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When It’s Smart Not to Sell Your Book on Amazon

Uncommon Grit

By Naren Aryal, CEO and Publisher of Mascot Books and Amplify Publishing


Customers love Amazon. The company started as an online marketplace for books, but it soon expanded into just about every product category, from A to Z, offering low prices and an incredibly efficient shopping and home delivery experience.

At Mascot Books, we love the access to potential readers Amazon offers our authors. However, that access comes at a steep cost. Amazon buys books from publishers at a whopping 55% off cover price. Amazon also requires that suppliers like Mascot pay freight to get inventory to Amazon distribution centers. Books are heavy, and therefore, costly to move around.

So why is everyone obsessed with selling on Amazon? Because that’s where the customers are.

We know that for every book sold direct-to-consumer, we have to sell three on Amazon to achieve the same level of profit. Let that sink in.

But every once in a while, we’ll work on a project that doesn’t need Amazon. It’s rare, but when it happens, it’s a beautiful thing.

We recently published Uncommon Grit: A Photographic Journey Through the Eyes of a Navy SEAL, an amazing coffee table-style book by 24-year Navy veteran, retired SEAL, and professional photographer Darren “McB” McBurnett. The book is a beautifully raw collection of photos taken during Naval Special Warfare Basic Underwater Demolition SEAL Training (BUD/S), which is widely considered to be the hardest nine months of all military training.

We priced the coffee table book at $49.95 and a limited edition collector’s version at $124.95. We launched it on the most patriotic day of the year — July 4th — on Fox & Friends in front of a national television audience.

The only purchasing option we gave viewers was the author’s website, which was linked to the Mascot shopping cart. The response was incredible, and as a result, we’ve now sold out of the initial print run. A resounding success all the way around.

If Uncommon Grit has you rethinking your desire to sell your book via Amazon, you should know this approach isn’t right for all projects. It worked in this case because the book’s content is incredible, the subject matter struck a chord with the intended target market, and the national television exposure gave the project an unparalleled platform. It was a perfect storm.

Although McB only gave his website during the interview (and it appeared on the crawl at the bottom of the screen), we suspect most buyers first took a detour to Amazon to see if they could find the book there at a discount and with free shipping. Actually, we know this happened. If you go to Amazon and start typing “Uncommon Grit book” the title autofills (meaning it has been searched for numerous times). But once you get to the product page, it’s not there.

Of course, no need to feel bad for Jeff Bezos here. He’ll be fine. Instead, we should take notice that, in some cases, it’s a good idea to bypass Amazon entirely. 

Connect with our CEO Naren Aryal on LinkedIn and follow him on Twitter at @MascotNaren.

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The Book Production Process at Mascot Books

For my first blog post, and as senior project manager here at Mascot Books, I thought going over the book publishing production process in a general sense would be a good place to start. Each month following this post, I will delve more in depth into each stage of book production. I will also cover frequently asked questions (FAQ) within each post. Take a look at one of our children’s books in production: IMG_20150113_115615 (4) First Contact Once the contract comes in, the project is handed off to one of our two project managers (PM). The PM will contact the author asking some of the same questions each time (do you have a deadline or date to have books in hand), but many are specific to each project as no two are the same.   FAQ: How long does the production process take? Answer: It depends. There are many individual factors within each project that alter the timeline (illustration details, licensing, etc). However, we have found that on average a book takes about 4-5 months from when the contract comes in to when the author will have books in hand.   Script Children’s Book – The PM will also be your editor. This is when any suggestions for changes are made. Proofreading here is also a focus, but that is something that will also be done throughout the rest of the process. Once the script is finalized (though this doesn’t mean set-in-stone), it will be split into the spreads that will correspond to the illustrations. Novel – The PM will contract one of our freelance editors to work on your script. The edited script along with a message from the editor will be sent to the author for their review.   FAQ: Can I make changes to my script throughout the process after it’s been determined final and we’ve moved on to the illustration stage? Answer: Yes, but only minor edits and only they do not affect the illustrations.   Illustrations/Cover Design and Photo Insert Children’s Book – If the author is providing their own illustrations, the PM will provide them with the required specs. If illustrations are being done through Mascot Books, the author will then provide descriptions of the characters as well as descriptions of the spreads. The illustration process consists of a test sketch, storyboard, and final illustrations. I will go into this process in great detail at a later date. Novel – With any guidance provided by the author, our design department will create a couple cover options to select from and edit. Once all the photos for the insert are provided along with captions, the designer will lay it out for your review.   FAQ: How long do illustrations take? Answer: This timeline varies on the number of illustrations, level of detail, and kind of illustrations that are being created. For example, watercolor paintings will take much more time than digital images. On average, illustrations take about 6 weeks from the time the artist is contracted to when final illustrations are received.   Layout Once all materials are obtained, the project will be put in the design queue to be laid out from cover to cover.   FAQ: Can the designer start laying out my book with some of the illustrations to save time? Answer: No. We cannot proceed to the next stage of the process until the previous stage is complete.   PDF This is a fully laid out version of your book from cover to cover. Three versions of the PDF will be created that will include any edits the author requests and any edits found by the PM that are correcting errors.   FAQ: Will I get to see the final version of my book before it’s sent to the printer? Answer: Yes. We will only send your book to the printer once you have reviewed and approved the final version.   Licensing Not all projects require this stage. If so, the PDF will be provided to the licensing company or directly to the school as soon as it’s approved by the author. After any changes have been made that the school requested and we have received their approval, the PDF will be sent back to the author for a final review and approval.   FAQ: How long does this process take? Answer: It depends on the school or professional team, the time of year, and the amount of content for them to review. On average, it takes about 4-6 weeks.   Printing Once the final PDF is approved by the author, the files will be sent to the printer. Our office receives a physical proof from the printer (unless otherwise agreed to with the author) to check color and layout. All children’s books are read a final time in this stage. All novels will have their covers and dust covers read a final time in this stage, and the interior will be briefly reviewed for overall layout.   FAQ: How long does printing take? Answer: This depends on the printer and the time of year as each printer has busy seasons. On average, it takes 4-5 weeks.   Shipping from the Printer The author will be contacted with their estimated ship date and information to help them decide how many books to have shipped to them, and how many to ship to our warehouse.   FAQ: How much does shipping cost? Answer: This depends on the number of books being shipped, where they are going, and what time of year. Once the author has been contacted with the estimated ship date, they can request estimates on shipping to know what to expect on the invoice for shipping.   In my post next month, I will go more in depth on the First Contact part of the process. Feel free to contact me with any burning questions you’d like answered about the production process.

