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191 of 194 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mayra Calvani--Midwest Book Review
In his latest book, Aiming at Amazon, Aaron Shepard proposes a revolutionary way to easily self publish your non-fiction work and market it successfully.

No, this is not one of those books that will teach you how to become an instant Amazon Bestseller. What Shepard suggests is much more ingenious. While becoming an instant bestseller may appear glamorous, the...
Published on February 16, 2007 by Amazon Customer

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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good advice on selling books on Amazon
Additional comments added 1-2-08 (*****)

I am leaving in my original comments (see below) because I do still feel the same about Search Inside and the cover, but now that I've had a chance to apply some of Aaron Shepard's other suggestions, I would rate the book higher.

His suggestion on using TitleZ for long-term analysis is very useful. Also, I...
Published on November 29, 2007 by Kara Lane


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191 of 194 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Mayra Calvani--Midwest Book Review, February 16, 2007
This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
In his latest book, Aiming at Amazon, Aaron Shepard proposes a revolutionary way to easily self publish your non-fiction work and market it successfully.

No, this is not one of those books that will teach you how to become an instant Amazon Bestseller. What Shepard suggests is much more ingenious. While becoming an instant bestseller may appear glamorous, the effect of this marketing trick lasts little compared to a real bestseller with good steady sales over a long period of time. Furthermore, the author's innovative technique includes ignoring--yes, totally disregarding--bookstores. With this plan, your aim will be selling your book via Amazon only. While this method may appear a little extreme, there's a beautiful simplicity to it.

Shepard demystifies distributors and wholesalers and offers you a practical, step-by-step plan on how to become your own small press, print your book, and sell it to the public via Amazon. He explains why it's important to stay away from subsidy companies that use print on demand, and he takes you right to the POD printer itself--Lightning Source--saving you an infinite amount of money in the process.

Some of the topics discussed include: choosing POD for printing your books, researching the market, designing and layout, cover design, setting up accounts with Lightning Source and Amazon, Amazon marketing tactics, and getting reviews, among others. In sum, everything you need to know to become your own press and start selling your book online.

Whether you live in the US or in another part of the world, this is an important book to read if you plan on self publishing a non-fiction book, as Shepard also offers valuable information for those living abroad. Written in Shepard's friendly style, Aiming at Amazon is a must read for anybody who is considering self publishing without too much hassle or expenses.
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64 of 66 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A story about the whole new world of print on demand and online bookselling which is an alternative to traditional publishing., March 25, 2007
This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
What a story! What a book! It used to be that a consultant or coach would seek out a publisher to put his "credibility piece" before the masses to see and read. Now a consultant or coach can still do that, but they would be foolish to do it often after reading the instant book. By reading this book you will hear the author's story regarding how he became successful (and what he did) as a self publisher using print on demand resources and focusing his efforts at using Amazon's Web site as a key marketing tool. He recommends that bricks and mortar bookstores should not be sought as distribution channels for his (or your) texts. And after reading the book I understand why.

The instant book is an example of what a print on demand (POD) book looks like since it was written, produced and sold using the very techniques described in it. It's not like the reader of the book is reading about theory - he is holding an example of what he is reading about.

The book is divided into four parts:

1. Publishing for Profit

2. Building Your Book

3. Meeting the Market

4. Finessing the Future

I cannot say I had a favorite part. I liked them all equally because I am not well-versed on the publishing industry. Therefore, I learned a great deal about putting together a book not intended to be sold in digital format. I also learned that it is not all that hard to put together a great self published book and have it be successful. The author seems to want to publish his works in order to profit primarily from them. I think that is great, but I highly recommend anyone who wants to publish their works to boost their consulting or coaching practice get a copy of this book and study it. In many ways it is easier to create and market a book for a consulting practice than to market the practice itself. And a successful book or books tied to a consulting practice can make that practice very lucrative. I'm going to have to read it at least one more time for it all to sink in. The book was packed full of content. 5 stars!
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46 of 47 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good advice on selling books on Amazon, November 29, 2007
This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
Additional comments added 1-2-08 (*****)

I am leaving in my original comments (see below) because I do still feel the same about Search Inside and the cover, but now that I've had a chance to apply some of Aaron Shepard's other suggestions, I would rate the book higher.

