Amazon.com is a huge factor in my publishing experience, so I’ll talk a little about some aspects of my interaction with Amazon. There are some things not to like about the company, but on the whole my connection to it has been a tremendous benefit.
The main benefit comes from the fact that I can get my books sold through Amazon without jumping through a lot of hoops, using the direct distribution that comes from having the books printed by Lightning Source, Inc. (LSI). I spoke about that system several months ago, but it’s worth repeating — for self-publishers or small, independent publishers, an excellent way to get your books distributed with a minimum of effort is to sign up with LSI, a print-on-demand company, which prints the books as orders come in from Amazon (and others, such as BN.com, the online arm of Barnes & Noble). All the publisher has to do is sit back and collect the proceeds — whatever is left over after the printing costs. Of course, there’s a good deal of work to do up front. Anyone who is interested in pursuing that option should get copies of Aaron Shepard’s two excellent books, Aiming at Amazon and POD [Print on Demand] for Profit.
Once the books are available through Amazon and other online retailers, it’s hard not to become somewhat obsessed with tracking their progress. For example, I find myself going on Amazon several times each day to check my books’ sales ranks. It may be somewhat of a waste of time, but it does give me some idea of how well the books are selling. For example, the newer of the two recent books, Photographer’s Guide to the Panasonic Lumix LX3, is starting to catch on somewhat after being available for about a month. It’s now available through Amazon.co.uk, the United Kingdom site, as well as Amazon.com, and its sales rank is now sometimes in the five digits, rather than the dreaded six digits. The other book, Photographer’s Guide to the Leica D-Lux 4, continues to sell some copies, though both books are probably nearing the end of their most substantial sales, as the cameras they discuss are being superseded by newer models. (The new Leica model is anticipated, but not announced yet; the new Panasonic model, the Lumix DMC-LX5, has recently started shipping in Canada and the United Kingdom, but not through U.S. dealers quite yet.)
That’s all for now. I need to talk about customer reviews on Amazon; I’ll try to get to that topic in the near future.