One of the first discussions I have with business people on The Book Adviser program is about how they are going to market and sell their business book. More often than not their response is, ‘I’ll get it on Amazon.’ Why would you do that? I ask. Most have not thought this through so it’s a great opportunity to discuss the whole issue of marketing and selling your business book.

While Amazon might be one channel to market your self-published business book its certainly not the only channel and for my money it’s not the best one either and here are the reasons why.

1. You don’t know who is buying your business book

I have often commented that when you are looking at marketing your own business book you need to build a community way before your book is published. This means creating the mechanism to do this and this mechanism is a good website and linked social media program. When you do this effectively you’ll build awareness of your book before its even published and, more importantly, you’ll build a database of supporters/followers.

If you sell your book through Amazon you’ll have no idea who is buying your book, no chance to develop a strong relationship with the purchaser and no opportunity to develop a potential business lead or increase awareness of you and/or your business brand.

Why would you give away all this critical information when a key part of writing and publishing your business book is about sharing your knowledge and developing a larger, meaningful business network?

2. You lose control of how your business book is presented

Amazon has strict rules and requirements about how you present your book. Just go on and have a look at their site. There’s very little opportunity for you to make your book stand out from the millions of others on the site.

If you develop your own book website (which is pretty easy these days and does not cost a lot of money) you can not only present your book and key parts of it – like the contents page, sample chapters, endorsements, media releases, media coverage – you can also present information you and your expertise in a way that reflects your own branding and values. This is authentic marketing.

And, it means that you can drive all your marketing/awareness activities to your site, again giving you the opportunity to engage potential purchasers who may well be potential clients/customers in the future.

Here’s just a couple of websites by business authors to look at:
Allan Pease
Michael Michalowicz
Dale Beaumont
Tricia Karp

3. You make less money

Self-publishing your business book costs money (see my earlier posts in the series How much does it really cost to write, publish and market your book) so why would you give a significant proportion of the recommended retail price to a third party when, with just a little effort, you can set up your book website to take orders and keep all the money from sales for yourself.

Yes, this takes a little more effort on your part and you’ll have to organise how to fulfil the orders, but this is quantifiable and manageable, but you’ll retain the earnings from your book.

4. Others will and do ‘game’ the Amazon best-seller system

Not all books on Amazon are equal.

I’ve had clients say, ‘I want to have a best seller on Amazon.’ Apart from asking why I explain that there are really simple ways to ‘game’ the best-seller system. In fact there are free resources online that show you how to do this and I know ‘best-selling Amazon authors’ who do this on a regular basis.

Apart from completely de-valuing the whole Amazon best-seller tag, this gaming of this system is fundamentally dishonest in my view and does not serve the purpose of my clients is wanting to share their knowledge and insights and build meaningful, longer term relationships for them and their business.

5. Your business book gets lost in the millions of others

To get great sales from Amazon (or anywhere else for that matter) you have to be prepared to spend time and money marketing and promoting your book. If you’re going to do this, which you should if selling a lot of books is actually one of your objectives, you are way better off driving potential purchasers to your own website where – you guessed it – you can then start developing a relationship with them as you’ll have their contact information.

6. You’re missing the point of writing and publishing your business book in the first place

While some business people just want to say they’re a best-selling Amazon author, those on The Book Adviser program are more interested in and focused on sharing their knowledge to a specific target group and leveraging their book to start, build and sustain meaningful business relationships.

Amazon doesn’t allow an author to do this, they get in the way of establishing that relationship and you lose control.

I was interested to read in the Australian Financial Review earlier this week that Linfox (Australia’s largest privately owned ) has come out and said this very thing. In launching its new fulfilment service Linfox CEO, Annette Carey, commented that: there are some downsides to going to Amazon. Just as you lose control if you go into bricks and mortars stores you can lose control going to an Amazon online marketplace. So if you want to maintain that control you need to create your own “store”.’ She goes on to say that ‘Companies that sell products through Amazon’s online marketplaces do not have control over how much their products are sold for, or how they are displayed on Amazon’s websites, potentially damaging their brands.

Writing, publishing and marketing your own business book takes a significant commitment of time and money. Most business people undertake this journey as they genuinely feel that they have knowledge, a concept or and idea that they want to share with their peer group, across their industry sector or even the world. They want to connect with those who are interested enough to buy their book as the book is one way to help them achieve their bigger goals.

Handing over the control of the marketing, branding, sale and pricing of your business book is not going to deliver the real goals and objectives a business person wants to achieve.

There are other smarter and way more meaningful ways to market and sell your business book than Amazon.