Amazon is now letting all authors make graphic content for their book listing page called A+ Content. How do you make yours? I’m pulling from my newspaper design skills here and providing you some of my best tips!
What is Amazons A+ content?
Like other areas of your book listing page, this area falls below the book description and is under the header “From the Publisher.” It is located above the Editorial Review area. What goes there is now under the control of the author or publisher.
If you use your cell phone to view your book listing you will notice this is a prominent area for the Amazon shopper to see, even more so than on a computer. At this time marketing research shows about 70% or more are shopping by a mobile device.
Why is this area important to authors?
Shoppers on Amazon are moving quickly. They are using mobile devices to shop. Eye-catching graphics provide another enticement to stop and check out your book, and hopefully buy.
It’s proven in marketing studies that graphics over any other element (text, headline, etc…) will catch the attention first. A bold large headline is next, and body text is last.
It also gives you another chance to “tell your story.” Or let readers know why they should choose YOUR story.
Below is the artwork for Knight of Cups.
How it looks via a computer. It falls below the Also Reads and Also recommended on your book listing.
How it appears on a cell phone. Shoppers see it even quicker as it is immediately below Book Details.
Design ideas for the author’s Amazon’s A+ content
Use this space to tell your reader why they should chose YOUR book. What’s unique about it?
Highlight the tropes found in your genre. Military hero? Assassin? Second chance at love? High Fantasy magic user? Like your book cover, your A+ content should tie into your genre’s tropes and reader expectations.
Use the hook found in your story. For example, for A Study in Spirits, I went with a ghost floating in a library, which is exactly what the book is about but is also a striking visual image. For A Spell of Rowans, I wanted to accent the witchy aspect of the story so went with a mystical appearance.
Evoke an emotional response. If your reader buys in order to experience an emotion give it with your visuals. For example, thrillers should be creepy! Cozy mysteries should be comfortable.
If this is a book series, use the book covers in a sequence on one of the blocks to help the viewer understand this.
Make sure the individual pieces “make sense” both to your eye and how it fits with your book listing.
Editorial review quotes can be used. They must be from real review places like Publisher’s Weekly, Booklife, Kirkus Reviews, newspapers, and magazines. Reviews from readers cannot be used.
Don’t be matchy-matchy. If you reproduce (word for word) what is in your book description, Amazon will frown. A+ Content is for unique content that enhances your book listing, not a repeat.
Don’t use big names of other authors or their books in your graphics. This will get your art refused.
Be sure to review Amazon’s policies before designing.
What info will be refused by Amazon?
1.) You cannot use reviews unless they are from well-known Editorial agencies. For example, Jane Doe on Amazon or Goodread who reviewed your book? Nope. Editorial reviews by from Publishers Weekly, Booklife, or Kirkus reviews? Yes.
2.) Content must ADD something to your book listing. Just repeating your book blurb won’t fly.
3.) Don’t add anything about sales or discounts, and nothing that is time-sensitive. For example, “book sale,” “visit my website to learn more” or “book releases X date” are all going to be refused.
4.) Forget trying tricky marketing ploys like “better than Harry Potter” – that will be refused for sure.
Go here to review Amazon’s A+ Content guide to make sure what you are planning fits with what they will allow.
Understanding the block layout available with Amazon’s A+ content
Unlike other social media where you might do a square or rectangle, you have several sizes involved here which expands the choices on how your graphic content will look.
Basically you have up to three horizontal areas to work with that each measure 970 wide x 300 high. Each of those can be further split into 3: 300 x 300 squares, or 1: 300 x 300 and 1: 300 x 600. here are just a few of the many different configurations you could do.
Start with one large image that you will split
After you know which type of block layout you will use and what type of information (text and graphics), start with one large graphic.
For A Spell of Rowans, I wanted a images that would tie into the witchy theme of the story. I featured the three main characters, the siblings who each has a witchy talent that they use in the book. The three center blocks mimic Tarot card backings.
Here is how it looks when split:
You don’t have to use all three blocks. I actually went with two instead of three for the College Fae series. I felt that provided enough dramatic impact.
