open sign in a book store window - buy direct from the author if you can

Where did you buy the last book you read? Chances are it was online (especially for all ebooks) or maybe you bought a print copy at a real bookstore. Then again, maybe you browsed a certain aisle at the grocery store or picked up a bargain used copy at a garage sale or thrift store. Or perhaps you were lucky enough to buy direct from the author at an event or book signing.

As an author, I’m thrilled when anyone reads my books no matter where they found them! But, reality also says this is a business and authors should get paid something for the hours they spent creating and honing the stories you enjoy reading.

So how do authors get paid? We earn “royalties” or basically a percentage of the sale price.

Say you buy the latest bestseller from your local bookstore and pay $10 (for the sake of easy math). Does the author get $10 or even $5? No.

First, the store bought the book at a reduced price so they could make a profit on the sale (often a 30-40% discount). Then the distributor took their cut of the transaction for delivering the book from the warehouse to the store. The publisher factors in what they paid for the actual paper and ink when printing the book, but also keeps a chunk of the profit to pay for editors, cover designers, sales teams, and electric bills…leaving the author with about 10% of the net sale price. (Contract terms vary by publisher but this number is fairly typical for traditional publishers.)

Now our math looks a little like this: $10.00 book sale minus $4.00 discount equals $6.00 net. Ten percent of that is $.60 for the author. (You have to sell a LOT of books to make a living on that income. Which is why many authors are now publishing independently in order to keep the full profit in their pockets.)

But what about an ebook? There aren’t printing costs or bookstores involved, but there are still distributors (i.e. the online store has to pay for their computers to send the files and programmers to create websites) and book editors. Some traditional publishers pay their authors a higher royalty percentage on ebook sales…but others don’t.

For the sake of our simple math, let’s pretend you paid $4.00 for that ebook on Amazon. The publisher gets 70% of that or $2.80. If the author’s contract was still 10% royalties, the author gets $.28 for that sale. I had a generous contract that paid 40%…giving me $1.12. And as an independent publisher, I get to keep the entire $2.80. (Which means I can sell fewer copies overall but still make a living doing what I love.)

But what if the author bypasses the stores and distributors and sells direct to their readers?

There are still a few costs involved such as printing and shipping for paper copies or payment processing fees…but the author gets to keep much more of the profit on each sale. And because of that higher profit margin, they can even offer exclusive discounts or bundles to readers but still come out ahead financially. You can check out additional hints on shipping services, here!

All that to say, if you love an author’s writing and want to support them by buying their books…choosing to buy direct (if available) is a win-win situation. You pay the same or less than you would have for the same book…and the author gets to keep more of the income.

If I’ve now convinced you of the benefits, check out my PayHip store to see which of my ebook titles are available to buy direct. More titles are being added regularly and I’m looking into expanding into print copies in the future.

Why You Should Buy Direct From an Author if You Can
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One thought on “Why You Should Buy Direct From an Author if You Can

  • July 16, 2021 at 2:22 pm

    Most people have no idea how royalties work. Thank you for sharing this very enlightening article. As an author, I could not explain it better!

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