Amazon Advantage is, to quote Amazon.co.uk: ‘a simple, direct and profitable way to sell your items on the [UK’s, US’s, Europe’s and so on] leading online retailer. Amazon Advantage is a powerful way for authors, publishers, labels, and studios of all sizes to promote and sell their items.’ Your book or item is part of the Amazon inventory and is kept in the Amazon warehouses until it is sold and Amazon does the shipping.
On the other hand, with Amazon Marketplace you are advertising your items on Amazon: you are the retailer and it is you who ships to the customer. I’m a third party seller for my books and if someone buys a copy it’s my responsibility to ship it out and Amazon sets the shipping price, £2.80 (which I think is too much!)
I joined Amazon Advantage because I was fed up of seeing my books dumped into general categories on the Amazon catalogues. While most booksellers take the titles’ genre categories from Nielsen BookData, where my books are officially inventoried, Amazon seems not to. It’s something that’s rankled with me for ages – years, actually. For example, my latest book, Goalden Sky, was under Books > Young Adult > Literature & Fiction > General, when it’s young adult all right, but it’s also about football, so why hadn’t they put it in the football list? Why dump it into General where no one could find it? Was this the usual conspiracy against self-published authors? Well, I don’t know about that, but I emailed Amazon and asked if they could update the listings for all my books and they replied, ‘The only way to do this is to join Amazon Advantage.’ In other words, do it yourself; and if I want to change the listings on the other Amazons like Amazon.com or Amazon.fr etc, I have to join their programs separately!
Bizarre! What a drag! But if you want a job doing properly… so I’ve started with Amazon.co.uk and have yet to finish my set up with Amazon.com.
Getting set up is easy enough. If you get stuck there’s a Help link for each stage of the process:
- Register and choose a password. Don’t use the same password you use for your other Amazon stuff as it won’t accept it (a bit of a nuisance when you set up advantage accounts for the other Amazons!)
- Put in your business name: this could be anything from your author name or independent press name, then click Create Account.
- Once logged in, the first thing you need to do is to go through the vendor set up process. You don’t have to do all this in one go, you can log back in and do it gradually. You will be given a vendor code (shown next to your email next in the top right-hand corner of the screen). For each stage Incomplete will change to Complete once you’re done and you can’t go to the next step unless you have completed.
Read the information and if you’re happy click the check box and press the Accept button, then yawn through the Terms and Conditions and click the Accept button.
- Banking Information:
This is so you can be paid for sales. Straightforward in your own country, but when I began this process for Amazon.com I hit a snag because of course I don’t have a US bank account. Any problems just click the Help link or Contact Us at the top of the screen and ask questions. It may take them about 24 hours before they reply.Note: If you want to check your bank info at a later date, you will need to input a one-time password which will be emailed to you. The password is valid for only 20 minutes.
Unless you have a massive organisation with a team of staff, you only need to complete the mandatory information as detailed by the red asterisks. Again if you get stuck go to Contact Us for help.
- Return Addresses:
If for some reason no one wants the product(s) you’re selling (nah, it won’t happen!) provide an address(es) for them to return the item(s) to.
Once all that’s done, you’re ready to add your items, either one-by-one or in multiples. Incidentally, if you already have a catalogue of titles this won’t affect any ratings or reviews you have already acquired and it won’t add separate listings. Any changes you make will affect the listings you already have, however. As well as changing the subject categories, I saw it as an opportunity to lower the prices of my print books because I’ve always thought they’re too high, so now four out of five of my books have had their prices reduced, except Goalden Sky (The Advantage team seem to have a problem trying to resolve that one!) and this has been reflected on sites like The Book Depository.
- Items: follow the instructions when you add your items. It’s fairly straightforward and think carefully about the categories you wish to place them in. Once done, it takes about 7 days for the changes to be reflected in your catalogue.
- Purchase Orders: once all your products are sold and there are none left in stock (reflected in your catalogue) Amazon will email to say you have to send them more item(s). You can send as many items to them as you wish and this will be reflected on the catalogue as to how many there are in stock. If you don’t do this promptly they’ll send a reminder, so make sure you have something to sell them, even if it’s only 1! There will be an address for you to ship your items to and yes unfortunately you have to pay the postage!
- Shipment: here you can print your package label to where your item(s) should to be sent. Follow the instructions on the screen, it’s all fairly straightforward.
That’s about it. Remember the Help pages and the Contact Us link when you need help and clarification on anything. For Goalden Sky, Amazon has retained the General listing, but has now added another listing under football, and for me this is the main advantage to Amazon Advantage; it’s now number 47 in the UK Books > Young Adult > Sport & Outdoors > Football chart and the rankings look much better.