Your Amazon Author Central page is your home page on the world’s largest bookstore, yet most independent authors don’t take advantage of it. On it, you can share your biography, photos, feeds to your blog, videos, and tour events. Your author central page lets you manage what buyers see on each of your book pages, improves search, lets you track sales, connect with readers, and contact Amazon directly to solve issues with your account. Here’s how to sign up and maximize its impact.
Creating your Amazon Author Central page
For reference, take a look at my Amazon Author Central page below, followed by a behind-the-scenes look at the page.
My Author Central Page
Here's what it looks like behind the scenes when you log in and edit the page.
Behind the Scenes of my Author Central Page
How to Sign Up
As soon your book is distributed to Amazon you can sign up to get a free Author Central page. Be patient, it can take between a day and a week for Amazon to verify that you are actually the author.
I recently uploaded a book to Amazon’s CreateSpace and it went live in just a few hours, which indicates that they give priority to their direct publishers. This isn’t the only reason I recommend uploading to Amazon first, but it’s a perk! (After Amazon, upload your eBook for distribution by Smashwords and further print distribution using IngramSpark.)
Once verified, you can start working on it, and in just a few minutes you’ll see the content populate your page. You’ll also notice that your name is now linked from your book page to your author page. If a potential customer clicks on it, it’s up to you to convince them to follow through.
After you create your account, you’ll log in to find a welcome page, and author page, books, sales info, and customer reviews page. Most of the action happens on the books and author page tabs. Your sales info tab will give you stats, but I’ve never found stats here to be very relevant. And the customer reviews tab simply shows your reviews and allows you to respond to them.
Book Details Tab
Here’s where you claim your book(s). Use the ADD MORE BOOKS button to search for books you've written by title, author, or ISBN. You can claim books that you’ve co-authored, too.
The Editorial Reviews tab allows you to add reviews, a product (book) description, a message from the author, and marketing copy:
Review: This section is awesome because you don’t have to wait for people to review your book. You can, and should, add up to five “editorial” reviews yourself. If you’ve sent out ARCs (Advance Reader Copies) or paid for reviews, or you’ve solicited reviews from anyone, this is where it goes.
Product Description: Lower on this page you can add your Product Description, which is your book description. Your book is just another product to Amazon. You should already be using your book description in Bowker and on your web page, so this shouldn’t be new territory.
From the Author: Here’s your message to your readers from you, in your own voice. Treat this as marketing copy. Don’t be formal, try to connect.
From the Inside Flap: Your book doesn’t actually need an inside flap for you to use this section. Make up some good marketing copy and put it here.
From the Back Cover: This is where your book’s back cover copy goes. If you don’t have back cover copy you can use this field to further describe your book.
About the Author: This is your formal, keyword-rich author bio.
Book Details: Amazon populates this page automatically. Here’s what mine looks like. Yawn.
Publisher: Misadventures Media
Publication Date: January 29, 2015
Number of Pages: 276
Author Page Tab
Again, this shouldn’t be new territory. You should already have created an author bio using the same carefully-selected metadata (keywords) you use to describe yourself and your book to the world on your Bowker ISBN, your website, and your social media sites, so that search engines will start to recognize you. (You can read more about metadata in this piece I did on PBS MediaShift.)
Amazon wants you to use least 100 characters (about 20 words), but you can go much higher. You can only use plain text only - no rich formatting (bold, italics) or HTML. I use asterisks as bullet points to set off text.
Like many authors, I write on two very different topics and so I explain that in the first sentence.
"Thanks for visiting my page. I have two writing careers - one as an adventure travel writer and another as a self-publishing expert. The websites are www.CarlaKing.com and www.AuthorFriendly.com."
I sacrifice some SEO (search engine optimization) because of that. If I were only writing on one topic I’d get better results from search engines. But I try to make up for that in my book descriptions.
Also, because I’ve created several editions of my self-publishing book, I want to warn readers not to buy older versions. This happens a lot on Amazon because people can sell used copies. This is a problem for me because the previous editions are old and contain outdated information. Yet people buy them because sellers price them at $5 or less. So I use up some space explaining that in my bio.
If you’re a writer of fiction or creative nonfiction any kind of book that won’t be replaced with new editions, you’re just going to have to live with the fact that people will resell your books. This can be embarrassing if the first copy you uploaded was unedited or had a terrible cover. I’ve been there, done that, and learned my lesson. It’s important to have great editing and cover design from the start. Please learn from me!
Author Page URL
You also have the chance to customize the Amazon-assigned URL to your author page. In the screenshot above you’ll see that I already created my author page URL, but if I hadn’t, you’d see a link that allows you to change it. My custom URL is www.amazon.com/author/carlaking. It still links to the URL that Amazon originally gave me, http://www.amazon.com/Carla-King/e/B004FWBLQ6, but it’s a much friendlier URL to add to an email signature or business card.
Upload a handful of photos so that your readers know what you look like. Include your formal author headshot and some candid shots. Remember, people connect with people!
If you have created a book trailer, videos of speaking engagements, or a narrated slideshow, include it here. Make sure it’s smaller than 500MB and in one of the following formats: AVI, FLV, MOV, MPG, WMV, MP4.
Enter the RSS feed for your blog posts here so they’ll display on your author page. This alone will ensure that your author page looks current.
List all of your events, in person and online, in the events section so that your readers have the opportunity to catch you live. Amazon removes the event automatically when the date passes.
Sales Info Tab
You’ll probably obsessively click on this tab, but it’s not as important as you think. I like how Brooke Warner of She Writes Press sums up sales ranking in her Huffington Post piece, The Top 10 Things Authors Should Know About Amazon. In it, she points out that “Your Amazon ranking has nothing to do with sales,” and that “Bookscan is “not something authors can or should use to compare their sales against, though it can be a good general gauge for how well your book is performing.” Read the entire article.
I’ve found the Bookscan Data weekly sales and sales by geography stats useful for authors on tour or who are interviewed in local media. I’ve been surprised at the places where my book is most popular—I never could have predicted it. Target these spots for follow-up media interviews and future visits. Make sure to stay a little longer when you’re on tour with your next book.
Customer Reviews Tab
Here’s a chance to respond to and thank reviewers. Never, ever get in an argument with a reviewer. Simply ignore an unfair review, and allow your fans to argue for you. I’ve even recruited subscribers to my email newsletter to review my book favorably to bury what I felt was an unfair review. Many readers came to my rescue, and I’m grateful.
Author Central and Kindle Direct Publishing
Your product detail pages will display the information stored in KDP anytime you update or republish in KDP, so the information in your KDP account needs to be current.
When I was researching this article I discovered that my Self-Publishing Boot Camp print book and Kindle edition were not linked, darn it! So I did as they instructed:
If you see your book linked to an incorrect edition, or if more than 48 hours have passed since your Kindle book went live and the print edition is still not linked, please let us know by clicking the "Contact Us" button on this page. Make sure to include the 10-digit ISBN number of the physical edition and the ASIN of the Kindle book.
They make it that easy.
Amazon loves to sell books and Author Central gives us the opportunity to make more money, which, of course, helps them make more money. So take advantage of it. Make it a living page by keeping it current and embedding your RSS feeds so that it’s always fresh and new. (And make sure you’re updating your blog!) List your in-person and virtual events. List your custom URL on your website, business card, and your email signatures. If you’re like most authors, you’ll sell more books via Amazon than any other retailer. Optimize here, and boost that number even higher.
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