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Indie Author Essentials (your guide to going wide) : Sell D2C – get over 90%

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Indie Author Essentials

your guide to going wide

Sell D2C – get over 90% royalties!

Get started D2C the easy way with

Shopify and Etsy!

Mark Williams

The International Indie Author

The International Indie Author Facebook Group

 

© Mark Williams 2016

Introduction

The International Indie Author is a Facebook-focussed discussion and news group for indie authors looking to go wide and go global with their writing careers.

Important as Amazon unquestionably is to our career trajectories, there are many ways to compliment our Amazon sales with other revenue streams.

Over in the International Indie Author Facebook Group discussion ranges from Amazon and the other mainstream ebook stores to all manner of other ways in which we authors can build and safeguard our writing careers by reaching new readers.

Going wide and going global is not just about getting our ebooks into as many ebook stores as are practical, important though that is.

Going wide is also about being available in as many formats as practical, and in as many variant options as are practical.

Note the word practical, not possible. Each author needs to tailor their career-building to their needs and circumstances, and not all options discussed in the Essential Indie Author series will be relevant to every author.

It may well be that putting all our titles into Amazon’s KDP Select is the best option for some of us. It’s certainly the easiest, and at any given time there are always many authors singing its praises.

But equally there are many authors singing the praises of using Select as a tool with a few titles and going wide with the rest.

While still other authors will be showing us their sales figures and saying that going as wide as possible is the best route.

There are no right and wrong answers. What works well for one might not work so well for another. But only by being able to make informed decisions based on considering as many options as possible (and practical), can we get the best out of our writing careers.

The International Indie Author Facebook Group (LINK) is a great place to engage in daily discussion and debate about all our going wide and going global options, with news, views and analysis on an ever-changing global publishing scene.

During the course of any given month a lot of news and discussion takes place, and it’s easy for even the most dedicated internationalist indie author to miss key news posts and debates.

So to help indie authors keep up with the constantly shifting sand that is the international publishing arena I’ll be collating the key non-time-sensitive posts from the International Indie Author Facebook Group discussions into short, themed ebook summaries easily navigable and easily digested on any ereading device or app.

In addition to the very short essays on themed topics released as quick-fire ebooks, there will be also be a monthly ebook digest where we can find all the previous month’s non-time-sensitive discussion posts in one place, so we can dip into, see what we missed, or refresh our memory at our leisure.

 

 

In this ebook:

 

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p<{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Etsy – how savvy indie authors can reach new readers and bring in new revenue streams by selling our work in this exciting global marketplace.

 

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p<{color:#000;background:#fff;}. Shopify – no, nothing to do with Spotify, the music subscription service. Shopify is a great way to sell our books and other products direct to consumers, from our websites and blogs, from a specially created store, or even direct with buy buttons on Facebook, twitter and Pinterest.

 

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Author’s note.

 

 

 

 

AS A BRITISH EXPAT MOST of this book is written in British English, but some quotes may be by other International Indie Author Facebook Group members pr from posts or discussion threads, or from posts published elsewhere, and may be in American or Commonwealth English.

All care has been taken to ensure the accuracy of the information offered, and that the links are working (if any aren’t, do let me know), but do bear in mind the global publishing scene is in constant flux and what may be true or good advice one day may be quite redundant the next.

To keep up with the global publishing scene day to day pop along to the International Indie Author Facebook Group and join in the discussion. (LINK)

This book and its content are offered free of charge, as is the content offered in the International Indie Author Facebook Group and on various blogs.

Needless to say the Facebook Group, the blogs and the free ebook collations are demanding of time and energy that I could be spending writing for myself.

Fortunately as a British ex-pat in West Africa I reside in a country where living costs are low and my income from my other books is adequate for my needs, and leaves me enough over to support a number of nursery school projects here.

But if you’re finding the International Indie Author Facebook Group and blog posts and the Essential Indie Author ebooks helpful, do consider making a token donation to my nursery schools projects in The Gambia, West Africa. More on that at the back of this ebook.

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Etsy – Thinking Outside The Ebook Store

 

 

 

 

At the time this essay was written Amazon sales were deteriorating for many indies, as was most clearly evidenced by October 2016 Author Earnings Report which showed a clear four per cent drop in indie market share on the Amazon Kindle US sales platform. (LINK)

Whether that was a blip or the sign of things to come has yet to be ascertained, but what is clear is that many (not all) indies who were reliant on Amazon were feeling the pain.

