If you’re considering writing and self-publishing an ebook you’re not alone. The popularity of self-publishing grows every year, and more than one million books were self-published in 2017. If you want to self publish your own eBook, we want to help you make a successful ebook that sells. We know that figuring out how to start selling ebooks can be daunting.
To help you sell your ebook, here are our tips for how to successfully start selling eBooks online – think of it as an ebook Bootcamp 101.
Why sell an ebook?
Nielsen Research predicts that ebook sales will overtake printed book sales during 2014, with total sales of 47 million units being sold.
Once you’ve produced your ebook you need to make some decisions about how you to sell your ebook.
How to sell ebooks online
One of the biggest decisions you need to make is how to sell your ebook online.
1. You can sell your ebook via marketplaces like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstore or Kobo.
2. You can give it away or sell it yourself from your site, a blog or via social media like Facebook.
When researching your ebook, remember to base your ebook title on the keywords you’ve researched since this how many of your potential readers will find you either through Amazon or Google.
This may sound obvious, but the most popular books will be professionally presented and well written.
You can get a copy editor to run through your book before publishing for about $100 which is an excellent investment, and unless you’re a graphic designer you should hire someone to do your ebook cover design for you. Many prospective buyers won’t get past the thumbnail of your ebook cover.
A former university lecturer who worked for one of the big book retailers in the UK showed us lots of case studies on how changing the cover of a book had a huge impact on book sales – it was the single most important factor. From memory, it takes the average book buyer less than 3 seconds of looking at a book cover to decide whether to pick it up and read more or to move on.
The biggest 2 decisions when deciding how to sell your ebook online
1) What ebook formats do you need?
2) How will you reach potential buyers of your ebook?
What ebook formats do you need?
The Amazon Kindle only reads Mobi format files (Epub is the universal ebook format). This means that if you want to sell on Amazon you need to produce a Mobi version of your ebook.
You will also need to produce your ebook in an Epub format if you want to sell your ebook on Barnes & Noble, Apple iBookstore, Kobo or sell it direct yourself.
It is not easy to convert a word document into either a Mobi format or Epub format.
You can either:
- Do the format of your ebook yourself
This might be an option if you’re comfortable with CSS and HTML. Try a google search for ebook conversion tools or this is a good introduction from Kobo on converting a Word or OpenOffice Document to Epub format that is compatible on Kobo
- Pay someone to format your ebook for you
here is a good list of companies offering ebook conversions
How do you reach potential buyers of your ebook?
Since more than 90% ebook sales are from Amazon, B&N, Apple or Kobo it makes sense for you to sell through one or more of these ebook retailers. Especially if you are just starting out and don’t already have an audience yet.
The pros and cons of selling via the major ebook retailers
1. They provide lots of potential customers and exposure especially if you get on the best sellers list. The major ebook retailers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, Kobo and Apple between them they account for over 90% of the ebook market.
2. It can be convenient. You can either use each provider’s “front end” to enter your details or use pay another distribution third party to distribute to the major online retailers for you. Apple is the world’s second-largest seller of ebooks and allows only a select number of third-party companies to upload ebooks to the iBook store. This means that as a self-publishing writer you can’t just upload your book to Apple and you will have to use a third-party distributor.
1. How much % royalties will you receive? The major online ebook stores require their ebooks to be priced below $10 to receive the highest royalty rate – generally 65% to 70% of the selling price. Above $10, the royalties can drop significantly down to 30%. Compare this to selling directly when you would keep approximately 95% of the selling price.
2. The online retailers have 1000s of books being added each week, which means your ebook can get lost amongst the many other thousands of ebooks, and lower rankings means fewer sales.
3. The other issue to be aware of is that using an online retailer to sell your ebook means you won’t receive any information about who buys your ebook. Which means you won’t be able to sell directly any of your other ebooks.
4. Do you mind waiting to get paid? Payment terms vary by store, but it can take weeks to months before you get paid.
5. How much control over how you sell your ebook do you want? There is no standard format for metadata like price, description, categories, and keywords. Each store and distributor support slightly different metadata e.g. Apple prices ebooks in 99 cent increments e.g. $.99 or $1.99 or $2.99
Amazon’s Kindle Direct Publishing and KDP Select are especially popular ways to self-publish your books for new ebook authors.
