Sunday, April 17, 2011

Amazon & Foreign Rights Sales

Amazon & Foreign Rights

Throughout several of my blog posts I have mentioned the benefits of having a “tricked” out Amazon page. However one of the biggest is that Amazon has now become a go-to site to by foreign rights consultants when looking to acquire new rights. This is huge.

Amazon’s popularity is not only felt within the U.S. but countries around the world have realized its relevance and are using it on a daily basis.  However what is unique is that Amazon has not just become a site to purchase products but a go to hub of information when researching new titles, in foreign rights terms, for purchase.

Over the past couple years I have been traveling to various international book fairs to both buy and sell foreign rights. The one change from 2010 to 2011 that I have noticed the most has been the increased mention of “Amazon” in our meetings.  Amazon has established international credibility. For example, when pitching a book to a Taiwanese foreign rights agent, he immediately pulled out his Ipad and (as we like to call it) Amazoned it.  By this I mean he checked to see how many reviews the book had, its current sales ranking, and how many features the book’s Amazon page was displaying.  His response “ Well the reviews look good on Amazon, send me a sample of the book for further consideration”. That quick and that simple. The foreign rights agent, based of Amazon, gave the book a green light to go to the next level in foreign rights acquisition.

The purpose of this post is to point out to you that having a dominant presence on Amazon is essential to your book’s success. Not only are general consumers using Amazon for purchasing but industry personnel are visiting Amazon to judge content when making foreign rights decisions.

So what does this mean?

1.       You need to make sure you have both an Author’s Page and Amazon Profile setup and filled out completely ( bare minimum).
2.       Your book has numerous quality reviews
3.       There are “added features” being displayed on your book’s Amazon page
4.       You use the site daily, and treat it just as you would any other social media site

If you can control the material foreign rights agents view when deciding whether or not to buy your rights, why would you not take advantage of this?

Hope this helps and if you have any questions please let me know!

Selling Books and eBooks with QR Codes

Selling Books and eBooks with QR Codes

Prediction for 2011 above

So, if you have a QR scanner, did you scan that QR Code yet?  Admit it. There’s a huge curiosity factor with these and I just threw this thing together in a couple of minutes.
QR codes are generated for free online, an example site is The image created can be of various sizes, depending on its intended use. The code block can be read by a smartphone with a barcode or QR Code reader application installed on it (there are many of these apps, all available for free download).
One can embed a URL, a block of text (250 character max), or a phone number in a QR Code. Combined with a bit of creativity, there are a ton of possibilities. Some examples would be:
1.       Adding QR Codes to existing publications. Even if they have a phone number or web address, people with a smartphone will have a direct connection to the information (be able to call or go straight to the web address). In the case of 99 cent eBooks, even if there was a poster or something that had all of the information, scanning a QR code would allow for an instant trip to the book’s Amazon page where it can become an impulse buy. After all, eReading software is available for all smartphones!
2.       Utilizing the mystery aspect, the QR codes hit into natural human curiosity. Naturally, some may feel as though it is unethical to make things a complete mystery but a cool example of something alluring would be to put a poster in an airport that says “Award Winning eRead for the Plane Trip” and stick the QR code for the Amazon site. Boom, they’ll probably buy it. Actually, book sales in airports are pretty big. Why not tap into eBook sales.
3.       Train and Bus Stations could also be hit upon in a similar way to airports as mentioned above.
4.       Dangling signs or some type of mounting that makes a poster stand out in a heavy tourist area would be a great way to get the curious a technologically connected to take a look at our eBooks.
5.       Putting QR Codes on little promotional items such as magnets, bookmarks, etc.

Sunday, April 10, 2011

Amazon Vine Program

You want to get into the Amazon Vine Program

As you all should know by now writing reviews on Amazon is a great way to promote your book. Not only can you display your book’s title in your signature at the end of each review you write, but Amazon actually monitors these reviews looking for qualified writers to include in their Amazon Vine Program! As an author it should be your goal to get into this program as this is the “elite of the elite” in the Amazon world. A review by a person in this program far outweigh a review by a normal user on Amazon. Check out what these two authors have to say!

