Amazon Author Profiles: The Details of Self-Publishing

Welcome back to another post in the details of self-publishing series, where we look at some of the nitty-gritty of self-publishing. The sort of fine detail that may well be boring to a large number of people, but is invaluable if you want to step into the self-publishing world. Today, we’re looking at Amazon Author pages and profiles.

What is Amazon Author?

Go onto the page for any book in Amazon. Scroll down a little and you’ll see the more about the author section. Unsurprisingly, Amazon doesn’t fill this up automatically – when you’re self-publishing, it’s up to you to do it.

Click through onto the author’s name and you’ll see the author’s profile page. It will – or should! – contain their biography information, a list of all the books they have published, photos of them, and a list of similar authors (or authors customers also bought books by). Excitingly, my author page displays someone I know who is also an author, and the Wizards RPG team. I consider both of these a compliment.

All of this information is managed through Amazon’s Author Central, which I’ll come onto in more detail later.

Why should I care?

If you’re even remotely interested in publishing, you’ve almost certainly heard of Amazon’s mysterious algorithm. It’s their internal system which decides what books to show everyone who visits their website – and publishing is effectively a protracted battle with getting the algorithm to notice you.

No one really knows how it works, though there are certain things that are generally held to influence it – keywords in book descriptions, filling in all the information you can, that sort of thing. Your Author Page is one of the things which is included amongst this list.

So you should care because, though it’s not measurable, creating and maintaining your Amazon Author pages may sell you more books.

There is another side to this which probably won’t happen to everyone, but I am not the first Rebecca Milton to publish books. And – well, the first Rebecca Milton writes erotica. So until I claimed my book, if you clicked on my author name it took you to her author page, and her books. She’s very prolific, it seems. This has made identifying and separating myself slightly more important, but I will admit it’s a niche circumstance…

How do I set it up?

If there is one thing I wish I had known about Author Central before I started working on it, it would be this: there’s a different one for every instance of Amazon.

Amazon’s different versions (UK, US, etc) are different companies. They have different ways of working, different setup. This is especially clear when working with Author Central, Amazon’s login platform for authors wishing to manage their books and pages.

So the first thing you will need to do is decide where it is worth investing your time. I personally maintain Amazon UK and US, because that is where the majority of my readership comes from. That said, I am working on branching into the other version of Amazon so that I at least have something up there, even if it’s not regularly maintained. And so that it’s clear that I haven’t written 50 erotica books. Ahem.

Once you’ve decided which versions of Amazon to maintain, it’s not difficult to set up. You will ‘claim’ your author profile, your books, and then you will gain the ability to maintain them. The Author Central you will get will look something like this:

Through this page you can maintain your biography and headshot. Other pages allow you to look at graphs of your sales ranking, read all your customer reviews in one place, and claim any additional books. This is the Amazon UK version – the main difference in Amazon US is that they have some extra ways of showing your book sales.

What does a good Amazon Author profile look like?

In a word, what you want it to look like is interesting. You want people to read it and go – oh hey, this person’s cool, I would like to read their books. I’m not going to claim that mine does that, yet. I’m still working on it, and you’re looking at probably the third or fourth version.

So don’t use mine as an example. Go find your favourite author(s), read their profile pages. Decide what it is that you think is interesting about them and what grabs you. Then work out how you can use that for yourself. Remember that writing biographies of any kind is the single worst thing you will ever do as an author. Be kind to yourself when you find it hard! Just keep trying.

You can’t use HTML or any other fancy formatting in it, so sadly making links actual links isn’t possible. That said, I think it’s still worth including them just incase.

How often should I update?

There’s no hard and fast rule for this. I personally check mine every six months or so, or when something ‘major’ happens (e.g. if I publish a new book, or announce a publication date, etc). I probably could do it more frequently, but I don’t need to.

Regardless, I log into Author Central every few days to check my sales figures. The vast majority of my sales come from Amazon, so I can see them faster than via my distributor. This is especially true with Amazon US, who give you actual sales figures, not just your sales rank.

It’s a bit like weighing yourself though. You don’t want to do it too much, because you’ll just stress yourself out. So try and restrain yourself better than I do!

Where else can I read about this?

There are some fantastic resources for Amazon Author out there already. This article about how to reach your readers is great. This one is more generally about SEO on Amazon.

A quick Google will find you even more, of course – these are just the two that I read and found helpful when starting to work on it personally. Hopefully, you will too!

Want to read more of this kind of minutiae of self-publishing? The first post, covering genre, is here!