When readers visit your website to buy a book, do you send them to Amazon? If so, you could be making a huge mistake. Why? Sending customers to Amazon is the marketing equivalent of idolatry and ineffectiveness. Now, before you whine about convenience or the importance of a high sales ranking, let me give you the big picture:
1. Amazon steals your contacts
Amazon loves it when you send book-buying customers to them, because they get the most important piece of business data possible – contact information! That’s right. Amazon is more concerned about getting your customer’s email and mailing address than selling your book. Why does it matter? Because, the best way to grow a business (and your writing career) is to develop a database of highly-interested customers.
People who visit your website to buy books are like marketing gold. Customers who buy one book are likely to buy another book or know someone who will. Therefore, you want to stay in touch with these people through your newsletters and promotional activities. Odds are in your favor that they’ll buy again. However, if you send customers to Amazon, then you lose the chance to build a relationship with these important people. Meanwhile, Amazon laughs all the way to the bank. How do you think they grew so fast?
If you’re still not convinced, consider this. Publishers love authors who build a personal database with thousands of targeted contacts, because it means easier marketing for your next book. Show your publisher a large, legitimate database, and they’re more likely to show you large advances and bigger marketing budgets. Are you with me?
2. Amazon steals your profits
If you send a customer from your website to buy your $12 book at Amazon, you’ll be lucky if you make $1.50 in profit – regardless of whether you use Amazon’s Advantage or Affiliate programs. However, if you sell a $12 book from your own website, you can usually make at least $6.00 in profit. That’s a big difference!
Look at this way…for every 100 books you sell yourself, you make $600 in profit (not just revenue). That’s enough money to buy a new computer, new clothes, or go on a relaxing weekend vacation.
Now, don’t give me that nonsense about, “I don’t care about money…I just write as a ministry unto the Lord.” If you really write as a ministry, then you should be the best possible steward of your God-given talents. So, ask yourself, “Would God prefer me to mindlessly give away money to a secular corporate giant (Amazon), or use that money to help feed my family or feed orphans in Africa?
3. Amazon steals your marketing effectiveness
Let’s assume your new book is about to launch. You’re doing a big marketing campaign with email newsletters, blog tours, and media interviews. Let’s also assume that your marketing is awesome. People read your e-newsletters, surf the blogs, and watch you on TV. Enamored by you, they come running to your website. But, when they're ready to buy your book, you redirect them to Amazon.
A month later, you start wondering if your marketing campaign was effective. Guess what? You’ll never know, because Amazon is holding all of your data. Sure, you can check your website hits and your faulty Amazon ranking, but all that really matters is the actual sales data. Yet, you don’t have that important information, because you gave it away to Amazon. They know who bought your book, but you don’t - isn't that weird?
So, what’s the marketing moral of the story? Stop sending customers to Amazon, and start selling books from your website. How do you do that, you ask? Stay tuned for an upcoming blog post.