Sunday, May 05, 2024

Don't Overuse This Word and Get Blacklisted

By Terry Whalin

Words have incredible power to influence and affect our life and work in the publishing community. There is a common word which authors will often use but in this article I want to give specific examples and discourage you from overusing this word and having the retailers blacklist your book.

Years ago when I was on the faculty of the San Francisco Writers Conference, I spoke with a bookseller and learned not to use this word in my conversation. I showed this retailer the first edition of Book Proposals That Sell and in my pitch I told him the book had over 100 Five Star Amazon reviews. Instantly he frowned and told me that he didnt care about Amazon reviews. Yes the single word not to overuse is Amazon.

Instead of touting that you have an Amazon bestseller, you can say your book was a bestseller in _____ category. Instead of saying you have 56 Amazon reviews, you can promote your book has 56 Five Star reviews (or whatever number of Five Star reviews you have received). It is a slight revision but a significant one.

Amazon is a large player in the book retail market but many bookstore people believe Amazon has destroyed their business. The book market has made dramatic shifts and Amazon has been a factor in those changes. For example, at Morgan James Publishing, Amazon accounts for about 24% of our overall business. When I meet an author who has only published on Amazon, I tell them they are missing 76% of how Morgan James can distribute and sell their book. Our books are in 98% of the bookstores in North America including the brick and mortar bookstores. Recently I was looking for a book cover image on one of our novels and the first place I located it was at Target.com. Morgan James sells our books at Target along with over 180 other online retailers.

Give Your Readers Options

When you set up your website and the page to sell your book, what link or links do you include? I was looking at the books from a long-time author friend. He writes a new blog each week and sends it like clockwork. I admire and respect this type of consistent action from any author. Today I checked his book sales page. Each book had a single button that said, “Click Here to Buy on Amazon. He used a publishing company to create his book and I didnt recognize the name of his publisher. Yet he was giving his readers one option to buy the book: Amazon. As Ive been saying in this article, its the one word you dont want to overuse. 

Instead of sending your readers to a single place like Amazon, I encourage you to give them options like Barnes & Noble, Books A Million, their local independent bookstore or getting it directly from you (even encouraging readers they can get a signed copy from you). Its how I set up my sales pages and heres a couple of examples for some of my books. The sales page for Book Proposals That Sell is here. The sales page for 10 Publishing Myths is here. The sales page for Billy Graham, A Biography of Americas Greatest Evangelist is here. The reader is going to buy the book where they normally purchase books. As an author, you want to give them options and dont just send them to a single place. 

A Little Known Bookselling Fact

While on the surface, the community of booksellers looks large with thousands of bookstores from chains like Barnes & Noble and independent bookstores. Most of the sales people for these chains have been in the book business for many years. As a part of their work, they cultivate and maintain relationships with owners, authors, editors and many other people in the industry. These sales people know each other and have developed friendships. On one level they are competitors but on another level they are colleagues. These colleagues speak together and share information. When an author is only focused on sending readers to Amazon, these sales people notice and can blacklist your book from the brick-and-mortar bookstores. According to my recent conversation with David Hancock, the founder of Morgan James Publishing, such a blacklist practice is happening.

Sometimes You Cant Avoid the Word

In 2019, Morgan James Publishing released Steve Andersons book, The Bezos Letters: 14 Principles to Grow Your Business like Amazon. Even before the release date, this book garnered a great deal of attention. The Morgan James foreign rights person sold the book into multiple languages including the highest advance received in this area for a book in the 21-year history of the company. The Bezos Letters has hundreds of Five-Star reviews and a USA Today and Wall Street Journal bestseller. Its unusual for a book to achieve this level of success which translates into many book sales. 

Yet this book could not avoid using the word Amazon. According to David Hancock, “The brick-and-mortar bookstores blacklisted The Bezos Letters from the release in 2019 until this year. Now in 2024, the brick-and-mortar bookstores began to order and sell this title.  The success and continued sales of this title eventually removed it from the blacklist. At the end of the day, retailers want to stock and sell books which will move off their shelves and into the hands of buyers. The steady and continued sales of The Bezos Letters eventually won over the retailers who want to serve their customers and sell books.

What actions will you take?

Ive written this article to encourage you as an author to take action for your website and sales pages. Will you remove the word Amazon in your social media and promotion efforts? Will you give your readers a wide variety of bookstore options to purchase your book? What actions are you going to take? Let me know in the comments.

Labels: , , , , , , , , , , , ,

0 Comment:

Post a Comment

That's the writing life...

Back to the home page...