Amazon Author Page

Author page front end
Here’s what the readers should see on Amazon.

It’s come to my attention that some of you… *looks over her glasses at the desks in front of her* are neglecting a powerful and easy marketing tool. I’m talking about the Amazon Author Page.

Listen up, class, because this is so simple, and it can really help.

Imagine you are a reader who has just learned about a new author. They tried a book, and they want more. This is what we all aspire to. But when they search Amazon for the author’s name, they find very little information, out of order books, no clue as to the rest of the series…

Let’s make it easy for them and collect all the information in one place, shall we? In the process, we may be able to take a casual reader and draw them closer to becoming a fan, someone who will interact with an author and pass the word on to others about that author. Again, let’s make that easy on them. The less clicks, the better. In addition, you see the yellow follow button on that image of my page? When readers click that, Amazon notifies them as soon as I release a new book. It’s like a mailing list, without all the work and time and cost.

Sure, you may have a website, or a blog, or both. Facebook fan page, even. But the Author Page on Amazon has a huge advantage. All the stuff you have for sale is right there. And it’s sortable by publication date, etc. Also, if you don’t have a website, this can be a great place to send people who want to learn more about you (and buy your books). If you’ll recall a while back I mentioned using QR codes on promotional material like bookmarks and business cards, this is one place I send the QR code to, the Amazon Author Page.

You can set yours up from the back end, at the Author Central. If you weren’t already aware of that, you should familiarize yourself with it. There are important tools here, like rank tracking, sales graphs, and all your reviews in one place. Today I’m going to talk about the basics, though.

When you first login to Author Central, you get a homepage with tips and news articles. You want to click on the Author Page tab at the top, and start filling in the blanks. I’m going to tackle the biography in a minute, so we’ll start with the blog section. If you don’t have a regular blog, this can also be your author website. If you do twitter, then you can add that, although there seems to be some uncertainty about the display of the twitter feed on Amazon at the moment.

author page

 

Two important things are the photo, and the bio. I know that most authors hate both of these. Unfortunately, I’m going to tell you that you need both. No, you can’t get away with a cute pet photo unless you only write books about cute animals. Ideally, you will have a professional headshot to put in here. At the very least, a good, crisp, amateur shot will do. Don’t use a grainy cell phone image. Don’t use an old photo that was taken 20 years ago – we can tell. That shirt hasn’t been in style since at least the 80s. (yes, I am thinking of a real example). If you cannot stomach having your face in public, or have reasons that make it unwise, as an alternative you could use art from a book cover or series you write. Not a book cover itself, that’s limiting. But a piece of professional level (not a child’s drawing, unless, again, you are writing children’s books) art would work.

The biography. I suspect all of us dread these. Where to start? How much is too much? How much is too little? I didn’t write mine. I have other versions I did write, but my First Reader wrote mine (and in return, I wrote his) and if you have a partner or friend who is skilled with words, this can be a reasonable compromise. You don’t feel self-conscious about puffing yourself up, and you have something to put out there. How long? Well, as long as it needs to be. You don’t need to include a lot of personal information, but some makes you seem more human to your readers. I recommend injecting a touch of humor into the bio, if you can manage it, or if you must, make it over-the-top funny. You’ll have better reactions to a warmth of personality showing through than to dry facts.

I have three bios I cut and paste as needed – the long one written for me, a shorter version I wrote which is about 200 words long, and a very short 50 word version I originally created for a convention guide and keep as it’s handy. If you’re totally stuck, ask in the comments, and myself, or someone will help out with it.

The bio is just as important as the blurb of a book. Only here, you are the product. You’re selling yourself (hike that skirt up and show a little leg, if you dare…) and you shouldn’t sell yourself short. You are uniquely you, with the voice to back it up, and with some work, that will shine through in the bio.

