Magic Formula for Selling Ebooks

Article first published as The Magic Formula For Selling E-Books on Technorati. (Updated here for October 2011.)

amazon kindle $79I read a lot of blogs posted by seemingly knowledgeable people telling others how to sell ebooks, and it amazes me how lacking many of these recommendations are. Typically half of these experts advise simply signing up with Clickbank or using E-junkie for a shopping cart on your site. That’s it, that’s the magic formula? Sounds more like a pitch for those paid services than truly helpful advice.

Assuming you have an ebook that contains useful information or entertainment and is not a waste of money, you want to sell it everywhere possible online: e.g. your own website, major retailers like Amazon, etc. I prefer these later options since they don’t cost any money. But to keep it even simpler, the vast majority of your sales can be accomplished by selling ebooks from these locations: your website, Amazon, Barnes & Noble and Smashwords. What about Apple and other retailers, you might ask? I’ll explain.

In my experience the 2nd best place for total number of sales and the 1st best for royalties, are sales that happen at my own websites. Plus it runs on autopilot, which is nice when I’m asleep in bed and still making sales. After PayPal’s modest cut, I keep 100% of the profits and grow my email list. Setting up your website with a PayPal button that automatically sends buyers to a URL for download after the purchase is a piece of cake. Now you can sell and fill orders no matter where you are. Keep simple stats of download visitors with a free company like StatCounter, and you’ll know if any pirating is happening, which can be fixed with a simple URL change to your download page.

You must sell with Amazon Kindle because they sell more ebooks than any other retailer. Sign up at KDP Amazon where you’ll be asked to create an Amazon account if you don’t already have one and start making 70% on sales if your ebooks are priced in the $2.99 to $9.99 range.

Pubit with Barnes & Noble is also a great venue. Sign up there is very similar to Amazon; just go to pubit.barnesandnoble.com.

Finally upload and sell with Smashwords because they convert your document into multiple formats and then upload it to Apple, Sony, Kobo, Scrollmotion and Diesel (Amazon and B & N too, but you’re already there). And yes, you make good royalties when selling from those companies via Smashwords. (Mac users can also upload directly with Apple, but the rest of us can’t.)

That’s it, that’s the magic formula. Upload and sell ebooks from these  locations and your bases are covered at no cost to you. Should you also sell from places like Google Ebooks, My Ebook, Bookmato, Scribd, YouPublish and so many more? You can if you want to, but I haven’t found any of those places worth the effort. Things could change in the future though.

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$39 Pro Plan by CreateSpace

self publish, self publishing, createspace, print on demand, amazonSeveral readers have asked questions about CreateSpace like “Is it really free?” and “How do I access the $39 Pro Plan” and other related things.

The answer is yes, it’s entirely free if you’re willing to do it yourself. If creating a document and formatting it to fill pages of a book is something you’re comfortable with, then you can do it. You can also either create a book cover from scratch or use one of their templates. I chose to do it all by scratch and had several issues with Microsoft Word for the interior files and Inkscape for the cover design, but I did get through them. After having done 3 books this way (and now 5), I feel very comfortable with the process.

For those wanting to check it out, here’s what I told an author friend about it;

CreateSpace is Amazon’s print-on-demand (POD) company. They offer a range of services for writers to make books in print. It can be a do-it-yourself and 100% free experience, or it can also be catered to your needs with bells and whistles (and far from free).

I chose the free version and have done 5 books this way. When it came time to actually order a proof copy (something required before your book goes live and usually costs me between $6 and $9 with shipping), I also chose the $39 Pro Plan which allows a significant reduction on cost per books that I buy plus a better royalty payment when others buy the paperback through Amazon or CreateSpace. But you won’t get prompted (or have any need) for the $39 Pro Plan until you’re at that stage of ordering your proof copy. This will only be necessary after you’ve filled in all the pertinent information about your book and after you’ve uploaded the interior files and the cover file and submitted it for publishing (which is a review by them). Once it’s accepted, a proof needs to be ordered for newbies. Then it makes sense to get the Pro Plan which they will give you prompts for.

First go to https://www.createspace.com/
Click on the link for Authors – Make your books available.
Under Book, click Create One (or Learn More if you want to read it from them).
It will then ask you to either sign in with an existing Amazon account or to create one.
Afterward there will be a series of prompts and items to fill in, which should be self-explanatory.

They also have an excellent community support forum that can do an even better job with instructions, and in some cases you’ll find detailed answers for the exact same questions that have been asked by others in the past. Here’s the link for the community support forum https://www.createspace.com/en/community/index.jspa

For much more information and advice on free methods to sell ebooks, please check out How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.

You can also contact me by email without any of the following spaces, jason @ the little universe (dot) com

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Make Free Websites, Sell Ebooks Everywhere

It’s surprisingly easy to make free websites and sell ebooks. You can sell ebooks with PayPal buttons from your own free sites and blogs. You can sell ebooks from major retailers like Amazon, Barnes&Noble, Apple, Smashwords and more. You can sell ebooks from eBay and many other online vendors.

Guess what it costs you? Nothing, not one penny. You can even publish your physical book with CreateSpace at no cost. And you can sell ebooks and make lots of money.

