Category Archives: Distribution

Conquering the Beast: Part 1

amazon--621x414

Amazon is the most wonderful place on Earth – or is it?  We all know that if you want to get book exposure then you need to have your book on Amazon.  The only problem is they take a hefty 55% when they sell your book.  They have the leverage to take a high dollar because of who they are and what they can offer a seller.  So I have decided if they are going to take 55% then I am going to make them work for it.  There are some basics to setting up an account but you can go further and figure out all the little tricks to get exposed faster and by more people.   This blog will review setting up the accounts.   The next blog, part 2, will go further into what you can do within the accounts.  Be sure and click the follow button on the top right so you are alerted to when the next blog is posted.

First you have to open an Amazon Advantage account.   Once you review the page on ‘What is Advantage’ and like what you see – sign up for the account.  This is your login screen once you have created an account (click on screen images for larger view) :

image 1

I was surprised at how ‘business like’ the site is but then I thought – this is for all sorts of sellers and some people have multiple products, items, pricing, etc so it is built to host a wide range.  There are a lot of tools for inventory control and analytics.  I would recommend just reviewing the site and click through some tabs.  I always feel a bit overwhelmed when starting a new program because there are a lot of features.

When you first sign up, you will need to add your book information and photos.  Just go under the Items tab and ‘Add an Item’.  You will then have to go through the steps and fill out the book info.  Then upload your images.  When uploading your book images, be sure and review how to properly name the images and the image size.  I actually went through this a couple of times because I didn’t pay attention to the labeling system they want used.  Once you submit then they go through a review right there and you quickly see if it was rejected or accepted.

Now that you have an item for sale, Amazon will send you a PO (Purchase Order).  This is usually for just 1 book to make the product ‘in stock’.    You will see a tab for ‘Orders’ so click there and select ‘Purchase Orders’.  Here is a screenshot:

image 2

You have to click on the little box to open the PO and then confirm it.  The PO will give you the basics of how many books to send and the address to send them to.  You then print the shipping label and packing slip (for inside the box).  Here is a screen shot of the PO I received:

image 3

So my thought is – I pay to print the book, they take 55% and now I have to pay at least $2.53/book (media mail – up to 9 business days) for Amazon to receive it.  Well, that’s not cool because I am now in the hole and will lose money on this book.  So I found a ‘stock up feature’ in their help section.  The help section is surprisingly helpful, btw.   You can go to Help/Orders/Stock Up Request and send them an email.  Just let them know it is for a promotion or launch of the book.  They need a reason to allow you to send more books.  Personally, I requested to send 10 books and they accepted within 2-3 business days.  They sent me a new PO for 10 books.

You have now officially put your book for sale on Amazon.  That wasn’t so bad now was it?

…Wait, we are not quite done…

AUTHOR CENTRAL

Amazon realizes that many authors are selling their books and they have created a separate site for Authors to share their info, reach more readers and get author help.   This is not part of the Amazon Advantage account you were just setting up.  This is different.  You can join here: https://authorcentral.amazon.com/.   Once you join, your home screen will look like this:

image 4

First, go in and update your author central profile.   If I had a dollar for every profile I have setup while promoting my book, I would be rich from that and not book sales…anyway….This is like any other profile where you can add info about yourself such as:

  1. Bibliography, Photos and Video
  2. Blog, Twitter, Facebook feeds
  3. Any upcoming events

Then go and add your book.  Just click on ‘Book’ tab and add more books.  You want to make sure that all the books that you have with Amazon are added to this page.  Your Author Central profile is then linked to your Amazon book sales page like this:

image 5

You can sign up for the ‘Look Inside the Book’ feature through Author Central.  There are certain obvious rules like owning the work and having a valid ISBN#.   There are directions to signup under the Help tab.  I thought this part was strange but you have to send an email to insidethebook-submission@amazon.com.  First they have to accept your request which can take 2-3 business days.  Then they will send you an email with upload instructions and ANOTHER site to log into.  There are instructions on how to send your file so review carefully.  Once I uploaded, I received a Submission ID# but that was it.  It said successful so I just waited and waited….until finally 9 business days later it appeared online.  I was surprised to see things take so long because it is Amazon – I assumed it would be automatic.  I guess they have to review all materials first before making them live.  And it is a bit comforting to know there are actual people behind the site and all the emails.

So now you have an Amazon account setup and an Author Central account.  All we have to do is sell books!

Next up is Conquering the Beast: Part 2.  Be sure and click the follow button at the top right and you will be alerted with each new post.  As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

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Filed under Book Marketing, Book Media, Distribution, Self Publishing Author

Still Don’t Have An eBook?

eBooks/Readers/Files

When I started working in book publishing, eBooks were not around just yet.   When they did come around, everyone was very curious and maybe a little scared (especially those who rely on people buying print!).   What exactly is an eBook and how is it different than a regular digital file – like a pdf?

