Aiming At Amazon by Aaron Shepard

Aiming at Amazon by Aaron Shepard is recommended as one of the must read books on the subject of self-publishing in several of the other books I’ve read on the subject.  Shepard is widely considered to be a POD (Publish on Demand) guru.  He makes his living from writing and publishing, not from auxiliary activities like speaking.

Aiming at Amazon has a wealth of information in it.  It was a useful read, and may prove even more useful if I decide to self-publish, since much of the information was very specific and detailed about how to utilize Amazon to your best advantage.

Shepard focuses all his efforts in one direction:  selling POD books on Amazon.  He doesn’t “Kindle-ize them because Kindle sales are reported separately from print sales, and sales rank determines how much internal promotion a book gets from Amazon.  It’s a snowball effect:  the better a book’s sales, the more likely it is to be recommended, generating more sales.  Shepard doesn’t believe in diluting his efforts.  (It reminds me of what Mark Twain said, “Put all your eggs in one basket and WATCH THAT BASKET!”

In addition to technical matters, Shepard covers the up front issues of how to format your book and cover, and how to choose your title, as well as including interesting tidbits of info.  For instance, an Amazon sales rank of 5,000 translates to sales of about 250 books/month.  A sales rank in the top 10,000 is considered excellent.

It was nice to have my own research into CreateSpace confirmed, “Since its parent company [Amazon] owns the presses, CreateSpace can and does undercut the per copy costs of other self-publishing companies.”  Although he prefers Lightning Source, Shepard writes,”. . .CreateSpace offers most self-publishers the best balance between convenience and profitability.”

While Shepard’s book is aimed (sorry) primarily at authors of non-fiction, a fiction writer can benifit from this book as well.  I think I would have been more impressed with it if I hadn’t already read several books on the subject.  Still, I like gathering a lot of infomation to munch on before I make a major decision, so this was a worthwhile read.

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