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All Things Writing & Publishing > To Amazon or not?

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message 1: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments Are the advantages of selling a book through Amazon exceed those of selling independently through your own web site?
I argue that initially Amazon does nothing to promote your book, it just avails the platform. If the book gains momentum, Amazon starts to offer it on pages of other popular books and so on. No problem with that, Amazon does what's good for her to sell more and have more share in earnings. On the other hand, there are numerous restrictions on what's allowed and what not, sometimes arbitrary.
If you open your own site and sell through it can it be more beneficial? I'm not sure, but google might have less restrictions. Can my site, if properly promoted, pop up on the first page when somebody searches the word 'book'? Possibly
Both venues are not mutually exclusive, unless you sign up with 'Select'.
What do you think? Is it better to stick with Amazon or promote your own site and sell there?


T. K. Elliott (Tiffany) (t_k_elliott) If you only sell in one place, I would say to sell on Amazon. That is where the majority of book-buying takes place.

While it's possible that you would get good sales from your own website, that seems most likely to happen when you are famous and people wake up thinking, "I really need a book by Nik Krasno."

However, by not selling on Amazon, you would miss out on people who wake up thinking, "I really want to read a political/crime thriller; I'll go and see what's out there." Because those people will most likely hit Amazon and browse through there.

Of course, if you don't want to be in Amazon KDP, you don't have to be exclusive, so you can sell in both places.

Amazon's major advantage is that it already has the traffic, and Amazon has trained lots of people to go there when they want to buy books. Why waste that?


message 3: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments Hey Tiffany, welcome back!
Some sound delibirations. I mean what author would dare not to be on Amazon, when everybody's there, readers and authors alike?
That's true that a reader having nothing specific in mind would likely come to Amazon and use its engine to look what results 'political thriller' brings. My books would probably appear on 30-th, 40-th pages of search results, where no one would get. In this context I was thinking whether I had a better chance to promote my own site by non-literary-connected words, like oligarchs, Ukraine, Russia, USSR and stuff like that to get high places on google?
Unfortunately, I don't have a site -:), but I'm thinking whether to set up one and rely a little less on Amazon's platform


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments The great thing is that you can do both. I also think every author should reconsider what Amazon categories his book is in just to make sure he is optimizing the potential for higher rankings.


message 5: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2276 comments Maybe I'm from a different universe, cause I always seem to attract the patterns that defies the norm. I had some initial success on Amazon early on, but I have not been able to maintain and build momentum. I pulled my catalog from Select last year and went wide on Smashwords, and my sales have pretty much dried to nothing on Amazon, while I'm doing better on SW. last month or so I began to trim my catalog on Amazon, and actually decided not to release my latest book on Amazon. I recognize their share of the consumer market, but from what I'm seeing in the past 6 months, I could give up on Amazon completely without consequence.

Amazon has become a place where my free stuff does all right, but they don't translate to paid sales. Honestly, Barnes & Noble is the same way, but the Apple Store has been an outlet that defies logic. For some reason, they can't price at any price point that doesn't end in .99. I priced a boxset at an even $5 and it ends up at $5.99 on Apple. I priced the individual parts at $1.49 and they show up at $1.99. Despite the difference, Apple has become my largest market for paid sales - strange thing is I can't give away free books unless they're taking Part 1 free along with the rest of the series.

Another annoyance with Amazon is that you can't make use of the countdown promotion unless you're exclusive - even then, from the consumer POV, I don't remember ever finding out which books were on countdown deals (maybe I just never looked that hard, but still). There is no discovery unless you're willing to pay for it.