His suggestion on using TitleZ for long-term analysis is very useful. Also, I was also able to come up with additional suggestions to give Amazon for BISAC codes by using the website he referenced. Additionally, I have now done So You'd Like to guides and Listmania lists and they do attract a surprising number of viewers, as he notes. I am working on adding search suggestions, so I don't know the impact of that recommendation yet, but it looks promising.

It should be noted that Aaron comments that it takes about a year for your book to reach its full potential on Amazon...so I guess I'll have to wait until then to give all his suggestions a shot. But, if I were rating the book for the first time today, I would give it 5 stars.

Original comments (***)

I bought this book hoping it would show me how to gain greater exposure for my book on Amazon. I'm a first-time author; I'm not a celebrity; and I didn't go the traditional publishing route. So finding a way to reach the people who might benefit from my book despite these obstacles is key.

So I was surprised that some of the advice in the book, like skip Search Inside because the Search Inside logo degrades the thumbnail cover images, didn't make sense to me. For one thing, I've seen books with Search Inside and the cover images look fine. Also, I would think that Search Inside was a good strategy, because (a) Amazon says books with Search Inside sell better than books without it, (b) I know I like it when I'm buying books on Amazon (and I've bought hundreds of books) because it's like browsing in a bookstore, and (c) It gives Amazon more information on the book which would theoretically increase the chances of the book showing up in Search Results.

Also, the author emphasizes the importance of the cover, but his are rather plain. And he says "Avoid using a white background," but I bought the book and his cover is white (though it looks pink on the book page).

Anyway, I did find some good tips in the book (like how to effectively use subtitles to aid in search results), but I didn't find this book as helpful as Brent Sampson's book, Sell Your Book on Amazon.
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35 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars What? Only five stars?, November 27, 2006
By 
Lupa (Portland, OR) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
My husband originally bought this book for me via Amazon, so the author must be doing something right ;) We got it because we're always looking for resources to improve the small publisher we write and work for, and Amazon is an excellent venue for small press books.

"Aiming at Amazon" advocates putting all your eggs in one basket--in this case, Amazon sales. And it is true that Amazon is a bookselling powerhouse. This book shows how to tailor publishing books, using Lightning source as a POD printer, specifically towards maximizing Amazon's potential.

However, even if you want to work within more traditional methods of bookselling, there's still plenty of valuable material here. And it's also an invaluable guide to self-publishers, too, for whom Amazon may be a key point of sales.

The writing style is easy to read and conveys the information with little confusion. And, contrary to POD stereotypes, it's pretty well free of typos. Additionally, the author has obviously put his own advice into use, and in the very few cases where he has deviated from it he explains why.

