Am I an Author?

I’m not asking for me, here. I’m pretty sure that ten years, ten novels, and countless short stories into this, I’m an author. No, it’s a question I’m not being asked directly. It’s been a privilege, in doing the anthologies this last year, to include stories from a number of new authors in the mix. I was asked the question ‘should I start an Amazon author page?’ by one of these.

Yes! is the emphatic answer. Any new author should do this. I completely understand not wanting the time and expense of a whole author website if you have just started out and aren’t sure how much you’ll ever write. But if it is more than a one-and-done, you really ought to create an Amazon author page for several reasons. One, it’s free and easy. Two, it gives you a way to link together all you have written, so readers can easily find you. Three, it establishes the author brand at least initially, which is a good way to have your readers answer that question for you. Yes, you are an author.

It’s also a handy way to have a qr code or web-address to send people you meet in real life who are interested in your books. Say, you’re at a con, or a farmer’s market, or handing out a business card… so many ways and places you’ll wind up doing this, take it from me who has done some interesting interactions in my life. If you wind up writing many short stories, and making this into more than a hobby, then you’ll want to not be totally dependent on Amazon. But to start out with? Why not? It’s good practice for later.

First, you want to navigate to the Amazon author central page. This is what mine looks like:

When you click the sign up button, you’ll be prompted to log in with your amazon account. If you aren’t publishing independently, you may not yet have a KDP account, and that’s fine. This won’t link you to your Amazon shopping account, but it can share login details if you like.

Here, you’ll be able to set up your profile. I strongly encourage you to adopt a profile image. Usually this would be a professional headshot (and as an author you can be much more playful than a business formal one) but for those who can’t have their face connected with a penname, you can always use a logo, a pet’s portrait, or what-have-you as long as you keep in mind that it should be sharp-looking and not a blurry crappy image of something.

I’m looking at my biography and noting it needs to be updated. I had a major moment when I realized I had to write a bio… and my First Reader wrote it for me. Which is absolutely a great way to get a bio if you can’t write your own, trade with another author you know well, have your spouse do it for you, or even run it though the comments and we’ll help with shaping it up. I think the key things to touch on are; who you are, what you do, and why you do it. Adding in a fun bit about kids or pets is also cool.

You’ll note that there’s the URL which you can use to share your presence on Amazon, it’s short and sweet which is great if you want to put it on business cards or the like (bookmarks, post cards). I also have my blog linked to feed onto my Amazon page, like so:

And yes, I do get clickthroughs from Amazon to the blog, as well as the other way ’round.

Once you have your profile set up, you’ll want to claim any books you have authored, or anthologies you appear in. Click on the ‘Books’ tab, and you’ll see a box to ‘Add a Book’

Adding books to your bookshelf will enable your Amazon Author page to display them, readers who follow you will get notifications when you add a book here, and it’s useful for you to get an idea of what your bibliography is up to (mine is evidently 54, although I think it’s missing a couple).

The last of the tabs in author central enables you to keep track of your books. This used to be much more useful, but for some reason Amazon took away a lot of the capacity to track rankings, which is a pity. You can safely ignore the Bookscan weekly sales report, this is horribly inaccurate, and does not track all your paper sales, I know this from experience and having ordered copies of my own books that don’t ever show up here and from comparing it to years of royalty statements. However, you will be able to see reviews here, if you so choose. Reading your own reviews isn’t always a good idea if you don’t have a very thick skin, but it can be useful in identifying trends. I used to have a friend take a look at mine, but now I look, shrug, make notes, and move on. Most are lovely, some are lunatic. It’s an author’s life.

This is also where you’d set up Amazon ads, but that’s a bit more than a new author usually wants to tackle at this point. Heck, I don’t want to, although with the help of my daughter (the Ginja Ninja for followers of my blog) we are working on setting some up.

Don’t forget to explore the help section, too. Amazon does well with the helps and FAQs, so may as well take advantage of that! And of course you can always ask in the comments and someone may know an answer for you, hopefully a useful one.

The answer to my title is… yes. You are an author now.

