This Phrase Can Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

I hear and see this phrase more than I should. Indie authors with great intentions who are enthusiastic about promoting their books often say the phrase.

Sadly, what these authors don’t understand is that this one little phrase can ruin their book marketing efforts. This statement does not destroy all book marketing efforts, only those geared toward retail book buyers (a.k.a. bookstores) and librarians.

Don't Ruin Your Marketing Efforts

Don’t say this phrase. Really, there is never a need to say this phrase. It is not even necessary with readers. Don’t ruin your marketing efforts by saying,

My book is available on Amazon.

If you are attempting to sell your book to a bookstore, or even just trying to get a local bookstore to allow you to conduct a book signing, this simple phrase ruins your chances with the bookstore. Book buyers will not carry your book or host a book signing for you if you say this phrase.

Here is why:

1. Amazon is a bookstore.

Yes, you can “publish” your book through Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP). You can even request expanded distribution through the platform. However, Amazon is not a distributor, it is a bookstore.

As a bookstore, Amazon is in direct competition with any bookstore that you approach or try to get to sell your book. Brick-and-mortar bookstores have struggled due to Amazon’s stranglehold on book sales. Mentioning that your book is available on Amazon turns a retailer off. It’s like saying “You can buy my book at Target.” Bookstores don’t purchase books from other bookstores.

Available on Amazon

2. You show your ignorance.

I don’t mean to be rude; I am just trying to help. If you say to a bookstore buyer—whether in person or in an advertisement—“My book is available on Amazon”, the buyer immediately knows that you are a self-published author who does not understand the book industry.

Self-published authors and indie authors have sported a bad reputation for years. This is because there is a glut of poorly written, poorly edited, and poorly designed self-published books. In recent years, the stigma of self-publishing has been greatly diminished. However, it still lurks in the shadows. The phrase, “My book is available on Amazon”, causes the beast to come forth.

3. Every book is available on Amazon.

“Every” may be a slight exaggeration, but at least 99% of all books published are available on Amazon. KDP is not the only way to get your book on Amazon. Every publisher makes sure their books are available through Amazon. Publishers know that Amazon commands 50% of all print book sales. So, to harvest the most sales, all publishers make their books available for sale on Amazon.

There really is never a need to make a big deal of your book being available on Amazon—not for readers, not for librarians, and especially not for retailers.

For the most part, readers just assume that any book they hear about will be available where they shop. If they shop on Amazon, that is where they will look for the book. If they shop at Christianbook.com, that is where they will look for the book. Readers that shop at their local brick-and-mortar bookstore will assume your book is available there. Often, they will be surprised that the retailer does not have it in stock. However, if your book is in distribution, they can just ask the store to order it for them.

Related Posts:
Amazon Is Not a Distributor
Christian Retail Is Not Dead
Amazon: King of Book Sales

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Photo courtesy of Angelo_Giordano.

Are You Using the Right URL?

Your first impression depends on how firm your handshake is.” ~@Yushi

Presentation matters. I recently took my son to a new doctor for a consultation. The doctor entered the room with baggy scrubs and a Star Wars head rap and he barely touched my hand for the handshake. Within seconds my brain had formed an opinion.

Use the right URL.

My brain took in this information and made the decision that this doctor was not competent. Of course, these first impressions had nothing to do with this doctor’s competence. He probably just came from surgery. Clearly, he was a Star Wars fan. And maybe he was afraid of getting germs or just did not like physical contact, so he barely touched my hand for a handshake.

After talking with this doctor for a few minutes, my confidence in his knowledge and abilities began to grow. However, I had to make the conscious decision to give this doctor a chance because my brain had already made a decision based on my first impression.

As an author, you may or may not get time to change a person’s initial impression from their contact with you. It is important that you appear competent from the get go.

Being competent means that you have the necessary ability, knowledge or skill to do something successfully. You have a short window of opportunity on first impression to demonstrate to your audience that you are competent.

One area that I often see Indie author’s look incompetent is through the URL address they give for their book, especially an Amazon URL.

Frequently, an author will give a long Amazon URL like this:

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Guide-Marketing-Christian-Books/dp/0991299515/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sarah+bolme&qid=1560436167&s=gateway&sr=8-1

What the author did was go to Amazon.com and enter in her name or book title in the search bar. Then the author clicked on the correct book that came up in the search, which took them to this long URL.

URL

 

However, this is not the URL for the book on Amazon. Rather, it is a URL from a search for the book. Yes, the URL will take someone to the book’s page, but to anyone who understands URLs, it will look dumb. The second part of the URL starting with the word “ref=” is not needed.

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Guide-Marketing-Christian-Books/dp/0991299515/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=sarah+bolme&qid=1560436167&s=gateway&sr=8-1

The proper URL to use to direct people to your book on Amazon is the first portion that ends with the last 10-digits of your book’s 13-digit ISBN. The proper link should look like this:

https://www.amazon.com/Your-Guide-Marketing-Christian-Books/dp/0991299515/

If you want, you can make the URL even shorter by removing the book title in the link and make it:

https://www.amazon.com/dp/0991299515

If you are using an exceptionally long URL and are not sure what the correct portion is to use, then head on over to a URL shortening service and create a short URL to use instead. Free URL shorting services include:

Present a competent image in your use of URL links to purchase your book. Use the correct link or shorten the link for ease of use.

