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The Amazon Controversy: The Best Thing To Happen To Your Book

Apr 26, 2008
I think most of us in the book world spent the last week lamenting the fact that POD books, authors, and publishers were getting shut out of Amazon. Well, not shut out per se but were being given new rules, Amazon rules, and you would either comply, or else.

The truth is this was bound to happen sooner or later. As I looked at the situation, and discussed it with some people both at the office and in the industry, there's something I soon came to realize: this could be the best thing to happen to book promotion in a long time. Why? As authors we assume that Amazon is "taking care of things" - they are doing the selling for us, and consequently we have become complacent in our marketing.

The truth that you and I both know is this: when you crunch the numbers, most are really only selling only a handful of books on Amazon anyway but many of us still buy into the fallacy that it's the gold mine of sales. This move by Amazon is going to prove that we don't need this big e-tail giant after all, not if we're smart and push our resources into other areas. When you break it down, the truth about Amazon is this: we liked them for the exposure they gave our books. And yes, they took care of sales, this is true - but there are other sites just waiting to take a sale away from Amazon. Books-A-Million and Barnesandnoble are just two that come to mind. You'll find there are many more. By limiting your online exposure to Amazon, and perhaps your own web site, you were in a sense severely limiting the exposure for your book by not thinking outside the book, so to speak.

Amazon's decision has now forced the smart, creative, savvy author to look outside of the norm and field sales in some other fashion. It's forcing us to consider our options and/or realize that there are other ways to sell a book rather than to send consumers to Amazon. So, how can you compete with this retailer most default to? Here are some strategies to get you started. Let me warn you, there's nothing new here, but all the same, I think it's helpful to hear it again:

Have a great web site that's easy to navigate. By what I call "shortening the staircase" to a sale, I mean making them go through fewer steps to get to your product.

If getting folks to buy on your site has been a challenge try offering specials, autographed copies or bundles on your site to entice readers to buy there, not go looking for your book elsewhere.

Push your message into social platforms like Squidoo, NothingBinding, Facebook, AuthorNation, AuthorsDen, and even the much dismissed but still ever popular, MySpace. There are many of these places out there and tons more popping up all the time. Use them, don't just stick with one, use all of them to further increase your chances of exposure for your book.

Get to know other e-tailers and other ways to sell your book. Make sure your book has reviews on sites like Barnesandnoble and other similar e-store sites.

My message is what I have said numerous times. Instead of staring at the closed door, find an open window and make it happen. Amazon may have closed the door, but it's only through this limited access that we realize there are other options out there and they are plentiful. The truth is this: soon all e-tailers will follow this model. Whether it's this year or next - everyone will want to own a greater market share of a book sale. Let's face it, the profit of selling a book is minimal at best for these e-tailers, the more they can make on the creation of the book itself, the better.

So what Amazon has done in effect is force us to become less dependent and more self-reliant. At the end of the day, the author who relies on him or herself for the lion's share of his or her success will win out. Depending on someone else or something else is never a good way to market because when what you've come to depend on is no longer there, the marker is set back to zero and you must start all over again. It's tough enough to market your book in a world swimming in new titles, it's tougher still to keep restarting a marketing campaign. Don't let an online e-monster determine your fate, your success, or your future. Take a lesson from the Amazon controversy and take control of your own book. Today.
About the Author
Penny C. Sansevieri, CEO and founder of Author Marketing Experts, Inc., is a book marketing and media relations expert whose company has developed some of the most cutting-edge book marketing campaigns. Visit AME.
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