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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 – January 1, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From the Author

"Aaron Shepard has been more successful selling through Amazon than any other self publisher I know. If you want to self publish and get the most from it, this book is for you." -- Morris Rosenthal, author, "Print-on-Demand Book Publishing"
"Solid gold advice. . . . Aiming At Amazon will dramatically increase your odds of success. A few hours with this book will give you the benefit of years worth of hard-earned experience." -- Steve Weber, author, "The Home-Based Bookstore"
"If you want to learn how to sell more books on Amazon, this is the best book I've read on the subject. . . . Thanks to books like this, self-published authors have a chance to succeed against traditionally-published competitors." -- Stacie Vander Pol, author, "Top Self Publishing Firms"
"Shepard is considered one of the pioneers of marketing print-on-demand (POD) books through Amazon. . . . I highly recommend Aiming At Amazon to self-publishers and authors who want to publish a book at little cost. The model pioneered by Shepard, Rosenthal, and others is probably the best way for a newcomer to enter the world of self-publishing." -- Peter Hupalo, Midwest Book Review
"An essential read for anyone having to market a self-published or POD-published book -- and has a wealth of information for small press publishers, novice freelance book publicists, and mid-list authors of the larger publishing houses." -- Jim Cox, Jim Cox Reports, March 2007
"A must read for any progressive self-publishing author." -- Dehanna Bailee, author, "The ABC's of POD"
"A truly great book that all of us should own (and actually read!). . . . If your efforts are focused on Amazon, this is THE book." -- Thomas Nixon, Degree Press and SmallPress Blog
"Packed with practical techniques for today's savvy small publisher." -- Susan Daffron, Logical Expressions, Inc.
"A must-have book: pertinent, unduplicated, current, authoritative, and well-written. Has a maximum of useful information and a minimum of fluff, all written in an easy, understandable style. [Shepard] spells out in detail strategies he has used successfully to manipulate the sometimes unfriendly and always greedy Amazon 800-pound gorilla. . . . The best advice available." -- John Culleton, WexfordPress, and list co-moderator, Self-Publishing
"Filled with details and tips obviously garnered from much tinkering and thinking." -- Barry Beckham, Beckham Publications Group
"Experience-laden recommendations." -- Kyra Hicks, author, "Black Threads"
"The perfect guide for the first time publisher, [with] just enough information to inform but not overwhelm. . . . You won't find 'fad tricks' in this book, just solid advice." -- Cheryl Kirk, Expanding Books
"The information about subtitles and affiliate links was worth the price of the book!" -- Lisa Ripperton, Yesterday's Classics
"Worthy of the confident air with which it's written. Whether you're small press or self-published, if you utilize POD and want to amp up your Amazon sales, you need this book! . . . Even if you want to work within more traditional methods of bookselling, there's still plenty of valuable material here." -- Lupa, Immanion Press
"A well-thought-out and well-researched system that provides a viable alternative . . . . With low upfront costs, and simple procedures that don't require specialized software, it's a method that almost anyone can use." -- Sheila Ruth, Imaginator Press
