The Career Author Podcast: Episode 133 – Nailing Your Amazon Book Page

Nailing Your Amazon Book Page

Nailing Your Amazon Book Page

Being a Career Author in 2020 requires more than simply writing words and finishing books. You’re running a business. And there’s perhaps no place that demonstrates that more than your book’s Amazon page. This is where readers will likely come to buy your book, and if you want to convert sales, it’s important to know how to maximize the space Amazon has given us and to make your page as professional as possible.

The Career Author Podcast is a podcast where co-authors J. Thorn and Zach Bohannon share their struggles and successes as full-time authors, advice for improving your writing craft, and honest discussions of what it takes to build a successful career as an author.

In this episode, you’ll discover:

  • Why a professional book cover is crucial
  • What makes up a good book title
  • How to craft a reader-hooking product description
  • How readers shop on Amazon
  • Why keywords are the most important part of your book’s metadata
  • When it’s time to make changes to your book’s Amazon page

Also, Zach explains why it’s okay, and often necessary, to slow down and hit pause in the wake of tragedy.

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Leave us a comment: When shopping for books online, what most often leads you to click the ‘buy’ button?

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17 thoughts on “The Career Author Podcast: Episode 133 – Nailing Your Amazon Book Page

  • Hi guys. Interesting warm-up act about entitlement today. Totally agree.
    It is excellent to hear you talking about good writing and good stories. I accept that Amazon page, cover, blurb etc. is important for eyes on, but your customer doesn’t buy them; they are only the shop window, the packaging and the sales talk. Your customer buys a few hours inside the world and alongside the characters you created; that is the product. Good writing and good story are vital if you want repeat sales and it’s comforting to hear someone in the Indie world acknowledge that.
    Cliche but true – “The best marketing for your next book, is your last book.”
    Great advice on covers etc. but I wouldn’t say it is impossible to diy. The prescription for good cover design and good blurb writing can be learned, as can Photoshop, Gimp or whatever. There are courses and books that will teach competent people to diy if they wish. I think the issue with poor covers and blurbs is that people do the diy before they commit to learning from professionals.
    To answer your question:
    I start with recommendations from podcasts, blogs or friends, then I read the blurb, then I try to read some reviews but Amazon appears to be leaving some 1 and 2 star reviews off the book page even though they are counted in the average review figure.
    It’s a good idea of yours to review this stuff from time to time.
    But if you change the title of a book, can you keep the reviews and ASIN? I assume you have to use a new ISBN because non-fiction books are often updated and republished.
    A suggestion might be to interview a cover designer, Stuart Bache (SPF course), a blurb writer, Bryan Cohen, (note use of the Oxford comma) and a writing tutor, maybe Sacha Black? Asking each how an Indie can learn these skills for themselves.
    Great show.

    • Great advice on covers etc. but I wouldn’t say it is impossible to diy. The prescription for good cover design and good blurb writing can be learned, as can Photoshop, Gimp or whatever. There are courses and books that will teach competent people to diy if they wish. I think the issue with poor covers and blurbs is that people do the diy before they commit to learning from professionals.

      True. But it takes a lot of time and energy to learn the skill.

  • When I am book shopping – online, in a book store, at the library, Indie or Traditional – I think I tend to base my experience solely on the book cover and blurb. If those can grab me, I am willing to give it a shot!

  • *Don’t worry, no spoilers for The Last of Us Part II*

    This is more for Zach, since J isn’t a gamer. Whenever you mention video games, you can count on me to chime in. I find the backlash against The Last of Us Part II fascinating. I won’t spoil anything, but I finished the game a week ago and I can see why it’s so polarizing. The leaks definitely amplified the angry response, and people are judging major plot points without full context. There was a huge surge of negative feedback on the same day it came out, before it was possible for anyone to have finished the game. Some people were determined to hate it without even playing it. As time passes and more people complete the game, the overall consensus is starting to even out a bit.

    I can also see why some people might play part way through and decide to not finish. The game makes a lot of bold story choices that are designed to make the player angry and uncomfortable. This may be off putting to some players, and they don’t end up experiencing the entire game.

