If you’ve decided to self-publish your novel instead of going with a traditional or indie publisher, chances are you are strongly considering distributing your book through Amazon.

Amazon may sell everything from A to Z now, but they actually started out as a bookstore… shipping books out to people who bought them over the internet from a garage in a day and age where people were downright scared about using their credit card to buy anything online.

Now Amazon has grown into the behemoth they are today: with a huge customer base of people who have credit cards and personal information they trust Amazon to store to make future purchases on that site lightening fast.

But it’s important to recognize that Amazon isn’t a marketing platform: it’s a distribution platform. While you can employ techniques to try to get more customers on Amazon to buy your book and maximize your exposure, you are going to ultimately need more than just putting your book on their site to drive sales. There is a multitude of books on Amazon already, and it would be easy for yours to get drowned out in a sea of book covers. So, for the purposes of this article I’m not going to talk about trying to leverage Amazon for your marketing but rather what Amazon has to offer as a distribution platform.

“you are going to ultimately need more than just putting your book on their site to drive sales”

Selling your book on Amazon can be broken down into three parts depending on the format(s) your book is being sold in:

  • Physical, printed books = Createspace
  • eBooks = Kindle Direct Publishing
  • Audiobooks = Audiobook Creation Exchange (ACX)

I’ll go over each one of those three in detail in a later post. First, you need to decide if you even want to sell your books on Amazon in the first place. There are some very distinct advantages and disadvantages to self-publishing on their platform. Let’s break it down:

Advantages of Selling Your Book on Amazon:

  1. Amazon’s aforementioned gigantic customer base.
  2. Amazon makes it easy for people to buy things on their site – sometimes with just one click. Customers already trust and regularly interact with the site, whereas some customers may not take the time or be otherwise wary about buying something from a website they don’t recognize, including the author’s personal website.
  3. You don’t have to worry about shipping the book yourself and wondering if you’ve charged enough money to cover shipping costs to wherever your customer is. Amazon will ship the book for you.
  4. Using Createspace, you don’t have to print a large run of books as Amazon will print them on demand. Which means, no huge up front printing costs or storing boxes and boxes of books in your garage.
  5. You can spend more time writing and less time dealing with customer service and going back and forth to the post office.
  6. Setting up an author website with an online store requires technical expertise and costs to not only get it running but also maintain it.
  7. You get a Createspace ISBN
  8. No Membership Fees

Amazon’s terms and conditions have been known to change, so make sure you check what’s current.

Some Disadvantages:

  1. You won’t be able to contact the customers who buy your books or market directly to them again in the future because you will not know who they are or have their contact info. (In other words, you can drive your existing email list to Amazon, but you won’t grow your list from Amazon.)
  2. Amazon dictates prices and takes a percentage.
  3. If you enroll your book in KDP Select, you can’t sell it anywhere else in digital format, including your own website. However, there’s an important distinction here (that may be a little confusing) You can still sell ebooks on Amazon without enrolling in KDP select by just going with Kindle Direct Publishing and not enrolling in that special program. Here’s where the confusion is: One is KDP and one is KDPS. The one with the (s) is the select version. If your book is not in the select program, you can still sell it other places digitally as well as on your own website. However, enrolling in KDP Select means that you’re selling the digital version of your book exclusively through that program. You can’t give the digital copy away for free either. Enrolling in KDP Select does not impact physical book sales, just digital. There are some advantages to that program, which I’ll cover in a later blog. But for the purposes of this blog, I’ll call the exclusivity a potential disadvantage.
  4. If you have a book trailer (this is why we recommend you do!) you can’t post it directly on the product page for your book on Amazon. There is however a place in your author profile that Amazon will let you post your book trailer or author trailer.

Everyone’s situation is different, and Amazon may or may not be right for you. Ultimately, you need to decide what your book marketing strategy is and then determine if Amazon is the place you want to drive those sales.

What are your thoughts? Have you self-published a book through Amazon? Sound off in the comments below and tell us about your experience!