The most wonderful part of social media is the ability to make new friends in any part of this world. I’ve been fortunate enough to cultivate friendships with readers and authors. What I’ve learned is that I have a lot in common with other authors – we work hard every day to fulfill our dreams. There are so many talented writers who have yet to realize their dreams. I’ve spoken to many aspiring writers recently about the publishing process. Don’t give up – there is an incredible option for you.
What I’m about to write does not come easy to this traditionalist, lover of print books and bookstores. I have one, simple thought: go with Amazon – Amazon.com is the dream maker for authors.
Let me explain. I can give you my own experiences with the business. Back in 2007, after two decades of fussing around with a story idea, I created the first version of Necessary Heartbreak. I self-published through iUniverse and it did well enough to catch the eye of publishing powerhouse Simon & Schuster.
Necessary Heartbreak was given an April 2010 pub date so I took the time to revise and add more material in it. Looking back on the story two years later, I wish I had waited and polished it even more. However, this is something every author goes through on their first novel. You kind of cringe looking back at it after you write your second book.
I decided to publish the second book of the trilogy, Everybody’s Daughter, with Fiction Studio Books, led by former Avon publisher Lou Aronica. I did so for a couple of big reasons – I could control the price and Mr. Aronica is well respected in the publishing world.
Authors need to be honest, too, about why their books succeed or fail. Necessary Heartbreak has languished for the past two years, mainly due to price over the past few months. The ebook version is priced at $11.99 in the US and $16.99 in Canada. Maybe the economy is much better up north?
Well, whatever the reasons are, my first novel is priced above 99 percent of the other books in my genre including the bestseller The Shack. Needless to say, it has affected my sales.
My problem is the second book, Everybody’s Daughter, is connected to the first book. I certainly did my best to make sure readers could enjoy it as a standalone story. But it does help to have read the first book before you start the second novel.
Realizing this dilemma, I have kept the price low for Everybody’s Daughter at $1.99. The publisher and I have run a couple of promotions through Amazon, which have caused sales to spike for a short while. But analyzing the sales trend has led us to believe that readers see the story as the second in a series, head to the Necessary Heartbreak page, take one look at the high list price, and move on.
In other words, the high price has taken my second novel hostage.
The United States Department of Justice recently ruled in Amazon’s favor on the price collusion between the Big Six publishers and Apple.
Along with the changes in the publishing industry today comes an amazing opportunity for authors: the opportunity to control your entry price point, the ability to utilize many Amazon promotions for reasonable prices, and the chance to reach a huge audience without the backing of a major traditional publisher.
Amazon is interested in YOU building an audience. At a meeting last week, Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos noted that 27 of the top 100 paid books at the Kindle store were published by independent authors through Kindle Direct Publishing. It’s a pretty safe bet that this number is going to grow.
Jessica Park’s page-turning story Flat-Out Love was promoted heavily on Amazon.com’s front page, helping the energetic writer to the national bestseller list. The feisty female with a sharp sense of humor and sizzling writing style has gained an audience now for a lifetime. Jessica’s enthusiasm for her work and belief in Amazon’s business model was rewarded. There are many other examples as indicated by Bezos' recent comments.
I feel a responsibility to blog these thoughts as there are many authors like me behind a computer right now, typing in their heartfelt words, sweating day by day, awaiting just one positive response from a publisher, only to receive rejections in form letter after form letter, leading them to wonder whether anyone actually reads the synopsis they’ve sent.
Don’t wait any longer. Don’t wait for the next fad to erupt on the scene. Make your own dream come true. Write your story. Work with a skilled editor. Pursue a relationship with Amazon.com. Build your audience with them. Utilize the promotion and marketing tools they give to you as the author. Believe. It’s possible to make your dream come true. Many are doing so right now.
Michael John Sullivan is an author living on Long Island. He has published two novels, Everybody’s Daughter and Necessary Heartbreak. He is currently working on the last of his trilogy, The Greatest Christmas. He can be reached at michaeljohnsullivan.com.