by Sherrie Wilkolaski

Amazon is more than the world’s largest online bookstore, it is a hub for readers and shoppers to connect with each other, share reviews, tag products and provide lists of their favorite books to one another.  Scroll down to the bottom of any Amazon product page and you’ll find the most interactive, free features that Amazon offers.  It is their forum.  The great news is that as an author, you have a forum discussion feature on your individual book product page and also on your personal Amazon author page.  It is another free tool that allows for an incredible online discussion board to ask and answer questions with your readers and potential fans.   Check out the forum post discussions at the bottom of John Grisham’s product page for The Litigators.

 

Why would an author want to start a forum post on Amazon?

Why not!  If you are interested in feedback on your book, or are looking for information on your subject matter, Amazon’s forum is a great way to gather this information.  Amazon users are very open to giving their two cents on virtually any subject. Creating a new discussion is as easy as typing a sentence, even if you hunt and peck on the keyboard.   Just click on “Start a new discussion” and it will open up the box so you can enter in your topic and include a link to any product for sale on Amazon.   Don’t forget to select the box to “Receive a new email when posts are made.” so that you are notified when people respond to your post.

 

What should an author post about on their own forum?

Amazon has displayed its Forum Guidelines and they are clear about what they do not want to see, so be sure to check out their policy.  It’s pretty standard stuff, no vulgar language and that type of thing.  I recommend that authors use the forum on their Amazon author page whenever possible.

Here are my top 5 uses for posting on the Amazon forums:

  1. Ask your readers for feedback on your book.  Don’t ask, “did you like my book” I’m talking about getting creative.  What did you think about the villain?  Who was your favorite character?  How did (list book title) help you?  Be deliberate with your questions and ask meaningful questions that you really care about.
  2. Position yourself as an expert.  If you’re a chef and have written a cookbook, start discussions on the topic of cooking.  What is your favorite substitute for butter when making desserts when you’re cutting calories?
  3. Research content for your next book.  If you’re working on your next title use the Amazon forum for real-time research.  Ask the online users what they are looking for in your genre.  What is your favorite historical fiction novel?  What makes for a good romance novel?  Which hobby makes for a better option for my hero…avid golfer or chess champion?
  4. Reference current events.  If there is a buzz in the media that you can tie to your book use that connection.  If you have book on politics you could be having a field day between this being an election year and the politicians.  Will you buy the book that covers the John Edwards trial once it comes out?
  5. Have fun.  Interesting posts are what gain attention.  Did you see the episode of Diners, Drive-ins and Dives on the Food Network last night, what was Guy thinking?

What if you’re not comfortable creating your own forum posts?

Post on other discussions.  If you’re not interested in starting your own string of discussions, post comments on other strings.  It doesn’t get any easier than that.

What NOT to do in the Amazon forums.

Don’t blatantly ask people to buy your book.  You can link to products that are for sale on Amazon, along with every post you make, so providing a link to your book is okay.  Use the forums to gather and receive information.  It really is for the exchange of ideas.  If you can get a few mentions in there to promote awareness about your book, even better.

As Amazon puts it, “Ask questions. Share opinions. Gain insight.”

Have fun with your new Amazon marketing tool and use it wisely.  What are you posting about on Amazon’s forums?  Please share your thoughts below.

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