Amazon: the double-edged sword of marketing

a/k/a Lulu’s secret advantage

Everyone wants to see their book on Amazon. It’s a good thing. But it isn’t everything.

There is a popular myth that, if you want to sell your book, it has to be on Amazon. There is a good deal of truth to that. Being on Amazon is like a badge of honor.

Who doesn’t have an Amazon Prime account, these days, especially if you buy books? And, if you buy books at all, you probably have some flavor of an Amazon account.

And, authors do sell books on Amazon. Obvi.

I promised to share with you how to use Lulu to your best advantage. So, here goes the tip of the iceberg.

First of all, everything is pretty even between Amazon and Lulu, except for Lulu offering a few more printing options.

The biggest difference is that you earn higher royalties on Lulu books, when readers buy directly from Lulu. But, the same books can (usually) be simultaneously distributed through Amazon.

So, you’re adding to your distribution, by publishing through Lulu and distributing through other sources as well–from Lulu. You’re not eliminating Amazon or other outlets.

Possibly the most effective way to guide customers to buying through Lulu is to send them emails or to use landing pages. The biggest drawback of Lulu is that they do not offer free shipping.

But, you’re also not paying $99/year to get “free” shipping that you enjoy with Amazon. Free is never actually free.

Since Lulu is going to net you higher royalties anyway, adjust the list price to be competitive with Amazon prices by setting your Lulu list price (with shipping) to the Amazon price with free shipping. Play around with it.

Ultimately, you need to decide which is better for you.

  • Is it better to have your book listed exclusively on Amazon, where you are buried so deep that no ever finds you? Free shipping doesn’t matter much if you are selling ZERO books, right?
  • Is it better to publish on a site like Lulu where you can also distribute on Amazon but earn a little more of a royalty on each book from those who buy directly through Lulu?

It doesn’t make much sense to write a book no one is ever going to find. It could be the best book in the world but if no one knows about it, why did you write it?

If no one buys it, why are you writing another?

The logical thing to do is find the book format that best meets the needs of the individual book you are about to publish. This book. Right now.

That may not be the case for your next book. And, that’s okay.

Publish it any way you want. Distribute any way you want, but don’t forget you can sell directly from most publishers—plus still sell through Amazon and Barnes & Noble.

The important thing to know is that you still have lots of work to do after “The End.” It’s just a different kind of work.

You need to find your readers. You need to communicate with them. You need to sell through their favorite store—unless you can match price, shipping, convenience, or whatever deep need is going to turn them into a paying customer.

You need reviews. But, how do you get a book review?

You send a free copy of your book to a reviewer who looks at every aspect of the book: the content, the writing style, the presentation, everything that goes into making a book into a book.

hack There are professional review sites that accept self-published works. Publishers Weekly has a separate site just for self-published books. It is called Booklife and you can find submission information online at Booklife. They will even review e-books.

If you have to ask whether you should include return postage or an invoice, you probably are not mature enough as a writer to consider requesting reviews. Perhaps you need to learn more about marketing books before leaping in.

As Jay Berkowitz said in The Golden Rules of Online Marketing, “If you build it — they won’t just come.”

My sage advise is not to avoid Amazon. It’s to add to Amazon.

So get out your sword. Marketing can be a battle.

 

T::F::W::F