Saturday, September 8, 2012

Aiming at Something Other Than Amazon?

Aiming at Amazon, POD for Profit by Aaron Shepard and Print-on-Demand Book Publishing by Morris Rosenthal should be required reading for authors considering self-publishing. While things have changed in the industry significantly since these two books have been published, these three books are still excellent primers on the business of self-publishing and developing a market strategy.

Successful self-publishers have found numerous ways to market and sell their books. Aaron Shepard's strategy outlined in Aiming at Amazon focuses on "aiming" sales at Amazon, allowing Amazon's sales and marketing machine do much of the "heavy lifting" of promoting the book. This approach has the added benefit if POD or Kindle ebooks are the format your books are published with of Amazon doing all the collection funds, shipping of books, etc, leaving you the author free to write and engage in marketing efforts rather than fulfillment of orders and bookkeeping.

Mr. Shepard's basic premise in Aiming at Amazon is by directing all sales to Amazon and using POD for publishing, the author does not have to deal with fulfillment, collection of payment, maintaining inventory or many of the other potential drawbacks of self-publishing. Once the book has been set up for POD the author can focus on marketing and have the money deposited in the bank once a month.

Why direct sales to Amazon? In addition to the aforementioned services there is the advantage of the Amazon long tail, the effect of Amazon's search engine and software helping potential buyers of your book find your book (If you are considering self-publishing and can only buy one book to research the industry, Aiming at Amazon is the one to buy).

Does this mean authors should avoid selling their books via other avenues. Not at all. I sell books on Barnes and Noble, Amazon Europe and a specialty retailer. But I direct all of my sales to Amazon and Mr. Shepard's approach has worked extremely well for me, particularly with the Kindle editions of my books. If I were to direct sales to Barnes and Noble and the specialty retailer though, I would lose much of the impact of the concept of pushing sales to Amazon to encourage the Amazon machine to push and promote my book(s). The more a title sells, the more Amazon promotes it.

Still, there are lucrative markets out there that I, as a niche market author, would like to tap into. Libraries are one such market. Selling one or two copies of a book at a time to a library does not sound like it would be very profitable concerning the amount of effort and time it would take. I would earn more money over the long haul by spending that time writing more books.

Thus the question of how to sell my book to libraries? Book distributors who deal with libraries! While I have not had a lot of time to spend researching this, I have managed to find a couple of distributors who serve the library market. Here is my list so far:

http://www.brodart.com/
http://www.quality-books.com/
http://www.midwestls.com/

As I investigate and pursue this possible avenue for sales, I will share what I learn here at The Self-Publisher's Notebook.

I would love for anyone who had had success selling books to libraries through a distributor or through direct sales efforts, please post a comment and share your experiences with the readers here so we can all benefit.