Split your graphics
What is a gutter and how does it effect your design?
If you look at the block examples you see that they are separated by white space. This is called a gutter in layout design. This gutter is something you need to be very aware of as it splits your image visually.
Ignoring this is the big mistake I see authors making who are designing these without any graphic design background. Why? Because they are splitting images, like book covers, that look strange to the eye once you add gutters.
The entire graphic looks fine until you start to split it.
If you are splitting one big image make sure that EACH BLOCK is a picture in itself and that the eye can understand it. Avoid splitting along lines. For example, this was my first rough draft of one of my designs. Notice how the window arch is split in the before and after.
Below is the artwork for A Study in Spirits.
By moving the arch I split it where there were fewer lines from the window panes. This made it easier to match up the two pieces. You’ll notice that I added a ghost lady at the top border. That really upped the wow value on that block! Notice how the entire body is in that block and it isn’t split. The next block can be seen by itself and still make sense.
Don’t split across book titles or book images. This does your book cover no favors.
Be careful splitting across a body. With Never Date a Siren, I split the image on Brigit’s body but things still look in proportion. This is because each block tells its own story. If I had split Brigit’s face or across her neck, these two images would not have worked as well as they do. I also did a lot of black in the lower block in order to support that image and to draw the eye to the book covers.
Check your A+ content art on a mobile device
When you start to upload your art to Amazon, it will give you a chance to preview it on a mobile device. Be sure to use this option and verify that all still looks good and makes sense. Remember, a cell phone will be the most likely way a potential reader will see your A+ Amazon Content.
Another issue is that the images will be reduced in size so if your text is hard to read or rather small on a computer, it will become very hard to read on a mobile device.
If using smaller blocks it will stack those blocks. For example, in the three squares that are viewed horizontally on a computer, on a phone they will be stacked, one by one, on top of each other.
Where can you get art to use in your A+ Content?
You may be able to find copyright free images on the internet but I would strongly advise going through a service. That way you know you have permission to use the image! Unfortunately, I have seen Internet users upload content to “free websites” that were really copyrighted – that will get you a huge blackeye if that happens!
Here are some services and places where you can find graphics:
Snappa – most of these images are more business related. However, they are excellent design service for lining up type and blocks. Make one image 970 x 900 and split in another program.
Canva – has more design “art” options with design elements you can play with.
BookBrush – has a lot of fans. I don’t find it easy to use but check it out.
Photoshop – this is the program I use, but if you aren’t familiar with it, it is very hard for a rank beginner to use and not get frustrated by. Photoshop doesn’t offer images, it is a graphic design program.
istockphoto – I’ve used this service. You can buy individual photos/graphics or buy in with a plan. The plan is rather costly. I’ve also found istock more business oriented than my next choice.
Shutterstock – is quickly becoming my new favorite as they offer many more creative images than istock. I also like their search tool better.
If you used a book cover designer reach out to them and see what they would charge for a professional set of images. If you aren’t artistically inclined this could save you a lot of time, money, and aggravation in the long run!
How to make 3D book covers from your book cover art
You may want to use a 3D image of your book on your A+ Content. Something like these images can be helpful in promoting your series in many ways.
There are some free and paid places to make the book cover graphic into a “book” or to place it on a tablet. Be sure to use a PNG format so they can be overlaid on other images.
Book Cover generator – is FREE!
BookBrush – offers this option. It is a paid app but you can often find coupons if you look.
AllAuthors also offers a “Magic Tool.” it is the one I use to make my book covers into books and tablet readers. This is also a paid service.
Your book cover designer may have made some of these for you already. If not, check with them and see what they can do for you.
You can also search “3D book generator” for more options, but those listed above were the easiest and simplest to use with the most professional looking end-image IMO.
Don’t miss out on this great marketing option for your books on Amazon
It might take a few tries before you get the hang of how to use this to market your books but it is well worth the effort. Keep experimenting and if your art is refused by Amazon, be sure to ask why so you can correct the problem.
I’d love to see your A+ Content art so if you are an author, post your Amazon book listing in comments!