44 comments

  1. Two, it gives you a way to link together all you have written, so readers can easily find you.

    And easily sort out the stuff that *isn’t* you– Amazon’s algorithms are getting screwy again, I’ve searched for [EXACT AUTHOR NAME] and gotten text books that have one name in common but are
    ‘more popular’ than the newly released fiction book.

  2. I thought I had a good author photo, but the cropping Amazon does made it less than workable. Whatever image you use must be centered. (No, I don’t have an image yet, for security reasons. No, my Author Page does not link to my blog, because it still wouldn’t let me as of the last time I tried. I suspect having a DOT wordpress DOT com blog is part of the problem.)

      1. Writers write. Authors publish. I’ve always been a writer. I may eventually, hopefully, be an author as well.

  3. One thing — you can’t make an author page for yourself if you’re a translator, although you can make an author page if you have one book by yourself as author. Or short story. Or essay. Or anything.

    So yeah, I’m pretty dumb about not having done that, but do as I say and not as I do.

    1. Please, make some kind of a token book– heck, commentary on your favorite Father Brown story, and make it a freebee.

      That’ll let you make an author page, right?

  4. OK, I’ll take you up on the “feedback” offer. Here’s what I’m now using, please feel free to throw rotten fruit: At 17 I joined the US Navy as a Submarine Sonar Technician, serving in that capacity on various Fast Attack and Ballistic missile subs for the next 20 years, with a couple of shore duty breaks. I retired as the Work Programs Director for the Naval Regional Brig at Bangor Submarine Base and spent some overlapping time as a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Bremerton WA, a job I continued until my ankles gave out, and running was no longer an option. On weekends, I dress up in 70 pounds of armor to bash people with sticks, as a member of a Medieval Recreation group.

    I’ve been reading since I was seven, and cut my teeth on books by the Greats; R.A.H, Asimov, Clark, Norton, Pournelle, and the rest. One thing that always bothered me with the Fantasy genre, especially Urban Fantasy, is that the Government was ALWAYS either the bad guys or completely oblivious to what was going on… And this was the birth of the John Fisher Chronicles. Having worked for the Federal government long enough to retire, TWICE once as a sailor, once as a civilian; it’s people, some good, some bad, some smart, some not so. It’s not so stupid that it wouldn’t recruit Supernatural beings into the service if it could, and it’s not so stupid that it would force them in, then hand them weapons. Not that someone might not TRY that, but it wouldn’t work well, or long, and the one thing that we really SUCK at, is keeping secrets.

    In addition, there will be a space opera series coming out, title unknown, after I get a couple more of the Fisher series out.

    1. Opinion, worth what you paid for it:
      1. Very long. This isn’t supposed to be a CV. Bios are only for selling yourself as someone who has something interesting or relevant enough to your stories to make the reader more likely to buy them.
      2. Wanders from relevant biographical facts to opinionated rant. Not without cause, but bios aren’t the place for more than a one-liner. Think bumper sticker, not essay.
      3. Talks about books that will eventually come out but cannot currently be bought, instead of focusing on things available for sale now.

    2. Just to make you laugh, or throw things at me: a mangled version of your bio:

      William Lehman can’t stay out of hot water… or cold water, either. After retiring from a career in and around submarines, he continued on as a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Bremerton, Washington, where far more things go on than you’d think. He’s now traded in his nightstick and taser for 70 pounds of armor and a sword, and says it’s for medieval recreation.

      Having seen several decades of federal initiative and inertia, he can assure you that the government is smart enough to recruit Supernatural beings into the service if it could, but it’s not so stupid that it would force them in and then hand them weapons. At least, not most of the departments, and not for long. Either way, it wouldn’t stay secret, not when you have to have a form for that.

      Somebody’s got to keep unnatural law and order, after all. In the Park Police, that’s John Fisher.

          1. I sort of did. Now it reads:
            William Lehman can’t stay out of hot water… or cold water, either. After retiring from two careers in and around submarines, and a decade as a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Bremerton, Washington, (where far more things go on than you’d think) he’s traded in his police gear for 70 pounds of armor and a sword and says it’s for medieval recreation.

