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Amazon -- The New Dream Maker For Authors

Author Michael John Sullivan encourages aspiring authors to make their dreams come true with the help of Amazon

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.

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Josephine Carr September 14, 2012 at 02:53 PM
Michael, The pricing situation with your first book is terrible. What a bummer! I can see the dilemma you're in, and there's little you can do about it! Thanks for writing this out -- as you know, I chose to self-publish my newest novel (Adele, The Rabbi's Mother), despite having had a long career being traditionally published. When I read about your pricing trials, I'm so grateful I took the plunge. All best, Josephine Carr
Michael John Sullivan September 14, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Thanks Josephine! Congrats on your new novel. What is the link? Please share.
Ashley Fontainne September 14, 2012 at 07:20 PM
Michael, What a wonderful post. Very inspiring indeed. I agree 100%...Amazon.com ( through the Kindle Select Program) certainly changed my life! The tools provided and the vast, worldwide audience they reach is nothing short of phenomenal.
Michael John Sullivan September 14, 2012 at 08:05 PM
Thanks Ashley for stopping by to comment. Is this your book? If so, congrats! http://www.amazon.com/Zero-Balance-Eviscerating-Snake-ebook/dp/B008UCRGGQ/ref=sr_1_1?s=digital-text&ie=UTF8&qid=1347653083&sr=1-1&keywords=ashley+fontainne
gae polisner September 14, 2012 at 09:56 PM
Michael, so happy for you, as you know, I'm still in that gray area. I have a publisher and love my editor and am thrilled to have the opportunities I've had. BUT, if I could change the price of my e-book, I'd sell a lot more copies. Frustrating. Frustrating. So glad this new path is working out for you. Great piece.
Michael John Sullivan September 14, 2012 at 10:09 PM
Thanks Gae. Pricing is important today due to the level of competition. I know your book would sell many more copies if the e-book price was dropped to around $5.99. But, I'm looking forward to your next book and I hope we can inform the readers with a review here when it does.
Jason Molinet September 15, 2012 at 07:39 PM
Love this Mike. Thanks.
Michael John Sullivan September 15, 2012 at 08:01 PM
Thanks Jason. Happy to share some thoughts about the new publishing world.
Selena Robins September 16, 2012 at 01:39 PM
Great blog post. As with anything, there are pros and cons to everything, including the method a writer chooses to publish their book. The good thing about the new face of publishing, is that it gives authors and readers so many choices. Whichever way a writer chooses to get published, either self, traditional or small press, they all have one thing in common--to put out a great story for readers and work hard to get the word out. The pricing situation really is baffling to me, Mike, and it's unfortunate that it has impacted sales on your wonderful book, Everybody's Daughter. Perhaps the powers that be that make these baffling pricing decisions for your first book, will realize the books will not move at those prices and do something about it. Hoping they will.
Michael John Sullivan September 16, 2012 at 02:17 PM
Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Selena. The good news is that an author has many options available in the new world of publishing. I've pointed out the promotional advantages with Amazon. I like the idea of building an audience. I'm hearing from more and more authors using Amazon as their direct publishing company. I've been fortunate to have been published by a big publishing house and a small, independent one. I like the idea of controlling the price since now it's a huge part of reaching an audience. Maybe someday they will wake up. Eventually, Amazon will have the right to discount my first book due to the Department of Justice winning their battle over price collusion. It's the only chance to save the first book and help the second.
Dave Bruyn September 17, 2012 at 02:15 PM
Hi, Michael. Thanks for the good information and the prospect of renewed hope. I am a "nostalgia" blogger for the Northport Patch and am considering your advice. I am a newbie and really don't quite understand the details of online publishing (or any kind really). I see that Amazon has something called "create space" and "Kindle Direct Publishing". How are they different and are you recommending KDP? I am very interested in this concept and although I have submitted my work to several sources, I never get any responses, I guess a rejection would be a welcome acknowledgement! Thanks for your help and encouragement.
