Author Topic: ways to be less Amazon dependent  (Read 6918 times)  

Offline HSh

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ways to be less Amazon dependent
« on: January 11, 2018, 08:44:09 AM »

I'm starting this thread in the hopes that people will share ideas.  Here are some of mine:


Cultivate pre-release audience.  (With Payhip / Patreon / other platforms)


I'm currently trying out Patreon, and I use Payhip as an "also" option for readers who like different formats, etc.  The question for me about an early release there is "will it just annoy my readers?"  I haven't tried it yet to find out.  (As much as some people LOVE to have a non-store-dependent copy of an ebook, others are very attached to a particular store, and I won't really want to annoy them.)  Has anyone experimented with this, and found it worked? 


I know some people make most of their sales on other platforms (or in other countries), I'm just not sure how that works. 


Anyway if you have ideas you want to share, please do.  It's not that I hate Amazon, but recent threads have made me nervous, and I like the idea of crowdsourcing some new ideas and thinking ahead a bit. 


For the record, I am wide, but not highly skilled at a lot of "wide" skills yet.

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Online kw3000

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #1 on: January 11, 2018, 10:01:42 AM »
Yes, I'm trying to figure out ways to diversify as well. Probably something else within the digital economy. Always good to hedge your bets. Good topic, thanks. I'll be reading with interest.  8)

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Offline Guy Riessen

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #2 on: January 11, 2018, 10:13:52 AM »
I'm also in the process of setting up my Patreon page as well.

When you say Payhip, are you distributing on your own site? Who are you using for distribution? I know Bookfunnel can now handle distribution with Paypal or Payhip handling the payment side. At them moment I am still just on Amazon, but I am trying to watch everything :)

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Online David VanDyke

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #3 on: January 11, 2018, 10:35:34 AM »
What's worked for me (synergistically, not in isolation):

Wide on all sites, including the big 5 plus all the smaller ones though aggregators
Permafree series intro books. Longer series may have 2 or 3 of these.
Related series in the same genre that help feed each other
Relentless promotion of the permafrees, including constant submission to BookBub* and using in-house promotion such as Kobo offers
Always focusing on the numbers. Get high numbers of free books out there and the read-thru sales will come

*this presupposes good content and professional presentation that will make it through the tough selection process often enough to matter

I went full wide (with my English language books) near the end of 2015 with the KU/page read debacle. For December 2017, my non-Amazon income exceeded my Amazon income for those books, meaning Amazon is less than 50% of those sales now, while overall retail sales are up for me, mostly ebooks. I call that a resounding win, though it took about 15 months to get off the KU dependency and get here.


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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #4 on: January 11, 2018, 01:01:26 PM »
I went full wide (with my English language books) near the end of 2015 with the KU/page read debacle. For December 2017, my non-Amazon income exceeded my Amazon income for those books, meaning Amazon is less than 50% of those sales now, while overall retail sales are up for me, mostly ebooks. I call that a resounding win, though it took about 15 months to get off the KU dependency and get here.

Yes, it is indeed a resounding win. My sales ratio is about 85 percent Amazon, 15 percent the rest of the world. Sad to say, that's down from 75/25 two or three years ago. And over that span of time, I've added Google Play and some minor European vendors through D2D and Streetlib.

With the 50 percent royalty scare of recent date, I wondered if I should rethink my direct sales plan of a year or two ago. I built PDF, mobi, and epub editions of a couple books through a vendor whose name I have forgotten. I didn't sell a single book, so I deleted them. I'd like to hear from people who have done this successfully.
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Offline ZsofiaMacho

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #5 on: January 11, 2018, 01:13:42 PM »
Thinking ahead is only good! I remember there was a thread recently started by Ricardo from Reedsy. He has recently written an article exactly on this topic and touched the question of going wide vs Amazon only. I think it has some interesting points and options:

https://blog.reedsy.com/ebook-distribution/
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Online Arches

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #6 on: January 11, 2018, 01:25:18 PM »
The best way to be less Amazon dependent is . . . don't quit your day job. Self-publishing is a crazy way to make a living, but it can be lots of fun as a hobby.

Offline Herc- The Reluctant Geek

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #7 on: January 11, 2018, 01:31:24 PM »
The problem is the Kindle. Amazon gives kindle owners a big pool of books to read and we fill that pool. The ereaders tied to other retailers like the Nook and Kobo's Aura aren't nearly as popular and so don't have as many readers tied to them.

Reading on other devices, like phones/tablets/computers hasn't really caught on as yet, but it will. My 14yo son has no problem reading on screens, and most of his textbooks are electronic. As his generation comes into its own, reading on electronic devices other than ereaders will grow and our dependence on Amazon will fade.

At least that's what I hope will happen. You never know what Mr Bezos has up his sleeve...


Offline C. Gockel

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #8 on: January 11, 2018, 02:42:14 PM »
Despite having a trilogy & some short stories in KU last year, my income was still 1/3 other retailers, 2/3 Amazon. I'm taking my trilogy wide at the end of the month, so that may increase.