That may be because they were exclusive in KDP Select, or because they had gone wide but not given the wider sales avenues a fair crack of the promotional whip.

The reasons why are of little consolation compared to the revenue tumble.

Yet those of us who chose not just to go wide but to take going wide seriously are often seeing revenue from other streams more than make up for the difference.

At which point we may be asking ourselves, how can that be? We all know Amazon controls 65%-75% of the US ebook market, and even if we are generous and allow 35% of said market is shared among the other retailers that doesn’t come close to equalling Amazon’s share.

But here’s the thing.

Going wide doesn’t just mean being on the other ebook retail platforms, important as that is.

And it doesn’t just mean supplementing our ebook efforts with POD and audio, important as those are too.

There are a ton of other ways we can reach consumers with our books, ebooks, audiobooks and associated products.

My Shopify efforts are finally beginning to gain traction (see next post in this ebook essay collation) and regular money (not much, but regular) is coming in.

And now Etsy is beginning to pay off.

Etsy (LINK) is famously the handmade products platform where we sell trinkets and craft products, and so it’s perhaps not somewhere an indie author would even consider as a means to connect with readers

But actually Etsy sells books, and we can too. And not just our print books but also our digital ebooks and audio-books and our how-to courses and our cover art and a whole lot more.

It takes just a few minutes to set up a “shop” on Etsy and load our ebooks in epub, mobi and PDF formats, upload covers, product description, set prices and… and off we go!

Margins are fantastic and we can price low to get consumer interest if we think that will help, but there’s a great bonus angle to this.

When readers go to a big store like Amazon it’s likely – indeed, often painfully obvious – that many are looking for outright bargains. That’s part of the Amazon appeal. Its why 0.99 prices for ebooks do so well in volume terms (but of course only attract the painful 35% royalty).

With a craft store like Etsy the core customer base are coming there with the expectation they will be asked to pay a little extra for something special.

And what could be more special than our books? Hand-crafted with crazy-long hours of labour and probably a lot of expense too.

Which means that even if we are just selling our regular ebooks we can probably get away with charging a little more than what we’d dare on Amazon, and if we are selling something a little different – a signed print edition, for example, or a signed cover print, then it’s quite possible to charge a premium and still get the sale.

Just to stress again that we should not be looking at D2C options like Etsy and Shopify to replace Amazon. Amazon is likely to be our most valuable single market place for the foreseeable future.

But that’s the point. It’s a single marketplace and there are plenty of others out there that we could be using to supplement our invaluable Amazon income.

Not just for print books and fancy extras like signed covers or fridge magnets and other promotional goodies, but for our digital downloads like ebooks, audio-books, video, etc.

We upload them once to Etsy and then Etsy takes care of the downloads to the buyer and takes care of all the payments, allowing buyers to pay with credit cards, Paypal, Apple Pay, etc, without us having to have Paypal or Apple Pay accounts or merchant processing accounts ourselves.

Then the money, minus a small percentage and a token listing fee if we opt for automated listing renewal, is deposited direct in our bank account.

For print book sales and other trinket we of course have to take care of delivery ourselves, but often we can get the POD supplier to deliver direct, so no big deal for print.

As 2017 kicks off and we head towards 2020 I’m putting a lot more energy into “other” outlets to spread the load and ride out the peaks and troughs of the mainstream book retailers.

Operators like Etsy, Shopify (which can get us direct sales with buy buttons on Facebook, twitter and Pinterest), Ecwid, Selz, eBay and a host of other services can get us reach among “non-readers” who might never go near a bookstore and may not be looking for a book themselves, but might think our books would make a great present for someone they know that does read.

And too we might connect with avid readers who happen to be on Etsy or Selz or whatever but who would never find us on Amazon or Apple or Kobo simply because we are lost in that vast ocean of other books competing for visibility.

Best of all, once we’ve taken the plunge and have fully stocked shops offering our print and digital titles we can then pop along to Vista and make some great accessory products and trinkets and sell them in these stores too.

