Thursday, August 31, 2017

How much could you afford to lose?

Well, we’ve reached the end of August. It snuck up on me, so I haven’t even decided what we’re going to discuss next month yet. You’ll find out on Tuesday, don’t worry. I’ll hopefully figure it out before then. ;-)

For our last post of August, our last discussion on the beast that is Amazon, I want to talk to you about costs.

How much could you afford to lose?

Did you know that authors only really make money off their books if a significant number of books are sold? Seems like an obvious thing, something that you all should know, and yet more and more I wonder if people even think about the authors behind the books. We’re all out for a bargain, a deal, a good price, without even considering the fact that someone put a lot of hard work into this book, and that they won’t really be able to make anything off their work if we buy it at bargain price, years after it came out.

See, authors make royalties based on the sale price, so if you buy the book at a low price, they’ll receive pittance of a royalty—and royalties are really the only money that authors make off their writing. Low royalty, low return, low incentive to try with another book.

That right there is the problem.

If you really want to support the authors behind those books, if you want to make sure that they never stop releasing work, then you really should be buying their books at list price, right around the time the book comes out.

And I know how difficult that can be. Believe me, I do. I’ve penny pinched, I’ve saved my pesos, and yeah, I know how expensive books can be. But I also know how important it is to those authors, that you buy their books asap. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have time to read it right now, or even if you don’t know when you’ll get around to reading it. Just buy it. Support your favorite authors. You’d do it for big name authors, so why not do it for the little guys too?

If you’re not convinced, which I know some of you aren’t, then let me at least talk to you about why you shouldn’t be book shopping at Amazon.

First thing’s first. Your main arguments, I assume, are that Amazon has the best prices and that you’ll have your books on your doorstep in two days. Allow me to refute those.

Amazon’s two-day shipping system is failing. Slowly but surely. Have you noticed lately that when you order something on a Wednesday, with Prime Shipping, it’s not scheduled to arrive until Monday, even though they now offer Saturday delivery? But hey, if you ordered it from B&N, it’ll ship tomorrow and get here around the same time that your Amazon package would’ve.

Oh, but Amazon has free shipping? So does B&N, if you sign up for an account. It’s only $25 a year. Besides, do you really need your books to get here that quickly? If you did, then why didn’t you just go to a store and get them? Then you’d have them now, without having to wait for shipping at all.


Plus, if it’s the price you’re worried about, let me remind you of something. Barnes & Noble is only ever a few cents higher in cost than Amazon, and they have a much better system for paying the publishers and authors who back them.

Why’s that? Because B&N knows that they’re in a business that needs to work with publishers and authors, rather than against them. B&N knows that if they push prices too low, publishers will crumble and authors will give up. They don’t want that. None of us want that.

Oh, and just as an added consideration for you, most local bookstores actually have very competitive prices on your favorite novels as well. So no, you don’t have to go to a big name store. You can go to the cute little bookstore next to the coffee shop, and have a much better experience than you would’ve had anywhere else.

You have options, my friends. If you’re insistent on finding the best deal, you still have options. If you’re like me and you want to make sure authors get paid, yeah, you have options for where you get the book. You get to decide who you give your money to, what part of our economy you want to help.

Personally, I’d pick the backbone of America. We’re not the United States of Amazon. This isn’t Amazon’s world.

Make up your own mind.



Tuesday, August 29, 2017

Sales Stealer

It’s finally the last week of August! This month has been insanely long and has led to some very interesting situations for me, but it’s been a good month, nonetheless. I hope you’ve all been learning a lot from this series. I know it hasn’t exactly been the easiest topic to focus on, but from the response I’ve gotten, it sounds like it was something you all needed to find out more about. I’m glad to have filled that void for you.

This week, I have two things to talk to you about, that I want to remind you of, because you really should know them already.

Amazon Takes Sales from Everyone

If you didn’t know that, you really must’ve been hiding under a rock for the last few years. I don’t know anyone who doesn’t shop on Amazon. Know what that means? Those people are not shopping other places. So money that would normally have been spent in shops or stores in town is now spent online, and it all goes to one big company: Amazon.

That’s not a good thing, unless you’re Amazon.

See, our economy was not designed so that everyone would shop in one place and give their money to one store. It was intended that people should shop at many places, that small businesses would receive a very large portion of people’s spending dollars. The United States was built off small businesses. It’s our backbone. We even have systems in place to prevent monopolies, so that small businesses can still afford to operate. (I’m going to try really hard to not make this political… but man I have opinions on this stuff) Cities operate on businesses: small, medium, and large. But if everyone is taking their shopping to Amazon, then those businesses that keep your city running… well, they struggle.

If you’re a constant Amazon shopper, you’re contributing to that struggle.

