In this section:
Online retail now dominates bookselling. In 2015 60% of JHP sales were online, 30% of that in traditional bookstores, 10% to non-bookstores, the remainder to Amazon.
We sell the print and ebook editions of your book on Amazon, your ebook on Apple, Google Play and Kobo, and your printed book on Books etc, Wordery, The Book Depository and on all key online retailers. You may see aggressive discounting between retailers on Amazon marketplace as these online retailers fight for market share.
We also make your book available online through traditional chain booksellers Barnes & Noble, Folletts, Blackwells and many other retailers through intermediaries such as Overdrive. We support smaller local independent booksellers by offering your title through sales channels on Indiebound in US and Hive in UK. These appear in the BUY ONLINE link on your book webpage at http://www.johnhuntpublishing.com. Your book's page will be made 'live' on the website approximately nine months ahead of publication date, once we have edited the descriptive copy and compiled the AI/tipsheet, and prepared the metadata to distribute to the trade and Sales teams.
What will help readers buy my book online?
Readers will find and buy your book if they
Some of these features will be in the book itself, some reach retail sites through our new title data feed to the trade, others you will be able to add through your author pages such as Amazon Author Central. The information you give us on your book pages helps get your book noticed online. This metadata is distributed far and wide throughout the distribution network. Once this has been sent it is very difficult, almost impossible, to retrieve or change. We can access source databases such as Nielsen Bookdata and Bowker and the bigger online retailers, but we will never reach every retailer. At every stage both before and after publication, we can use any marketing and publicity that you are doing to encourage retailers to order books. Please keep adding Marketing Activities.
The metadata information about the different formats of your book goes to the trade in the month after text and cover files are finished. We always schedule a publication date of the last Friday in the month, although we set the release date earlier so as not to hinder sales. We release books to the trade as soon as they reach the warehouses four to six weeks before publication. If stock is ordered earlier than six weeks into our US warehouse, NBN, they advance the publication date which can complicate things. We aim to deliver stock so as not to alter pub date.
NB. You may notice that publication date for your book shows as slightly later on Amazon in the US and Canada than the rest of the world. This is not a mistake: in order to meet deadlines for the NBN Sales Catalogue we push publication date to the first day of the following month (i.e. if publication date in the JHP database is 29 November, it may show as 1 December on Amazon.com). This will not affect your early online sales, and is a method we deem necessary in order to give your book the highest possible chance of success in selling to the North American trade.
These days retail stock control is highly automated, shipping is fast, and books in the distribution chain aim to match reader demand. This means many retailers can keep low stocks and order books from distributors non returnable. Initially big retailers often buy a single print copy from the distributor to switch on systems and seed their hub warehouse. This works well for bigger retailers buying direct from our distributors. However some wholesalers hold large stocks ready to supply these big retailers faster than their competitors. This has meant high returns, which you may see as negative sales on your Financials page.
The number of copies the retailer shows as being in stock is not significant. Big retailers like Amazon pick up several times a week from the distributor. Our US distributor NBN can deliver books within 8 working days, similarly for our European distributor Orca Marston.
You shouldn't be alarmed if your book is listed as Temporarily Out of Stock on your regional Amazon; this only refers to Amazon's own stock. In the meantime your book will likely still be available for customers to purchase through Amazon but from other sellers, such as Book Depository and Blackwell's, by clicking 'New' beneath the large Paperback buy-button and choosing from the subsequent list of sellers.
If you don’t see your printed book available correctly on Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Waterstones, Hive, Indiebound or your preferred retail site, post a query with title and publication date on the HELP forum Sales & Distribution/ Sales Online, and we will follow up. This is especially important around publication day and before any major publicity. These sites restrict authors from accessing and making changes to the descriptive copy for their books, we can do this for you.
If you receive a new review of special note, you can add it to the Editorial Reviews on the Amazon.com, Amazon.co.uk etc. To do this you need an Amazon Author Central Account. For instructions, visit CHAPTER 12: ONLINE SALES AND AMAZON – AMAZON.
NB. Sometimes a glitch on Amazon.com causes a book not to appear in searches. If you experience this problem please go to your Browser History, select Clear Browsing Data and delete your browser cache and cookies. Then try your search on Amazon.com again, making sure to use book title and author surname. If the problem persists please let us know on the the Sales & Distribution/ Sales Online forum.
On most ebook sites your ebook will be available to pre-order one month before publication and can be downloaded and read from publication day onwards.
