Are All Your Eggs in One (Amazon) Basket?

eggs in basket2

Source: Google Images

New Priorities

In case you don’t already know, Publishers Weekly sent an email titled “Amazon Deprioritizes Book Sales Amid Coronavirus Crisis.” Amazon is working diligently to prioritize “the surge in demand for household staples, medical supplies, and other high demand products.” Publishers (self and otherwise) are one of the suppliers whose goods (meaning books) will receive a low priority in shipping until at least April 5th. This makes sense; a good decision on their part, I believe.

So if you have your books self-published only through Amazon, this will pose a problem of lost or delayed sales. Hopefully you have listed your books (eBooks and hard copies) with other publishing sites like Lulu, Smashwords, Ingram, and the like. Because my book is published via Lulu Press and distributed to Amazon (and other retail sites), readers can still access my book here. Not a good idea to have your works all at one location, not at anytime but certainly not in this current climate.

Amazon is aware of the negative trickle-down effect of this decision and is working diligently to add 100K new positions in fulfillment centers across the U.S. The good news is that many of those folks out of work (restaurant servers, retail jobs, etc.) will have an opportunity to earn instead of falling into financial ruin or bankruptcy while waiting for businesses to reopen.

Plenty of Options

Which is why I’m glad I’m with Lulu Press. So far, I don’t see any announcements on their site re shipment issues. Not yet, anyway. But I’ll keep watching. 

In times such as this, it’s best not to put all your eggs in one publishing basket. While sales may droop overall, it’s not the end of the world (despite what some preppers may believe). There are plenty of self-publishing sites to list your work on; make a list of which ones would best benefit your genre/s. Widen your net, keep your options open. Put a few eggs in many different baskets.  

Expert Advice

expert advice

Source: Google Images/amazon.com

Listen to The Expert

My professional Inbox contained an interesting article this morning from The Book Designer blog. Written by author and former marketing consultant Brandon Cornett, his article made some good points. While I’ve read most of his how-to advice in other articles, one in particular stuck with me:

“Blog about your genre or niche. If you want to attract the kinds of readers who will buy your books, you should be blogging about those topics.”

Hmmm….

When I started this blog, I figured the focus had to be on writing (genre, research, editing, books, etc.), from an author’s perspective. It didn’t occur to me that I could write posts on a topic in my expertise (which is not necessarily writing). For example, posts regarding my nonfiction book on Chinese nutrition therapy, which I have reserved for my professional FB page (that I’ve ignored much in the past two years). I feel Mestengo Books is not the place to post alternative medicine articles but I certainly can provide some information on where Chinese nutrition therapy is now and where it’s going in the future. After all, I’m an expert (of sorts), right?

“In either scenario, fiction or nonfiction, you’re basically funneling your passion and knowledge into website content that will attract like-minded readers.” 

“But the bulk of your posts should be related to the genre or topic you write about. This will help you boost your book sales over time.” – Brandon Cornett

Some “Experts” are Clueless

In another article, author Anne R. Allen, a satirical writer, posted a vent about “clueless advice givers” – you know, the folks who think they’re experts but aren’t – and who talk like they know when they don’t (and scoff at you when you try to clue them in) . This has always been one of my pet peeves (I’m up against it far too often in any discussion about herbal medicines). I refer to those people as “armchair experts.” It’s a lack of knowledge in a particular area (but a desire to have that knowledge) combined with ignorance, giving the person a false sense of power. There’s actually a name for this: The Dunning-Kruger Effect (1999). (You can look it up but I think it’s ironic that it took so long for two college kids to name a behavior that’s been around for as long as we humans have, probably.)

How Do Others See You?

My business coach routinely refers to me as an expert (in Chinese medicine) though I am hesitant to wear that moniker. A point in my favor is that I have climbed that mountain (five years of didactic and clinical training plus years of clinical work) to reach the top, to become the expert. Many folks dream about being at the top of the mountain without having to first climb, an obviously impossible feat (and looks spectacularly similar to that Dunning-Kruger Effect).

So now I’m thinking about posting an article from time to time that has more to do with nutrition therapy itself and/or the writing of a nonfiction book. Maybe I can write about the research process and how to put it together in a chapter or book. Brandon’s expert advice on blogging about my genre or niche opened my eyes.

