How To Kill A New Business

Posted by Viktoria Michaelis on March 30, 2014 in Publishing |

Ever wondered how much work goes in to building up a business? I mean, from the very first idea right through the first two or three years of its existence, not just the actual paperwork and launch. Believe me, I can tell you from experience that it is a lot and, even after six months on the go, we are still handling paperwork and set-up requirements from regulators, internal revenue, banks and other institutions. This work is necessary, a requirement we have to fulfill, but it all adds to the whole, the amount of time a person or group needs to devote to their dream, to their future.

For us it is not just a case of putting a book together and selling it. We have the editorial work, the writing itself, the formatting, printing, marketing and so much more. We have conversations with potential authors, with sellers, with suppliers and, of course, all the institutions which regulate business and finance. It is an ongoing procedure which seems to have no end, and one which we have devoted ourselves to for more hours in the day than you would believe exist.

Our products are there: three titles have already been published, all properly registered and offered for sale. They are even on Amazon, an automatic update from the ISBN lists which they scan, being the site which claims to be able to provide any book which has been published and is available. But even that isn’t enough, as far as Amazon is concerned. Mistakes creep in – just the misspelling of an author’s name can be more than a simple annoyance – and have to be corrected. There is no facility to upload a cover image on Amazon, which is a major set back. When mistakes are corrected they don’t necessarily appear on the site, despite a written acknowledgment that the corrections have been received and dealt with.

Viktoria Michaelis: Amazon Fail
And then there are the things which can kill a business right from the very start. Just because a brand new book isn’t physically stocked by Amazon they mark it down as being Out Of Print or with Limited Availability. It is that Out of Print part which is the killer. Who is going to order a book from Amazon when it is unavailable? Even though, as anyone can see, it is a brand new book published only a few weeks ago.

Will Amazon take action to correct this massive error, this unwanted slap against our small publishing house? It remains to be seen. A written complaint has been sent, the books are most definitely available to anyone who wishes to purchase them, but we have learned from experience that the promises Amazon makes to correct errors don’t hold water.

Amazon, though, even if they are the biggest Internet supplier of printed works, even if they do have the largest market share in the bookselling world, will not beat us down. All of our books are available and can be ordered direct which, I might add, does our company far more good than when someone orders through any other source.

  • Viktoria Michaelis.

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  • Francois Demers says:

    I added to my review on Amazon, first line, “This book IS in stock, NOT OUT OF PRINT and can be ordered from the publisher, see (http://shop.vmpublications.com/)
    If Amazon zaps the edit, I will redo it without the link but with Viktoria Michaelis Limited and then interested people can use Google to find the site.

  • Francois Demers says:

    Inferring from the strong language that Amazon de-lists books that they do not publish so the publisher can enjoy sharing their income streams with them to have it listed again?

  • Today I received a reply from Amazon, within the time frame they claim, so one good point. Now I have to prove, with supporting documents, that the two books they have listed from us are not out of print! The fact that the publication date – shown on Amazon – of the first is January this year and the second February seems to have escaped their attention.

    I suspect that part of the problem is that they do not have stock and would find it awkward if someone actually ordered through them. We do not have a wholesaler at the moment, but that will come with time.

    One of the things about Amazon is that if your book is not listed you can enter it yourself and sell it on the site. They gain profit from the normal bookseller discount, which is fine by me. In addition you have to pay to be a selling member of Amazon, which is not fine by me. The cost of registering as a seller with Amazon would wipe out the small profit we make on each publication and put us into minus: we would be paying them the sell our books, which no bookseller worth calling a bookseller does.

    I am looking at an alternative at the moment, and that is that we make it clear our books are not available on Amazon and give the exact reasons why. Not that such bad press would bother them in the slightest, we are, after all, merely one of many thousands of publishers and they can afford to do without us.

    • I wrote too soon. My query to Amazon has been marked up as being one from a registered seller, which I am not. They also used a dead mail address, so a mail reply is rejected automatically as undeliverable. If this isn’t customer unfriendly I really don’t know what is.

      So I have had to go back to the site and send my message all over again, hoping that it will get to the right person – whose name I know – and see what happens.

      Believe me, judging by my experiences so far, I do not hold much hope of a satisfactory resolution.

      • Francois Demers says:

        They are upgrading from customer unfriendly to customer hostile.

        All this, and many more things they do, bears a strange resemblance to the protection racket, give us your money and nothing worse will happen to you.

  • […] in the ass and, therefore, I have nominated them as April Fools for this year. A short while ago I mentioned that Amazon have listed my brand new publications as being Out Of Print which, as you can imagine is more than […]

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