Despite a way too long subtitle and "salesy" claims, Sell Your Book on Amazon surprises. Its format simplifies finding the sections of interest - couple that with the ratings from five stars indicating "a must do" item to one star meaning "Don't waste your time." Authors who publish their books using a print-on-demand (POD) service will benefit most from this book.
However, authors with books published through traditional publishers will find useful tactics. Nowadays, authors must do their own marketing instead of relying on the publisher. Most authors don't reach the popularity of bestselling authors like the John Grishams, J.K. Rowlings, and Malcome Gladwells. These authors need not worry about marketing.
But that's not the case for most of us. So we have to research and figure our way around sites like Amazon from a different point of view than a shopper's. You may already be doing some or most of the recommended activities discussed in the book. Or maybe you could do more to boost sales.
Naturally, Sampson spends most of the book discussing Amazon's Profile Page (which he often references as Author Profile Page, but that's not what Amazon calls it) and Book Detail Page. Despite my using Amazon since the early '90s when it was just an online bookstore, I've picked up a few things from the book.
For instance, I didn't know that authors can set up a "Search Inside" page. I thought that was under the publisher's control. You may have to deal with your publisher in terms of your contract and Amazon's contract. These little tidbits may justify the cost of buying the book.
Authors certainly can request reviews. Sampson, however, recommends asking for a five-star review, rationalizing the advice by saying a book will get plenty of reviews that aren't five stars. It's just not right for an author to tell me (a reviewer) this.
Yes, a highly rated book will get a boost, but I believe requesting a review is enough. Ironically, in the letters I received for reviewing the book — they make no mention of recommending I provide a five-star review.
In the intro, the author mentions BXGY. What's that? I look for BXGY in the index and find other pages covering the abbreviation that explain it. Most, if not all, writing style guides say to expand an acronym or abbreviation on first occurrence. Or else you waste the reader's time in trying to figure out little things like this.
The tactic ratings are imperfect. For example, I disagree with the five-star rating on Amazon's blog feature. Blogs do have a place — just not in Amazon. I would rather read the author's blog on the author's own site. It clutters Amazon with more marketing material. Furthermore, Amazon offers other ways to get your URL listed. Nonetheless, many probably find value in authors' blogs. The important thing for authors remember is to use their best judgment in prioritizing what features to address. They know their target market and their needs.