Some book marketing tools reside in the shadows, little-observed and not heavily used by Indie authors who could easily take advantage of them.
Kindle Instant Previews belongs in that category.
Do You Know About Kindle Instant Previews?
Originally launched as Kindle for the Web (in beta) in September 2010, has since evolved and became available as a mobile app called "Kindle Instant Previews" in 2015, that allows readers to read and share (and hopefully, purchase) eBook samples on their own devices. Although it appears on a vast number of pages on the Amazon.com site, only in recent weeks have I spotted any widespread discussion of the mobile tool in a number of writing and publishing web sites, along with considerable author surprise that it exists.
What is this tool?
It’s a lot like one you’ve almost certainly seen and used on most Amazon.com book pages. Toward the upper left of the book’s page you’ll see the familiar “Look Inside” feature. When you click there, you get a new preview window that offers a look at the first several pages pages inside the book, giving you a sense of what the book contains and how it is written. Numerous studies have shown that books including the “Look Inside" feature, which is a free promotional tool for many of the books sold on Amazon, (authors have the choice of enabling it or not) sell better than those without it.
But that’s old news; you probably know “Look Inside” has been around on Amazon for many years.
What you may not know is that you can post a similar “Look Inside” for your book on your own website, or other relevant websites.
How to Post a Preview
Amazon does not discourage this. It calls these features “Kindle Instant Previews,” and makes them easy to install. Here’s how they work:
On your book’s Amazon page (make sure that a Kindle version is offered), look on the right-hand side for the “share” social media icons: email, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest. Next to those you should see a mysterious and unexplained bracketed link, "<Embed>". If you click on this, you’ll go to a page that lets you “share or embed a free Kindle book preview.” (Be aware: It is highly browser-sensitive, and you may get an error message if you try opening it while using an older version of Explorer, Firefox, Chrome or another browser. If you have trouble, try using a different browser, or refresh your browser and clear the cache and cookies.)
When you do open that “embed” page, you can get a URL link to the preview, or generate an embeddable code, like the “Buy Now” website codes PayPal uses. With that URL or code in hand, go back to the web page where you’d like to place them, and paste either the URL or the embed code there.
That will let you offer prospective readers an Amazon-like preview on your own site.
On its descriptive web page, Amazon noted: “Kindle Instant Previews can be embedded on the web or shared as a link via email, text and other favorite apps. Anyone can start reading the preview for free by clicking on the link.”
It cited benefits including, “Free content to keep traffic on your site; Free access to a sample of the book; Adjustable font sizes for the readers' comfort; Direct link to book purchase from Amazon.”
If you’ve signed up with the Amazon Associates program, you may be able to make some additional money through it when people click on your preview.
I’ve tried it, and you can see the result yourself for the embedded code on one of my web pages. After experimenting a bit, I concluded that the URL might be the more useful option for other books, but your preferences could differ.
I’ve looked but haven’t yet found a similar preview service from other online retailers. Don’t be surprised, however, if one or more of them eventually turns up.
Readers & Writers: I look forward to your feedback, comments and critiques, and please use BookWorks as your resource to learn more about preparing, publishing and promoting self-published books. My blogs appear every other week.
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