Overall, this book is quite worthy of the confident air with which it's written. Whether you're small press or self-published, if you utilize POD and you want to amp up your Amazon sales, you need this book!
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13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Finally, The Missing Link Between Dead Tree Books and E-Books, June 21, 2008
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This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
Using the number of dog-eared pages scale, this book should rank much higher than five stars. As soon as the UPS truck delivered the book, I started reading it. Unable to tear myself away from it, I then took it to my favorite reading room--the gym. There I spent two hours riding the exercise bike while I read the first two-thirds of the volume. After I left the gym I spent another hour finishing the 164 page main text. This book is long overdue. It fills in the gaps left by other publishing books such as the classic guides by Fern Reiss, Dan Poynter, Tom and Marilyn Ross and others.
Like any book on "a moving target" like Amazon.com, this volume will be in constant need of updating, but right at this moment, it's just what the doctor ordered for wannabe authors. It's full of surprises such as the title of one early chapter "Forget Bookstores." Other surprises include coming up with titles for books that reflect the exact nature of the subject plus one or two subtitles that while long, expand the list of areas covered in the book so that people searching for those subjects can easily find the title. The more key words and subject areas listed in the book's titles and subtitles, the more likely search engines are to locate the book and direct the potential buyer to it. When the same book comes up in several search areas, it will be higher up on the "final result list' of books the search engine compiles.
Other surprises include the different techniques for cover design. The Amazon listings are postage-stamp sized and have to be designed like a postage stamp, not like a book that will be sold in a bookstore. Much of this guidebook stresses the material that needs to be included in the book that may be different than that of regular books. It compares Print on Demand publishers and supplies numerous websites for further detailed research. Just the comparison of POD publishers is worth the price of the book.
During my first read of this tome I dog-eared at least every other page so that I could come back to it for further study and consideration. Some times I dog-eared both the bottom and top of a page.
Since I don't usually bother to write a review of a book that already has 72 reader's reviews, the fact that I'm doing that, should provide the reader a clue as to how important I found the information contained therein. I can't recommend this short book enough. (The author points out that shorter books are best for marketing on Amazon and why that is so). I've already ordered another book by the same author and will keep an eye on his website for updates. This book will show you how marketing on Amazon is entirely different than what publishers have traditionally done. It will give the writer step-by-step directions on how to successfully promote and sell your books on Amazon and it will provide the secrets for doing all this at dirt-cheap costs.
Be prepared to read and re-read this Hitchhikers Guide to the Amazon Galaxy.
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12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An essential read for anyone having to market a self-published or POD published book, March 5, 2007
This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
Amazon.com is the 800 pound gorilla of online bookselling. There are a large and growing number of other online booksellers (some are independent 'virtual' stores, while others, like Borders.com, are affiliated with traditional 'brick-and-morter' bookstores, and still others are specific to a particular publisher, like iUniverse.com) , but Amazon.com is by far the oldest, largest, best known, successful, and most important of them all. Amazon.com can (and often does) make the difference between a self-published author, a print-on-demand (POD) published author, a small-press author, or a major press mid-list published author being able to make a profit on their books. No small press publisher can afford to not list their titles with Amazon.com for the same reason - connecting with the reading public. In "Aiming At Amazon: The New Business of Self Publishing", an experienced writer of children's books for major publishing houses, as well as a successful self-publisher, Aaron Shepard draws upon his considerable expertise to teach novice authors who have (or are contemplating) self-publishing just how to utilize Amazon.com as a marketing resource for selling their book(s). The first major section, 'Publishing for Profit' begins with a basic introduction to the value of (and preparation for) online bookselling. The next section, 'Building Your Book', covers everything from title selection factors, to creating spin-offs, to crafting a marketable cover, to portability, to reprinting. Next is 'Meeting the Marketing' where Shepard covers data collection, publishing dates, pricing, book returns, book classification and description, publicity/promotion, and keeping track of book sales. "Aiming at Amazon' is specific to getting the book registered on Amazon.com, maximizing the benefits of being listed on Amazon.com, the various relevant features of Amazon.com, and 'the other Amazons'. The final section, 'Finessing the Future' addresses the issues of fine tuning a book, 'keeping it fresh', publishing more books, and how to deal successfully with a publishing industry and marketplace that is in a steady state of flux, change, and technological evolution. "Aiming At Amazon" is an essential read for anyone having to market a self-published or POD published book - and has a wealth of very practical and valuable information for small press publishers, novice free-lance book publicists, and mid-list authors of the larger publishing houses who find themselves having a major responsibility for promoting and publicizing their titles.
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18 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Aaron hits a grand slam, April 13, 2007
By 
Jon A. Pastor (Wynnewood, PA USA) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
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This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
[Please note: my name is not really _x, and I don't really live in Anytown, USA. I just have this thing about phony personalization of websites: I don't like the psychological manipulation of making a piece of software act like your long lost friend. To eliminate any suspicion that this review is coming from Aaron Shepard (or a shill), my name is actually Jon Pastor, and I actually live in Wynnewood, PA. If you're curious (or suspicious) enough, you can Google me to verify that I really exist (and am not Aaron Shepard)].

