Sunday, January 30, 2011

Amazon's "Personal Shopping Experience" and How This Benefits Authors

Amazon’s Personal Shopping Experience

As an author you should already be familiar with and how it operates. This online distribution site is one of the most successful business’ to date and part of this is due to the fact that they give each user their own personalized shopping experience. Online shopping is becoming an increasingly preferred way to buy. Consumers can search the internet for the best deals, review/research products and have them ordered and shipped directly from the seats of their own homes.  Convenience is key here and Amazon has recognized this fact early on. realized that giving its users a customized shopping experience is an essential element for their success and a way to differentiate themselves from competitors. Amazon has implemented their “recommendation” system as a way to individualize each user’s time on the site.   A product of any sort can typically be bought on over 10 online outlets at any given point, so finding a way to retain customers is a huge goal for any online company.  Amazon has overcome this barrier with their infamous “Recommendation System”.

When you make a purchase on their internal systems monitor and track your actions. They systematically record which books you view, how long you stay on a page, what you vote on and anything you review or include in your Listmanias (to be discussed later).  All of this data is then computed to help make thoughtful and useful recommendations to its users.  To break it down if you buy Product A, Amazon will simultaneously recommend to you Product B and C because they are “like” in nature. Meaning that it’s users have told them that these two books are in some way related or share a similar target audience.

How This Benefits You, the Author:

Now this should be seriously be peaking your interest as an author.  Because of the systems Amazon uses this allows for extreme potential in regards to increasing your book’s exposure.  Amazon realizes that by shopping online the consumer loses the ability to “browse” through aisles of a book store, flip through the pages, or read the back cover. So in order to inform readers of new titles they may have never heard of Amazon associates products together based off what their users tell them!

Let’s take an example. Say you wrote a new children’s poetry book and it has just hit the market.  If you are a first time author getting your book out there is extremely hard and time consuming. However if your book was to be associated as “just like” those of bestselling children’s poetry author Shel Silverstien, this would instantly increase your book’s exposure on Amazon and connect you with thousands of potential customers.  This would be a major accomplishment for your book and one that is completely within your grasps to achieve. The best part is you can use Amazon to market your book and get it associated with other products at absolutely no cost to you.

Over the upcoming weeks I will be going over the material below in-depth. These are all methods you need to utilize on the site as they will directly impact the promotion of your book.  Activity is what triggers Amazon’s systems and what lets them know your book is relevant enough for them to include in their recommendation lists.  The below concepts are what you need to work on in order to appear on Amazon’s radar and thus in return increase your sales.

-          Author Central
-          Amazon Profile
-          Reviews
-          Tags
-          Votes
-          Listmania
-          So You’d Like to Guides
-          Discussion Posting and Community Participation
-          Feeding Traffic
-          Integration with major Social Media sites

By focusing on the above elements you can personally feed traffic and activity to your book’s Amazon page. Amazon needs to be regarded in the same manner you would Facebook and Twitter. This is one of the cheapest and easiest ways to market your book and a  marketing outlet you cannot affort to overlook in the future.


Sunday, January 23, 2011

Why Amazon?

Why Amazon?

In order for you to understand “just how relevant” Amazon is to your book’s social media initiative I want to highlight some key components of the Amazon business model.

Marketing your book takes both large amounts of patience and work. You have to know where to direct your efforts in the most efficient way possible to maximize your book’s presence. So why invest your time on Amazon? Easy half the work is already done for you. Let’s look at how:

#1:  Amazon has already created a successful business model and proven that it works. If you walk into a restaurant and ask anyone there if they know what is, the typical response is yes. That being said by marketing your book directly on Amazon you instantly have access to all if its users.

-Implication: These are people who use Amazon regularly, so you can focus on promoting your book rather than also trying to obtain a steady following and maintain user interactions.  

#2:  Amazon has the ability to display and sell over 5,000,000 books.  Because Amazon is an online distribution channel for books they are not confined to the space restrictions of physical book stores. We all know how hard it can be to get your book into, say Barnes & Nobles, because on average each store stocks only 20,000 titles. Of those 20,000 half are reserved for re-prints and best-sellers, giving only 10,000 spots for newly published or un-known authors. The odds are not in your favor considering in the U.S alone there are over 190,000 new published books a year. (Note this does not include those books that do not require ISBN numbers). 