Finally, make sure that all your books are properly connected to you by clicking on the Books tab. Also, make sure that your series are marked clearly in KDP because Amazon will helpfully link them on their sales listings if they are. Do not, for goodness sakes, list yourself as an editor on your own book if you are the author. Unless your book has multiple illustrations inside, don’t list your cover artist as the illustrator (you can, and should, accredit them in the front matter of your book, instead). Don’t list your editor as an editor in the KDP listings unless it’s a collection of some kind and they were instrumental in pulling the stories together. Ahem… this soap box just appeared under me… *steps down*

Go forth, children, and having learned your lesson, implement it. I want to see links in the comments!

48 comments

  1. Great post, Cedar,

    Well, I don’t think mine’s too bad, all things considered. The photo definitely isn’t professional, but it’s a good clean candid shot from this past Spring. It’s definitely the typical me. My bio’s a little long, but I’m happy with it. Now let’s see what you think. http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B00TFRFEAA

    1. I can see why you’re happy with it – looks good! Yes, the clean candid works. I’m using candids at the moment even though I recently had professional shots taken – but what you have works nicely. (and I need coffee, that was repetitive!)

  2. I have one. I just realized that I haven’t updated it since I published my first book and the bio needs some work. I’ll get right on that.

  3. I made mine soon after putting up something to sell. The poor effort is at http://www.amazon.com/-/e/B010E6AGW6 .

    I’m not satisfied with it. For one thing, I tend to make grim photos, for lack of a better word. I’m smiling in mine. Doesn’t show much, does it? Recently I saw one taken at an event, I looked like I was literally ready to fight and I was happy.. Sigh. Didn’t help that I was in a suit, either. When I wear a suit I look like someone from central casting who says “You want I should take care of that, Boss?”

    I see that B.E. Sanderson has blogs linked to her Author Page. I need to do the same – and update my blog. Work project had me drop drop out of daily updates, but now the grunt work’s done on that.

    Question: should an author have both a personal and author page on Facebook? To be honest, I don’t qrok Facebook. I’m there, but that’s all.

    1. I can tell you are smiling, there. 🙂 But on the other hand, depending on your work, you could use the suit picture (if you write Noir, for instance). You can see what I’m thinking of here: https://cedarwrites.files.wordpress.com/2014/12/noir-man-bullseye.jpg

      As for Facebook. No, I don’t think it’s necessary any longer. At one time, it was a good thing, but when Facebook moved to a pay-per-view system, it negated the usefulness of having a business page with them. Unless you are willing to pay FB money, the people who have liked your page are highly unlikely to see your page updates, and much less the people who don’t know you exist. I’d save your time and money for other advertising venues.

  4. Someone who has Kate Paulk’s ear (give it back to her already!) and email address should *make* her link all of her books to her author profile: http://www.amazon.com/Kate-Paulk/e/B004TZ5O8U/

    Right now her Con books must have ConCrud sales due to lack of visibility, at least compared to what she would have if she spent maybe 5 minutes to get it right. InCONceivable!!!

    P.S. I have heard that people who can’t figure it out can get it done from Amazon’s help desk; just give them a link to the books in question.

  5. Duly bookmarked – it’s already on the to do list, and advice is more than welcome.

    Might as well start properly from the beginning – and remember to update as necessary.

    And the gravatar photo has to go: there’s a New Orleans church front with MANY windows in the background (I’m smiling) and a lot of shadows. Humans have no trouble ‘seeing’ me in it – but it confuses the heck out of computer programs.

  6. Mea culpa. Between keeping up with work, arguing with narcolepsy and diabetes, and trying to have something vaguely resembling a life (does anyone know what one of those looks like?) things like marketing (at which I suck) tend to fall by the wayside. I guess that goes on the way the heck too long list of “stuff I need to do”

    1. I used to know what a life looked like. Let me go root around in my storage unit, I think there’s part of one in a box in the back, under the table I really need to get rid of . . .

      Cedar, any suggestions for suitable art, since I can’t do an author photo? I have some jpegs of elements from my covers without the other layers, and I think I have the file with Rada Ni Drako’s sigil somewhere.

      1. If the sigil is a nice clean graphic like a logo, that would probably work nicely. And, as someone pointed out, and you can see with my page, having more than one uploaded in the back end shows them among your blog posts, which is nice too.