            Having seen several decades of federal initiative and inertia, he can assure you that the government is smart enough to recruit Supernatural beings into the service if it could, but it’s not so stupid that it would force them in and then hand them weapons. At least, not most of the departments, and not for long. Either way, it wouldn’t stay secret, not when you have to have a form for that.

            Somebody’s got to keep unnatural law and order, after all. In the Park Police, that’s John Fisher.

            I’ve been reading since I was seven, and cut my teeth on books by the Greats; R.A.H, Asimov, Clark, Norton, Pournelle, and the rest. One thing that always bothered me with the Fantasy genre, especially Urban Fantasy, is that the Government was ALWAYS either the bad guys or completely oblivious to what was going on… This was the birth of the John Fisher Chronicles.

            1. The reason I cut what you cut your teeth on reading is because, although I know authors like to do “I liked this, so if you did too, you’ll like my stuff”, it doesn’t actually send that signal. If you put in one or maximum two authors, it would be “I write in the style of this author, so if you liked things like this, I am more like that.” When you put in a gamut, it goes from signal to noise. It won’t actually signal what *your* books are like, and your bio is to sell *your* books.

              There’s a world of difference between Andre Norton and Isaac Asimov – either pick one, or pick none. In a bio, short is better, pick none.

              Also, because the aim of the bio is to sell your books, you want things that are punchy and upbeat. “One thing that always bothered me”, while true, is also negative. Negative turns people looking for escapism away – they’ve got enough of that in real life and on TV, they aren’t looking for it in books.

              If you want to sell specifically Fisher Chronicles, that’s what the last two paragraphs I put in there do. If not, cut it back to the first paragraph, it’s cute, it’s funny, it’s not wall o’ text.

      1. stolen and modified to:
        William Lehman can’t stay out of hot water… or cold water, either. After retiring from two careers in and around submarines, and a decade as a Reserve Police Officer for the City of Bremerton, Washington, (where far more things go on than you’d think) he’s traded in his police gear for 70 pounds of armor and a sword and says it’s for medieval recreation.

        Having seen several decades of federal initiative and inertia, he can assure you that the government is smart enough to recruit Supernatural beings into the service if it could, but it’s not so stupid that it would force them in and then hand them weapons. At least, not most of the departments, and not for long. Either way, it wouldn’t stay secret, not when you have to have a form for that.

        Somebody’s got to keep unnatural law and order, after all. In the Park Police, that’s John Fisher.

        I’ve been reading since I was seven, and cut my teeth on books by the Greats; R.A.H, Asimov, Clark, Norton, Pournelle, and the rest. One thing that always bothered me with the Fantasy genre, especially Urban Fantasy, is that the Government was ALWAYS either the bad guys or completely oblivious to what was going on… This was the birth of the John Fisher Chronicles.

    3. Great. Thanks for keeping on with the Fisher series books. Not coffeed enough, nor competent enough, to comment on your author bio.

      And to throw up a semi-alternative track in a space opera, look at both your military experience and the “Skippy isn’t allowed to do this again” list, and make Skippy the voice character in a Victorian British attitude space Navy.
      John in Indy

  5. Well I’m glad someone else put up a bio. I was trying to screw up my courage to do it. I’m not the real help around here but I do have a comment.

    Where you say, “It’s not so stupid that…” twice in a row I got a little lost. I wanted the second item to be “but it’s not so smart that… whatever… ” or possibly “it’s *also* not so stupid that….” I haven’t read the series so I don’t know if someone Did try to “force them in and hand them weapons” and I’m not sure that me spending energy on trying to figure out what you meant is what you want me to do.

    The rest of the words did make me want to go look up what you wrote.

