Before we get started, I need to address a few things.
- Anyone who knows me knows that I am not a huge fan of reading. Some of you might look at this post and go: “Chris didn’t actually read the book…..Did he?” I wanted to start by saying I actually did read the entire book (all 163 pages of the book to be exact). In order to give an honest review, I feel that I have to actually immerse myself into a product. I read this book over a five day period in December (yes – I actually read it doing Q4) and this is my honest opinion of the book.
- In this post, there are affiliate links for the book. This is one way that we monetize the site and if you find that this book is something you are interested in purchasing, you are given the option to purchase through these links. We will receive a commission (at no cost to you) if you purchase through one of the links. I want to make the following statement about my review of this book: My job is to give you my honest opinion. The use of affiliate links do not have an impact on my opinion of the book. If it sucks, I’ll tell you. If it doesn’t, I’ll tell you. I won’t hold anything back.
Now to the review 🙂
Where Can You Get This Book?
The book can be purchased here for $57.
What Will You Receive?
- A digital copy of The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA
- Access to The Year in FBA Private Facebook Group
- Year in FBA Notebook
- Year in FBA Printable Calendar
- Free updates for life
- A sixty day 100% refund policy*
Who Is This Book For?
- New sellers
- Sellers who have not been through certain parts of the year (ex: Q4)
- Experienced sellers who are looking to sharpen their current business
- Sellers who are having trouble planning for 2016 and beyond
- Sellers who are having issues finding inventory throughout the year
- Sellers who are experiencing the Q4 detox (the drop in sales that happens after Q4)
- Any seller looking to continue their education
Who Shouldn’t Read This Book?
- Someone who is looking for the end all be all guide for selling on Amazon
- Someone who has never shipped in an item to Amazon
- Sellers who think they already know everything there is to know about online selling
- Someone who can’t commit to spending a few days to learn a few new things
- Someone who doesn’t understand the basics of selling on Amazon
Who Wrote This Book?
Stephen Smotherman – Stephen has been selling online since 1998 and on Amazon since 2011. He currently makes a full-time income (working only part-time hours) selling via Fulfillment by Amazon. With his FBA income, he is able to support his wife and four boys. Stephen truly love helping other FBA sellers and is the brain behind the Full Time FBA Blog.
My Short Summary of The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA
“I was honestly surprised as I started to read The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA. I was expecting to read a book that was geared for the true beginner and within the first few pages of January, I was taking notes for my own business. This quick and easy to read guide covers a ton of questions that all sellers have and are afraid to ask. Stephen does a great job of explaining some complex topics in an easy to understand method and truly attempts to provide value to any level of seller. The book is well worth the $57 price tag if you are able to pick up 3 or 4 tips or ideas that you didn’t have before reading the book. I know that I got my money’s worth with the “cruise” tip in the January chapter. I was completely impressed with the caliber of this book and would recommend it to any Amazon seller.”
My Long Summary of The Reseller’s Guide to a Year in FBA
If there is one piece of advice I can give you when reading this book, it is to ACTUALLY READ THE INTRODUCTION! Stephen does a great job of explaining how the book is laid out and what you can expect (such as free updates for life and a little bit about himself). If you skip this part, it’s like you are skipping the opening scene of a movie.
My favorite part of the introduction is the section title: How to Read This Book. I think it is very important for each reader to determine how they should read this book. Some of you should read it in its entirety. Some of you should read it month by month. Some of you should read it quarter by quarter. It all depends how you process information and the way you want to use the information in the book.
Chapter 1: January
What a way to start off this book. I get asked time after time: “Now that Q4 is over, what do I do?” This chapter is great to read as you prepare for January (which you should be doing in November and December) and it clearly lays out what you should expect as a seller. I loved the sections over thrift stores and textbooks. The Q4 detox is something that I think all seller (new and experienced) should read to just prepare themselves each year.
Now I think that sourcing idea section had some value, but a lot of it was common sense. I would give away my few little tidbits I took away (which were worth the investment into the book itself), but you need to read them for yourself. And if you have never heard of long term storage fees, you get a nice introduction to them and how to prepare yourself for the date of February 15th.