"I sometimes wake up cold in the middle of the night, wondering where on earth I would be, career wise, had Aiming at Amazon not been written. . . . .  By an author, for authors, in a style that even head-in-the-cloud dreamers with ink in their veins can understand and act upon." -- Barry Tighe, Can Write Will Write
"An amazing book and one of the most practical I've read. . . . If you've self-published a book or are thinking about self-publishing, Aiming at Amazon is a must-read." -- Tim Bete, director, Erma Bombeck Writers' Workshop, University of Dayton
"If you fall within [its] target readership, then there is no doubt that this book is worth its money. In fact, it's probably worth ten times its money. . . . Absolutely brimful of technical, hands-on advice."--Michael Allen, Grumpy Old Bookman (blog)
"Truly, if you're interested in selling via Amazon, you need to look at Aaron Shepard's book." -- Marion Gropen, Gropen Associates, and list co-moderator, Self-Publishing and Pub-Forum
"Without Aiming at Amazon, I simply would not be where I am now. This month, I made what I would have made in six to eight months with the company I used previously for self publishing." -- William Linney, Armfield Academic Press
"Absorbing. . . . Aaron Shepard is a savvy marketer. . . . Shepard writes simply but skips the chirpiness that mars many self-help books." -- Marie Shear, The Freelancer (Editorial Freelancers Association newsletter), Sept.-Nov. 2007
"I've published ten other books through regular publishers, and this route is much more fun and rewarding!" -- Ellen Hodgson Brown, Third Millenium Press
"[Aiming at Amazon] dramatically changed my direction in terms of publishing, and has turned a money-losing hobby into a growing, profitable business doing what I love the most." -- Charles Sheehan-Miles, Cincinnatus Press
"Here's what [Aiming at Amazon] did for me: It gave me a business plan that was feasible, simple, low-cost and potentially VERY lucrative." -- Darcy Pattison, Mims House
"What Aaron has done is to identify, analyze, and tweak the key factors that contribute to profitable sales at Amazon.com. . . . It's a great value for all authors." -- Roger C. Parker, author, Looking Good in Print, and Webmaster, Published and Profitable
"Far and away the best book on modern low-inventory, low-cost publishing." -- W. F. Zimmerman, Nimble Books
"Buy it! Study it! Learn from it! Apply its lessons! It will be the least expensive yet most valuable book marketing training you will ever get." -- Walt Shiel, Slipdown Mountain Publications
"Shepard boils it down to the essentials so you can get done what you need to get done and get out." -- Zoe Winter, Indie Books Journal (blog of IndieReader.com), Apr. 12, 2010
Forget Bookstores | Print on Demand | Plan Your Route | Go to the Source | Ignore Amazon
Embrace the Possible | Research the Market | Optimize Your Title | Write a Great Book | Produce Your Pages | Craft Your Cover | Stick to a Format | Collect Comments
Set Up Accounts | Find Resources | Make Contact | Look Up Your Profile | Keep Up with Change | Take the Express
Check Your Listing | Make Corrections | Add Your Content | Submit a Cover Image | Share Other Images | Suggest Tags | Classify Your Book | Get Customer Reviews | Connect with Readers | Explore More Options
Watch Availability | Watch Sales Ranks | Watch Search Results | Watch Pairings | Watch Rivalries | Watch Customer Reviews | Watch Tags | Watch Other Content
Channel Your Sales | Earn Commissions | Tame Your Links
Refine Your Book | Refresh Your Content
Aim at Amazons | Optimize for Amazons | Access Amazons | Market on Amazons | Monitor Amazons | Point to Amazons
Where to Get Help | Amazon Etiquette | Kindle Books | Publishing Reprints | Removing a Listing | Rogue Sellers | Amazon Vendors | Amazon Ref Codes | The Book Depository | Replica Books | Self Publishing Terms

