At this point, I don’t have to tell you that Amazon is a behemoth in the publishing industry. Even more so if you’re self-published.
One intriguing feature that Amazon has developed in the last couple years is the Amazon Follow button.
Part of Amazon’s genius has been that it finds ways that help it grow that also help authors to grow (if you follow all their rules). The Follow button is one of these wonderful, mutually beneficial tactics—and you don’t have to compromise by promising them exclusivity or anything for this one.
The basic concept behind is that fans of an author are more likely to buy more books from that author if they are connected to that author. Thus Amazon created a way to connect to authors. Easy peasey.
That said, I didn’t quite understand the value of the Follow—what the heck does an Amazon Follower do for me, as an author? I had no idea. So I did some research. Here’s what I learned.
The Claim Your Name PSA
Before we even get to the Follow button, a quick reminder of a foundational principle of marketing: Claim your name everywhere.
In this case, we’re talking about your Amazon Author Page—you can’t use the Follow button without one, and it exists (for free) if you have any type of published work available on Amazon.
There is a lot out there already about how to set up your Author Page (and frankly it’s very similar to setting up any online profile anywhere) so we’re going to move straight to the Amazon Follow feature.
What is the Amazon Follow button?
You probably know this, but let’s just start at the beginning. The Amazon Follow button is literally a button that allows Amazon users to follow you through the Amazon network—as one would on a social media site.
When a reader clicks the “Follow” button on your author page, they give Amazon permission to share updates that you share on their site.
What does that look like in practice?
Despite the Follow being much like a social network, there is no actual posting or feeds on Amazon (because it is in fact not a network, but a store). So this is where it started getting confusing for me.
There are only a couple of perks, but they’re pretty helpful ones. There are two incentives for someone to Follow an author on Amazon:
- Receive alerts when the author releases a new work
- Receive messages from the author
- Receive alerts when the author releases a new article
In short, this is one more way for you to build a relationship with readers where they already are.
How do I get Follows?
This was a much easier question to me than why Follows matter (always a good question to ask if you’re putting time, effort or budget into something!).
There are a few ways to gain Amazon Followers:
- Be famous/a bestseller—Not to be snarky or anything. But this is a great way to collect follows.
- Release frequently—A lot of self-publishers follow this model, and it’s the best substitute for true celebrity. (If you can write fast enough—alas, I cannot.)
- Ask your following elsewhere—Asking is one of those funny things we forget to do, or don’t think we need to do, but makes a huge difference. It’s as simple as a side bar box with a link on your website.
- Do an Amazon Giveaway—This is my new favorite. For the low low cost of a single copy of my ebook, Amazon will promote my book for me to completely new readers. The setup is very similar to a Goodreads Giveaway. Get started with the “Create a Giveaway” button on your book’s Amazon page (while logged in).
Final Word on Follows
Because there are so many voracious readers on Amazon, the Amazon Follow can be a great way to expand your overall following and sell more books over time. I recommend using some of the tips above to grow this following consistently, with a very low time and financial cost.
However, be sure to but the emphasis in that last sentence on “very low.” Never forget, when you build a following on someone else’s property (in this case, Amazon’s site), you are subject to their whims to change the game—and Amazon has an established history of this. It’s always best to prioritize growing a following that you can own, such as through a newsletter.
By day, Emily Wenstrom, is the editor of short story website wordhaus, author social media coach, and freelance content marketing specialist. By early-early morning, she is E. J. Wenstrom, an award-winning sci-fi and fantasy author whose debut novel Mud was named 2016 Book of the Year by the Florida Writers Association.