Article by Chris Webb
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In my world this is especially true of Amazon.com. Reader reviews can often make or break a book, so it’s important to pay attention to your book’s page and the activity there. I’m not suggesting that authors or publishers purposely try to game the Amazon.com reviewer system. However, there are several ways authors can participate to be sure that their voice is part of the conversation.
10 simple ways authors can help to increase sales at Amazon.com:
Add a link to your book at Amazon.com or other online retailer as part of your email signature, forum signatures - anywhere you leave your name.
Add a link to your book on your blog or website. Amazon.com offers an affiliate program which pays you when readers you refer purchase your book. Double dipping!
Amazon.com allows readers to share their own images, so get the ball rolling by sharing yours. Look for the “Share your own customer images” link under the book’s cover image and start uploading. Wrote a book on building a PC? Upload photos of the build process. Wrote a Florida travel book? Use those photos of your trip to Disney World.
There are 2 quick and simple ways you can help people find your book at Amazon.com.
First look for the “Help others find this item” section near the bottom of the page and make valid suggestions for search terms or your book. Second, find the “Tag this product” section and add tags that are pertinent to your book.
Get involved in the discussion - many titles now include a beta feature called “Customer Discussions.” Be sure to find that link on your book’s page and monitor it so that you can answer any questions readers or potential readers may have. If there is no discussion started on your book - start one!
Be a part of Amazon Connect! Did you know that you can have a blog on your Amazon.com product page? It will list your last 3 posts on the page, with a “more” link over to all other posts. It requires your publisher to verify you as the author of your book via email, so be sure to discuss it with them first. You can learn more and sign up at the Amazon Connect website.
Write a Listmania! list. Anyone can create a list of up to 40 related items at Amazon.com. Why not create a list that is focused on the topic of your book and includes your book as well as other items? For instance, if you wrote a book on building a PC, you might create a list simply called Building a PC. The list would, of course, contain your book as one of the items, as well as your favorite hard drive, RAM, video card, motherboard and other parts available through Amazon.com.
When you mix product lists like this (i.e. not just a list of books) you are effectively cross merchandizing your book into other sections of Amazon.com. In this example, customers looking for the hard drive or video card you selected may encounter your list and be exposed to your book. In fact, with Listmania! you can get pretty granular. In our example you could also build just a list for video cards with advice for particular cards, and include your book as a guide to building PCs that includes more detailed advice.
Write a short tutorial - the So You’d LikeTo…Guides. Similar to a Listmania!, these guides allow you to show off a little bit about what you know. They work very similarly to the Listmania! lists in that you can select a variety of products to include, and provide the same advantage of cross-merchandizing, but should be a bit more advice-driven and tutorial in nature. Check out this short example on getting started in digital photography for ideas on how you might be able to leverage this feature.
Make sure you book is part of the Search Inside the Book program. This is controlled by your publisher and is a program they have to opt into. If they are not a part of the program, you might ask why they are not involved in such an important marketing vehicle at one of the world’s largest online retailers. If they are a part of the program then be sure your book will be included. As part of this program, Amazon.com indexes the books content and provides online customers a change to thumb through your book.
Reviews - I saved the best for last. All the items above were really about helping readers find your book, and participating in the conversation with readers once they have. However nothing helps or hurts sales at Amazon.com more than the Reviewer Ranking and reader reviews. So you should just make up some accounts and start posting 5-Star reviews, right? Of course not - but there are some things you can do to help:
Write a good book. Obvious, I know – but no amount of promotion will help a book that simply does not meet reader expectations.
Make sure your colleagues and members of your network get a copy of the book. These readers are more likely to help with favorable but honest reviews, but it’s very important to ask for a review at Amazon.com. Otherwise you may get a “thank you” for the book and nothing more. Provide your publisher with a list of influencers in your topical space and be sure they get a review copy.
If you receive an email or a comment on your blog from someone who enjoyed our book or see a review posted online elsewhere – ask them to post that on Amazon.com. I have also seen authors who have asked for permission to repost favorable online reviews (with attribution) at Amazon.com
Help Amazon.com weed out the illegitimate reviews. If you get a review that is not appropriate – one where it’s obvious the reviewer did not read the book, provided no basis for the review, or left a simple “This sucks” sort of review, ask Amazon.com to take a look. Each review has a “Report this” link next to it that flags the post for review by Amazon. If they feel the review is not valid they may remove it. Use this option sparingly – it’s not for legitimate negative reviews.
I’d be interested to hear from other editors, authors, markets or publishers on the topic. What have you seen help books at Amazon.com?