Amazon Bestseller Day How Many Books Is Enough? Part 5

Sandy Nathan, award-winning author of Numenon

Sandy Nathan, award-winning author of The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy, Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could, Numenon & Stepping Off the Edge

“How many do you think we’ll sell?” my husband asked. We were slogging our way through an Amazon Bestseller Day campaign one crisis at a time. The latest concerned the supply of our book on Amazon.

If you are published by a major press, you can tell your publisher what you’re doing and they’ll handle this part for you. (I guess–-don’t really know. Any of you readers published by the majors and a veteran of an Amazon Day? Let me know.)

Some of the POD publishers tied directly to Amazon will just churn out the number of books you need, as they are sold. No sweat on your end––just promote your book like crazy and don’t worry about Amazon’s supply.

But if you are the classic small press, creating and printing your books, finding distribution for them, managing warehouses, invoices, outvoices, screaming voices and hearing voices, like we do, getting your books to Amazon is more problematic.

First off, you don’t call up your Amazon rep and say, “I’m having this event––can we send over a few hundred (or thousand) books to you?”

You have no rep on Amazon. You may be able to find a contact email on your Amazon Advantage page. Or not. It’s there somewhere. [2011 update: I think they may have made it easier to contact them now. I don't know about getting a response, but easier to contact.]

“How many do you think we’ll sell?” my husband asked again, laptop open. He’d found some relevant information on the Amazon site. “Because if we don’t sell them, Amazon will ship them back to our warehouse at our expense.” Big problem.

Let’s do numbers. If you have an Amazon Advantage account, that means you sell your books to Amazon at a 55% discount. My book, Stepping Off the Edge, has an $18.95 retail price. A 55% discount means that we get 45% of the retail price per book sold, or $8.53 per book.

That sounds pretty good––except that that $8.53 has to cover all the costs of writing or acquiring the book; writing copy for the cover, press releases, and ads; designing the book’s cover and interior; printing it; shipping books from the printer to the warehouse; warehousing; shipping books to Amazon from the warehouse; advertising; publicity; and the bazillion more costs of running a small press, including stamps and your stationery. Oh, yeah, also include the cost of designing the pretty logo you had made for your company. AND the cost of creating and maintaining your web site. Plus electricity, your office––you know, everything . . .

$8.53 a book won’t provide enough profit to feed your cat. That’s why you’re doing the Amazon Day. (And you really need the IBPA–Independent Book Publisher’s Association, the largest trade organization for small presses. Go there and join!)

Not only is the publisher’s profit per book minimal, Amazon has warehouses all over the country. If your warehouse is in the Midwest and you get a sale in Alaska, Amazon will fulfill it from their closest warehouse. Your Midwest warehouse will get an order for one book to be shipped to their closest-to-Alaska center at your expense. There goes any possibility of profit.

(One thing you can do if you’re persistent and resourceful is petition Amazon to order a box of books, 22 or so, or even more, at once and let Amazon ship them around internally. Shipping costs of that quantity of books can be covered by sales. But they tell you if you can do this––when they want to.)

“They’ll ship whatever we don’t sell back at our cost.” That hung us up. How many would we sell?

I emailed Irene Watson at ReaderViews and got a range of the number of books sold from other Amazon Launches she’d run. It was a huge range which yielded nothing in terms of what we’d sell. Okay? Did we do a “The Secret thing” and visualize a big success? Do affirmations? Or did we go pessimistic?

Or did we acknowledge reality? I thought, “Sandy, you were an economist for years and years. There’s no way to predict what you’ll sell.”

We stalled there. “Let’s think about this and get back to it later.”

Good idea. We still had a couple of weeks  until the Big Day. Maybe it would come clear.

Did I tell you you can’t contact Amazon and tell them to order your books? You have to get a purchase order from them, ALLOWING YOU to send books, and telling you how many you can send.

How do you do that? Uh. You find that magic email contact on the Amazon site, request a case number, and they get back to you.

WINNING IS EASY WHEN YOU KNOW THE DRILL!

WINNING IS EASY WHEN YOU KNOW THE DRILL! Barry Nathan & Capoeira BSN, our Peruvian Paso stallion, won Champion of Champions Performance Stallion at La Bahia Show in Watsonville, CA

I left this knotty area and went back to searching for sponsors with big email lists. I’d bought all the books, e-books and such that I told you about on my first post of this series and knew what I was doing, finally.

I’m saying it again: If you’re thinking of doing an Amazon Day, click back to part 1 and buy those resources now.

It’s a numbers game, it’s all in the number of people who get your invitation. Winning is easy when you know the rules. Go for it!

All the best,

Sandy Nathan
Who kept going and by 2011 was the winner of seventeen national awards for her books

Sandy’s  books are: (Click link for more information. All links below go to Kindle editions.)
The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy
Numenon: A Tale of Mysticism & Money

Tecolote: The Little Horse That Could

Stepping Off the Edge: Learning & Living Spiritual Practice

Two sequels to The Angel & the Brown-eyed Boy are in production with an early 2012 release date planned. If you liked  The Angel you’ll love Lady Grace and Sam & Emily.

SERIES INDEX:
Amazon Bestseller Day 1–Bestseller or Bust
Amazon Bestseller Day 2–Forget Your Own Marketing Ideas
Amazon Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors!
Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework
Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon
Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List
Amazon Bestseller Day 7–Blow by Blow of THE DAY
Amazon Bestseller Day 8–Was it worth it? Post-game Recap

2 Responses to “Amazon Bestseller Day How Many Books Is Enough? Part 5”

  1. [...] Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors! Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List Amazon Bestseller [...]

  2. [...] Bestseller Day 3–Get Top Sponsors! Amazon Bestseller Day 4–Recap of 1-3 + Do Your Homework Amazon Bestseller Day 5–How Many Books Will You Sell/Dealing with Amazon Amazon Bestseller Day 6–It’s a Numbers Game: Have a Giant Mailing List Amazon Bestseller [...]

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