Tuesday Tips for Self-Published Authors: Help Amazon Help You

Everybody knows that visibility is the toughest challenge for self-published authors. If readers can’t find your books, they can’t buy them. You’ll find a lot of promotion advice out there, ranging from out-of-your-budget expensive to please-don’t-ever-do-this and everything in between. But there are a few simple and effective things you can do to improve your discoverability.

One of them is to take advantage of your Amazon Author Central profile.

If you didn’t even know you had one of those, you’ll definitely want to know about it. Every author with books published on Amazon, including Kindle books, has a profile. If you don’t fill it out, Amazon will do it for you — but with several million authors to catalog, they aren’t going to do a very complete job.

Your Author Central profile can be a great promotional tool, if you use it. It’s free, it’s already set up for you, and all you have to do is fill in the blanks!

How do you get in?

Head over to Amazon Author Central and sign in with your Amazon user name and password. That’s it — you’re done!

What can you list on your Amazon Author Central profile?

  • Your books: Of course, this is the most important part. Once you’re signed in, click on the Books tab at the top of the page and make sure all of your self-published titles are listed. If any are missing, just click on the Add more books button and search by title or author name.
  • Your bio: Amazon gives you plenty of space for your author bio. Make it interesting, but not too promotional — and don’t include links. Even though there are sites out there who’ll give you the “Amazon secret HTML code” to add links to your book details, resist the temptation. It’s against Amazon’s TOS (terms of service) and it’s a good way to get your profile deleted.
  • Photos and video: Got pictures of your fans? Book trailers? Fun author photos? You can upload them to your Author Central profile and make things more colorful.
  • Twitter feed: If you’re on Twitter, it’s easy to add your feed to your profile page. That way, anyone who finds you on Amazon can see your latest tweets and follow you with one click.
  • Blog feed: This one looks like a great option, too, but I must confess that I haven’t yet been able to make it work for my WordPress site. I’m going to try using Feedburner (a third-party feed site) and will report back with the results. UPDATE: Feedburner works! Find it here.

Enhancing individual book pages with Amazon Author Central

If you’ve published through Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Program), you know that if you want to change your book’s cover image or description, you have to go through the Book Details page, and then re-publish your book — which means it becomes unavailable for 12 to 24 hours.

Amazon Author Central gives you a way to avoid that. Through your account, you can change your description and add a lot more informative sections about each title without republishing — and though it states the changes will take 3 to 5 business days, I’ve never waited longer than an hour for my book listing to update.

In addition to the book’s product description, you can add reviews, a From the Author section, From the Inside Flap, From the Back Cover, and About the Author. You can also use the Book Extras section to import content from Shelfari (which you can write yourself as a Shelfari member – if you haven’t signed up there, it’s free!), like Characters/People, Quotations, Settings & Locations, Glossary, and more.

Self-published authors: Go forth and fill out your Amazon Author Central profile today! It’s a great, easy, and free way to spread the word about your book.

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