  6. The rest of Cedar’s article made me think I should go look at Amazon and see what it thinks of me even without an author page. First thing I found was a pamphlet from twenty-two years ago which I NEVER put up on Amazon. It was originally a compilation of biographies from the 1908 Catholic Encyclopedia and there is the weirdest passive aggressive review from someone who would have claimed to be a friend of mine back then. That left me wondering how you can get things like that taken down. I don’t mean the review, I mean the book/pamphlet itself. It’s been revised and upgraded at least six times since then but was never, ever available on Amazon. I also realized that I wasn’t ready to keep looking because I was a bit irritated. Need a thicker skin… ! I have published another book on Amazon but under a pen name (which Kris Rusch says is not a good move). I haven’t looked at it online for four years…

    1. Looks like you did it in print. It’s up because it was a physical object offered for (re)sale by a third party vendor. That’s not uncommon with used books.

      How to get it taken down? That’s a hard one, because it’s a physical object that was sold, so there will be a record of its existence and the transaction in case another one ever appears for sale. (Which, looks like there is one right now.) I’m afraid that once you have sold a physical object, it’s out there for resale and you can’t make the physical copies go away or become unsellable.

    2. To add to what Dorothy said, it doesn’t look like it’s possible. Here’s what the help page has to say on removing books.

      “We don’t remove books from your Author Page unless they are incorrectly attribute to you.

      “Your Author Page lists all editions of your books, therefore, used copies, out-of-print books, unpublished books may still be available if someone lists them for sale.”

      1. Well, here’s some more weirdness. When I checked my name this afternoon, that green thing was all that came up. Now two other items, both mine, are coming up, and coming up first. So … is that because you guys went and looked?

        Also, based on both Dorothy and Zsuzsa’s information another way to address the problem is to somehow make the latest edition available — “the author page lists all editions” ? Complex. My “publisher” is in limbo, let’s say.

        Lastly that thing is being offered for $150. ?!?!?!? It’s worth 150 cents if you want to pay for every typo in it. In its first incarnation, which that is, I didn’t even list myself as an author. Rather I was compiling information from an out of copyright source and I said so, right up front. Back then I would never have called myself an author. That’s why the review seems so weird. Later I went back and revised it and added stuff so that it really is my work.

      1. ???? I went and looked that word up but it didn’t make any sense to me. I definitely think something is incredibly weird about pricing something so far out of its real value but I can’t figure out who is benefitting.

  7. OK, my bio:

    I grew up devouring every kind of book I could get my hands on, then locked onto military history, fantasy, and science fiction. At age 16 I discovered military science fiction in the form of David Drake’s Hammers Slammers series and was hooked. I went to college Back East then returned to the High Plains of Texas and worked for a living, while reading anything that would stay still long enough. That career took me across the US, and eventually dumped me into graduate school. My specialty was history but since I still couldn’t stop reading, it shifted into a subfield that incorporated science as well as traditional history. Readers will find influences ranging from David Drake to Russian fairy tales to Eastern European history in my work, with some geology and agriculture blended in, and a dollop of humor.

    I currently live on the High Plains once more, now with a grumpy calico cat and a large number of books. A pipe from the old organ at Stift Vorau, Austria resides on my desk.

  8. See, I went for short, because it’s short enough to be lifted and printed in convention booklets (Although for those, I add the latest book, since unlike Amazon, they’re not already looking at it)

    Dorothy Grant is a pilot who ran as far away from Alaskan winters as she could get. Along the way, she married a South African and settled in north Texas. She now happily writes in domestic chaos with two cats, plenty of chocolate, and weather that’s trying to kill her every which way but frostbite.

  9. I’ve tried adding Haunted Libraries vol. 2 to my author page, but it doesn’t seem to be working. It says that it was added, but it doesn’t show up. Any ideas?

    1. Just to let you know, I tried adding something about six times, and it failed to work, but then I logged out and logged back in, and it was there.

  10. Another bio for critique:

    Z. M. Renick was born in Boulder, Colorado and spent almost all her life there until she went to Smith College in Northampton, Massachusetts. She returned to Boulder to do her PhD in theoretical computer science, then worked as a postdoctoral researcher in the related field of computational biology. She has also been writing science fiction and fantasy during the copious freetime that a PhD student and scientist usually has. As funding got shorter, however, her freetime grew more extensive, and there has been more time for writing.