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Mascot Books’ Outstanding Author Awards 2014

Congratulations and Thank You to All Mascot Books’ Authors!

Mascot Books is thrilled to announce the winners of our 2014 Outstanding Author Awards! It’s hard to believe, but 2014 was our eleventh full year in business.  Time flies when you’re doing what you love…and working with amazing people along the way.  We’re passionate about great content, and again this year, our authors have produced just that.  It’s gratifying for everyone at Mascot to work with so many imaginative and creative storytellers. You continue to enrich our lives and the lives of our readers. As we continue to publish more quality books in all our favorite genres (fiction, non-fiction, biographies and memoirs, science fiction, sports-related, children’s books, and cookbooks), honoring just a few authors has proven to be a daunting task.  After much debate, passionate back-and-forth, lobbying, and some politicking among the employees, we’ve cast our ballots and are pleased to announce the results below. The 2014 Mascot Books Outstanding Author Awards are presented to: Children’s Picture Books: Since Rebecca Crownover’s launch of the Texas Farm Girl series, Rebecca has been all over the state of Texas in a big way meeting with the Texas farming community and excited children to share her book! Rebecca even had a song written about her and the series by country music recording artist Billy Dawson! Stephanie Sorkin is the author of two amazing and successful children’s books and has a third coming out in the very near future. With her book, “Nutley: The Nut-Free Squirrel” about a squirrel allergic to nuts, she takes delight in helping children with nut allergies and also has a knack for reaching out to create meaningful relationships through social media! Denise Barry has done an excellent job vividly answering the question, “What Does the Tooth Fairy Do with Our Teeth?” and continues her success with Soap on a Rope. Look for Sweeney Mack and the Slurp and Burp Competition coming in 2015! Roselyn Kasmire is a native of Buffalo, New York. She wrote a wonderful and exciting children’s book for the Buffalo Bills in addition to her Mage Magnus series. Fiction: Tom Fitzgerald crafted a suspenseful thriller, Defector in our Midst, that grabs you from the first page and reels you in throughout the book. If your favorite book genre is suspense and thrillers, this one should be on your list of must-reads. J.R. Reiling is a fiction-thriller writer that makes you dig deep into the depths of your mind while clenching onto this book in wonder. Everyone remembers September 11, 2001. J.R.’s book, “Ordinary Day: A Novel of 9/11”  is the story of “what-if” on that deeply tragic and historical date in our country’s history. Non-Fiction: Sean Stellato wrote a true life, inspirational story called “No Backing Down” about his own high school football team, one that overachieved in the face of great adversity. Sean has now become an agent for the NFL. Arlene Krieger wrote two outstanding biographies in 2014. One is about the life of the legendary Las Vegas entertainer, Tony Sacca, called “Tony Sacca, Las Vegas Ambassador of Entertainment” . The other titled, “Little Anthony: My Journey, My Destiny ” is about Rock and Roll Hall of Famer, Little Anthony. Look for more excellent writing from Arlene in 2015! Deena Baxter opened up her heart in her book “Surviving Suicide“. In this thoughtful book, she shares the story of her stepson’s suicide and how she and her family coped with the tragic loss. She brings light to the subjects of suicide and mental illness in order to help others cope with similar situations. Cookbooks: Excited for the professional football playoffs as much as we are? Paul Swaney’s Stadium Journey Pro-Football Cookbook will provide you with mouth-watering recipes that are sure to win! This book shares recipes and captures the regional food traditions of every single city in the National Football League. Carla Litrenta, Courtney Matinata, and Matt Matinata created two great cookbooks for hungry fans of both “At the Table with NC State“, a North Carolina State University Cookbook  and the University of North Carolina Cookbook, “At the Table with the University of North Carolina“. Take a culinary adventure through Chapel Hill and Raleigh, North Carolina! Roya Gharavi is the proprietor of Gourmet Pantry on Main Street in Blacksburg, Virginia. She is a connoisseur of tasty food and offers unique and clever ideas for hosting parties and events. Inside this wonderful recipe book titles “Roya’s Recipes” you’ll find healthy, international cuisine!

We’re Proud to be Your Book Publisher and Look Forward to Publishing More of Your Exceptional Writing in 2015!

     

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