April, 2016

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Amazon Announces New Marketing Program for US Authors

buy-now-transp-maybePreviously published by Amy at THE BOOK DESIGNER

A few years back, authors and small presses could participate in a number of marketing programs at Amazon.com.

BUY X GET Y was one of my favorites. You could contact Amazon and request a link from your book to another book of similar appeal. It was not inexpensive, but it was a terrific program that exposed your book to readers interested in books similar to yours. Listmania was a free program that also linked similar books. There were FEATURED PAGES. A small press could purchase a page on Amazon that highlighted a series or group of books in a kind of “landing page”. There were a number of Amazon marketing programs like these and others that were slowly raised out of reach for small presses over the last 5 – 10 years.

Thus began the long dry stretch of desert for single title authors and small presses. Simply put, we were not given any opportunities to participate in Amazon’s marketing programs. Sure, there were tricks and manipulations we could learn, but they were not as effective as participating in Amazon sponsored marketing. Once BUY X GET Y and other programs were placed out of reach, the small press was significantly hampered and not able to compete with the bigger houses that still had marketing programs available.

Flash forward to May 1, 2016

Amazon announced last week that they are launching AMS, Amazon Marketing Services. The program works like this:

As an Advantage or CreateSpace publisher, you sign up for AMS and pay an annual fee of $99. This is charged to your account as a deduction of your sales so does not require up-front payment.

Once you are an AMS “member”, you will have access to marketing programs previously reserved for Amazon’s bigger vendors.

Available Programs

Here are the programs being made available in order of my favorites:

Keyword/Tag Pay Per Click Advertising

This offering is my current favorite as AMS allows you to increase discoverability of your titles on Amazon.com by letting you set your budget for a particular keyword or phrase. Depending upon your budget and the desirability of the keyword, your book can rise very high in the search page, and you ONLY PAY if someone clicks on your book. Your click budget can be as low as $100.

“A+” Detail Pages

Want video, sample page shots, extra photos and other “juicy” offerings on your book’s page? Now you can have it! $600 gets you a LOT more on your detail page. The “A+” detail page is a deluxe detail page featuring advanced formatting and rich media content (detailed descriptions for example) to enrich the shopping experience for customers.

Pricing Discounts

I LOVE this idea! Now, customers can use vendor-funded coupon links (available on the product detail page) to offer customers immediate discounts off of the Amazon selling price. YOU pay for the discount, but this program allows you to offer sales and promotions during key peak periods. You can drive sales during heavy review and blogger appearances or a big media hit!

Don’t Forget the Importance of a Review Dashboard

Whenever trying new and tried-and-true marketing efforts, it is vital that you evaluate your successes and that you measure the return on investment and optimizing campaign performance through sales reporting. With AMS, you have access to sales data and marketing ROI on each and every marketing tool you try.

Vine Reviews

Amazon reviews are becoming more and more important every month. AND Amazon is being a LOT more vigilant about deleting reviews that do not appear legitimate. Amazon Vine reviewers are a select but LARGE group of reviewers that have been “pre-approved” by Amazon and their reviews are given more weight. You can look up each Amazon Vine reviewer individually and ask if they would like a copy of your book to review or you can save all that time and hassle, pay $1500 to be offered to the Amazon Vine reviewers. It is a pretty hefty price tag, but if you want access to the entire VINE reviewer list in one easy, seamless program, you can invest in this program and let THEM handle all of the details.

Signing Up for AMS

So, on May 1st, I will be signing up for AMS and trying out the Keyword and A+ Page listings right away. I have been waiting for years to be allowed to swim with the bigger fish, and I cannot wait to see how it works. If YOU are going to be participating, PLEASE come back and comment here and tell me how it goes. It would be great for those of us who decide to swim in these waters to report back how it, the water, is. I will be back to tell you my experiences and offer solid data on the return on my investment.

Amy Collins headshot x125Funny, sharp, and smart, Amy Collins is full of up-to-date industry tips and executable advice. She has been a Book Buyer for a chain of bookstores as well as a Sales Director for a large books and magazine publisher. Over the years, she has sold to Barnes & Noble, Target, Costco, Airport­ Stores, Books-A-Million, Wal-Mart­, and other major chains. She helped launch several hugely successful private label publishing programs for Borders, PetSmart, and CVS. In 2006, Amy sta­rted New Shelves Books, one of the fastest-growing book distribution, sales and marketing companies in No­rth America. She is the author of the new book, The Write Way and works with self-published authors and small publishing companies to increase their sales in the marketplace.

Is Your Website Safe?

Guest Post by | Jeniffer Thompson

website safetyI was delighted to hear from a long-time client whose been working on some amazing projects, has written several books to International success, and is working on yet another book. Then the bad news came: her website was hacked and she lost everything.

Sound of heart breaking. 

I know right? How does this happen. 

Whether it be a lack of communication, an outdated email, an expired credit card, or whatever the reason, losing all of your hard work is just plain tragic. 

She was calling to see if I had a backup of the original design and content files from 2006. We did. But still, those files are ten years old. I’m honestly surprised that this message needs to be communicated—everyone backs up their files right? Apparently not. 

Backing up your website is a critical step in protecting your security and ensuring that your website is never at risk of utter failure. Since we build WordPress powered websites at Monkey C Media, I am going to address WordPress in particular. But seriously, regardless of your platform, backup your website, and you computer for that matter.

There are three parts to your WordPress powered website and you will need a backup for each one:

  1. The Design
  2. The Theme
  3. The Database

THE DESIGN:
If you have a custom designed website, then someone had to design it. You will need those design files in order to make design changes in the future, so these are important to have regardless of whether your site goes down or not. Think of this as the architectural renderings of your house (although in an admittedly over-simplified way).

THE THEME:
Once you have an approved design, a front-end programmer has to convert that design into code, this is what we refer to as a theme in my industry. Even if your site is not custom designed, your site still has a theme. This is what dictates the structure, overall look and style of your website. Think of it as the foundation, roof, and walls. 

THE DATABASE: 

These are your words, the content that you add to your site and blog. Think of this as the curtains and furniture in your house. You should backup your database as often as you add content. 

How do I backup my website? you ask.

The design is something you get from your designer. Be sure to ask for native, layered files. 

The theme is something you get from your website company after your website has gone live, and anytime you make major structural changes to your website. You can also run a complete backup of your website from your server, ask your your hosting company or webmaster to help you with this.

The database is something that should be set to backup automatically (if you add content once a week, then you should have a weekly backup in place). There are numerous plugins you can install that will automatically backup your site on a set schedule like BackUpWordPress.

As an aside, the coolest thing about WordPress is that there is a plugin for practically everything, so if you need something specific, a Google search will likely get you what you need. Happy Blogging!

The post appeared first on Jeniffer Thompson.