I just spent a fascinating day at the launch of the Amazon Academy in London, on Wednesday. The location was the HQ of their new fashion label (yes, they do clothes too!) in Hoxton.
Amazon laid on a range of lectures and expert-led panel discussions to demonstrate what’s on offer which included KDP (Kindle), Alexa and Amazon Marketplace workshops. There were guest panels in the morning and break-out sessions with Q&A in the afternoon. It wasn’t just for authors – there were also experts who spoke on Amazon Web Services (for serious techies and programmers) and a new service that targets entrepreneurs in the food and beverage space. Professional, entertaining, friendly.
The company is forging ahead with interesting ideas and isn’t resting on its laurels. The event was a well-planned, precision-executed taste of corporate America before a taste of vegetarian (other diets catered for too) lunch.
Deputy Mayor of London for Business, Rajesh Agrawal, told an amusing anecdote about arriving penniless in London from India in 2001. He spent weeks working on a business plan which he took to the bank hoping for a £10,000 loan. He was turned down. He returned a few days later with a request for £20,000 for a car…which was approved. And guess what he used the money for? He quickly added that the bank has been paid back in full!
As a writer, what did I take away with me? Lots of great tips!
In particular, I learned from the mouth of author/entrepreneur Mark Dawson:
- have at least one free book on offer;
- build a loyal following via interaction;
- have a well though out and researched marketing plan before you begin to spend your budget,
and from the Founder of the Alliance of Independent Authors, Orna Ross:
- develop your own email distribution list as one of your key pillars in your marketing plan,
- speed up your operation by using a database manager like Mailchimp and
- don’t start spending money on advertising until you have at least three books out there.
So far, there have been two other Amazon Academy events on this side of the pond: one previously in Dublin and this one in London. And there will be one more in Newcastle coming soon! After that, Amazon will review feedback to see if they will do it again.
And I, for one, hope they will.