For most authors, Amazon is the place to be. They sold over 44 million books in 2020 alone, and every year, that number goes up. But how do you build a meaningful connection with new readers in that vast sea of products and searches?
Get visible! Amazon Author Central can help you do just that. Use it to build an enticing author profile and fine-tune your books’ metadata. Not only will this help you draw in new readers, but it will help your existing fans dive deeper into your catalogue. And all for the low, low price of free!
This article is your step-by-step guide to unleashing Author Central’s full potential. There’s a lot of ground to cover, so bookmark this page before reading on. You’ll want to refer back to it as you build out your brand on the world’s largest bookseller.
What’s more, we keep this guide updated with Amazon’s latest developments, so it’s the perfect place to check when you need to know how the new features work—or where the old features went!
Ready to claim your Amazon spotlight? Let’s get started!
Author Central is a free tool available to any author whose books are for sale on Amazon, whether you publish through Kindle Direct Publishing, a distributor like Draft2Digital, or a traditional publishing house. It offers three essential services:
- Create your author profile page with your latest headshot and bio. You can also add photos, videos, and a feed of your most recent blog posts.
- Add extended metadata to your books’ product pages, which help convince readers you’ve got to be their next read.
- View your sales ranks and global distribution, so you can make smarter decisions about your marketing efforts.
Bonus: Work with multiple pen names. Author Central makes it easy to manage all your pen names without having to create multiple accounts. You won’t even have to log in and out! (More on this later).
Amazon offers you a juicy piece of prime real estate to showcase your author info, latest updates, and a full list of all your published work (ebook, audiobook, paperback, hardcover, large print, etc.).
Your author profile offers these advantages:
- It builds your web presence. Your Amazon author profile will show among the first five results in any search engine. Google, Bing, and even Duck Duck Go.
- It grants you a “Follow” button. Any reader who clicks on this button (located right below your headshot) will receive an automatic notification from Amazon every time you put a new book out. Neat!
- It helps you develop a connection to your readers. Every photo, video, or blog article you add to your profile welcomes your readers deeper into your world.
Your book’s metadata refers to any information that can help describe your product in greater detail. A snazzy tagline and blurb are great ways to get started, sure, but did you know you can also add press reviews, the text on the back cover or inside your book’s flap, and personal author notes?
Extending your book’s metadata will benefit you in several ways:
- Useful metadata will flesh out your book’s product page, making it more attractive to your readers.
- Professional reviews grant your book more gravitas and importance in your readers’ eyes.
- Behind-the-scenes tidbits gives readers a peek into your creative process, making you both more interesting and more relatable.
Reaching the largest number of readers possible requires both insight and strategy. Author Central offers you an easy way to understand how your book’s been performing over time, so you can hone your marketing and outreach efforts accordingly.
Curious how a particular book is resonating with your audience? You can also check out a list of all your reviews to date. Readers aren’t shy in telling you what they like!
Claiming your Author Central account is free and easy to set up. The one snag? You have to have at least one book available in the Amazon store. (We told you you might need to bookmark this page!)
To get started, go to author.amazon.com. Click on the “Join” link on the navigation bar or the “Join for free” button at the top and bottom of the page. An Amazon login screen will follow.
You don’t need to create a new account for Author Central, as your login information will be the same. Just type your KDP email and your password, then click “Sign-In.”
Copy and paste the code in the box and click “Verify.”
Amazon will email you a link. Click on it, and your account will be created. Hooray!
Type your name, the title of your book, or its ISBN number on the search bar and hit “Enter.”
As soon as you’re ready, click “Yes, join as ———.”
If you’ve got several books under different pen names, you’ll have to build one profile at a time. The good news is Author Central lets you register multiple pen names and jump through them within the same account. The registration follows the same principles we covered in the previous section. Your pen name must already exist as a published author on Amazon before you can add it to your list.
Adding a new pen name from your home screen is fast and easy:
Click on the arrow next to your name on the top-right corner of the navigation bar, then “Add pen name” inside the drop-down menu.
Click on the hamburger icon, then “Manage your account,” “Pen names,” and finally, “Add pen name.”
Claiming a new pen name follows the same steps as your first registration, using a search bar to locate any titles attached to that name. All your added pen names will appear under the “Pen names” sub-menu. You’ll be able to jump seamlessly between them with just one click.
After signing-up or logging-in, Author Central will take you directly to your Home screen. This page not only acts as a quick snapshot of your account but also offers some useful tools:
You can navigate Author Central in 7 different languages—English, French, German, Spanish, Italian, Japanese, and Portuguese. To select your language of choice:
- If you’re on a computer, click on the tab on the left side of the navigation bar.
