Online retailing giant Amazon and book recommendation site Goodreads, both offer authors resources to promote their books directly to readers. These resources are free to use and offer another avenue for authors to get their name and book in front of the book-buying and book-reading audience. It’s easy and relatively quick to create an author page on both platforms. All you need to get started is a published book, or one that will be published soon.
These platforms are valuable because they have a huge reach. We’re all familiar with Amazon as a powerhouse retailer, and Goodreads boasts 65 million reader members. Both allow authors to create a connection with readers by adding an author profile on the sites. Readers enjoy feeling like they have a relationship with the authors they love, and they are frequently on these sites to buy or research books. The more readers feel a connection to you, the more likely they are to buy your book and recommend it to others. Take a look at some of your favorite books on these sites and click on the highlighted authors’ names under the book title to see the author profile.
Amazon Author Central
Let’s look at Amazon Author Central first. Author Central allows you to upload a photo, add a bio, link your blog, and upload video. In addition, you can track your sales, see where your book sells best in the US, and look at customer reviews. To get started, visit Author Central and click “join now.” If you already have an Amazon account, you can use the same sign in, or you may opt to create a new user profile just for your Author Central presence. You will need to claim your books, and Amazon will contact your publisher to verify your identity. That process takes a little time, but you can begin to populate your profile while you’re waiting for the verification to come through–often in just a day or two.
Your photo and bio are very important to offer readers a window into your world. Consider using a photo that shows you in context with your work–in front of a quilt, or using your tools to create, for example. Likewise, your bio should include interesting information about your background, your inspiration, awards, and process. There is also a yellow “Follow” button under your photo that allows readers to keep up with you.
Mary Abreu, author of several sewing books including Hack That Tote, has an engaging page on Author Central, with a catchy bio that draws readers into her story. Take a look at her profile (shown at right) to see how she incorporates video and to read her bio.
If you are the author of multiple books, make sure they are all listed in your profile. If a book is missing, you can add it by entering the title and clicking on “This is my book.” As long as you are listed as the author in Amazon’s catalog, that’s it. Follow the simple prompts to link your blog to your profile and upload any videos relating to your work or your book. Snippets will appear under “Author Updates.”
Another valuable feature of Author Central is the ability to track your sales and see where your book is popular in the US. Once you’re signed in, click on “Sales Info” at the top of the page, and you’ll be directed to a page that gives you weekly sales, sales by geography in the US, and sales rank over time. The sales data is updated each Friday by Nielsen BookScan. Data is collected from thousands of retailers each week, not just from Amazon. According to Author Central, BookScan receives data from approximately 75% of US retailers, so your book sales here will not be the same as those reported in your publisher’s royalty reports. Kindle book sales are not included in this data. If your book sells internationally, you’ll need to update your Author Central page on Amazon’s international sites in the United Kingdom, Germany, France, and Japan.
It may not have occurred to you to set up an author page on Goodreads for your craft book — not many craft book authors do so. But there are good reasons to do it. Goodreads author pages are similar to Amazon’s Author Central — including your image, your bio, linking your blog, and uploading video. But it also has some unique benefits.
To get started, go to Goodreads.com and sign in or create an account if you don’t have one yet. Search for your book and click on your name as the author to go to the author page. Scroll down and click “Is this you? Let us know” to begin the process. Goodreads will also verify your identity, but you can begin setting up your page right away. Goodreads has a helpful Authors & Advertisers blog that offers support for using their program, and you can access that and other resources from your Author Dashboard page.
Goodreads emphasizes connecting with readers, so consider enabling the “Ask the Author” module in your author profile to allow readers to ask you questions. Goodreads provides statistics on readers who have rated or reviewed your book, or even just put it in their “to read” list. It also lists your books read if you use that service, and encourages authors to engage in groups related to their books and write reviews of books read as a way to engage with followers. Best practice is to review other books, not your own! As a way to start a conversation, you might write a short post in your book’s review section about why you wrote it. And it’s important not to engage in a negative way. If a reader posts a negative review or asks a hostile question, simply ignore it and move on.
Goodreads also allows authors the opportunity to create advertising for their books on the site. Both platforms permit authors to run giveaways to create buzz around their books and add events like book signings.
As craft book authors, we often feel like we are wearing too many hats–author, creator, marketer, and CEO of our small businesses. Spending a few minutes to create a profile on Amazon’s Author Central and on Goodreads is a one-time investment to promote your book that could make a big difference.
Cindy is an artist, teacher and author of Artful Improv. Follow her on Instagram @cindygrisdelaquilts or check out her website at CindyGrisdela.com.