Monthly Archives: January 2010

Summing it Up

That title for this post doesn’t necessarily mean this will be the last post, but I think it’s getting close to that point. I haven’t posted in quite a while, largely because I’ve been working on writing another book — another camera guide. This time it’s not one that I’m going to publish mysefl (let alone print, bind, and ship from home!). One very positive result of the Leica D-Lux 4 book project, and one that was not intended at all at the start, was that I was able to use that book as a sample of my writing, and I ended up getting a contract to write a book about a different camera. I can’t discuss the details at this point because of confidentiality provisions in the contract, but it was a great opportunity, though very intense. I’ve been working just about non-stop in every available hour since Christmas, and finally finished my part (I’m writing with another author) this afternoon — unless there are changes to be made.

Now I finally have some time to reflect a bit more about our experiences with the Leica D-Lux 4 book. I know Clenise is relieved that the home-based printing aspect is over. I think she and I both enjoyed some parts of that process, because it was exhilarating in a way, but it was really exhausting and stressful, and it was not at all good for her arm, which she used repeatedly to work the binding machine. Now her arm is recovering, and we’re both breathing easier.

One point I don’t think I made very strongly is that, overall, what turned out to be the system that saved the day for us was the ability to use Lightning Source, the print-on-demand company, to take over, in effect, the whole project. Looking back now, it seems almost miraculous how things have changed.  One day Clenise and I were working ourselves to a frazzle to manufacture and ship the books, and deal with customer-service issues. The next day, once LSI took over, we could sit back and do nothing, if we wanted. I need to do some more work to publicize the book, but other than that, there’s not that much to do. LSI gets orders from Amazon, Barnes and Noble.com, and quite a few other online booksellers, then prints the books and ships them to those sellers very quickly. Every once in a while I log into my LSI account and find out how many books have sold. As of earlier today, the report said they have sold 165 books so far in January — not bad for a small self-published book.

If I were to self-publish any more books, I would not hesitate to set them up from the start through LSI, and get them sold through Amazon, et al. It really is a great system. This whole strategey is the subject of a wonderful book by Aaron Shepard called Aiming at Amazon. Aaron is the guru of this method of self-publishing, and he really understands the print-on-demand business and the workings of Amazon in great depth.

The Kindle edition has been available on Amazon for a couple of weeks now, and as of yesterday it had sold about 12 or 13 copies, I think. Those go slowly, but there’s no hurry.

I still need to do an update for my whiteknightpress.com web site about the firmware upgrade for the Leica D-Lux 4 camera.  I hope to get to that within the next week or so.

Monitoring the Situation

The atmosphere around the house is very different now that Clenise and I are no longer printing, binding, and shipping books. Not that things are quiet or restful – I have moved on to another book project that turned out to have a very tight deadline, so I’ve been working pretty steadily since Christmas. The good news, in a way, is that I have to be done with my draft by about January 18, so maybe there will be some breathing room at that point.

In the meantime, I’ve been monitoring sales of the book about the Leica D-Lux 4. I discovered a way to check on the Lightning Source web site to see how many books have been sold through their print-on-demand operation, and it said that about 215 sold in December, and about 82 in January. That’s not bad for this sort of book, in my opinion.  Of course, those are probably the biggest sales times of the years, because of the Christmas holidays, when a good number of people may have gotten the D-Lux 4 camera as a gift and then wanted the book to help them learn how to use it.

There still are not many reviews of the book on Amazon.com.  Yesterday the first somewhat negative review appeared, saying the book is “not very informative”; the reviewer said he was disappointed based on his expectations after reading the earlier reviews.  That’s fair; I imagine he is a more advanced user, and wanted more advanced advice. But most readers have reacted favorably; I think more of the people who want camera books are looking for more basic advice. Several of them have left me positive feedback through Amazon Marketplace, because they bought the book directly from me through that channel. I hope some of them may eventually leave reviews on the main Amazon site, where more people will see the reviews.

Today I again suspended my Google AdWords campaign, because, at $25.00 per day, the expense adds up very quickly, and I am not sure how much good it was doing at this point. I’m going to wait and see how sales are affected by stopping that campaign.

Starting the New Year Quietly

Things are fairly quiet, as you might expect for New Year’s Day. I have had a few people send me messages through the White Knight Press web site asking how to order the book about the Leica D-Lux 4, so I guess I don’t have that information displayed clearly enough on the site. I will need to work on that at some point. I have put up on the site an announcement that the book is available on the Kindle. The Amazon search engine now finds the D-Lux 4 book, Kindle edition, quite well; at first it didn’t find it. The Kindle edition now has an Amazon sales rank, but pretty far down; the last I checked it was in the 27,000 range. But my understanding is that, once it has some sales rank, that means at least one Kindle copy has sold. That, of course, is good news, because it doesn’t cost anything to produce more copies of the Kindle book.

I realized today that there is a way to check my account with Lightning Source through their web site. I did so earlier today, and found a report that the D-Lux 4 book had sold at least 215 copies since it first became available there in late December. That was pretty encouraging news, since that’s a decent number of sales for just a couple of weeks. I’m not sure, though, if that figure includes the 16 books I ordered for myself or the 16 books I had shipped to camerabooks.com in Oregon. But even without those 32 books, the sales total for December 2009 would not be too bad.