start here

Author Central Tips to Improve Your Book Sales

Author Central Tips to Improve Your Book Sales

Self-publishing books for profit isn’t easy. To do well, not only must you write and produce spectacular books but also distribute and market them. There are hundreds of micro tasks involved which, traditionally, large publishers delegated to teams of experts, each member responsible for their own specialism. As an indie author, however, you’re expected to become competent enough at every task either to do them yourself or guide freelancers.

The complexity gets on top of us all occasionally, especially when we’re bombarded with new information and made to feel like we’re constantly dropping the ball in some area. Have you investigated translation deals? Selling wide? Patreon? Selling direct? YouTube? Radish? Just thinking about it all is exhausting!

That’s why, when you’re overwhelmed, it pays to remember that Amazon alone makes up a significant chunk of many authors’ incomes. Optimising your presence on that one vendor is simple and can provide more growth than all your other income channels combined. Narrowing the focus isn’t for everyone, but it can help if you’re feeling frazzled. It doesn’t have to cost money, either. Amazon ads are useful, but there are plenty of other ways to optimise your Amazon presence without spending money.

Author Central is one such way. If you aren’t familiar with it, Author Central is an Amazon portal that many new authors overlook, which is understandable; it’s separate from KDP. Yet the information you can enter into it can complement that which you upload to KDP to enhance the results of your listings. Read on to discover a few free Author Central functions that can seriously impact the power of your books’ sales pages.

Create an Author Profile

Author Central’s primary function is creating author profiles. On Amazon’s book sales pages, an authors’ pen name appears directly below the book title. What the average shopper sees when they click on that pen name depends on whether the author has created an author profile. If you haven’t, the hyperlink embedded in your name will send them to a page of search results based on your pen name, including books by other authors.

Create a profile on Author Central, however, and you can send readers to an optimised author profile page dedicated purely to your books. Each profile has a “+ Follow” button that notifies readers via email whenever you release a new title. If you want to maximise your profile’s potential, you can add a profile picture and a short bio, which you can use to funnel readers wherever you want. While you can’t include live links to direct shoppers away from Amazon, you can include text to inform them of your latest release or mailing list offers, all of which can help you retain more readers between books.

Claim Your Books

Creating an author profile is a good start, but your books won’t always automatically show up there without your help. To guarantee that they appear on your profile, you must manually claim each ASIN. If your books are in multiple formats, this means claiming each one individually, including ebooks, paperbacks, hardbacks, audio and large prints. As a new author, you may be tempted to showcase every title you’ve ever written. Whether you should depends on your situation, though.

If you write closely related books under one pen name then claiming them all under one profile makes sense. Doing so will cross sell your titles, making them more likely to reach more of your ideal fans by showing up in each other’s “also boughts”. Write under more than one pen name, however, and you’re be better off creating several profiles. Separating your titles by pen name will not only gives your author profiles more consistent, logical themes but also stops your incompatible reader groups from overlapping and causing Amazon’s recommendation engine to recommend your romance books to your military sci-fi readers. When it comes to Amazon, keeping your brands separate and on track is important, particularly if you want it to maximise organic exposure to the right readers over the long term.

Update Your Categories

Scroll down any book’s Amazon sales page and you’ll encounter a box containing its product details. In that section, you’ll notice its overall Best Sellers Rank in the entire Kindle Store followed by its rank in a series of categories. It’ll look something like this:

Best Sellers Rank: #4,611 in Kindle Store (See Top 100 in Kindle Store)

#2 in Arthurian Fantasy (Books)

#4 in Medieval Historical Fiction (Books)

#8 in Arthurian Fantasy (Kindle Store)

What categories show up for your book initially depends on the genres you choose when uploading it in KDP. However, once it’s created, you can add extra categories or replace your initial ones with optimised alternatives that don’t appear as options on KDP by using Author Central.

Selecting better categories on there can expose your books to more of their ideal readers, even prolific consumers of super-targeted sub-categories by showing up in their charts. Instead of targeting “Fantasy”, which covers a broad spectrum of fiction, for instance, you could target sub-categories like “Fantasy Romance”, “Military Fantasy” or “LitRPG”. Doing so will still enable your books to show up in the bigger fantasy chart, but it will also give them more targeted exposure. Smaller categories are easier to dominate, so adding them means you also need fewer sales to top a chart and get a Best Seller tag.

As Author Central allows you to add up to 10 categories per ASIN, you can select a range of super-targeted sub-categories and high-traffic giants to get the best of both scenarios. That puts your books in prime positions to get easy Best Seller tags while also maximising their exposure with high-traffic categories that deliver significant exposure when your books are doing well.

Add Editorial Reviews

We all want our books to have more Amazon reviews. Did you know, though, that building an email list of reviewers or hoping your books become viral sensations aren’t the only ways to fill their sales pages with social proof? In addition to customer reviews, you can also get editorial reviews, which appear lower on the sales page but similarly influence readers into pressing the buy button. And the best part: these reviews are entirely within your control, all through Author Central. If you decide to include only glowing praise in the editorial reviews section, that’s up to you.

Understandably, Amazon has strict rules to ensure authors and publishers don’t abuse the editorial reviews section. In their terms, they outline that authors should only post reviews from reputable, credited people and media outlets. So, you may need to do groundwork to quote a celebrity or newspaper, but you can use this section to promote their reviews forever once you have them.

Using it, you can create extra social proof in a place many authors don’t exploit and use the extra content to convert readers who aren’t fully convinced by your sales description. You could, for example, use it to clarify your book’s genre, themes, tone or literary quality. You must update each format’s editorial reviews section individually, but the separation is useful. It means you can use the section to highlight the quality of format-specific features like a stellar audiobook narrator or bonus paperback content.

Search Customer Reviews

If you’re anything like the rest of us, you probably refresh your KDP dashboard more often than you would like to admit. You also probably refresh your sales pages several times a day during launch periods to see early reviews as they appear. This is common behaviour for new and experienced authors. We justify the neuroticism as an exercise in harvesting new reviews to use in our ads and on social media That said, it takes a ton of time that could be spent more productively, particularly when you factor in checking multiple territories and backlist titles.

Thankfully, Author Central has a feature you can use that saves you opening a lot of tabs and wasting time. Using the “Reports + Marketing” tab, you can see a feed of all the new reviews your books collect across all titles and Amazon territories in reverse chronological order. This tab ensures you never miss a new review, even for backlist titles that you want to keep high in the charts. Not only does this fantastic, time-saving feature help you keep your social media feeds and ads continuously refreshed with new quotes; it’s also useful for simultaneously marketing your work in multiple territories and languages.

Publishing is a complex game, even when you blinker your focus and streamline your marketing activities. Having said that, mastering Author Central can give you a significant edge on arguably the most important platform for most authors without adding too much complexity. Using it, you can enhance the quality of your SEO and sell more books. You don’t have to use it forever if exclusivity makes you uneasy. But mastering this one platform can give you the time and headspace you need to make good ground and build your business, at least until you’re ready to diversify your efforts and gain traction on other retailers.

Daniel Parsons

Daniel Parsons

Dan Parsons is the bestselling author of multiple series. His Creative Business books for authors and other entrepreneurs contains several international bestsellers. Meanwhile, his fantasy and horror series, published under Daniel Parsons, have topped charts around the world and been used to promote a major Hollywood movie. For more information on writing, networking, and building your creative business, check out all of Dan’s non-fiction books here.