Should authors sell their own books?

Authors often ask me whether they should sell their books themselves from their websites. There are pros and cons and it really comes down to their main motivation for writing their book.

Publishing for business development

Major Street is a business book publisher and generally our authors write their books to increase their profile and develop their business. So, when they promote their books, if they offer a link to purchase it from their website, they can potentially achieve far more than a book sale:

  • They are increasing traffic to their site
  • Visitors can find out more about their whole business – perhaps workshops or coaching or other services that they offer
  • The author has the contact details of the book buyer and can invite them to be a part of their online community
  • They can continue to communicate with the new contact via email or newsletters
  • This could eventually lead to them working together in other ways.

Plus, the author receives the full amount of the sale of the book.

Publishing to become a bestseller

Other authors, despite writing their book for profile and reach, are also keen to appear on bestseller lists.

Nielsen Bookscan records book sales through bookstores and online and provides our industry with sales data on a weekly basis. If authors promote their books and direct interested buyers to their favourite bookstore – physical or online – these sales are recorded by Bookscan. If sales numbers are significant, the author’s book will start showing up on the Top 50 lists.

Amazon is well-known for publishing bestseller lists in multiple categories. Some authors aspire to being on Amazon bestseller lists and strategise to achieve this aim.

Of course, if you drive sales to booksellers you will earn your author royalty on these sales. Booktopia has an affiliate program which allows authors to earn a royalty on sales they drive to Booktopia too.

What does the publisher think?

I can’t speak for all publishers, but at Major Street we don’t mind where our books are sold. While we love to see our books on the bestseller lists, we also love to see our authors using their books to achieve business success. If their book attracts new clients and helps them grow their business, then we feel proud to have played a part in that.


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