First, many kudos and immeasurable gratitude to Aaron Shepard for writing (and, of course, publishing) AIMING AT AMAZON: my copy currently has more tape flags in it than it has pages, and I am referring to it for every detail of my soon-to-be publishing company [*really* soon-to-be: I just ordered my first batch of ISBNs!].

His book is worth twice the price just for the collection of indispensable URLs - the rest of the information is a thick layer of luscious butter-cream frosting, capped by two scoops of lovingly softened Häagen-Dazs vanilla, smothered with dark Belgian chocolate fudge, a dollop of crème fraiche, and a fresh Queen Anne cherry, all sitting atop an already irresistible, meltingly-moist, velvety cake.

[Okay, that was a bit over the top -- but did I mention that I just ordered my first set of ISBNs? I can say with 100% certainty that this would never have happened if Aaron hadn't given me a badly-needed kick-start, and all the information I needed to make fantasy into reality. I'm grateful, and I'm *stoked*!]

Second, more kudos for the comprehensiveness of the text and his almost-fanatical attention to detail. The fact that he anticipated virtually every question that occurred to me as I read along makes it immediately and undeniably clear that he knows what he's talking about, and can be trusted implicitly. I'm a skeptic at heart, but I can tell BS from nutrient-rich manure (to switch metaphors in mid-stream).

Finally, Aaron writes in a way that an aspiring author/publisher can emulate with pride: clear, concise, well-structured, professional but colloquial without being cute or overly chatty - and, most importantly, *correct*: it's rare that I don't find a typo in a newspaper article, let alone an entire book, and I can't recall a single one in AIMING AT AMAZON. No un-parallel constructions; no slip-ups in usage; no grammatical faux-pas.

This may not impress you in these days of universal spelling- and grammar-checkers, but software is unreliable, and careful visual/manual checking appears to be a custom honored more in the breach than the observance: only visual checking would catch the two blatant errors in the sentence "I never trust an author whose talking about writing, but who's own writing is lackluster, awkward, ungrammatical, and/or full of errors in spelling, usage, or mechanics."

In short: if you are considering self-publishing, do yourself a big favor and make sure that this is one of the first books you read. You'll probably want to buy it, rather than borrow it, because once you've finished, the odds are that you'll want to refer to it constantly as you navigate the course from "Gee, if only..." to setting your first pub date.

Even if you decide to go with a more conventional distribution channel than the one Aaron describes, there is a rich trove of essential information here - and I started with a pretty good working knowledge of the publishing industry, because I worked in bookstores for many years. If AIMING AT AMAZON was able to teach *me* things I needed to know about publishing, but didn't know to ask, it'll do the same for you.

P.S. If you decide to become a publisher, take heed of Aaron's guidance on ethics and professionalism. Aside from ruining things for people who play the game by the rules, sleazy marketing practices and unprofessional behavior will hurt you in the long run in the publishing industry (witness several recent high-profile scandals).

Producing and publishing books is not a way to make a quick, easy buck: it's a labor of love. AIMING AT AMAZON will not eliminate the myriad challenges standing between you and your listing on Amazon, but it *will* show you a path by which you can navigate through, around, and between them smoothly - a path whose potential for success is demonstrated by the very product you hold in your hands.
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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The New Testament for the novice publisher, March 17, 2008
By 
Hedley Finger (Melbourne, Australia) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
("Aiming at Amazon" would have rated 4 & 1/2 stars if Amazon's system allowed fractions.)