- If you’re on a cellphone, the language selection is at the bottom of the main menu (right next to “Sign-out”).
Inside the “Book” box, you’ll find one-click shortcuts to your full library, your latest sales rank information, and your updated list of reviews.
Through the “Author Page” box, you can see how your profile looks on different Amazon retailers. Just take your pick using the drop-down menu and click “Go.” Your preview will open in a new tab or browser window.
The first step in your journey to better your Amazon presence is honing your author profile. Through Author Central, you can add the key elements you need to make it both informative and engaging to your readers: a headshot, biography, multimedia gallery, and links to your blog posts. Let’s see how you can use each of them to the fullest!
Every author needs a good headshot. Readers want to put a face on the person behind the curtain, and the impression you cause is up to you. Let’s get this out of the way: your author profile is professional, not personal. Not any photo where you look cute, smart, or funny should make the cut. Does that mean you need to pay a professional photographer for a headshot? Not necessarily. No matter who takes the picture, this is what you must remember: you’re an author. You better look the part!
The good news is you can show creativity with your headshot—don’t be a black and white floating head on a bare gray wall (yawn.) A headshot is part of your story. Your facial expression, your body language, the background you choose… They all come together to define who you are and how you relate to your books.
Adding your first headshot on Author Central is easy. Just click “Add photo” at the top of your screen. It’ll be the first thing you see in the “Profile” section, both on a computer and a cellphone.
When you upload a photo from your computer or phone, bear in mind that Amazon guidelines recommend a square picture of at least 300px X 300px. Double-check that your headshot looks nice and sharp after the upload. If it doesn’t, it’s time to up the photo’s resolution. If that’s not possible because your original file is too small, it’s wiser to choose another. Never settle for a low-quality pic. Nothing says “I don’t care” louder than a pixelated photo.
Your author bio is one of your most powerful tools. It gives your online presence a double value:
- It’s a great way to say hello to your readers and convince them you’re just as interesting as the books you write.
- It makes your name friendlier to search engines, giving you an extra SEO boost.
Writing the perfect biography is more challenging than you think, give it some thought. Here are some general recommendations:
- Keep it short and sweet. Three to five paragraphs should do the trick.
- Be true to who you are as an author.
- Be relatable but intriguing. A hint of mystery is always seductive.
- Celebrate your achievements but be humble. No one likes a braggart.
- Your goal should be to connect, not to self-promote.
To write your first biography in Author Central:
Click “Add bio.”
Amazon recommends keeping it under 1,000 characters. There’s no formatting allowed, so your bold and cursive fonts won’t translate if you’re copying and pasting from somewhere else, like Microsoft Word. Click “Preview bio” when you’re done.
Look for typos. Read it aloud. When you’re satisfied, click “Publish bio.”
You’ll notice that Author Central gives you the chance to add your biography in different languages. It currently supports English, French, German, Italian, Japanese, Portuguese, and Spanish. Amazon will automatically match the bio’s language with the right international platform. Don’t miss this chance to show your international readers some love!
Even if your books aren’t available in multiple languages yet, it’s still a great idea to translate your bio. Reaching your readers in their native language shows your appreciation and your wish to bond. If you lack the skill to write in a second language, you can:
- Hire a translator, or use someone proficient in that language to write it for you.
- Use translation software, like Google Translate. If you choose this route, your text might not be perfect, but it’ll get the job done. We advise you to add an extra sentence in English at the top as a preventive apology for any translation mishaps. It can be something as simple as "Your Name writes in English." Most readers will be understanding and value the extra effort.
A lot of authors use their blogs to interact with their readers and keep them updated. Author Central doesn’t offer its own text editor but allows you to connect your external blog via an RSS feed. If you do, a teaser of your blog posts will appear under your profile’s “Author Updates” section.
If you’re an active blogger, there are some advantages to linking your posts to Author Central:
- Any reader who finds you on Amazon can interact with your latest content in one click.
- Amazon becomes a new funnel that will direct traffic to your personal website or blog.
- Search engines reward websites that keep putting out new content.
You can find the “My blog” section on the right-most side of your screen if you’re on a computer. It’ll be below the “Author Page Previewer” on a cellphone. To connect your blog to Author Central:
If you’re unfamiliar with RSS feeds or need help finding out yours, you can find information in this article.
If it isn’t, you’ll see an error warning and will have to try again.