-Implication: As long as your book has a valid ISBN number you can typically have your book uploaded for sale on Amazon.  Thus you do not have to spend weeks or months soliciting book stores to carry your work. Your publisher ( or self-published author ) simply has to submit your book’s data to Amazon and it will usually be uploaded to the site.

#3: Amazon’s unique customer shopping experience. As we all know buying products on the internet has become the norm and people around the world are enjoying the ease of “click and buy”. However in order to increase and retain customer usage, Amazon wants to give each shopper their own customized experience. Hence their infamous “Recommendations”.

-Implication: In order to help assist buyers in their decisions and enlighten shoppers on new books they may or may not have ever heard of, Amazon will often when a purchase is made recommend “like products”. Basically,  if you buy product A on Amazon they will recommend you product B and C because those products are of similar nature to A.  You can easily get your book into the product B and C categories by learning how to operate and promote your book on Amazon.

#3: Customer Feedback: Amazon wants its users to let them know what they like and don’t like. They allow their customers to vote on products they like, vote on reviews as helpful, tag books with associated key words, create Lismanias of favorite books and much more.

-Implication: You can tell Amazon what your book compares to. If you can get enough activity going for your book and direct it in a manner that helps with promotion you can manipulate your standings so they will be picked up by Amazon’s algorithms and then integrated into their recommendation systems. Thus increasing your odds for potential sales.

#4: Increased International Awareness of Amazon’s Validity: Due to the success Amazon has demonstrated over the last 5 years the book industry (whether marketing or production) realizes that Amazon is a source for finding new content.

-Implication:  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. Reviews are key here so you need to make sure your book has quality reviews, I would suggest 5-8 as a bare minimum for un-known authors.

#5: Amazon Marketplace: Amazon is consistently updating their system and adding new functions. This should indicate to you their stability and give you an idea of their future expansion. Not something you can ignore.

-Implication: Amazon already has a notable market share of revenue when it comes to book sales. Their forward movements should indicate to you that they will continue to grow and their presence is not going anywhere.  This should help you realize the importance of establishing a relevant presence on Amazon now and what it will lead to in the future.

#6 E-books and the Kindle: E-books in themselves are transforming the book industry as we know it and it is happening right now.  Kindle has become Amazon’s #1 best-selling product.

-Implication: If you have an e-version of your book, having it listed with Amazon is a pathway to sales. Books available on the Kindle are often cheaper than Hardback or Softcover versions allowing consumers to buy more with less. With over 500,000 Kindle editions being sold, this is a market you cannot afford to ignore.

What I have mentioned above are some of the more obvious reasons why Amazon can benefit your book. Next week I will introduce you with two steps you can do from your computer to help jump start your author presence. Remember Amazon needs to be treated as a social media site just like you would for Facebook and Twitter. This means you need to establish an author presence aside from your book promotion efforts.


Friday, January 21, 2011

Amazon as a Marketing Platform for Published Authors

As we have all heard the Social Media Revolution is here and in full swing.  No longer are outlets like Facebook and Twitter used for just personal use as we have seen its full integration with professional capabilities.

Blogging, Tweeting, Skyping, and Facebooking are all common terms you more than likely hear on a daily basis. As an author this new wave of technology should be making you extremely excited about the year to come.  Being an author is not as easy as many of you have come to learn.  Writing the content for your book was just step 1, where the difficulties begin is getting your book into the hands of your readers and taping into the marketing aspects. You can have a New York Times best seller on your hands but if you don’t actively market your work no one will ever know it exists.

Currently publishers around the world are gearing into full marketing programs and services that help assist their authors in social media promotion.  Social Media Marketing needs to be one of your top priorities in 2011 as what we learn now will be the building blocks for the future.

Now to Amazon.

What a lot of authors don’t realize is that Amazon needs to be treated and regarded in the same manner as you would Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn. Online distribution sites like and B&N are transforming the book industry in terms of retail.  Physical Book stores are fading in importance as the ease of clicking a mouse and selecting shipping options allows you to order your items from the seat of your couch. What is unique about Amazon is that their aim is to “personalize” your shopping experience. They want to customize your time on the site and give you the best shopping experience possible as this ultimately would lead to re-peat use or business for them.  

This blog is intended to help authors promote their published books on Amazon.  In this blog I will cover tips on how to improve your author presence on Amazon, how to get quality reviews for your book, concept definitions (Voting, Tagging, Listmania, etc.) and examination of the Amazon business model and what leads to its success.

With over 5 million books listed on Amazon for sale, this is a distribution outlet you cannot afford to overlook.