Related Posts:
First Impressions Matter
Why Should Someone Buy Your Book?
Amazon: King of Book Sales

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Amazon’s “Buy Button” Policy

The publishing world is all abuzz with the latest Amazon change. It has to do with Amazon’s “Buy Button” policy change in regards to new books sold on the site.

A Little History

Last November, Amazon began allowed third-party book re-sellers to “win” buy buttons on book pages. Third-party re-sellers on Amazon can win a buy button by meeting various criteria outlined by Amazon, which includes price, availability, and delivery time (see https://goo.gl/11yc37).

The program is only open to new books, defined by Amazon as “brand-new, unused, unread copy in perfect condition. The dust cover and original protective wrapping, if any, is intact. All supplementary materials are included and all access codes for electronic material, if applicable, are valid and/or in working condition.”

Amazon has long allowed third-party sellers to compete with Amazon for the sale of new items. Up until last year, books were exempt from this program with Amazon selling the publisher’s copy of a book as the first listed seller. Interestingly, Amazon currently does not sell or stream copies of other copyrighted works—movies and television programs—that are distributed by anyone other than the authorized distributor. In other words, third party sellers cannot sell these copyrighted new works.

The Concern

Of course, publishers are concerned that they will not get their fair share of retail price for new books sold by third-party sellers on Amazon. Where do these third-party sellers get their books? Generally, not from the publishers. Publishers and authors make the most money from books sold directly through Amazon because these books are purchased directly from them (although sometimes through the publisher’s distributor).

Many authors and publishers have also expressed concern that the books being listed as “new” by third-party sellers are not really “new”. If you believe your book (or anyone’s book) is being sold as “new” by a third-party seller—but really isn’t a new book—you can file a complaint with Amazon (see https://goo.gl/aqfw5P).

Speculation

Anytime Amazon makes a major policy change, many speculate as to the motivation behind the move. Two theories are being kicked around.

  1. Amazon is trying to expand its POD offering and wants to encourage publishers and authors to use its POD services. After all, it appears that, for the most part, books sold via Createspace and IngramSpark still have Amazon as the primary “buy” button.
  2. The other speculated motivation is that Amazon wants to reduce their storage and labor costs by giving preference to third-party buyers. In doing so, Amazon will have less books to stock and move in their warehouses.

Personally, I also wonder how much Amazon just changes things up every so often to stay in the news. Every change brings lots of buzz, so the strategy seems to work if that is what they are after.

As a consumer who buys books on Amazon, I find the third-party buy button very annoying. It makes me have to double and triple check that I am actually buying the book from Amazon and not a third-party seller that will make me pay shipping.

I would love to hear if and how Amazon’s buy button policy has effected your book listing and sales on the site.

Related Posts:
Amazon is Still King
Amazon is Not a Distributor
Amazon: Christian Authors Beware

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Amazon Stays Ahead of the Curve

The big news for authors last week was that Amazon is now providing Nielson Bookscan’s data to their Author Central authors for free.

What does this mean?

First, to get access to this information, you must be an author with books listed on Amazon.com and you must be registered with Amazon’s Author Central. Nielson Bookscan provides book sales data for print books sold throughout the United States. They get their sales data from participating retailers, including Borders, Barnes & Noble, Amazon, Target, and Buy.com. A number of retailers do not participate in this program, including Wal-Mart and Sam’s Club. Sales listed by Nielson Bookscan do not include ebook sales (including Kindle), wholesale purchases, or sales to libraries.

I think it is absolutely fantastic that Amazon is providing this information to their authors. It is this sort of innovative offering that has kept Amazon the number one source for books for years. Did you know that Amazon accounted for 22 percent of all book sales in 2009 (19 percent of print books and 90 percent of ebooks)?

When I learned that Amazon was providing authors this data, I trotted (virtually of course) on over to my Amazon Central Author Page to look at what Bookscan reported on recent book sales of my books.

Here is what I found.

Nielson Bookscan provides reports on sales of books by week and sales by geography (where in the United States books were sold). Since BookScan relies on retailer reports of sales, they do not report all books sold. BookScan estimates that they report 75 percent of retail book sales.

Since I sell Christian books, BookScan probably reports much less than 75 percent of the retail book sales from my books. Many independent Christian bookstores (those more likely to carry my titles) do not report sales to BookScan.

Since I have multiple books for sales on Amazon, BookScan data provided me with the total number of books I had sold within the last four weeks by title. In other words, I am able to track how many books of each title were sold.

The biggest drawback I found with the data had to do with the sales by geography section. This section does not allow me to find out where a particular title was sold, only where my books overall were sold. Since I have both adult and children’s books, I would find it helpful to know if my children’s book were being sold more heavily in one region. If I knew this, I could concentrate more advertising and marketing effort in that region. Since I can’t break down sales of title by region, the geographic information is not as helpful as I had hoped.

Overall, I give Amazon a thumbs up for taking the initiative and making this great sales information available to authors. If you are the author of books being sold on Amazon and are not signed up with Amazon’s Author Central, I encourage you to do it today.

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