SW lets me create coupons and run whatever sale I want for as long as I want to run it. Coupons are only good for their store, but it is still a lot more than Amazon allows. I thought it would be an interesting thing to create coupons just for my Twitter/Facebook followers, then I was in for a shock when I did one of those occasional, random Google searches for my books and found my coupon codes on random websites focusing on SW discounts. I wasn't as annoyed as you might think to have my "private" coupon go public like that, rather I was impressed that the coupon was so easily "discovered" and disseminated when I was intended to keep it private.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments J.J.
Very interesting! I'm curious why you would not release on Amazon at all since it doesn't hurt you.


message 7: by Mike (new)

Mike Robbins (mikerobbins) | 289 comments I agree strongly that if you're only going to sell in one place, it should be Amazon. But I use service providers (Lulu and BookBaby) that will put the books into the global retail chain, including Amazon but also B&N, Kobo, the iBookstore etc. - and I do get about 10% of my sales from these other sources. I wouldn't go exclusive. Also, Lulu can act as your "back end" if you want to sell books direct off your website - which would certainly give you a bigger percentage of your cover price. I see no reason not to do them all.


message 8: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11456 comments Who sells the most books? In my opinion, Amazon. If so, it is a little silly not to include you books on Amazon. The argument as to whether to go exclusively with Amazon is quite different from whether to actually use Amazon.


Tara Woods Turner | 2063 comments Ian
This!


message 10: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Well, knock me over with a feather! *GASP* It's a topic I actually have (a bit of) experience with!! >_<

@ Miss Tara: Do NOT read this. You already know LOL

Sooo...

I have a super tiny but crazily loyal following of readers who will support anything I write. A few even go so far as to let me know when they find typos/errors because I'm the idiot who doesn't hire an editor *grins sheepishly* Yeah, those little buggers totally reign supreme!!

On May 6th, I released my book and sold ~65 copies in the first week (98% in 2 days). All independently on my own site. Of course, I KNEW that every purchase would happen since they were the ones who asked me to make the darn book. But after that, I didn't sell another copy. Which is exactly what I expected. And truth be told, I never intended to release it “publicly.”

Fast forward to June 8th. My buddy randomly asked me why I didn’t try listing on Amazon. I was like, “Nah, dude. You know I only made the book for my awesome possums. “Normal” people aren’t gonna buy it. Nobody even knows who I am.” Well, about 5 minutes later, I was uploading a source file to KDP hahahaha.

I won’t share numbers because I think that’d be pretty annoying of me, but I will say this:

I. will. NEVER. take. my. book. off. Amazon.

In fact, when I release book 2 on Sept 30th, I plan to direct all my readers to Amazon. Yes, I will be sacrificing royalties (a $2.99 novella costs me $0.39 on my site vs. the $0.90 that the Zon God robs me of grrrr!!) in exchange for a ranking boost. But methinks it’ll be a worthy investment in the long run. Truth be told, if I could go back, I’d have done this for book 1 as well. Ah, good ole hindsight, eh? XD

Hope that helps someone. If not...um...oops? Okay. Bye.

Hugs,
Ann


message 11: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments Ok, basing on 6 opinions here so far, it looks like Amazon needs to be in an equation, while whether exclusively or not - is much more debatable.

Ann, glad to discover such a devoted Amazon fan -:) Wonder whether you've listed with other platforms too and whether the results were similar?


message 12: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2276 comments Tara wrote: "J.J.
Very interesting! I'm curious why you would not release on Amazon at all since it doesn't hurt you."


It's a train of thought I'm exploring, and I'll probably never know for sure if it's right or not, but I'm looking at the anti-Amazon sentiment. Let's face it, like there are people who refuse to shop at Wal-Mart because it's Wal-Mart, many people who shop on the other platforms do so because they hate Amazon.

I'm wondering if there is a niche to be carved in the anti-Amazon market, so I'm exploring walking that fine line between pandering to it without actually disparaging Amazon.

Admittedly, I went through every book distributed through SW and threw in a "call for action" at the end of the book. Like authors that beg their readers for reviews, I made a plea to review everything they read, even if they choose not to review my work. The argument laid out the bandwagon effect that reviews trigger when it comes to book sales, and then explained that it is those book sales that will ultimately determine if their favorite retailer survives instead of falling to Amazon's sales power as many have already.

