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Back to Basics

August 26, 2009

I had an interesting conversation with 2 very cool women at BlogHer last month.  Specifically, I stopped by Bridget Brennan’s book signing and stayed to chat with her for a bit.  After yaking for about a half an hour, we were joined by another woman and the topic turned to publishing and book promotion.  They posed the question to me of what I thought was the most important thing an author could do to promote his or her book.

They started to say “start a blog”, “Tweet”, “develop your platform”, and I stopped them.

No.

None of the above.

Amazon.  Listing page for your book.  Where customers make the go no-go decision to buy the book. 

Authors, have you checked out your Amazon page lately?

Maybe you’ve peeked once or twice, to see your rankings, but have you REALLY looked at it?

What should you be looking for?  Let’s start with a few key items:

* Have you posted author comments?  Welcoming customers to your page is like welcoming them in a physical store, and walking them right over to the shelf where your book is sold – the online “handsell”

* Have you asked your friends and followers to review the book?  Would you be more likely to buy a book if others had reacted positively to it?  Duh!

* Is your book featured in Search Inside the Book?  Another great way to build interest in your title.

*Heck, is all the publication information correct?  Sometimes even the best of systems can break down.

I posed these questions to Gary Vanyerchuk early one Sunday morning when he was cooking up book promotion ideas.  It was the subject of a blog post that got his attention, and hopefully helped other authors get back to basics.

I don’t want to neglect our other partners in online bookselling – Barnes and Noble, Borders.com, BAM.com and Indiebound.com definitely are key sites for selling books, but don’t offer authors as many opportunities to help promote their sites as Amazon does.  I recommend that authors link to all of them in their promotions, and do what they can on the title listing pages.

Blogs, Twitter feeds, and other social media vehicles sure are sexy, but when it comes down to making the sale or not, you have to make the sale.  Quality information on a title listing page helps do that.  So be sure to talk to your publisher to make sure your Amazon listing page is everything it can be.  You’ll be glad you did.

9 Comments leave one →
  1. August 26, 2009 11:01 am

    Whenever someone emails me to tell me they liked my book, I reply and stick a note at the end with a link to the Amazon review page and tell them I always appreciate reviews. This is a particularly good thing to do if you see someone just left a less-flattering review on your page. But I’ve also heard it’s good to have a couple bad reviews because it make the good reviews seem more plausible. If every single review is 5 stars, people think something is up and don’t trust the reviews.

  2. August 26, 2009 11:15 am

    As an avid book reader, I’ve got to say I totally agree.

    I got to Amazon to read the reviews before I buy the book at my local bookstore.

  3. August 26, 2009 4:16 pm

    Thank you for this! great advice!

  4. August 26, 2009 4:58 pm

    Nice post. Being able to look inside a book online is crucial. I rarely buy books without the “search inside” function.

  5. August 26, 2009 11:24 pm

    Too many authors (and publishers) just don’t notice the resources Amazon offers. And yes, elements in a book’s listing can be wrong–even changed from correct to incorrect. I recently clued in a friend that one of his books was carrying someone else’s name as the author.
    –Mike

  6. August 27, 2009 1:19 am

    Thanks so much Ellen. I’m checking it out right now. My Give Peace A Chance: John Lennon and Yoko Ono’s Bed-in 1969 book/exhibition at The Museum at Bethel Woods is on until September 7. If you haven’t been there, it is a spectacular day trip from NYC. It is the finest purpose-built complex for art, seeing a concert or just a family picnic. Their 60s permanent display is really good. And the little town of Bethel is lovely with great homey restaurants.

  7. September 24, 2009 4:32 pm

    I’m an indie author, and this blog post is spot-on. How easy it is to get caught up in Twitter and Facebook and neglect the all-important author page.

    But blogs are extremely important. Of the copies I’ve sold in August and February, all of them are traceable to either my own blog posts (on my misadventures in writing, publishing, etc) … or to the blog posts of others, in which my book is favorably mentioned.

    Cool post! I’m hot to overhaul my author page now.

    George LaCas
    author of The Legend of Jimmy Gollihue

  8. September 24, 2009 4:33 pm

    Correction: I meant to type “August and September”

  9. dufmanno permalink
    November 2, 2009 5:57 pm

    I do agree with most of what was said however I will cop to being one of the few who really look to the reviews on Amazon to gage the reaction to any given book. I’ve purchased no less than twenty books on the site this year and four or five at the local Barnes and Noble when I was in a jam. I do find them informative but I use facebook and other resources as well.

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