Have you been thinking about self-publishing? Like millions of other writers out there, you’d naturally be assuming that Amazon has the answers when it comes to selling your self-published book. What you’re not told though, is that if you go that route, Amazon owns your business. Like any other marketplace that owns your customers, sales, and data, Amazon shouldn’t own your online presence. It’s great for exposure and being discovered but, unless you’re E L James, then it’s unlikely that only selling on Amazon is going to result in a long-lasting, substantial income from your writing. If you want a better chance of getting your work off the ground, read on to see why an alternative to Amazon is best for you.
The great news is that there are alternatives to Amazon when it comes to self-publishing! Every author needs a piece of the internet to call their own, starting with their own website. We’re BIG on this here at Selz – we want you to have a long-lasting and lucrative writing career. So, here are a few reasons why you need your own site and store if you want self-publishing success:
- Sell direct, more profits
- Connect, engage, brand yourself and your work
- Opportunities for post-purchase marketing
Selling directly to your audience gives you more profit and greater control over the future of your business. When you’re selling on Amazon or another marketplace, you’ll find that they eat up at least 30% of your sales. We’re not advocating that you completely remove yourself from these marketplaces, because they are good for exposure. But as you get loyal fans and customers who are hanging for your next piece of work, you can be selling your self-published books direct from your website and earning around 95% of your sales price as opposed just 60-70%. It makes sense to set yourself up for both.
Other than Amazon being an unsexy place to shop (protein powder while you’re buying your novels, anyone?), you also run the risk of losing an interested customer to distractions. With direct competitors ebooks being suggested left right and center, one click and they’re gone.
Where you decide to sell from will be up to you, as you’ll know best where your audience hangs out. A few options:
- Your own website hosted on WordPress on another platform, with ecommerce added
- An online store that sits on your own domain
- Your Facebook page (use Selz to add a store to your Facebook page so buyers don’t have to go elsewhere)
- Your Instagram or Twitter profile (lead them straight to your product for sale with the link in your profile)
- Your mailing list
When you’re selling directly to your audience, you now have a direct link to your customers. If you sell through Amazon, those customers typically remain as Amazon’s customers. Not if you’re selling directly to your audience through your own website! Instead, selling direct provides you with your customer’s details like their email address and purchase history, so you can continue your relationship with them as you write more books. It’s also a way to put your professionalism as a writer at the forefront. Having your own website where you offer multiple avenues for your customers to buy from shows you’re professional, not simply as a hobby writer.
Looks do matter
Having your own website means that you’ll have total control over the look and feel of you as a brand. As an author, it’s important to remember that you’re as much a part of the sales pitch as your work is, and let’s face it, Amazon ain’t gonna be winning any beauty pageants any time soon. Providing your fans with a professional looking and feeling website with an about page, store and a blog is super important when it comes to showing existing and potential fans what you’re all about. It’s also vital for SEO – if want your name out there as a recognized author then you’ll need to make sure that people can find you. Having your own site gives you a golden opportunity to get seen in the way you want and also have control over what people read first about you.
Your blog is the best place to show the world your personality! Regular posts about your latest book tour, book ideas, behind the scenes shots and any other relevant news will keep readers coming back to your site. SEO is huge here – make sure you take advantage of the opportunity to include book title names, your own name and any other search terms that people use to find your website. By enabling comments on your blog you’ll give your readers a way to engage with you on your site.
You also get to take charge of what kind of buying experience you want your customers to have (credit cards, PayPal, both?) and what file types you want to be selling. Amazon limits you to .mobi files for Kindle, but that doesn’t serve the millions of readers that prefer PDFs or have other non-amazon eReaders. The best way to serve everyone is to offer your product as a bundle – the same product in different file types. Everyone’s served, and everyone’s happy.
Mailing list gold
Marketing to a mailing list is still the best way to get buyers, so you need to be collecting email addresses at every opportunity. If you’re only selling on Amazon then you won’t have access to this kind of data – your customers will only appear to you as sales in a list. No names, no contact details. This is one of the biggest reasons to have your own site and payment system. If you’re selling direct, you get to keep that all-important email address which means that you can email your customers and fans with news and opportunities to buy.
Tools like MailChimp are super easy to use and have a bunch of good looking templates and features to help you get started. If you’re using clever tools like an abandoned cart feature in your online store, you’ll be able to send friendly reminders to buyers to complete their purchase if they didn’t quite make it to the end. Think about post-purchase emails like your receipts – are they adding to the experience? Why not include a fun thank you message or a special offer for their next purchase?
We’d love to hear how you’re paving your own way with self-publishing! Share your stories and tips with us below.