If you don’t see your ebook available correctly on Amazon, Google, Apple, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, Hive, Indiebound or your preferred retail site, post a query with title and publication date on the HELP forum Sales & Distribution/ Sales Online, and we will follow up. As for printed books, the availability of your ebook is especially important around publication day and before any major publicity.
Ebooks can also be bought and read on subscription. We offer your ebook to subscribers through two services, Scribd and 24 Symbols, but not as yet through Amazon’s subscription services. For $8.99 readers can download from Scribd and 24 Symbols as many ebooks as they can read in a month. They can also buy individual books and download them outright. Revenue is reported on your Financials page monthly.
Selling from www.johnhuntpublishing.com
We offer BUY ONLINE buttons to established retailers on your webpage and earn affiliate fees. We don’t yet sell books direct to readers from our own website.
However we do sell your book on these retail sites:
Google is the world’s biggest search engine. Google sells ebooks and other entertainment media on its digital distribution platform and media store, Google Play, which offers over 5 million titles in 65 countries. In addition to downloading books from Google Play, users can upload up to 1,000 books to the cloud free of charge.
We offer your book for sale on Google Play through the Play Books Partner Centre via the NBN ebook Fusion program. Publishers selling their ebooks on Google Play are required to make the book available for a limited preview. This offers readers up to 20% of the manuscript and aims to mimic a reader browsing in a traditional bookstore.
Google Analytics: Find out if people are looking for your book on Google; how many, what they did, where they went. Use to track traffic to your own website. http://www.google.com/analytics/.
Google Alert: The best way of finding all mentions of your book on the internet is to set up a Google alert with either your name or the name of the book. You then get alerted to any mentions. If you just want to search through blogs, look under “your name + blogs,” and that will bring up any mentions or reviews of your book that have been committed to a blog anywhere.
Google AdWords: we have tried this on a few books and seen a small rise on sales.
Apple is the world’s largest IT company by revenue and the world's largest technology company by total assets. Its iBooks Store delivers ebooks to any Apple device such as an iPad, iPhone or iPod. Apple is fiercely competitive and bans any book which mentions Amazon or contains a link to Amazon. It also censors books strictly and takes down books containing adult content. After Amazon, Apple sells the most ebooks.
Yes, its name is an anagram. Newest of the big four online bookstores, Kobo was founded in 2009 and is owned by ecommerce company Rakuten. Kobo is based in Canada and offers more than 5 million eBooks and magazines in 77 languages to millions of users of the Kobo ereader device and app. Its platforms support popular e-book formats, including EPUB, EPUB3 and PDF. All our titles are available as ebooks on kobo.com but Moon Books sold particularly well in 2015.
The Book Depository
The Book Depository was founded in 2004 by an Amazon employee and sold back to Amazon in 2011. Since 2011 TBD sells only printed books, no ebooks, and specializes in reaching far flung customers in countries outside US and UK. It competes hard with home-grown internet retailers, Loot in South Africa and Booktopia in Australia. Although, any titles ordered by Australian customers from Amazon/TBD are being supplied from UK or US. The Book Depository never order from our Australian distributor Brumby.
BOOKS etc online rose phoenix like from the ashes of Borders UK in 2010. Books etc is based in Hampshire, England and fights hard to bring print books to readers, mostly in UK, from their own website and other online marketplace platforms on Amazon, eBay and play.com. We run regular promotions on booksetc.co.uk including a John Hunt Publishing shopfront.
Wordery is UK book wholesaler Bertrams’ online retail venture started in 2013. It offers readers 10 million titles, in print format only. It sells on platforms Play.com, eBay, Amazon Marketplace and offers free delivery to over 100 countries.
Booktopia is the largest Australian online book retailer, outselling even Amazon and The Book Depository in Australia. It is a 100% Australian-owned online-only retail store selling books, eBooks and DVDs. Based in Sydney, Australia it offers over 4 million books in print and ebook from local and international publishers to readers in Australia and New Zealand. Our distributor Brumby supply Booktopia.
Loot is South Africa’s independent online entertainment retailer. It sells over one million books and thousands of CDs, DVDs and games. Loot doesn’t sell ebooks yet.
Familiar chain bookstores also sell online
Barnes & Noble
The biggest book chain in the US is Barnes & Noble. They sell print books in store and online. They also sell ebooks or nook books for their Nook ereader and tablet.
The biggest book chain in Britain is Waterstones. They sell print books in the high street, on university campuses and online. When Amazon first started selling their kindle ereader in the UK Waterstones raised eyebrows by selling these ereaders in their stores. However, this partnership is now over and Waterstones stopped selling ebooks in 2016.