        1. Hmm, I’ll see if that works.

          I’ve tried to link the blog to the Author Page, but there’s a technical blockage somewhere. I suspect a large wad of cat hair, 😉 but one never knows . . .

              1. To link a WordPress.com blog to your Author Central Page:
                1. Log on to Author Central

                2. Click on the Author Page tab.

                3. Under Blogs, click Add Blog

                4. For your RSS feed, enter http://almatcboykin.wordpress.com/feed/
                Note: It may be possible to edit an existing feed. I don’t know. Worst case is to add a feed that works, and delete the one that doesn’t.

                5. If Author Central fails to make the connection, it will give an error.

                Save and exit.

                Only new posts will show up on your author page, and it can take up to 24 hours.

                Best of luck.

    2. If you need a placeholder pic feel free to snag any of the unicorns that we’ve got up, or drop me an e-mail and I’ll crop the one you want to size and send you the png. N

  7. The other nice thing about having your author page up and running is it gets you followers – that you can message when you put new books out. And Amazon will remind you to do so.

  8. Huh. My cover artist isn’t an illustrator? I am tron between doing something wrong (which I hate) and not wanting to hurt Phil’s feelings by taking him off. Argh.

    Here’s my author page. The photo is only ten years old. 🙂

  9. You can also set it up to feed your blog into your author page.

    My headshot is professionally done, and I spent so much on it (at the request of the talent agency through which I was trying to scrounge voice-work — why do I need a headshot for voice-over work, I asked them? — that I am still milking out every shred of value even if it was taken about fifteen years ago.

  10. Thanks for the post. I’d been putting off setting up my Amazon Author Page for some time (mostly just because I kept thinking of it as “low priority”) but after reading this, I went ahead and did it. It wasn’t hard, as I already had most of the stuff ready to go from other projects, and the big thing was linking my site back into it, but it probably was one of those “quick and easy” things I should have done some time ago.

    Thanks for a push in the right direction.

  11. Peter is resisting an updated photo, because he has a great headshot by Oleg. On the other hand, now that I’ve given up on having a clean-shaven husband, he really ought to admit in photo that fans looking for him are going to find him with a beard. his personal blog is linked, as are his books, and he doesn’t tweet or facebook, so the page is as set up as it needs to be.

    One interesting detail: you’ll note Amazon puts in “Customers Also Bought ITems By” on the left side of the author page. When Promo places (Fussy Librarian, I’m looking at you) ask what books yours are similar to, that’s a great place to go, and think “Oh! Yeah, kinda like his and hers, and his as well” instead of staring blankly at the screen and leaving that helpful info out.

    1. I don’t think facebook can be linked to Amazon – and I know I wouldn’t want to link mine, anyway. Tweets seem to have gone away. aving the blog feed there is great. I’ve seen Peter’s page a few times. He probably doesn’t need to change his headshot 😉

  12. Here’s mine:

    I actually have several pictures up, and as you scroll through the blog posts, they have the other pictures inserted, which is kind of nice.

  13. I’m an avid reader and always looking for new authors on Amazon. I used to bookmark a lot of author’s pages but now the Amazon Follow is replacing that as it makes keeping up to date a lot less effort on my part.

    Today I opened one of the Amazon e-mails for cheap Kindle reads, popped open about 10 tabs on ScFi books that had interesting blurbs. I closed about 3 of them that had the book flagged as already in my library (with 251 unread books waiting there I can’t keep track in my head) leaving me with a half dozen promising reads.

    In every case I opened the author’s page to see more information and to see how their other books were rated. Other book ratings are VERY important as several of today’s oferings had no reviews and a couple only had a few. One other thing I look at is the update section, it tells me how much the author cares about their readers. One in particular caught my attention, no updates for TWO years! I realized that fellow didn’t care about me in the least and feeling the same way about him the tab got closed.

    The other tabs, well since they were a buck each and seemed interesting I ordered most of the books. The one exception was someone that had a link to buy not only the dollar book that had brought me there but the rest of the series as well and with a single click. The thought of a buck for the middle book or five bucks for three and not having to go back and order the others if I liked the one hooked me, bought the trilogy with one click.

