You love books, don’t you? Yeah, me too. Some authors and publishers are autobuys for me, because I know I’ll get the reading experience I want. A cover attracts me, the blurb entices and then I’m off to purchase.
Before I wrote, I had my go-to vendors. As a reflex, I went to what was familiar. Then, I had books accepted for publication, signed contracts, and the purchase of books took on an entirely different scope.
What motivates you to purchase from a particular site? Is it habit? Ease of purchasing experience? Sales? Incentives?
As an author, I have my clear-cut preference. Hands down, I’d rather my readers purchase from my publisher’s sites.
Why? Because I make more money and so does the publisher—for the same product the third-party vendors are selling.
Don’t think for a minute that I don’t appreciate sales on Amazon and other sites, but with those sales comes a price. While the reader gets my book for the advertised price, I earn varying amounts depending upon the vendor.
All authors are extremely grateful to their readers, support them in many ways. This piece will ask readers to consider changing their buying habits.
While we need as many vendors as possible to “get our books out there,” authors are paid most equitably when purchases are made through their publisher’s website. No third-party vendor lists books free, but the cost of doing business with third-parties directly affects the author’s and publisher’s bottom line.
Here is a typical breakdown. Amazon charges the publisher from 35 to 70%, depending upon the price of a particular book, to list books on their site and to take care of sales of titles. Under $2.99, Amazon keeps 70% of the cover price. Say the book is $.99 ($1.00 here for easy calculation.) The publisher gets $.35 for each sale. If the author’s contract reads 40%, at royalty time the author will get 14 cents. At 50%, the author gets 17.5 cents.
Consider the same book when purchased at the publisher site. The calculation produces a far different result. The royalty is calculated on the full cover price. At 40%, the author gets 40 cents and at 50%, they get 50 cents.
Say the $1.00 book sells 1000 copies in a month. On the gross sales of $1000, Amazon keeps $700 and sends the publisher $300. If the author’s contract is at 40%, they will get $120. If at 50%, they get $150. What did the third-party vendor do to earn more than the author or publisher?
Let’s boost the price of the book to $5.00. Amazon keeps 35% or $1.75 and sends the publisher 70% or $3.25. Of that, the author at 40% gets $1.30 and at 50%, the author gets $1.63.
Take the same 1000 copy example, sales total to $5,000. Amazon keeps $1,750 and sends the publisher $3,250. The 40% authors earns $1,300 and the 50% author gets $1,760.
Other third party vendors vary in their percentage, with most hovering around 50% cover price.
While publishers have myriad expenses to justify their percentage, third parties can’t boast the same. They do afford publishers and authors additional venues and exposure, but they can’t justify their percentage as firmly as the publishers can.
Some authors consider this exorbitant percentage a cost of doing business. It took me one royalty cycle to lose the starry eyes at “being on” Amazon. I don’t consider Amazon’s percentage a business expense. I consider it something else entirely. Some negative and I’m not the only author to feel that way.
Amazon houses our books, handles sales, and sends a check and report to the publisher. On balance, they do nothing but put our books up for sale. They don’t boost recognition for authors by marketing specific authors or their books. Each title is a very small fish in a very large pond. Third party sites, Amazon included, don’t offer any perks other than a space on their site and they handle the sale.
What is the difference between a $2.99 book and a $3.00 book as far as Amazon is concerned? Thirty-five percent. All things equal, it is a ridiculous distinction.
When authors sign a contract, we know that we earn from sales on the publisher’s site. I link every bit of promotion to my publisher’s sites. In other words, while I want readers to buy my work, I don’t openly encourage readers to buy from third-party sites.
I’d love to admit to altruism, but the reality is, I write to supplement our retirement income. I work very hard to produce stories my readers enjoy reading and I want to make the most money I can from the work.
To my mind, publishers earn their percentage. From taking on the risk of accepting the books to proofing the galley and all steps in between, they work to produce the best possible product. They work with authors to help them realize the book they imagined theirs to be.
