As an indie author, you have a lot of decisions to make. One of the biggest decisions is whether to sell your eBook on Amazon, on your own website, or both. Amazon, of course, is a top choice for most authors, but just because everyone else is doing it, doesn’t mean this is what’s best for you.
There’s not a one-size-fits-all answer to this question, but reading through these pros and cons of both of the options will help you determine what’s best for you.
A Streamlined System
Amazon is very good at what they do, and their experience shows in how streamlined the whole process is for both authors, and readers.
A streamlined system is huge for authors because it makes publishing books easy, and a streamlined system is huge for buyers because with a single click, they can purchase books.
Needless to say, if it’s easy for people to buy your books, the chances of them doing so skyrockets. On many websites, cart abandonment is a big issue, but on Amazon, at least when it pertains to Kindle books, there is no cart to abandon.
Very Few Tech Issues
Related to the point above, when you publish your eBook on Amazon, tech issues are few and far between, and if there are issues such problems with the website, there’s a whole team of people to deal with the problem.
A Huge Customer Base
A huge customer base can be hugely helpful for a new author who doesn’t yet have their own customer base. No doubt many of the people who purchase your book on Amazon would have never found it if it was sold elsewhere.
The flip side of this is since the customers on Amazon aren’t really yours, you don’t even know who they are, and can’t market to them directly, unless you get them to opt in to your email list, interact with you on social media, etc.
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Of course, there is a positive aspect to this and that is that you also don’t have to provide customer service, deal with returns, and so on since they aren’t your customer.
A Lot of Competition
While there are plenty of buyers on Amazon, there are also many authors competing for their piece of the pie.
Because of this, while Amazon has a lot of customers, without a solid platform of your own, you may find it very difficult to be noticed on Amazon.
Back in the days before Amazon, authors sold eBooks for a pretty penny, often ranging everywhere from $19.99 – $97 and perhaps even beyond.
In contrast, the price of Kindle books is typically around $2.99, even for a fairly lengthy book. There are exceptions, of course, with some books selling for as low as 99 cents, and others for much more than $2.99.
Amazon, has itself to a large degree dictated the price range of most Kindle books by offering a 70% royalty rate for books that are priced between $2.99 and $9.99.
(Kindle books outside of that price range bring in a paltry 35% of the sale price.)
Selling Books on Your Own Site
Now let’s take a look at the pros and cons of selling your books on your own website.
Higher Profit Margin
You stand to make a lot more per book on your own website for a couple of reasons. The first reason is that you can typically sell eBooks on your own site for much higher prices than you can on Amazon.
To a large degree, gone are the days when eBooks sold for $97, but it’s extremely unusual for people to sell eBooks on their own site for only $2.99, the going rate for Kindle books.
Nathan Barry typically sells his eBooks on his website for $39.00, and then packages the same eBooks with other types of media such as videos, and sells the packages for as much as $249.00.
When interviewed on The Smart Passive Income Podcast Nathan stated that when selling his books on his own site, he was able to price them based on the value he felt they offered, without being penalized by them being higher than the lower prices suggested by Amazon.
The Future of Ink’s very own Joan Stewart sells very short special reports for $7 and beyond on her own website. She realized that she could make a much higher level of income by selling short reports on her site rather than writing full-length books and selling them on sites such as Amazon.
In addition to the higher price point, if you sell eBooks on your own site, you don’t have to share the profits with anyone else. This beats the alternative of Amazon’s cut of anywhere from 30% – 65%.
Your Customers are All Yours
This was already addressed above, but it’s worth repeating here because it’s one of the major differences between selling eBooks on Amazon vs. selling them on your own site. For better or worse, your customers are all yours on your own site.
This means every little customer problem is one you have to deal with, but it also means you have the info on who buys your books, can develop a relationship with them, and potentially sell additional items to them.
You Have to Deal with Tech Issues
There are a lot of technical hurdles to selling your ebooks on your own site. You have to deal with everything from setting up sales pages, shopping carts, and delivery of the products.
Thankfully, there are plenty of tools to help you manage the technical waters, but you may need to hire someone to set everything up for you, and to fix things when they break, or invest a lot of your time dealing with technology rather than writing.
Your Online Store May Be Like a Ghost Town
If you don’t have much traffic to your site, and you have a small email list and social media following, you may find it near impossible to sell books on your own website.
Now it’s true that having your own platform helps regardless of where you sell your books, but it’s absolutely imperative if you sell your books exclusively on your website.
That brings me to my next and final point, and that is one of exclusivity. Unless you enroll your Kindle book in KDP Select you’re free to also sell it on your own site.
You may also choose to sell some of your books exclusively on Amazon and others exclusively on your own website.
Many authors find it helpful to experiment to see what works best for them, which is something you may want to try.
I’d love to hear your thoughts on this subject. Do you sell your eBooks on Amazon, on your own website, or a mix of the two?
This article was originally published on The Future of Ink and is reprinted here in its entirety for our Magnolia Media Network readers.