Kindle’s Before You Go…

- by JoAnn Grote

Journalist and author Steven Lewis writes the popular Taleist blog for writers wanting to become published authors on the Kindle. His guide In-Book Promotion shows Kindle authors how to optimise their ebook to boost word of mouth and sales. This post was previously published by The Creative Penn in March 2011.

Kindle’s Before You Go… by Steven Lewis

One feature of the latest update to Amazon’s Kindle software could propel your ebook marketing into a different dimension but it’s received little fanfare.

The introduction of Before You Go… in late February took a backseat to the announcement that Kindle books now include page numbers. That was exciting for readers but for authors it’s Before You Go… that could change everything.

What is Before You Go…?

The last page turn of every Kindle book now automatically brings up a Before You Go… (BYG) screen, which invites the reader to rate the book and share it with their Twitter and Facebook networks. They can rate the book without sharing and share without rating.

But are readers using it?

The effect of this feature is potentially profound, particularly for self-published authors. For us word of mouth marketing is especially important because, not only is it powerful, it’s free. But will readers actually use it?

Firstly, they have to have set up their Twitter and Facebook accounts on their Kindles. If you don’t use social networks as part of your author platform (even though you should), you might be skeptical that your readers do. Even if they do, perhaps they haven’t been bothered to set it up on their Kindles.

Secondly, this software update only applies to owners of the latest generation Kindle.

Fortunately, we can easily get a sampling of how enthusiastically the feature has been been adopted by readers.

With BYG Amazon offers a pro-forma tweet that suggests the word “finished” followed by the name of the book and the author. You can change it but it’s simpler to accept it. In the resulting tweet, the Kindle will automatically add the hashtag #Kindle and a link to the book.

Using this information I setup Twitterfall to show a real-time feed of everyone in the world sending a tweet with the words “finished” and “#Kindle”.

Take a look for yourself at how many people are using the feature right now. Each of those people is sharing with all their followers the name of a book they’ve read and a handy link to buy it. Many of them are also sharing their four or five star rating.

They might be sharing it with a handful of people or 126 people (the average number of followers) or many more. I have 1,300 followers and that pales next to Joanna Penn’s 17,000.

Why you should be paying close attention to Before You Go…

Imagine Joanna letting 17,000 people know she gives your book four or five stars. In only three clicks just one reader has with just one tweet brought your book to the attention of 17,000 potential readers. And these are people we know are interested in what she thinks because they’ve chosen to follow her.

That’s just the Twitter component, the bit we can see in the public internet. BYG includes Facebook status updates, too, and even more people use Facebook than Twitter.

The average Facebook user has 120 friends. Also, because Facebook status updates aren’t limited in size like tweets, a BYG Facebook update includes a picture of your book’s cover and some blurb, too.

On Facebook, potential readers are seeing a recommendation of your book from a friend. The recommendation might come with a rating; it definitely comes with a blurb; and all the reader has to do is click the included link to see the book on Amazon. As a Kindle owner, it’s only one more click from there to buy it or at least download a sample.

This is why you should be paying attention to BYG.


  1. Great post. Thanks for explaining the info on the fabulous Kindle feature.

  2. It may take a while, but if readers get into the habit of making a brief comment, the feedback will be great to see.

  3. Thanks, Angelique.

    Phoebe, the more readers who do it the better, certainly; but there are already a huge number using BYG to spread the word. It’s only a shame Amazon doesn’t give us data on how that affects sales :-(