What is KDP Select?
KDP Select means is available in the Kindle Owners’ Library for 90 days. Amazon Prime Members can borrow an ebook for free for a whole month with no due date from the Kindle Owner’s Library (is only available on Kindle devices. When someone borrows your book you earn money. Your books will still be available for anyone to buy in the Kindle Store.
How is your money calculated in KDP Select?
September 2013 the KDP Select fund was $1.1 million. If the total number of borrows was 200,000, and your ebook was borrowed 200 times, you will earn 0.1% (20 / 200,000 = 0.1% ) or $1,100 for that month.
To enroll in KDP Select your ebook has to be locked in for 90 days exclusively to KDP Select. You can make your ebook available for free for 5 days on Amazon when you enroll in KDP Select.
During the 90 days exclusivity, you cannot sell or give away for free your ebook on any other sites, including your own website or blog.
As I understand it you can withdraw from KDP Select at any time – but the 90days will need to expire before you can distribute your ebook anywhere you want.
So don’t make a decision about KDP Select lightly.
Sell your ebook direct
If you do already have an audience you definitely should be blogging and selling your ebook yourself.
Online Marketers, bloggers, or writers find that a well-written ebook can impart wisdom, ideas, stories, and actions that help build a relationship and trust with your audience.
If you’re just starting out and don’t have an existing audience, you should definitely look at selling your ebook through one of the major retails AND you should start selling your ebook yourself.
Selling your ebooks yourself is not as hard as it sounds and gives you far greater control.
Investing your time in blogging and promoting your blog will pay dividends in the long term when selling your ebooks direct to your own audience of enthusiastic readers.
The benefits of selling your ebooks yourself
Having a blog where you sell your ebooks has many benefits, such as:
• Your readers are a valuable source of feedback and ideas for future ebooks
• You can continue to build a bigger audience which is a ready market for your next ebook
• Your blog allows your readers to connect with the author and can create a wonderful loyal community of readers and encourages recommendations through word of mouth
• Guest posting on other blogs can provide more visibility for your ebook or blog and is an effective way to acquire new readers
• By selling direct to your readers you retain access to customer information which means you can email them in the future to let them know about future ebook releases or promotions
The financial benefits to selling your ebook from your own site
1. An existing reader is three times more likely to purchase another ebook from the same author.
2. You make more money from each direct sale compared to selling via a retailer like Amazon. Each direct sale will mean you keep approximately 95% compared to 60% if sold via Amazon.
3. You also get paid quicker. It can take weeks or months to get paid by some online ebook retailers like Amazon or Apple iBookstore.
How to sell your ebooks online from your own site
To sell your ebooks online, you will need something to securely handle the online payments and the automated delivery of your ebook when someone buys it. The easier it is for someone to buy your ebook the more ebooks you are likely to sell.
There are lots of ways you can do this, but one of the simplest and easiest is to use Selz to sell your ebooks online.
The benefits of using Selz to sell your ebook are:
• You can sell it anywhere – sell your ebooks on any website, blog, or Facebook in minutes
• You can sell any format of eBook – you can sell multiple formats quickly and easily
• You get a fantastic buyer experience – Selz uses a simple payment form that appears to be part of your site when making a purchase, making it quick and easy for someone to buy your ebook.
• Secure Hosting, Payment, and Delivery is handled for you – simple to upload and sell your ebooks. Your ebook is automatically delivered to customers when they purchase
• You have easy access to Customer and Order History – Selz shows you how many ebook sales you have, and who has purchased your ebook. Selz easily integrates with Google Analytics so you can see measure sales, conversions, and where your buyers come from.
Setting the price of your ebook
Setting the price of your ebook is more an art than science, but a good place to start is to check what other similar ebook sellers charge. You don’t want to overprice it.
I hope that you found this helpful. We’d love to hear about your experiences and for you to share your own tips for successfully selling ebooks online.
Kindle photo by – Sara Owen