Amazon has more than 3.4 million books on its virtual shelves with new books being added every five minutes. With that kind of clout in the publishing world, it’s the perfect place to establish an author portfolio.
Your author portfolio is a central location that showcases all the books you have published and which are available to purchase on Amazon, as well as books to which you have contributed in some fashion.
Whether you are a traditionally published book author, an independently published book author, or a not-yet-published book author, you can turn Amazon into your author portfolio and use it to sell more books and more of your writing in general. If you do it right, you might end up on the famous authors list.
Your Amazon author’s portfolio consists of all published books, or works you’ve had published in books, that are for sale on Amazon. If you’ve written an article for an anthology, or a foreword for another author’s book, you can claim that for your author portfolio.
That also includes books for which you have served as editor, book cover artist, or some other contributor. So the first thing you need is a publication to which you have contributed. The second thing you need is an Author Central account.
That’s really all you need to establish your portfolio, but if you want your author portfolio to stand out, a few other things would be helpful. These include:
In the next two sections, I’ll explain how each of these elements can be used to make your Amazon author portfolio stand out among author portfolios.
Jack Canfield is the author of the popular Chicken Soup for the Soul series. Let’s see what we can learn from his author profile page. He has sold over 500 million books in more than 40 languages and 250 titles. Let’s see what we can learn from his Amazon author portfolio page.
The first thing you’ll notice on Canfield’s author page, in a prominent position, is his profile image. Your author image should reflect your personality and serve as a visual representation of your author persona.
Above Canfield’s author profile image, you’ll see his name. Just beside the profile image is a slideshow banner showcasing his books. The book cover images in your slide deck will be clickable so visitors can go to the sales page for each title in your portfolio.
Below the author profile image is a yellow bar labeled “+ Follow.” Logged-in Amazon customers can follow you and receive updates when changes are made to your author page. Under the yellow bar is the author’s bio, just above the section labeled “Customers Also Bought Items By,” which puts you in the company of similar authors. Some of them could be prominent authors, like Canfield.
Under the book scroll banner is a section labeled “Author Updates.” In this section, you’ll find blog posts and videos the author has uploaded. Blog posts and videos are awesome additions to your author page and allow readers to get to know you better before investing time in reading your books.
At the bottom of the page is a list of books published by Canfield. These can be viewed by format with a simple mouse click.
To establish your Amazon portfolio, you’ll need an account at Author Central. There are four sections within your account, but you’ll concern yourself primarily with the Author Page and Books sections.
At the top of the Author Page section is a link to your author portfolio page on Amazon’s website. After setting up your page, writing your bio, and claiming your books, click that link to see what your page looks like. Right below that link is the bio section.
There’s no limit to how long your author bio can be, but it should be no longer than it needs to be. Shorter is better. But it must be at least 100 characters.
Tone and content are far more important than length. Your bio reflects your author persona. If you write business books, you want a business book feel. If you employ humor in your writing, add a little humor in your bio. But don’t overdo it. In general, your bio writing style should match the style of the books you write.
Regarding content, mention what makes you an authority on the topics you write about. If you write about health, list your qualifications. This might include any licenses or certifications you have, education, professional experience, or prominent publication credits.
If your book is a memoir, summarize your life experience to attract the type of readers you want. Both the content and the tone of your bio should match, to the extent possible, the content and tone of your books.
Next, add your blog. You can have more than one, but you should know your RSS feed address. The RSS feed allows your blog posts to be syndicated on other platforms and web pages.
If you’re not sure where to find your RSS address, you can set one up through Feedburner. Enter your RSS address into the form field within your Author Central account. Your blog posts will automatically appear on your Amazon author portfolio page.
You can also upload several photos to the portfolio page, but only one will be your primary author photo. The rest will appear in Author Updates. You can choose your primary image by reordering them within your Author Central account. Images must be in JPEG, PNG, or GIF format; be 300 by 8,000 pixels; and be no more than 4MB in size.
Below your Photos upload link is a place to add videos. This is an excellent feature if you have book trailers or you are a public speaker. Video formats supported include AVI, FLV, MOV, MPG, WMV, and MP4. Video files must be smaller than 500MB. They’ll also appear in Author Updates.
Once you have books for sale on Amazon, claim them so that they appear in the book scroll at the top of your portfolio and in your book list at the bottom of your portfolio page.
To claim your books, click the Books tab inside your Author Central account. At the top of the page is a yellow button labeled “Add more books.” Click that button and search for your books by title or author name. If you publish under a pen name, use that. Author Central allows you to manage up to three pen names under one account.
Warning: Amazon’s search algorithm isn’t exact. For my name, I see books by Taylor Allen even when I put quotation marks around my name. If you have a common name, like mine, you might consider using a pen name. Also, if you write in multiple unrelated nonfiction categories, pen names might be helpful.
Go through the list and click the yellow “This is my book” button for each book that is actually yours.
If you have multiple editions of a book, Amazon will let you claim all of them. This Help article shows you how. If a book is incorrectly attributed to you, you can contact Amazon and have it removed from your portfolio page.
You can also claim multi-author anthologies to which you’ve contributed. I had an article published in the 2019 edition of Writer’s Market and I contacted Amazon, proved I was a contributor, and they added it to my portfolio.
If you publish through a publishing channel that allows you to earn from your writing, but haven’t published a book, you can increase your readership and earn more by adding Amazon as another publishing channel.
One way to do that is to take your previously published material, as long as you own the copyright, and repurpose it as a book. For instance, you can take past blog posts and republish them as an e-book. If you blog on several unrelated topics, such as law and real estate, even if there is some overlap, you can repurpose all your content on each topic and publish two books—one on law and one on real estate.
After listing your book for sale on Amazon, you can set up a portfolio page and claim your books.
You’ll be surprised how many readers will buy your book to gain access to your published material in one spot. Reading a book is a lot easier than scrolling through endless pages of web material and blog posts. It’s convenient for the reader and is another sales channel for you.
Above your Photos upload section on the Author Page tab of your Author Central account is your Author Page URL. That’s your Amazon author page’s web address. You can share it to Facebook and Twitter from your Author Central account, but you can use it in other ways, too.
You should link to your portfolio page in your email signature, on your website, and in your digital book marketing materials. You’ll increase your marketing effectiveness if you use it in your print marketing, as well. Simply list your author portfolio URL on bookmarks, postcards, or other print material you use to promote your books.
Another place to publish your author portfolio URL is in your bio inside or on the back cover of your book. Public speakers can publish their author page URL on the bio slide of their presentations.
In essence, you want to publish your author portfolio URL anywhere you expect to encounter readers.
It is becoming more competitive to be an author. You’ll set yourself apart if you have a well-optimized Amazon author portfolio page that promotes your books around the clock. Each element of your page is an opportunity to capture reader attention, so write a great bio and include a professional author image.
But don’t stop there.
Pull your blog posts into your portfolio page, upload your book trailers and videos of your public speaking engagements, and claim all your books, including those for which you’ve made only a small contribution. With just a little effort, and no additional expense, you can have a dynamite author portfolio page that sells more of your books.
Allen Taylor is a ghostwriter for executives, a content marketing veteran, and owner/chief content officer at Taylored Content. He lives in a tiny house on wheels with his wife and hangs out at LinkedIn.