The internet has changed the business model for the selling of books, music, and the junk in the ceiling of your garage to a new paradigm -- and is set to revolutionise the film and video industry.

For the author who intends to self-publish and has good writing, indexing and editing skills, and knows something of producing pre-press ready PDF files, Aaron Shepard shows you how to exploit the new paradigm for book selling on the internet to the full. Print-on-demand and Amazon together mean smaller capital investment, wide distribution and promotion, and cutting out the food chain of middlemen, that is, the publishers, printers, wholesalers, distributors, and book sellers that all want a piece of your pie.

You learn how to research potential competitors, then craft a title and subtitle for maximum hits, and a cover design that makes Amazon customers want to click on the thumbnail. Clear instructions tell you how to get an ISBN, choose your format, design the text and add graphics. The various pricing options show you how to balance volume and profit to maximise returns over the long haul. Surprisingly, competitor books can be your best friend by linking customers to your, much better, book!

Shepard advocates building a real bestseller that lasts the distance and advises against questionable tactics to create an instant bestseller which are usually self-defeating. The various library and book industry classifications can also help your book, as well as industry listings in "Books in Print" -- even though you won't be selling to booksellers. Lastly, Shepard recommends that you revise your book frequently and work to get customer feedback. He even shows you to get good reviews from satisfied customer to also prod that potential buyer. (Hey, I'm a satisfied customer, so Aaron wrote and asked me to review his book -- no strings attached, no punches pulled.)

Shepard shows how to promote the book in a targeted fashion, monitor its sales and rank status, and quickly respond to customer feedback with new editions, sometimes issuing a new release within a month or so of the previous release. In particular, he shows how to exploit all the selling aids offered by Amazon, but also including traditional book-industry communication channels to drive customers to Amazon.

If you know your writing needs a good editor, and you don't have the technical skills of advanced Word usage and the knowledge of PDF generation, Shepard also offers companion books that can assist. A complete novice, after reading "Aiming at Amazon", might decide to go with an editorial and production service like Lulu, BookSurge, or Outskirts Press -- but read this book before you make that decision!

The small quibbles that lose "Aiming at Amazon" a half star are the index and structure of the book. There is an index which is far more useful than other titles in the genre (many of which have no or a one-page index), but a main entry can be followed by many undifferentiated page numbers. These should be made into proper subentries to help the hapless reader home on the particular aspect of a subject in which they are interested. The information about Lighting Source and Amazon is sometimes mixed together, so it is occasionally difficult to separate the two.

No other book in the genre has one either, but this and all other similar books could do with an appendix containing a checklist in workflow sequence of what milestones have to be passed on the journey from manuscript to bound copy.

Highly recommended.

-- Hedley Finger, publisher of the forthcoming title "Desktop publishing with Scribus", Hand Holding Press.
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21 of 25 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Perfect companion to other self-publishing books, November 10, 2006
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This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
If you want to optimize your book sales and generate maximum profits using Amazon, you must buy this book. It contains many tips, time and money saving techniques for those wishing to self-publish. The author uncovers and reveals some of the insider's secrets to the self-publishing industry. An added bonus is the listing of up-to-date URLs for all of the references mentioned. Highly recommended.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars How to Cruise the Amazon on a Budget, August 5, 2007
By 
Kenneth R. Besser "Author, Arnie Carver Adven... (Demeverde (read the books and you'll understand)) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: Aiming at Amazon: The NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books with Print on Demand and Online Book Marketing on Amazon.com (Paperback)
In Aiming at Amazon, Aaron Shepard shows us how to cruise the Big River, Amazon, like a yachtsman for the cost of a dinghy. His secret, forget selling to the bookstores and use Lightning Source for production and distribution. Where Shepard excels is in quickly giving you the details of how to get your book self-published, listed in Ingram's database, and distributed on Amazon and other online stores as quickly, easily, and cheaply as possible.

It is not as expansive, however,as Steve Weber's Plug Your Book.
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