Saturday, January 15, 2011

Selling Books in the Amazon (Age).


As readers and writers we live in a period more exciting than a 13th sign, a Mayan end-time, or a Zombie apocalypse—the expansion of publishing channels.  I have been for my entire writing life in sales.  I was an Investment Banker on Wall Street, the owner of a gourmet shop, a commercial banker and a teacher (try convincing high school students that learning Geometry is a good investment of their time and then tell me that’s not a tough sell.)  So, in addition to the craft of writing, I am a student of the business of publishing and, more importantly, selling books.  Writing a book that does not sell is, in my mind, akin to keeping a journal.

In college, I was a Biology major with a particular interest in evolution and physical anthropology.  Like mathematics, these areas of science are more about patterns and progressions.  Perhaps because my brain is wired a certain way, I like to watch, study and sometimes comment on patterns and change in other areas of interest.  The book industry is in the midst of something bordering on catastrophic evolution, as compared to the slower Darwinian type. Borders has hired re-structuring lawyers, small publishing houses and e-publishing platforms are expanding rapidly.  Amazon is a (or is it the) major player in book sales with over a gazillion titles.  Gazillion is a technical mathematic term meaning more than I can wrap my head around. Amazon also has its own e-publishing platform. Will we see the return of the small bookstore and what will it look like?

At the end of the day, the issue is how many books will I sell (someday) or how many will you?  And how will we do that?  One of us may write the great American Novel or just a really good read, but we need to stand out from the crowd.  It is not just the agent’s slush pile that matters anymore; it is Amazon’s slush pile. 

We are responsible for our own brand.  How do we create it and promote it to reader market?  The goal is to reach people who may never have heard of us and convince them to read our book.   What will the marketing channels of the future look like? Will there be any point in signing books in Barnes and Noble or Borders if foot traffic declines?  This may sound exaggerated now, but if current trends continue the book selling industry will be a very different animal before too long.

So as we sit in the Storytellers’ Grove like our ancestors who sat around the fire, please share your wisdom, ideas and thoughts.

For further interesting thoughts on the subject click on one of my favorite blogs Pimp My Novel to your right and read the Jan 13 blog called “A Lesson Brand Management”.

For new members of the blogosphere, click the tiny pencil to share your thoughts.