Printed books are rarely pirated. Piracy of ebooks is more common. Along with most publishers, we do not build digital rights management (DRM) into our ebooks because it would restrict their readability and distribution. Third party stores (e.g. Amazon, Apple, Barnes and Noble) add a layer of DRM that locks the book to a specific user account and device. If you do come across an instance of your manuscript being offered as a free download and you can find a contact email address on the offending site, post this and the URL link to your book on the Help forum in Sales & Distribution/ Sales Online. We will issue a take-down notice to their service provider. Word Press and Youtube are on our side and will take down any offending URL.
One publishing guru we recommend is Jane Friedman. Here is the link to her blog on how to sell books.
Amazon accounts for 40% of all book sales in the English-language market, and is the largest single account, on both sides of the Atlantic, for all publishers.
What we do
We make every edition in print and as an ebook available on Amazon.com and Amazon.co.uk. The print edition will appear for pre-order on these two sites as soon as they receive book details 8-9 months before publication. The information from Amazon.com feeds through to regional Amazons in France, Canada, Germany, Italy, Spain, Netherlands, Australia, Brazil, Japan, China, India, and Mexico, but may not appear on some until publication date or just after. Amazon typically buys 85% of books direct from our distributors NBN & Orca and 15% through wholesalers. NB: To easily locate your title on Amazon please include title and author surname in the search box.
In the UK, Amazon.co.uk accepts two dates, release date when the book is available to order and ship out of the warehouse and publication date which is the official launch date. In US Amazon.com can only accept one date so the Amazon release date is set to match the Amazon publication date, which is first day of the month of publication. This means books can be released to customers in the month running up to the official publication date on the last Friday of the month (ie. a title publishing on September 29th may begin being shipped by Amazon.com from September 1st). This also means that US customers can post reviews onto Amazon.com from release date, four weeks earlier than UK customers (although Amazon.com reviews may be visible on Amazon.co.uk book pages). It takes a little time for all the worldwide databases to get information accurately reflected on their sites. Amazon may include an inaccurate publication date in the beginning, please ignore this, it will correct itself nearer publication. Other idiosyncrasies may occur early on, but should correct themselves with time.
Your Kindle ebook takes longer to appear, Amazon displays details of the Kindle version from four weeks before publication and says “Available for Pre-order. This item will be released on .” Readers can buy and download the ebook from the publication day. Other ebook retailers follow Amazon.
Amazon.com buys non-return from our North American distributor, NBN (National Book Network), at 50% discount on RRP. Omuni Barnes is NBN's dedicated National Accounts Manager for Amazon.com and is able to use NBN's standing to actively sell our books to Amazon.com through Vendor Central, giving us an advantage over many publishers who can only use Amazon as a marketplace to make books available.
Amazon.co.uk buys on consignment, paying 45% of RRP on books sold. We are on the Amazon UK Advantage program for publishers, which speeds up supply and allows us to exchange editorial, sales and marketing information with Amazon.
As a Vendor, we also participate in Amazon Marketing Services, where we can organise advertising campaigns on titles, please see CHAPTER 11: MARKETING ACTIVITIES – ADVERTISING, TRAILERS, PODCASTS.
Amazon.com.au only sells ebooks and audio books, not print.
Since the demise of the Net Book Agreement in UK in 1997 Amazon UK has the right, as does every retailer, to sell books at whatever price they choose. More in PRICE.
Amazon prices are usually below retail price, but can also go above, especially in UK. The price we set for the books though is one thing, the price a Amazon and/or other online retailers might set for it is another. We, as publisher, do not have control over the prices charged for our titles. If a retailer runs promotions and discounts to reduce the price further, later, it is up to them; it does not mean that we are selling them the books more cheaply.
You may also see your book offered at a price above RRP. In 2016 Amazon UK started to implement a policy of not displaying RRP, and have been offering some books at prices £1 or so above RRP. This is their prerogative, we have queried this practice but Amazon are within their rights. This does not directly effect your royalty earnings, because these come from Trade Sales, ie. the sale of your book to Amazon or any other retailer account.
Offering readers a few pages to preview mimics browsing in a traditional bookshop and has been shown to increase sales. We submit all new titles to Amazon “Look Inside” soon after publication date has been scheduled. Readers read random pages from no more than 20% of the text.
What you can do
You can influence availability status and stock levels. If you get your friends and contacts to order from Amazon, your book’s Amazon availability status will rise higher and the book is more likely to be picked up, stocked more and promoted. However, don't place large orders untypical of an average household—and don't let friends do it for you; Amazon monitors irregular ordering activity and will remove your book from sale at the least suspicion.
