Other Places to Find Good Books: Direct Sales

From SRP author Tracy Cooper-Posey:

This is Part Nine of a series:

Part 1: Kobo
Part 2: Barnes & Noble, Google, Apple Books
Part 3: Ask an AI
Part 4: Smashwords
Part 5: Subscription Services
Part 6: Fiction Apps
Part 7: BookFunnel & StoryOrigin
Part 8: Book Bundlers
Part 9: Direct Sales

The current economy, world-wide, would be better served, everyone keeps telling us, if we buy local, and buy direct.

But we (you and me) buy ebooks. How do you buy them locally?

Buying from an author, when they offer their books for sale directly from their site, is very close to supporting your local farmer by buying his tomatoes directly from him at the nearest farmers’ market.

Why buy direct?

Good question. I get asked it a lot.

Buying from the River-who-shall-not-be-named is easy. They’ve spent squillions to make it easy, with their one-click purchasing, invisible downloading and seamless synchronizing across devices.

Most micro-businesses like authors can’t afford the thousands of dollar per year needed to provide that sort of slick service.

Think of it this way.

You can buy hot-house tomatoes from your big box grocery store, and get tasteless, gas-ripened, essentially green tomatoes that were picked over two weeks ago and transported in trucks to reach your store.

Or you can buy tomatoes plucked from the vine a day or two ago, when they were ripe. They’re fresh, and anything but tasteless. Yet buying from the local farmer at the nearest market can be a bit of a pain: maybe he can only take cash, or doesn’t have bags to put your produce in.

Buying books directly from an author can be just as interesting. Each author has a different way of selling, with different sofware. Some might not take PayPal. Others will only take PayPal. And working your way through the payment process for each author can be an adventure.

Selling direct is becoming a big thing with indie authors. Generally, we’re very much in favor of it.

I’ve been selling direct for years, before it was even a thing in the indie world. But now the rest of the indie publishing industry is catching up with me.

So, why buy direct?

Quite apart from the ground-effect that buying from small business can have on the economy, here are 7 other reasons:

1. Sometimes the books are cheaper

Many authors are becoming aware of the fact that Amazon just doesn’t care about them and their little store.

For years, authors have had it rammed into them, usually the hard way, that Amazon really does insist upon favored nation pricing; if the book is cheaper anywhere else, they will discount your book on their store to match that price. It’s built into their user agreement.

But Amazon doesn’t give a sniff about an author’s website. They can sell books cheaper on their site and Amazon won’t blink. They can sell them for anything they want, instead of being penalized for selling books cheaper than $2.99 USD or more than $9.99 USD.

As author are 1) climbing aboard the direct-sales train and 2) learning that their pricing is independent of Amazon, they’re offering readers discounts, and every day pricing that readers can’t get anywhere else.

2. Bundling

There’s only one other store than does ad hoc bundling — and I’ll explain that one another day.

But authors can bundle anything. Partial series, books from across series that are connected by theme or sub-genre, books + merchandise, print + ebook — yes, authors can sell print from their websites. And audio. I sell ebooks and print, for example.

I also bundle. Bundles are a whole different thing from boxed sets, and they have some unique advantages, including getting all the books in a series as separate books, not one gi-normous file that makes your ereader gulp. [For more on bundles, check here]

3 Deals and Discount

Related to both points, above, but a slightly different idea: Authors can afford to give bigger and deeper discounts on their books when they sell them direct.

So you can see some eye-popping deals go down. E.g., the massively huge and scary discounts we ran for Black Friday-Cyber Monday, last year.

Authors can also offer buy one-get one deals, reward points, and all manner of loyalty programs.

4 Books not available anywhere else

Authors frequently have books and stories available for sale on their site that you can’t get anywhere else. It’s not that they’re withholding deliberately–although than can sometimes be the case. It could be because of other reasons.

For example, I have a series boxed set that, even with a discount upon the full retail for all eight books, I should be selling it at $19.99. But Amazon drops my author portion down to 35% on anything priced over $9.99, so I’m earning as much from the sale of a $19.99 big series as I would if I was selling it for $9.99. Amazon pockets the rest. Why? Because they said so.

I know many authors who refuse to play that sucker game, and only sell the boxed set on their site.

They will also sell luxury and limited edition sets on their site.

For example, I have a dust jacket hard cover edition of Cancer Curated that I can only sell on my site, because Amazon doesn’t print dust jacket editions.

I have another non-fiction book coming up that is a workbook, and I’m selling it as a spiral-bound edition. Amazon (and Barnes & Noble) will only print the trade paperback.

Luxury and limited edition editions will burst upon the marketplace soon, as the printer I am using, BookVault, is now offering really cool elements like ribbon bookmarks, and slip boxes for boxed sets — actual boxed sets! They’re also offering foil printing, and dyed edges.

You will start to see a lot of very interesting, unique editions of books on offer soon…but they’ll nearly all be direct from the author, as Amazon, et al, haven’t even started to catch up with this.

5. And combinations of all of the above

Authors have huge flexibility when they sell directly. They can combine special pricing, discounts, bundling, special editions, merchandise and more, to make up some jaw-dropping, utterly unique offerings.

If this sounds intriguing, then check out an author’s direct sales store the next time you come across one. And watch that store and that author for interesting deals and products.

6. You get to keep the book

I usually get a finger wagged at me, when I mention it, but damn it, it’s a genuine advantage of buying direct.

When you buy direct from an author, you download the book and sideload it to your reader — often through BookFunnel, but sometimes via other means.

In other words, the book is yours.

Unlike the retail stores, where what you’re really paying for is permission to read the book for as long as you maintain an account with that retailer. When you close (say) your Amazon account, all those books are removed from your reader. They’re gone.

’nuff said.

7. The author gets nearly all the money

This is where buying direct becomes a genuine win-win situation. Just like you are directly supporting the farmer whose tomatoes you buy, when you buy direct, you are supporting the author.

Amazon and other distributors take 30 to 40% of each book’s sale price for themselves. When you buy direct, the author keeps nearly 100% of the proceeds. No one syphons off anything except for a tiny percentage for the financial transaction. (A bit more, if you use PayPal).


If you’ve never considered buying direct from the author before, I hope I’ve let you see that it’s worth thinking about and maybe dipping your toe into buying “locally” online. 🙂

Browse my own store, to get a feel for how it works. There’s a 10% off coupon code on the front page to encourage you to make your first purchase, and I have a reward points system, too. (Another thing the retailers don’t offer.)

You can start browsing here.

Tracy Cooper-Posey

SRP Author

Tracy is the publisher at Stories Rule Press, and SRP’s most prolific author.  She writes romance, women’s fiction and historical suspense.  You can find Tracy’s books here. | Her latest release | Her most popular title