The majority of people who are selling books online are using a major distributor like Apple, Amazon or Kobo. There’s absolutely nothing wrong with this approach, and it works for a number of writers. However, you might be interested to know that you can easily cut out the middleman and sell the books yourself. This is known as direct sales because you are directly selling the books without a distributor. Is this actually a viable solution? Consider the following pros and cons to see if it’s best for your book.
Pro: More Money per Sale
If you sell through Amazon or any other partner, then you’ll often keep a good percentage of the sale. For example, you’ll get either 30% or 70% royalties through Kindle, depending on the sales price and where the book is sold. That’s not bad, but you can do much better if you sell the book yourself.
Instead of 70% as your highest commission, what about 100%? You might have to pay some money to setup a website and ecommerce account, but 100% of the sale will go directly into your wallet. If you can ensure as many sales on your website as through a distributor, then you can make significantly more money.
Con: Marketing Burden
Writing the book was hard enough, but now you have to market it. Yes, you commonly have to do marketing even if you do use a partner. This allows you to build traffic to the sales page. However, distributing partners do some marketing for you. For example, they offer a search engine where people can find your book. They might also place your book on the front page, or discount it to entice buyers.
You don’t have this luxury. From beginning to end, you have to market the book.
Building exposure isn’t enough. You also have to ensure that people actually come to the website and buy from you. This means marketing both the book AND your website (not just the book). This can take a lot of time and effort, especially if marketing isn’t your forte.
Pro: Total Control
Want to add images and make unconventional formatting changes? Go ahead. What about bundle a bunch of your books together as one product? Once again, it’s your choice. You get complete and total control of your book if you directly sell it. You can even do wacky things like make every page a JPEG or even a WAV file, though you should probably stick to more conventional file formats.
The point is that you can do whatever you want, without having to worry about a system or rules getting in your way. You can also sell whatever you want. Some books that cannot be sold through Kindle can easily be sold on your own website.
Con: Technical Support
What happens if there is a problem with someone’s Kindle and they can’t read your book? The person contacts Amazon to get the problem fixed. What if the person can’t download your book from the Apple marketplace? Same thing, the person contacts Apple to get the problem fixed. You are never involved in the technical support.
What happens if you directly sell the book and it won’t download? Then you have to provide the technical support. You have to act as marketer, writer, product provider, merchant and technical support team all at once. Though you shouldn’t expect too many problems, you will have to provide support if something goes awry.
You also have to ensure that you get all of the right services in order before selling your book. For example, you need a website to host the book, a merchant account to accept money, a downloading system so that people can download the file and so on. You can’t just upload the file and hope for the best, like you can with Amazon or Kobo. You have to do all of this work before you get any sales.
Selling your book directly takes a lot of work and marketing, but the major benefit is that you can make much more money per sale, and you can also take total control of your products. Most people prefer using a distributor because it’s easier, but the prospect of making more money can be enough to drive more entrepreneurial writers to sell their own books.