An Author’s Guide to Amazon: 7 Tools To Help Increase Book and Author “Discoverability”

Below is a terrific summary of practical things you can do to make your book more visible on Amazon.

It comes from the enewsletter of Smith Publicity, Inc.
Kudos to Book Publicist Jennifer Tucker who put together the list.

1. Author Central
Think of Author Central as your “main hub” in the wide world that is Amazon. Beyond creating an author page, which will educate customers about you and your book and display essential information about your biography, blog posts, etc., you can also use Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) to set up your book for the Kindle if you own electronic rights. Also through Author Central, you can track book sales numbers across the U.S. for the past four weeks to identify sales trends, utilize the CreateSpace platform to publish your next book, and explore Kindle Direct Publishing Select, which will allow you to earn higher royalties.

2. Amazon Forums
Amazon offers a variety of discussion forums for authors, which can help you to network with other authors and expose your book to a new audience interested in your genre. You can also learn just by reading other posters’ questions, advice, answers, tips and tools. Feel free to reach out to other authors (who are often avid readers themselves) to ask for feedback on your book, to position yourself as an expert in your field, and to just have fun!

3. Amazon Keyword Tags
By using the tagging feature, you can make your book more searchable almost immediately, if done correctly. Check out tags on other books (especially top selling titles!) in your book’s genre and make your own tags accordingly. The more keywords you have tagged, the better readers will be able to find your book within a slew of other books. Fun tip — think like a reader: what keywords would you use to search your book? Also, changing tags each week or every few weeks gets your book in front of new audiences.

4. Amazon’s Listmania!
Listmania! is another tool that authors can utilize to reach potential book buyers. Listmania positions your book among other books in your genre by adding your book to book lists, but word to the wise: for best results, make sure to be very selective and true to your book’s genre when choosing your lists.

5. Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book”
Just as book excerpts    draw readers in, Amazon’s “Search Inside the Book” feature allows readers to flip through some of your book, with the goal of making them want to read more. This feature also works to prevent negative comments because by previewing the book, the reader has a better understanding of your book’s content. Be sure to have your personal Amazon page set up before you move forward with this tool, as it can take time to be approved by Amazon.

6. Amazon Marketplace
Amazon Marketplace serves as a third-party online storefront where you can sell your book alongside the array of other Amazon goods. While it’s a great tool and can offer you more freedom as an author (you can choose to give autographed copies of the book, for instance), authors must be willing to carry a book inventory and must have this inventory already on hand to be set up in the Marketplace. It also requires plenty of time and patience for authors to manage their own online book sales, though many authors enjoy the control that they have over the price of their book and fulfillment of book orders.

7. Amazon “So you’d like to…” Guide
With the Amazon “So you’d like to…” guide, you can actually build a guide around your book topic, genre, or specialty, which will position you as the expert of your book or field. This free tool allows you to think outside the box when it comes to book promotion and gives you the option to include your book with other Amazon products, essentially creating a “bundle” of items relating to the “So you’d like to…” Guide topic. Authors can choose to write content about the subject and, within the content, mention that the book is for sale on Amazon.

CreateSpace Opens European Market for Self-Published Books

If you’ve published a book through CreateSpace, you now have the option of making that book available throughout Europe. With just one click on the CreateSpace website (distribute>channels), you can make your book available on,,,, and (all the big European markets). And it’s free.

Earlier this year, I worked with BBC Masterpiece Theatre actor Robin Ellis to produce a new version of his memoir Making Poldark. A British citizen living in the South of France, Robin has fans on both sides of the Pond. But up until a week ago, those fans had to buy from Amazon US and wait for their books to cross the ocean.

I guess we weren’t the only ones who complained. Now books come to Europeans via same-day shipping, and royalty payments are made to US authors in dollars.

If you know anything about the book business, you know this must have taken a monumental effort on the part of Amazon and CreateSpace. But writers should be ecstatic. Now with one click, you can significantly increase the size of your market. And you should.

Photo by Rod Searcey

The Power of Social Media in Building an Audience

Yesterday when I opened my iGoogle page, “today’s spotlight video” looked something like this.

Because I love both soul and gospel music, I clicked on it–and became an instant fan of an unknown singer who doesn’t even have an album out yet. (LaTosha Brown. Check her out. Fabulous!)

As LaTosha tells it, as of the day-before-yesterday, her video had been viewed 310 times. Today, that number is 496,642–an instant fan base! Her record company, PortoFranco Records, is scrambling to get this cut on iTunes so some of those fans can actually buy the single.

Kindle Singles Books are not as accessible as music in this way, but there’s cause to believe that short pieces, priced low and marketed through social media, could become for authors what this single song is for a talented, upcoming musician: a way to develop an instant audience for their work.

Earlier this year, Amazon launched Kindle Singles, a division that is actively seeking articles, essays and stories of 5,000 to 30,000 words. These pieces, which are being reviewed and quality-controlled by editor David Blum, are being priced between $.99 and $4.99–impulse buyers’ pricepoints. Publishers Weekly recently reported that six of the 75+ published works on this platform have already reached bestseller status among all Kindle books.

Kindle Singles has terrific potential. It provides a new platform for long-form journalism and could revive the world of short stories. And most importantly, it could build audiences for those emerging voices who have been abandoned by traditional publishers.

How Viable is Self Publishing? Proof is in the Numbers

Kindle and booksClearly, 2011 is a tipping point for self-publishing–moving this new publishing model from backwater to the forefront of the publishing world. It’s all happening despite the bow-tie traditional publishers who still would have authors believe that they are the only ones who can bestow legitimacy on a work. But the track-records of self-published authors don’t lie.

There’s a terrific article by Alison Flood over at the Guardian that traces this coming-of-age for self-publishing. Highlights from the article:

– Author John Locke just passed the 1 million mark in sales of his mystery thrillers on the Kindle platform. He’s the first self-published author to do so.

– After years of resisting, JK Rowling finally announced this week that she’ll be selling her Harry Potter series as ebooks. They’ll be available on her new website Pottermore.

– Self-published co-authors Louise Voss and Mark Edwards claim to be selling 1,900 copies a day of their thriller Catch Your Death.

– Author Amanda Hocking who started by selling her paranormal romance stories on the Kindle platform for $.99 to $2.99 has now signed a deal with St. Martin’s for a reported $2 million.

– British writer David Moody started by giving away his zombie novel Autumn. Now he sells his novels on the Kindle platform for $.99. Chump change? He was making $1,500 a month when he attracted the attention of a film producer.

– Thriller novelist Barry Eisler turned down a deal reported to be worth about $500,000 from St. Martin’s to self-publish. He has accepted a deal with Amazon (now a publisher in its own right) for a six-figure sum for one book. He says the Amazon deal offers “the advance and marketing muscle you (might) get in a legacy contract; the digital royalties, creative control and time-to-market you get with indie.”

– GP Taylor, author of the children’s novel Shadowmancer, is one of several authors who started as a self publisher, proved his worth, was picked up by traditional publisher and is now considering going back to self-publishing. He sells 6 ebooks for every paperback.