Follow Authors at Amazon (Hear all about it)

Amazon Follow


A really cool thing happened to me recently.

I received an email from Amazon a week or two ago.

I almost deleted it. At first, I thought it was an advertisement for a book. I get those a lot.

But I noticed the subject line and realized it was different.

The email subject was: A Question about Your Book “Learn or Review Trigonometry: Essential Skills.”

My first thought was to wonder what was wrong. But it was good news, not bad.

The question was, “Would you like to share this release with your Amazon Followers?”

You bet I would! (Too bad I don’t have that many Amazon followers. But I’ll take what I can get.)

The email included a picture of my book cover, the title, and Yes and No buttons. I clicked Yes.

I published this book on June 10. I received the email from Amazon on June 26, a little over two weeks after the publication date. I responded Yes on the 26th.

According to Amazon, “…you may be invited by Amazon Follow to share a personal message about an upcoming release to your followers.”

It’s available by invitation only. I’ve published dozens of books, and this was my first invitation. (Maybe I deleted a few others!! At least, this was the first invitation that I noticed.)

If you receive an invitation, when you click the Yes button, you must compose a message for your followers.

At 1:07 a.m. this morning, I received an email from Amazon. That’s about a week after I clicked Yes.

The subject states that I have 1 new update from people I follow on Amazon. Inside the email, there is:

  • One of my pictures from my author page, but not the default main image. How and why they chose the image, I have no idea.
  • Text: “Chris McMullen released and wrote a personal message about Learn or Review Trigonometry: Essential Skills.”
  • A See More button.

When I click the See More button, I come to an Amazon page with:

  • the same author page picture
  • my name as a hyperlink (click on it and you visit my author page)
  • the message I had composed
  • the cover thumbnail
  • the title of the book as a hyperlink (to visit the product page)
  • the list price
  • and the review count (0 reviews as of now)

One thing I regret is that the Look Inside still hasn’t activated, even though the book has been out for a few weeks. Usually, the Look Inside shows up quickly, but this time it seems to be stuck. It’s odd that Amazon didn’t check this out and either delay my message until it was resolved or speed up the Look Inside process. (The Kindle edition doesn’t have a Look Inside because I used the Kindle Textbook Creator, but if the print Look Inside shows up, that should show up with the Kindle edition, too.)


First, if you’re an author, whether you’ve self-published or traditionally published, you should follow yourself at Amazon.

That way, if you ever get the chance to send a message to your followers, you’ll get to see firsthand what it looks like from the other side.

Next, you should visit the author pages of your favorite authors at Amazon and follow them.

Amazon might let you know when their new books come out.

Visit the author’s Author Central page. From any of the author’s books, if the author has an Amazon author page, you can find a link to it with their picture and biography on the book’s product page.

Once you reach the author page, click the large yellow Follow button under the author’s picture.



(Has a #1 new release tag, though the sales rank is around 300,000 right now. Nice thing about some nonfiction categories is that you don’t have to sell dozens of books per day to get extra exposure, though there was a magical day a couple of weeks back where it sold 15 copies.)


Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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Notifying Kindle Customers of Updates (Has Changed)

Image from ShutterStock

Image from ShutterStock


It happens. After you publish a book, you think of a way to improve it. Or you find a typo. Or you view it on a friend’s device and discover a formatting problem. Or a customer notifies you of an issue. Or a customer suggests something in a review that never occurred to you. Or the content of a nonfiction book becomes out-of-date.

For some reason or another, you need to update your Kindle e-book.

That’s the easy part: Simply visit your bookshelf at KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), upload a new content file, preview your book carefully on each device, and publish the revision.

Your old book remains available for sale until the new one goes live, usually within 12 to 24 hours in the US. (If you don’t want the original to remain available in the interim period, simply unpublish the book from your KDP bookshelf.)

Naturally, you want all of your customers to receive your updated edition. You’d also like to notify your customers that a new edition is available.

That’s the hard part.

It’s never been ‘easy,’ but KDP’s policy on notifying Kindle customers of updates has actually changed.

Their policy is clearly customer-oriented, and that’s a good thing.

But it’s not customer-oriented in a way that’s intuitive to most authors. Authors are focused on how their Kindle e-book has improved, and so they tend to focus on how customers would appreciate having the new Kindle edition (or at least knowing that the new edition is available).

However, in many cases, that would actually be less customer-oriented.

Why? Because there is something else to consider.

Many readers:

  • highlight passages in their Kindle e-books
  • place bookmarks in their Kindle e-books
  • record notes in their Kindle e-books

Imagine customers who have spent hours not only reading your e-book, but highlighting, bookmarking, and taking notes in your e-book.

Those customers may become quite frustrated to lose all that hard work simply because your new edition overrides their original.

Therefore, Amazon must weigh the significance of your update and how customers might benefit from that against the possible loss of highlights, bookmarks, and notes.

The result is that KDP now only sends out automatic updates to Kindle customers when the update corrects serious readability issues, such as:

  • overlapping text
  • cutoff images

If the update does not correct a severe readability issue, KDP won’t issue an automatic update for your e-book.

(It’s true that customers can turn updates on or off, but not all customers take the time to do it or know how.)

KDP will ask you to describe the errors, and may ask you to provide the location numbers of the errors (you can read your book on a Kindle device or in the Kindle previewer to find the location numbers).

KDP will examine the errors to determine whether or not they hamper readability severely enough to warrant an update:

  • For destructive or critical errors (as deemed by KDP) replaced by major corrections, KDP will email current customers to let them know that an update exists and provide directions for how to obtain the updated Kindle e-book.
  • For distracting errors (as determined by KDP) replaced by minor corrections, current customers won’t be notified and updates will only be made available to customers who don’t yet own the book.
  • If KDP discovers critical errors that still need to be replaced, they will remove your book from sale until you correct those issues.

Of course, the best thing is to avoid needing an update, but it’s not always possible. Especially, in nonfiction, you can’t always future proof your book because information, technology, and trends are often dynamic.

For books where KDP chooses not to notify customers of updates, the next best thing is to let your following know on your blog, through social media, or via an email newsletter.

In addition to including information about how to follow you in an about the author section of your book, provide a compelling reason for readers to do this (e.g. a free relevant PDF file of something your audience is likely to want, or to learn about possible short-term promotional savings on your future books).

But you also have to balance publicly announcing that you made a mistake versus helping your current readers receive your updates (by contacting KDP to request that the updated edition be sent to their device, or perhaps you could send a copy of your book). If you have an email newsletter where the contact list consists predominantly of people who have purchased your book, then there is less concern about publicizing your mistakes; but if you post on your blog or social media about a mistake, then your mistake receives much exposure (and if you feed your blog or tweets into your Author Central page, current shoppers may see it).

Write happy, be happy. 🙂

Chris McMullen

Copyright © 2015

Chris McMullen, Author of A Detailed Guide to Self-Publishing with Amazon and Other Online Booksellers

  • Volume 1 on formatting and publishing
  • Volume 2 on marketability and marketing
  • 4-in-1 Boxed set includes both volumes and more
  • Kindle Formatting Magic (coming soon)

Follow me at WordPress, find my author page on Facebook, or connect with me through Twitter.


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