Amy Collins

Amy Collins

Name: Amy Collins

Business name: New Shelves Books

Book Title: The Write Way: Everything You Need to Know About Publishing, Selling and Marketing Your Book

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How did you come to do what you’re doing today? I started as a book buyer for a chain of bookstores in upstate New York. I decided to work for a large publisher as a national sales manager. Then, I moved into a director position at Adams Media and spent a total of 15 years selling non-fiction titles to national chains. For the last 10 years, I have been doing the same thing for small presses as the CEO of NEW SHELVES.

In what ways have you seen book-buying and book-selling trends change in the last 5 years?

  1. Book buyers can no longer afford to take a chance on books simply because they like them. They HAVE to have a reasonable assumption that the publisher will create demand.  In the past, they WANTED this, but now they HAVE to have it.
  2. Libraries, which were on the endangered list 5 years ago, now have MUCH higher traffic.  Five times more people go to libraries than bookstores each month.
  3. Bookstores are selling fewer books and FAR more non-book product than ever before.
  4. Readers’ ability to browse and find new books online is MUCH improved. It used to be that people went to stores to browse…but they have learned to browse online. 

What are some steps authors should take to make sure their book is ready for distribution?

  1. The barcode on the back of the book should be price specific or retailers won’t take it.
  2. The book needs to be at full trade discount and fully returnable if you want to be in retailers.
  3. The cover and interior need to be designed by an experienced professional designer. 

Can you share some book-selling techniques for writers?

  1. If you are focusing on sales online and not retailers, then you had better spend a LOT of time promoting the book online.
  2. Start on one area of the country or one area of the market and saturate it. Then move out to the next level (e.g., one type of shop or one state).
  3. Don’t put all your hopes into one book. Successful publishers and authors publish many books knowing that perhaps one will catch on.

Can you describe a typical day in your life?

I start with an hour of quiet time and then spend time working on communication with clients and authors. I spend a LOT of my day explaining to authors why their books are not ready for the marketplace. I create numerous materials to try and teach authors what they need to do to get their book into the marketplace.

What do you most enjoy about what you do?

Teaching and educating authors and publishers about what is happening in the marketplace today.

Are there any people and/or books that have inspired you along your journey?

Daniel Hall is a huge inspiration, John Kremer as well. The book that launched me into my own business was MAKING A LIVING WITHOUT A JOB. (Love that book.) 

Can you share something that people may be surprised to learn about you?

I am a celtic-blues musician on the weekends.

What’s next for you?

I am moving my company from a service provider for authors to a company that educates authors. Instead of selling and marketing their books FOR them, we are teaching them to do it for themselves. It saves them TONS of money.

Is there anything else you would like to add?

The truth I have always seen and that has never changed for authors is this: Time – Money – Talent…choose any two. You HAVE to dedicate two out of the three to have a chance at being successful in publishing.