From that moment on, a teaser of your latest blog posts will show up on your author profile 24h after posting. Unfortunately, Author Central won’t pull any of your old posts unless you re-publish them in your original blog.
Building a multimedia gallery in Author Central is a fantastic way of solidifying your Amazon presence because:
- Documenting and sharing your writing life welcomes readers into your world.
- It’s a fast and easy way to keep your audience engaged when you’re between books.
- You can create buzz around your latest release based solely on your creative journey, avoiding blatant self-promotion.
Every new photo and video you upload will appear on your profile under “Author Updates.” This is the same place where your blog posts will show up if you linked your RSS feed. The content will follow a chronological order.
The “Photos and Videos” section is located on the right of your screen, below “Blog Updates,” if you’re on a computer. On a cellphone, you’ll find it when you scroll almost all the way down. To begin uploading your content, click “Upload Media.”
- Your photos and videos have to be related to your books and your author’s life only.
- They cannot contain any form of advertising, product information (price, ordering, or shipping), or requests for reviewers.
- You can neither share email addresses nor telephone numbers.
- You can share your opinions, but not other people’s material.
- Careful with your language: no obscenity, profanity, or spite allowed.
- And never share book spoilers!
- .jpeg, .png, or .gif files only.
- The minimum size is 300 pixels in width or height. Always pick the highest quality pictures from your list, and scrap anything that looks pixelated after upload.
- You can add up to 100 photos. Be smart about your choices! Only choose images that add interest and value to your author profile.
- You can use the.avi, .flv, .mov, .mpg, .wmv, or .mp4 formats.
- Videos have to be under 10 minutes in length, so keep them short, fun, and to the point. In this day and age, anything longer than 30 seconds better be must-see-TV. Otherwise, get out those scissors and clip-clip-clip!
- Your maximum size is 500MB. That’s not a lot, but it should be enough to hold a decent quality video export. Same as with your photos, scrap anything that doesn’t look crisp. And be mindful of the audio quality as well.
- You can upload a maximum of 50 videos.
To view all the content you’ve uploaded to Author Central, click “View All Media.” This button is located under the thumbnail of your most recent upload.
Trouble finding a specific file? You can sort your gallery chronologically or by file type.
To delete a photo or video, click on its thumbnail, then on the trashcan icon on the top-right corner.
Welcome to your personal library! Author Central will help you:
- See which of your books (and formats) are available on Amazon and each of its international retailers.
- Find your book’s product information (you cannot change any of this through Author Central.)
- [Available through author.amazon.com ONLY] Extend your book’s metadata. This feature is extremely powerful, and often overlooked by authors.
After registration, Author Central will automatically populate your book section with all the available titles on Amazon under that pen name. Sometimes, a book will slip through the cracks, and you’ll need to add it yourself. Here’s how:
2. Use the search bar to find your book. You can type the title, your name, or the volume’s ISBN number.
Remember, it may take Amazon 24–48 hours to show a new title in their store, as well as to index it. If your book’s been recently published, give it a couple of days before searching for it on Author Central. If it still doesn’t show up after 36h, it’s probably time to contact Author Central’s customer support.
As your backlist grows, so will your need to locate a particular book fast. The book section’s search bar will become your best friend. You can also sort your shelf alphabetically, by date, popularity, or reviews (average or total number).
Lastly, the “Marketplace” drop-down menu lets you check out which of your titles are available in which of these Amazon’s international platforms: US, UK, Germany, France, India, Japan, Spain, and Italy. Unfortunately, some countries like Canada or Australia, among others, are missing from that list.
When a reader lands on your book’s product page on Amazon, the clock starts ticking. You only have a short amount of time to convince them to click “Add to cart” or, even better, “Buy now.” Having a great cover will be part of this convincer. You also need a catchy tagline and an engaging blurb. But that’s only the beginning! Through Author Central, you can spice up your book page and make it shine.
Reaching the book details editor will take you a couple of clicks:
You can select your eBook, audiobook, or any of your paper versions.
Here you can find some useful information about a specific title, such as its publication date, publisher, or ASIN/
This section has nothing to do with your customers’ reviews and star rating on Amazon. It refers to editorial reviews transcribed from outside sources. If a journalist or book critic praised your work, this is the spot to share their thoughts. A lot of readers trust the opinion of the experts.
These are the guidelines when adding editorial reviews:
Amazon insists on your source being reputable but doesn’t explain what they mean by that. You’ll have to use your common sense on this one.
