Tuesday, July 24, 2012

TUESDAY TIP: #Shelfari #BookExtras How to Get Started #howto #indie #pubtip

A while back, I did a 2-part Tuesday Tip on Shelfari Book Extras. Part 1 introduced what the general reading public thinks these suckers are, exactly, and Part 2 talked about how I felt Book Bloggers could get involved in using them for free publicity (for themselves and for the sake of the book, in a symbiotic relationship).

Because the #1 response I got from Book Bloggers and Authors alike was "Oh yeah, I'll have to look into how to use those" and pretty much no one did (based on my follow-on inquiries about how they liked this feature), I've decided to do a little mini-series of Tuesday Tips on how to use Book Extras. Today, I'll start with the basics: setting up the account and making yourself an official Author.

To use Book Extras, you'll need to have a Shelfari account. If you have an Amazon Customer account, then you have, or can have, a Shelfari account. When you log into your Amazon Customer account, Shelfari will automatically create an account "for" you. Just one little problem (which I alluded to in Part 1): if you're an Author, it'd be nice to have a Shelfar Author account, not merely a Shelfari user account. So there's a little step you have to take first, before logging into Shelfari and letting it "helpfully" create your account "for" you however it deems fit.

1) Amazon Author Central
Yep, you must have an Amazon Author account set up at Amazon's Author Central.  If you haven't already setup your Author name in Author Central, do that now. You should probably use an email account that is tied to your Author account with KDP (see NOTE below for why) but you don't "have to" do that; you just need to have an existing account in Author Central. Log into Amazon Author Central here:  https://authorcentral.amazon.com/gp/home

Amazon will search its vast storehouse of author names and come up with what it "thinks" is you by showing you a book or books by that Author Name. NOTE: This is why I said use the same email address you did for KDP. It'll give you a chance to accept or reject the suggestion but it's pretty fool-proof if you use the same address. You'll see your book and just click the "this is me" button to accept it.

At that point, you'll need to log into your email and click a link to confirm you're you, but then your Author Central account will be created. That is, it will exist, as shown in the following screen shot for my new (yep, brand spanking new) Author Central account for "Sarah R. Yoffa."

Setting up your Author Central account and your Amazon Author Page is another Tip (or three) for another Tuesday (or series of Tuesdays). Don't click anything else at your Author Central account for right now, not even the highlighted link in the screen shot ((grin))

2) Amazon Shelfari Authors
Now that you have an Author Central account, you can log into Amazon/Shelfari using that same email address. Shelfari will search the same vast database at Amazon and now "find you" because you have an Amazon Author Central account. In fact, Shelfari will automatically link your Amazon Author Central account to its new Shelfari Author account for you.

You still have to customize your Shelfari Author account (upload a photo, set your customized username--you can only do it once so do it carefully!) but you can start using your Shelfari Author account right away to access and edit Book Extras in your book even without setting up the profile data. Your profile avatar--assuming you upload one--will have a little blue "Author" ribbon over the bottom right corner () to indicate to all Shelfari users that you are an official Amazon Author. Here's a screen shot of my Author proflie for "Sarah R. Yoffa" :

Yes, again, I just created this account yesterday. Why hadn't I done any of this before? Because I had created everything for "Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer" and apparently, Shelfari will not let me use that to be "Sarah R. Yoffa" as well. This is a great example "in action" of what I warned of in this week's Monday Marketing blog: be very careful what name you choose and how you use it. One little change can make you a whole new Author to the publishing world!

If you did these steps "out of order" or decided not to bother creating an Amazon Author Central account first, he's how the difference shows up on your Shelfari account.

Please note that because "Webbiegrrl Writer" is not an Amazon/Shelfari Author she has no little blue ribbon ().

To be an authentic Amazon Author on Shelfari, you must first have an Amazon Author Central account.

Webbiegrrl Writer has the ribboned purple Legs I have on my @webbiegrrl Twitter account. I've got the avatars backwards from how I do it on Facebook (I use grey Legs for Webbiegrrl and purple for my real name) so I'll probably switch the images before you see this. Just to keep you on your toes :)

3. Configuring Your Shelfari Author Account
The next step is to flesh out details about yourself in your Shelfari Author Account. Be sure to search for and add all of your own books to your Shelfari shelf, Click the "edit your profile" link to add data about yourself and your Author brand. This is for your brand and not merely a place to list your book titles and links. Don't open your "hello" conversation with your potential fans with a link and sales pitch. That's a definitely turn off and says nothing good about your brand.

You can follow people (like I started to do with "Sarah, The Webbiegrrl Writer") but you don't have to and so far, I see zero value-added to following people on Shelfari. I've already gotten spammed there a few times by total strangers who see I'm an Author--even though "Webbiegrrl Writer" is not a real Amazon Author!

3 Basics to include:

a) Upload a photo avatar and make it something that matches either your Twitter or Amazon Author photo.

b) Write at least 25 words about yourself (not your books, you) It's only about a paragraph long; a little longer than Twitter but shorter than Goodreads. Brand yourself here. Be sure your bio paragraph is uniquely you and not just a boring list of accomplishments or staccato sales pitches.

c) Be sure to mention your web site, blog or Twitter/Facebook links in the bio blurb - giving a reason why people should care to go yet somewhere else. Can they get something there?

What's Next....
Next Tuesday, I'll do a Tip on how to start setting up your Book Extras for each of your books, working through one section a week, then I'll probably revisit the entire discussion of how Book Bloggers and Readers can get involved in your book--literally--through the use of Book Extras.

Next week's Monday Marketing blog will be Immutable Law of Branding (for Indie Authors) Law 12: the Law of the Generic. Specifically, we'll talk about how to be "less" to all people and "more" of just one thing: you.

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