Tuesday, September 30, 2008

The Importance of Amazon to Writers

The power of Amazon to sell books demands that authors consider it carefully in their publishing and marketing decisions.

According to Morris Rosenthal ( http://www.fonerbooks.com/booksale.htm ), here's where some of the main book sales (includes media like CD's and DVD's) occurred in 2007 in North America:

BN.com = $477 million
Borders/ Waldenbooks = $3.41 billion
Barnes & Nobel/ B. Dalton = $4.68 billion
Amazon.com = $4.63 billion

Perhaps more significant is the growth in sales from 2006 to 2007:

Borders/ Waldenbooks = 0%
BN.com = 9%
Barnes & Nobel/ B. Dalton = 4%
Amazon.com = 23%

If this growth rate continues, I'd assume that 2008 figures will show Amazon far outselling each of the primary booksellers. If this trend continues, Amazon will only increase in importance to book sellers.

  1. Make sure that your publisher will offer your book on Amazon with a "Buy" button.

  2. Know the percentage that you will get from each Amazon sale. If it's negotiable, consider pushing for a higher percentage of Amazon sales in your contract. The difference can dramatically impact your profits. I get 35% of each Amazon sale by publishing with Booksurge.

  3. Learn to take advantage of all the Amazon tools for authors. It's very difficult to control how bookstores carry and display our books. It's relatively easy to control many features of how our books are displayed on Amazon. In my last blog I discussed the book Sell Your Book on Amazon, by Brent Sampson. I love the way it lays out, step by step and simply, how to take advantage of all the author tools offered by Amazon.

Friday, September 26, 2008

Selling Books on Amazon

Whether you self-publish, go with a traditional publisher, or something in between, you'll want to do everything possible to enhance your sales through Amazon.

I'm currently reading Sell Your Book on Amazon, by Brent Sampson. Buy it. It's easy to understand and walks you step by step through the Amazon tools that can make the difference between a book that never gets noticed and one that becomes a best-seller. And the best news is (for a cheapy like myself), most of the tools are absolutely free. And since "marketing techniques are only as valuable as the profits they generate," he ranks the Amazon tools from five star (only idiots wouldn't use this tool) to one star (only use this tool under special circumstances).

Here are my personal takeaways:

1. The easiest way to get your book on Amazon is either by getting published with a traditional publisher or going through a Print on Demand company that works with Amazon. That way, you'll probably receive higher royalties and won't have to continually mail copies to Amazon.

Here's how he runs the numbers. You're selling a book for $10 on Amazon. Amazon takes $5.50; you make $4.50. But additionally, you've got to pay to have your books shipped to you, then pay to ship them to Amazon. You can do the fulfillment yourself, or pay someone else, but you might easily end up with only $1.00 from each sale. From my personal experience with the print on demand company Booksurge, I receive 35% of the Amazon selling price and since they do the fulfillment, I don't have to fool with or pay for shipping.

2. Get distribution through both Ingram and Baker & Taylor. This gets you into bookstores and libraries. If you're going through print on demand, Booksurge distributes through Baker & Taylor. Lightning Source distributes through Ingram. Even if you did your own offset run, you might publish it through a print on demand publisher to get in with the big distributors and wholesalers. Make sure that you keep all the rights to your book, so that you can publish in multiple ways.

3. Do all the five star items well. Here are some of them:

  • Create an AmazonConnect account. Do this by logging into your regular Amazon account. (You have one if you've bought anything through Amazon using an approved credit card.) Go to www.amazon.com/connect.
  • Build your author profile at www.amazon.com/gp/pdp . In your picture caption, mention the title of your book, your website, or whatever you wish to promote. It's a great promotional opportunity. Use your signature to brand yourself. It will go everywhere: your wiki, your blog, your reviews, etc. Most of the following are done through your author profile.
  • Put your domain names anywhere Amazon allows them.
  • Write enough reviews to become recognized as a top reviewer, especially concerning books in my genre.
  • Write Amazon Guides.
  • Make Listmania Lists. The more times your lists get reviewed the better.
  • Recommend Favorites. Network with other authors to recommend each other's books.
  • Review your Author Profile Page (choosing "everyone" from the drop down menu) to perfect your page for how everyone sees it.
  • Contribute to your blog.
  • Publish more books. "One of the best ways to sell more b ooks on Amazon is to publish more books," since much of your promoting doesn't have to be duplicated for each new book.
  • Comment on other Amazon blogs, particularly the most famous in your subject area or genre. Your plog will alert you to opportunities to respond to other's blogs. Readers of your blog love images first, links second, your text last.
  • List all of your books published with Amazon on your Bibliography.

By reading the book, you get in understandable detail exactly how to implement these tools in order to sell your book. Get it!