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  • Dennis DeRobertis

Create an Amazon-like "Look inside" Feature


Two pages showing The Little Brown Spider
A spread from The Little Brown Spider in Which Way to Go?

I love the Amazon "Look inside" feature. You come across a book, see the "Look inside" label slapped to the top of it and begin virtually flipping through pages. A really handy feature in helping decide if you want to make a purchase or not.


Enabling the "Look inside" Feature


As an independent publisher, we have access to the same "Look inside" feature as the big publishing companies. Our distribution partners make this option - and many others - available during title set-up. I enabled it for The Little Brown Spider in Which Way to Go?.


But when does it go live? I'm actually not sure. The Little Brown Spider in Which Way to Go?arrived on 05/15/2021, but the "Look inside" feature is not there as of this writing. Maybe it's just a timing issue and it'll show up later. Or, perhaps Amazon won't dedicate the time and resources to do "Look inside" until a book reaches a certain sales milestone. I really don't know (if someone out there does know, let me know!). Until that happens, it's easy to make a custom "Look inside" feature.


A Custom "Look inside" Video


Instead of looking through a few pages ala "Look inside," I wanted a potential reader to view all pages. Now your mileage may vary depending on the type of book you've written and how much you want people to see. For me, it was more important to get the story and character out in the public then it was to limit it to a few pages.


Here's the finished video:


You'll notice a couple of key differences between Amazon's "Look inside" feature and my custom one. For starters, I'm doing it in video form as opposed to flipping through individual images. Secondly, I decided to use facing pages. Given that some scenes in the book span two pages, I felt this was necessary. I also added book appropriate music to make it a little more interesting.


Creating the Video


It's really easy and inexpensive to create this type of video. Here's what you'll need.


  • Book Images - Obviously, you need access to your book, digitally or printed. I chose to screen capture the pages directly from my desktop publishing software. Getting images from your PDF or Word doc is fine, too.

  • Screen Capturing Software - There are plenty of inexpensive, quality programs available that allow you to capture interactions with your desktop applications. I use a tool that comes with Filmora Wondershare. Note: You don't have to use specialized software to make your video. You can easily use your phone, especially if you have a stable phone mount.

Tip: With screen capturing tools you can target different windows within your desktop publishing software, as I did with my video. This gives you the ability to perform the scrolling or page transitions "off screen" while the software only captures what is happening on the target window. (You actually see my cursor in the above video at one point jump into the screen capture area.)

  • Video Editing Software - Once you have the pages captured in a video, you'll need editing software to clean things up and to add additional content, like music or opening title screens. Again, I use Filmora Wondershare.

  • Music (optional) - You don't need music but it might add a nice touch. Royalty-free music samples can be easily found and obtained online for a nominal price. Many are free. Just make sure you can use the sample in promotional material and that it comes with a royalty-free license.


Where to Publish It


My initial thought was to add the video to Amazon's Product Details page since the "Look inside" feature wasn't showing up. So that's what I did. In fact, I added it to both the hardcover and paperback versions over the course of two days. The hardcover video was accepted but the paperback video was rejected. It was the same video (the one you see above).


Amazon stated the reason it was rejected was that it went against the site's Community Guidelines, though the same video was accepted for the hardcover version. I guess it comes down to individual interpretation of the guidelines. You can read Amazon's Community Guidelines here.


Let me be clear. There was no malice or subterfuge going on when I created or posted the videos. I wasn't pushing people off Amazon to another site to buy the book. It was simply a matter of showing potential readers the pages of the book so they could make an informed decision if it's something they would like or not. I especially felt this was important since, let's be honest, me, the book and the character are complete unknowns.


For now, I'm not going to take any chances. I've deleted the video from both Amazon listings. I'll use it on this site and social media sites.


Conclusion


Creating a custom "Look inside" feature for your web site, YouTube or Instagram is an easy and inexpensive way to add to your ongoing marketing efforts.


- DennisD.








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