I'm also wondering if the same exclusivity that Amazon has been trying to secure with authors can work the other way; that either readers will feel a product is special because it's "exclusive" to them, or they'll see it as an indie who isn't a "sell-out," pimping themselves to the "evil machine" or whatever it is they choose to see it as.

Since it isn't hurting right now not to do it, I'm going to explore. And when the general consensus in this business is that it's not the same game for an indie that it was five years ago, it's those who find and exploit new niches that break out of the pack and find success going forward. My theory might be wrong, and it probably is, but no one ever hit it big by not trying.


message 13: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments J.J. wrote: "Since it isn't hurting right now not to do it, I'm going to explore. And when the general consensus in this business is that it's not the same game for an indie that it was five years ago, it's those who find and exploit new niches that break out of the pack and find success going forward. My theory might be wrong, and it probably is, but no one ever hit it big by not trying...."

Interesting approach. Will you actually put some header like "NOT AVAILABLE ON AMAZON", like some stress 'not tested on animals', for example? As people mentioned here, Amazon is still the biggest market, but there may be an anti-Amazon niche indeed...


message 14: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2276 comments No, I wouldn't go that far because it leaves open the option of putting the work on Amazon later if I change course. At the same time, I'm assuming there are people who shop across multiple platforms, and I don't want to alienate those by sending a message that they're wrong for doing some shopping on Amazon - it's a fine line to walk without shutting doors in the future...


message 15: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Nik wrote: "Ann, glad to discover such a devoted Amazon fan -:) Wonder whether you've listed with other platforms too and whether the results were similar?"

Well, I wouldn't exactly call myself a "fan". Believe me, my inner entrepreneur sobs openly every single time the wretched Zon God reaches into his pocket. But...

He's also not dumb enough to bite the hand that feeds, eh? XD

With that being said, I have zero plans to join the Select program. Yes, yes, everyone advises me to consider it and I know they're right. I know I'm being stubborn. It's just that my teeny tiny boss spirit simply refuses to give up complete control and I'm not gonna argue with him *rebellious smirk*

To answer your other question, I also listed with Kobo on June 8th and have sold... *drumrolls* ... a whopping 4 copies! With that being said, one was to Malaysia, which I've never had before, so hooray for tapping into new markets!!!

I've created an iBooks account as well, and set up my taxes and all that but just haven't gotten around to listing on there yet.

Smashwords is another place that many authors recommend and I don't have a good reason for not testing that route. Truth be told, I'm simply not fond of their interface. Just me, though. Hope that doesn't offend SW lovers!! Sorry!!!

I'm by no means endorsing for Amazon. That's only my personal experience. And keep my genre in mind too *pets romantic fiction affectionately*

Seriously, though, people are ALWAYS gonna "know what's best". The way I see it is...

Opinions are like bellybuttons. Everybody has one, ya know? Doesn't mean that it applies to you. Just look at JJ vs myself, for example. Entirely different experiences with the Zon, right? For either of us to give anyone here "absolute" advice would be doing more harm than good, I reckon.

Hmm. My only suggestion would be to adopt a mad scientist approach and try everything. Okay. End transmission.

Hugs,
Ann


message 16: by M.L. (last edited Jul 06, 2016 10:19AM) (new)

M.L. Amazon makes the most sense to me. I'd never heard of Smashwords until an indie author posted it as their book-buying site. Amazon is buyer and user friendly.


message 17: by Alex (last edited Jul 06, 2016 01:14PM) (new)

Alex (asato) M.L. wrote: "Amazon makes the most sense to me. I'd never heard of Smashwords until an indie author posted it as their book-buying site. Amazon is buyer and user friendly."

yes, amazon is the queen of ebook publishing and for good reason.

according to authorearnings.com, in q3 2015, amazon held 71% of the US ebook retail market.

to add some context here and get the lay of the land of self-publishing, we should understand the statistics and analysis of the following May 2016 report that crunched 1 million amazon titles:

http://authorearnings.com/report/may-...

