Sunday, September 9, 2012

How to Participate in Amazon's Discussion Forums

I'm very pleased to welcome novelist and blogger Jeri Walker-Bickett to Learning Curve in my first ever Guest Post! 
Jeri's motto "Let's Learn Together" is an apt theme for her blog: Jeri WB What do I know? (http://jeriwb.com) as it never fails to engage and inform her readers and followers in a variety of interesting subject matter ranging from book reviews, art, author advice, video clip commentary on book adaptations, interviews, and notes on craft.

Jeri is working hard on her forthcoming novel, Lost Girl Road, a ghost story set in the woods of northwest Montana. A July 4th prank leads to a series of shocking and regrettable events when a 13-year-old girl goes missing and her remains are never found. Nearly 30 years later, cousins spin campfire stories about a mountain man, Bigfoot, and the girl’s charm bracelet. Her restless spirit lingers. What does she want? Who’s to blame?

At the same time that Jeri's Guest Post is appearing here, Jeri's review of my thriller goes up on her blog.  Thank you, Jeri.


I would like to thank Larry Crane for the chance to write a guest post for his blog. I made his acquaintance after deciding to post a review of his novel A Bridge to Treachery on my blog. He proposed the topic of Amazon Discussion Forums as an area in need of helpful information. The time it took to research and write this post certainly enlightened me and I hope it will do the same for you as well. Let’s learn together! 

Numerous forums on Amazon buzz with customer discussion and feedback. Such activity presents a great way for authors to connect with potential readers and reviewers in their genre. However, access to the boards is not a straight-forward affair as Amazon’s main page does not contain a link to its forum (which lacks a homepage).  

How do I find Amazon’s discussion forums?
Chances are you’ve stumbled across forums while visiting product pages where related discussion appears at the bottom. Or perhaps you’ve commented directly on a product review. In reality, most consumers would prefer to browse topic lists to find interesting threads to participate.

The original discussion board can be found at http://bit.ly/Q6TFQL and it functions as the home page which Amazon’s current forum lacks. It provides a search box for all topics as well as a link to Amazon’s guidelines for discussion participation. The affiliated Facebook group “Amazon Reviewers” can be found here: http://on.fb.me/Rl7PZ5.

A Google search on “Amazon Discussion Forums” will bring up links to the most popular boards. The Kindle discussion boards are undoubtedly a solid starting place for authors and readers to connect: http://www.amazon.com/forum/kindle

How to search forums?
The default option listed on the side of the discussion screen is to search only within that forum, but the box can be unchecked to enable a search of all customer discussions. A few tips to get better search results:
·         Use double quotes around words to search for phrases: “fiction writers”
·         Place a plus sign (+) in front of words that MUST appear in your results: Top 100 Books +Steinbeck
·         Place a minus sign (-) in front of words that MUST NOT appear in your results: Top 100 Books -Free 

How to follow discussions?
Discussions can be tracked through email or RSS feed. Subscribing via email to an extremely active feed will result in an overflow of email to your inbox. A better way is to subscribe via the topic’s RSS Feed. If you are unfamiliar with using RSS Readers, I’ve written a post I wrote on the topic:  http://bit.ly/PCqJPz

Who can post?
While all visitors to Amazon can read posts in the discussion forums, only actual customers can make comments so long as their account is in good-standing.

What can and can’t be posted?
It should go without saying, but using Amazon’s discussion boards to try to sell your book or otherwise promote yourself in blatant ways goes against their guidelines. Take the opportunity to connect with others based on your common interests and expertise. 

Follow this link to their Customer Discussion Guidelineshttp://amzn.to/OP3lvu

Share the blog love and share this on your favorite social media websites!
This post is only the tip of the iceberg as far as participating in Amazon’s discussion boards is concerned.

As my knowledge grows, I might someday post a related series on my blog: JeriWB What do I know? (http://jeriwb.com).


Susan Cooper said...

This is great and very timely. I am (finally) in the process of working through publishing an ebook of my short stories as an ebook. Now I know how to do this and how to direct people. Thank you.

Larry Crane said...

Hi Susan - Glad the post was helpful. eBook promotion and marketing is often an exercise in learning something new.

Jeri said...

Since writing this post for you, I've started to add discussion threads on Amazon and GoodReads to the books I'm posting reviews for. I'm much more conscious of the discussion forums now.

Bea Sempere (Denise Baer) said...

This is a great post! Thanks Larry and Jeri. I have been intimidated and blown away by the Amazon forums and have no idea how to maneuver around there. I stop going there because I can't find anything.

It's also hard to figure out how to connect with readers without pushing yourself or book on them. I'll have to work on both if I find the time.