The thing is, Amazon is convenient. They give you two day shipping if you pay them a large stipend once a year. You can shop in your underwear, whatever you want.

But many small businesses now allow you the same thing, or very near to it. Sure, you’ll have to pay for shipping, but here’s the thing: you’re paying for shipping if you’re paying for Prime. That’s what that big payment is. You’re paying them to ship things for you. And if you’re like me, and you really only buy a few things there in a year, then you’re not getting your money’s worth. And, let's be honest, you have to get dressed to go to work, so why not go shopping while you've got your clothes on?

Let’s take this to the publishing scene.

Do you know how many bookstores there are in your city? How many of them have you been to? Which ones do you shop at? Can you even answer those questions?

Sure, Amazon is hurting a lot of companies with their sales strategy, but do you know how badly they’ve hurt the bookstore industry? Thousands and thousands of local and privately owned bookstores have been forced to close their doors because people would rather buy their books from Amazon than from a local store.

We should never have allowed that to happen.

Oh, and by the way, in my experience Amazon has not been packaging their books properly anymore, so the majority of them that I’ve ordered in the last year (before I stopped altogether a few months ago) came damaged. So if you’re one of those people who orders books because you can’t trust the store to find you an undamaged copy, please realize that Amazon won’t guarantee an undamaged copy either.

We need bookstores. We really do. People love to read, and I know lots of people who prefer to go to a bookstore rather than shop online,. You’ll find a million more options in a store, options that Amazon’s algorithm won’t show you, options that you wouldn’t find if you were to do a Google search. So why not go to a store?

The moral of the story is, we need to be shopping local. We need to be taking our business to other stores, other businesses, and set Amazon aside for a while. If we keep giving them 100% or even 50% of our book sales, we’re putting more and more local stores out of business. We’re hurting our local economy, and in turn, our national economy. 

What's more, we're hurting the authors behind the books that we love. 

Let’s not let that happen.


{Rani Divine}

Thursday, August 24, 2017

It's a Business (Welcome to the Jungle)

Hey guys! Thank you all so much for checking in today! I have a very special guest blogger in today, from RAD Writing. I hope you learn something from what she has to say. If you guys like her, I'll have her back on as a guest every so often. :)


Welcome to the Jungle

Or at least jungle adjacent. 

So you’ve finally picked the virtual nits off that manuscript, run it through an editing comb or fifty, slapped it between some glossy royalty free cover art and gotten your fan base to trade signed copies and free editing of term papers for life for a gushing review. Your blog is up, you have a Facebook page and you even managed to crop a headshot that takes ten years and ten pounds off your face. Well boy howdy. You may be an author. Now all you need to do is sell the 500 copies you keep tripping over in your basement. Hey, here’s a thought: Amazon! Everybody sells on Amazon, right?
Sure they do, at least theoretically.

And therein lies the burr betwixt the galloping stallion of success and the happy saddle blanket called your book. While everyone CAN sell on Amazon, not everyone does. My book’s been on Amazon for nine years. Ask me how many I’ve sold. Go ahead.

You see, everybody sells EVERYTHING on Amazon, and Amazon is in the business of making money off stuff it sells. Just like you. Wait, what? You’re just an author? You’re not a business person? Well permit me to show you the error of your dreamy little writin’ ways. If you want to sell the book you have written; then you must consider yourself a business person and your writing is your commodity, your product. And the simple truth is, Amazon is not going to help you do this, just like Walmart doesn’t help you sell those cool table mitts your gramma knits. Nope. Amazon is going to let you set up an account with specific parameters, enter your information and charge you money to use them for potential reader’s access to you. And that is ALL they will do. Truth is, your gramma will probably sell more books on your behalf and she won’t charge you a monthly fee to do it.

I get it. You’re excited and you want everyone to read your tome; but if you believe in your work that much then do the right thing the right way to get it in front of readers. Get online. Seek out local book fairs, arts and crafts festivals, local bookstores and small publishers. Many of these entities will allow you to show off your talent by selling your book on consignment, allowing you to set up a booth, schedule a signing or reading etc., or they will sell through their own mechanisms and actually work to market you. It’s called networking and it’s something business people do. Get some business cards made up and some touch cards with your book title and hand them out everywhere to everyone with YOUR email contact and your website. Many websites allow payment buttons for product sales and if you have a site, you probably already have this option. Consider Square software and take credit card payments using your phone. The ideas are endless. Amazon isn’t the only game in town. Trust me.

So dream big. But don’t be afraid of small starts. It’s very simple. If you are an author who sells books, you are a business person. Don’t pay a faceless entity your hard earned income to do something you can do better.

Need help? I know some great people at RAD Writing who can assist you. They’re authors, just like you. And they’re business people. With machetes. We can lead you out of the jungle.


Tammy Boehm,
Associate Editor, RAD Writing