The good news is anyone can create them--you, your readers, your fans, your enemies (haha, scratch that last one). And don't worry, the Shelfari Author account has absolute power over the content. If you want to delete what some random person put onto your book you can--and only you can do that!
You must be an Amazon/Shelfari Author to control your book(s), so click here if you need to review how to create your Amazon Author Central account (a prerequisite to setting up a Shelfari Author account) or check out my earlier discussion on how to log into your Shelfari Author account and edit a Description field. Once you're all caught up, click through the jump-break to see how to create some optional fields for your book.
Aren't They ALL Optional Fields?
I'm calling these "optional" because really, you don't have to have these (as you do really need a description) but I think you should avail yourself of these fields. Why not? They're there and whatever you enter will automagically propagate through to your Amazon page. They only enhance your book, right? Take a few minutes and play with some of these. I've listed each of the purely "enhancement" fields below followed by my remarks on how to use it or what to put there.
Over on LibraryThing (Amazon's Shelfari competition) they're big on "first words" and libraries like to have this field filled in so as to confirm they have the right book. Plus people are quoting opening lines all the time. Who doesn't know the words It was a dark and stormy night or now that it's in an iPod commercial, Call me Ishmael ?
Table of Contents
I wouldn't worry about describing the chapters if you have chapter titles, but if you just numbered your chapters, take advantage of this field by putting a 5-10 word (or less) descriptor in here for each chapter.
Themes and Symbolism
This is actually a very useful field if you're trying to target a specific kind of audience. For Dicky's Story, I wanted to be sure people knew it addressed themes of traditional Jewish life and touched on multicultural prejudices in the plot. This field allows me to create sections, "free form" so I created one for each theme I felt was important in the book.
Series & Lists
This is pretty self-explanatory. You list the series to which this book belongs--if it does. Since Dicky's Story is a standalone novel, I left this field blank. That's an option, too ^)^
Authors & Contributors
Again, I think this is self-explanatory. You list yourself and if you had an Illustrator or Co-Author or someone else to whom you want to give credits, this is where you'd list them.
This is a "list" of fields to fill in actually, so I'm not sure why Amazon clumped them all together under one heading. Here's what's in there and the data I entered for my book, Dicky's Story:
Original Language: English
Publisher: Sarah R. Yoffa
Publication Date: March 21, 2011
Page Count: Add the page count.
Since Dicky's Story is available in eBook only (for now, anyway), I left "page count" empty. If your book is available in paperback or hardcover, list the page count. It helps readers know how long the book is to read. I'm tempted to input the number of words (164,000 for Dicky's Story) but libraries will actually pull this data into their systems (automatically) so I don't want to break the system. Put only page count in here, not word count.
Here you list any awards that you've received for this book. Since I haven't gotten any for Dicky's Story, unfortunately (or yet), I left this blank.
Notes for Parents
Here you select the reading level you think is appropriate for your content. If your book has sexual content or explicit violence, for example, you might put a note in here that it's NOT appropriate for young readers. You choose a preset reading level from a pull down list but there's a text box where you can enter notes--from you to parents of potential readers. Obviously, this system only works if parents actually read these things.
There are a couple more of these "optional" fields but next week, I'll discuss the "Subjects" and "tag" fields in more depth (and with screen shots) because those will be of greater interest to most of you.
Thanks for stopping by!