Mike Saxton, Author of “7 Scorpions: Rebellion”

“For the subject of this email, I am going to discuss the Amazon Vine program with you. This program is a great opportunity for you on multiple levels. But before I do that, I am going to discuss what it is.
The Vine program is Amazon’s way of garnering reviews for new and upcoming products, especially books and movies. Publishers/Manufacturers provide a certain number of each item. Amazon will send you an electronic catalog with these items for you to choose from. When you pick, they ship them to you for FREE. You get the item(s) and you get shipping at no charge. The kicker is, you have to write a review for them.
So the advantages? You garner more recognition as a reviewer and you gain the possible notice of various media, who will be interested in the pre-release reviews. You also get free stuff. There is a catch to this. Amazon Vine is by invite only. In other words, Amazon has to bring you into the fold. There is no way to simply go somewhere and sign up for it.
So how do you get in? Fortunately, I got in so I can tell you. You need to be a highly active reviewer on Amazon already. You need to review a variety of products, especially books and movies/shows. In addition, those reviews need to be of high enough quality to garner numerous “helpful” votes. As with many other aspects of Amazon, the exact numbers are unknown. I know that discussion forums have nothing to do with it because I do not participate in those. It appears to be strictly review based, which makes sense. One other thing, this may not mean anything, but I don’t write reviews for anything that I can’t rate at least 4 stars (the whole Karma thing).
So what does that mean for you? It is time to kick up those reviews. Review everything. If you watch a documentary on television, and it is available on DVD, write a review. If you read a book a year ago and still remember it, write a review. If there is a television show that you watch, and the previous seasons are available on DVD, write a review. Just make sure that you do not review anything you have not read/seen/used. You can even write reviews for household products and other things. The point is, this could be a great opportunity so shooting for it is a good idea.”

Robin Landry, Author of “When I Dream”
Being a part of Amazon's Vine Program is of course the free books and other merchandise.  It's like getting paid for doing what you love, and for me that's reading.  I had heard about the program so I became involved with the 'top reviewer' message boards, and in fact started a discussion called "All I want for Christmas is to be a Vine Voice."  The other reviewers came to my aid and what they said was basically, Amazon had to send you an invitation.  I waited and waited, while noticing that my ranking was higher than the Vine Voices around me.  Then one day, someone came on the discussion boards and told me where to look in Amazon for my invitation and there it was. 

So, what happens once you're a Vine Voice? Well, one Thursday a month, Amazon sends you a letter offering you a page worth of things to review based on what you've been reviewing so far.  Well, here's the catch, I had been doing some short young adult books to get my numbers up and guess what half the books that were offered to me to review?  Right, young adult books.  No worries, I have read some great new books from up-and-coming new authors, so it's been good.

While chatting to other reviewers, most of whom are not authors, has it's downfall.  For some reason quite a few of these reviewers have axes to grind and if they disagree with anything you've said, you will get an onslaught of negative reviews.  It's easy to tell why this happens because you'll just get negative reviews on the first things that come up on your profile.  People that do this are called Trolls by the reviewers and the Trolls will make up a new name so they no one knows what they're doing.  It's better to just stay away from the whole discussion group.

Now, to get lots of helpful votes, review things you like.  People who read reviews are already looking at the product or have already purchased it.  The last thing they want is to see what they've bought slammed.  It makes them feel stupid and you'll get lots of negative votes.  Also, try to be the first to read and review a big name author's book, like Danielle Steele.  Easy way to get lots of votes to move yourself up in the rankings.

The people at the top of the reviewing stack are very serious about their rankings and very competive.  They have lots of authors wanting reviews from them.  The top 500 reviewers are basically Amazon royalty.  I've heard through the boards, that some reviewers (top 10) have been asked for interviews, and have had authors wanting to come to them for an interview. 

The Vine Program is its own world and you need to know the rules once you get in.  Once you get your own letter, then a week later the whole comes out for everyone and it's long.  I've seen 26 pages of things wanting reviews, and some of the things are incredible.  Exercise machines, luggage, high chairs, printers, the list goes on.  Of course all these things are gone by the time I get there, in fact I've heard through the boards that people sit by their computers waiting for the letter to come out, then they tell each other what they got.

Anyway, it's worthwhile, it's fun, read the boards, just don't post, and wait for the Thursday letter!

Robin Landry

Amazon URL

The question was posted as to what link should be given on personal websites and other self-marketing materials in regards to purchasing a copy of your book. I am going to suggest that you use Amazon as the primary link for people who are interested in buying. You can use your personal site for media queries and other such needs. Matter of fact, I would even recommend that you link to your Amazon page from your own website. Here's why:

1. Amazon's recommendation and pairing system is the best of any online retailer. In other words, the more people purchase your book from Amazon (or even visit the page), the more likely your book will start showing up in the recommendations section of other book pages or in their computer generated emails.

2. Amazon will help you sell your book if your sales are high enough. The rankings are calculated hourly so the reality is, if you do an event that triggers a dozen people to buy your book and they all do it via Amazon, your sales rankings will shoot up. When your sales rankings shoot up, your book gets matched with other products.

