Tuesday, April 29, 2008

The Savvy Self-Publisher, May-June 2008


Rumors of proposed anti-trust lawsuits, boycotts and even hacker attacks against Amazon have been circulating for weeks, since the online bookseller announced that it would discontinue carrying POD books from its competitors.

But why should Amazon matter so much to self-publishing authors? For years, Poynter and Snow have repeatedly admonished writers that conventional bookstores are the LAST places to sell books, online or offline. Mainstream booksellers demand huge discounts, pay slowly, and often require the right to return unsold books for a full refund. On the other hand, when authors sell books from their OWN sites or at live events, they retain far more income, get paid much faster, and see fewer (if any) returns.

For some reason, first-time authors often feel that it's "sexy" to boast that their books are available at Amazon. But in today's world almost anyone can get a book on Amazon, whether it holds any real public appeal or not. The truth is that 99% of self-publishers are better off focusing on other outlets.

For the other 1%, outlets like Borders.com and BN.com can fill the void left by Amazon. Barnes & Noble already has its own affiliate program. Very soon, Borders.com will be entirely independent of Amazon. In many cases, self-publishers can simply link from their own sites to BN or Borders.com instead of Amazon, and keep their books available without much fuss... while enjoying better earnings.

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