    Now I have 258 unread books waiting on me to get to them…

    Moral: If you can’t hook my attention and/or show me other folks like your work I’m not going to be buying from you! A cheap price gets you a look but you need some meat on the hook to get a bite.

    Off topic, I see a section “about the author” but never read that, I DO NOT CARE who you are, where you came from or anything else, I care about the books and how well they read, nothing else.

    1. Uh, oh. I went to my page and didn’t see how to do updates. Do you mean a new book out?

      1. Not being an author I don’t know where it comes from but I can show you some examples of the different types of profile info I see there. Some have nothing or an entry with no date, others have dates on the items shown. From my viewpoint, nothing or an undated entry isn’t a really bad thing, more lack of something good. A recent date is a very good thing, something months old is sort of iffy unless all I see there are book release notices but an old date gives the feeling of a lack of interest.

        Nothing: http://smile.amazon.com/Mackey-Chandler/e/B004RZUOS2/ref=pdp_new_mf_mp

        Undated item: http://smile.amazon.com/Matthew-Mather/e/B006QY78Z4/ref=pdp_new_mf_mp

        Current: http://smile.amazon.com/John-Van-Stry/e/B004U7JY8I/ref=pdp_new_mf_mp

        Recent (but not very): http://smile.amazon.com/Kate-Paulk/e/B004TZ5O8U/ref=pdp_new_mf_mp

        Old and stale: http://smile.amazon.com/Andy-Kasch/e/B00F9HG102/ref=pdp_new_mf_mp

        If you were doing stuff that appeared but are now stopping then it would be good to put up a last entry saying you are stopping making entries. It keeps folks from wondering if you got hit by a bus or quit writing. Putting in a link to somewhere you are still active wouldn’t be a bad idea either.

        1. Thanks! That was helpful. When I start a blog, I will make sure to link it and keep it up to date.

    2. The author updates section is where a linked blog shows up. Mine, for instance, will show daily updates because I blog daily. But it could be that the author in question has dropped blogging or moved sites and hasn’t updated Amazon. Or as you suggest, they stopped publishing. You can cross-check by looking at book publication dates (as Amazon make it possible to sort by those).

  14. So, I’m wondering if my facebook bio might serve as a bio for my author’s page:

    I was born at a very early age. Recognizing my incipient brilliance, however, my parents were happy to take care of me. After getting older, I became taller. This led me to having a very different outlook. With great height comes great responsibility, and I did not fail in my resolve to use my abundant hair only for good.

  15. I’m stuck on step 2: It says:

    “Join Author Central: Confirm your identity

    Please use the search below to identify a book you’ve written. You can search by title, author or ISBN.”

    And won’t let me go any further. Do you have to have a book to link up before it’ll let you make a page?

  16. Yay! Thank you, Cedar. This one goes into the list of links.

    You have saddened me, though. I can’t have a head shot of me in my very favoritest shirt, a blue Hawaiian print. It apparently escaped from a lab somewhere and is the textile equivalent of the 100 MPG carburetor – I have had AND worn it since… 1977. Maybe even the Bicentennial. (Really, I am not kidding. I have never even resewn a button.) Sigh, guess it’s time to hit K-Mart again…

    I AM ignoring the advice about legs – the goal is get sales, not drive them shrieking into the night….

    1. Well, no-one said you couldn’t have a headshot taken in the Shirt (since I’m sure it merits capitalization). You obviously haven’t seen my husband’s penchant for the brightest shirts known to mankind, culminating in the Shirtstorm shirt which he wore to our wedding this summer. If that’s your shtick, wear it with pride… Yes, I know what I said about the old photo, but I swear that one was scanned from an 80s polaroid shot. Yours will just look retro.

      I should probably look and see if I can find the pic I’m referring to for grins and giggles.

      And the leg is metaphorical. Think of it as a leg lamp in the window, if you’d rather 😉

  17. I’ve had mine set up for a while, and linked to my WordPress blog. The biography is a bit light, but then, so is the selection of works….

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