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5 of the Best Alternatives to Amazon for Selling Your Books

A woman holding a stack of books in the independent San Francisco bookstore where she works.

Chances are, as a self-published author, you’re well-aware of the benefits of supporting small businesses. 

With big corporations becoming monoliths in almost every industry, it can be hard for mom and pop shops or independent creatives to get their footing. 

Take the classic example of indie bookstores vs. Amazon. Before Amazon’s arrival in 1995, indie bookstores were experiencing record highs in revenue. But once Amazon was on the scene, indie bookstore sales dropped by a whopping 43% — a decline that has continued over the years since. 

Supporting small businesses helps more than just your conscience. You’re likely to save time and energy by receiving better, more personalized service, instead of going from representative to representative via some 1-800 number. 

Selling your books on indie platforms helps smaller stores have a shot in a world overrun by monoliths. And that means you’re supporting the ability for fellow self-published authors to get better book cuts while boosting your local indie bookstores’ economy, too.

Here are 5 indie platforms where you can sell your book so you can support not only yourself, but other indie authors and indie bookstores, too. 

The Skinny on Selling Your Books on Amazon

While sites like Amazon seem like an easy way to get more eyes on your book, there are quite a few hoops you still need to jump through when using their platform — like finding your target audience in the pools of people on Amazon. 

Sure, more people might come across your book. But will these be people that fit into your book’s niche?

And while many eyes may pass over your book, if enough don’t purchase right away, you’re reprioritized on algorithms, damned to be lost in the void that is the internet. 

Another surprise you might face when selling self-published books on Amazon is the marketplace fees you’re bound to be hit with:

Referral fees: Every time you make a book sale, you pay an extra 15% fee to Amazon, plus a closing fee of $1.80 per book.

Plan “upgrades”: If you want Amazon to have your book show up on product pages or if you plan to advertise, you’ll have to upgrade to a Professional Sales Plan. This can cost $40 a month plus selling fees.

Fulfillment fees: Fulfillment fees mean you’ll be paying for packaging, shipping and handling, customer service, and returns for your books. With fulfillment fees, you can plan to spend anywhere from $3 to $9 per book. 

Additional fees: In addition to sales fees, advertising and visibility, and shipping, you can also expect to pay fees for things like storage, listing fees and refund fees. 

Where to Sell Your Self-Published Book

You might be thinking, “Well, now what? People barely shop at bookstores anymore. Amazon was my last hope!”

Fear not, for we are your problem solvers. Below are 5 of the most promising places to sell your self-published books so that you can have a better shot at having your books reach the right hands. 

1. Blurb

Perhaps the most obvious perk to book sales platform Blurb is that it was created by an author.

It was founded by business book author Eileen Gitting when she noticed the lack of resources for self-published authors to get their careers off the ground. 

After years of research and meetings, she finally had the resources to create the online sales and distribution platform that’s made quite the buzz in the author community.

Blurb allows you to sell your book in their online bookstore or as a downloadable eBook in the Apple iBooks store. While their one time conversion fee is a tad more than Amazon’s ($10 vs. Amazon’s .15 per gigabyte), you’re bound to have a better quality upload with formatting and sizing guides from Blurb. 

Another perk to Blurb is its easy-to-use interface for all experience levels. The website walks you through the entire process of self-publishing from margins and uploading to sale, so it’s like you have a personal assistant helping you along the way. 

2. Aerio

Like Blurb, Aerio is an easy-to-use resource for new and experienced self-published authors. 

A free account on Aerio gets you unlimited eBook uploads, a branded bookstore page, widgets to help with book layout, audience analytics, email catches and more. They’ll just take 15% of your sales to compensate once those are rolling. 

The process for selling your book can be broken down into 4 simple steps:

  1. Upload your book. 
  2. Create marketing materials on the Aerio site including eye-catching book previews and intriguing descriptions. 
  3. Create your personal bookstore and link it to your blogwebsite, and social media
  4. Continue marketing your book on the Aerio site and other places by doing things like giveaways and building email lists, and figure out what’s working with their analytics option. 

While Blurb guides you through the basic book upload and sales processes, Aerio has an emphasis on marketing it once you’re finished. 

3. Ingram

If you’re looking to sell your book through online and in-person retailers, Ingram is the way to go. 

Ingram is the largest wholesale book distributor in the world, and is well known by bookstores everywhere. Many bookstores use Ingram as their main resource for finding and ordering books to sell. 

That means the biggest perk to using Ingram is you can ride the coattails of their reliability and gain access to many bookstores who might be interested in carrying your titles.

Pricing wise, Ingram has one of the most straightforward models. To publish an eBook and print title on their site and access all services you can expect to spend $50. For just eBooks, it will be closer to $25. 

Self-published authors can offer wholesale prices to be added to the Ingram inventory. 

In order to appeal to bookstores, Ingram recommends setting a wholesale price of about 55% your normal sales price. 

4. Indie Bookstores

While in-person book sales might not be as high during the era of social distancing, many indie bookstores have shown to be incredibly resilient and have found success moving their sales online. 

Research some indie bookstores in your area that align with your niche, and see what their online setup is like. Look at the website from a reader’s perspective:

  • Will they be able to find your book easily on the site?
  • Is the ordering process straightforward?
  • What are the shipping costs locally and otherwise?

Before you pitch to the bookstores that appeal to you, prepare a short blurb and a more detailed summary to share with them. Also make sure your website and social media are up to date and professional looking. 

Once everything is polished, email the bookstores that appeal to you and let them know you appreciate their online sales interface, and explain why your book would do well on their digital shelves. Try to set up a Zoom meeting or phone call with the bookstore manager to complete your pitch and talk logistics. 

5. Your Author Site

If you’ve already been working hard to get potential readers to your site, keep the ball rolling by selling your book directly to readers from your site.

Selling on your site helps you have more autonomy about the process as well as a little bit more information on who your readers are and what sparks them. It gives you an opportunity to begin an ongoing “conversation” with readers through emails, events, and other opportunities you might present in the future.

Depending on the site builder you use, the transaction option can look a little different. Some, like Wix, allow for an easy-to-use PayPal method, where you simply list the book, the price and link it to your account. Others have options that go beyond Paypal, like Shopify integrations or MyBookTable

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