Ann wrote: "I'm by no means endorsing for Amazon. That's only my personal experience. And keep my genre in mind too *pets romantic fiction affectionately*"

that being said, in the beginning, what you're shooting for is to be the queen of a niche market. even though romance is a huge market, if you're using the same tropes in terms of plots, characters and world, then you're not going to move units nearly as fast.

Ann wrote: "With that being said, I have zero plans to join the Select program."

insofar as KU is concerned, the per page payout is $0.00496. here's an interesting article on the current KU funding state:

http://the-digital-reader.com/2016/05...

EDIT: also here: http://www.kboards.com/index.php/topi...


message 18: by Marie Silk (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments M.L. wrote: "Amazon makes the most sense to me. I'd never heard of Smashwords until an indie author posted it as their book-buying site. Amazon is buyer and user friendly."

I had never heard of smashwords until 3 months ago. Everyone I know (even my dad!) has an Amazon account. I would like to get my book to the smashwords crowd someday, because it is a valuable market for sure. But the benefits to my books on Kindle Select are so much that there is no way I could justify pulling them anytime soon.

However, I do have a series, which people appear to bingeread a lot over kindle unlimited. If I publish a standalone, I *might* try smashwords and kobo before I sign up with Select, just to see what happens :).


message 19: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11456 comments Besides the Smashwords and the others they also act on (go to Smashwords and you can get onto Apple, Kobo, and some others automatically) there is also Google Play. For the ones I have spread out, I found Smashwords very easy to use, and quite friendly. Google is strangely efficient at paying, far better than any others, BUT it can be a bit of a nightmare getting through their "loading" procedure.

The difference between Amazon and the rest is that Amazon uses .mobi (or more precisely,a derivative of it) whereas the rest use .epub. so if you have readers that want to use that latter, you have to have an alternative to Amazon. For those that are spread, I have found most of my sales still come from Amazon, but I should add the caveat that I am not a "best seller" :-(


message 20: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Sir Ian: May I call you sir? I'm in a weird(er) mood today XD

I didn't even think of mobi vs epub. That's a great point!!

@Miss Marie: I am reeeally interested to see how you make out on Kobo (should you choose to list with them). I've barely done any sales there but it doesn't hurt to leave it listed, so... *shrugs*

Which features of Kindle Select are you really attached to? If you don't mind me asking ^_^


message 21: by Marie Silk (last edited Jul 06, 2016 09:16PM) (new)

Marie Silk | 1022 comments My books are doing well with Kindle Unlimited. The royalties are only about 1/3 of the royalties of books sold at regular price, but I like that it is opening up my work to that many more voracious readers :). I also like the promo days and countdown deals offered. It shows your sale price next to your regular price so that customers can see what a great deal they are getting :D.

My Kindle Unlimited page reads were not always this high. It was not until I started posting to facebook groups specifically for Kindle Unlimited subscribers that my numbers went up. People are paying for these subscriptions and want to get their money's worth every month :).


message 22: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11456 comments Annie wrote: "@Sir Ian: May I call you sir? I'm in a weird(er) mood today XD

You may, and you will be the only one - ever - to do so. Definitely weird :-)



message 23: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @SIR Ian: Bask in the glory of my weirdness! For it is...um...glorious? Yeah, I got nothing XD

@Miss Marie: Thank you for sharing about KU! And yes, I'd imagine that most subscribers are more than happy to have a new read, eh? I am really happy to hear that it's been beneficial to you!!

Hugs,
Ann


message 24: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11456 comments Annie. I bask :-)


message 25: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Are your retinas burning, Sir Ian? >_<


message 26: by Alex (new)

Alex (asato) Marie wrote: "The royalties are only about 1/3 of the royalties of books sold at regular price, but I like that it is opening up my work to that many more voracious readers :). I also like the promo days and countdown deals offered. It shows your sale price next to your regular price so that customers can see what a great deal they are getting :D."

somewhat dated but nonetheless-appears-relevant article:

http://www.thecreativepenn.com/2014/0...

today, Penn's "self-publishing" book was recommended on a different thread, so she seems to have some merit.


message 27: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11456 comments Annie wrote: "Are your retinas burning, Sir Ian? >_<"

Actually, I may have misled you - it is the middle of winter here, so like my cat, I bask in front of a heater.


message 28: by M.L. (new)

M.L. Marie wrote: "M.L. wrote: "Amazon makes the most sense to me. I'd never heard of Smashwords until an indie author posted it as their book-buying site. Amazon is buyer and user friendly."

