I hear this question a lot, of why I don’t sell my books on Amazon (I only use Gumroad). I even got yelled at not long ago by someone on Reddit when I admitted I didn’t use it (and also didn’t want to run a Kickstarter), because I was something something “leaving money on the table.”
I’ve worked hard over the past couple decades to fine tune the type and quantity of effort & reward I get for all my weirdo web projects. There is most definitely such a thing as wrong effort, and probably most artists find it over time through trial and error – if they find it at all.
I won’t make this a big tirade (for now) though. Rather just list a few off-the-cuff reasons I prefer to keep everything on Gumroad & not give Amazon a piece of my creative effort. Everybody else can do what they want; this is just me…
- I’m already an absolute slave to Amazon; the amount of stuff I buy there is stupid and makes me feel ashamed as it is (even if its “convenient”). I already wear “Amazon Essentials” sweatpants (that are comfortable) while watching Prime Video, and that feels dystopian as hell (captured in this storyline, to some extent). So it feels weird & gross to me to also give Amazon the fruits of my creative labors to top it all off…
- It’s also just disgusting in general that a handful of huge corporations now control the vast majority of all book publishing. Fuck that.
- Have gotten into situations with old bad books I published that were no longer in print, where Amazon would not remove the listings no matter how hard I pushed. I hate that lack of control. I can take anything down instantly on Gumroad. Likewise, publishing takes literally two minutes.
- Having sold through PublishDrive & Lulu, and gotten listings onto Amazon of my books, I’ve seen it can take weeks for updates to go through. That’s horrible. I can update anything in a snap with Gumroad. Huge advantage when you’re fast and loose and running experiments to see what actually sells.
- When my readers buy through Gumroad, they get the actual files (mobi & epub, but I could include anything else if I want), not like some weird ass “license” from Amazon to *maybe* hold them on your device until they decide to randomly wipe it cause “reasons.” Like they literally did with 1984. If you buy from me on Gumroad, the files are yours to keep and even share; I don’t care!
- I won’t pretend to understand how publishing through Amazon Kindle works or what you end up getting paid as a writer. Gumroad charges a flat 10% for all sellers. It’s not complicated.
- A few years ago, the founder of Gumroad actually *gave back* a bunch of venture capital funding, because he didn’t want to be beholden to the demands of that model, and wanted to just make a good business instead without having to aim for exponential growth. They’ve done an excellent job just delivering on a quality way for creators to sell stuff online.
There are probably other secondary ones I’m forgetting, but this is most of it. Gumroad and my light use of Medium & Reddit and this blog has been for me the perfect blend of low effort and moderate reward. I’m not interested in hustling on a bunch of other platforms and services to make a few more bucks (I’ve already got a “real job”); when you do that, it ends up being more of your central thing than actually writing;– I’d just rather keep churning out creative books. Makes me much happier in the end.