If I had a dollar for every time I was asked one question back in 2010, I’d have retired already. That question was, ‘how do I get my books on Amazon?’
Back then I’d usually answer with, ‘Why Bother?’
The bricks and mortar stores in Australasia were still selling books, albeit, not terribly well. However, many were closing, and most had diversified beyond selling books, and had ‘warehouse sales people’ behind their counters, many of whom were far from passionate about books, and were unable to be of much help if the requested book by a customer ‘wasn’t in stock or on the computer yet’. Add to that, due to the sheer volume of books available, book store owners and managers were simply challenged beyond believe to know what might be worth stocking and what might gather dust and end up heavily discounted a few months later. It was hit and miss to stock shelves, and Indie Authors missed out most of the time, as much due to the quality of their books, but also due to the lack of sales channels that led them easily to get their books noticed by buyers.
Amazon was equally challenging back then, because due to their own internal rules about needing to have enough stock on hand to supply orders quickly, the warehousing of books and distribution channels meant that if you didn’t have some kind of managed warehousing of your books based in the northern hemisphere, you would likely be rejected by Amazon anyway.
Forward to 2017 and all the rules had changed. Now, as we head into 2019, it was easier than ever to upload your books to Create Space, Ingram Sparks, Barnes and Noble, Nook, Kobo, Kindle. E-books can be sold via Kindle within minutes of being uploaded, and Create Space can fill orders within days of your setting up an account. And a further update – in 2018 Create Space merged with KDP, (Kindle Direct Publishing) to make uploading even easier in many ways.
The quality of print on demand is outstanding, and the need for warehousing hundreds or thousands of copies of your books has gone. No more expensive outlays for authors to stock printed copies, fulfill their own orders by lining up at the post office. The royalties are paid when and as expected, with full reporting functions built into all of the platforms available to sell on.
So, what’s the problem with all that?
Authors are still struggling to know what to do, how to do it, and the learning curves around uploading can be fraught with deep time-wasting pits of despair. It takes time, and a lot of reading the fine print and understanding the process to do your first upload onto either Create Space or Kindle. Working out how to price your book, determine the best categories and why this is important, and even understanding the special ways that Keywords work for or against your book’s success takes time and knowledge.
Unfortunately, the average newbie author often does not see the value in paying for expert help, despite the fact that they are now saving significant amounts on the production and printing of books. And this is the one thing that needs to change for authors, especially in Non-Fiction genres. Getting armed with the knowledge needed to do this well, is as critical an investment in publishing a book as editing and cover design is.
Being an author is time consuming, often for low returns, and yet is one of the most creatively rewarding things a writer can do. Seeing others benefit from your shared stories, wisdom, experiences is priceless and getting those reviews that mean you know you’ve contributed valuable knowledge to someone anywhere in the world is heart-warming to say the least. Getting those checks from Amazon is also pretty exciting. But if we’re all going to do it well, and ‘ace it on Amazon’ we have to start approaching the technical ends of publishing. That means paying for expertise sometimes, just as you would for social media specialist work, and design skills.
In 2019, I challenge all authors to up-skill – not by diversifying their studies across too many publishing topics, but mastering one or two necessary areas, and sharing that knowledge with others. That will still keep the overall cost of successfully publishing down to an acceptable level for most indie authors – and make it even more viable to pay for the specialist areas you need to dive into occasionally.
So what’s likely to happen to publishing in 2019?
There’s a lot of talk about Publishing 3.0 – the new wave of publishing that will totally and radically affect publishing, and particularly self or indie publishing companies and authors. Ultimately this will mean authors being able to circumvent even the online publishing options such as Amazon and Ingram Spark to have an even more direct means to market and supply our books to readers. Stay tuned – as this unfolds I’ll share more about this. But, the value issue that we are still entrenched in is the need to have the rankings and marketing tools provided by Amazon and co.
Until we work out how to ace the best seller lists without being part of those lists, we still need to be doing three things supremely well:
- Writing and producing extremely good books – not erring on the side of average – ever!
- Being well versed in all the many tools and options available to us as indies, and there are so many it’s easy to get lost in these – so the value of publishing coaches is even more valuable than ever. I am one, but I too engage with the services of one – we all work better with a coach, especially in this fast changing industry.
- Thinking of ourselves not just as writers, or authors, or even as thought leaders… but as business owners, with the diversity that goes with the many parts of our businesses that need attending to. The marketing, the production, the administration, and planning!
And staying abreast of it all – is a full time job!
How are you going to manage as an indie publishing author in the New Year?
If you need some help with the writing, marketing, production, or any other parts of the process for writing/production of Non-Fiction books, check out our new online program DIY details, or message about your needs and we can engage with some help for you.
Starting in January – the last Thursday of ever month will feature the Online Author-ity Cafe sessions where you can find out more about what’s going on in the indie publishing world for Non-Fiction writers.
Details are here: LINK