Sunday, August 21, 2011

6 Ways to Maximize Your Presence on Amazon

There are a lot of free and almost-free ways to increase your presence on Amazon. I spent the last few days maximizing the presence of the Raggedy Chan print edition. Here’s what I did:



1. FBA – Fulfillment by Amazon

Raggedy Chan is a unique book in that it’s a fully illustrated, full-color novella. It’s not cost-effective to print a full color book with POD (print-on-demand), so I had them printed in Taiwan. (The cost to ship them was equal to the printing cost, but that’s another story.) If I’d used a POD printer such as Create Space or Lightning Source, my book would automatically be available on Amazon. Since I didn’t, I’ve opted to sell Raggedy Chan through Amazon’s FBA (Fullfillment by Amazon) program. This was very easy to do. I signed up to be a vendor through Amazon’s Seller Central. I entered my book information, then shipped them copies of Raggedy Chan, which they store in their warehouse. There’s no fees until a book is sold, and at that point Amazon takes its commission (which works out to be somewhere between 40% - 50%). I like this option because it makes my book available to be a part of Amazon’s “Free Super Saver Shipping,” which means you get free shipping if you spend $25. (I’m guilty of ordering more books just to get the free shipping. I figure lots of other shoppers do this, too.) Total cost to do this? About $5 to ship the books to Amazon, plus the commission when the books are sold. All in all, to me it seems a reasonable price to pay to have my book available in the world’s largest online bookstore. Plus I don’t have the hassle of having to pack and ship books myself.

2. Author Central

Amazon gives authors the opportunity to create an author page for Amazon customers. When you sign up with Author Central, you get your own webpage on Amazon. All your books are listed on your page. You can link a blog and twitter account, and even post videos for customers to see. You also get the option to share your bio and photos. This was very easy to set-up and completely free. Check out my page here.

3. Tags

Any Amazon customer can add tags to a book. You can also vote for tags that other customers have added to the book. Tags tie back to Amazon’s search engine and help customers find your book. To add a tag, just scroll down on a book’s main page until you come to the tag section. The trick with tags is to find words and short phrases used to describe books that are similar to yours. For example, I think customers who like Gene Yang’s American-Born Chinese will also like Raggedy Chan. I looked at tags for American-Born Chinese and used them for Raggedy Chan. Examples: immigrant, multicultural fiction, asian American. I’m not sure the extent of the influence that tags have in the search engine, but again this is free and easy to do. What can it hurt?

4. Update Content Form

Because my book was originally listed by folks selling used copies, there was no product description available. This turned out to be very easy to fix. I went to www.amazon.com/add-content-books. A handy-dandy form pops up that lets you update the product description, as well as add a list of reviews and awards that you’ve received. Amazon does ask for verification that you’re the publisher/author, but this was easy since I am both. I just entered my business information and wa-la, content updated.

5. Add Images

As I’ve already mentioned, Raggedy Chan is a fully illustrated novella. There are almost 40 full color illustrations in the book. In my experience, the illustrations are a big part of what motivates customers to buy the book. Amazon’s Add Images option is a free way for me to share images with potential readers. If you look on any Amazon book page, you’ll see an option to “add images” under the image of the book cover. Click on that button, and it’s easy to upload your JPEGs and make them available to customers. Anyone with an Amazon account can add book images.

6. Search Inside

This is yet another free option available to authors and publishers. I know that I like to browse the inside of a book before I buy it, so why not make the inside of my book available to potential customers. Again, this option is available to people who are members of Seller Central or to authors are signed up for Author Central. You have to send in a request to be part of the Search Inside program. Your request generates an invite to participate. Once you sign up to participate, it’s an easy matter of uploading your book in PDF format.

Interested in seeing the fruits of my labor? Check out Raggedy Chan here on Amazon, and check out my author’s page.

The hope is that all this will help increase visibility of my book, which will hopefully in turn increase sales. I’ve learned that in book marketing, you never know what will work and what will not. (What works for some books tanks for other books.) Since all these options were low-cost or free, there seems no reason not to try them. I’ll report back if I see any increase in activity.

For those of you interested an in-depth look at maximizing your presence of Amazon, check out Aaron Shepard’s Aiming at Amazon.

What are some things other writers have done to increase the presence of their book on Amazon?

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