3. Amazon's review system is the best known and most used of all online forums. People who do not shop at Amazon still go there to read reviews. Matter of fact, the media and foreign rights buyers also use Amazon.

The fact is, Amazon's setup will do far more for you and will do it in an automated manner, than any other site including your own. In the long run, purchases from Amazon will serve you the best.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Tagging- The Basics

. This is a great feature of Amazon and it is entirely user powered. Before going further, just look at the image below to see what tags are:

Basically, tags are user defined keywords for a book. When entering key words, sometimes an autofill menu pops up underneath. Amazon has numerous keywords that it will recommend, with a number next to it. The higher the number, the more popular the tag (and also the more competition for a top rank with that tag). If you look at the image above, each tag has a check box next to it and a number on the other side. The check boxes are for whether or not the user agrees with the tag and the number in parenthesis is the number of people who agreed with it.

Here’s where this comes into use. The more times a tag is voted on, the higher ranking the book has for said tag. Various communities are tied to the tags and there are individual rankings within. When people click on a tag to see the rankings, it would be a great idea for yours to be in the top. This is not difficult to do. We will help you but you can also help yourself. Here’s how:
1.       If you have only a few or no tags, you can add any that you want. Don’t go above 15 as the system limits each user to 15 tags (or votes) per item.

2.       You’re better off having about a dozen key words that you focus on than to spread your attention to numerous ones. Also, I would recommend only using one or two of the most popular tags.  This way you can use a bunch of other keywords that may be used a bit less but have significantly less competition. This is similar to keyword tailing in SEO. If you become the top dog in several lesser used tags, you’ll probably do better than if you try to get votes for the top performing keywords (which can have hundreds of votes when you’re talking about wildly popular books like Twilight or The Girl Who Kicked Over the Hornet’s Nest).

3.       Once you have the tags that you want, send an email to your family and friends. Have them go and vote on the tags. They need to have an active Amazon account to do this.

This one more method amongst a series of methods to garner as much attention to your book’s Amazon page as possible. Not only do we want it to come up in organic searches, but we want it to be maximized when other marketing methods start bringing traffic in.

How To Create A Listmania & Why

A segment of Amazon that can draw some good attention to you and your book(s) is the listmania feature. This allows you to build a themed list of various items. After you tag it and save it, the list will begin popping up in the margins on various pages and searches throughout the site. Over time, especially as it gets “helpful” votes, it will pop up more and more. So why do this?

  1. Remember your author signature? This will be on the listmania. As it begins to pop up randomly throughout Amazon, more people will not only see it, they’ll see that you are the author of a book. If they are enticed, you will have more draw to your book. You can at least get another click-through on your book’s page out of it, which is also helpful.
  2. The media scours Amazon. One of our authors was approached by a reporter because she really liked the listmania that the author created. She subsequently published an article that gave credit to the author.
  3. It is another way to have a presence on Amazon. Build up enough of a presence, you draw more people to your book.
So how do you do this? Here you go:
  1. Go into “My Account” on the upper right corner.
  2. Go to the heading “Personalization”. Click on the link “Product Reviews Written By You”.
  3. Click on the link “Listmania! Lists”.
  4. Click on the link for “Create Another List”
  5. Fill in the fields indicated. For introduction, make sure you describe the purpose of the list.
  6. Add products and save!
Listmanias can be short or long. They can contain anything. I would recommend creating listmanias that are geared toward your book’s target audience. That means, if you write Science Fiction, you should create listmanias that would entice Science Fiction fans. This way, they see your book and are more likely to search for it.

Speaking of your book, it’s time for a little note about including it in your lists. You can get away with it once. In that case, simply note that you are the author and few if any will take an issue. If you start banging out list after list with your book in it, people, including Amazon, will view it as spam. At minimum, Amazon may remove your lists.

 What is very likely is that people will vote your lists as not helpful and could even find other ways to retaliate (negative reviews, voting your reviews as not helpful, voting down your tags, etc). For some reason, there are a lot of sensitive people out there and there is a fine balance between marketing and entering into the realm of unethical behavior. Play it safe. Let people discover you, don’t rub their faces in your work.

Sunday, March 27, 2011

What would happen if 1000 Amazon Users collaborated their efforts?

