Why buying books direct is something to celebrate

Why buying books direct is something to celebrate

There’s a wonderful trend in the indie author community – and no – it has nothing to do with TikTok. It’s authors selling their books direct to readers.

So what? I hear you ask. Let me explain. Before writing my first book, I knew that there were probably easier ways of making a living, but I had no idea of how poorly paid the average author was.

In the traditionally published world, the median annual earning for an author is just £7,000. [1] And no, I didn’t miss off a couple of zeros there.

For indie authors, the figure is £10,416,[2] but it’s still nowhere near the £25,500 the Joseph Rowntree Foundation say a single person in the UK needs to earn to reach ‘a minimum acceptable standard of living.’[3] Even these figures disguise the reality as almost a quarter of respondents to The Independent Author Income Survey 2023 reported that they had not yet started to earn money from their writing.

I won’t labour the point, but the key takeaway is that most authors earn very little, if anything at all, from their writing.

Most of the writers I know have day jobs. Some have supportive partners/families, or pensions to cover the costs of day-to-day living, but the majority work by day and then sacrifice their spare time to write, publish and market their books.

I have marvelled at the sheer insanity of it many a time. Being a writer is indeed like giving yourself homework every night for the rest of your life – and yet we can’t help ourselves. Which brings me back to why I’m so pleased about the trend of buying direct – quite simply, I can buy books from independent authors and know that all the money is going into their pocket and not that of an intermediary.

Young girl in glasses sits with hands on face, looking shocked. Text reads: the moment you realise being a writer is like giving yourself homework every night for the rest of your life.

There’s no doubt that online retailers like Amazon have helped revolutionise the indie publishing world. It’s Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) arm publishes 1.4 million self-published titles every year and pays over $520 million in royalties to over a million independent authors [4] Without KDP, my writing dream would likely still be laying in a metaphorical draw gathering dust and I’ll always be thankful for that.

However, with volumes this high, it’s easy to get lost in the crowd. And when you’re so small a fish you’re not even a meal for a minnow, it’s hard to get any traction without spending a lot of money on advertising, which, when you only have two books, doesn’t stack up financially.

Even though both my books have made the best seller lists in the last few months, (Ethereal even got a number one spot in Contemporary Fantasy thanks to a KDP promotion), I still have readers messaging me to say they can’t find the books on Amazon even when using both title and author name. It’s frustrating, but it is what it is and I’m not about to get bent out of shape about it.

My solution is to make sure that my books are available as widely as possible so that readers can find them and then make the choice that’s right for them. As of last week, that includes offering my eBooks direct from my website.

I’m sure Amazon will continue to make up a large proportion of my sales for a long time yet and that’s great. The important thing is that readers now have even more choice – including the choice to buy direct. 

I love reading and I want more people to realise their writing dreams, but that won’t happen if only the independently wealthy can afford to be writers. Buying direct is a small, but important way of supporting authors and ensuring that the stories we love can keep on flowing. 

[1] https://www.thebookseller.com/news/researchers-behind-author-earnings-survey-set-out-corrective-measures-for-publishers-and-policy-makers

[2] https://selfpublishingadvice.org/wp-content/uploads/2023/04/The-Independent-Author-Income-Survey-updated-FINAL-17-04-23.pdf

[3] https://www.jrf.org.uk/report/minimum-income-standard-uk-2022

[4] https://wordsrated.com/amazon-publishing-statistics/#:~:text=Kindle%20Direct%20Publishing%20is%20regarded,to%20self%2Dpublished%20through%20KDP.

Back to blog