Updated April 29, 2019.
The 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 Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) 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 KDP 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 KDP 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 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 2019: Still 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, and for every book you publish thereafter, 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.
The process is actually very straightforward.
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
When I wrote the original blog post in 2016, I said, “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.”
It’s definitely worth the aggravation, however. 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.
Beware that the SIGN UP NOW button on the latter page sends you to a dead page. Some things never change… Use the “sign up” link from above.
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.
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 April 29, 2019 and are subject to change! We will review the process every so often and provide updates. Good luck!