Publishers bear the expense of editing, three rounds in most cases. They also pay promotions people, financial teams who keep the books and pay the royalties, IT staff, the contractors (editors, proofers, cover artists, formatters,) the person who uploads books to other sites, licenses, taxes, in some cases office space, and myriad other expenses. Publishers earn their percentage.
I’m published with Musa Publishing and Dreamspinner Press, and both are classy outfits that never forget that authors are at the heart of their businesses. Both work to promote their businesses online and at book conventions. By promoting their brand, they are promoting all their authors.
The purchasing experience on publisher’s sites is as simple as on any other site. Should you have any problems, a quick email to customer service will fix things. The buying systems are secure and provide for Kindle users as well. Before writing this piece, I purchased a book in MOBI format on the Musa site. When prompted, I sent the purchase to my Kindle email address and boom, done.
All publishers that I am aware of accept PayPal, an easy and secure way to shop online, without giving out your credit card information.
Many publishers offer incentives, which can only sweeten the pot. They run sales, some that coincide with holidays and others are a permanent part of their offerings. For instance, Musa Publishing offers 20% off all new releases and that sale lasts for one week. What a wonderful way of launching each title.
Dreamspinner and Musa often offer flash sales. To take advantage, you should subscribe to their Twitter feeds and I suggest you subscribe publisher’s newsletters, follow them on Facebook and Twitter, and visit their websites often. Click here for Musa newsletter subscription.
Follow the authors that write for your favorite publishers and join things like Musa’s Book Club. The book club promises great fun, where you can read excerpts from new releases, meet authors, win prizes during author chats and release parties, and become eligible for contests exclusive to the book club members. Musa will be giving away gift cards and free books during events. I expect the club to be in full swing after the holidays.
When you support an author by publisher site purchases, you help ensure the future success of both authors and publisher. Put publishers on your favorites list. Though you might have to retrain your mind to purchase from publishers, you will find the experience easy and user-friendly, and not at all time-consuming. Ultimately, you help everyone and can save yourself a few dollars in the process.
What do you think?
Here’s my latest releases:
Check out my backlist by genre on my website.
About Brita Addams
Born in a small town in upstate New York, Brita Addams has made her home in the sultry south for many years. In the Frog Capital of the World, Brita shares her home with her real-life hero—her husband, and a fat cat named Stormee. All their children are grown.
Given her love of history, Brita writes both het and gay historical romance. Many of her historicals have appeared on category bestseller lists at various online retailers.
Musa Publishing has contracted many of Brita’s historical romances, including the rewritten and expanded, best-selling Sapphire Club series.
Tarnished Gold, the first in her gay romance Tarnished series for Dreamspinner Press, was a winner in the 2013 Rainbow Awards, Historical Romance category. The book also received nominations for Best Historical and Best Book of 2013 from the readers of the Goodreads M/M Romance Group.
A bit of trivia—Brita pronounces her name, Bree-ta, and not Brit-a, like the famous water filter. Brita Addams is a mash-up of her real middle name and her husband’s middle name, with an additional d and s.
Readers can find more information about Brita Addams at any of the following places:
Monthly column at The Novel Approach
And the Rest is History WON Radio/Blog Talk Radio shows
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**Please Note: the opinions expressed in this article do not necessarily reflect those of The Novel Approach and its staff**
30 thoughts on “What Motivates You To Purchase Books From A Particular Site – A Guest Post by Brita Addams”
How do these percentages differ if the book is self-published?
Reblogged this on Lane Swift and commented:
The Novel Approach, making a sterling case for buying direct from the publisher, rather than third party vendors.
Hi Tina Marie,
Amazon pays as indicated above. Unless they’ve changed their policy toward self-pubbed authors in the last few months, the same applies.
Thanks for stopping by.
