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Promote Existing Books with Amazon Shorts

The mightiest river in the world is the Amazon. It runs from west to east, from the sunset to the sunrise, from the Andes to the Atlantic. -- Theodore Roosevelt

Among authors, has earned its name. For many it is their most important tool for online sales; sometimes it is their not-so-gentle giant. It is a business many love to hate. Several of its policies are perceived to be anti-author. Because it has so many features that are an advantage to authors, I, instead, hate to admit that I love it.

"Ahhhh, Amazon. When it comes to book sales, she strides on the sturdiest of legs." ~Carolyn Howard-Johnson from The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't

Amazon, like the great woman warrior of mythology, performs amazing feats. She will sell your books here and overseas. At one time she didn't cater to authors of any stripe, but she tolerated them as long as they were assigned an ISBN (the number on the back of your book near the barcode). Small or large publishers, subsidy, and self-published books may be found in her pages making her a unique buying and selling tool. But now Amazon absolutely caters to authors. She offers them ways to target not only a reading audience but also to focus on their given reader. One of the ways she does this is with shorts.

Many publishers and authors are utilizing Amazon's short program because:

Amazon Shorts are uniquely suited to works that appear to require a smaller format. Amazon Shorts allow-nay, encourage-links to a publisher's or authors related publications. Amazon Shorts asks for only a six month exclusive which means that a chapter or excerpt might be used to test the advisability of a book on the same subject or to drum up interest for that topic. Or you can leave the Short with Amazon and earn income, but you will earn a lower royalty. Amazon acts as a full-service e-publisher with shorts. That means that they both deliver and publicize your work. That means exposure for the author up and over the promotion that she will do for her own Short.

Authors of anything from poetry to how-to books may find a way to fit one or more Amazon Shorts into their publishing and promotion plans.

Amazon Shorts will expose your book to a very important target audience, readers. And, of course, it may allow an author to try writing in another genre. The possibilities range from poetry to nonfiction, experimental to tried-and-true.

An author need only have some other published book for sale on Amazon to be considered for a Short. That may include having contributed to an anthology. Even though a Short is published by Amazon, many publishers are encouraging their own authors to submit because of all the benefits listed above and because Shorts-if carefully presented-might work as a cross promotion vehicle for other books in that publisher's catalog. They can do the same for an author's other books and to help brand him or her to a larger audience.

Here are some things a prospective Short author should keep in mind:

1. Amazon is a traditional publisher.

2. Shorts are e-publications. They may be downloaded and are easily accessible on

3. Your work may or may not be accepted.

4. Once accepted it may take several weeks or even more than a couple months to be published.

5. Amazon supplies the cover; I have never seen one that is not professional, marketing savvy and attractive. For an example, find my The Great First Impression Book Proposal at

6. Like many publishers, Amazon prefers that work be submitted in near-perfect, publishable form. Do not expect extensive editing.

7. Authors should be ready to submit an extensive plan for promotion. All reputable publishers want their authors as promotion partners.

8. Amazon has tons of inherent promotion power and may call on it if they see that a particular short shows promise and that the author is willing to work with them.

9. Amazon pays royalties but it is obvious that the royalty on a Short's 49 cent retail price will not be huge. Authors should not do publish Shorts to get rich.

10. Signing the contract and submitting a marketing proposal can be time-consuming.

11. Once Amazon accepts your Short, it may be easier and quicker to publish with them again.

12. I have many friends who have published Shorts. I didn't think it was something I wanted to do, even though I saw the marketing wisdom behind this new program. Then I began to work with a couple of consulting clients who didn't want to learn the proposal and synopsis process. There are many good books out there on the subject but I needed to lead these authors through the process easily and fast. Thus The Great First Impression Book Proposal: Everything You Need to Know About Selling Your Book in 20 Minutes or Less was born. Amazon's short program seemed made for it. I can now help my clients understand the proposal process easily and quickly, but I can also share a quick, easy overview approach I use with others., many of whom I have never met.

Carolyn Howard-Johnson

Note: Carolyn (a cyberspace pen-pal of mine) is no stranger to publishing or to awards. Her novel, "This is the Place", won eight awards. Her book of creative nonfiction, Harkening, won three and her chapbook of poetry (Finishing Line Press) won the award of excellence from the Military Writers Society of America. The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success and The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won't are both USA Book News Award winners in the publishing and writing category. Her marketing campaign for those books won the Book Publicists of Southern California's Irwin Award. She is also an extension division instructor for UCLA's renowned Writers' Program.

You can earn more about Carolyn at or

She blogs at:,,,,

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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