Would your cover or author logo look good on a mouse-mat, mug, t-shirt, baseball cap or whatever? What better place to sell them than a craft shop like Etsy?

How do our Etsy product ages get found?

The same way our Amazon product pages get found.

 

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p<>{color:#000;}. Sending out promotional links on social media

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p<>{color:#000;}. Email mailing lists

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p<>{color:#000;}. Messaging app mailing lists

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p<>{color:#000;}. You name it…

 

Having a 10,000 strong mailing list is great, of course, and sending most of that traffic back to Amazon, Apple and Kobo et al makes solid sense too because high volumes of sales boost chart position and boosted chart position means better visibility which means even more sales.

But why not also give our readers the chance to shop elsewhere – on Etsy, for example, and instead of making 70% or 35% we make 80%-90% regardless of list price.

There’s an easy guide to setting up shop on Etsy here. (LINK)

Etsy provide a useful online “sellers’ handbook” to help us get up and running, and in there we’ll find some great advice on search engine optimisation (SEO) for our Etsy product pages. Etsy (LINK)

There is soooo much more we indies can do to generate income, reach new readers, and build interest, if we are willing to step outside the convenient box that is mainstream ebook retail.

 

D2C and 96% Royalties. Get Started Direct2Consumer With Shopify Lite.

 

 

 

Shopify just deposited 9.58 in my bank.

Nothing to get excited about on its own, but when you consider it was for a five-ebook deal, each individually selling at 1.99 on Amazon, it gets more interesting.

Here’s the thing.

On Amazon those five (children’s) books would have cost the buyer 1.99 × 5 = 9.95.

I sold them as a pack of five. They are also available as a box-set, but some people prefer individual titles because they are easier to navigate and to share among the children, and on many retailers buying five titles means buying one, going back and finding the next and buying that, and then repeat.

Sometimes Amazon will offer a bundle of individual titles through its algorithms, but that seems to be a lottery as to who gets those to appear on their product page.

Selling D2D (direct to consumer, remember?) means we can make up our own bundles and price them as we wish.

I offered the five pack for a clean 10.00.

On Amazon each sale would net me 35% of each of the 1.99s being paid by the reader, sixty days after the end of the month in which the sale was made.

That’s 0.70 a shot x 5 making a total royalty for the five books of 3.50, that would have come to me a couple of months down the road. Amazon would have taken 6.50 for brokering the deal.

Instead Shopify landed 9.58 in my UK account just four working days after the transaction. (3 days for US and Australia, 7 days for Canada.) That’s 6.08 more than the same sale would have got me on Amazon.

And for those wondering, that’s a 96% royalty rate.

Even for a higher priced item where Amazon would have paid the 70% royalty (minus the delivery charge) that’s still upwards of 26% less than my direct sale delivered.

At which point, before anyone rushes off to close their Amazon account to go D2C, let’s keep in mind that we should see D2C as a compliment to our reach through the big retailers, not as an alternative to them.

The savvy indie will be looking to use the big retailers to grab the attention of readers globally and then refer them to our D2C selection. More on that below.

Many of us will have spent many hours promoting our titles on Facebook, gleefully parading our masterpieces and then adding links to the retailers so the eager ereader can rush off and buy the book.

Of course many readers want just that. They want the cosiness, convenience and security their preferred ebook retailer offers. But others will be quite happy to buy from anywhere, even direct on Facebook, if only we could set up a shop on Facebook

So here’s one of the indie world’s best kept secrets. We can!

For a monthly fee of $9 USD we can reach consumers using Shopify Lite. (Prices quoted here are accurate at the time of publication of this essay but there is a price hike imminent in 2017, so do check for any changes since).

Shopify Lite (LINK) lets us sell on Facebook, set up shop on our websites and blogs, etc, send out invoices and collect payments.

The next step up is the Shopify store,

The Shopify store upgrade will let us sell direct on not just Facebook but on Pinterest and twitter too.

Yep, those “buy buttons” we see on Pinterest are not, contrary to popular belief, the exclusive preserve of the retail giants. We indies can get which I plan on experimenting with in 2017. The monthly fee is a little higher ($29 pcm), but when we’re collecting 95% of list price that’s no problem to cover if we have the traffic.

Where does the traffic come from?