Michael John Sullivan September 17, 2012 at 08:32 PM
Here's a link to create space. https://www.createspace.com/ This helps you on the print side. KDP is the ebook side. I do recommend first studying the information and then making your decision. Every author has different goals. There are other tools Amazon offers at a decent price to help you promote the book to their kindle readers. I have used this side a couple of times and have seen wonderful results.
Dave Bruyn September 18, 2012 at 01:06 PM
Thanks for you help!
Michael John Sullivan September 18, 2012 at 03:33 PM
Glad to provide some information. If you need more, please feel free to ask. There are many phases of the publishing process. I only got into some generic material.
Ann H Brown September 20, 2012 at 06:12 AM
Thanks so much for this link. As I've shared, I am feverishly working toward a collective account of several, hopefully powerful, experiences somehow blended into one book, or if necessary two separate ones. Your vast knowledge and willingness to share with us is more than appreciated. Looking forward to Book 3. As always so much thanks for your vivacious encouragement. Ann
Michael John Sullivan September 20, 2012 at 02:10 PM
How wonderful, Ann! Wishing you much luck and thank you!
Jennifer Cameron-Smith September 23, 2012 at 05:08 AM
Mike, thanks for sharing ... and good luck! Jen
Michael John Sullivan September 23, 2012 at 06:05 AM
Thanks Jen~ I hope you are well.
Suzan Tisdale October 06, 2012 at 12:09 PM
You're blogging about one of my favorite topics! ;o) I'm a self-published author as well. I never went the traditional route. I love Amazon and how they treat indie authors.(I've blogged about this before, comparing Amazon to the other three.) I've been writing for years, but never shared a word of with with another living soul, I didn't publish my first book until December 2011. I agree that price is one of the single biggest factors of success, especially for an unknown indie author. Because of Amazon/KDP, I am now able to fulfill a life long dream. Because of the success of my books, I will be able to give up my day job. ;o) My last day there is October 26, 2012. October 27 will mark the day I get to begin writing full time. It took less than a year to get to this point in my life. I feel blessed beyond anything I feel I actually deserve and this all still blows me away. I know, without any doubt, that had I gone the traditional route of publishing, I would not have been able to see this dream come true this quickly. It would have taken years, if ever. So that's my two cents. ;o) Never give up the dream, keep writing, and follow your heart. Best wishes to you all! And thanks for sharing Mike! Suzan Tisdale
Michael John Sullivan October 06, 2012 at 02:54 PM
So happy to hear of your success, Suzan! Congratulations for becoming a full-time writer :) A dream for every writer I know! Please feel free to post links to your books, too!
Antoinette Ouellette October 10, 2012 at 03:10 PM
I am an avid reader and one of the biggest problems we have in our rural area is a lack of Bookstores.although our small libraries have linked to allow us a larger range.They have not got any funding for the Kindle...Kobo..nook and so price is a big issue for all of us.I jave been lucky to have received an oppd touch with Kindle app and a Kobo as gifts but filling them was too expensive for me then I found Twitter.I actually had no idea of most of these amazing authors..I now have a virtual library filled with books I would never afford or find in print.Although holding a paperback is still my favorite thing.. I have found about 50 new authors that I will continue to follow and each free book has led me to find anything else they may have written example is Zoe Saadia writing historical fiction on the Pre Colombian Era ..One if my favorite genres is ancient cultural fiction but Also big in Fantasy series and our Librarys lack many of these topics so Whoo Hoo Amazon but now we need to get them to link Uk Amazin to us Canadians and us Nirthern types have less disposable income thank you very much :-)
Michael John Sullivan October 10, 2012 at 07:08 PM
Due to the many millions of books being published now every year, price is a big factor in reaching an audience for many new authors. I would love to buy more books but when the price is not reasonable in relation to the market, I won't. The good news is we are discovering new writers and stories. Thanks for sharing your thoughts.

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