There are advantages and disadvantages to selling on platforms like Amazon, Apple, and Barnes & Noble. Yes, they have a vast audience, but there's a catch.
Readers who buy your book are platform customers rather than your own. Important reader data about your demographics is not available to you.
Also these platforms may even use your page to promote other writers' books, which isn’t what you would want most of the time right?
As a result, people who visit your book's page could end up purchasing a book by another author. The platform benefits from the data collection, but you will help less.
For this reason, independent writers are increasingly choosing to sell their published works directly to readers.
Selling directly allows authors to create a genuine connection with their audience and build a devoted following. In the constantly evolving world of independent publishing, it's a fascinating possibility.
So join us as we explore exciting ways to sell as an author effectively and why you should consider it.
Let's get started.
Simply put, selling directly as an author means selling your books directly to readers, bypassing traditional retail outlets or online marketplaces.
An author can do this through your website, at events, or through specific self-publishing platforms that allow direct sales.
It involves managing your own sales process, including setting prices, handling transactions, and fulfilling orders.
So, as an author, while you should even care or think about selling your books directly, here are the reasons;
When you sell directly, you keep a larger percentage of the sales price because no retailer or distributor is taking a cut.
You can set your own prices and change them at any time. You can also offer special deals or bundles to your readers.
Selling directly allows you to build a relationship with your readers. It aloows you to seamlessly communicate with them directly via email or social media, leading to higher reader engagement and loyalty.
When readers buy directly from you, you'll have access to their contact information (with their permission), which can be invaluable for marketing.
When you sell directly, you maintain complete control over the creative aspects of your work. This includes the cover design, formatting, and even the content of your book.
Direct selling allows for greater flexibility. You can experiment with different marketing strategies, adjust your prices as needed, and pivot your approach based on your readers' feedback.
Selling books directly from your website can give a sense of exclusivity. You can offer signed copies and limited editions or bundle your books with exclusive content not available elsewhere.
Selling directly to your readers allows for immediate feedback. Readers can easily reach out to you with their thoughts, reviews, and suggestions, helping you understand your audience better and improve your future work.
Now let's look at the various easy ways you as an author can effectively sell directly and be successful while doing it;
Before you can sell your books, you must write and format them. The initial process remains the same whether you're dealing directly or on platforms like Amazon.
Yet, for direct sales, you may want to tweak some aspects. For instance, in your "Also By" section, consider linking to books on your store rather than on Amazon.
Another adjustment could be with your reader magnet. On Amazon, you offer a free reader magnet to entice people to share their email.
However, if someone has already bought a book from your store, you likely have their email, so offering a free reader magnet might not be necessary. A few changes to your front and back matter might be needed.
Now, getting to the actual selling, the first on our list here is selling via your website. You can think of it as your online home.
A place where you can show off your books, tell your story, and sell your books straight to your readers. And guess what? You don't need to be a tech wizard to do it.
Here's how to do it;
● Choose a platform: WordPress and Wix are user-friendly options.
● Pick a domain name: This is your address on the internet, so choose something that represents you and your work.
● Design your website: Make it a place where readers can see your books, learn about upcoming projects, and purchase directly.
Making good use of social media is like hanging out with your readers in a virtual book club.
You can chat about your books, share sneak peeks, and build a community around your work.
Here's how to go about it;
● Choose your platforms:Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram are popular.
● Share updates: Tell your readers about your writing process and new releases.
● Engage with your audience: Respond to comments, ask questions, and create a community around your books.
Your email list is your direct line to your readers; imagine being able to drop a note to your biggest fans whenever you want. That's what an email list is for.
You can share news and exclusive content, sell your books, and much more.
Here's how to build one;
● Choose an email marketing service: Mailchimp and ConvertKit are both great options.
● Collect emails:You can do this through your website or social media.
● Send regular updates: Share news and exclusive content, and promote your books.
Who doesn't love a good deal? Bundle your books or offer discounts to encourage readers to buy directly from you.
It's a win-win - your readers get a deal, and you sell more books.
Here's how to do it effectively;
● Bundle your books: If you have a series or a set of related books, sell them as a bundle.
● Offer discounts:This could be a holiday sale, a launch special, or a discount for email subscribers.
Events are a great way to connect with readers and other authors, which gives you more leverage to sell your books.
Here's how to make the most of them;
● Find relevant events: Look for book fairs, conventions, and author meet-ups.
● Prepare your materials:Bring copies of your books, business cards, and promotional materials.
● Network: Talk to readers, connect with other authors, and make connections in the industry.
Handling transactions can be tricky, but payment gateways simplify the process.
Here's how to use them;
● Choose a payment gateway: PayPal and Stripe are secure and easy to use.
● Integrate it with your website: Most website platforms have guides on how to do this.
● Test it out: Make sure your customers' payment process is smooth.
One thing you shouldn't do as an author is to limit yourself to one platform.
Here's how to reach a wider audience when selling directly;
● Choose your platforms: Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Kobo are popular choices.
● Format your book:Each platform has different formatting requirements, so make sure your book meets them.
● Publish: Follow the publishing process for each platform.
You can sell more directly as an author via good and strategic collaborations with other authors, which can help you reach new readers.
Here's how to do it:
● Find authors in your genre: Look for authors with a similar audience.
● Propose a collaboration:This could be a guest blog post, a co-authored book, or an anthology.
● Promote each other:Share each other's work with your respective audiences.
Signed copies are a special treat for readers, making them want to buy more for their friends and loved ones.
Here's how to offer them;
● Announce the offer:Let your readers know you offer signed copies.
● Sign the books:Personalize each book with a message or your signature.
● Ship them out: Have a system for shipping the books to your readers.
Another most effective way of selling directly as an author is using self-publishing platforms. They are like your personal publishing house.
Here's how to use them;
● Format your book: Each platform has specific formatting requirements.
● Publish: Follow the platform's publishing process, and your book will be available to readers worldwide.
Selling directly to readers can be rewarding and profitable for authors to connect with their fans and grow their audience. However, it isn't for everyone, and here are the reasons;
Setting up and managing a website, handling online transactions, and dealing with digital distribution can be technically challenging for some authors.
Not everyone is okay with the technical aspects of direct selling.
Direct selling requires a significant investment of time and effort. Authors need to manage all aspects of the sales process, from marketing and customer service to order fulfillment. This can take away time from writing.
Successful direct selling often depends on having a dedicated fan base. It can be difficult for new authors or those without an established audience to drive traffic to their websites and generate sales.
Now, let's look at some of the frequently asked questions about selling directly as an author.
Authors can sell various products beyond books, such as premium print editions, stationery, online courses, memberships, exclusive newsletters, and more. Rights to their work, like film, TV, audio, and translation rights, can also be explored.
First-time authors' sales vary widely, but self-published authors may sell around 250 books or less on average. Traditionally published non-fiction books sell about 250-300 copies in the first year.
Romance novels are top sellers, making up about 23% of total fiction sales in the US. However, genre popularity can vary, with religious and inspirational books leading in non-fiction.
Selling directly as an author comes with many benefits, like full profit control, access to insightful business data, and more. However, it has its perks.
The most important thing here is to know what works for you and double down on it as an author; for instance, you can sell your books through your personal website/blog, social media account, email list, etc.
For any author, the end goal is always to write for their audience in the best possible way while maintaining a healthy amount of insightful feedback for these readers over time.
For more resources for authors, parents, and children, you can check out my books, guides, and product collections . I promise you will love them :)