I usually follow the sales. I very rarely pay “sticker price” for anything. I love Dreamspinner because they almost always have a sale on something. I also like the 30% on new releases at Samhain. I wish all publishers would discount new releases. I only buy from Amazon if I can’ t get it for less somewhere else because I love “one click” shopping and the instant download. Also, I don’t use Paypal so I don’t buy if that’s the only payment option.
I agree with the following of sales. Everyone likes to save money. DSP does have wonderful sales and I know firsthand how much that means to an author’s bottom line.
I encourage you to visit Musa’s site as well, and check out their release day sales. Starting very soon, they will have great, ongoing contests and sales as well. After the first of the year, there will be great things going on at Musa. The ducks are being lined up as we speak. :)
I love the one click as well at Amazon, but knowing what they take from authors and publishers, really puts me off.
Also, no site will only offer Paypal, at least no publisher sites. Rest assured. you can use your credit or debit cards as you wish.
Thanks for stopping by today.
I buy books from Smashwords if I can, plus I buy Manifold Press books directly from them. I only buy books from Amazon when I can’t find them anywhere else. I didn’t realise there was such a huge profit grab from Amazon. Another good reason to try and avoid them.
Yes, Amazon’s grab is pretty meaty, but they are a necessary entity for exposure. I appreciate you purchasing from publishers, as do the author’s. Check out the publishers I mentioned above and others. Many have great sales and their check out and book retrieval isn’t complicated. Not one-click like Amazon, but easy nonetheless.
Thanks for coming by.
Thanks for the great overview and explanation. I try to go to publishers sites for exactly that reasons, though sometimes go to ARE for ease (if it’s a publisher I don’t usually buy from). Will try to buy from publishers only in the future. What bugs me a bit is that many review sites only put up amazon links. Shouldn’t be too difficult to give the publisher’s link.
Thank you for patronizing publishers. If you haven’t tried a publisher but are interested in a book they produce, I encourage you to go for it. Re: the review sites with Amazon links. That is likely because Amazon has an affiliate program, which helps support the site when readers click through to Amazon. They don’t get a % if they give the publisher link.
I don’t fault the review sites, or Amazon really. Everyone is in business. I’d like to show people that buying from the publisher’s sites is easy and satisfying and you have the opportunity to peruse all the books that publisher produces.
Thank you so much for coming by.
I mainly buy my books from publisher sites mainly because as you say the author gets more money but there are times when there may be a sale on so I get them from ARe or if I can’t find the book anywhere else. Amazon is a place where I may get one or two books a month I don’t really like to buy books from them but a lot of self published authors only put their books on sale there so I have no choice. I didn’t realise how much money went to Amazon WOW.
Thank you for patronizing publisher sites. ARe has great sales, they take 50% of cover, across the board.
Self-published authors are at a disadvantage, I think, with their ability to sell their titles, unless they set up a storefront on their websites. They pay third parties as heftily as publishers do.
Thanks for coming by.
Hey, Brita, I completely agree. Buying from the publisher sites is the way to go. I always suggest that and list JMS Books as the main buy link when I do guest posts. JMS Books definitely deserves its percentage. J. M. Snyder and her staff do so much for us and we know it. Great post. I’m sharing. Hugs your way.
Thank you Paul. I hope everyone shares and spreads the word. Everyone benefits from purchases from publishers. Those % given to third parties aren’t a cost of doing business, when there is an alternative. Thanks for the share and thanks for mentioning JMS, another terrific publisher that does earn its percentage.
Hugs to you, my friend.
Interesting post and it makes sense. And yes, I’m all about supporting authors, because let’s face it, it’s pretty tough being an author and trying to make a living. I admit I did buy a bit from Amazon — the whole sample, one-click convenience. Then I got into a bit of a tussle with them, because even though I only read m/m romances (I mean in the romance area) they kept sending promotions for m/f romance. Never a mention of any m/m romance books. No mention of new m/m from authors I’d read before. Nada. Zip. Nothing. I wrote to them and complained and pointed out it was bit silly, they could send all the promotional material they liked, I would still only buy m/m romance. (I was not confused in my gender choice as to what I liked to read – they were). Pretty tepid response from Amazon. So the upshot of that was subscribing to various newsletters from m/m publishers and buying direct from the publisher.
