Anyone new to self-publishing who has not already purchased a copy of Aaron Shepard's Aiming at Amazon needs to do so immediately and read it several times. While some of the concepts have changed slightly as a result of the current apparent dust-up between Amazon/CreateSpace and Lightning Source, the basic business model is still the best way for a self-publishing author to make money.
To sum up the book's idea in as few words as possible, Shepard presents a business model based on the idea of pointing all sales to Amazon and allowing the long tail effect of Amazon's computers do the work of marketing and selling the book. The more the book sells on Amazon, the more the long tail of Amazon works to sell the book.
It is a business model that works well for self-published authors and I have watched my own sale grow as a result of this approach. In fact, even with a dismal month of June 2011, I have already sold more books and earned more revenue during 2011 than in all of 2010. It is neat to watch this effect help your own self-publishing business grow.
But what about customers who simply prefer to shop at Barnes and Noble? If you use Lightning Source as your POD provider, the book will be available on B and N due to LSI's relationship with Ingram. If you use Amazon's CreateSpace as your POD provider, if you select the Expanded Distribution Channel your book will be made available on B and N, albeit at a lower profit margin than on Amazon.
Why make the book available on B and N if the business model employed is to aim as many sales as possible at Amazon? Because no matter what you do, there will be customers who are only going to shop and buy at B and N. By not making your book available at B and N, you have lost sales you would have made. You have also lost some word of mouth advertising as well.
It is a good business move to make your book available at B and N as well as Amazon. You don't have to steer your sales to B and N, simply make the book available.
B and N is working harder to attract self-published authors than in the past. You may now join the B and N Author's Affiliate Program and earn 6% of the sale of each of your books. To do so you must open an account with LinkShare and then apply for your website to be approved by B and N. It takes a bit of time for the approval process to take place.
In working my way through the process B and N has posted several notices if you look for them stating the program is just getting up and running and they are working hard to get websites approved and features operating for customers.
As soon as my website is approved I will briefly describe the process of getting links, etc. to sell your book through B and N on this blog.
Competition is good for Amazon. Anything B and N can do to help authors who self-publish make more money by selling books via B and N should, in time, get Amazon's attention.
For those of us who want to offer our readers choices where they purchase our books, this is a nice development and a way for us to earn a little more for our work.