    Currently, she lives in Longmont with her husband, three-year-old daughter, and 80-lbs. Labrador retriever. When she’s not serving as the ringmaster of that particular circus, she’s working on putting out more books in the Seelie Court series, as well as creating other fantasy worlds.

    1. I know nothing about dogs but I kept wondering why the weight of the dog was important. I finally decided that it’s because the dog is larger than your daughter and that’s part of the ‘circus’ effect… Maybe?

      1. Yeah, I’m trying to make it so that people are accurately picturing the creature in question. In general, “labrador” makes people think of something that comes up roughly to your knees, as opposed to my beloved Jake, who’s roughly the size of a small pony.

        1. You might show that vision by refering to Jake as “a Shetland pony in a Labradors’ fur”.

  11. Here’s a bio…

    Jane Meyerhofer was actually born in Washington, D.C. when there was a hospital on I Street instead of just lawyers. She grew up with a NASA Pioneer Scientist father and loved listening to him talk about the Moon and the origin of the Solar System. She used to read the milk jug and cereal boxes when nothing else was available. She has written books for the homeschooling community about scientists, and a cozy mystery about children with cancer (Not a large category…) which she published under a pseudonym. She lives in Northern Virginia and taught Middle School science for years before retiring to read Dante and eat vegetables.

  12. Another one:
    TO Coons is a fourth generation desert rat, a distinction few people of Anglo-Saxon heritage can claim. He grew up as an omnivorous reader, devouring the likes of Verne, Asimov, Heinlein, Clarke, Norton, Burroughs, and their various imitators and successors, not to mention western stories, mysteries, romances, every textbook issued in grade school by the first month of class, and a set of American Peoples Encylopedia. Plus the usually assortment of cereal boxes and advertising circulars when truly desperate. During High school he was introduced to Tolkien and thus broadened his interests from science fiction to fantasy. He once aspired to become a chemical engineer and dabbled in the arcane arts of calculus, physics, and chemistry and has been hanging around computers since the last decade BPC (Before Personal Computer). After a two year stint serving a church mission in Bolivia, he was invited to attend Hard Knox U. where he spent rather too much of his time in the library bushwhacking through the underbrush of knowledge instead of traveling the educational freeways and accumulating credentials. After several attempts and breakdowns, he finally escaped this version of the penal system with an Associates degree. He also spent time in Utah, Nebraska, and West Virginia, where he grew to appreciate the natives but detest icky cold wet white stuff, and was last spotted imitating the snakes and lizards in a warm burrow in his native Arizona. With a head stuffed full of story, he is now attempting to let some of it out by writing some of his own. He has a few entries in one published anthology and snippets on his blog.

  13. Mine needs updating, desperately!

    I grew up in California, one of those horse-mad girls.
    Horse books, Horse drawings, riding lessons . . . the parents finally surrendered when I was thirteen and bought a horse. And another. And another.
    I still have two, a granddaughter and great grandson of my first very own, don’t-have-to-share-with-the-sisters, horse.
    My reading slipped from horse and dog stories to science fiction, but even though I’m writing science fiction, there seem to be rather a lot of horses in the stories, somehow. And dinosaurs.

  14. Here’s mine. Slightly different, YMMV…

    JL Curtis was born in Louisiana in 1951 and was raised in the Ark-La-Tex area. He began his education with guns at age eight with a SAA and a Grandfather that had carried one for ‘work’. He began competitive shooting in the 1970s, an interest he still pursues time permitting. He is a retired Naval Flight Officer, having spent 20+ years serving his country, an NRA instructor, a retired engineer in the defense industry, and now a starving author. He lives in North Texas, He currently has three series out or in work. The Grey Man, a Texas based current fiction series revolving around LEOs vs. the Cartels on the border, and Marines (6 books and two novellas). The Rimworld Series, started with a short story that was an Amazon Best Seller for five days after its release, now with four books published and more in the works. Last but not least, an 1870s western series. He is also in a number of anthologies from various publishers.

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