Our mailing lists are one good source. Plus of course we can directly promote our Shopify store or individual Shopify sales links on Facebook, twitter and everywhere else we post retailer links.

But with the Shopify store we can also sell face to face at conventions, book fairs, flea markets, boot sales or just standing in the street if we so wish, using our smartphones.

We just take their payment on our own smartphone and the next second Shopify delivers our ebook to their smartphone or tablet and they can start reading!

Or imagine being at a party or on a bus or plane or whatever and the conversation gets to what we do and we say we are authors. Would they like to buy or book or two for a special just-for-them discount? Just knock up a Shopify direct invoice and send it along and they can pay for it there and then and get the books on their device ready to read.

Now of that isn’t worth $29 a month I don’t know what is.

I mean, what’s not to like?

Okay, so there are some downsides.

The big downside of course is chart position on the mighty Amazon.

Chart position equals visibility equals sales, as we all know.

But… If we are fielding niche-market titles or have back-list titles that are not seeing much chart action anyway, D2C is a great way to maximise profits, and of course we then have the customer data to up-sell further goods later.

Having an online store, whether through Shopify or whatever, of course means we can bundle items as we like, cross-promote items as we like, make up our own categories, etc.

And we can add links to retailers too. The latter is always good idea for ebooks because some buyers will want the convenience of, say, Amazon’s one-click or whatever.

With a store we can also offer loyalty incentives. We can offer subscriptions. We can offer membership of an exclusive Club. We can offer free bonus material. We can run promotions and competitions and special offers and etc, etc.

Yes, these are things we can do on our regular websites, but a well-branded “shop” adds appeal and professionalism for the consumer.

D2C shouldn’t be seen as trying to compete with, or as an alternative to, the big retailers. But to compliment the sales they bring us, and to build our brand and enlarge out reach.

Shopify, like Etsy and Ecwid and Selz and lots of similar options, will let us load digital content and will take care of everything for us once we have the listings live, so before we protest it’s all too much work it’s actually no different in that respect from loading our books to Amazon or Kobo.

The big difference is that 96% royalty.

What’s your excuse for not going D2C?

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And finally…

 

 

 

 

AND THAT WAS NOVEMBER 2016, but (Kobo promotion dates aside) much of the information will be relevant for a long time to come. But do double-check for any changes since publication before acting on anything here.

 

 

A gentle reminder. This book and its content are offered free of charge, as is the content offered in the International Indie Author Facebook Group and on various blogs.

Needless to say the Facebook Group, the blogs and the free ebook collations are demanding of time and energy that I could be spending writing for myself.

Fortunately I live in a country where living costs are low and my income from my other books is adequate for my needs, and leaves me enough over to support a number of nursery school projects here.

But if you’re finding the International Indie Author Facebook Group and blog posts and the Essential Indie Author ebooks helpful, perhaps you’d consider making a token donation to my nursery schools projects in The Gambia, West Africa.

 

 

£1 GBP ($1.25 USD / 1.17 euros) will keep a child in exercise books and pencils for a nursery school term.

 

£2 GBP will pay for a child’s school shoes or school bag.

 

£10 GBP will pay a term’s nursery school fees.

 

None of the children in the image above would be attending school without outside help.

 

 

When you live in a home like this, without electricity or running water, finding money to pay for the kids to go to school is a luxury you can only dream about.

 

 

And when the kids do get to school the classrooms are overcrowded and poorly equipped.

Individual donations can help enormously. So can regular child and family sponsorship.

If you are a teacher or have children at school or just happen to live near a school, do think about the possibility of twinning your local school with a school here in West Africa.

 

For more information contact me direct at [email protected]

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Indie Author Essentials (your guide to going wide) : Sell D2C – get over 90%

In this ebook: • Etsy – how savvy indie authors can reach new readers and bring in new revenue streams by selling our work in this exciting global marketplace. • Shopify – is a great way to sell our books and other products direct to consumers, from our websites and blogs, from a specially created store, or even direct with buy buttons on Facebook, twitter and Pinterest.

  • Author: Mark Williams
  • Published: 2016-12-07 14:35:10
  • Words: 3517
Indie Author Essentials  (your guide to going wide) : Sell D2C – get over 90% Indie Author Essentials  (your guide to going wide) : Sell D2C – get over 90%