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Offline HSh

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #9 on: January 11, 2018, 03:23:21 PM »
When you say Payhip, are you distributing on your own site? Who are you using for distribution?  :)


Payhip has a site.  I just have to link to it.  They send ZERO traffic there (no storefront, no discoverability etc), but people pay and download directly from the site.


This is mine https://payhip.com/HollisShiloh.  They handle VAT.  (I haven't uploaded all my backlist, just some titles.)  I get a few sales a month from people who prefer to download a format (or multiple formats).  I upload epub, pdf, and mobi. 




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Offline ZsofiaMacho

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #10 on: January 11, 2018, 03:23:55 PM »
Despite having a trilogy & some short stories in KU last year, my income was still 1/3 other retailers, 2/3 Amazon. I'm taking my trilogy wide at the end of the month, so that may increase.

I think it depends a lot on your genre and country of origin as well. According to Data Guy, there are some English speaking countries where Amazon only has half of the cake: http://authorearnings.com/report/february-2017/
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Offline Seneca42

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #11 on: January 11, 2018, 03:40:24 PM »
I think the one thing every single wide author should do is email their distributor (kobo, itunes, D2D, whoever) and promo outlets they like and let them know that you want enhanced promotional tools / opportunities that are non-zon specific/targetted.

We gotta let them know we want more from them. If we don't they'll just assume there's no hunger in the market for services that help authors build a revenue stream away from zon.

Offline Bookread

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2018, 05:15:31 PM »
I'm very interested to hear other's experiences with Payhip. It's something I'm curious about. I'm pleased that I've went wide. In November, I made 3 times with Apple that I did with Amazon. Me=eggs in many baskets.
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Offline Reveries

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #13 on: January 12, 2018, 03:05:21 AM »

Payhip has a site.  I just have to link to it.  They send ZERO traffic there (no storefront, no discoverability etc), but people pay and download directly from the site.


This is mine https://payhip.com/HollisShiloh.  They handle VAT.  (I haven't uploaded all my backlist, just some titles.)  I get a few sales a month from people who prefer to download a format (or multiple formats).  I upload epub, pdf, and mobi.

Thank you. Payhip looks really interesting since you seem to get 95% royalties from there after VAT etc has been paid. What are the options for authors to get paid? By bank account or just by paypal, and does the money dribble in after every book sale or arrive at intervals?

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #14 on: January 12, 2018, 03:22:35 AM »
For Amazon users, the advantage of shopping there for ebooks is that the book will appear automagically on the reader's Kindle. If you have a mobi option on Payhip, I'm guessing that's going to involve sideloading?

Offline Joe Mynhardt

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #15 on: January 12, 2018, 04:43:08 AM »
Thanks for all the info. I've taken a few books wide via D2D, but looks like that wasn't wide enough.  ;)
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Offline DIAMONDSINTHESKY

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2018, 05:25:52 AM »
Damn trying to absorb all this information is giving me a headache!

Offline HSh

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #17 on: January 12, 2018, 07:45:46 AM »
Thank you. Payhip looks really interesting since you seem to get 95% royalties from there after VAT etc has been paid. What are the options for authors to get paid? By bank account or just by paypal, and does the money dribble in after every book sale or arrive at intervals?


I think it's just Paypal but I could be wrong...you'd need to check.


What happens is I get an email "You sold an item!" from Payhip, and a payment from Paypal in the amount it sold for directly from the person who bought the item.  Then I get an email "Your payment has been sent" from Paypal, the amount of Payhip's cut + whatever VAT fees the reader may have paid.  These three emails all happens within seconds of each other.  It's pretty automatic.  (Don't forget Paypal also takes a few cents fee as well; there's no email about that.)


I don't know yet if that's going to be fiddling and difficult for tax purposes...I haven't received any tax documents yet for 2017 (from anyone) so I guess we'll see.  I haven't made a TON from selling direct through Payhip, but for one release I forgot to upload there.  It simply skipped my mind.  I received polite emails from a couple of readers who asked when it would be available...some readers really do prefer that method. 

For Amazon users, the advantage of shopping there for ebooks is that the book will appear automagically on the reader's Kindle. If you have a mobi option on Payhip, I'm guessing that's going to involve sideloading?


Yes.  There's always been a subset of readers who prefer sideloading...or who learned to do it to make use of review copies, etc.  I'm not saying it's a huge percentage but at least in romance, it's always been there.


Whether the rest of readers would be willing to adapt to early releases involving sideloading...that's an open question, really.


