SSA #032: The Power of DiversificationAug 12, 2023
Read Time: 4 Minutes
As a self-published author, brand new and well-seasoned alike, Amazon is the place to sell your books; and has been for many years. Although, I can feel a change in the wind...
Amazon have made it incredibly easy to upload eBooks and create paperback and hardback copies of your books too, all without the need to buy books in bulk, store them in your home, or pick, pack and post each order to your customers.
It's a superb business opportunity Amazon has created for authors, and many self-published authors have built a career off the back of their success on the platform; my wife, Lori, and I included.
But is there a dark side to putting all your eggs into one basket... the basket of Amazon? Especially if, like us, your books are enrolled in Kindle Unlimited?
With Amazon's algorithms and policies changing on a regular basis, and consistently chasing Bestseller Ranks, Bestseller Flags, etc, is there another way to not rely quite so heavily on this behemoth of a platform?
Let's dive in...
1. Diversify Your Income Streams
Whilst Lori and I love Amazon, because it has quite frankly, built an incredible lifestyle for us and our family, over the past few months there has been this nagging feeling in the back of our minds that it could be taken away from us any day, any time...
We've all heard the horror stories of KDP accounts being shut down for no apparent reason.
And so, with this in mind, we are gradually starting to diversify our income from Lori's books:
- Audiobooks (published through Podium Audio)
- Print Books (published through Ingram Spark)
- Direct Sales of Print Books (printed on-demand through Bookvault and sold on our online store)
- Foreign Rights (currently in negotiations with our Agent and a Publisher)
At this moment in time, Lori's books are still enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, and because KU makes up around 50% of Lori's royalties, we're loathed to take the books out until we start getting more traction elsewhere, predominantly on Lori's online store.
However, the exclusivity agreement with Kindle Unlimited only applies to eBooks. You can sell your print books wherever you like.
This is why we are selling the Paperback and Hardback versions of Lori's books on her online store, which I built with Shopify.
I will do a separate newsletter very soon on what I've learned from selling books on Shopify – as a complete beginner!
2. Diversify Your Email List Building Opportunities
One of the biggest frustrations of selling books on Amazon is that you have zero data on who has purchased your books.
Sure, some readers who buy your books will sign up for your newsletter and/or reader magnet, but it's a small minority compared to the number who have actually read your book(s).
When you sell directly on your website, every single customer needs to enter their email address to complete their order, and unlike Amazon, you have access to these email addresses.
You even have the email addresses of people who almost bought a book from you, but bailed at the last minute (this is known as an abandoned cart).
With this data in hand, you have the opportunity (and responsibility) to communicate with your readers directly over email, nurturing them to become lifelong fans of your work, and letting them know about new releases, promotions, etc.
And for those people who didn't quite complete their purchase, you have the opportunity to remind them about their abandoned cart and encourage them to complete their purchase.
Clearly, all of this takes time to set up, but once you've written the emails and set up the relevant automations, all of this can be running in the background without your input (aside from reviewing performance and tweaking accordingly).
3. Diversify Your Facebook Ads
If you've taken my Jumpstart Facebook For Authors course, you'll know that the Campaign Objective I recommend using when sending readers from your Facebook Ads to your book(s) on Amazon is Traffic.
This objective, whilst it works incredibly well, it's core purpose is to drive clicks on your Ads, not conversions (i.e. Sales). So, Facebook will go out and find people who are interested in the content of your Ads and have a history of clicking on Ads, not making purchases from Ads.
Not ideal, no, but it works... to the tune of hundreds of dollars per day in profitable Ad Spend for many authors who have taken the Jumpstart Facebook Ads course.
The reason we need to use the Traffic objective when advertising books for sale on Amazon, is that we have no way of adding the Facebook Pixel (a piece of code that allows Facebook to "talk" to the website you're sending people to) onto Amazon's website – because we don't own Amazon!
When selling direct, however, you own your website, and therefore, can add the Facebook Pixel to your store, and allow Facebook to optimize for Sales rather than just clicks.
And this is exactly what I'm doing with the Facebook Ads I'm running for Lori's online store.
Sure, the CPCs (Cost Per Clicks) and CPMs (Cost Per 1,000 Impressions) are a little higher than the Traffic objective, but even with the very low daily Ad Spend I'm using at the moment, Facebook is finding people who love fantasy books (Lori's genre) and have a history of making purchases from Ads.
And we are making 1-2 sales every single day. Still small fry, yes, but I'm gradually training my Facebook Pixel with every single sale (and non-sale).
By running Facebook Ads for both your books on Amazon and your online store, you are diversifying your reach and allowing Facebook to position your books in front of a more varied audience; some love to buy from Amazon, others love to buy directly from authors.
Every author's path and journey are different because your goals, vision and aspirations are unique to you.
But no matter which path you take, diversification can help you lay a stable foundation for your author business.
By spreading your income streams across a few different sources, you reduce your risk and reliance on one platform for your entire livelihood and increase your reach, opportunities and luck surface area.
Now, don't get me wrong, I'm not saying that you should lose focus on what's important, and spread yourself so thin you end up in a state of paralysis by analysis.
I'm encouraging you to build a strong, flexible author business that is capable of withstanding fluctuations and changes in the market, and the ability to jump on new opportunities as they arise – without succumbing to shiny object syndrome!
This is a lifestyle you're building, after all, and every step you can take to stabilize, secure and improve your lifestyle is a step worth taking.
You got this.
Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your weekend and I'll be back with you again next Saturday.
To Your Success