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Mel Hopkins

Customer Relationships

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I sold a book on Sunday (Sept 15, 2019). No promotion. No strong-arm selling. Simply, PayPal notifying me I had cash. 

 

Here's how it happened. 

 

A LinkedIn acquaintance messaged and asked if I would consider purchasing a short story he was selling on Amazon dot com. It would cost me .99 cents. But he'd know if there was activity on his amazon kindle account. 

 

I messaged him back and asked if he had one available in print. He said he'd have to do a collection of stories for the minimum print pages. 

 

I told him I understood. I want to make a short story available for sale on Lulu.com, too. But I need to do some creative packaging to make it 32 pages. 

 

He asked where was my story on lulu.com. I told him I believe in direct sales. But I'd also consider working with distributors who give me the best deal. Amazon doesn't qualify. So, I shared with him a link to my website store to show him how easy it is to sell a digital book direct...and bam he buys one. 

 

I thought more about the transaction when I read Seth Godin's blog post, "The relationship with the customer." (Sep 1, 2019) It's worth a read.

 

But here's my takeaway.


My associate and I met through a professional networking site, providing us a way to connect.


I prepared my digital platform (a website) for such interactions allowing people to engage with me and buy directly.


My associate asked me to buy his book. I did. 

 

Sadly, the request reinforced my commerce relationship with Amazon dot com. 

 

BUT his book-buying relationship, with me, is direct.  
 

He said dealing with amazon means they have "skin" in the game. Ultimately, amazon dot com's skin in the game allows them to benefit the most from an author's copyright license.  Amazon dot com takes a 65% sales commission on books priced lower than $2.99 and above $9.99
 

 

Bottom line: I offer independent author-publishers this insight for their revenue model. If an author-publisher maintains their own basic wordpress website complete with security certificate from godaddy; it would cost less than $200 a year.  A WooCommerce plugin and MailChimp mailing list plugin is free (for a small customer list). [not an endorsement - for description purposes only]

My royalty was $4.99; which is the price of my digital book. PayPal took .44 cent in transaction fees.   I purchased his book for .99 cent. I gained a new customer while he sold a book and earned .35 cents royalty. 

 

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3 hours ago, Mel Hopkins said:

He said dealing with amazon means they have "skin" in the game. Ultimately, amazon dot com's skin in the game allows them to benefit the most from an author's copyright license. 

 

@Mel Hopkins he's misinterpreted "skin in the game," which mean one has taken on risk. Amazon assumes no risk when they provide an author with self publishing services. Amazon makes money, no matter what, because the author pay Amazon every step of the way.

 

That aside, everthing you decribed is perfectly valid. You can simply make more money without Amazon.

 

For the direct online sale of books I've used two systems. PayPal and Square. There is no recurring cost and you pay a small transaction fee. These system are ok for small budgets and a small number of products. I find Square to be slightly better, than PayPal but the differences are not substantial for POS and online sales.

 

Now that I'm selling thousands of products PayPal and Square do not scale up. After using and evaluating Big Commerce and Shopify; Big Commerce was far and away the best option. I'm going write more about this soon. 

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You can get a free SSL certificate, but Godaddy does not allow you to use it on their webservers (last i checked) I have a website on a host that allows the free SSL certificate and i save a ton of money using it:  https://letsencrypt.org/

 

My web host is ifast.net. The plan I have is 19.99 for the year: https://ifastnet.com/portal/sharedhosting.php one can get a free .co domain so now we are looking at less than $20 a year including the SSL certificate.

 

I have been running this site https://cis3630.org for almost 5 years for less than 30 bucks a year (Im paying for my domain name https://domainsforauthors.com) 

 

There are actually free web hosting options out there and used one with my students though these may not host Wordpress very well.

 

 

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11 hours ago, Troy said:

he's misinterpreted "skin in the game," which mean one has taken on risk

 

@Troy Agreed!  I tried to explain - but he seemed to believe that Amazon could stop bootleggers from stealing his book.  

 

But with Amazon taking 30- 65% sales commission and charging a delivery fee on digital books. I think he’d do better with bootleggers. At least , the bootleggers would have to pay for copyright infringement.  - Here’s a snippet of the law -for all copyright holders 

 

“the copyright holder will be entitled to seek statutory damages of $750 to $30,000 for that infringement (as op- posed to having to prove actual damages, if any), and will also be entitled to seek an award of attorney fees. “ 

 

I’m on a writers’ rights crusade,  It’s our time - and we shouldn’t be “starving!”

 

Thank you for supplying the additional website information. Every writer needs to have eCommerce platform. 

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