by Kathleen Baldwin
I intended to write an entirely different article for you… but I needed to get my A+ Amazon content set up for my newest release. The trouble is I’ve set up A+ content before and wasn’t thrilled with the results. So, I decided to figure out what kind of A+ content actually sells books—not just what looks pretty or graphically pleasing. In short, I wanted to nail down what works.
I hunted the net and came up with bupkis. Oh, the sizes are all out there, suggestions of what to put in each size box, but no one is studying what works. So, that is why you are reading this article today. If you’re just looking for the sizes. Here are the basics sizes: Logo Image: 600 x 180, image Header with Text: 970 x 600 (recommended) or 1464 x 600, standard 3 Images with Text: 300 x 300
You can find more about sizes on Amazon. There are also tables and other goodies might want to investigate. And Amazon will tell you the rules.
Those are the technical basics. I’m here to discuss what types of A+ content sells books. To do that, I analyzed A+ content from Amazon’s bestseller charts. These are well-written compelling reads. REMEMBER: Craft comes first—promotion comes second. There’s no sense promoting a book that is going to disappoint your readers.
Let’s start by taking a look at #1 bestseller, The Fourth Wing by Rebecca Yarros.
You can see by her ratings this is a well-written, well book. So why did her publisher even need to put up A+ content? To increase their already wonderful sales. That’s why. And that is also the reason why you and I should put some up.
That depends on YOUR reader. We will discuss that as we go along.
Take a look at the content her publisher, Entangled, chose to put on the book page.
They mimicked the colors from the cover. Most publishers use colors or images from the book. Entangled also cleverly chose quotes that highlight the story content.
Entangled chose to use them in reverse. They made the black dominant and employed accents of gold foil. The heavy black and luminous gold elicits a strong tense battle-like feeling, and the dragons scream fantasy.
If you are a fantasy reader in love with epic battles and dragons, do you think this graphic might entice you to pick up this book?
Yes, it would. And it has.
Look at Emily Henry’s Happy Place, a fun beach-read romance that hit the charts at a stellar #5. It’s no surprise that the publisher used the peppy pink from the cover for their A+ content.
But they did a few things differently. The broad pink banner box is a story log line, a very inviting one. Anyone who reads that line will instantly know they’re in for a relaxing fun romance. The image is great, too. The smaller boxes are in bright happy colors and include review quotes an invitation to spend the summer with Emily Henry.
The smaller square boxes will appear bigger when viewed on a phone. Notice how the big beautiful pink banner shrinks down and look less important on the phone. Still cute and fun, but it is a drastically different effect than when viewed on the phone as opposed to a desktop monitor.
Take that into consideration when you plan your content. Ahem—this is where knowing YOUR readers comes in handy. Knowing your readers makes a huge difference when marketing and building your fan base. Yes, I know, I rant about this all the time, so I will simply reiterate your readers are your most important allies in this business—study them. It pays off. Need help figuring out who your readers are and what they like? Check out my article on it here at WITS: Who Are YOUR Readers and Why Does It Matter?
For example, according to my webmaster, 50% of my website visitors view my website via their phone. That is a strong indication that they also check out Amazon pages on their phones, right?
So… I ought to be cognizant of that when planning my A+ material.
Here’s an example of how a different publisher handles the A+ sizing conversion issue. In the same genre as the previous romance. At the writing of this article Lessons in Chemistry had soared to the tip-top peak of Amazon charts in the highly coveted #1 position.
Bonnie Garmus’s publisher, Random House, chose to make sure all those cute A+ square boxes were readable at the same size even on a teeny-tiny iPhone like mine. Here it is on a desktop view and the phone view…
My only objection to this is that scrolling through six big quote boxes on a phone might begin to feel tedious to some readers. What do you think about that?
Atria, the publisher of This Tender Land considered Krueger’s phone viewers and chose to stay with the square boxes. However, they only set up four boxes for the reader to scroll through. IMO a good choice.
And I also like that they included a visual background and review quotes that give me a strong sense of the story. This four-box layout is more appealing to me, but I can’t argue with the fact that Lessons in Chemistry is selling VERY well despite their six box review quote scroll, although to be fair Oprah touted her book. The question is what A+ content sold these other author’s books? AND is that what will sell your readers on your book?
Weigh in. What do you think?
Granted Kingsolver won a Pulitzer for this novel and Oprah made this one a Book Club selection. So yes, that ensures a TON of sales. Let’s see what we can learn from her publisher’s A+ content decisions…
Interestingly, Kingsolver’s publisher, Harper, went with four equal size content Standard Image & Dark Text Overlay 900x300 banners. The results are fairly pleasing even on the phone. Check it out. When it is all equal sized banners it doesn’t feel as disproportionate the way a banner blended with squares does.
I like this layout, but IMO they tried to fit too much on the middle two panels. I like seeing the author’s photo, but the print is so small it’s nearly impossible to read on the phone. Granted my iPhone is fairly small, and I’m not a big-time publisher like Harper. They certainly know their stuff. Even so, no matter which layout you choose, I strongly recommend using a print size that people can easily read even on their phone.
Even if most of your readers are PC people and you choose a desktop friendly layout, don’t risk losing the few potential readers who might be on their phones. Select a font they can easily read even when on a small cell phone.
and then I’m going to leave you alone to make your own decisions.
Take a look at Scott Pratt’s final book in a bestselling series. Pratt was a hybrid author like me, and he has an impressive 5 million copies sold, and his legal thriller, Last Resort, a Joe Dillard series novel written by Scott Pratt and J.D. Pratt, is independently published and doing extremely well. At the time of my writing this article it ranked #1 in Legal Thrillers. He used the entire A+ arsenal very effectively.
This layout includes almost everything—an intriguing log line in the second banner, and images that give you a feel for the content. That’s very important. Note the review quotes in the squares, and he wisely included a series testimonial on the third banner, and a view of the entire series in the last banner. I love that idea.
If you are like me and trying to decide what A+ content works best for your book and your readers, I encourage you to look at this book page and other book pages on both your phone and big screen. See what you think of how each of the content structures scrolls.
Observe your emotional responses to the content. Look for content that excites you within your genre.
Um… Well, I waffled between four squares and four wide banner-width frames. To see what I chose, check out my latest book. Sanctuary for Seers. It did garner a #1 new Release ribbon in its category, but I’m not convinced the A+ material is speaking persuasively enough to prospective readers as sales dropped off after the first 30 days. So, what do you think about all this?
I’d love to hear your thoughts on all this. WITS authors are smart and savvy. What are YOU doing with your A+ content?
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Kathleen Baldwin is a Wall Street Journal, 1# Barnes & Noble, and Amazon bestselling author. She writes stories woven with rich colors and sparkling threads of love, humor, and light. Her books have delighted readers around the globe, with more than 650,000 copies sold worldwide—a Japanese publisher even licensed one of her books to make into a manga, and her Stranje House series is under option for film.
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