You need to enter the review, the reviewer’s name, and the publication or website where the review first appeared. For example: “This book is the cat’s pajamas!” -John Doe, The Sunshine Post
You can add more than one review, but each needs to be limited to 1 or 2 sentences.
You’re limited to 20,000 characters in total. That said, Amazon recommends you keep it short: 3,000 characters total and around 600 per review.
- For eBooks: you can add all your reviews in the same text box, one after the other.
- For paperback or hardcover: each text box is 4,000 characters max. You can add up to 5 reviews.
The transcribed text needs to follow “fair use” copyright laws. That’s why it is so crucial that you always quote accurately, mention the person behind the quote, and name the correct source.
You cannot include any of the following:
- Phone numbers, email, physical or website (URL) addresses.
- Any information that is time-sensitive or specific to just one particular edition of your book.
- Ads, promotions, or information about availability, price, or condition.
- Information about alternative ordering or shipping.
- Profanity, obscene, pornographic, or offensive or spiteful content.
- Customer reviews. You cannot ask for reviews either.
- Spoilers. We all hate them, don’t we?
Also known as your book description or blurb, this is one of the critical elements that can grant you a brand new reader. Great blurbs are exciting. They share the protagonist’s tribulations and the story’s highest stakes, without spilling all the beans. They also heighten any genre-specific elements that readers are looking for while describing the book’s uniqueness. And most importantly: they’re short! Don’t kill a reader’s interest by giving away too much.
Here are Amazon’s guidelines:
- You have up to 4,000 characters (around 600 words) for your product description.
- Don’t reveal any crucial plot points.
- Don’t add any phone numbers, email addresses, or URLs. So, no links to your website or newsletter sign-up!
This section gives you a chance to connect with your readers on a more personal level. You can share your experience when writing a book, what it means to you, and how it relates to the rest of your work. Readers will love taking a peek into your creative life.
- Author Central gives you 8,000 characters to express yourself (around 1,600 words.) That doesn’t mean you’ve got to use them all! In fact, most people will skip right over it if they see a big chunk of text.
- Never use the space for self-promotion.
This only applies to book editions that come with a jacket (usually hardcover). In this case, you’re not allowed to get creative, as the text should be exactly as it appears on the jacket itself.
You can only edit the text to delete any information that would violate Author Central’s policy. These include contact information, URLs, and any references to the book’s price, availability, or alternative ordering.
Just as with the text from the book’s inside flap, you can only add the back cover information verbatim. But wait, if this info is the same (or 80% similar) to your product description, don’t write it twice!
Use this section if you’re adding something new that only appears in a determined format or edition. Author Central’s policy still applies, so don’t try to sneak your email or website or any self-promotion.
You may add your author bio to a book’s product page (or a shortened version, if you’d rather not swamp your page with text). We advise you to keep it the same (or very similar) as the biography you’re using everywhere else, including your own website and Amazon author profile.
Your limit is 2,000 characters (around 400 words). Don’t forget, no self-promo is allowed.
The only way of knowing if your latest book release is causing the impact you wished for is by gathering as much information as possible. Of course, your sales number will fluctuate. But keeping track of the right metrics will help you develop a smarter career strategy and understand what’s resonating with your readers and why.
Being an author is about passion and creativity, yes, but if you want your books to pay your bills, you better start putting on the business hat once in a while! You don’t have to become market obsessed, but you must always be market aware.
Author Central gives you a set of tools that can tell you more about your book’s performance. Let’s see them one by one and learn how to interpret the information they provide.
This metric will tell you how your books are performing on the Amazon store. Amazon’s sales rank is not solely based on your number of sales and borrows. It also measures your book’s performance relative to other books.
For example, if your individual sales stayed the same, but some books within your Amazon category dropped, you might see an increase in your sales rank. On the other hand, if your sales remained consistent, but new titles in your category got more traction, you might experience a sales rank decrease.
Amazon’s main sales rank is updated hourly. It can change very rapidly, sometimes even dramatically. Don’t go crazy checking it several times a day. Use it to get a deeper understanding of your genre’s market and your readers’ expectations, and become savvier about your marketing choices.
In this report, your books will appear in order of popularity, your best-selling title being on top. If you need to further organize your data, you can use the drop-down menu to select a specific marketplace (currently US, UK, Germany, France, and Japan), author name, or book. If you’re on a cellphone, these options will be under the “Filters” button, but you won’t be able to filter by book.
Every box will show you a book’s current sales rank, and how many positions it went up or down in the past hour. You can switch between formats and editions using the drop-down menu, and the numbers will change accordingly.
