Joe Konrath and Blake Crouch have brainstormed a vision for the future of publishing that makes a lot of sense to me. In fact, my brain has been working along similar lines ever since I saw the possibilities of indie e-book publication, so I thought I’d put in my two cents.
First, I’ll summarize the concept for you using an example: Suppose I set up my website so I can sell my dark urban fantasy directly using Paypal. I would then make 100% off of sales on my book, after expenses.
Now suppose I put Cathy’s Celtic fantasy up for sale at my site, too, giving her a 70%-30% split on sales. This is obviously good for me, since I can make a bit of extra money with little extra effort. It also lets me provide more content to my readers, which may bring them back to my website more often.
But it’s also good for Cathy. Even though she’s only getting 70% of the profit, I am endorsing her work and exposing it to new readers. If my readers buy her book through my site and like it, they may choose to buy directly from her website in the future (more $ for her in the long run). Further, Cathy could do the same for me—sell my book at her website with a 30-70 split on sales, thus providing a little income for her and more exposure (and income) for me.
Now suppose I do the same with five other writers. Or ten.
It’s easy to see how authors could network this way to expand their exposure and support their writing careers. It’s also easy to see how helpful this could be to the readers (remember them?), if authors use reasonable care in choosing books to sell at their sites.
If you want to give this sort of networking a try, I would suggest starting slowly, adding one book at a time, working with people you know and trust. Selling other people’s work involves a certain amount of accounting, paperwork, and a potentially interesting tax situation. It will take time for you to find a good balance between protecting your own writing time and managing your bookstore.
And always remember that, as an indie author, you are trying to build your own brand in the readers’ eyes. Choosing what to sell from your site is part of building that brand, so be discerning.