I had never heard of sm..."


Kobo is another one I've heard mentioned. I like the idea of experimenting! :-)


message 29: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments What I hear, Kobo is a big (biggest?) book retailer in Canada.
One of my books is on Smash. So far, not so much traffic there. Not for all, but for most, if you don't do anything no traffic comes anywhere... Smash offers nice outreach, but it so happened that they represented as if they delivered my book to apple, while many months later it turned out that it wasn't there and I needed to add something to qualify. Maybe I'll try to promote Smash link at some point...


message 30: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Okay, I'm reporting back to y'all about Kobo.

Copies sold in the 1st four weeks: 2
Copies sold in the past 3 days: 3 (one/day) *scratches head*

Dunno if it's just a random spike or if it's linked to the extra exposure over the long weekend, but thought it was worth noting :)

Hugs,
Ann


message 31: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments The correlation seems obvious ...


message 32: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Mr Nik: Yeah, I know the correlation seems obvious on the surface. But...

I'm not totally sure. I mean, why didn't they just buy it from Amazon for the discounted price over the weekend? Like, why go to Kobo and pay full price, eh?

Shrugs and hugs,
Ann


message 33: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments Annie wrote: why go to Kobo and pay full price, eh?..."

One plausible explanation could be that those who purchased on Kobo, preferred/needed Epub file for an ebook over Mobi one, offered by Amazon...


message 34: by Annie (last edited Jul 08, 2016 12:17PM) (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Mr Nik: Funny you should say that because...

I just received this email (well, this is the pertinent part haha):

I came across your book on one of the daily email offers I get but was unable to take advantage of the deal because I don’t have a kindle. But as soon as I read the blurb, I new I had to have the book. Unfortunately, I was in England and due to technical difficulties, unable to transfer it to my kobo until I returned home. So yesterday at noon I downloaded your book and finished it this AM (lucky for me I was on vacation or I’m sure I would have been fired for reading at work).

Good call!

Hugs,
Ann


message 35: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments Thanks.
Nice email to receive, no matter if from kindle or kobo owner -:)


message 36: by Annie (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) Oh, no doubt! And that's only 1/4 of it. The other 3/4 made me legit blush.

*blushes* ☚ See?

I'm gonna send her a little extra something-something to read tonight. Hopefully add her to the gang of awesome possums, right? ^_~

Hugs,
Ann


message 37: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments Sounds like a cool gang, but not for a heist -:)


message 38: by Annie (last edited Jul 08, 2016 03:10PM) (new)

Annie Arcane (anniearcane) @Mr Nik: They are a versatile little bunch! I just dress em up in all black and hand out ski masks XD


message 39: by Nik (last edited Jul 09, 2016 12:25AM) (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments Annie wrote: "@Mr Nik: They are a versatile little bunch! I just dress em up in all black and hand out ski masks XD"

Wow, I just got a bit worried about Amazon's coffers -:)


message 40: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments Any fresh perspective on amazoning?


message 41: by Nik (new)

Nik Krasno | 15671 comments So, what does your experience support: going wide or exclusively with Jeff?


message 42: by Ian (new)

Ian Miller | 11456 comments A very interesting question. One problem is that going solely with Jeff gives you promotion options the rest do not offer, and in fairness most of my sales come from Jeff. However, I am about to put out a second edition of my "Planetary Formation and Biogenesis" and while the first edition was solely with Jeff, mainly because at the time it was the only outlet that really was visited by the reader looking for technical books, I am wondering whether I should try that more generally because I never promoted the first edition with price cuts, but it is still one of my better sellers. It probably won't make much difference to sales from Jeff.


message 43: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 268 comments I think if you are going to sell a book, or anything, you go where the most traffic is, do what you can to draw eyes to it (tagging, etc), so I would probably go with Amazon - this doesn't prevent you from promoting your book on other web sites or taking advantage of other promo options - guest blogs, for example.

