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How to Be a Non-Amazon Author

In Part Seven of my guide to being an indie author, I’d planned to talk about Amazon, but there’s loads of info out there about that.

What I’m doing today is telling you ways that you can be a truly indie author, which is to say non-Amazon exclusive. Because going wide is the only way to keep complete control over your own content.

And I suspect a lot of authors are failing to look outside the box for these solutions.

This is not to suggest that you remove your books from Amazon. Anything, but that. Amazon provides visibility (especially in the U.S. and the U.K.), even if the pay is crap now it takes moving heaven and earth to make a sale there without constantly playing Amazon’s algorithm games. Either that or writing five or ten books a year to keep pace with every other writer sweating away for 12 or 15 hours a day, every day trying to produce more content.

I’m not playing that game. I’m tired of feeling like this …

No, I’m here to say you should be on Amazon, especially if you’re an indie author, because otherwise you might as well not be published (at least, according to traditional publishing standards) everyone’s “real” book can be purchased there, unless you happen to be a really large organization with a publishing arm, which let’s face it — none of us indie authors are, are we? 🙂 The point is that you shouldn’t depend entirely on one distribution platform to sell your books. This is basic Freelance Writing Business Advice 101. And that’s what indies are — freelance fiction writers, essentially. We are the owners of our semi-licensed content, when we give non-exclusive use permission to these online distributors.

But how else does one make money as an author, other than Amazon plus Apple, Kobo, B&N, Smashwords, and Google Play, if you can manage it?

Well, here are some options to consider.

When I began selling my ebooks online, it was with the assumption that I absolutely had to rely on Amazon and other ebook distributors to make money. That was before I thought in terms of starting a creative business.

Not only are there other ways to sell one’s books, but there are all sorts of ways to set up a creative business online of any sort.

Here’s a short list of possibilities:

1. Sell from your website.

At this point, I have the ability to sell my books directly from my website. I have not actively marketed this aspect of my business. But it might be a good idea to start.

My books are offered for sale in digital form through PayHip. And here’s where they are! 🙂 Isn’t that cute? The content is provided by BookFunnel.

You can set up a PayHip account for free. BookFunnel has pricing tiers that start at $10 a month.

2. Patreon.

Many types of creators are embracing Patreon now. Essentially, it’s like the patronage system, where people who enjoy a creator’s work can make small payments to support that person. You can open an account at Patreon.com. And — what do you know — here’s my Patreon page!

3. Membership websites.

When you come down to it, this takes the Patreon concept and implements it with a website. Such websites are generally WordPress.org sites. The whole idea is that members pay a recurring fee that allows access to all or parts of the website’s content. Think of Netflix. Your fans pay a monthly fee, and they get access to everything. Or partial access, determined by a fee schedule. On top of which, the website owner has complete control over the platform.

Starting and running such a website does involve some upfront cost, so keep that in mind before you actually do it.

4. Substack.

Substack reminds me a bit of Patreon, a bit of Medium (where you can offer your writing behind a paywall and get paid by Medium, which I’ve done — I’m not hugely rich from it, but that’s not the point. One can make money from it, depending on what you write, whether it’s chosen by Medium curators, etc.), and a bit like a Facebook substitute. I’m exploring my options here. And if you’d like to sample such goods as I’ve offered so far, just click here! 🙂

4. Crowdfunding.

This is a method best used to raise money for discrete projects, such as a book or movie. There are now numerous options when it comes to finding crowdfunding platforms, depending on the type of project you’re trying to finance.

And I’m just naming a few things one can do that don’t involve any online book retailer.

So … what stops people from doing these things more often? I’d say the biggest obstacle is fear. Namely, fear of failure.

Having said that, I’d like you to consider the successes achieved by online entrepreneurs featured in a documentary I recently reviewed called Generation Freedom. Here’s my review of the film.

If you’d like more self-publishing tips, just click here to get a series of free videos that spell out a few good ones.

I myself have purchased a copy of Generation Freedom, and I look forward to re-watching it. Again!

Finally, here’s a video review of a book that everyone should read! 🙂

PPS: For what it’s worth, I’d never go this far! 🙂 Or would I?

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Debbi Mack

Debbi Mack

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New York Times bestselling author of eight novels, including the Sam McRae Mystery series. Screenwriter, podcaster, and blogger. My website: www.debbimack.com.