About the only reason for buying on Amazon now is: indie authors, and sometimes just to see a book get a leg-up in Amazon’s algorithms.
You bring up great points and subscribing to publisher newsletters will narrow your reading preferences. I might add that even though a publisher like Musa publishes other things than LGBT, they do have a selection of gay romance. Also, publishers always have long excerpts available on the book pages, usually the first chapter.
One-click is convenient, but it does cost authors a fortune. I’m okay with a couple of extra steps.
Thank you so much for supporting authors. It means a lot.
For those who are wondering why I, and many other bloggers, provide links to Amazon on our reviews, I can give you a bit of a different perspective on the subject.
I love running a review site. I’ve been doing it in one form or another for the last 5 years – because I love to read, I love books, I love to share my love of books with whomever wants to stop by and celebrate them with us here at The Novel Approach. Most of all, I want to further this genre so that someday we don’t have to call it a genre anymore. I want to see a day when LGBT fiction is mainstreamed, when the books we love will gain the wider audience they deserve because we bloggers may have helped to make that happen in our own small way.
To do that, however, takes a lot of time and money. Between site maintenance; communication with blog tour operators, authors, and publishers; reading and writing my own reviews; not to mention proofing and posting reviews for a staff of eleven, as well as author guest posts, I would hazard a guess that I spend 40+ hours per week doing what I do. And although I maintain a “free” WordPress account, it still costs money to own my own domain name, eliminate the annoying ads that WordPress would otherwise populate the site with, ensure I have media space for authors who send images and videos to go with their guest posts, and be able to offer my own self-hosted giveaways for readers as a thank you for taking the time to stop by every so often to see what we have to say.
Now, before you start playing that baby finger violin ;-), yes, I do this completely voluntarily. I don’t have to do it, no one is forcing me. I love what I do, or I wouldn’t do it. Short story long, the reason so many of us bloggers use Amazon for our buy links is because they–unlike the lion’s share of publishers–offer something called the Amazon Associates program. Every time someone clicks through one of my links and buys a book, I make a few pennies on the sale of that book, which usually averages between $30 and $50 at the end of the month and, in turn, goes directly back to the operation of the blog. To date, ARe and Totally Bound are the only two outlets I’m aware of that offer bloggers those same incentives.
So, my not linking to (or not always linking to) publisher buy links has nothing to do with not supporting authors and publishers–there’s no one who supports them more–and has everything to do with my own self-serving desire to help fund this project I’ve built. :)
Someone made me aware of this a year or so ago. If it keeps you online and able to do what you love, and lets me find enjoyable books, I’m all for it. Thank you. :-)
Thank you, Barbra. ::hugs::
Lisa, your support of authors and publishers isn’t in question. Not in the least. Your work speaks for itself. Love you, honey.
I love you too, sweetie. I was just answering the question that was posed about why we bloggers link to Amazon. <3
I know and I agree that it makes all the sense in the world for you to do that. Perhaps publishers should offer such a thing.
In a perfect world, my friend, in a perfect world. :)
Thanks for explaining that. I was really wondering about it, because I noticed how much bloggers support the authors and thought, how does it go together? So, I’ll keep my fingers crossed for more affiliate programs by the publishers.
And by the way, I love the blog!
Thank you so much, Anna! It would be lovely if Affiliate programs were widely available, but I think in the case of a publisher such as Dreamspinner, for example, there’s no incentive for them to offer such a thing because regardless of the buy link provided by the blogs, readers are going to buy their books where they’re most comfortable doing so, in this case from the DSP site.