Well, first off – eBook is short for ‘electronic book’.  You would create an eBook to be read on electronic devices like computers or eReaders (Kindle, Nook, iPad and so on).   This works best with text based documents.  The conversion basically puts all this text into one seamless page.   Your end user will have the freedom (on their reader) to adjust the text to their liking – big, small, blue, whatever.

You can have a document with charts, graphs, images etc converted to an eBook file too.  These elements are usually captured as a ‘flat image’ in the document.   This is to prevent things from being jumbled on a reader.  For instance, a chart has to be an ‘image’ otherwise it will look all funky when someone is minimizing or maximizing on their eReader screen.   You don’t want loose text in the chart just running all over the page and looking wonky – now do you?    Jumbled, Funky, Wonky = BAD.

When eBooks started to gain popularity, everyone wanted to invent an eReader device – it was the hot new item.  This caused a problem because they all required different formats – which was a super PITA when trying to do the conversion on your book.  For instance, you couldn’t open the same file on an iPad as you could the Nook.  Eventually, everyone got smart and the ePub file emerged as the universal format to these readers.  Except for Amazon of course…  They like to be special and require their own format – mobi.

Conversion/Distribution

There are companies out there that can do the conversion for you.  You provide a file (like a word or pdf) and they will send you the ePub and Mobi format – for a small or large fee.  Your price will depend on how many pages, images, links etc – basically the complexity of the book determines the price.   I had my conversion done by www.eBooks2go.com.    If you have a more complicated file, it would be best to let a professional handle this for you.  They will create a nice TOC and have everything link back and forth and make the eBook file very user friendly.  Professionals like eBooks2go also offer distribution to various online stores like Amazon, iTunes and B&N.

For the sake of comparison (and for my blog), I tried Smashwords to convert as well.   An author mentioned Smashwords in my book and once I learned more about it, I was intrigued – mostly because of their distribution options.   I was not too impressed with the look of their website.  It is very easy to navigate and self explanatory but it was a bit plain and ho-hum.   The creator of Smashwords also published books relating to the site.  These books are tutorials on using the site to the full extent, setting up files correctly and marketing your book through Smashwords – genius.

Anyway, this site has a free converter.   I would only recommend this for basic docs with just text.   Although the conversion is free, it can garner up some frustrations.  I have my doc uploaded to their site now and it is currently being ‘reviewed’ for their premium catalog.   The premium catalog consists of numerous distribution channels and libraries.   This is what I find fascinating about Smashwords.  The more wheels you have out their cranking away, the better – especially with little to no effort from you (the author).  Some people call this lazy, I call it efficient.   You want to have as many channels as you possibly can feeding the beast because that is what it’s all about – exposure and sales.

Pricing

Many people ask me what to price their book.  Honest answer – I have no idea.  It is up to the author to research similar books and see what people are paying and why.  Always leave room for discounts and promotions to build interest and always have a call to action (2 days only – 25% off).   On Smashwords, you have a personal dashboard and can add coupons and do sampling.  A sampling would be letting people download 15 or 20% of the book at no cost.  This can get them to buy the book when they otherwise would have not.  It is a good idea to play around with this and see what works.  I will have mine on Smashwords for 99 cents at first.   Personally, I will always buy something I find the slightest bit interesting when it is just a buck – most other people will too.  It is much easier to get $1 from 5000 people then $10 from 500 people.

Unfortunately, everyone will want a piece of the pie and why not – you are using these channels to sell the book so they want a cut.   And yes, they are all different.  Here is an example of some fees.  The company distributing it (like Smashwords or eBooks2go) will also take 10-15% for managing the accounts.  Not a bad deal really when you do nothing.  Hopefully it results in a check coming to you every quarter.

           Amazon B&N Apple
$1-2.99  65%   60%   30%
$3-9.99  30%   35%   30%
$10-199 65%   60%   30%

As a publisher, it is important to provide your readers with options.   The printed book will never go away but the younger generations are all about the devices now.  I can’t really judge – we have plenty lying around the house too.

Check out my previous blogs on press releases and working with a printer.  If you are not following, just click the follow button on the right hand side to be emailed when new blogs are posted.

As always, I appreciate any comments, suggestions or feedback. If you have a blog topic you want me to cover – send it over.

…and in case I don’t see ya, good afternoon, good evening, and good night.

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Filed under Book Marketing, Book Media, Distribution, eBooks, Self Publishing Author