From Kristine Kathryn Rusch:
On January 6, 2023, Michael W. Lucas made a rather important announcement on his blog. He wrote, in all caps:
AMAZON IS NO LONGER MY BIGGEST INCOME SOURCE.
It’s not that he added a consulting business to his writing income, or started doing in-person speaking gigs. He didn’t get a day job. Instead, he’s been, in his words, disintermediating.
He’s been consciously moving his readers away from Amazon (and other sources of revenue) and moved those readers to his website. He posted his 2022 sales, in percentages, and noted that, for the first time, revenue that came through his website outpaced revenue that came through Amazon.
Full disclosure: He also announced that his income was down, but that he had expected that, after the online pandemic buying frenzies of 2020 and 2021.
What, exactly, did he filter through his website?
Here’s his breakdown (along with percentages).
Direct sales, 18.57%. Direct Patronizers, 6.34%. Sponsorships, 5.33%, and direct preorders, 2.38%. Taken all together, 32.62% of my income coming from sales through my web site.
Amazon provides 31.35%.
Yes, that is, as he says, a slim percentage difference. (The remaining 36% comes from places like IngramSpark, Kobo, and his old books still mired in traditional publishing.) It’s worth noting that over 10% of his income came from Kickstarter, which he does not count as website sales (appropriately because it takes a percentage and the people you bring to that site grows that site.). However, Kickstarter is a one-time fundraising platform, which provides another way to sell direct to the consumer, without a percentage taken from each book. As such, that means that more than 42% of Michael’s income has come from direct reader engagement.
He’s not the only writer who has made note of this. I’ve talked with several who are taking more and more control of their own product and sales. Dean and I had a dinner with two other couples at 20Books in which we discussed a Shopify store. We’d been doing WooCommerce and weren’t that happy with it. Because we’re early adapters, we’d had our initial WooCommerce store in (jeez, I think) 2013 or 2014. Long ago, when everything was clunky and hard.
Now it’s not.
A few weeks ago, I wrote a post on this site that scared the crap out of most of you. It was about Amazon’s year, and the fact that Amazon is rethinking much of the way that its website and sales platform works. Amazon’s innovation enabled writers to self-publish and make a solid living (if not more), but that was more than a decade ago. Since then, Amazon has been changing the algorithms. It has new management, and it’s just not that interested in books. It will, at some point, maybe in the near future, cease being the biggest beast in the American bookselling sphere. (If you want to argue with me, do me a favor and read the other post first, then argue there.)
A number of writers responded in the comments and also to me personally, some denying that anything was happening (and of course, they thought I was making this all up). Other writers responded with some great and useful comments.
After a decade of dealing with delusional self-published writers (after two decades of dealing with delusional traditionally published writers), I’ve learned to shut those poor deniers out. You can’t convince people who stick their fingers in their ears, close their eyes, and sing every time you show them evidence.
But others? People who want to continue as writers and get the largest audience they can? Those folks are well worth my time. Many of them were panicked and wondering what was next.
Link to the rest at Kristine Kathryn Rusch
Here’s a link to Kris Rusch’s books. If you like the thoughts Kris shares, you can show your appreciation by checking out her books.