Building a book (part 2)

Building a book (part 2)

Amazon is it.

There are now two channels for non-fiction books in the USA.

There used to be 4,000.

The second channel is “special sales.” This means sales to organizations, sales at events, sales through your team. It means, most of all, using the book as a method to spread the word.

The first channel, as I’ve already mentioned, is Amazon. For many business books, it’s more than 70% of the total retail sales of a book. That’s up from 1% about twenty years ago.

Most publishers still act as if the dog is the universe of retail bookstores and the tail is Amazon. That a book needs to be scheduled and optimized and rolled out to the retail ecosystem, and Amazon sales are part of what follows.

With the book we’re doing for Defy, though, we didn’t have the resources or the team to build that sort of on-the-ground rollout. So instead, we’re going all in with Amazon. The hardcover and the Kindle edition are the whole bet.

[An aside: I love booksellers. I shop at real bookstores often. I think they’re priceless. I wish everyone would visit one every day, and buy more than coffee when they did. But, alas, the public has made it clear that, for the kind of books I write and publish, the bus has already left the station.]

[Another aside: I’m pausing here, remembering all the years my mom ran the bookstore at the Albright-Knox in Buffalo, and my talks at the American Bookseller Association conference, and book signings at bookstores large and small. A four-hundred year tradition continues, books (particularly kids books and gift books and novels) will be handsold for years to come. But for many categories like this, Amazon is it.]

This brings us to Shawn Coyne’s rule of 10,000: The job of the publisher is to get the first 10,000 books into the world, to prime the pump. After that, the book (and thus the author, through his or her work) do the rest.

We think we can do that with the Amazon platform (and your help). It’s not everything a full-service publisher can do, but we hope it will be enough.

Cat Hoke’s book, A Second Chance, is now officially on-sale at Amazon.

The elegant, powerful landing page was built for us by Zach Obront at Book in a Box. Zach and his team are bringing a new approach and a new attitude to the creation and publication of non-fiction books. By leveraging the power of a single platform, they’re making it easier for people without the experience Alex Peck and I have to build books. Thanks, Zach, for being so generous and volunteering your time and expertise on Cat’s book.