Author Central is a free tool that Amazon offers to all authors whose book(s) are listed on the site. If you use no other feature of Amazon, make sure you use this one. I’ve been surprised at how many authors have no knowledge of this opportunity. It is quite a robust tool and it costs you nothing but it serves numerous functions. First, it adds credibility to your listing. An Amazon listing where the link to the author is blank is just one more item for someone to be hesitant over when they are deciding whether or not to try you out. Second, it is a great spot to post material about you and your writing (bio, videos, blog feed, etc). Though you may have this on your website, you can’t link to it from the book listing but you CAN put a lot of this Author Central page, making it more accessible (people can and will click on this link to check you out). Finally, the page gets picked up by the search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc) so it’s just one more aspect of Search Engine Optimization.
How to Get Started:
If you are a published author and your book is listed on Amazon you can claim your Author’s Page without the assistance of your publisher. If you are traditionally published, there is a good chance your publisher already did this for you or will work with you to do it. If you are self published or subsidy press published, you are on your own so the instructions that follow will assist you.
Visit the Author Central page to create an account and “claim” your book. Login with the same email address you use when making a purchase on Amazon. The site will direct you on how to claim your book, follow the steps Amazon provides you with. This is very simple. If your book does not automatically appear refine your search and type in your book’s title followed by your author name.
Once you make your claim, Amazon will send you a verification email to authenticate you are the author of the selected book. Confirm this as soon as possible. Once Amazon receives your verification they will create your Author’s Page. Note this can take up to 7 days after verification is complete (although it usually takes an hour or two). After you have verified your account, you can add content and below is an explanation of that process.
Author Central Features
Home is the page you land on.
Books is where you actually “claim” your book. Within is an “Add more Books” button so you can add books after you publish them. All of your books that you’ve “connected” with your account will be visible here, complete with the number of editions (paperback, hardcover, Kindle, etc), sales rank, and average review score. If you have more than one version (paperback, kindle, hardback, audio, etc), the stats for the one with the best sales rank will be displayed.
Profile is the next big one. There are multiple sections here. For each, click the “add” or “edit” link (it’s in blue in the upper right corner of each section). In each circumstance, a window will pop up with specific instructions. They change them sometimes so the screens are not posted here, but it is quite simple to use.
- Biography: This is your author biography. It’s fine if you use the same one that you typically use; just remember to update it when it changes. I use the one from my website.
- Blogs: This feature allows you to start an Amazon blog. If you already have a blog, you can add the RSS feed here. You can add as many as you like so if you have multiple blogs, you can have multiple feeds. It creates a sort of 1-stop shopping and you do not have to copy your individual blog entries to Amazon. It can take up to a day for one of your new entries to make it to the Amazon page but it will go automatically.
- Events: Any author-related events that you have (speaking, book signings, etc), make sure to add them here.
- Pictures: This is where you can upload various pictures. Keep in mind that this is actually regulated, so make sure you have rights to these pictures (i.e. they’re ones you’ve taken or created yourself, no images of your favorite movie characters that you found on Google). If you have pictures of yourself from events, these are good to post.
- Videos: Just as with pictures, you must have rights to any video that you post here. Keep it book related so any video trailers for your book should go here. They allow videos of up to 500 MB so feel free to upload high resolution (although, depending on your connection speed, it could take awhile). They now allow more than one video to be posted so have at it. Remember, this page is indexed by search engines. From a SEO (search engine optimization) standpoint, video(s) increase the page’s rank.
- Twitter: You can add a twitter feed from your twitter account here. It only displays your most recent tweet. Make sure this is a professional twitter account. In other words, this isn’t the one you use to make obnoxious comments (which you should avoid doing anyway since anyone can see your tweets). You never know who’s looking.
Sales Info is a free tool for tracking sales. There is a map displayed here with areas shaded as to where your book has sold (hard copy only, eBooks are not tracked via this medium). The system uses a service called bookscan, which counts the number sold via several mediums, including brick and mortar stores (not all stores report to this service, but the big ones like Barnes and Noble do). The lined areas are “combined areas”. The population of booksellers in these areas is spread out to the point where reporting numbers may diminish the anonymity of the store reporting, so they combine these into one. Below the map is a bar graph which tells you the numbers per week of the last 4 weeks. The last graph is the charting of the sales rank. In this area, you can switch between the various formats and look at how they have done historically. You can change it from 2 weeks to 1 month, to “all available”. The key with this area is not to get too obsessed. This does not report every sale as Nook and other eReaders are not part of it, or every bookseller. Also, the books you sell on your own are not counted here.
Customer Reviews is a tab that shows a list of the reviews for your book(s). You can switch between the “short” view and the “full” view and you can also change the sort order.
Help is the last tab and this is where you go if you are having trouble.
Remember, this is not the same thing as your Amazon Profile, which is what you write reviews under, make purchases through, etc. This is what people will see when they go to your book’s page and click on your name, so it is important to have something for it.