August 27, 2007
QUESTION: I’m an author with a new book. Which Amazon features work best for promoting books? For instance, is becoming an Associate still worthwhile? What about the feature that lets readers look inside your book? I am curious to see what’s worked or not worked for others.
ANSWER: Congratulations on your new book. Several Amazon programs enable you to promote your book effectively and at virtually no cost. I have tested most of the programs myself and consulted with other authors on their effectiveness.
Your top priority: Amazon customer reviews. Find people to read your book and post an honest review of it on Amazon. Customer reviews are the most popular feature on Amazon, and the reason is very simple: Reviews help shoppers decide which books to buy.
Amazon reviews are easier to get and do more for your sales than reviews in major newspapers or magazines. For more details, read this Amazon guide to getting your book reviewed and boosting your sales.
A couple of other Amazon programs you asked about specifically:
Search Inside the Book. This lets Amazon shoppers browse your book’s table of contents, introduction, and a limited number of other pages. It also enables shoppers to find your book on Amazon when they search for keywords contained in your text. According to Amazon, books enrolled in Search Inside sell 13 percent faster than books that aren’t in the program. The program is free, so this is a no-brainer.
Amazon Associates. Again, another free Amazon program that can boost your sales and bring in more revenue. If you have a Web site or blog, you’ll be able to post a “Buy at Amazon” link and earn a commission on each sale. Since many people will probably buy your book on Amazon anyway, why not participate in Associates so you can earn extra money on those sales?
Here are a few more of Amazon’s most effective promotional tools, and all of these are free:
Amazon Connect. This program enables authors to send blog posts directly to readers on Amazon’s site. Amazon Connect blogs provide a way for you to stay in touch with readers who haven’t yet committed to buying your book—or people who might be interested in buying your next book. You can also use your Amazon blog to refer visitors to your own Web site. You can get more information and apply for an Amazon blog here.
Listmania. This allows any Amazon user—readers, authors, music-lovers, movie buffs—to create lists of their favorite items organized by theme. And, of course, you can fashion a Listmania list to spotlight your own book. Listmanias appear in various places on Amazon, like product detail pages and alongside search results. Listmanias that mention your book can expose your title to thousands of potential readers on Amazon, and can even appear in Google search results. See the 100 most popular Listmanias here.
Tell a Friend. On your book’s product page at Amazon is a link labeled “Tell a Friend.” Click the link, and a form will appear on your browser with the boilerplate message, “I found this item at Amazon.com and thought you might find it of interest.” Type in the e-mail addresses of your friends and colleagues, and they’ll receive an official announcement about your book from Amazon. Ask recipients to forward the message to their friends.
So You’d Like to . . . guides. Have you ever wished you could submit a how-to essay to your local newspaper that demonstrates your expertise and helps publicize your book? You can accomplish much the same feat on Amazon by writing a So You’d Like to … guide, which could be read by more people than a newspaper article. Guides are time-consuming to write and require considerably more original writing than Listmanias, but are consulted often, especially in niche topics. A short excerpt from your book might serve as the basis of a guide.
Amazon recommendations. One of the benefits of having your book sold on Amazon is that buyers who have bought similar books in the past will receive recommendations to buy your book too. This can generate a positive feedback loop, prompting even more sales of your book. Here’s one example of how Amazon’s book recommendations can propel a book onto the bestseller lists.
Steve Weber is author of Plug Your Book! Online Book Marketing for Authors
article at Market My Novel Blog