It was December 2020 and I had just hit publish on my first book using the Amazon KDP marketplace. My book went live on Amazon and a week later I was holding a paperback copy of the book in my hands. This was a very special moment, finally getting to hold a very personal project in my own hands.
It was coming up to Christmas and friends, and family were buying my book and I was getting great feedback and support from everyone. I decided to wait until the new year until I would begin to decide how to market my book to a wider audience. It was the first week in January that I took a chance and emailed Ryan Tubridy (Irish TV & Radio) to let him know about my book.
I heard back from RTE soon after sending the email and I shared more of my personal story which led me to writing the book in the first place. I had worked as an engineer up until 2018 but when illness took a toll on my life, I stepped away from that career and choose a new one in writing my first book. After some email exchanges it was confirmed that I would be booked in for a slot with Ryan on the 9th February.
It was the weekend before the show, so I searched Amazon to check that my book was still available for purchase. To my complete surprise, my book was now listed by a third party and was priced at three times the original price I had listed it for. I contacted Amazon to try and resolve the issue.
I explained that I had not given permission to this company to either sell my book or charge three times the original list price. When I heard nothing back from Amazon, I contacted the company directly that was now selling my book and demanded it was to be delisted from their products.
By the Monday morning, the company responded, telling me they made a mistake and that my book was now delisted. I was so relived. I checked back on my book only to find it was now listed as out of stock. It was the day before my interview with Ryan and my book was not available to buy. I spent the entire day trying to resolve this with Amazon, only to be told it was out of stock because of Brexit.
I proceeded with the interview, knowing that my book could not be bought but grateful for the opportunity to speak on RTE Radio. When Ryan said after the interview “you can buy the book wherever you buy your books” I didn’t know whether to laugh of cry. Anyone who would search for my book, would find it out of stock on the world’s largest bookstore.
It was a bittersweet moment. In one way it was everything I could have ever hoped, to speak to Ryan and share my story but on the other hand, my book was not available to buy and I felt extremely let down by Amazon but also foolish that I had trusted them enough to sell my book for me. I never thought that my book could be priced by a third party and go out of stock.
In that moment of ultimate disappointment, I realised that this was clearly not just an issue for me but potentially for other Irish Authors. I realised that Amazon were dominating the book industry and I realised that there was an opportunity for a small Irish company to offer a service that they couldn’t. A personalised and Irish owned book marketplace, where the author is always in control of the book price and book stock.
And so Buy the Book was born, overnight. I was solving a problem that I had faced directly, and I was sure that others would value the service of an Independent and Irish owned marketplace that wasn’t Amazon. It would save authors the time and money in setting up their own websites and having to manage the technical side of running the business. At Buy the Book, we would be able to offer authors their own ecommerce platform within our own larger one.
The concept soon started to grow, and I contacted several authors to see if they were interested in coming on board. The Facebook group “Shop Irish Writers” was hugely supportive at the start, and I soon had ten self-published Irish authors listed on the website, all selling their books and forming the start of the Buy the Book Author community.
We started to host monthly calls, where we would meet online and discuss challenges and ideas to support each other in book marketing and promotion. We formed a private Facebook group and I started to host interviews on YouTube that I felt would benefit our authors in book sales and marketing.
As we approached 20 authors, I knew the existing web platform we were using would be difficult to manage and ultimately, I wanted to give authors full control of managing and shipping their own orders. Along with my partner Des we began to develop what would become Irelands first online marketplace for authors.
We successfully launched this website in October with over 40 Irish Independent authors now listed on the website. The website provides the author a sales dashboard, where they can see orders as they are placed, manage their orders, and issue refunds directly. The website offers a range of books on parenting, wellness, Irish History, fiction, and children’s books.
Our community is continuing to grow, and our authors will meet for the first time at the Ballymaloe Christmas market in Cork where we will have a stall and at the Blackrock market in Dublin, both happening over December.
In what seemed like an initial setback for me early this year, has turned into a great opportunity for Irish authors to come together and support each other in an Irish owned platform. I realised early on that by coming together we would be stronger than going it alone and I could see the benefits first hand that authors were getting from connecting with each other.
As we go into our first-year in business next year, I hope to run monthly masterclasses for authors on topics that they are of interest and that they can benefit from. I also hope we will continue to grow our Irish author base not only in Ireland but across the world.
ABOUT & AUTHOR BIO
Buy the Book is a new business idea and marketplace from author Rachel Drury after she faced her own difficulties selling her book online through Amazon. In setting up Buy the Book, Rachel was able to sell her book directly to her readers on an independent and Irish-owned marketplace.
Since setting the business up in February, Rachel has now listed over 20 self-published Irish authors on her platform. Buy the Book offers authors an independent marketplace to sell their book and also be part of a growing author community and support network. For more information visit buythebook.ie or on Instagram @buythebook.ie
To contact Rachel directly, email firstname.lastname@example.org