Sell Direct to Readers to Retailer-Proof Your Writing | Ryan M. Williams
Sell Direct

Why Sell Direct to Readers?

I'm setting up my site so that I can sell direct to readers. I still plan to offer my books through the major retailers. Selling direct offers many advantages for both authors and readers. I'd planned to do this years ago, but at the time it was a much more difficult thing to set up. Today, many tools exist to make direct sells easier than ever. This post isn't about the details of setting it up so much as why consider it at all?

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Sell Direct For Options

One of the big reasons for me to sell direct is to have options to improve service to my readers. I started reading e-books long before the launch of Kindle and all along I've been frustrated by the lack of options available as both a reader and an author. Selling direct gives me opportunities, such as:

  • Free e-books with print purchase. I'm amazed that publishers don't offer this now. Amazon implemented their Kindle matchbook, and you can offer a free e-book with a print purchase, but it isn't promoted well on the site. And often it isn't a free e-book. I'll roll this out as I get print editions released so that anyone buying print copies will get a free e-book as well.
  • Coupons, Sales, and other Discounts. Some of the platforms allow authors to run promotions and offer coupons or other discounts—on their terms. With my own platform, I can decide what sort of offers I want to make available without having to go exclusive with a platform. I can experiment and try different things within my own environment.
  • Unique Offers. I can create unique offers when I sell direct, such as special bundles, book and swag combinations, signed copies, and anything else that I can imagine (e.g., one idea, personally signed e-books that are customized for the purchaser).
  • Patrons. I support creators at Patreon, but I can set up the same sort of thing through my own site and save the fees associated with the service. I'm not limited by their platform. I can customize my site to work for my readers.
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Sell Direct for Connections

In addition to improving service for readers, I also want to sell direct in order to connect directly with readers. I'm grateful for anyone choosing to read my work, whatever store they use. When you purchase through Amazon, Apple, or Kobo, there's no direction connection. You're their customer. I appreciate it either way, but I'd like to build a direct relationship with readers. As a librarian, I've spent countless hours talking to readers. I want to make those connections outside of the library as well.

Obviously, these aren't mutually exclusive. Anyone choosing to go through a retailer is still perfectly welcome to contact me, sign up for my email list, or go through me for some purchases and not others. 

Sell Direct for a More Secure Future

I posted before about Amazon having all of your eggs. In the USA, Amazon controls much of the market for books. The idea of opening a storefront may seem odd. Except that people do it all the time. A great many entrepreneurs sell direct through their site—and don't sell on Amazon at all. I plan to sell products on Amazon that make sense, but as I mentioned above, there are more options with my own store. Short stories, for example.

On Amazon, an author only receives 35% royalty for a short story priced under $2.99. Likewise, if you want to offer a bundle at a price higher than $9.99. Between those two prices authors receive 70% royalty. Through my own store, I can offer a short story at .99¢ and it doesn't impact what I receive from the sale. Using Woocommerce and BookFunnel, I can sell a story for .99¢ and get ~65% from the sale after transaction costs. That's much better than 35%! 

I don't plan for direct sales to account for all of my income. I plan to make my novels widely available. I also plan to offer exclusive content through my site and deals for readers that aren't available elsewhere. By diversifying, I make my future more secure and proof against changes in retailer policy.

A Quick Rundown of Resources

I'm not going to go into great detail here, but I wanted to share the resources that I am using to sell direct. Or will be using once everything is up!

  • ConvertKit. I picked ConvertKit for my email list after listening to Nathan Barry talk about his reasons for creating the service. It's great.
  • WordPress. I use WordPress to create my site. I've been a WordPress user since the early days and continue to learn more all the time.
  • Thrive Themes. My brother turned me onto Thrive Themes. They're great and the themes and plugins offer so much functionality. I really appreciate their tutorials!
  • Woocommerce. I'm using the very popular Woocommerce for my shop. It offers great functionality and extensibility as well as integrations with my other tools.
  • BookFunnel. A great service that makes it easy to deliver e-books to readers and provides support and apps for readers.
  • LearnDash. I plan to use LearnDash for future courses offered on my site.

Those are the major services that I'm using at the moment. I'll post in more detail about all of them in the future. In the meantime, if you have other tools to recommend, please share in the comments!

About the Author Ryan

Ryan M. Williams lives a double life as a full-time career librarian and a multi-genre writer with over twenty books. He writes across a range of genres including science fiction, fantasy, paranormal, mystery, horror, and romance. He earned a Master of Arts degree in writing popular fiction from Seton Hill University and a Master of Library and Information Science from San Jose University. His short fiction has appeared in anthologies from Pocket Books, WMG Publish, and in On Spec Magazine.

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