DUNBARTON, New Hampsahire ??вЂќ A self-published book is now sitting among the top-selling ski books on Amazon.com. Released in August 2005, Everything the Instructors Never Told You about Mogul Skiing (ISBN: 1-4208-6159-X) was written, produced and published by a New Hampshire skier named Dan DiPiro. Among the hundreds of skiing-related books on Amazon.com, “Everything” has been ranked as high as number two in sales and has been sitting among the top ten for months.
A former mogul competitor and coach who writes marketing copy for a living, DiPiro hired a local photographer to shoot photos for the book. He hired his sister, a graphic-designer, to lay out the book. He bought printing and distribution services from a publishing house he found online. And he markets the book through e-mail, Internet forums, a blog and news releases.
Like most self-published books, Everything is not sitting on bookstore shelves everywhere; customers have to order it. This limits DiPiro’s in-store sales considerably. But online retailers like Amazon.com display self-published books and traditionally published books with equal prominence. And in this equitable sales environment, DiPiro’s book is selling extremely well. But what’s saving this book from the failure that so pervades the self-published category?
“There’s a demand for this book,” says the author. “A lot of people want to learn to ski moguls, but most ski books and most ski schools don’t offer effective mogul instruction. I also think my product is solid. People are finding it easy to read and understand, and they’re having breakthroughs in the bumps.” At least two respected ski journalists also believe DiPiro’s product is solid. Los Angeles-based ski columnist Bob Cox recommended Everything to his readers last winter. And east-coast ski columnist Mitch Kaplan told his readers that DiPiro’s book was the most apt description of mogul skiing he’d ever read. Cox is vice president of the North American Snowsports Journalist Association (NASJA), an office that Kaplan has also held. The book has also earned a perfect five-star rating from Amazon reader-reviewers, and several skiing Web sites have recommended it to their Web community members.
DiPiro foresees growing sales in the months ahead and aspires to a number-one online sales ranking. He says that if a traditional publishing contract meant making big changes to his book, he wouldn’t be interested. “As a self-published author, I haven’t had to bow to the instructing or coaching establishments, endorse equipment trends, or agree with popular notions of what good skiing is,” he says. “I’ve had the freedom to write about skiing exactly as I see it. I’m not too eager to give that freedom away.”