    And then there are some people who did finish the game and didn’t like the way it ended, which is totally understandable. Again, without spoiling anything, I wasn’t sure how I felt about the ending right away. It’s a very challenging story. I’ve listened to opinions both from people who like it and don’t like it, and after letting it digest a little, I’ve decided I personally like it even more than the first game. The more I think about it, the more I like it.

    I’m eager to hear Zach’s thought about the game. It makes some controversial choices that, in my opinion, pay off. Similar to the first game, I think Part II has set a new benchmark for storytelling in games. Just the fact that people are so passionate about it, both negative and positive, demonstrates how impactful video game narratives can be.

  • Z – yes, loved and agree the talk about what happened with Last of Us. Always makes me laugh when people think creating an online petition will FORCE someone to change a movie, game or story. A co-worker said his son works at Dunkin Donuts and the manager had to call police because people were pounding on the door demanding to be let it because it’s their ‘RIGHT’ to get a coffee and donut at DD in the morning. Then someone pulled a gun and threatened the managers life if he didn’t open the door.
    Folks, it’s a private business, not a public land. no one has a right to get a coffee at dunkin donuts when they want it. The owner of that shop can decide hours and when the doors are locked and can even decide that they aren’t open wednesday at all, or whatever. Because you breathe doesn’t mean you have the RIGHT to this. I live with 5 YA between 18 and 25. Their lives are controlled by flash headlines they read on some social media. their arguments to defend those things aren’t even logical or make sense at times and I have to shake my head and walk away.
    Maybe I should embrace this. I am getting a hold of Nolan Bushnell and DEMAND that Atari goes back and fixes the problems with the E.T. game cartridge for Atari 2600. They must fix it and release it because I demand it. Who will sign my petition because that is the legit way of forcing them to do it, they can’t not do it them.

  • 99.99% of the time I’m at the bookstore because a book has risen to the top of my TBR and it’s time to make the purchase. The book made it to my TBR because people I trust either recommended it or wrote it. Title, cover, and blurb almost never play a part in my buying decision.

  • Zach, I’m sorry about your dog. It’s so hard to lose our furry companions. I think the advice to keep working no matter what can be harmful. Some of us need to take breaks to recharge or recover from stress. If we don’t, the resulting crash we’ll experience later will cost us way more time than just taking a day or so when we first needed it.

    I’m a sucker for music documentaries too! I remember being obsessed with Behind the Music…”and then tragedy struck” [cue dramatic music]. I also love musician memoirs. The funniest one I’ve read was Ozzy’s. It was hilarious. I’ll have to check out The Gits.

    I’m usually driven to Amazon for a book by a recommendation, either by a friend or another author. Once there, I look at the cover, but it’s the description and the reviews that I’ll use to determine whether I buy a book. I don’t mind if a book has a few bad reviews, especially since so many one-stars are about dumb things, like the book took too long to arrive or it has swear words in it. I’ll look for certain keywords in the description for things I want to avoid, like “brutal”, or words that indicate sexual violence. I read a lot of historical fiction, so I check the description for the time period, since the covers aren’t always specific about that.

  • Some great tips on creating cover design, book descriptions etc that will hook readers. Thanks also for stressing quality scenes, meeting reader expectations, and investing in editing and professional cover design for success in the long term.
    J, looks like a well-loved Penguins T Shirt! Made me smile.

  • Sorry about the dog. My dogs are getting older and I am dreading that day in the future. I feel that there are times to take breaks to get your head in the game. If you can’t stay focused it makes no sense to sit down and stare a screen.
    Great synopsis of your Summit talk and some tidbits that I either forgot already or are new.
    I got mad when J gave you the heads up that you were going long. I want all the knowledge that you were dishing out Zach. Once I do get my page up I’ll hit you up for a review and consultation.
    I am working through Brandon Sanderson’s SMU course from the spring and as soon as I finish that I am going to hit up J’s supercharge your scene. I guess the goal is just to keep learning so that each book is better so that eventually the books market themselves or your author brand does. Though you really got to do outreach on it. I didn’t know that Jim Butcher had a new book out until he was on a podcast and said so.
    I guess Authors have to be ABW and ABC – always be writing and always be closing.

  • Hi, and let’s not forget the biggest spoiler of all time! – “Who shot J.R.?” (Dallas) – I saw the answer to this written in the dirt on the side of a bus in Leeds bus station before I had watched the episode 🙁

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