Have you ever considered selling your products directly from your author website? It’s an avenue so few indie authors choose and I’m honestly not sure why they neglect this (extremely) simple concept. Do you realize how easy it is to sell from your website and maximize profits?
I mean, Amazon is fantastic for exposure. Ditto for places like Nook, iBooks, Kobo, etc., but there’s a downside to hitting the high rankings and even bestsellers lists on these sites: Ultimately, you’re giving up 20-30% in royalties.
And that kind of blows, especially if you’re an indie author going into business for yourself, this really kind of blows. I mean, sure, we’re earning more per unit sold than our traditionally published counterparts, but there’s still a lot of room to earn more money from books you’ve worked so hard to create.
I mean, it’s your work, you own the rights, you probably either ordered a custom cover with your own, custom design, or you ordered a nice premade cover that you chose from tens of thousands. And you own the rights to the work, which is what made self-publishing so attractive to me.
You either hired a professional editor or underwent your own ferocious self-editing dozens of times (I usually edit my own work, but do so until it’s typo-free enough to gain acceptance into reputable book promotion services, about 25 edits if not more), nailed your Look Inside feature, and have gone through the book description so many times it looks as if you hired your own copywriter.
This is all part of the startup costs to running your own online business, especially if you own your own author’s website/blog through an all-in-one platform like Wealthy Affiliate with professionally designed themes like AuthorCats.
So why would I only want to recoup 70% at a time with such large startup costs to my indie author business?
To the real businessperson, it doesn’t sound like a great endeavor if you look at it in a certain fashion. True business people and entrepreneurs look to maximize profit and if you’re in the self-publishing realm, you’re an entrepreneur.
So why not sell direct?
What You Need
Okay, so for those of you who are tech-savvy, are DIY, or know a webmaster, you can opt for custom solutions with platforms like WooCommerce.
Problem is, this can get pricey and while it’s sweet to have everything connected to your own brand as I’ve mentioned in previous articles, even authors who have everything integrated into their site will likely use a third-party source.
My number one recommendation is to use Gum Road as it’s absolutely free to use. Now, there is a paid option, but it’s free to upload and sell products where you’ll keep most of the royalties, unlike what you see on Amazon.
You can sign up for Gum Road by clicking the link here. Just build your profile, add your products, and link your products’ pages to Buy Direct links on your site.
I spent time doing this in late September and it literally took me thirty minutes to get Northern Knights, Swords of Destiny, Missing in Columbia, plus the e-book box set of the First Trilogy up and running. I also placed The Skyehawk Chronicles on for a specific price as well, for interested readers who might not be so interested in joining my mailing list to get the work for free as some people just won’t give an email address.
And that’s all there is to it, your own online store connected right to your site.
Pros of Selling Direct
For one, you can keep almost all if not all royalties. So if twenty people buy my Complete First Trilogy for $5.99 via Amazon, I’ll keep $83.86. Not a bad haul, but if I sold direct, I’d keep between $107.02 and $119.82. In other words, I’m keeping between $24 and $36 more for selling the same number of units.
On Amazon, I’d have to sell a few more copies to make such a profit.
There are no changes in algorithms either as anyone on your email list has access to your direct links. The more traffic you build via your mailing list, cross promote with other authors, joint promos, and other methods will in turn continue to increase traffic to your website and Google loves traffic.
Amazon on the other hand can change the rules at will and they do, often without even alerting authors. The good news is that our own online bookstores can challenge the world’s number one online bookstore. I’m not saying to take your books off Amazon, since it’s the only place many readers, especially readers new to your work shop, but selling direct provides a nice alternative.
Amazon can terminate a work or agreement at their discretion, but by selling direct, at the very least, you can sell through your site, meaning if your book were to get banned for any reason on another platform, you can still directly sell through your site.
Yes, I know, that’s kind of cool.
Selling direct prevents the big players in the game from taking advantage of the little players. You can get around the big players with your own niche market along with your own targeted readers, which is another huge pro.
Often, those coming to your site are from your target market rather than from a market that might like your work, but may end up hating it and therefore, leaving a poor review. When you promote your work on Amazon, you’re getting mainly genre readers, but by niching down and selling direct to a particular theme, most of the time only that niche is going to buy while other genre-based readers outside the given theme won’t come near your work, meaning a better reputation and better reviews.
Cons of Selling Direct
Now, direct selling isn’t all rainbows, as there are some drawbacks here. One of which I mentioned earlier: Some readers ONLY shop via Amazon or other online bookstores, so if you choose to only sell direct, you’re missing a large chunk of prospective readers.
Say I’m browsing for books; unless it’s an author I’m a fan of, I’m never going to scour author websites, so I’ll either purchase work through iBooks (what I use to download e-books) or will usually buy hard copy via Amazon or eBay.
So again, I’m not saying to make direct selling your only option as many readers shop from online bookstores and only those stores, as they’re far more recognizable brands to shop from than the Lord of Columbia bookstore! Because in all honesty, apart from my subscribers, people are probably going to confuse Lord of Columbia with Pablo Escobar (notorious drug lord of Colombia), even if there’s absolutely zero relationship between the two.
A second con is if you’re enrolled in KDP Select, unfortunately, you can’t sell direct until your 90-day term is up with the program, which can be as long as three months. So, if you’re enrolled in KDP Select and wish to remain on good terms with Amazon, wait until the enrollment period is over before plastering your book to your own online store. You can, however, place a teaser or up to 10% of your work on your website.
If you venture into selling physical copies of your book, there’s going to be a massive hurdle. If you’re the DIY type, you can keep a stash of paperbacks in your basement or spare room and make runs to the post office every time you get an order, but you’ll have to handle invoices, receipts, returns, etc. Only a good route for those who like stress, because who wants to run a home-based distribution center?
So, there are a ton of variables to consider when selling physical copies directly, but there are excellent online avenues for this as well. Either way, it will take time and precise planning.
Expand Your Horizons
I honestly would sell direct if I were you, especially in the e-book market. It’s a great way to keep higher royalties and get around the obstacles Amazon may place in our way without even alerting us.
Also, it took me thirty minutes to upload by epub,.mobi, and PDF files onto Gum Road and link them to my site. It’s fast and convenient, plus the reader can simply click the work and download it directly onto their device. There’s absolutely zero tech knowledge needed in this venture.
Did You Start A Blog?
This one’s a bonus, but you know if you start a blog, use SEO-enriched content, and post regularly, you’ll gain some awesome exposure in the major search engines. Readers can Google a keyword, any keyword, and new readers will discover you.
My blog, lordofcolumbiaseries.com, serves this purpose, where I talk about influences behind the series, the books, themes, content matter, and the sport of shotball, which readers seem to like! I’ll use the Jaaxy keyword research tool to decide on what I want to talk about, especially when it comes to the work’s influences, which through time, will allow my articles to become visible via the search engines. And by the way, I have some books written with these real-life influences in mind!
So if you haven’t done so yet, start this blog and you can still sell your books directly.