One Amazon platform that I have reservations about is the Vella, where writers post serialized work. I love the idea of reading a story in "chapters", but the whole setup just seems overly complicated and too much effort with too little return for the authors.


message 44: by Charissa (new)

Charissa Wilkinson (lilmizflashythang) | 305 comments Once I get a book published, I'm not going to choose Amazon. They are starting to delete books that 'offend' the minority classes. One man, the name escapes me right now, but he wrote a book, that Amazon says is discriminatory against transgenders, yet they won't-or can't-point out where he does so. Either way, his book is no longer in print on Amazon. You can't buy it there. Barnes and Noble doesn't seem to mind getting an extra sale though. :D


message 45: by Barbara (new)

Barbara | 268 comments I know that Amazon won't sell the books of Ryan Anderson and Abigail Shrier, who both wrote books about transgender issues. And Dave Eggers latest novel is published through his own publishing house.
The problem is, the publisher distributes the books through the available markets and some of those markets might - for political or other reasons - decide not to carry the book. So you basically have to be your own publisher, distributer and seller if you don't want to deal with Amazon.
I heard that SubStack is going to go into novels, not just journalism, but I don't know much about that.


message 46: by Marti (new)

Marti Talbott | 3 comments Nik wrote: "Are the advantages of selling a book through Amazon exceed those of selling independently through your own web site?
I argue that initially Amazon does nothing to promote your book, it just avails ..."


The truth is, more people will trust giving their banking information to Amazon, than an unknown website.


message 47: by Charissa (new)

Charissa Wilkinson (lilmizflashythang) | 305 comments Not me.


message 48: by Papaphilly (new)

Papaphilly | 3565 comments As a person that buys books, I want to be able to one stop shop and that is Amazon. I am no fan of the B & N website, but I buy all my paper book as the store. I do shop Amazon brick and mortar stores.

As for websites, the more the merrier. You need to get your product out for sale. Of course have your own website and make it a very good one. Make it professional if you want to be taken seriously.


message 49: by Jim (last edited Feb 09, 2022 08:46AM) (new)

Jim Vuksic | 166 comments As brick-and-mortar book stores began to disappear in my area 17 years ago, I began to purchase all books (hardcover - paperback - audio) I wished to own exclusively from Amazon and continue to do so.

During its 5 1/2 years (Aug. 9, 2011 through Dec. 31, 2016) of my one and only published novel's commercial availability, of the 1,029 units (485 paperback - 480 e-book - 36 audio on CD - 28 audio download) purchased, approximately 82% (843 units) were sold through Amazon.


message 50: by J.J. (new)

J.J. Mainor | 2276 comments I'm actually seeing the opposite: Amazon has slowly become a smaller and smaller percentage of my sales.

Patreon is #1 for me right now. People subscribe to get a look at the next book before it goes live on Amazon. They get access to it before anyone else.

I set up on Gumroad late last year, and it's already trying to push Amazon out of the #2 spot.

I was putting new releases into Kindle Select for a single term to give it access to the subscribers. The payout is dismal, but the trade off was KU readers would drive it up the charts and help to get the #1 New Release banner. But I'm increasingly up against pirated books and books using video game properties the creator doesn't own the rights to use. I lost out on the prestige of the #1 New Release because of the piracy. Select isn't worth it to me any more, and I won't be enrolling another book into the program.

On a funny note, I put a bunch of stuff on Google Play last year, wondering if I wasted my time. I quickly forgot about it until I get an email telling me they just sent a payment. Anyone thinking of trying them out, I found it easy to list my books; but what I hear from readers is their overall data collection makes people anti-Google more so than anti-Amazon. You're up against the growing sentiment against them.


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