How can Amazon’s A+ Content help self-published writers? Simon Whaley chats to two authors who explored its promotional opportunities.
A year ago, Amazon gave self-published authors access to a new marketing tool called A+ Content. It allows authors to add far more information about their book to their Amazon page.
While we may not think of our books as products, when it comes to the business of writing, that’s exactly what they are. So how can writers best use this promotional space and what should we put here? Can it help us sell more books?
If you haven’t noticed it before, the A+ Content sits further down the page, just above the book’s “Product Details” and “About the Author” sections. For other products, it’s headed up as From the Manufacturer but for self-published authors, Amazon labels the section as From the Publisher.
Eric Thomson (thomsonfiction.ca) is a former Canadian soldier and the author of 24 Sci-Fi novels, spread across five series. He’s just published his latest, Imperial Ghosts, and is an avid fan of Amazon’s A+ Content.
‘When it was first made available,’ he says, ‘I looked at what a few of the top-rated indie Sci-Fi authors had done with A+ to get some inspiration. Then I studied the A+ structure, options and limitations. It immediately struck me that I could use A+ to raise the profile of my entire catalog on each of my book pages, something unheard of up to then.’
While Amazon allows self-published authors to create a page for books that are all set within the same series, Eric realised the flexibility of A+ Content meant he could use this space to tell readers about all five of his series.
‘All of my books are in the same universe,’ he explains ‘albeit two of the five are in different eras. There are links between them since my overarching narrative covers the rise, collapse, and rebirth of humanity’s interstellar empire over the course of many centuries. The moment I understood what A+ could do, I knew here was a perfect way of joining my five series into a saga that might attract more readers or give existing readers more information. And since all it took was a bit of my time, there was no reason to pass up the opportunity.’
Maria Frankland (mariafrankland.co.uk) is a Yorkshire-based psychological thriller writer, who also writes non-fiction books for writers under the name of MV Frankland. She saw what other famous writers were doing with their A+ Content and knew she had to follow suit.
‘I’d started to notice its use on the product pages of some of the big name authors last year,’ says Maria, ‘and was impressed at the extra individuality this content could add to their book pages. I am a visual person, and like how, at a glance, it’s possible to see the overview of a book. Like many authors, I’m a voracious reader too. So as a reader, these eye-catching pages stood out to me, and offered something extra to the book browsing experience.’
Amazon’s A+ Content can be accessed from the Marketing tab on the KDP dashboard. This is the same place self-published authors access Amazon Ads, Author Central and Run a Price Promotion.
To get started, it’s necessary to choose a marketplace from a choice of twelve, which includes the UK, USA, Canada, and Australia. Maria suggests starting with the marketplace where you get most sales or where you are actively promoting your books.
‘I’ve uploaded the same content to the UK and US so far, as these are predominantly where my readers are, and where I keep the focus of my marketing.’
Eric has taken a practical approach to target all English-language marketplaces.
‘The content is the same across the four English language stores. I couldn’t come up with a compelling reason for regional variations, and differences in spelling and grammar don’t count – I use US rules throughout by books. As for the non-English language stores, since none of my books have been translated from English, there didn’t seem to be any point in uploading A+ Content even if I can speak, read, and write French and German.’
The A+ Content comprises a selection of modules, or templates, that we can add to this section of our book’s page and then populate them with our desired content. Amazon imposes some restrictions, such as banning information about price promotions, but there’s a lot of freedom to showcase your work. Eric used his A+ Content space to promote his entire range of books.
‘Having decided that my goal in using A+ was to market my entire catalog, the rest was more or less decided by what Amazon allowed. I wanted something that provided a brief, catchy thumbnail of what I decided to call the Commonwealth and Empire Saga, and where each series fit in the overarching story arc, along with links to each series’ page on Amazon. Only one of the templates fit the bill, and perhaps not quite smoothly, but it did the job. Each series received its own variation on the theme, focused on that series’ place within the saga.’
Maria has used the space as another opportunity to engage with the reader and encourage them to buy the book they’re currently looking at. To do that, she considered her book’s existing styling and design, so her A+ Content reflects this.
‘I obtained the layers that make up each of my book covers from my cover designer,’ she explains, ‘so I was able to ensure everything was aligned – colours, fonts and graphics. I decided to use the same format across my entire catalogue, fiction and non-fiction, in terms of the style and layout of the A+ slides. For each book I write, I have a variety of advertising taglines, so have used one of those across the blocks available. I wanted to upload something that was in keeping with the branding of my individual books, but offered something different and extra. It was a place where I could incorporate the logo of my publishing company, and also visually portray the various formats my books are available in.’
While manufacturers of non-book products claim this content increases sales by between three and ten per cent, do the authors who use it see a sales boost?
Eric noticed an uplift in sales, but, as he explains, it isn’t easy to determine whether that was solely because of the A+ Content.
‘With the caveat that what follows is anecdotal rather than a quantitative analysis, I did notice an uptick in sales on Amazon in the weeks following my use of A+ Content. Whenever I release a new book, sales across my entire catalog go up. As it happened, I uploaded the A+ Content shortly after releasing a book and noticed that the surge in sales on Amazon was stronger and lasted markedly longer than usual while the surge on other retail platforms behaved as normal. I figure that’s a clear indication A+ helped.’
‘Since then,’ he continues, ‘I couldn’t say whether or not it’s still helping even though I’ve released two more books, neither of which showed clear evidence of a longer and stronger surge in sales across the entire catalog. Perhaps there’s a saturation point with the given content, since as with all marketing, the brain eventually filters things out and maybe updating it periodically could help, but I haven’t yet considered what I might improve.’
Maria agrees that it’s not easy pinning down the impact A+ Content has on her sales. ‘It is difficult to measure, but it certainly hasn’t done sales any harm! My revenue increases month on month. Although that could be also in line with me releasing more books, and my reader newsletter continuing to grow in response to advertising and marketing.’
And while she’s not sure if it is helping, there’s a part of her that feels she ought to do it because other authors are.
‘Now that A+ Content has been available for many months, readers will have unconsciously come to expect it on the product pages they visit. Therefore, to be an author who doesn’t have it, I feel, would be a negative thing, and possibly raise questions in a potential reader. No author wants to stand out for the wrong reasons.’
So, if you’re looking to give readers more information about you and your book, think about how you can use Amazon’s A+ Content to your advantage. This is space on Amazon’s real estate that could be working for you. Readers may judge a book by its cover, but the extra information you give them via Amazon’s A+ Content could sway their decision to make that purchase.
Business Directory – Top Tips
Eric’s top tips:
- Figure out your goal in using A+.
- Keep it simple. A few images, a few lines of text. Things that’ll catch the eye and inform at a glance. Too crowded, too much info, too many images, and the eye turns away.
- If you write a series, use A+ to market the series instead of just the book in question. And don’t feel compelled to use A+ just because others are loading content. It’s a tool, and like all tools, it won’t work the same for everyone.
Maria’s top tips:
- Look at how other authors have presented their A+ Content, especially those with lots of reviews who are selling well, and make notes about what you feel works.
- Bookbrush (bookbrush.com) has pre-made templates for A+ Content. Export your cover layers into Bookbrush, design your slides, export them again and upload them into Amazon.
- Less is more, as with most marketing. Ensure that the reader can take in what you’re presenting at a glance.
- Ensure the content offers something extra to the product description.
- Keep consistent. Match A+ Content to the elements of the cover.
For more information about Amazon’s A+ Content options visit https://kdp.amazon.com/en_US/help/topic/GHL7P99B7AA543CN
(c) Simon Whaley