Let’s See If We Can Decide Which Book’s Become Best-Sellers on Amazon

As you all know the beautiful thing about Amazon is that our actions and efforts on the site can actually make a difference when it comes to book promotion. Amazon is the first e-commerce site in history to take its user’s input and use that data to provide shoppers with the ultimate customized online shopping experience made available. Think to when you shop on the site and see the infamous “Customers who viewed this item also viewed….” slogan, how do you think Amazon picked those books to recommend? By OUR clicks! It really is an incredible operating system

I have been working hand in hand with our author, Mike Saxton, on what exactly cracks the Amazon algorithms. We think we are coming pretty darn close but we need your help.

Currently the Kindle store on lists just over 500,000 kindle editions available for sale. These low numbers (when compared to the book department with over 5,000,000) indicate a huge opportunity to increase visibility for our authors. Eventually every book will be in kindle form so we need to act now.

As of Sunday, March 27th 2011, Mike Saxton’s kindle version of his book “7 Scorpions: Rebellion” is being sold for a limited time for .99 cents.

We want to see what our clicks and views can do in the sense of increasing promotion on Amazon.  We want to see what level of user activity it takes for this book to get swept up by the Amazon computers and virally promoted through their systems.

You do not have to buy this Kindle edition (although no one would mind if you did!) we just need you to help us by clicking a few buttons.

What you need to do:

  1. Visit:
  2. Click on the .99 cent tag ( it will look like the image below )
  3. Vote on any reviews you find helpful.

That’s it! Pretty simple. This is a new era and our “e-voices” make a difference now let’s watch it unfold!


Discussion Board Posting- Comment and let us know your thoughts!

Discussion Board Posting on Amazon: Is it a Do or Dont?

The purpose of this message is to “enlighten” you on discussion boards (specifically Amazon but it is applicable to others, especially author boards). On the surface, these seem like a good idea and in many cases . . . they are. The problem is, with over 200,000 books published per year in the United States alone, there is intense and often time fierce competition for attention and readers. Unfortunately, though most authors tend to do the right thing, there are plenty that are out to “burn” other authors in an attempt to bolster their own popularity (basically, aggressively eliminate competition).
There have been numerous authors over the last couple of years who have been victims of “cyber bullying” (as well as others). This is when an individual or group of online users utilizes the web to discredit, coerce, harass, threaten, etc another user.
Below is a list of things to keep in mind before engaging in any community when utilizing your true identity:
1.       Do your best to stay with reputable discussion boards, especially.
2.       Avoid revealing too much personal information about yourself. I know it can be easy to let loose some details as you get more heavily involved but being cautious with this group of people that you just don’t know is highly advisable. Cyber bullies have been known to collect as much personal information as possible and remember: “what you say can and will be used against you”.
3.       Avoid political or hot topic discussions such as abortion, religion, racial relations, etc. That is best saved for forums where you are anonymous. These kind of topics garner extremely deep feelings with a number of people and, just as you hear about all of the time, have driven people to be out of character. Stick to the books so to speak.
4.       Be careful about sharing tips and tricks. It is okay to do that somewhat (I do it) but don’t give away any big time connections that you have in a forum. Remember, there is a difference between being collegiate and being taken advantage of.
5.       If things start to get hot, get out! Matter of fact, I would recommend having a separate email address just for this kind of thing. That way, you can always let it go if things get rough.  Also keep in mind that memories are short. If you get out of dodge quick enough, it won’t take long for the bullies to forget you and move on to someone else, minimizing any damage.
6.       Don’t over promote your book. Funny enough, consumers and other authors are finicky. Everyone knows you need to get the word out but there is a fine line between getting the word out and spamming and that line is drawn by the observer so it is difficult to even pinpoint. It’s something that you need to get a feel for.
A little warning about Amazon discussion boards. I have personally known numerous people who have run into trouble on these forums. They get heated pretty easily. Unless a discussion is specifically asking for authors to post books that meet their criteria (and some do), you are probably wasting your time. Optimizing Amazon is specifically about getting your book to pop up organically. Since many discussion boards view promoting your book as spam, you’re better off spending your time elsewhere unless you find one that is specifically looking for books like yours and they are asking for it.
Cyber bullies on Amazon are known to mess with reviews. The problem with Amazon is they tend not to care all that much about lesser known authors. They address paying customer concerns but even if you are a customer, when you approach them as an author, that is what you are and they are not always interested in going out of their way for you. That means that fixing review issues can be a tough gig with them (if someone maliciously posts a negative review, a group of people getting together to vote your reviews as not helpful, etc).
The good news is that Amazon has bots in place that often pick up large scale blitzes and they will remove the damage on their own. They care about their review system since they are famous for it. I know it has been mentioned once, but it bears repeating. If things get too hot in a discussion board, get out! Very little is worth driving up your blood pressure over, especially discussion boards.


