Where to buy books to maximize your favorite author’s advantage

A few people have asked me recently, “Where is the best place to purchase your book?” In other words, having already decided to buy the book, where will I (the author) derive the most benefit? The average reader might assume a sale is a sale, but there are actually several factors that influence a sale’s relative value to an author. Three factors jump to mind: royalties, reviews, and social conscience.

The easiest response to this question is that retailers, like Amazon and iBooks, must charge something for their platforms—so buying directly from the publisher, whenever possible, maximizes profit to the author. Strictly from the standpoint of royalties, this is your best bet, since it cuts out the middleman. For me, that would mean buying Freedom City directly from Lulu. But if buying a book directly from the publisher isn’t an option—and if you’re still only concerned about maximizing royalties to the author—then my suggestion would be to go with a platform other than Amazon, because they generally take a larger share of the pie from authors than other retailers.

However, another factor is that Amazon has a near monopoly on book sales in the United States, so reviews on that platform matter a whole lot to authors in terms of future sales. We’re dependent on our loyal readers to buy books from Amazon and to write glowing, verified reviews there, so that prospective readers in the future will know our books don’t suck. This is particularly important in the months following a book’s release. For Freedom City, released just last month, my current strategy has been to steer people to Amazon and to implore them to write a review afterward.

But wait—how could a progressive author in good conscience direct sales to Amazon? As the author of a book that flat-out ridicules companies like Yuengling and Coors for supporting Trump, it’s difficult to reconcile the fact that I’m promoting a company that funds racist propaganda though its advertisements on Breitbart. Once my book sells 10,000 copies I can take a firmer stand, but until then I have no choice, because to spurn Amazon is to commit author suicide. For now, when people ask where to buy my book I just add the asterisks—*maybe consider another retailer that isn’t evil.

To summarize, how to best help authors is complicated. It depends on what an author cares about most, and this likely depends on how long the book has been out. For me, the answer is

  • Today, buy the book from Amazon and write me a review.
  • Once I have 100 reviews, buy the book from Lulu or from a local bookstore like Upshur Street Books.
  • Once I sell 100,000 copies, buy the book from anywhere other than Amazon, assuming by then they’re still advertising on Brietbart.

However you buy my book—or any book—thanks for being a conscientious book consumer and supporting an indie author. For a complete list of where to purchase Freedom City, check out my website.

Thanks for reading!


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