If we want to change the world, we must start by freeing ourselves from the systems we believe are indispensable to our success. This has already become plain to see in the food, health and education sectors, among others, where the failure of prevailing systems and assumptions has grown painfully obvious (painful both to us and to the planet we live on).
As members of today’s society we are bombarded every day by discourses coming at us from all sides: the discourses of experts, institutions, social norms and bureaucracy.
Many of these discourses, although inevitable, have a single function: to maintain things the way they are, and to reinforce our roles as box-house consumers.
In today’s consumer landscape, many authors still buy into the idea that the only way to make big sales is to be on a big online vendor, or to be carried by a major bookstore. But the reality facing authors and publishers has already outgrown both these assumptions. Big online vendors like Amazon have become congested with millions of titles that make it increasingly harder for honest authors to stand out, while creating an ecosystem in which the less-than-honest have been thriving for years by rigging the system in their favour. Meanwhile, traditional bookstores like Barnes and Noble have been feeling the heat for years and are being forced to downsize in major ways. In both cases, the Wild West of self-publishing has long since moved on to new frontiers.
Doing away with prevailing assumptions
Signing up with a big vendor or bookstore without a creative marketing plan is basically like buying a lottery ticket. And like with the lottery, the only real winner is the institution selling the tickets—in this case, the big vendor or bookstore.
And yet, the dream prevails: that the simple fact of being carried by a major vendor, online or traditional, will lead to commercial success. So anchored is this dream in our collective mind that it’s worth pausing for a moment to consider it in more detail.
Why does the dream persist despite so much evidence to the contrary:
- Publishing houses today publish no more than 1% of the manuscripts they receive
- Bookstores have been saying for years that they can no longer meet the demand of the hundreds of new releases received every week
- Amazon, the largest book vendor in the world, is suffering from its own massive size: every year hundreds of thousands of new authors are listed on its website (500,000 in the US in 2017), creating an ocean of titles in which any honest author struggles to make a mark. This has led to a spike in click-farming scams and scandals, as unscrupulous authors begin to resort to less-than-honest tactics in order to reach the top of the charts (making said charts increasingly irrelevant).
The reality seems so obvious, and yet so many of us continue to chase the dream, assuming that we’ll somehow be the exception to the rule.
The dream persists because most authors have no idea how to sell their book. The big vendors take advantage of this by providing the promise of easy commercial success. The (entirely false) notion that more visitors = more sales works in their favour. But it’s a false equation. It isn’t enough to have exposure. Potential buyers need to be interested, otherwise your title will get swallowed by the biggest river in the world and carried swiftly to the sea.
Rather, a smaller but targeted approach will always provide a better payoff than a wide and diffused one (just imagine a hunter trying to shoot deer from a hundred yards away using a shotgun). A robust business plan, coupled with a targeted approach to your readership, catchy content and a dynamic communications plan can turn your network into a formidable source of revenue. Big vendors, by their sheer size, encourage uniformity. But it’s just the opposite, namely your uniqueness as an author and as a person, that is your greatest tool for shining through and achieving commercial success.
This understanding of the challenges and opportunities facing self-published authors is what guides our work at CanamBooks. We’re constantly looking for new and creative ways of freeing authors from the limitations imposed by major trends and institutions:
- By providing a single place where authors can gather all the tools they need to create a professional-looking book and successfully sell it
- And by developing solutions that bypasses the usual middlemen so that author can finally touch royalty rates the befit their role as the foundation of the publishing industry (without authors there would be no books to publish, a fact that many distributors and vendors seem to forget when laying out their contracts)
In line with this vision, we are proud to announce the launch of an unprecedented commercial solution for authors. We’re calling it the Author’s Website, but it’s packed with way more than your typical author’s site. The crucial addition is the ability to sell books directly through the site, turning it into a veritable online bookstore.
Our Author’s Website makes it possible for authors to sell their books on two continents (North America and Europe), without the use of middlemen who will eat away at their royalties and hijack their publishing process. And finally, authors can expect to receive the royalties they deserve: over 50% on print books and 90% on ebooks.
We’ve been running beta versions of this solution for several months already with authors in Canada, the US and Europe, and so far the results are extremely promising.
And getting authors the royalties they deserve
As the end of our beta testing period draws near, the list of advantages provided by the Author’s Website continues to grow:
- The author can easily and without technical know-how modify the content of his website (text, images)
- We’ve confirmed that production times in Europe and North America are capped at 3 days, which means readers won’t have to wait long to receive their book
- Shipping fees are capped at roughly 5$ CAD (varies depending on currency), because books are printed on demand locally (Canada, US, Europe)
- We take care of managing logistical, production and shipment, which means the author has more time to focus on promoting her book
- Royalty rates are starkly superior to our competitors, and at least 10% higher than what you’ll get through Amazon
- An often overlooked advantage: the author gets to deal with real people. Our team is easily reachable during office hours, to assist and orient authors in their publishing process
- To better adapt to our authors’ needs, we’ve even developed two parallel packages:
CLICK, an affordable package for authors who already have a website. CLICK adds a Buy button to an existing website in order to turn it into an e-commerce site
PRO, a more comprehensive package that involves building an e-commerce website for the author, which he will later be able to modify easily and without technical know-how.
In both cases, authors also have access to real-time sales reports, and they receive monthly royalty payments (Paypal account required).
The time is now
An obstacle is always an opportunity in disguise. Many self-publishing companies have decided to cater to the anxieties and fears of authors, promising to take care of the publishing process for them. That’s basicallly no different from a regular publishing house (the only difference being that the author forks out the money). If self-publishing is to be distinct from traditional publishing, it must continue to place the author at the centre of the publishing process. In line with the essence of the self-publishing journey, we continue to encourage authors to take hold of their futures and take control of their projects:
- Doing away with the middlemen, in order to get the royalties they deserve
- Controlling their online identity with their own site or a site built in their image
- Determining themselves promotion dates and rebates offered
- Widening their market to include other countries
- All the while working from within a community of real people
As the French author Victor Hugo wrote in his own time, a time of turmoil and revolution similar in its intensity to our own: “Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.”.