Sunday, March 20, 2011

Good Sources For Reviews

Since Amazon itself is a central hub for people to read reviews for books, as well as other materials (even if they do not purchase them from Amazon), it is important to not only get a good number of reviews, but to get them from a variety of sources. Matter of fact, there has been increased attention from the international community on Amazon’s validity, due to its high level of success over the last five years. The international book industry realizes that Amazon is a good source for finding new content. As a result, foreign rights buyers use Amazon as a reference point when researching new titles to purchase. By having a dominant Amazon presence, you will ensure your book is well represented to foreign rights buyers. This being the case, I highly recommend a minimum of 5 – 8 quality reviews.
Below are review and/or contest sites that I would recommend submitting your book to for review. Midwest Book Review actually gives preference to books from smaller presses and self-published authors. This is a free review site; they do not do expedited reviews. It can take a couple of months to receive your review but they post it all over the place, including Amazon. There are numerous, informative articles about seeking reviews and I will give you some highlights below. Readers Favorite is a site that gives you multiple choices. You can query for a free review, enter their contest (like most contests, there is a small fee but you will also get a review out of it), or you can pay a fee for an expedited review (see below for an explanation of expedited reviews). Unlike other reviewers, they will only post your review on Amazon if it is a 4 or 5 star review. They will give you the choice if it is 3 stars and it can be buried if it is less than that. This is another site that offers the choices of free review, expedited review, and contest entry. They actually will provide a formal tear sheet in PDF format via email. They offer publicity services for a price; it would be up to you whether or not you would like to use them. Yet another site that offers a choice of free review, expedited review, and contest entry. Just like Rebecca’s Reads, they will provide a formal tear sheet in PDF format. This site offers either a free review or expedited review. The expedited reviews can be purchased in packages with other services for publicity. Again, this kind of thing is up to you, I will provide more details later in the email. In my recent look at this site, it appears that free reviews are no longer an option and you can only sign up for an expedited review. They provide a PDF tear sheet of your review. This site gives a choice between standard (free) reviews and publicity packages with expedited reviews. They provide a PDF tear sheet for your review. This is a relatively well known contest: The Indie Book Awards. It is only a contest; there are no other options (unless something has changed). There is a fee for the submission, which is not unusual for contests. They will provide a review although it may take quite a while as they tend to get a substantial number of submissions.
Alright, a few notes on “expedited reviews”. There are multiple schools of thought in the field about such services that you should be aware of. First of all, it is a fee that you will pay to the site (we don’t pay it for you). In a typical review submission, your book is not guaranteed for a review. If it is approved for an expedited review, it becomes guaranteed and it also moves up in priority so you get it faster. Each of the above sites makes the claim that expedited reviews do not guarantee a positive review (and by what I have seen, they hold true to that). Some members of the industry regard any review that you pay anything for as invalid (with the possible exception of contests).
The counterargument is that these sites do not indicate in your review whether or not you signed up for an expedited review. It is really something that is up to you. With the exception of Feathered Quill Reviews and contests, you always have the options to seek a free review. Your average reader does not know what an expedited review is or what it means. This is where it really becomes your choice whether or not you wish to take this route.
Remember, when you are submitting to a review site (or a newspaper or magazine or blog or magazine), there is a risk for a negative review. Within the author exchange, if an author does not feel they can give you a good review, then they do not give one at all. As disheartening as that may be, at least you know you will either get 4 stars, 5 stars, or nothing at all so there is really no risk. Going to the outside for reviews can be a bit stressful but it is important to broaden your horizons. Remember, if you really feel strongly about your book and feel that you have written a good piece, it is time to leave your shell. Also keep in mind, not everyone likes every book out there. Most bestsellers (especially in fiction), do have some negative (and brutal) reviews. Believe it or not, it ends up balancing out and gives a bit of credibility to your review pool overall (or at least, if you have a handful of four star reviews in addition to the five stars).
There are sites that will give you the ability to pay for a review and will guarantee you a good review. You will notice that I did not place any of these on the list. Review reliability is diminished for “set up” reviews like this. These sites tend to be a bit more known so if you want to use your reviews for publicity, these may harm you more than anything else although most readers still won’t know the difference. Again, this is really up to you. There is an element of risk here.
When submitting for a free review, keep in mind that the days that reviewers tend to be the most inundated is Monday and Tuesday so timing your mailing to land in their mail room for a Thursday or Friday is helpful as there are less books coming in that yours will need to compete with. Also pay attention to the month. September, October, and November are extremely busy as people are trying to publicize their books for the holiday season. Also, April and May are extremely busy for the Spring market which is quite big in the book industry. July and August tend to be a little more dead and January and February (and the second half of December) tend to be the deadest times for reviewers. Obviously, if you choose expedited, it moves up in priority so these dates do not matter as much except that they may have too many requests and not accept your book for review.


