Promote Your Work on Amazon with Amazon Connect
Wouldn’t it be nice if you could stand in the bookstore next to your books and recommend them directly to anyone who stopped to take a look? You could answer questions, talk about how you came to write it, mention the sequel you’re working on, and just generally connect with your readers. Wouldn’t it be nice, too, if after they bought the book, you could update them about your new books as they came out, or add information that you didn’t have time or space to include in the printed copy?
Amazon Connect comes pretty close to letting you do this. Amazon Connect allows anyone with at least one published book listed on Amazon to add their own content to their books’ pages — kind of like a blog, though readers can’t comment on your posts. When potential buyers visit your book’s page to check it out, your most recent posts appear as part of the page. If they’ve already bought your book, any updates you post will appear on their personalized homepage, so you can keep in touch with your readers even after they’ve bought your book (which is a great way to tell them about the next one).
Signing up is a little tricky. You have to have an Amazon account, which is easy enough — who doesn’t have one, these days? Once you’ve logged in on the Amazon Connect page, it will send you an email to verify your email address. You click the link, return to Amazon Connect, and continue. You’ll have to “claim” your books — you can claim anything you’re the author of or have a chapter in, from what I understand. This is handled using a nifty little search bar — search your name, and click “add” to claim which ever titles in the results are yours.
Here’s the tricky part — you need a third party — an agent, a publisher, or an editor — to verify your “ownership” of the title. Once you’ve added a title, there’s a little “Select verifier” button; clicking it brings up a form to add your verifier’s contact information — name, company, email, and phone. I chose my editor. They’ll contact your verifier (hint: your verifier might not know about Amazon Connect, so best to tip them off to expect to hear from Amazon) and once you’ve been vouched for, you’re ready to go.
Now, here’s something nice: you can add your blog’s RSS feed! Which means your latest posts on your blog will appear on Amazon — which is nice for me, since I talk about my work a lot in my personal blog (dwax.org, if you care). Of course, if you post stuff on your site that would be out of place on Amazon — maybe you write erotica and children’s books, and keep an erotica blog — it might be a bad idea to use your blog’s feed… You can still add posts directly to your page from inside Amazon, whether or not you also import your blog posts.
It takes a while to verify your account, but you can log into your profile page and start adding pictures, a bio, and even posts immediately (although posts won’t show up until your account is verified). If you’re self-published, check with your printer or publishing service to see if there’s someone there who can verify your authorship — I’m not sure exactly how that works (if anyone’s had any luck with that, let me know in the comments).
Amazon Connect seems like a great deal for published writers — although naturally it only allows you to reach out to Amazon shoppers. I don’t know if other online book stores will follow suit, but if they do, hopefully they’ll all allow you to import posts from your blog’s RSS feed. I could see setting up a new blog for each book and feeding posts to several online bookstores from that single point. I can’t see logging into several different bookstores on anything like a regular basis and creating new posts for all of them — sounds like a logistical nightmare. That said, it might be what’s needed, since few publishers offer much in the way of marketing these days except to their top sellers. Since Amazon is clearly the #1 online bookseller, a little effort there might go a long ways towards making up for the lack of marketing from your publisher.
Note: I know that many authors are upset with Amazon over their poor treatment of self-publishers. Some are boycotting Amazon and focusing on B&N or Borders to promote their work. I’m sympathetic to that cause, but if you have a traditionally-published book, you can’t afford to ignore Amazon sales. If Borders or B&N offer a similar service, I’d recommend using theirs, too, but Amazon is, as far as I can tell, the only one to offer something like this.