In the age of online selling there are many options to sell your books online, and in most cases it may seem like the most simple and straightforward option is to list your books on 3rd party site like Amazon or Barnes and Noble. Listing them on those sites can be extremely important, but in recent years many authors have discovered the benefits of selling directly to the reader.
1. More Profit Per Sale
This may seem like a no brainer but if you are selling books through physical or online bookstores, the retailer takes a percentage of the cut.
Using Amazon as an example, most authors are on the 70% royalty option plan. For hard copy books sold in the United States through CreateSpace, Amazon takes 40% in addition to the fees they subtract for the printing costs themselves.
This means that for electronic books an author is getting 70% of what is being paid for the book, and for print, it can potentially be as low as 25 percent of the cost of the book.
While being on these stores can have real value and allow you to reach a market that you otherwise might not have, you can make more if you direct your following to buy from your own website.
If you are selling an ebook, you can sell it directly and not have to pay the 30% to the store. If you would still like to have a presence on 3rd party online stores, you can maintain them and simply direct your own subscribers or fans to purchase on your website. In many cases, those folks would be happy to purchase from you directly anyway.
If your ebook is priced at $9.99, then that is approximately $2.99 more that you will get per book than if people are buying from Amazon.
The increased profit margin is even greater with print. As you sell more books and grow your own list, selling directly makes even more sense.
If you are selling 10 books a month, losing approximately $3 per book via percentage given to a store may seem trivial but if your sales increase, the change can be quite dramatic.
If you are selling 100 books a month, that change in revenue is approximately $300 and if this happens over a year it means a $3,600 increase in revenue.
If you are selling 1000 books a month directly, it could result in $36,000 in increased revenue.
Check out the specific numbers here:
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2. Flexibility in Pricing
This may seem like a minor point but the freedom to price your items without limitation can create a significantly higher profit margin. Selling directly on your website allows you to sell items at a higher price point for electronic books than Amazon which is the largest ebook retailer in the United States.
If you price your ebook higher than $9.99 on Amazon, the royalty is only 35%, meaning the author only makes 35% of the entire sale. This means that if you have a higher priced ebook, you automatically have to limit the price or greatly reduce the percentage you are receiving as an author.
If you price and sell directly on your website, it also means that you can create higher priced items including book bundles or courses with books and receive all of the proceeds from it. For authors with big catalogues, this can be a great option.
Creating a book bundle is a good deal for the customer, and has a significantly higher purchase price for the author.
If an author wants to create and sell a book bundle with 3 books on Amazon for $21 ($7 per ebook), their 35% royalty will be $7.35 if they sell on Amazon. Alternately, if they price the bundle at $9.99 at the 70% royalty, they would get $6.99.
If they price it at $21 on their website, they will earn approximately $14 more per sale. This may not seem like a lot for just one sale but over time and with multiple purchases, this can make a really significant difference in the profit.
Check out the specific numbers here:
Another advantage to selling directly is the option of bundling a book with a course with a book, which is not an option with Amazon.
This completely opens up another option by upgrading a book buyer into a course or program customer. In many cases, a reader may benefit and want additional support or products that they simply cannot purchase through an online bookseller.
Since courses typically range from $47 to hundreds of dollars, this can convert a relatively small bit of royalty revenue into a much more significant sale. Even a small percentage of book buyers upgrading into a course can generate much higher revenue and can make a substantial difference in total profit.
In my case, those who read my books often become clients or customers for other products or programs. Online, customers don’t even have the option to purchase a more comprehensive product or service when that may be what serves them best.
3. Control in terms of Pricing
Another significant reason for selling directly on your website is having control over your pricing. You can control it for all the reasons and in the ways outlined above.
Additionally, you have control over changes in terms or royalty share by ebook sellers. In 2015, Amazon switched from paying authors for books read in Kindle Unlimited and Kindle Lending Library to pages read in 2015.
This meant that for most authors, the amount getting paid per book was very low. It was already low with some authors getting around $1 per book read or borrowed and potentially dropping into tallying in cents and not dollars for pages read.
By having your books or products for sale on your own store you can avoid these kinds of sudden and drastic pricing changes.
4. Complete Loss of Royalty
Selling direct on your website can help combat the problem of getting no royalties from the sale or distribution of your book at all. This happens most commonly with book piracy.
In many cases those selling the book are not even booksellers but those with malevolent intent who use free books as a lure to install malware and spyware on a computer when someone downloads the “free” book.
This is of course completely illegal and there are steps you can take to have your book removed from a website via a takedown order. By selling your book on your own website, you can develop and train your readers to purchase from your website and other reputable sites.
Another problematic scenario has arisen from a new policy by Amazon regarding book sales. In this situation, people may be purchasing from an authorized vendor that appears to be legitimate and fulfilled by Amazon, yet the book is not purchased through authorized channels. When this occurs, it is highly likely that the author is not getting any royalty at all.
This is a complex issue we will address next week in the post, Why Amazon’s New Policy Makes Selling Directly on Your Website Important.