Press Releases and How THEY CAN Help You on Amazon

I will let you know up front, you may wonder what this has to do with Amazon Optimization. Keep with me, you’ll understand soon. What we are going to discuss here are press releases. You probably have some familiarity with what a press release is, because one was probably put out when you became published (if you are self published and have not put out a press release, you should do so as soon as possible). For those that do not know, a press release is effectively a news article written with the purpose to draw attention to something. For instance, large companies will put out a press release when announcing a merger or a movie production company will put one out to announce an upcoming movie. The press release is to entice the media to pursue a story and/or to notify the general public of some new development or product.
The press release has several sections.
1.       Title: Like any article, the title is a major draw and it is the first thing a prospective reader will see.
2.       Abstract/Summary: This section is a two or three sentence overview of what your press release is about. This is what shows up in searches. It is extremely important that you use the limited space here to provide text that will entice a reader to actually open your release and read further. You want yours to stick out. Remember, books are released every day, what is so special about what you have to offer? Attention spans are short, you need to be able to grab the attention of your target audience in the first sentence.
3.       Introduction: The introduction is similar to the abstract (but should not be word for word the same). It is only a few sentences and it needs to draw the reader in. This is where you really will want to angle your story as best as possible.
4.       Body: Like any other piece, this is where you give more details. Remember, you don’t want a press release to be too long, so the body only needs two or three paragraphs of solid material. Avoid making it read like an advertisement. You will really want to show that you have a story to tell or that what you have to offer is interesting.
5.       Conclusion: Like any other document, this is a paragraph to wrap things up. It’s a good time to restate the introduction and remind the reader of what your angle is.
6.       Tags (Optional): Not all press release services support this but these are a series of keywords to tag your press release to have it show up when someone is looking specifically for topics related. Make sure your tags make sense to the content (don’t tag it mystery if it is science fiction, etc).
7.       Contact Information: This is how interested parties will communicate with you. Depending on the service, they may mask the information (a link for email without displaying your actual email, etc). Whatever you do, don’t put your personal contact information. This is where you would have a specific email address meant for being an author. If you have a PO box, you could list that as an address.
8.       Pictures/Other Media: Depending on the service, you may be allowed to upload a certain number of images and/or videos. You may also be permitted to upload documents such as PDFs. It can be tempting to take a feature like this to the extreme but remember, you only have a few seconds to catch the attention of a reader. Believe it or not, too much media draws their attention away from the point of your article.

When writing your copy, keep in mind the concept of SEO (Search Engine Optimization). The search engines index press releases, no matter how basic or advanced the service. To increase the chances of getting a higher ranking, strategic insertion of keywords is important. A pitfall with this, however, is when the same keywords are inserted so often that the quality of the writing suffers (or doesn’t make sense).

So, why do I mention press releases? What are some advantages beyond announcing your book’s release do they serve?
1.       Each and every release you put out is another indexed page. You are allowed to place two or three self-serving hyperlinks in your release. One of these should be to your website. The more links to your website that you pepper the internet with, the better the search engine rankings for it are.
a.       For those of you that do not know, here is a basic explanation of hyperlinks. They are the underlined text (called anchor text links) that you click on that carry you to another site. They can appear as regular text with an underline, or they can be a web address (like Any time you can use an anchor text link, you are better off. The code for this would be <a href =>Text Here</a>.
b.      Avoid linking to blogs as the links tend to change with those. Bad links get penalized by search engines when they calculate your rankings. Anchor text links carry more juice than standard hyperlinks.
2.       Placing a link to your Amazon page will increase the click-throughs to said page. Even if people do not buy it directly through the link, page views for your book are helpful in the formation of recommendations by the Amazon site.
3.       Each release is another page on the internet that discusses you and/or your book. This is the concept of viral marketing. The more you’re out there, the more likely you are to be discovered.
4.       As you build your marketing portfolio, you may find that you have interesting stories to share with the world. It is possible that if you appear enough, members of the media will become interested in you. Media publicity is not only free, it is some of the most effective publicity that you can get.

