I was asked recently for my thoughts on a particular print on demand company. This company, unlike many, is actually based in the UK. For a UK resident, that would seem to be a really good thing. So I optimistically started to investigate. The brochure I had been forwarded looked super, the packages were priced sensibly (very important in my book), not inviting you to sped thousands that you will have trouble recouping, and you could buy additional services such as editing individually from a menu.
So far, all looking good. Then I applied a simple test to their distribution. I visited the company’s website, found some books they featured, and then looked for them on Amazon. Oh dear. Yes, the books were there, and the print-on-demand company was listed as a seller for the books. But one thing was missing. The all-important ‘in stock’ label for Amazon itself. Not one of the titles I looked up was in stock at Amazon’s warehouse and ready to be shipped. Does this matter, given that they are in stock at the p-o-d company and ready to be shipped by them? You bet it does.
I am an Amazon fan. I use it all the time to buy things. You know where you are with Amazon, and when items you buy will arrive. That’s not to say that I won’t buy from other sellers on the Amazon marketplace, but I am far more likely to buy from Amazon itself, especially as we have subscribed to Amazon Prime which gives you unlimited next day delivery. There are many people just like me, in fact many will never even see the other seller options, just look at the ‘out of stock’ status and move on to another book.
By having your book in stock at Amazon, you dramatically increase the chances of it selling. Most people on the internet are looking for information. This means they are not automatically in buying mode. But on Amazon the reverse is true – most people on the site at any time are looking to buy something. This is an absolute gift to an author. So make it easy for them to buy. Use a print-on-demand company which has an arrangement with Amazon to keep books in stock. Then you won’t ever have to do anything to make sure your book is available now to those people who make it onto your book’s page.
There are several print-on-demand companies which can achieve this for your book. The one I use is lulu.com, and I’ll be writing more about how you can publish your book using their services in my soon-to-be-available free download ‘Publish Your Book on a Shoestring’. Keep an eye out, I’m in the editing stage now and it will be coming out in the next few weeks.
This is the first of several posts on topics raised at the Charmouth Literary Festival last Saturday about issues that come up for writers – or issues that I noticed on the day.
Today I’m thinking about book reviews. One of the audience, himself a writer, shared that he had problems with other friends who are also writers. The first problem was that they seemed to expect him to buy their book, and the second was that they then put pressure on him to post a review on Amazon. All of this seems to me distinctly unfair and stretching a friendship too far. That set me thinking about the etiquette of it all. What is acceptable and what is not? (more…)