[This article is reprinted from the Laurel L. Russwurm, Author blog.]

When you decide to self publish, it’s important to be as visible as possible. This is a big part of why I am all over the Internet, and why I’ve just set up my “Author Page” on Amazon Central. Unfortunately the Amazon page is a rigidly set up form that limits what and how authors can share our information.

Possibly the most ironic part of the experience was where the page offers the new user an opportunity to view a “sample” page. What displays is Frank McCourt’s Author Page, which demonstrates where the author photo will sit, as well as showing off Frank’s nice black & white title banner. In creating my own banner, I even made sure to use the exact dimensions of Frank’s banner.

My own black and white author banner, with my gravatar alongside my name written in white letters against a black field

The problem is that while my author photograph rests on the left just like Frank’s, alas, there is no way for me to upload my own black and white name banner to Amazon Central, nor any means of creating one on the site. It is possible such banners used to be allowed, but since that is not the case now, Frank’s page does not provide a true example of how an Amazon Central Author Page will look.

Another difficulty was having a limited space for the biography without knowing what the limit was, exactly. The limit is not screen real estate; it makes no difference whether your words are squished together in a single paragraph or spread out in airy paragraphs. The limit is probably by word or character count, but it required trial and error and tinkering to ensure mine ended where I wanted it to. You can exceed the limit but then are left with only an exerpt, not the best way to make an introduction.

The “Upcoming Events” segment had its issues as well. Naturally I intended to add my participation in NaNoWriMo 2013. While the form allows this, but automatically fills in the venue information with the physical address of the NaNo HQ. My participation will be taking place online, not in California. I can see this being a problem for me forever, since the address for the venue for many of my own events will be “online.” Altering the form to allow the inclusion of a URL as an address would be very helpful.

My last problem is that the section requires an Amazon published book title. While I can understand why Amazon would like to encourage this, NaNoWriMo isn’t an event for selling books that are already written, but to encourage the writing of new novels. Including the name of my debut novel was not really appropriate here, but is required by the form, so I was torn between not making use of the space or including information that isn’t quite right. I’m still trying to come up with a way to make it work.

Beyond these glitches, my page came out fine. 🙂