FAQs for the Self-Published Amazon Author: what people think I do and what I actually do

My debut novel, The Little Light, is out in the world. It has made the journey from the Cosmic Womb of my imagination and is now a paperback book. I’m still waiting on my shipment from Amazon, so my sister ended up being the first person who sent me a photograph of my book. 

The full circle moment.

My sister was the one who inspired my love for reading. I read all her books growing up. I have fond memories of reading her Archie Comics under the bed sheets with a torchlight so our parents wouldn’t know we weren’t asleep.

Oh… the good old days.

Anyways, I’ve had a plethora of messages come through since the book came out. Mostly friends and family asking me a range of strange questions that had me bemused as to what they think I do…

Here are their questions.

Is it in the shops?

No, it isn’t.

It was published on Amazon’s KDP program on 6th June. It is available as both a paperback and an ebook. The ebook is available for download on your Kindle device. If you don’t own a Kindle, you can download the Kindle app on your mobile or tablet and read it on there.

Why isn’t it in the shops? I want to get it there. 

If you happen to know of a magical genie that puts books into shops…  I need his phone number. Fast.

A retailer needs to order a certain number of copies based on what the demand is in that particular area. Then the retailer needs to buy stock/inventory. For them, it is not a simple decision of buying a book to read at home. In larger organisations, purchase acquisitions have to go through a whole hierarchy of people before they’re approved.

Many retailers still work with local distribution networks. Each middleman takes a cut – which is why by the time a book arrives in a brick-and-mortar store, it is significantly more expensive. 

In the event that books don’t get sold, they are returned to the publisher – which in this case is the author. (Me!) Self-published authors need to budget for this. 

Can I get it at the library?

Oh dear… that magical genie that makes things happen… His phone number, please?

Libraries have a whole separate acquisitions process. Again, a librarian cannot just order a book from Amazon and put it on a library shelf. To my knowledge, Rakuten Overdrive is the distributor for libraries and educational institutions. 

What is the royalty rate?

It varies depending on the price of the book. You can read more about Amazon’s policies here

How many sales have you had?

I’m not JK Rowling yet. It’s only been a week. Don’t get too excited. 

How much is the print cost of your paperback?

Amazon has a whole post here on how printing costs are calculated

Yes, but how much does your book cost to print?

Can I get a free copy?

Hey – you’re a lawyer, right? Free legal advice? What say you? 

No? Alright, then. 

How about a discount?

Are you going on a book tour?

I’m a new self-published author. The only place I’m touring is the dollar store because I’m investing my own money into my business. There are still marketing and advertising costs to think about.

When is the movie coming out?

What about the audiobook and hardcover?

Be patient. Rome was not built in a day.

Can you help me publish my book?

Give me a call in two years. Oh, and I do hope you have a finished manuscript by then…

Concluding Remarks

For some reason, some of the people around me seem to think I live a very glamorous lifestyle of drinking whiskey and going on book tours. Right now, it’s mostly a lot of time on the laptop. 

Making ads, testing ads, targeting and re-targeting audiences… And I never thought I’d say this, but my tech skills are actually improving. To think I didn’t even have Facebook 5 years ago!

I’m in the process of putting together a ‘media kit’ this evening and it’s quite the arduous process.

I have done nothing but work nonstop for the past four months. 

Fingers crossed that things take off. 

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