In the beginning (about 1995), a tiny Amazon was focused on becoming the biggest book seller ever. To thrive in that early ‘wild west’ shark tank called the Internet, it quickly moved beyond its initial focus of books. Fast forward past the turn of the millennium and Amazon has arguably become the largest seller of anything and everything, A to Z. (Oh, did I mention they still sell books?)
For those of us whose books are listed on the infinite Amazon platform, working with a ‘900-pound gorilla’ has not always been easy. Small press publishers and authors alike have occasionally had to listen to the temper tantrums of that engorged beast as it flexed its muscles (searching for more bananas, no doubt). As the owner of RK books, I have experienced things that can only be described as ‘Amazon issues’ with one of our titles.
My company was licensed the rights from Davis/Panzer Productions (Hollywood), and Studiocanal Ltd. (London) to create a new ‘Highlander Imagine’ universe from the original Highlander TV series (1992-98). The first paperback book, ‘Highlander Imagine: For Love’s Sake’, was released in May, 2015. It retailed for $17.57.
From the get go, Amazon was an issue. Our Highlander Imagine Facebook site chat box soon lit up with complaints that Amazon had not fulfilled book orders for weeks. This was inexplicable. Barnes & Noble confirmed they had books, and had been fulfilling orders from day one. A call to Amazon resulted in a text-book reply: ‘We’ll ship as soon as we can get books…’ But, there was never any problem with Amazon receiving books from my supplier!
Our Facebook members were urged to cancel their orders from Amazon, and reorder from BarnesandNoble.com. Several fans did switch and they quickly received their books. For one of our men in uniform, stationed in Okinawa, I personally shipped an autographed copy (no charge to him) as he was still waiting for his Amazon order after almost twelve weeks! Eventually, Amazon actually began shipping and life went on.
The next big surprise from Amazon came at the worst possible time.
Early in 2016, I was in California meeting with potential sponsoring companies for the Highlander Imagine Series while the second book, ‘Highlander Imagine: Beyond Infinity,’ was being prepared for release. Amongst other things, I was asking the sponsors to carry this title physically as well as in their on-line catalog (at a discount from me, naturally). Pulling up the information for the first title, ‘Highlander Imagine: For Love’s Sake,’ on an Amazon site brought a shock I was not prepared for. What we both saw killed the deal – a jaw-dropping price of around $3 per copy! The immediate comeback by my (now lost) sponsor was, ‘…I can’t compete with this price…’ and that was the end of the meeting.
I called Amazon, but received a reply which went something like this: ‘We can choose to offer our titles at any discount … this will not affect our payment to the supplier…’
“Oh, great,” I thought, “how can I take advantage of this ‘rock bottom’ discount?” I quickly discovered they only allowed one book per customer at this price. There was nothing I could do but fume at Amazon. This low price persisted for a little while longer before finally returning to normal but the damage had already been done.
While it may seem wonderful to recline in the cooling shade of a massive on-line gorilla, it is wise to keep a watchful eye out for where those occasional banana peels land.
Professional speaker, and actress, Wendy Jones has held professional positions in the USA, Canada, and Austria. The author of numerous books, journal and trade magazine articles, the genera includes scientific and lay-magazines as well as books – fiction and non-fiction. Works can be found in: Journal of Single Cell Biology, Medicinal Foods, Renal Nutrition, Bio-Techniques and Immunogenic; the former iSeries Weekly, and e-Business Quarterly, Midrange Computing, and Showcase Magazine; the pioneering renal demineralization book series: Food Fuel Fitness and More Bio-fuel Less Bio-waste; as well as fiction series – Golden Downs, and Jerimy. Wendy also holds patents in plant science and scientific research devices in the USA.
7.625 STRATEGIES IN EVERY BEST-SELLER - Revised and Expanded Edition
At this moment, thousands of would-be authors are slaving away on their keyboards, dreaming of literary success. But their efforts won’t count for much. Of all those manuscripts, trade book editors will sign up only a slim fraction.
And of those titles--ones that that editors paid thousands of dollars to contract, print and publicize--an unhealthy percentage never sell enough copies to earn back their advances. Two years later, most will be out of print!
Acquisition Editor Tam Mossman shares seven essentials every book needs to stay in print, and sell!
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