Bottomline: This is a great chapter that all sellers should read each year around the start of December.
Chapter 2: February
Oh how I hate February. It’s cold. Football is over. I just want it to be spring. This was one of the chapters I was looking forward to the least and I was pleasantly surprised. The information about long term storage fees is something that all sellers need to know and there is a good economic analysis of opportunity costs and your choices with your long term inventory.
The sourcing ideas in this chapter are pretty basic, but they do bring up some great points. My favorite line from this chapter was: “Making assumptions will cost you money, literally!” There is not much to get excited about in February, but I will give Stephen credit for his list of creative ideas for those of us in cold parts of the USA.
Bottomline: There is nothing super exciting in this chapter, but there are some great reminders and tips for those of us who experience the winter blues.
Chapter 3: March
After reading the first two chapters, I was expecting to pick up a trick or two from March. I halfway expected some tips about sourcing for St. Patrick’s day, Mother’s Day, and Easter, but I was taken back by the first few sections. I will be the first to admit that I am not a thrifter, but I was excited for it to warm up so that I can go garage sale shopping after reading this chapter. I also had only ever heard of the ASD conference, but now I am looking into it as a possibility to actually attend.
The real value of this chapter is in the section about bundling. For anyone who is looking for a crash course on bundling, this chapter gives an exact example of creating an easter basket bundle. I have bundled in the past, but I was impressed with the way this was laid out (very easy to understand).
Bottomline: This chapter is incredible. I was beyond impressed and I have been selling for 2+ years. I wish I would have read this when I started selling.
Chapter 4: April
My favorite line of the book has to be: “Fools make uneducated guesses and, most of the time, fail pretty hard.” I have to say that I 100% agree with that quote from the book. I think anyone who takes the time and energy to invest into their education is no fool.
Anyway – As I started to read this chapter, I had flashes back to my suspension story. The spring cleaning section really stuck with me and honestly it is worth the entire price of the book. There are some great tips that are provided by Stephen, but tip #4 is by far one of the most important pieces of advice you can take away from this book. Hands down.
I do think that the sourcing section is lacking a bit, but that has come from my time as a seller. I tend to start loading up on summer goods and clearance items during this time, but that isn’t mentioned in this chapter. The sourcing ideas get better in the preparation for May section (which I think has a hidden secret for next year), so make sure to keep reading. I also wish the book spent a little more time on taxes and what you need to do to prepare leading up to April 15. I think that quarterly taxes were skipped over and tracking your expenses were also left out (both very important pieces of info).
Bottomline: One little tip in this chapter can save you pain and heartache. Make sure to actually follow through on the advice. Also, keep taxes in mind year round (not just briefly in April).
Chapter 5: May
This chapter wasn’t as good as the other chapters for me and the reason was it wasn’t all applicable. A seasoned seller might find that this chapter is lacking on new ideas, but those who have kids around the house (which I don’t) will love the section about tasks for your kids.
The garage sale section is nice reminder about one way to get rid of damaged and/or returned items. I am personally not a fan of having a garage sale (I prefer the flea market set up), but it is a good idea for those of you who live in a thriving garage sale community. There is a pretty good guide for having a garage sale if you are looking to host one and I think it can provide some good value and help you clear out those boxes of inventory that never go away.
Bottomline: You might find some value in this chapter depending on your business and/or life situations, but I didn’t find it super helpful for me.
Chapter 6: June
This was an interesting chapter to me as I tend to fall in the category of extremely strong summer sales. The summer slump is mentioned, but I can’t say that I have personally experienced it. I did really like the reminder to optimize my listing and a few of the other small tips at the beginning. Bundling is brought back up and there are some great ideas for those looking to take ownership of the buy box.
Something that I am also noticing is that some content is being brought back up again. If you actually read the introduction, you know to expect this since people are not instructed to read the book from start to finish (instead you should read a chapter a month). Reading it straight through you start picking up on some repeats, but I think the material that is repeated is extremely valuable.
