Deciding to sell books on Amazon is a bit like deciding to become a YouTuber. Yes, you could hit it big and become rich and famous, but the odds aren’t great. That’s not to say that you shouldn’t use Amazon’s e-reader platform — there are definite advantages to it — but there are also alternatives that may work better for you.
To find out whether Amazon is the way forward or if you should pursue another route, such as self-publishing a book, today, we’ll dive into the pros and cons of using Amazon as your chosen publishing platform.
To be clear, most of this advice will be talking about selling your eBooks to read on devices such as the Kindle, not selling physical books on Amazon and shipping them to customers.
You can also sell books on Amazon, of course — that’s what put them on the map. Shipping is on you, though, but we have some solutions for that, too!
Pros to Selling Books on Amazon
If you’re looking for a quick and easy way to start selling books, Amazon is certainly that. The upsides have drawn in many writers asking, “Where can I sell my book?” or searching the internet for “how to publish a book.” Many people are just looking for a simple way to get their works widely distributed.
Here are some of the benefits of selling books on Amazon:
- It’s easy. Write your book, upload a Word document, and then it will automatically get converted into an eBook that your customers can read.
- Tech issues are far and few between and all of the interfaces are simple.
- The customer base is massive. 83% of US eBook sales are through Amazon, and eBooks make up 21% of total book sales.
- It’s inexpensive. Because everything is digital, there’s no printing, no paper, no retailer opening boxes of your books to display on shelves. There’s no editor or proofreader you have to hire. Design a cover (or have someone do it for you) and that’s about it.
- Hassles are few. You don’t have to deal with returns, customer service, or any of the costs of hosting a server or creating a digital storefront.
Cons to Selling Books on Amazon
Unfortunately, choosing to sell books on Amazon isn’t all roses and sunshine. You’re not the only one that’s realized how easy it is to sell eBooks!
Here are some of the drawbacks you might face:
- Competition is fierce…and numerous. There are an estimated 6 million eBooks on the Kindle E-Store. It’s easy to get lost in the clutter.
- Amazon takes a big cut. If you sell your book between $2.99 and $9.99, you’ll get 70% of the sales. The royalties for books that cost more than that are only 35%. Of course, Amazon is the one creating the infrastructure that allows your book to be sold in the first place, but it does come with a cost.
- You don’t get to connect with your customers. Unless you have a presence elsewhere, there’s not really any way for you to get to know the people buying your books.
Perhaps worst of all, you have little to no control over the format. If you have a specific format that you want, it may or may not be preserved in the final product.
Even if you do manage to upload your book in your preferred format, Amazon e-readers might not be able to display them. You’ll need to stick to a few formats, such as Word documents or PDFs.
Is Self-Publishing on Amazon Profitable?
Well, it can be. If you’re a top-selling author, you can make money off of volume, even if you’re selling at a higher cost than $9.99 and accepting the 35% royalty.
Most writers publishing on Amazon won’t see huge money. They would be lucky to get a few thousand dollars in the first couple of months their book goes on sale, even with a huge marketing campaign that could eat into the book’s profits.
Selling Books on Your Own Platform
Amazon isn’t the only way to get books to your customers. While creating your own website might take a little more elbow grease, it has some serious benefits.
Pros to Selling Books on Your Own Platform
Many writers decide to create a website as a way to gain control over their brand and book distribution. The upsides are:
- Complete control over your format. No more sticking to just Word docs or PDFs, your books can be anything you want!
- Great connection with your customers, thanks to contact pages and social media integration
- Increased access to your customer analytics to better target promotions and sales, as well as the topics and style of the books you write
- 100% of the profits. Yes, you’ll have to pay for web hosting and possibly website design as well, but if your books are selling well, those will be tiny costs compared to what Amazon takes.
- You can bundle other items with books, such as videos or podcasts, and charge whatever price you think is fair
- If you want to sell physical books, your website is your storefront
- You’re not sharing the profits for them — just make sure you’re shipping your books fast and well packed
Most of all, you’re not at Amazon’s mercy. Remember when we mentioned YouTubers earlier? What happens to their work and career if YouTube goes away? The same thing that happens to you if Amazon goes away or decides to stop selling eBooks.
Cons to Selling Books on Your Own Platform
There are a few reasons why some sellers still stick with digital storefronts like Amazon to host their books:
- Your platform will take more work. You’ll have to deal with the upkeep of your site, security and cyberattacks, hosting issues, and other technical problems you won’t be as likely to face with Amazon.
- You’ll have to start from scratch. No one is going to just “find” your website — you’ll have to market it
- You get all of the complaints. If something goes wrong and an order gets screwed up or your site goes down, you’re on the front lines.
How Print Bind Ship Can Help
Maybe you decided that selling on Amazon is so easy that it’s worth having 30% to 65% of your book profits going back to Amazon. The interface, the uploading, the hosting — it’s all so simple. But perhaps you think that the profit potential and control of self-publishing are more for you.
When you’ve got the book in your hand, the culmination of all of your hard work, and you want to get that book in customers’ hands, you’ll need an awesome third-party logistics (3PL) partner like Print Bind Ship.
We specialize in getting books printed, stored, and shipped all around the world. Contact Print Bind Ship today!
Q: How Much Does It Cost to Sell Books on Amazon?
If you’re selling eBooks, you will give up 30% of the selling price of the book if it costs between $2.99 and $9.99. If you charge more than $9.99, you’ll pay 65% of the cost to Amazon.
Q: Do Authors Make Money from Books Sold on Amazon?
Authors can make money from books sold on Amazon. With a big advertising push after a release, an author can make a few thousand dollars, typically. This will wane over the weeks as interest in the book diminishes.
Q: Do I Need to Copyright My Book Before Publishing on Amazon?
When you publish your book on Amazon, you own the copyright and you’re technically licensing the book for sale on their platform.