Every now and then, everyone needs an expert to do just that.

Serendipity

serendipity

Source: Google Images

Serendipity, defined as fate, destiny, luck, kismet, fortune, coincidence or karma – if you believe in that sort of thing, presented me with an interesting (and not coincidental?) meet this morning.

But first, let me back up.

Last night, the little red battery on my Jeep’s instrument panel popped up while driving home, around 10:30pm. Once parked, I perused the 500+-page manual (a huge pdf on my phone) to find out why. Seems it was telling me there was an issue with low power. Okay… I was taking the car to the garage this morning anyway for an oil change and figured I’d have them check it out.

battery light

The car started no problem this morning and the little red battery didn’t come on. Okay, I thought, maybe it was just a fluke or an electrical fart, used cars can have these issues. About ten minutes later, there it was, taunting me, daring me to continue driving. I arrived at the parking garage of the local Co-op where I have breakfast when I realized I hadn’t had my lights on while on the highway (it was around 7am and still a bit dark). I turned them on just to make sure there wasn’t an issue and BOOM – dashboard lights went crazy and the car died in the parking spot. At 7:15am. When I tried turning the key, all I heard was a ‘click’ sound – oh, joy; that  likely meant the alternator was the culprit and had eaten up the battery power (which would explain the little red battery on the instrument panel).

I called my insurance company and requested a tow – a 45-minute wait. I was surprisingly calm, considering the situation. I decided to forego breakfast and instead gathered a few things from the car that I would need while it was getting fixed at my regular garage, luckily not far from where I was stranded. The tow truck showed up almost exactly 45 minutes later, a jovial fellow at the wheel. The sticky problem was that he couldn’t get his flatbed tow truck into the parking garage, so he had to push my car with me behind the wheel steering, out to the road. (Poor guy; awfully early for that kind of physical demand but he managed wonderfully.)

Fast forward:

I knew there was a Starbucks up the street from my garage so I made for it with the intent of getting an overpriced breakfast and latte. Being a Saturday morning downtown, it’s usually slow (it’s more of a Mon-Fri business district) but hordes of women were piling in and the line came close to running out the door. While waiting for my order, a woman standing nearby struck up a chat with me. Turns out they’re here for a health and wellness convention and she’s a certified nutrition counselor. Hmmm…..

Needless to say, we got to chatting and I told her about my nutrition book, that I’d published three books, taught nutrition classes, etc. She told me that she’s writing a nutrition book (outline complete and chapter 1 in the works) and speaks about her personal experience (she’s lost over 200 pounds) at universities and other small venues. When she explained she was considering self-publishing, I launched into a short explanation of the self-publishing process and offered more information if she had any questions down the road.

We ended up talking for about half an hour and exchanged emails with a promise from her that she’d contact me. I offered proofreading and editing services and also offered to provide her with more in-depth information about self-publishing and traditional publishing based on my twelve years of delving into it. She also gave me the title of book she highly recommends I read, The Four Hour Work Week by Tim Ferris. I recognized the title but forgot that I’d perused this book when it came out and found it to not be a good fit for me. It’s a good book and I recommend it if you haven’t read it; it just wasn’t for me. Maybe something about his writing style, but I found his information useful only if you have a strong financial foundation (meaning you’ve got a good amount of money in the bank to invest or available credit cards with high limits, and I have neither at the moment) and a strong support base (which is important for success in any venture).

Serendipity, For Sure

Anyway, I felt it was a serendipitous meeting for both of us, as it lit a lightly dampened fire within me in regards to marketing my nutrition book and finishing some projects and, it motivated her more to complete her nutrition book. Her light and enthusiasm were genuine and contagious and I hope to make contact with her again. Who knows what the outcome can be, but I’m sure it can only be good. People like her are destined for success and I would consider myself fortunate to be able to go along for at least part of the ride.

Has karma surprised you lately? Have you had an unexpected but positive meeting or conversation with another like-minded writer/artist? Like attracts like, after all; perhaps some folks are just meant to connect.

May you have serendipitous moments in the near future to help move you along your writing path.