My Experience Working with Amazon Publishing

Amazon Publishing

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Note from Jane: Today’s guest post is from Carol Bodensteiner (@CABodensteiner), author of the self-published memoir Growing Up Country and the upcoming Go Away Home via Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon Publishing.


Unable to land a publisher after I wrote my first book, a memoir, I cast my lot with the indie world. I enjoyed the control, and good sales put money in my pocket. So when I completed my pre-WWI-era novel, Go Away Home, in July 2014, I didn’t even look for a traditional publisher.

Imagine my surprise when six months later an email arrived in my inbox from an acquisition editor at Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon Publishing. I felt like the average teenage girl sitting at the soda fountain counter who is spotted by a director and cast in a major motion picture.

Every author I meet is curious about how that happened and what it’s been like. I’m only a sample of one, but here’s my experience.

How did Amazon find your book?

Acquisition editor Jodi Warshaw told me she was first attracted by the many positive reviews. It was gratifying to hear that all the work I’d done to get reviews—fifty-plus reviews in the first few months—was worth it. When Warshaw read the story and loved it, she contacted me—first to say how much she enjoyed the story, then to talk about whether I’d be interested in partnering with Lake Union, an imprint of Amazon.

Why did you sign with Amazon/Lake Union?

Skeptic that I am, I contacted a knowledgeable author friend to see if this was legit. She told me the only reason not to sign was if I was selling head over heels on my own. I was selling okay, but I spent thirty years in marketing and public relations and knew how much more could be done. Since there can’t be many with greater marketing expertise or a better email list than Amazon, this is what really hooked me.

What happens to a book once it’s acquired by Amazon?51i-N0AHXdL._UY250_

I hired professionals to copy edit, proofread, and design the cover of Go Away Home before I published. I felt good about the book, but I always believe good can be better. Amazon/Lake Union sent the manuscript through developmental and copy editors and a proofreader. I was closely involved every step of the way. Editors suggested; I acted. We talked on the phone and exchanged emails. The editing was detailed and time intensive. I liken the editing to going to the gym. With hard work, I come out a toned, tightened, stronger version of me. After going through this new round of editing, the story is the same, but tighter and stronger. I was pleased with the first edition; I like this new edition even better.

I was involved in the same way with the cover re-design. I provided input to the designer, and we went back and forth through a number of concepts, identifying the right look and feel. Though the original cover garnered reader raves, Warshaw felt a new cover could do a better job of signaling the place in time. Initial reader reactions are that she was right. To see what my readers say about the new cover, check out my blog.

What does Amazon Publishing pay?

My contract with Amazon/Lake Union prevents me from talking specifically about royalties, but what I can say is they are consistent with industry standards. True, I will make less on each copy than I would have as an indie author, but where I would have sold thousands of copies on my own, I anticipate that I’ll sell tens, maybe hundreds of thousands with Amazon marketing muscle behind me. The expenses Lake Union picks up for editing, design, production, and marketing are substantial (all money that came out of my pocket as an indie author). As one example, here is an ROI look at BookBub promotions I ran. At the moment, the trade off feels worth it, but time will tell. The new edition launches on July 7, 2015.

What’s the downside to Amazon Publishing?

At this point, I don’t see one, but here’s a potential stumbling block that Lake Union’s Warshaw brought up: Amazon Publishing focuses on digital marketing. If an author’s main goal is seeing stacks of their books in traditional bookstores, Amazon may not be the right publisher for her. This does not mean that Amazon doesn’t provide physical copies. They do. But they don’t put sales people on the street to fill the shelves.

What’s the upside to Amazon Publishing?

Two things.

  1. Amazon marketing muscle makes me salivate.
  2. People. Because I worked twenty years in a marketing agency, I was used to having specialized experts upon whom I could rely. With Lake Union, I once again have a team working with me. I’m delighted.

What about the next book? Amazon or indie?

My contract with Lake Union is for this book only, so my options are open.

This guest post is from Carol Bodensteiner (@CABodensteiner), author of the self-published memoir Growing Up Country and the Go Away Home via Lake Union Publishing, an imprint of Amazon Publishing. She shares her experience working with Amazon.

Posted in Guest Post, Publishing Industry and tagged , , , , , , , .
Carol Bodensteiner

Carol Bodensteiner

Carol Bodensteiner is a writer who finds inspiration in the places, people, culture, and history of the Midwest. After a successful career in public relations consulting, she turned to creative writing. She blogs about writing, her prairie, gardening, and whatever in life interests her at the moment at her website. She published her memoir, Growing Up Country, in 2008. Lake Union Publishing acquired her debut novel, Go Away Home, and re-launches it on July 7, 2015.