With well over 30 million books on sale, good reviews on Amazon are the determining factor in selection. With the "Customers Who Bought This Item Also Bought" system a potential reader immediately has a choice. Even if they've looked for yours, they may opt for another.
Another reason why numbers of reviews are important is that it determines which ebook marketing service we can use for your title when it comes to the three-month review. The higher the number of subscribers to the service, the higher the number of reviews needed for selection. So encourage everyone you know to write one. Join one of the closed groups we have for authors, and review other titles coming out in the same month (more on Review Copies in Chapter 11). According to Amazon's policy, a customer doesn't have to have purchased the book from Amazon to leave a review; they just have to have an Amazon account that they have made at least one completed purchase from, and they must wait at least 48 hours after their first purchase in order to be eligible to post customer reviews. The only issue that may crop up is if two people try and post a review of your book from the same computer; as long as the I.P. addresses of reviewers are different there is very little risk of being scolded by Amazon.
Tips on writing a great review on Amazon
To count as a "bestseller", you have to rank in the top 100 for your category. There's more on Amazon categories and how to alter them in Chapter 5: Categories.
The Seller Central program for publishers
Amazon deducts money from sales revenue in return for promoting our titles to customers. We can't influence these promotions directly. If we find out that Amazon have picked your title for a merchandising program such as Kindle Daily Deal, we will record it in your Marketing Activities as an “Advert.”
Amazon offers other publishing merchandising programs. They cost between $5000 and $100,000 and are only worth thinking about once your title has held onto a top 1000 sales ranking on Amazon for a couple of months. These programs are run through our distributors NBN & Orca.
When you look for something on Amazon, you will always see the section of their site that says What other items do customers buy after viewing this item followed by a list of books:
We call these books also-boughts, and if your book shows up here it will drive your sales across Amazon.
If your book is categorized properly, when you look at your book the also-boughts should make sense, and in real life, people who buy your books will also be buying similar ones.
Say you use a marketing website like BookBub to do promotion, and you don’t place your book in a category which is true for it (because the correct category might not be available) you can accidentally destroy your also-boughts, and subsequently your sales.
For example, if you have a thriller and you promote it in a romance newsletter because there is a romance in it, and many people receive the marketing email and go out and buy a bunch of romances and your thriller, then romances will show up in your also-boughts.
Amazon will start promoting your thriller to romance buyers. They will not likely buy your thriller, and Amazon will start thinking your book is a dud and stop promoting it.
You will then see a sharp drop in sales because your book isn’t selling well enough to show up in also-boughts.
Your brand is important – so don’t promote your book on email lists which do not focus on your target audience.
We recommend all authors create an Amazon Author Central account to share the most up-to-date information about themselves across their Amazon books. The account connects your books together in an easy way, gives your readers more information about you, helps you build your brand, gain fans and learn about how to sell more books.
NOTE: Amazon Author Central Accounts are not yet centralised - you have to create one for Amazon.com (USA), one for Amazon.co.uk (UK) etc.
For a great primer for opening an account we recommend reading blogger Jane Friedman's article about using Author Central, where she explains how to claim your Author Central pages and details countries other than the US and UK for which you can activate Author Central pages.
Click here to learn more about what you can do on Author Central US
Click here to learn more about what you can do on Author Central UK
We recommend you to:
Amazon run a giveaway program, but with books it's better to do it through GOODREADS (also owned by Amazon, more in Chapter 15) as it's more likely to lead to recommendations.
There are various programs around offered by freelance PR and self-published authors, which you have to pay to join, which tell you how to create an instant Amazon bestseller.
They revolve around borrowing other people's mailing lists, getting them all to buy your book on the same day, and offering them in return free material, usually ebooks, or vouchers for a workshop, or similar. Treat with caution. It is a bit like pyramid selling, it tends to work for books that tell you how to get rich, and punters want to buy the book to find out, and it tells you to start your own workshops on how to create instant bestsellers. It does not work for our kind of books; do not hand money over for it. Focus on building steady, sustainable sales, with the right kind of people who are going to recommend your book.
Do not worry about short-term movements. It is like the stock market, downs as well as ups. The sales ranking function is programmed to have a short memory. Track long-term trends, if you want to, rather than weekly ones.
There is plenty of discussion on the internet as authors and publishers try to fathom Amazon’s popularity rankings and bestselling algorithms.
If you plan to buy similar books to your own on Amazon, as well as your own, buy them together. It will enable your title to show in the Amazon "Customers who bought this bought these others" section.