Why Authors Should Learn to Love Amazon’s Freebies



Learning to Love Amazon’s Freebies

 

By Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Award-winning writer of fiction and poetry and
author of the multi award-winning 
#HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers



 

 

Even with a publicity background, I stepped in lots of mucky publicity potholes when my first novel was published. Here on the four phases of my disillusionment:

 

  • I thought that hiring a professional was the only way to go—after all I had once been a New York publicist! so it was only natural to suppose that, right?
  • When I realized that book promotion not only offered but that it pretty much demanded processes that were different from the PR I had done professionally, I thought I had to hire one. And due to my frugality, I hated that, but I did it anyway.
  • When I realized I didn’t have to spend money and reclaimed my independence, I fell into shooting publicity bullets at…well, if not really the wrong audience, then certainly not the audience that would buy the most books.
  • I was new at the self-publishing part of my writing life, so I believed the misinformation I was hearing from authors who were determined to avoid Amazon.

 

Of course, I was dead wrong on all accounts. Primarily because when we learn new rules, they always seem so didactic. They leave no middle ground. I had to learn the hard way from each of first three phases. Luckily, I learned quite quickly that if Amazon sells 60% of the world’s books, they couldn’t be all bad even though my author friends loved to hate it.

 

So, I am now an Amazon fan who chooses to skirt the parts that seem antagonistic to a writer’s goals or research them to find why Amazon does those things. Most often, I learn something new (and positive) from that search. It is worth the effort. It is, after all, a great place to find people who read.

 

My favorite Amazon tool is a free KDP feature that lets authors (or publishers) dress up their book’s buy pages with quotes and images. Find the one my publisher did for the third edition of the winningest book in my series for writers, The Frugal Editor from Modern History Press. Self-publishers can do it, too, directly from their magical KDP bookshelf.

 

My second favorite is the profile page Amazon does for authors. It is w-a-ay underused by authors. When your readers use the “follow” icon on your profile page, Amazon pings all of those who followed with announcements of your newest book. The thing is, your readers need to know about the page even if they prefer not to be pestered with frequent emails. They will want to know about each of your new books! It’s free and it works. One of my mottoes is, “For a promotion to work you gotta promote the promotion.” So, here are some reasons to love profile pages and to get one for yourself:

 

  • If you’re self-published, you’re in charge of your own profile page. If you’re under contract to a publisher, you might have to ask them to do it, or give Amazon permission for you to do it for yourself.
  • It’s a great way to reach some of the readers you would otherwise never know about. Amazon never shares the names of people who have looked at your page or purchased your book, but they will share your book with those readers.
  • Amazon is a huge search engine where your book gets more exposure with the key words you or your publisher supplied when they installed your book on this wondrous online bookstore.
  • Every time you participate in one of Amazon’s features—that might be a review you post for your favorite books—your name links back to that page.
  • If you have a series, Amazon now offers a free series page where your new readers can order all the e-book versions of your books with one click. Amazon’s logarithms love that, too, and it helps with Amazon’s searches. (See the next bullet for more on their logarithms!) To see an example, go to mine at https://www.amazon.com/dp/B0BTXQL27T
  • Every time you participate in any Amazon feature—like your profile page—Amazon’s logarithms get a little nudge. With enough nudges, you might be amazed at how much free promotion you’ll get—some of which you’ll never know about until the logarithm is so happy it makes it happen and a friend or reader tells you about it.

 

So take a look at how I installed and fancied my profile page up with a biography. I also importing all my self-published titles from my bookshelf at AuthorCentral bookshelf in addition to traditionally published ones. I made a short, memorable link (no gibberish or codes!) for it. Real words are more memorable—and better marketing—than a string of html. To get people to come (and help ping that logarithm), I put an invitation to follow me there in most of my email signatures. If you haven’t seen one, check mine at https://bit.ly/CarolynsAmznProfile.

            

            One thing you should know: Rumor has it that Amazon claims to “own” any writing you post. In my The Frugal Book Promoter I explain that this is misinformation using a quotation directly from Amazon as proof. Authors still maintain rights to use the reviews or anything else they write and put on Amazon. (Amazon may use it, too, but they have never used anything of mine. If they ever should, I will cheer rather than gripe. And, yes, even try to find the person responsible to thank them for the great exposure!

 

MORE ABOUT THE BLOG CONTRIBUTOR


Carolyn Howard-Johnson tries to share something she hopes might save some author from embarrassment (or make the task of writing more fun or creative) with the subscribers and visitors to Karen Cioffi’s Writers on the Move blog each month.

She is the author of the multi award-winning #HowToDoItFrugally. Series of books for writers including the third edition of its flagship book The Frugal Book Promoter and, more recently, the third edition of The Frugal Editor from Modern History Press. Find both (among her others in that series) on the new Amazon Series page. The new edition of The Frugal Editor book has been fully updated including a new chapter on how backmatter can be extended to help readers and nudge book sales.

 

 

5 comments:

Terry Whalin said...

Carolyn,

Thanks for this interesting article which shows me again a principle I've learned in publishing: activity--even a little activity--will set off other actions like affecting a response from Amazon. I found it fascinating.

Terry
author of Book Proposals That $ell, 21 Secrets To Speed Your Success (Revised Edition) [Follow the Link for a FREE copy]

Karen Cioffi said...

Carolyn, thanks for these helpful tips on using Amazon to it's fullest for promotion. And thanks for sharing some of the pitfalls you fell into on your marketing journey.

Linda Wilson said...

Carolyn, I agree with you, Amazon has some terrific features. Regarding the KDP features involving quotes and images, I'm wondering if you mean the A+ feature? That is a great tool and can be created by authors at no charge, although I hire a company, 100 Covers, do create A+ content for my books. They do a terrific job. The author profile page is good, too, although that page has changed. In the past that page included authors' blog pages and lots of information. Now, the key information is included, which is a great way for readers to get to know authors. You listed lots of other Amazon features I haven't made use of yet. Thank you for such a helpful list. I will be taking advantage of all the features you have showcased.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Glad you found it useful, Linda. Yes, that would be the A Plus feature. My publisher did it for me but the publisher on file has to do for the traditionally published. Self-publishers can do it themselves. My “The Frugal Editor” page is a good example of it and you don’t have to scroll very far to get this visual buying aid. https://www.amazon.com/dp/1615996001.
Glad you found somebody good to help you with this. I am not good with finding images for illustration, so it would be doubly helpful for me. I still have to do all my poetry books.
Hugs,
Carolyn

Carolyn Howard-Johnson said...

Terry, do you know a secret way of tracking all the “activity” you’ve been discovering? So much of Amazon’s goes unrecognized because they don’t notify the authors!
Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Author of the multi award-winning HowToDoItFrugally Series of books for writers

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