I think this chapter also has some really important information about family time, road trips, and vacation. Most online sellers are always looking for a way to make the next dollar and forget about why they are trying to make the money in the first place. Stephen gives a great story of a sourcing trip with his wife and I challenge everyone to plan a sourcing trip this summer. I also loved the section about prepping for vacation to make sure you still make money while chilling at the beach.
Bottomline: This is was a nice change of pace chapter. Not only were there sourcing tips, there were also life tips that can truly improve your life.
Chapter 7: July
After the last chapter, I wasn’t sure exactly what to expect for July. I know that I have my typical sourcing rituals, but I wasn’t sure I was going to be able to learn anything for this month. I expected to see the general holiday information and summer clearance, but I was surprised with the information about the massive Target clearance sale. I honestly had no idea that this happened and Stephen does a great job laying out a plan on how to make sure you don’t get screwed over during the sale.
Other than that, there is a great reminder to prep for long term storage fees (it’s pretty much the same info from February, but if you are reading it month by month, you will need this information at this time period. Stephen also goes into what to do with out of season items that might be on sale during this time of year.
Bottomline: The section about the massive Target clearance is the real find of this chapter. Everything else is just an added bonus.
Chapter 8: August
To start, I have to say that I am starting to see a pattern in the topics that are repeated by Stephen throughout this book. Some people might complain that they are seeing the same information in a variety of places, but I think that it is actually brilliant. Sometimes you will read something and it won’t sink in, but if you read it a few different times you will start to get the hint. The book once again highlights ASD (the conference mentioned in March) and Global Export, which are both extremely important topics.
During the discussion of the long term storage fee date, there is a hidden gem that most will look over. Make sure to pay close attention to the August 16 section of this chapter. I also think that it is extremely intelligent to read the section about preparing your feedback for Q4. This is something that a ton of people overlook and it can really improve your sales as we enter the busy season.
Bottomline: Some of this content has already been covered in other areas of the book, but it is a great refresher for everyone. You never know what little tidbit you will pick up from this chapter.
Chapter 9: September
I think it is a must that the book talk about prepping for Q4 and September is where the prepping begins (besides the prepping your feedback section). In my opinion, I would read this chapter at the same time you read the chapter about August. I think a little foresight will be extremely helpful in the planning process. I like the description of the Q4 snowball and I think it really does a good job at getting you into the right mindset for Q4 (or Q$ as the book says).
The chapter then goes into a section about repricing your items. I think this is the real gold in this chapter because it sets you up to get more capital for inventory as we move into Q4. I took away a few little tricks from this section and I think most of you will too. Stephen also goes into another great example of how to bundle for the upcoming holiday; Halloween. The last few paragraphs of the chapter really make you stop and think about your goals and I think that it is something that most people should print out and hang in their office. Just saying.
Bottomline: With the start of Q4 just around the corner, this chapter does a nice job getting you into the right mindset and preparing for the Q4 storm.
Chapter 10: October
I really like the way Stephen sets the expectations for Q4 in this chapter. He takes the time to lay out that you need to really ramp up your inventory purchasing and shipping. Instead of just saying it, he gives great examples of ways to decrease your purchase costs and increase overall sourcing during this period. I have to say that one of the tips under supplies literally will save me the cost of this book in less than two month. You read that right. It was a DUH moment and I can’t believe I didn’t think of doing it before. Thanks Stephen for showing me the light 🙂
I have to say that I love his view on how to use the hot toy list that a ton of stores issue around this time of year. His other information about prepping for the rush that is about to hit next month. The section of the Christmas Arch is a nice primer for those who just get really confused what to look for on Keepa charts during this time of year. The Holiday Selling Guidelines for Toys & Games section answers the question everyone asks each year, so make sure you read and remember it. October can be critical for your account and your Q4 success. Halloween is mentioned, but I think this should actually be moved to the September chapter (just my opinion). There is a little nugget of gold I got from the Halloween section, but you will have to find it yourself.
Bottomline: Although there is a lot of great info in this chapter, I took away one thing that will keep paying each time I buy supplies. I love it. And I might just have to send Stephen a birthday present on October 7.