One thing I forgot to mention.  You can give coupons for Payhip.  That wouldn't have to affect your price anywhere else and you could encourage people to try it that way.  Like 20% off for your mailing list, that kind of thing.  (Seeing another author in my genre do that was the thing that finally made me willing to try Payhip.  That, and the VAT thing.  Theoretically you can earn as much as elsewhere while charging your readers less and not breaking any rules, either.)
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 07:48:41 AM by HSh »

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Offline Sailor Stone

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #18 on: January 12, 2018, 07:51:48 AM »
I just listened to a podcast from Bookfunnel and they have started to assist authors in selling their books directly to readers. They not only coordinate the payment with PayPal or whomever the author uses for payment processing, but they also download the book file into the reader's device. It looks like a good way for the author to cross the Amazon's great rapids to their readers on the other side of the river without drowning in Amazon's walled garden of exclusivity (I'm on a mixed metaphor kick at the moment; try it; it's fun :D).

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Offline HSh

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #19 on: January 12, 2018, 08:16:10 AM »
I think the one thing every single wide author should do is email their distributor (kobo, itunes, D2D, whoever) and promo outlets they like and let them know that you want enhanced promotional tools / opportunities that are non-zon specific/targetted. We gotta let them know we want more from them. If we don't they'll just assume there's no hunger in the market for services that help authors build a revenue stream away from zon.

I think you might be right!  OK.  I'm committing here and now to write at least 1 email within the next five days.  (That's a bigger deal than you'd think bc I'm a bit of a procrastinator about emails...)


I just listened to a podcast from Bookfunnel and they have started to assist authors in selling their books directly to readers. They not only coordinate the payment with PayPal or whomever the author uses for payment processing, but they also download the book file into the reader's device. It looks like a good way for the author to cross the Amazon's great rapids to their readers on the other side of the river without drowning in Amazon's walled garden of exclusivity (I'm on a mixed metaphor kick at the moment; try it; it's fun :D ).

Hm, that sounds worth keeping an eye on!  Thanks. 

I'm currently using Bookfunnel for Patreon but I don't know that it's an unqualified success (or even necessary).  (One of my readers couldn't get it to work even with their tech support's help, while she had no problem sideloading by herself!) 

But more options are good and it might be very helpful as another sales platform.  Definitely good to know there are more changes afoot!
« Last Edit: January 12, 2018, 08:18:32 AM by HSh »

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Offline TwistedTales

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #20 on: January 12, 2018, 08:48:14 AM »
I just listened to a podcast from Bookfunnel and they have started to assist authors in selling their books directly to readers. They not only coordinate the payment with PayPal or whomever the author uses for payment processing, but they also download the book file into the reader's device. It looks like a good way for the author to cross the Amazon's great rapids to their readers on the other side of the river without drowning in Amazon's walled garden of exclusivity (I'm on a mixed metaphor kick at the moment; try it; it's fun :D).

This is a good thread. Were kicking off an assessment of Bookfunnel and Payhip to see if we can set up a direct buy where we offer buyers 50% discounts. Providing they can download the books to the app of their choice itd make very little difference to many loyal fans, especially if we include various free add ons.

Like Ive said, I wouldnt have bothered, but Amazon have set up their shop so I have to market wide anyway. What difference is it if I offer readers the option of iTunes, Amazon, google and direct buy at half the price? Sure, I wouldnt expect a lot of take up to start with, but over time it may grow and, if the Amazon site continues to drive sale only authors out, then it gives me a platform to sell to my loyal fans. In effect, Amazon become the first step in the sales funnel to find new readers and after that you can offer incentives to bring them direct.

None of this was easily doable until apps like Bookfunnel showed up. No doubt, they need to mature as well, but give it a year or two and the book landscape could look very different.

Offline aimeeeasterling

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #21 on: January 12, 2018, 08:58:49 AM »
Everything David said. To which I'd add --- nurture readers with a mailing list. Build a readership who loves your books rather than finding them interchangable with all the other books in your genre (while still fulfilling the expectations of the genre reader). Link to outlets other than Amazon when you list new releases and sales.

I still launch in KU, but my older series tend to hover at about 40-50% income from non-Amazon platforms.

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #22 on: January 12, 2018, 09:00:23 AM »
None of this was easily doable until apps like Bookfunnel showed up. No doubt, they need to mature as well, but give it a year or two and the book landscape could look very different.

Indeed, it does seem as though the ground is shifting beneath our feet, and fast.

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Offline NatTHill

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #23 on: January 12, 2018, 09:06:51 AM »
I really love these threads! Like most things in life, there isn't ONE way to get there. I recently read a post on here that mentioned how 30,000 books were sold after she quit the kdp select platform and allowed her books to be exposed through different vendors. Thus encouraging me to sign up for d2d to see if there is  any method to the madness of making books permafree.

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Offline northstar

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Re: ways to be less Amazon dependent
« Reply #24 on: January 12, 2018, 09:19:25 AM »
I honestly believe that the diversifying has to come from readers. They need to be encouraged to check out ereaders that aren't Kindles.

I think if readers can diversify their ereading devices, then authors will see a change in where sales come from. But I also don't see that happening. Amazon is too prevalent in the US to be dethroned at this point. I think trying to cultivate readers outside the US and UK should be more of a focus for authors.