Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Ted Tayler – Selling that First Book

Welcome to the Real World – Selling that First Book

by Ted Tayler

On Saturday 30th July, 2011 my friends and family gathered for the book launch at a local recording studio that had offered us their premises free for a couple of hours in return for the publicity. It was the ideal venue for a book about the trials & tribulations of playing in a band.

My wife Lynne provided the catering with help from the family & a good time was had by all, particularly the author, who found he was handling cash and signing copies vigorously for the best part of an hour. All this bonhomie and hearty congratulations and they hadn’t even read it yet! The press took their pictures and made copious notes then everyone made their way home.

On the morning of the 1st of August I was awake, bright-eyed and bushy-tailed and ready to tackle the flood of orders and enquiries that were almost certain to be coming my way. A brief visit to Amazon showed two 5-star reviews had been added which couldn’t do any harm, particularly as they hadn’t been posted by me or members of my family! Just one ‘fly in the ointment’, Amazon were still showing the paperback as ‘Due for release’ and that one could ‘Pre-order a copy’. Hello? Haven’t you looked at your calendar today?

Later that morning I received an email from the publisher with orders. I had to send them to a distributor first class post the same day, so they could deliver a copy to a customer. As the days progressed, I was selling books to friends, neighbours and work colleagues, either on my doorstep or theirs. I was emptying boxes like an end of pier comedian who had been optimistically booked into the Palladium.

The Amazon status on my paperback was still showing the same message and friends & potential customers who had pre-ordered were coming to me direct, saying they were getting emails about problems with stock and they could either hang on or cancel their order. This didn’t make sense, so I contacted the publisher and asked him to follow it up.

After posting off half a dozen copies to the distributors I was also quickly realising the numbers didn’t add up! It had cost me about £3.75 per copy to have the book printed & delivered; then £2.50 for postage to the distributor. The distributors had agreed to pay £6.00 to the publisher for the item marked at £7.99 on Amazon (a pretty standard discount). Naturally, the publisher wanted a handling charge for each invoice he passed to me, so I quickly totted up the figures and realised I stood to lose over a pound on every book I sold via that route. Terrific! This didn’t make sense either, so I contacted the publisher AGAIN and asked him how I could improve things.

The status problem at Amazon for the paperback was never satisfactorily resolved; they said there were problems at the distributors with the ISBN but he wasn’t convinced and nor was I. Then he suggested I set myself up with a Seller Account on Amazon and list my book, with the stock I had remaining, at the original price of £7.99. That way, if customers ordered via my link, Amazon would advise me, and I could download the delivery details for the customer & post it off direct, cutting out the distributor. You can do the sums! I was going to make something on each copy, not a lot, but something at least!

I was successfully installed as a Seller within 48 hours and I checked my account to see if there were any orders. I immediately spotted that Amazon don’t do ‘level playing fields’. On the page where my book was listed, the status had miraculously altered to ‘Temporarily out of stock’ and invited you to ‘Order now & we will deliver when available’ at ‘£7.99 delivered free within the UK’. Directly below was a second offer, my offer, which was listed as ‘£7.99 plus £2.80 postage & packing within the UK’ which was ‘Available now’.

Well, I don’t know about you, but if I read that then my reaction would be to ignore the £10.79 item and keep a weather eye out for the ‘Temporarily out of stock’ status to alter to take advantage of the free delivery? This is when I realised the establishment doesn’t stop at the mainstream publishers and literary agents.

My ‘direct’ sales were still going along steadily and my available stock was down to about 60 so I had an idea! I adjusted the stock level on my Seller Account and reduced the price to £5.20 bringing my ‘total’ offer pretty much in line with the original listing. I was providing a level playing field. Big mistake!

Naturally, as the ‘Temporarily out of stock’ status was holding us back from getting sales by the traditional route, the publisher and I were chasing Amazon to find out why they believed there was a stock problem. I had the remaining 60 books at home and if someone ordered a copy they could have it, even if I was losing money!

I checked the page the morning after I had adjusted my stock level & offer price and guess what? Amazon had adjusted the original £7.99 price which had been agreed with them, DOWN to £5.20 ‘Delivered free within the UK’ without as much as a by your leave! In other words they had re-established the inflated postage differential so that my offer was as unattractive as it had been before!

After a few swear words & a quick email to the publisher I put my price back up and overnight so did Amazon! Welcome to the real world!

Buy Now @ Amazon & Amazon UK & Smashwords

Genre – Crime / Thriller

Rating – 18+

More details about the book

Connect with Ted Tayler on Twitter

Website http://www.tedtayler.co.uk/


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