Chapter 11: November
After reflecting on the first section of this chapter (about being thankful), I literally went “I didn’t know that even happened” as I read the next section about the Dollar General Toy Sale. That right there was enough for me in this chapter. I have been sourcing for 2+ years and I had no idea that this sale happened. I now have reminders set in my calendar to check it out. In the Baby, It’s cold outside section, there is literally of list of ideas to help you with sourcing items other than toys during the month. I love it! And wait. He does it again in the next section with another list of items to consider.
Honestly, I think that each seller needs to be reminded of the ups and downs of Q4. Stephen does that with the expectations section of the chapter and it is just a nice reminder for those of us who have been selling for a good bit of time. He also explains his plan for Black Friday (which is primarily online) and gives a few tips for those of you looking for great deals. If you go to the next section, he really gets into the details of Black Friday shopping. I question exact details because he mentions not shopping on Black Friday, but the general tips and tricks are solid. The ideas for hiring help for Black Friday made me wish I would have purchased this book in October. I think that this Black Friday section could almost be another book on its own.
I was also impressed with the Quick Q4 Tips for November section of the chapter. If you only read one part of this chapter, this is the part to read.
Bottomline: This is one of the best chapters in the book.
Chapter 12: December
Since I read this book in December, I can honestly give my feedback on the accuracy of the content. I have to say that the book is spot on. Returns, money, race to the bottom, Christmas, reports, taxes, etc. All things that I am currently doing and/or worried about during the month of December. The reminder about the refunds is nice and so is the one about keeping up your feedback. Both are very timely pieces of advice during this time of year.
Something that I wasn’t expecting was the way the Holding Your Price vs. The Race to the Bottom discussion was laid out. It is a work of art. So many sellers sit there and struggle with this question and Stephen breaks it down into 10 questions that you should ask yourself about each product. It is brilliant. I wish I could steal this part of the book and share it with everyone right now.
There are some nifty tips that I am actually going to be trying out over the next few weeks that I picked up in this chapter. The sections about shipping and merchant fulfilling items are especially great advice since I am reading the book in the middle of December. I do like how Stephen doesn’t just stop when Christmas happens. He gives advice on what to do in the days following Christmas (which is huge for some sellers). Make sure to read up on that part as well.
The section about what to do with your earnings is something that I know I have stressed time and time again. I love that my mindset is right there with Stephen. The picture from Parks and Rec is also perfect (and I have actually used it before reading this book). And #8 on his list always holds a special place in my heart. Just saying.
After you figure out how to spend all of your profits from Q4, you MUST read the Year-End Reports section. I repeat. You must read the Year-End Reports section. He gives you step by step instructions to run all the reports you will need for tax time. I know I copied and pasted the instructions into a calendar reminder so I don’t forget. You should do the same!
To end the chapter, Stephen covers planning for the new year. I really like this section, but I am just not sure if it belongs here. I know that planning for me happens in September/October, but I also realize that I might be an exception to the rule. If you are getting the book in May, I highly recommend starting with this section and then reading the next month’s chapter. I think a lot of sellers lack planning and this book does a nice job walking you through the goal setting process. It is a nice finish to an amazing book.
Bottomline: This chapter is as exciting as the month. I love it.
As I look back at the book as a whole, I have to say that I believe that Stephen did an excellent job with this book. It is an easy to read 163 page guide that makes you think each month of the year. Little do most readers realize that if you actually follow the advice laid out in the book, you will actually set yourself for a successful year time and time again. This is one book that I happy that I own and I will be setting reminders each month to refresh myself on what lies ahead.
Would I Buy It Again: Yes. In a heartbeat.
Is It Worth The $57: I truly think so. If you take one thing away from each chapter, you will more than double your investment into this book.
Overall Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars – I look forward to the updated 2016 version. If there is more information in the May chapter, I would give the book 5 stars. And it would be even better if Stephen linked to some of our awesome free content here on FBA Master.
Where Can I Get The Book: You can purchase the book here.