Hate to Love Amazon
edited: Wednesday, June 18, 2003
By Carolyn HowardJohnson
Posted: Wednesday, June 18, 2003
Become a Fan
So You’d Like To…Plan a Targeted Publicity Strategy for Your Book
By Carolyn Howard-Johnson
Award-winning author of This is the Place and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered and columnist for MyShelf.com
Even with a publicity background, I stepped in lots of mucky publicity potholes when my first novel was published:
I thought that hiring a professional was the only way to go—after all I had once been one of those, right?
When I realized there were other ways of doing things, I thought I had to spend money.
When I realized I didn’t have to spend money, I fell into shooting publicity bullets at well, if not really the wrong audience, then certainly not the audience that would buy the most books.
Then I discovered Amazon. Not that it hadn’t been around the whole time. I just didn’t give it much credit because it is an entity that my author-friends love to hate. This site does have a few policies that I think are antagonistic to a writer’s goals so now I’ve found these promotion tools on it, I hate to love it.
Nevertheless, love it I do. It offers many opportunities for an author to target a reading audience. That’s the one we’re after, right? There is, a personal page that authors can use to their advantage, a feature for recommendations and something called Listmania. My favorite, however, is the “So You’d Like To….” feature.
This is a place where authors (and others) can post essays that are relevant to their book. The harder a writer works at these, the more frequently her work will appear on the site. Your name can appear in dozens, if not hundreds of Amazon web pages with just one or two contributions to the “So You’d Like To….” feature. Here are some guidelines:
Open an Amazon account if you haven’t already. If you have already done so, a tab should appear on the home page that includes your name. Mine says “Carolyn’s Store.”
Find the “Friends and Favorites” feature by scrolling down to a “Special Features” box.
Explore “Friends and Favorites.” Take your time, it’s worth it. Make sure you install a page in “Your About You Area.” Use your picture or book cover art.
Write an essay (or recycle one) that will appeal to readers and be sure to subtly mention your book in it. Choose a subject that will accommodate your book’s title in the accompanying list and at least three others. You may add up to 50 titles. Yours must not be among the first three.
Find the “So You’d Like To….” link. Add your essay (copy and paste). Type in the related book, tape, and video titles according to the instructions.
Be sure to type in your name and/or the name of your book in the title windows that are offered.
Carefully proofread (edit). Make sure that this essay is one you can be proud of; remember, you don’t know who might read it. Be sure to click on the “publish” button when you’re done.
Voila! This list will magically appear on many pages throughout the Amazon site. It will be targeted primarily to the books that you chose to list but may appear elsewhere as well. Obviously it pays to include some books on your list that will attract heavy traffic from book-lovers.
I recently figured out that I could help fellow authors by offering to include their books on my list. I posted my offer in an e-mail to a group of fellow authors who would promise me they would be accessible to fans by offering a gift or a signature label to them if they were contacted. (The accessibility of authors was the subject of the essay.) I had to turn away so many grateful authors who wanted to be included that I’m planning another article as soon as I figure out a new angle that will work to help the others and to give the right kind of exposure to my two books. After all, authors read, too, right? They also publicize. This is a kind of karma that may come back to me. Either way, if felt good to do it. Here is the link for that essay: http://www.amazon.com/exec/obidos/tg/guides/guide-display/-/H3M5DP3WRXDS/ref=cm_bg_dp_l_2/102-2927160-6432116. It is a re-edited version of my “Back to Literature” column for MyShelf.com.
One caveat. Amazon claims to “own” any writing you post. This has not, to my knowledge been tested in court, but keep this in mind when making a decision to publicize or not to publicize using Amazon’s facilities. I decided to risk the rights to a couple of essays in order to expose them and my books to millions of actual readers in any given year. I mean, why hide even one’s articles under a bushel? Many of the nation’s best review journals could not get your work this kind of readership.
(Carolyn Howard-Johnson is the author of This is the Place and Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered. Her novel has won eight awards and the creative nonfiction collection
has won three. Kristie Leigh Maguire, reviewer and author, says “Carolyn Howard-Johnsonwill be one of the greats.” Learn more at:
Web Site: This is the Place
Want to review or comment on this article?
Click here to login!
Need a FREE Reader Membership?
Click here for your Membership!
|Reviewed by Poetess of The Soul Sheila G
|I love Amazon and shop there alot, books, C.D. ( music ) D.V.D.s and Clothes, tools, Cooking utensils,etc... You can find almost anything, but this Info..REAlly! Thank you so much for sharing your knowledge! I just printed it, I'm feeling so Ache and yucky today and still heading back to work (School Bus driver) and I am grabbing this to take back with me to read! What I read I enjoyed and KNOW I need this! This is my Goal/Mission just a few months away! Thank you Carolyn! For your giving /sharing Spirit!
WARmest Blessings! Of PEACE, Love and Joy! May it follow you from this day ON! P.s. Printing a few others of your articles and making a folder! I do appreciate your sharing what you know and found out~
|Reviewed by Ed Teja
|Very useful and insightful article, not just about Amazon, but about the difficulty of marketing books in this era.|
|Reviewed by m j hollingshead