The Amazon Experience

Amazon is the single largest book retailer available, and the company model couldn’t be friendlier in helping self-publishing authors publishing through a POD publisher/distribution model. Whether you’re published or still in the writing or production process, prepare these Amazon options to maximize your books sales.

Amazon Search Inside the Book: This is the online equivalent to flipping through your book on the shelf. An optional feature, “Look Inside” provides icon over your book’s cover image, and allows readers to browse through portions of your interior content. Amazon claims that books utilizing this option see considerably higher sales over those that do not. Pretty intuitive.

Amazon Key Word Submission: One of the best user features Amazon provides comes in allowing readers to browse instantly by category or ‘key words.’ Imagine being transported instantly around a bookstore the size of football fields without having to use a map or ask an employee for directions. This is the experience Amazon customers find in typing in a simple keyword or phrase. (Few readers browse titles by author, and even less so for first-time authors.) They key is determining around 10 top keywords to tag your book with in order to provide the widest exposure possible.

Amazon Kindle: The Kindle is everywhere, and for good reason. It is a revolutionary digital reading device that allows individuals to purchase books anywhere, anytime, and instantly. One source noted that Kindle owners, on average, buy 3x more books than non-Kindle owners. Kindle editions must be submitted through special formatting, which some POD publishers offer, and will see listing everywhere books are sold throughout the Amazon site.

And finally, email, call, and knock on the doors of everyone you know who may contribute a credible review of your published book and have them post those on your book’s Amazon listing page.


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Barnes & Noble on the Block

Wise business decisions (or business people) focus on things that can be change and can be changed, while investing little time on those that cannot.

Barnes & Noble went on the block earlier this month, perhaps a good example of wise business, especially in a time when others in the book industry continue to push the proverbial boulder up the mountain. According to Forbes, “The New York-based company, which has struggled along with other brick-and-mortar booksellers under economic pressures and the technology shift away from paper books, said it could sell its famous chain…”

I enjoy the experience of a physical book store as much as holding a real book, and that will never change. But hardcover books are rising on shelves into luxury item status. In the wake of the Kindle, iPad, and digital wave, traditional publishers and brick-and-mortar stores will continually be challenged with creativity amidst this rapid change. Consumers are moving in the direction of digital downloads, as in the music industry where CD’s have been in large part replaced by iTunes and other less expensive digital downloads. While many among the traditional side of the publishing industry are fighting to keep e-book prices commensurate with perceived author value, this trend increasingly allows self-publishing authors access to reader markets at a more competitive price point.



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Self-publishing Advice Blog

Organization is key to getting your writing into a published book, and with that it may be helpful for authors to look at the book publishing process as occurring in 3 chronological phases:

  • Preparation or pre-production
  • Production & Proofing
  • Publication and Marketing

Understanding these phases, creating goals, and researching publishing options best suited to those goals is a valuable practice for authors, especially those heading into the often advantageous aspects of self-publishing. Throughout the second half of this year, Self-publishing Advice will be breaking each of these down, no matter where you are in the process we’ll be devoting time to exploring information and resources helpful from the start of the process all the way through to the sales and marketing push. It will look something like this…

Mondays – Phase I: pre-production
Tuesdays – Guest post
Wednesdays – A look at phase II information: Book Production
Thursdays – Current events
Fridays – Phase 3 information: Publication, Marketing & Sales

Stay tuned


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Progressive Book Marketing for Authors

The industry is learning that sales and marketing efforts are perhaps as much an effort in getting books to readers as good content. Now, progressive self-publishing options are beginning to provide them for authors regardless of where you have published. Or, if you’ve yet to initiate the publishing process, it’s never to early to begin looking and learning about marketing tactics like…

• Amazon Kindle Edition
• Amazon Keyword Tagging
• Celebrity Endorsements
• “Search inside the book” options with major retailers
• Even Personal Marketing Assistance

Now that the information is in your hands and resources at your fingertips, how many readers will your book find?



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Self-published Book Review of the Week

Lucifer Rising
Self-publishing Review of the Week – Lucifer Rising

The author shows the power a religious cult can have over an individual’s life. Elsa Eldridge works for the local paper in Daytona, Beach Florida. Her assignment by her editor is to profile the head of a local faction of a holy group. She begins to find that she is mesmerized by this man and that she will do anything for him. The novel shows the frightening hold groups like this have on people, no matter what their level of education is. The novel is a warning that should be heeded.



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Higher Royalty Option Announced

On the heels of its recent release of the new, lower priced Kindle Reader, Amazon’s Digital Text Platform Team announced a new 70% royalty option for self-published authors who own the rights to their publications. It’s worth a look. Learn more here.



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Guest Post – The Book Doctor

Q: I’m thinking about writing a controversial book about [subject deleted for privacy]. There have probably been a number of books already written on this subject, and there is a ton of information about the subject on the Internet.

I have two concerns. One, could plagiarism be involved if I take information from the Internet? My next concern has to do with the market. I wrote to some of the Web sites for permission to use their material, and a person wrote back and claimed that books of this nature do not sell well, even if you are an experienced writer. Any thoughts?

A: Research statistics and information are available to us all. You plagiarize only when you use the exact sentences and paragraphs someone else has written, but if you take information and rewrite it in your own words, you are not plagiarizing.

As to the issue of marketability, obviously the subject goes against popular thinking, which means one of several things can happen. It could hit a controversial note, catch a publisher’s eye, get published, get a great deal of publicity, and sell many copies. A few controversial books have done so. At the opposite end of the spectrum, it could be too controversial and not unique, and no traditional publisher will want to touch it. How can you guess which it will be?

Here’s the thing to remember: Only one percent of all manuscripts written ever get traditionally published, but people keep writing books, and publishers keep buying them, so people who are passionate about their subjects and diligent about polishing their writing and editing skills are still being successful, even in a tough market. Self-publishing means you take all the risks, but you could reap the benefits if your book becomes a hit.

The reason traditional publishers want a book proposal for nonfiction books is simple: Proposals make the author research the market and estimate the size of the market as well as the size and toughness of the competition. My suggestion is this: Instead of writing the whole book, write a proposal. Get a book on how to write a book proposal and perform all the research a proposal requires. Study the size of the market. Find other books on that subject and find out how they fared. Don’t listen to one person’s vague comment. Go to the publishers of similar books and ask for sales figures.

See what, if anything, you can do to make your book unique, better than others on the market, and more appealing to a broader audience. If you can’t come up with a unique selling point, you may decide not to write the book, or you may decide to self-publish a small quantity and test the market yourself, if you have an outlet for your book—that is, if you can find a way to reach into the niche market to which it is geared.



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Bobbie Christmas, book editor, author of Write In Style (Union Square Publishing), and owner of Zebra Communications, will answer your questions, too. Send them to Bobbie@zebraeditor.com. Read more “Ask the Book Doctor” questions and answers at http://www.zebraeditor.com.