It’s never been a better time to be an independent, self-published author. If you want to sell ebooks and do it all for free, just contact me or read my ebook on selling ebooks, How to Make, Market and Sell Ebooks All for Free.

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Ebook Wars Heating Up

Recently Jeff Bezos, Amazon founder, announced that Kindle ebooks sales had surpassed hardcover sales for the world’s largest bookseller. He said for every 100 hardcover books sold, approximately 143 Kindle ebooks have sold during a three month period and 180 Kindle ebooks last month alone. He also said Amazon has sold three times as many Kindles in the first half of this year than for that of 2009. Some people doubt the accuracy of these numbers but it’s hard to doubt ebook sales are taking off much faster than paper sales.

We also hear that the iPad is selling by the hundreds of thousands. Steve Jobs certainly has a winner with Apple fans as the iPad is capable of doing many things. Web-browsing, email, watching movies, playing games and other activities make the iPad the popular choice for people who want to do much more than read.

Barnes & Noble has recently cut the price of its WiFi only Nook to $149 and the WiFi plus 3G Nook to $199. These numbers are lower than Amazon’s Kindle at $189 and Kindle DX for $379. Barnes & Noble appear to be taking aggressive actions now that they’ve fully entered this battle (a bit late in my opinion). They still are the largest brick and mortar bookseller and may have finally realized their chance for survival could depend on successfully selling ebooks by the boatload.

Additionally, Sony has the Reader, Borders has the Kobo, Google Editions looms on the horizon and many other devices including one coming out from Sharp are in contention here to sell ebooks. So with all these sellers and products in a crowded marketplace, is there room for everyone?

I doubt it. But at least a few things are clear:

1. No one can stop Apple. Because the iPad does so much more than just read books and because they have a large and loyal fan-base, that product is a shoo-in for the future. Some of my questions for the iPad is whether Indie authors will do better by selling ebooks through their iBookstore or by creating an App.

2. Amazon has been doing more of this longer than anyone. The Kindle is still the most preferred device among customers who strictly want to read. One interesting thing I see with the Kindle is its .mobi format, which is basically unique to Amazon and not compatible with the vast majority of other devices. But since Bezos is committed to lowering prices of ebooks as well and Amazon’s financial success isn’t limited to just selling ebooks, it appears that Amazon will be around for the duration.

3. Barnes & Noble stands to lose the most as it absolutely must do well in this ebook battle. Because they didn’t take the bull by the horns I’m wondering if that delay may cost them. Those gigantic physical stores must be incredibly expensive to run, and all B&N does is sell books. Perhaps they’ll find a way to stay afloat but it will probably mean making the Nook incredibly awesome and selling ebooks for as cheap as possible. To me, this situation seems the most dire and interesting to watch.

4. As for the rest of them, there may or may not be room for a dozen other sellers and devices. Google Editions will certainly be a hit because… well, because they’re Google and they’ve already got gillions of dollars. For the others it will probably come down to who can make the best device that sells for the least amount of money. We saw Sony lose a battle with Betamax versus VHS many years ago, but we also know that Macintosh can thrive in the midst of the PC. The possibilities for mergers/acquisitions also looms large here, so who might team up? Google and Barnes & Noble perhaps? Seems like a possible pairing.

5. The only absolute certainty… it’s never been a better time to be a writer, Indie author or a self-publisher. Of course the odds are against success, but with persistence and a good product the chances improve dramatically now that there are so many means of making a writing career into a reality.

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Barnes & Noble, Amazon Slash Prices for e-Readers

Barnes & Noble has added a half-ounce, Wi-Fi only Nook and lowered the price of its e-reader by $50 in a move to encourage sales. The device will retail at stores like Best Buy for just $150. The world’s largest brick and mortar bookseller also dropped the price of its original 3G Nook from $259 to $199. Although ebooks themselves haven’t dropped much yet; Barnes & Noble still prices ebooks primarily in the $9.99 to $14.99 range which, to me, still seems pretty high.

Both Sony and Kobo (Borders) have e-readers for $149 but neither currently has Wi-Fi capabilities.

So how did Amazon respond? The world’s largest online bookseller dropped the price of its basic Kindle from $259 to $189. The 3G enabled 10 ounce device has tremendous sales numbers and loyalty from consumers. Amazon still offers ebooks primarily in the $9.99 to $14.99 range though they have fiercely pressured the big six publishing houses to lower prices on all ebooks.

Obviously both of these moves are in response to Apple’s iPad, which retails for a starting price of $499 but does much more than just read books. Amazon and B&N are wisely doing whatever it takes to keep the book reading consumers in their camps while Apple easily runs off with the app-lovers.

What’s next on this front? Clearly the prices of ebooks will drop, and they’ll likely drop dramatically in just a few years. I can’t see how they can remain high for much longer, especially when more and more authors are willing to sell ebooks directly to customers without getting trapped by publishing house standards of old.

What’s the best way to sell ebooks? Drop the price of your e-reading device.

What’s the next best way to sell ebooks? Drop the price of the ebooks.

Another victory for Independent authors.

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