I just received a newsletter from a business advisor I follow; she has written her first book and is in the process of publishing it. In her newsletter she asked this question – Why would anyone publish with Amazon?
It’s a question I’ve had at the back of my mind for a while. In her case she has a problem with the ISBN number she’s been issued with, the same number having been issued to someone in America. I’m still not down the ISBN road yet (but getting closer!)
I’ve thought about the Amazon question though.
Amazon hasn’t quite put the independent retailer out of business yet. In my hometown, they survive because they offer personal service and you can browse the shelves before you buy. WHSmith is in the town (it’s too small for Waterstones) but compared to the independent bookshop they have limited stock available; basically the celebrity writers and the ‘best selling’ titles (also available in at least two of town’s supermarkets.) The independent survives despite this because their stock is more varied; they have local writers do Book Signings, etc. They have footfall.
Whereas Amazon is available from every electronic gizmo I have available and if I know what I want, even in the past titles not available in the UK and I’ve had books sent from America, they will deliver it to my door and increasingly an e-book to my device very quickly. They have a global market too – that’s an awful lot of people who may see your title.
I say ‘may’ because it’s very easy to publish with Amazon; I’ve researched it. Follow their guidelines particularly with formatting correctly and wait a few days and it’s done. The trouble with this is you’re up against hundreds if not thousands, of titles and how can you make yours stand out?
I’ve downloaded free titles from Amazon. Some authors use ‘Free’ to either suck people into buying a title by putting up the first few chapters – if you want to know what happens you have to buy it. Others put up the first title in a series, or a first title, just to capture an audience. If they enjoy the first one perhaps they will seek you out to see what else you’ve written. And some people maybe just publish for free from the point of view they ‘just have to write’ and they have the ego boost of being published and in the public domain. I am a writer! These ideas are credible.
However, some of the titles are really not very good (even if they have been formatted correctly.) I’ve seen inconsistencies in storylines, inaccuracies, very poor English and grammar (I’m not an expert, but it does put me off if it’s not right) and this makes me wonder how, even if a title was exceptionally good and Best Seller material it can compete and be noticed.
I came to the conclusion that whilst publishing with Amazon is easy and cost-effective that at least initially I would prefer to go the traditional route – given I can find an agent and publisher. I want to feel the book in my hand – although I have nothing against e-books, I read them – I just want something tangible, that is quality and has been acknowledged by people who work in the industry and who wouldn’t bother with my title unless they thought it has a potential market.
I suppose it’s down to personal preferences and all options are available to choose from and authors will select whichever route they feel is right for them.