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X-Ray for Authors: Tips and Tricks
Take 10 minutes to improve your Kindle eBook by adding X-Ray
X-Ray is a unique Kindle eBook feature that allows readers to learn more about a character, topic, event, place, or any other term, simply by pressing and holding on the word or phrase that interests them. Even a few descriptive words can make a big difference to the reader as they try and situate characters or learn more about events or other terms.
Here are some examples:
- Character: "Ahab" – possible X-Ray content: "The Captain of the ship hunting Moby Dick."
- Term: "Social media marketing" – possible X-Ray content: "Use of social media and websites to promote a product or service."
- Event: "The coronation" – possible X-Ray content: "The coronation of Queen Elizabeth II which took place on June 2, 1953."
- Place: "Mexico City" – possible X-Ray content: "Destination of my first international trip which inspired my love for travel."
Entries can be as long as 1,200 characters, but even short descriptions are useful for readers. Where no content has been provided by the author, and where possible for us to find, we automatically create X-Ray entries from Wikipedia content and excerpts from your book.
Learn more about getting started with the tool.
Why should I add X-Ray? Adding X-Ray to your book allows readers to engage more deeply with the content. Readers have told us they look for whether a book is X-Ray enabled when browsing detail pages and that they especially value content from the most authoritative source – the authors themselves. Non-fiction readers love X-Ray to learn more about topics they are interested in, or get answers to questions they have – all without leaving the book. Fiction readers like X-Ray to get a quick refresher on a character or term, and enjoy X-Ray content that shares a character's backstory or direct commentary from the author about their narrative choices. You can also use X-Ray to provide readers with additional perspectives or insights about a character or term that is not covered elsewhere in the book. For example, additional X-Ray content for Captain Ahab could include: "Ahab is part Macbeth, part Faust, and part Milton's Satan."
What should I write? Your X-Ray entries can be as short as a few words or as long as 1,200 characters. You could start by spending a few minutes taking the handful of key characters, places, or terms in your book and adding a short description of each (like the examples above). This shouldn't take long at all. Then you can decide how much more detailed you would like to be and add more content accordingly – you can even link directly to a Wikipedia entry.
Tips for getting started:
What kind of content should I add? Think about what additional context or background would add color and depth to a reader's understanding of your book. This can be short character descriptions to situate them in the story for the reader, to more substantial supplemental content that you would not choose to include in the narrative of your book but think would still interest readers. Authors are using X-Ray in lots of interesting and different ways, here are a few examples of content that readers have told us they enjoy:
- Use X-Ray to define key terms or characters (people, places, events, industry terminology, etc.) that the reader may need to understand the broader text.
- Use X-Ray in non-fiction books to go beyond footnotes and provide readers with more information – for example, you could explain the broader significance or history of an event you reference.
- X-Ray content is also a good way to share additional resources in non-fiction content for your readers to reference if they want to learn more – for example, point readers to other experts or additional research on a topic.
- For non-fiction books, you can use X-Ray to share an alternative perspective that you decided not to pursue in the main narrative – for example, an alternative hypothesis or research that could be interesting to your readers.
- In a novel with many characters and a complex storyline, you can use X-Ray content to help orient your readers with context and background on characters, terms, or places to help them make connections.
- X-Ray is a great opportunity to share any backstories you wrote while developing your book. Readers love to get an extra layer of information about characters.
- Readers enjoy learning more about the writing process and why authors make certain decisions. Use X-Ray to share why you gave a character a certain name, or chose to set your plot in a specific town.
This content can be brief. Use just a few words to remind a reader of who or what they are reading about. For example, if one of the people in your memoir is your third grade teacher, your X-Ray entry could be as simple as: "My third grade teacher, who inspired my love for writing."
There are a lot of items that the tool suggests I add X-Ray to, where should I start?
- Begin by adding content for terms or characters that appear the most frequently. The X-Ray for Authors tool automatically prioritizes the most frequently used terms or character names in your book. We recommend starting with these since they are likely to be important to understanding the book – the more times a term or character shows up, the more likely a reader is to want information about it. To begin, we recommend you select Frequency 3+ or keep the default view to see the terms and characters that appear the most often.
- Use Wikipedia entries. If an item is linked to a relevant Wikipedia article you can publish and move to the next term.
To ensure a consistent reader experience, we recommend working your way towards creating content for every suggested item since when a reader knows a book has X-Ray, they expect most terms to have an entry.