Saturday, April 17, 2010

Selling Books from Own Web Site Vs. Amazon

This came in as a comment to my recent post on this blog. The subject was "Ten Ways to Up Your Ratings on Amazon." Because it is from an independent publishing expert, Michael N. Marcus, I thought my subscribers would like to see his views, especially because I hear so often that small publishers and independent authors are eschewing Amazon. The original post is at

By Michael N. Marcus

I can't understand why writers want to sell books from their own websites (or from vanity publishers' websites) instead of from Amazon or B&N, etc.
The 20% that the online booksellers keep on a $20 book is $4.
If a self-publisher ships it from the publisher's own inventory, the flat-rate Priority Mail fee is $4.85 (more than what would be paid to Amazon).
The fee for shipping one pound by Media Mail is $2.38 (less than what would be paid to Amazon), but the service is slower than Priority Mail and does not include delivery confirmation. Confirmation adds about 70 cents.
Lightning Source charges from $3.80 to over $40 to drop-ship a book to a publisher's customer. However, the shipping fee is built-into the printing fee for orders placed through online booksellers. (Printing and shipping a 300-page book to an Amazon customer costs $5.40.)

So, Priority Mail costs a little bit more than what Amazon or B&N or other online booksellers would keep, and Media Mail costs a little bit less. The numbers change depending on the cover price and weight of a book.
But when you consider that many millions of potential buyers can find a book by searching on or B&N, but almost no one will find the book on an author's own site without a lot of PR and paid advertising to send them there, relying on the big booksellers should be a no-brainer.

Michael N. Marcus
~president of the Independent Self-Publishers Alliance,
~author of "Become a Real Self-Publisher: Don’t be a Victim of a Vanity Press,"
~author of "Stories I'd Tell My Children (but maybe not until they're adults)," coming 4/1/10.
~Blogging at

Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of This Is the Place; Harkening: A Collection of Stories Remembered; Tracings, a chapbook of poetry; and two how to books for writers, The Frugal Book Promoter: How To Do What Your Publisher Won't and The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success. Her FRUGAL book for retailers is A Retailer’s Guide to Frugal In-Store Promotions: How To Increase Profits and Spit in the Eyes of Economic Downturns with Thrifty Events and Sales Techniques. She is also the author of the Amazon Short, "The Great First Impression Book Proposal". Some of her other blogs are, a blog where authors can recycle their favorite reviews. She also blogs at all things editing, grammar, formatting and more at The Frugal, Smart and Tuned-In Editor .

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