Read an Excerpt
Yes, I said it: Forget bookstores.
The first principle of the new business of self publishing is probably the hardest for aspiring publishers to accept. If you're like me, you love to visit your local bookstore -- whether chain or independent -- and wander the aisles, delighting in the sheer presence of so many enticing volumes. That love probably sprang up in your childhood, and will likely last you the rest of your life.
The trouble is, the feeling is not mutual.
In general, bookstores do not love self publishers. It's nothing personal. If the staff at that store sat down and read your book, they might like it very much. They might even make an effort to
promote it. Perhaps you can convince two or three local stores to do just that.
But for most bookstores, your book simply isn't worth the effort. The book business is a well-oiled machine that runs in broad and well-worn channels. Bookstores deal with sales reps and suppliers that can deliver dozens of titles at a time to their doorstep. Unless you already have a runaway bestseller, it's simply not efficient for them to deal with someone hawking one or two books. And to tell the truth, it's usually not worth your time to try to get them to.
Luckily, you no longer need to. With only minor effort and cost, you can get your book carried by one bookseller that handles nearly 20% of trade retail bookselling in the U.S. -- about half of what's handled by all "real world" U.S. bookstores put together. You can get your book on Amazon.com.
Even better, on Amazon you'll compete on a much more level playing field with publishers of any size. By aiming at Amazon andexploiting its capabilities to the full, you can outmaneuver large publishers that may know less about its workings than you do and that have their main attention elsewhere.
Take the example of one of my own lead sellers, "The Business of Writing for Children." For much of its publishing life, this book has been the biggest selling children's writing guide on Amazon.com. When the book you're reading was first published, my children's writing book was competing on Amazon primarily against one guide from the For Dummies series and another from the Complete Idiot's series -- and it was outselling each of them by 2 to 1.
Was it a better book than those others? I wouldn't make that claim. But by a combination of persistence, dedication, savvy, ingenuity, and skill, I was able to outmaneuver all comers and stay on top in Amazon sales.
In fact, by aiming at Amazon, I was able to sell close to 30% the number of copies sold by one of those nationally-distributed competitors including its bookstore sales. And because the profit from my publishing system is so high -- generally half or more of the cover price -- I was earning about twice as much in total as that author would make with a normal royalty.
Once you accept the premise "Forget bookstores," it's amazing how much murkiness is instantly cleared out of the business of self publishing. Consider these:
-- You don't have to design or commission a slick cover that will look at home on a bookstore shelf.
-- You don't have to persuade anyone to stock your book.
-- You don't have to allow "returns" -- copies sent back for refund when the bookseller won't wait longer to sell them.
-- And best of all, you don't have to sit alone behind a stack of books at a tiny table in a busy bookstore and try to look like you want to be there.
Now, this doesn't mean that your book will never be sold in a bookstore. In most cases, it will. When you aim at Amazon, some customers will request your book from local bookstores -- and most new channels for self publishing will make it easy for bookstores to get it. The difference is, if you follow the approach I most favor, those bookstores will obtain the book on your terms, not theirs.
Sound good? Keep reading, and I'll show you how to do it.