)

Read More:
Amazon Categories Create Bestsellers
How Amazon Saved My Life

Priming the Pump: Selling Your Book on Amazon Isn’t As Easy As It Seems 

 

 

 

 

David Bodanis

"Writer and futurist Bodanis imparts fresh insight into the genius—and failures—of the 20th century’s most celebrated scientist...This provocative biography illuminates the human flaws that operate subtly in the shadows of scientific endeavor." — Publishers Weekly