Thoughts on books, publicity, and the media from our Cave Henricks staff.

Is Amazon Killing Author Joy?

Is Amazon costing authors some joy?Years of fighting between Amazon and the publishing world has almost everyone taking sides. In the wake of this summer’s controversy over mistreating workers, it would be easy to blame the company for taking away even the noncommercial, celebratory parts of writing a book.

But is the online retailer really to blame? Or is this just another case of changes caused by technology and the simple passage of time?

For authors, publishing a book was once an occasion accompanied by fanfare, marked with a party and a trip to the bookstore to see the first copy. Now, e-books, faster shipping, and smaller promotional budgets have made the publication date less eventful and even a bit confusing.

Should you get excited on the day your digital copy is available?  Or later, when the book shows up in stores?

Many authors are adapting to the new rules by getting creative and going back to old-fashioned, simple pleasures to be sure that bringing a book to market remains a thrill.  Here’s what three of them did to mark the occasion:

Rodger Dean Duncan, author of Change-Friendly Leadership

“I sent handwritten notes to a few key people (such as clients who had agreed to purchase multiple copies on launch, people who were promoting the book on their blogs, to their lists, etc.) prior to launch. Then, I sent another round of handwritten thank yous after the book placed #1 on several Amazon lists and elsewhere, won awards, etc. I also sent handwritten notes to people who had not yet done anything to help with the launch but whose support would be useful in the future. Gratitude, sincerely expressed, is an important lubricant for good relationships.”

Carol Sanford, author of The Responsible Entrepreneur

“The day the Kindle version of my book released, I hosted an online talk about my experience and what it was like to write a book. I invited those whose stories I had used in the book as well as those who were generous enough to give me a quote of endorsement. A few weeks later, when physical books landed, I did the same thing at a local, independent bookstore – the kind that’s filled with book lovers who wouldn’t dream of converting to an e-reader. I even took video of that event and posted it online.  I gave away the books to everyone who came.  Because these people had been more intimately involved in the book’s creation, it was a celebration, not a commercial event.”

Erika Andersen, author of Be Bad First

“Signing one of my books on publication day in a store was a big deal to me – and gratifying when the store employees put a ‘signed by author’ sticker on it.  And even though big launch parties are rarely a good use of resources, that doesn’t mean you can’t have an intimate celebration – even a bottle of champagne with your nearest and dearest is a great way to acknowledge what is, after all a big accomplishment.”

If you’ve written a book and have other ideas, let us know.  We’d like to be among those who stop pointing fingers at one of the players in the fight, and starting taking action instead.