If you’re curious about your book’s performance over time, the Historical Sales Rank is the tool to use. The chart will show how your rank moved up and down during the time period of your choice (from 2 weeks to 2 years, or all information available from your publishing date) If you roll-over the chart, you will see your rank number on a specific day.
The Historical Sales Rank is updated once a day. It becomes really useful when checking how a timed event impacted your Amazon sales, such as a launch strategy, advertising campaign, discount, or book convention.
These rankings refer to how your book is performing within a determined Amazon category. Unfortunately, this information won’t be directly available through Author Central. The “See category rankings on Amazon” link will open a new window to your book’s product page. To find the information you’re looking for, scroll down to the “Product details” section. Though Amazon allows you to pick up to 10 categories for your book, only the 3 where your title ranks the highest will appear.
This metric will show you how many physical copies you have sold in the US. Bookscan is not part of Amazon itself, but comes from a data and analytics company called NPD. NPD tracks book sales across 85% of the United States. BookScan data includes many retailers besides Amazon print, such as Barnes & Noble, Target, Walmart, or independent bookstores. It doesn’t include sales to libraries, wholesale, used books, pre-orders, or sales under the “Fulfilled by Amazon” program.
Bookscan information is only available if your book is sold in a retailer that participates in NPD Bookscan. Your book also needs to appear in NPD’s list of books, which is made by third-party sources, like the Ingram Book Company.
If you’re self-published through KDP, and your book is enrolled in “Expanded Distribution,” that title will be part of the NPD’s list of book through Ingram, and you should be able to see your Bookscan data in Author Central.
Bookscan shows you the number of sales you got over the past two years. This information updates every Friday by 12AM Pacific Time. If you need more data, you can request it from NPD directly for a fee.
You can choose which particular book you want to see reported with the drop-down menu. If you pick the “All Books” option, Author Central will show your three best-selling books separately and merge the rest under “Other.”
You can choose what books to show on the chart using the checkbox on the right. Each title will be represented by a different color.
This is a fun tool that will inform you of how many book sales you’ve got in different US territories. The areas colored in dark blue will be your best-selling areas, followed by lighter shades. The areas marked with gray lines represent combined zones, which add your sales in sparsely populated areas. You will see the exact number of copies sold as you scroll your mouse over the map.
Your published work is not a diary you keep under lock and key, for your eyes only. As soon as your book is out, it will be open to criticism. On Amazon, that translates into the both loved and feared star rating. How many reviews you get depends on how many people are actually reading your work. Remember, not every reader will share an opinion. In fact, most of them won’t. It’s up to you to encourage (not bribe) your audience to leave an honest review. You can also build your own “street team” and give advance copies to a select group so they can be the first to leave a comment.
If you think the most important thing about customer reviews is to get five stars only, think again. Your book will please some readers and not others. It’s impossible to be everybody’s cup of tea. But don’t dismiss any criticism you get, good or bad, especially if it comes directly from a reader.
Customer reviews represent an open window into your readers’ minds. They give you invaluable information about your readership and its emotional response to your work. And that’s precisely what you want: a response, even if it’s unexpected or not the one you were hoping for.
That said, you don’t have to take every single review as gospel. You want to know your readers as well as possible. You want your books to reach them and give them satisfaction. But you’re the one in charge of your career, no one else. Be honest and true to your work, even if sometimes it raises an eyebrow. A couple of one-star reviews are nothing compared to earning your readers’ trust.
Author Central offers a fast way to see all your reviews at a glance. The downside is, you won’t be able to do much sorting with your data nor see a book’s star rating directly. The report will show all your book’s reviews (for every title) from newest to oldest. Using the drop-down menus at the top, you can see the customer reviews on a particular international retailer, or pick just one book, instead of your whole shelf.
If you want to dig deeper, the “View this review on Amazon” link will take you to the reviews section on your book’s product page. There, you can filter the comments by date and star rating.
Author Central gives you the tools you need to claim your rightful spotlight on Amazon. Spending the extra time honing your profile and book pages will pay off with dividends.
Readers browse Amazon at light speed. Give them a reason to spend some extra seconds on your author profile and learn more about your books. Welcome them into your world. Connect with them. Show them how much you care about your work. They will remember you for it.
If you’re lucky, you’ll earn a follower. If you’re even luckier, a new reader. From there, you’re just a step away from gaining a new fan. So roll up your sleeves, and give your Amazon author profile the love it deserves!