I buy directly from DSP because I want my favorite authors to continue to write, but also because DSP does a great job keeping my bookshelf available. I have purchased from other sites where it seems downloading must be done immediately. With DSP, I know I can buy now, but download later even if it is a month later. Plus I really love their sales. If all publishers were the same I would not buy from Amazon at all.
I mainly buy from ARe and Kobo (and occasionally Bookstrand). When there is a sale via the publisher site I will buy directly from them. Usually I keep to ARe and very rarely use Amazon (I don’t like buying electronics books from them and usually opt to buy the paperbacks/hard copies or buy from them if it’s a self-published ebook only available through them) and B&N.
For me the upside to buying from the publisher site (DSP, Riptide, LT3, JMS, etc) is that they give multiple format for their books.
As an author myself I basically agree with everything you say, but the trouble is, it only really works as long as the buyer is in the US. Most publishers only sell in US dollars. If I, in the UK, want to buy from them I only have a rough idea what I’m paying until the transaction shows up on my credit card. And guess what else will show up on my card? A fee for a non-Sterling transaction.
A fee now and again is no big deal, but enough of them adds up to the point I could have bought a few more books with that money. If more publishers would make their sites friendlier to international customers I’d definitely use them more.
Hi Becky Black,
I shop from Germany and don’t even own a credit card. The publishers I buy from (DSP, LT3, Samhain, Totally Bound and a few more) all accept Paypal. There is no extra fee and before the payment goes through the currency is converted and I can see exactly what I pay in Euro. Paypal here in Germany is easy, you either pay some money into your Paypal account or connect it to your normal bank account. In the second case Paypal takes the correct amount directly from your bank account.
Tons of reasons… but here are some of my preferences based on my purchasing experience.
There are general reasons: I like buying directly from publishers like DSP or riptide or LT3 because 1) you have PayPall option and 2)they offer book in multiple formats with option to send it directly to your Kindle (which is good if you read books on different devices like I do)
They also have preorder option.
But it’s not a rule I can apply to every publisher. MLR or Loose have delivery system I wasn’t fond of that much when I tried it- so with their books I choose vendors like ARe.
Riptide has great warning system that is not just optional, but also detailed. They have very cool thing where you get book two days before release if you preordered with them. It’s a benefit I didn’t think it would matter that much until I preordered my first book with them.
The reason I stick to amazon, though, is because it’s a great place to find new, debut selfpub authors. Amazon I guess have some kind of program for new authors and I found some great books through them. Smaswords the same…
Kobo often has codes… Like I said, there are tons of reasons. :|
I guess I will be the voice of dissension here…
I love buying from Amazon, and as a self-published author, I love selling there.
Yes, they take 65% of cover price for books under $2.99, and 30% of cover for books over $2.99 (which is why most of my books are priced $2.99 or higher) but as a self published author, I don’t have to give a publisher a cut of my balance. And for the ease of purchasing Amazon provides my readers and the marketing they do (yes, they do list my book on “recommended for you” and “also bought” lists, which helps bring me new readers) I think they earn their share.
As a reader, I love one-click ordering, I love downloading books to my kindle without connecting to a computer (and without even being near a wi-fi network!) I buy from publisher sites when I can, to support my author friends, but I have to say the process is much more tedious than whispernet ordering through the kindle. (See what technology has done to me? What a baby I have become!)
Anyway, good points in this post, for sure. It is good for us readers to be aware of where our money goes, and how little of it actually gets to our favorite authors.
But I also think the whole industry needs to make some changes. Amazon continually works to make buying easy, and at the end of the day that will always increase sales. I think publishers will need to play catch-up for a while to compete. DSP and Riptide definitely do a great job on their websites (I haven’t visited many others) so I think we are getting there. But then things like the “kindle unlimited” pop up and everything is in flux again.
To me the best thing a reader can do, no matter where they made their purchase, is to spread the word about the authors and books they love. Write reviews or share links, whatever. That is worth so much more than royalties to me :)