I’m an independent author. That means I’m not represented by a literary agent, and I’m publishing my own work. Essentially, I’ve started a small publishing business, and I’m wearing all the hats.
Wearing all the hats doesn’t mean that I do all the work, just that I have all the responsibility. I contract out editing, design, and artwork like any publisher would. I use the usual bookstores for distribution, as any publisher would. I also use a few distributors that cater to indie publishers, and I sell directly from my website.
Of all these sales channels, I’m spending most of my marketing time promoting my own store. There are several reasons, and I’ll outline them for you.
I wouldn’t call myself a control freak, but I don’t like giving creative control of my work over to other people. I can’t tell you the number of times I’ve heard stories of authors who hate the titles or artwork on their books. But that’s what can happen when you sell your work to a publisher.
Also, I don’t like depending on anyone else to pay me.
When you buy a book on Amazon or some other online store, I eventually get paid. And, compared to traditional publishing, it’s actually pretty fast. Sixty days after the end of the month, Amazon sends out payments for that month. Other stores are only thirty days.
When you buy a book from my website, I get paid in thirty seconds. That’s a lot better.
Another control issue is relationships. Book orders on Amazon are essentially anonymous. Not to Amazon, obviously, but to authors. There’s no sense of relationship or community. When you buy directly from an author, they and their staff (if they’re lucky enough to have one) probably see and handle that order. Some authors are using drop-ship services to fulfill orders, but I’m not.
I see your order. I will sign your book if you want, address the envelope, and take it to the post office. If that ever becomes a chore, my process might change, but for now, it’s a pleasure.
Again, indie authors make a lot more per sale compared to traditional authors. I’m not complaining.
That said, Amazon takes a huge bite out of indie sales.
In the example above, Amazon pays me 60% of the sales price of $15.99. If you do the math, that’s $9.59. Then they charge me for printing which you can see is $5.31. That leaves $4.28 for me.
If I sell them myself, I still pay for printing, but not the 40% off the top to Amazon. So I pay the $5.31 plus shipping and whatever other fees they add. Alternatively, I can order from Ingram.
You can see that they charge a little more per book. Of course, the shipping percentage will come down if I order more books. If I order a case (20 books), my cost is just under $8 per book. It’s about $6.50 on Amazon.
Why Should You Care?
As a reader, I want the authors I like to live their best lives and write many books. I don’t care about corporations. I don’t care about stockholders or officers.
If I want to buy art, I want the artist to make money.
If you have a chance to buy directly from an author, you have a chance to give them more money without paying more money. Basically, you’re taking money out of Jeff Bezos’ pocket and putting it into mine.
Now, maybe you don’t care about that, and that’s fair.
Do you care about your information? Do you care that everything you buy from a large corporation is a data point? That every cent spent tells them more about you? And they’re totally okay selling that information.
If you buy from indies, we don’t sell your information. Sure, we ask to add you to our newsletter list. We know who you are, but other than trying to sell you more of our stuff, we don’t do anything with that information.
Is buying from my website safe?
You don’t actually buy on my website. I’m using PayHip to take care of the money. My store is actually hosted on their servers. I never see your payment information. PayHip handles every transaction and sends me the money. It’s very secure.
I use another company, BookFunnel, to deliver my eBooks. When you place an order, you get an email with a link. They help you load your new book onto whatever device you love to read on. If there’s a problem, they help you out.
Buying From Authors
The internet has been a game-changer. In half a generation we’ve gone from buying mostly local to online. Now we’re seeing a shift from buying from huge online stores to directly from creators. It just makes sense.
Welcome to the future.