From the Inside Flap

In recent years, self publishing has become big business. But not often for self publishers. 
Though self publishing has been around for as long as there have been authors and the printers they could pay to work with them, it got a big boost in the mid-1980s. That was when personal computers, desktop laser printers, and desktop publishing software first allowed authors to compose their own print-ready pages. 
But it was only in the late 1990s that self publishing really took off. In that period, the desktop publishing revolution was joined by the dual revolutions of print on demand and online bookselling. Together, these sparked a whole new industry of "self publishing companies" -- an industry that has now made self publishing accessible to almost anyone who can type. 
What has been largely lacking, though, is the know-how for making such publishing profitable. Though the classics on the business of self publishing -- books by Dan Poynter, Tom and Marilyn Ross, and John Kremer -- have all been revised in the decades since their first publications, they're still products of their time, focusing on the hard-to-crack world of bricks-and-mortar bookselling. They have little to say to those ready to exploit today's much more accessible opportunities online. 
What we've needed, then, is a new business of self publishing. 
That's exactly what I and a number of other self publishers have been working out over the past number of years. Many of us are earning a respectable profit from our work. Some, like myself, even make a reasonable living. Now I'd like to offer you the same possibilities. 
Yes, I said it: Forget bookstores.
The first principle of the new business of self publishing is probably the hardest for aspiring publishers to accept. If you're like me, you love to visit your local bookstore -- whether chain or independent -- and wander the aisles, delighting in the sheer presence of so many enticing volumes. That love probably sprang up in your childhood, and will likely last you the rest of your life.
The trouble is, the feeling is not mutual.
In general, bookstores do not love self publishers. It's nothing personal. If the staff at that store sat down and read your book, they might like it very much. They might even make an effort to promote it. Perhaps you can convince two or three local stores to do just that.
But for most bookstores, your book simply isn't worth the effort. The book business is a well-oiled machine that runs in broad and well-worn channels. Bookstores deal with sales reps and suppliers that can deliver dozens of titles at a time to their doorstep. Unless you already have a runaway bestseller, it's simply not efficient for them to deal with someone hawking one or two books. And to tell the truth, it's usually not worth your time to try to get them to.
Luckily, you no longer need to. With only minor effort and cost, you can get your book carried by one bookseller that handles nearly 20% of trade retail bookselling in the U.S. -- about half of what's handled by all "real world" U.S. bookstores put together. You can get your book on Amazon.com.
Even better, on Amazon you'll compete on a much more level playing field with publishers of any size. By aiming at Amazon and exploiting its capabilities to the full, you can outmaneuver large publishers that may know less about its workings than you do and that have their main attention elsewhere.
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. There has never been a self publishing manual like this. "Aiming at Amazon" is NOT about getting your book into bookstores. Instead, it lays out an innovative approach that targets sales on Amazon.com. It reveals how to make a book sell well online, with tips never before offered. And it doesn't stop there -- it gives you a way to publish your book that can greatly increase your profit per copy. Avoid publishing plans that handicap you almost before you begin. Let "Aiming at Amazon" introduce you to the NEW business of self publishing. 
POD FOR PROFIT: More on the NEW Business of Self Publishing, or How to Publish Your Books With Online Book Marketing and Print on Demand by Lightning Source. CreateSpace uses it. Lulu.com uses it. So do AuthorHouse, iUniverse, Xlibris, and almost every other self publishing company in the US, Canada, and the UK. Lightning Source is the printer and distributor at the heart of the "print on demand" industry. So, why pay a middleman? In this follow-up to his groundbreaking book "Aiming at Amazon," Aaron Shepard explores how to greatly increase your profit by working directly with Lightning. If you're serious about making money with POD publishing, this book can show you the way.
PERFECT PAGES: Self Publishing with Microsoft Word, or How to Design Your Own Book for Desktop Publishing and Print on Demand (Word 97-2003 for Windows, Word 2004 for Mac). Nowadays, new technologies and services have made it easier than ever to publish your book, but there's one question you may still face: Do I need an expensive page layout program, or can I just use a word processor like Microsoft Word? With this book as guide, you'll soon be producing pages from Word that no reviewer will scoff at.
FROM WORD TO KINDLE: Self Publishing Your Kindle Book with Microsoft Word, or Tips for Formatting Your Text in MS Word So Your Ebook Doesn't Look Horrible (Like Everyone Else's). Using Word to prepare a Kindle book isn't nearly as difficult as many will tell you, but it's also not as simple and straightforward as others claim. In this short ebook, Aaron offers his own quick tips for creating attractive, professional text with reasonable effort. 
PICTURES ON KINDLE: Self Publishing Your Kindle Book with Photos, Drawings, and Other Graphics, or Tips for Formatting Images So Your Ebook Doesn't Look Horrible (Like Everyone Else's). Almost everything you've read about formatting pictures for Kindle is wrong. Aaron brings his years of experience in book design, webmastering, and photography to bear on a single question: How do you make pictures look great on the Kindle?
HTML FIXES FOR KINDLE: More on Self Publishing Your Kindle Book, or Tips for Touching Up HTML from Microsoft Word and Other Apps So Your Ebook Looks as Good as It Possibly Can. Saving HTML from Word or another program can bring you maybe 80% of the way to a well-formatted ebook -- but what about the other 20%? Aaron provides the tips to bring your Kindle book to the next level.
THE BUSINESS OF WRITING FOR CHILDREN. Writing books for children is both art and business. If you dream of becoming a children's author -- or even if you're well on your way -- this handbook can help you in writing sellable stories, getting them published, and promoting your books. Read "The Business of Writing for Children" to learn the secrets you might spend years discovering for yourself.
ADVENTURES IN WRITING FOR CHILDREN. Fifteen years after publishing "The Business of Writing for Children" -- Amazon.com's all-time bestseller among guides to children's writing -- Aaron returns with a new collection of articles on the art and business of creating literature for young people. Whether you're aiming at traditional publishers or choosing to self publish, let "Adventures in Writing for Children" help you pursue an adventure of your own. 

The latest book club pick from Oprah
"The Underground Railroad" by Colson Whitehead is a magnificent novel chronicling a young slave's adventures as she makes a desperate bid for freedom in the antebellum South. See more

Product Details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Shepard Publications (January 1, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 093849743X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0938497431
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.5 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (182 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #920,590 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: 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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Format: 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.
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Format: 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.
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