Why Buying through Amazon.com is the Best Way to Support Writers

Many people believe that amazon.com is the big evil of the publishing world. Perhaps they are a bit evil from time to time, but they are an excellent company in a lot of other ways. I love amazon, both as a writer and as a consumer.

In my opinion, I believe that amazon.com is the best thing that ever happened to the small press. The idea that shopping through amazon is bad for publishers and writers couldn’t be further from the truth from my experience as a writer. In fact, I believe that the best way to support small press authors would be to only buy their books through amazon.com. Here’s why: the more copies of a book that sell through amazon.com, the more amazon.com recommends that book and connects it to other books.

In 2001, when my first book Satan Burger came out, I promoted it to readers who were into weird fiction. Due to the also-bought feature on amazon, my book became linked up to a very popular weird fiction book: House of Leaves. For the next three years, Satan Burger was the #1 recommended book with House of Leaves. This launched my career and even though I made less profit per book than copies that were sold at smaller sites like Shocklines.com, I still sold hundreds of copies of the book that wouldn’t have sold otherwise. I’d rather get tons of people reading my books and make just a buck or two per copy sold than make a lot of money per book sold. Ever since Satan Burger was connected to House of Leaves, I was making $500-1000 per month on just that one book, which was enough for a 23 year old with a low cost of living to write full time without need of a day job. My dream of writing as a career became a reality, and it couldn’t have happened without amazon.com.

Flash forward to the current day, Satan Burger is selling just as well as ever because amazon continues to link it up to other products, which keeps it in the public’s eye. There isn’t another bookstore in the country that would keep this book shelved that long. I’ve got 27 more books in print now, many of which sell just as well or better than Satan Burger did. And, due to also-boughts, I’ve become the number one author connected to Christopher Moore. There isn’t a bookseller in the world that would put a small press author’s book alongside a mega seller like Christopher Moore, or Chuck Palahniuk, or House of Leaves. Amazon does this, because it connects things based on what readers buy, not on what the big book industry thinks readers should be buying.

So the best way to support an author, especially a small press author, is to only buy their books through amazon.com. And these days, amazon allows much better discounts so that the publisher and author make more money when books are sold through amazon than anywhere else. This includes books sold directly from our websites. That is, unless we were to charge far more for our books, which would be unfair to the reader. It would also be a lot more work for us, and take much, much longer for the reader to receive the books.

Perhaps amazon.com is a bit on the evil side. They have pulled some cheap tricks to destroy the competition in the past, and will likely continue to do so. But as of now, at this point in time, they are a great company. You should know that the best way to support an author is to buy through amazon.com. At least at this point in time.

16 Responses to “Why Buying through Amazon.com is the Best Way to Support Writers”

  1. This is a very thought-provoking post. Keep up the quality posts. By the way, is there a reason the House of Leaves page in Amazon doesn’t link to Satan Burger any more? Baby Jesus Butt-Plug is on the list, but not until the page three. By the way, how did you get the attention of the fans of House of Leaves in the first place?

    • carltonmellick Says:

      This happened like ten years ago. The books were connected for several years, but it wasn’t going to last forever. Once Mark released his second book it replaced Satan Burger as the top recommendation, and they slowly grew apart after that. Angel Dust Apocalypse by Jeremy Robert Johnson, another bizarro book that has been successful because of amazon, is regularly a top recommendation with House of Leaves. The two books were connected because the same people were buying them, which was likely due to the fact that they were the only two “weird” novels to come out at that time.

  2. Thanks for the thoughtful post, Carlton. Very nicely said.

  3. I was first introduced to your work around 2004 or so whenever I was looking to buy a second copy of House of Leaves (my first copy was worn out) on Amazon and Satan Burger came up. Great article.

  4. All very good points.

    I’ve noticed that if you’re not on amazon or B&N, then a lot of people who don’t know the small press or publishing in general will not take you seriously.

  5. So, does this mean you are going to release your books on the Kindle as well?
    In all I would really agree that Amazon is a good thing for smaller authors. Sure they have built an empire on distrobution, but that’s the thing they want to ship as many books as possible. This means getting the right books into the hands of the people that want to read them. Theis offer to small time authors for self publication through the Kindle cannot be beaten. They don’t fully promote the product, that’s still up to the author, but just the fact that they make it so easy, with a high profit share for the author is a chance that many would never have otherwise.
    But, no really.. I’m trying to not actually posses any more books and would love to see many of your/Eraserhead Press back catalog available. It’s mostly that I just don’t want to have too many physical possesions anymore, and paper creates way too much toxik waste.

    • carltonmellick Says:

      I probably will get some of my books on kindle at some point, but not sure when. Though if you’re interested in supporting authors getting the paperback version is better. (I’d make more money that way). The problem with ebooks, and why I hesitate with them, is that I personally don’t think an ebook is worth much more than $2-3. But if writers were to sell ebooks for that amount they’d never be able to make a living that way. So I’d have to charge $7-8, which seems like a ripoff to me.

  6. Satan Burger was the first of your books I discovered in about 2003. I was in a literary glut, and through a recommendation on Amazon, I got Satan Burger, and have read all your books since. By the way, are you going to write Cybernetrix: Legacy?

  7. A.O. Dali Says:

    Just bought The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2 off Amazon, read it, and it was amazing. Once I get some cash, I’ll definitely be buying a lot more of your books. This also was my first bizarro book, and I thank you for getting me involved in what I perceive to be a very long and raunchy love affair with the genre.

    Oh, and I wrote a good review for TKWDOE+2, too, so maybe it’ll convince some other perspective buyers into ordering it.

  8. [...] Mellick III recently posted a great piece on his site about the evolution of word of mouth and the role that e-book sites, particularly Amazon, can play in drawing readers to little know [...]

  9. monika hermenau Says:

    but Amazon sells ” And the Prompt is…..” only as a Kindle e-book, and I have a Sony. Since the Kindle is an Amazon product they more or less force people to buy the reader in order to buy e- books via Amazon
    That seems like abuse to me

  10. Hi Carlton — very new reader with a perspective on ebooks/kindle. I do wonder how writers survive on 99 cents to $2.99 kindle type books. I figure he must flip burgers on the side and as a reader, I don’t want that. I want a new book, and often. You mentioned that you feel it is a rip-off to sell a book on kindle for $7 or $8. For one of your books, I would EASILY pay $7 to $8. Why? Satan Burger, with s/h, $17.94, and I wait a week or more to get it. Even at $9.99, I get it now, and save almost half. I can carry it, and everything you ever wrote with me wherever I go and read it whenever I want. I really hope you consider this. One more consideration is that I have a nagging wife who is seriously p.o.’d with my new Bizarro facination and doesn’t want to see another book on/around my nightstand.

    To tell you how new a Bizarro reader I am . . . I saw you at WHC 2011 — we walked right past each other and I had no idea who you were. Next day I was like holy crap!

    • carltonmellick Says:

      There will be kindle editions of my books coming soon, starting this month. Newer books first, older books later on.

      • I did find The Kobold Wizard’s Dildo of Enlightenment +2, tonight. On Chapter 2 . . .

        Looking forward to others. Thanks.

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