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44 Comments on "My Experience Working with Amazon Publishing"

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[…] Author Carol Bodensteiner answers the seven questions she gets most about working with Amazon Publishing.  […]

RobynBradley (@RobynBradley)

This is excellent! First, congratulations. Second, thanks so much for sharing these insights. Question (and I’ll understand if you can’t answer this): will you be selling the new edition on non-Amazon outlets, such as B&N.com and iBooks?

Leslie

Fascinating post! Love it if you could come back and tell us more of your experience with Amazon a few months after the book releases… It would be great to hear more about their marketing and if it lives up to your expectations.

And many congratulations!

Alexis

Carol – thank you for sharing your delightful story! Can you elaborate a bit about the marketing muscle of Amazon? I mean I know theoretically what that can mean but specifically what will they do for you? When you evaluated this opportunity did they outline what you could expect (target emails to Amazon customers, inclusion in “best of summer reads” lists, etc.). One of the thing I’m frequently baffled by is what people mean when they say marketing because the term can mean different things to different people. Cheers and thanks!

Frances Caballo

What an interesting post, Carol. Your hard work certainly did pay off. Kudos to you. I would have made the same decision … to proceed with Amazon/Lake Union. Who can beat their mailing list? I actually didn’t know that Amazon represented authors through what I imagine is a subsidiary. And yes, it must have been great to work with a team and to help your book evolve. What an experience!

Marcy McKay

What an inspiring story, Carol. Thanks for sharing it with us and best of luck to you!

krpooler

Carol, thanks for sharing the details of your experience with Amazon Publishing. Congratulations on a job well-done. It all started because you wrote a great book that connected with readers. You are such an inspiration!

Trish McCallan
I can answer some of these questions as a Montlake author– Amazon’s Publishing’s romance line. I’ve been a Montlake author with them now for two years and have two books out through them, plus two translations. As for how their marketing goes–every year so far they’ve put my books on the following promos. Targeted email blasts through the first few weeks of release, not just in the US but in UK and Germany as well. The Kindle Daily Deal, not just in the US but in the UK and Germany as well. The new and noteworthy list at the very… Read more »
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bpeschel

This is a great story. Thanks for sharing the details of your relationship with Amazon.

(One side note, I checked out your book’s Amazon page, and the description is cut off in the middle of the sentence. It reads: “Revised edition: This edition of Go Away Home includes editorial “)

Gay Yellen

Such a useful post. Thank you.

Phyllis T. Smith
Congratulations, Carol. I think you went with the right publisher! My first novel was brought out by Amazon/Lake Union in May 2014. They have been great. I never was self-published. My novel was sold directly to Amazon by my agent. They did a developmental edit (very helpful) as well as the copy edit, etc. The initial promotion my book received was extraordinary. They have continued to cycle it through various special promotions on the Amazon site, placed it in Walmart, and have done other special promotions. My agent just sold my second novel to Lake Union, to my great delight.
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[…] Working with Amazon Publishing — Behind-the-scenes with an author who’s tried a few different approached […]

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[…] My Experience Working with Amazon Publishing | Jane Friedman […]

Julie Ellis

Thanks Carol for great article. I am very interested in this topic, especially if I’m not going to hire a personal agent. Of course cooperate with the Amazon is the dream of any young authors like me 🙂

vanessawesterwriter

I would love to be approached in the same way…… fantastic for you though 🙂

Alexandra

If i publish an ebook on Amazon do i still have a chance for a book deal? I am currently working on a book series and don’t want to cut out my chances to get discovered by a publisher.

Jane Friedman

If you self-publish with Amazon, yes, you can get a book deal later. But if you sign a deal with one of Amazon Publishing’s imprints, no—that’s the same as having a book deal. I recommend taking a look at this post for more info: https://janefriedman.com/should-you-self-publish-traditional/

Eric Martin

Hi Carol, thank you for this article. Very informative. Have you since had other acquisition editors outside of Amazon contact you about “Go Away Home” or your other book(s)?

Linda Parker

Jane,
I just wrote my first book and was thinking of publishing with Amazon.
I have a very, probably silly question.
Can you get copies of your book to sell yourself if publishing through Amazon, and what do they charge for hard copies, in general?
I’m also a public speaker, so it’s impirtant I have my book to sell.
Thank You,
Linda
Any help would be appreciated. I don’t even have a cover yet.

Jane Friedman

Hi Linda – If you publish a paperback using Amazon’s CreateSpace, then yes – you can get copies of your book for the cost of printing + shipping. Printing cost will depend on the size of your book, but the average paperback will run $3-$4 per copy.

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