Amazon Lets Authors Spy on Readers

By Rob Eagar, author of Sell Your Book Like Wildfire

Did you know that Amazon lets authors see who is highlighting notes in their books and tweeting content to friends? When someone reads a book using a Kindle device or app, Amazon stores the information they highlight. Plus, Amazon displays who used Twitter to spread word of mouth to their friends. How does it work?

1. Go to: https://kindle.amazon.com

2. Type in the title of your book in the “Search” box at the top right-hand corner.

3. Click on your title when it appears in the search listing.

4. You will see a picture of your book cover, a list that says “Posts from this book,” and a section called “Highlights,” which shows content that people notated while reading your book on their Kindle.

It may seem a little creepy that Amazon tracks all of this reader information. But, keep in mind that Amazon only displays information that readers agree to make public. There’s no blatant invasion of privacy. Kindle readers can turn off this sharing feature if they desire.

Amazon’s slogan for their Kindle service is “Read. Review. Remember.” I like that tagline, and I think their new service offers some innovative promotional opportunities for authors. Here’s why:

1. Authors get an unprecedented opportunity to peek into the minds of their readers. You can see what parts of a book resonate with readers the most, because you can literally see the passages that people highlighted. This ability allows the author to focus future blog posts, free resources, interview topics, or social media conversations on content that they know people already find intriguing.

2. Authors can identify and thank readers who share word of mouth via Twitter. By seeing who tweets your material, you can leave a message at that individual’s Twitter account to show your appreciation for telling their friends. How cool is that?

3. If your book doesn’t have many highlighted portions or shared posts, it could indicate that your book isn’t being discovered or the content isn’t capturing reader interest. Knowing that information can serve as a wake-up call to improve your marketing or strengthen the manuscript for your next book.

Even though this service from Amazon is unique, I would urge you to take it with a grain of salt. Don’t base your book’s marketing plan or primary promotional activities on the comments you see posted or the passages highlighted. Those comments listed only represent a small fraction of your total reader base. Instead, stay focused on marketing your book based on its overall value. Use the benefit of this service to gauge what kind of conversation is happening around your books.

I’m excited to see Amazon offer another ground-breaking service that brings readers and authors closer together. At times, they seem like one of the few organizations dedicated to helping authors break the down the walls of publishing.

About the Author

Rob Eagar is the founder of WildFire Marketing, a consulting practice that helps authors and publishers sell more books and spread their message like wildfire. He has assisted numerous New York Times bestselling authors and his new book, Sell Your Book Like Wildfire, will be published by Writer’s Digest in June, 2012. Find out more about Rob’s advice, products, and coaching services for authors at: www.startawildfire.com

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