amazonThe process of setting up your book title on Amazon.com has been likened to hacking one’s way through a jungle with a machete. One would think Amazon would go out of its way to ensure self-published authors can easily update their book information and author profile so as to maximize their potential; after all, book sales increase Amazon’s bottom line as well as an author’s. Instead, Amazon has chosen to throw up barriers and riddles, making the experience more akin to finding your way out of one of those popular Escape Room puzzles than publishing a book.

Having said that, here are some tips to maximizing your book’s set-up on Amazon.com, a necessary evil for self-publishers.

Basically, the process can be broken down into four steps:

  • Update your book information
  • Set up your Author Page
  • Make your eBook available for Kindle
  • Set up the “Look Inside” feature

Update Your Book Information on Amazon

If you choose CreateSpace as your print-on-demand provider, your print book will magically appear on Amazon, but only with the brief book description and author bio that you entered on CreateSpace when you first uploaded your book files. Ditto if you are using IngramSpark for print-on-demand, except it will take longer for your title to appear on Amazon.

However, you can do so much more with your book page. Perhaps you weren’t feeling very inspired when you wrote your original book description on CreateSpace and now you’re stuck with it, or your back cover text doesn’t really work for an Amazon page. But, you can revise your book description and your bio, and add reviews to the Editorial Reviews section. Put as much information on your page as possible!

To do this, go to https://authorcentral.amazon.com/

You will never find a link to Author Central on Amazon, or on your Amazon account. Don’t waste your time. You can thank us later.

You can use your regular Amazon.com user name and password to set log in.

Click on “Books” to see your title. Click on the book title to access the page where you can update the book description, etc.

If you are in Canada, there is no Author Central. You must set up your book on Amazon.com first. Books will magically appear on the Amazon sites for other countries at a later date, complete with your author page and Look Inside if you have set that up.

Hint: Revise your book page as soon as your book appears on Amazon.com because this is the information that will get used for every other country and there appears to be no way to change that.

Update Your Amazon Author Page

Yes, you can do this step when you first log into Author Central to update your book page, but here’s where to go if you haven’t logged into Author Central yet:  https://authorcentral.amazon.com/

Log in with your regular Amazon user name and password.

Then, click on Author Profile to update your author page with your photo, bio, blog feed, and videos.

Hint: Updating your author page is a “must do.” If you do not go into Author Central and update your Author Page, you simply won’t have one, and that’s too bad.

Another Hint: Make sure you enter your author name exactly the same for both your print book and your Kindle book or else you will exist on Amazon as two different people. Once you correct this issue, you will find each other and become one.

Uploading your eBook to Kindle

Hint: Ask your book designer to set up the Kindle file and send it to you. Do not attempt this on your own.

Go to https://kdp.amazon.com/

You can log in using your regular Amazon.com user name and password.

Click here to read Amazon’s brief instructions on getting started with Kindle Direct Publishing.

Nuff said.

The process is actually very straightforward. Beware however that you enter your book and author details for Kindle separately from your print book, so it’s easy to make mistakes such as entering a variation of your book title or a slightly different author name (i.e., forgetting your middle initial so that your name is different on Kindle than for the print version). These details must match exactly so that Kindle can match your Kindle and print books for display on your book page and author page.

Kindle creates its own version of “look inside” so don’t worry about that.

Hint: Don’t purchase an ISBN for your Kindle book. Amazon will ignore your ISBN. While you must buy a separate ISBN for the ePub you upload to IngramSpark or that you sell yourself, Amazon will assign its own Amazon Standard Identifier Number to your Kindle version for free.

How to Set Up the “Look Inside” Feature

I’m really trying not to get too snarky in this post and be as informative as possible, but I have to say there is a permanent dent in my forehead from banging it on my desk while getting this feature activated. But, it’s worth it. If you don’t have “Look Inside” activated, you won’t feel like one of the cool kids, and customers like to be able to see what they are buying.

Nowhere will you find a link to set this up. There is a Help Guide at https://www.amazon.com/gp/feature.html?docId=1001119751

Do not be tempted to do as it says and just upload your PDF. Doing so will send them into conniptions.

Simply send an email to the following address, letting them know that you would like to set up Look Inside for your book. Give them the link to your book page. Then let the fun begin:

insidethebook-submission@amazon.com

They will send you a link and a code to open yet another account or get approved or something, at which point you may upload your PDF, and at some point they will let you know it’s OK. If this all sounds a little vague, that’s because it is. You will send a PDF, exchange a whack of emails, and then at some point your Look Inside will be activated for your book.

Hint: You will need a clean PDF from your book designer, one without crop marks or the “draft” watermark, and which includes the front and back cover in their proper location in the file (i.e., at the beginning and end). Your book designer will know what to do. Unless you own a professional version of Adobe Acrobat, you will not be able to edit your book PDF to add the cover pages.

Another Hint: The email that you use to send Amazon the initial inquiry about Look Inside MUST be the same as the email you use for your Amazon account. Doing otherwise will increase the volume of emails. A prize will be awarded to the author who generates the most emails.

One More Hint: “Look Inside” will update to your book page on all other Amazon sites worldwide.


 

Note that the above instructions and hints are effective as of March 27, 2016, and are subject to change! We will review the process every so often and provide updates. Good luck!