What are possible subjects of a press release? Here are a few ideas:
1.       Book reviews by known websites and/or publications. Each time your book is reviewed by one of these sources, you should put out a press release. The typical agreement when it comes to reviews is that you can quote any part of it that you want. This means that if you get a good review but there are some negative aspects, you can take what you want and put it in the release and leave the rest out. Just remember though, you typically need to link to the review site as part of the conditions of receiving the review so people can get to the full text of it although most don’t. If you notice, when people quote the New York Times, they typically quote a sentence or two even though the reviews are almost always a lot longer than that.
2.       Major speaking engagements or book signings are another reason. If you are going to be in a high profile area, put out a press release. If you are going to be in a small town independent bookstore, it is probably not newsworthy enough to warrant putting out a release. Of course, if you have a formal speaking engagement, you should definitely put out a press release.
3.       Unique stories about you are great for press releases. These days, writing a book is not news. If there is some aspect of your writing or yourself that is newsworthy (overcoming some type of hardship, etc), that tends to draw the attention of the media. People love that kind of stuff. I can utilize myself as an example. My writing is based on four years of lucid dreams that I had during high school and college. The first radio station I approached with that news invited me on for an interview.
So where do you go to put out a press release? It depends on how much money you have. There are two sites that I’ve used, which I will describe below.
  1. PR Web is an extremely well known Press Release site. Each release is indexed by Google and Yahoo news. There are different packages that can get you additional services including editing and SEO maximizing. More expensive packages also let you post video. The catch of course, is that it is expensive to post a press release here. Unless you feel as though more focused attention will definitely get you more valuable publicity, it may be a waste of your money to use this option. I will say that last year, they had a Black Friday deal where all of their services were half price.
  2. PR Log is a great site. You have a choice between free press releases and paid ones. You can purchase credits and the paid ones are relatively inexpensive for the added benefit of them being sent through the Google and Yahoo news feeds. The free ones are still search engine indexed and you really have no limit as to how many you put out there so have at it.
Press releases are a great way to continue to get the word out about your status as an author and about your book. The more you have going on, the better. The more search engine indexed pages that link back to you and your book, the better. The more you have a presence, the better.


Sunday, February 20, 2011

How To Get Your Kindle and Soft/Hardcover Versions Linked Together on Amazon

How To Get Your Kindle and Soft/Hardcover Versions Linked Together on Amazon

Amazon Kindle Optimization

Part of optimizing your Amazon page is having it go hand-in-hand with the Kindle version. If you have not already signed up to have your book formatted for Kindle, I would suggest doing so as soon as possible. By the end of 2010, ebook sales were up by $1 billion. Amazon reported Kindle versions of their top 10 bestsellers outsold the print 2 – 1 (as reported to engadget). Some in the industry believe that eBook sales will increase by over $3 billion in 2011.

If you have already done the Kindle conversion (or are planning to), here are some important first steps once it is complete.

  1. 1.      Go to the Kindle listing on Amazon and see if it is linked with your print book (you will see the box below, plus your reviews for your print book will appear for the Kindle).

If they are not linked (and Amazon is not always good about doing this on their own), simply go to the “contact us” screen (sometimes it gets moved but if you go into the “help” link at the upper right of the screen and search for “contact us”, it will bring you to the page). All you need to do is write a query to them, indicating the book title and author, and let them know that the two formats should be connected. It takes about a week.
2.       When the two formats are joined, the tags are not. The good news is that if someone finds your book based on tags, they will be able to get to the Kindle version if the two are linked.
3.       Tag your Kindle version book and have your friends, coworkers, etc vote on the tags, just as with the print version.
4.       Share the update on Facebook, Twitter, chats, groups, etc that your book is available on Kindle.
5.       I would recommend putting out a free press release to announce this. You can do so through

Once you have your print and your Kindle versions, you now have double the presence on Amazon.

 There are some important things to keep in mind with Kindle, which add to the value.
1.       There are a little over 770,000 books available on Kindle. That is less competition for your book and the interest in eBooks is increasing quickly (matter of fact, the interest is increasing faster than the population of books in Kindle format, great time to get on board).
2.       International sales are becoming more dependent on electronic versions.
3.       Pairings with other books are easier for Kindle. In normal circumstances, pairings are assisted greatly when your book is purchased at the same time as others on a consistent basis. With Kindle, pairings are entirely based on purchasing history, since eBooks are downloaded one at a time. The likelihood of your book being paired with others is much higher.
4.       Some reports suggest that a person is more likely to purchase an eBook on a whim than a printed book, especially when dealing with online sales.
5.       Combine all of this with the reviews that you have gotten and will continue to get, you have a great opportunity to sell a large number of copies.
6.       Remember, New York Times now has eBook bestseller lists!

Especially important:  As previously mentioned, there are just over 770,000 Kindle books available on Amazon. This makes your rate of exposure increase exponentially and your odds of being picked up into Amazon’s recommendation system higher. Amazon separates Kindle rankings from Amazon rankings. This is HUGELY beneficial to you because in the Kindle department your book is 1 of 770,000 as in the Amazon marketplace your book is 1 of over 5,000,000. I hope you see the opportunity here. The kindle/eBook market is going to grow in the next year like a wildfire so if you can get in and establish a presence in that marketplace now you will be set for the future. 

Author Central - Part 2 - Author's Page

Author Central - Part 2 - Author's Page

Hopefully by now you have already gone in and claimed your Author's Page via Author central. If you already have your author's page created and updated on your book's Amazon page here are some tips on how to maximize this information portal for your target readers viewing pleasure! 

 Now it’s time to go in and set it up! After you have verified your account, you can add content. An explanation of this appears next.

After you log in for the first time, you will see the welcome screen with various content below. The important thing is the tabs at the top.
1.        Home is the page you land on.
2.       Books is where you actually “claim” your book. Within is an “Add more Books” button. Click that and you will be able to link your book with your profile. After any books are added, you will see them here, complete with the # of editions, sales rank, and average review score. If you have more than one version (paperback, kindle, hardback, audio, etc), the stats for the one with the best sales rank will be displayed.
3.       Profile is the next big one. There are five sections here. For each, click the “add” or “edit” link (it’s in blue in the upper right corner of each section). In each circumstance, a window will pop up with specific instructions. They change them sometimes so the screens are not posted here, but it is quite simple to use.
a.      Biography: This is your author biography. It’s fine if you use the same one that you typically use, just remember to update it when it changes.
b.      Blogs: This feature allows you to start an Amazon blog. If you already have a blog, you can add the RSS feed here. You can add as many as you like so if you have multiple blogs, you can have multiple feeds. It creates a sort of 1-stop shopping and you do not have to copy your individual blog entries to Amazon. It can take up to a day for one of your new entries to make it to the Amazon page but it will go automatically.
c.       Events: This is a feature that you should make sure you use. Any author-related events that you have (speaking, book signings, etc), make sure to add them here. This also includes the international book fairs, even if you are doing the “book-in-booth” program when you aren’t actually going to be there. You can still indicate that your book will be represented. The reason this is important is that media will look at Amazon feeds to find out what’s going on. This is yet another way to open yourself up to possible media coverage.
d.      Pictures: This is where you can upload various pictures. Keep in mind that this is actually regulated, so make sure you have rights to these pictures (i.e. they’re ones you’ve taken or created yourself, no images of your favorite movie characters that you found on Google). If you have pictures of yourself from events, these are good to post.
e.      Videos: Just as with pictures, you must have rights to any video that you post here. Keep it book related so any video trailers for your book should go here. They allow videos of up to 500 MB so feel free to upload high resolution (although, depending on your connection speed, it could take awhile). They now allow more than one video to be posted so have at it. Remember, this page is indexed by search engines. From a SEO (search engine optimization) standpoint, video(s) increase the page’s rank. A good example of a video clip can be viewed here: 

4.       Sales Info: This feature has been enhanced. There is a map displayed here with areas shaded as to where your book has sold (hard copy only, eBooks are not tracked via this medium). The system uses a service called bookscan, which counts the number sold via several mediums, including brick and mortar stores (not all stores report to this service, but the big ones like Barnes and Noble and Borders do). The lined areas are “combined areas”. The population of booksellers in these areas are spread out to the point where reporting numbers may  diminish the anonymity of the store reporting, so they combine these into one. Below the map is a bar graph which tells you the numbers per week of the last 4 weeks. The last graph is the charting of the sales rank. In this area, you can switch between the various formats and look at how they have done historically. You can change it from 2 weeks to 1 month, to “all available”. The key with this area is not to get too obsessed. This does not report every sale as Nook and other eReaders are not part of it, nor every bookseller. Also, the books you sell on your own are not counted here.

5.       Customer Reviews is a tab that shows a list of the reviews for your book(s). You can switch between the “short” view and the “full” view and you can also change the sort order.
6.       Help is the last tab and this is where you go if you are having trouble.

Remember, this is not the same thing as your Amazon Profile, which is what you write reviews under, make purchases through, etc. This is what people will see when they go to your book’s page and click on your name, so it is important.

For an example of an author who has utilized the functions listed above please view this here: (note the author has his blog and video linked).

Author Central Example:

Mike Saxton, "7 Scorpions: Rebellion"

Robin Landry, "When I Dream"

Once again I hope this helps everyone out! Your comments are always appreciated :)