Interested in making money by selling ebooks online? It’s simpler than you might think!
All you need is content that readers enjoy and the right place to sell your ebooks. You definitely don’t have to be a tech expert to succeed as an author or bookseller.
Plus, the global ebook market is booming!
By 2023, it’s predicted to be worth $16.42 billion, and it could grow to $20.74 billion by 2028. This industry holds so much potential.
What’s holding you back?
In this complete guide, we’ll walk you through the entire process of selling ebooks online.
Let’s start by answering the big question: Can you really make money selling ebooks?
Hugh Howey, J.F. Penn, Orna Ross, and many other independent authors have found great success as writers.
They sell their ebooks on various platforms, and some of their books have even inspired popular TV series.
For example, the sci-fi and mystery drama series called “Silo,” which has an impressive 8.1 rating on IMDB, is based on Hugh Howey’s renowned novels.
Just think about the money he must have made from these deals!
Meanwhile, Whitney Hill earns a decent income from her Elemental series.
Most self-published authors typically land somewhere between in terms of earnings.
Making money with ebooks involves putting in the work to create valuable content and building a strong brand, which takes a lot of effort.
The better your content and the more you promote it, the longer your ebook can keep making money.
Let’s begin our journey to learn how to sell ebooks online!
We aren’t going to tell you how to write a book, that’s your area of expertise.
In this section we’ll share some tools and techniques to help you prepare a well crafted book.
Selecting what to write about is the initial step in crafting a book. For some writers, they’ve had an idea simmering in their minds, or they stumble upon something that sparks inspiration.
For others, finding a topic that’s both enjoyable to write about and interesting to readers can be a challenge.
For instance, take Tim Ferriss, who wrote the New York Times bestseller “The Four-Hour Work Week.”
In this book, he shared the tips he used to transform his income from $40,000 per year to a staggering $40,000 per month.
It’s no wonder he sold over 2.1 million copies!
Tim didn’t keep those successful strategies to himself. Instead, he decided to write a book and share them with the world.
Here are some useful pointers to help you generate topic ideas:
- Your life experience: Starting with your own life experiences is often a great way to begin. You might have some fascinating stories to share that could captivate readers.
- Your hobbies and interests: Do you have a hobby you’re passionate about or a cause you strongly support? Your interests and knowledge can be excellent choices for your first book’s topic.
- Get an idea from TV and books: Think about what you love watching on TV and the books you can’t put down. They might give you a great idea for your first book.
- Choose a genre: Think about the genre that suits your topic best. It could be nonfiction, like memoirs or self-help, or fiction, like romance or mystery. Just make sure the genre you choose helps readers discover your book.
If you’re not sure about drawing from your life experiences and hobbies, don’t worry. There are other ways to find the perfect topic.
Start with keyword research: Use tools like Google Keyword Planner, Ubersuggest, or Ahrefs. Look for keywords related to your interests. Go for words with a decent search volume but not too much competition. These keywords can spark some topic ideas.
Check Amazon bestsellers’: Take a peek at Amazon’s bestseller lists across different categories and genres. See what’s hot and if there’s a gap your ebook could fill.
Dive into Goodreads: Explore Goodreads to find highly-rated books in your areas of interest. Read user reviews and discussions to figure out what readers are craving.
Visit Quora and Reddit: Check out forums like Quora and specific subreddits. See what questions people are tossing around and what topics are buzzing.
Conduct surveys and polls: If you already have an audience (like a blog or social media followers), run surveys or polls. Ask them what topics they’d love to read about.
Keep an eye on trends and news: Stay in the loop with current trends, news, and events. Is there something trending that could be a theme? Scan news aggregators and trending hashtags on social media.
Join social media groups: Become part of Facebook groups, LinkedIn groups, or other online communities related to your interests. Take note of discussions and see what issues or questions come up often.
Utilize BuzzSumo: BuzzSumo is great for finding popular articles and content in your niche. It helps you spot what topics are hot and grabbing attention.
Remember that the best topics are those that genuinely interest you, as your passion and expertise will come through in your writing.
Before you even consider wrapping up your book and getting it out there, take the time to edit and proofread it.
One round of editing is a must, but if you can, get more than one person to give it a look.
You can also lean on tools like Grammarly to catch any spelling and grammar mistakes.
Keep in mind, you’re selling this product, so it needs to be top-notch and free from errors.
If your book is full of spelling and grammar problems, it could result in negative reviews later on, which could seriously affect your marketing efforts.
If your book has a lot of text, it’s a good idea to spice things up with some images.
If your book is more on the serious side, don’t just add random images.
Instead, consider using charts or graphs to provide valuable information.
For fiction books that don’t have many pictures, think about including a small drawing at the start of each chapter.
Even something as simple as the chapter title or number can be creatively designed.
If your ebook is packed with images, ensure they blend well and maintain a balanced appearance. They should complement the text and help the story flow smoothly.
Here’s a checklist to ensure you cover all the bases when creating your ebook.
Now, let’s come up with a title that really catches the reader’s eye and makes them want to read your book.
If you’re writing about business, titles with money numbers tend to work well.
For instance, if your ebook is about making your blog grow, a title like ‘How I Made $100,000 From My Blog’ is more likely to get attention than something like ‘A Step-by-Step Guide to Blogging.’
If you’re writing fiction, make your titles interesting and mysterious.
No matter which platform you pick for selling ebooks, you’ll need some solid marketing to stand out from the crowd.
So, let’s figure out what you should consider when choosing the platform based on your business plan.
Opting for major publishers like Amazon’s KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing), Barnes & Noble eBookstore, or Kobo come with some unique benefits.
While they might seem crowded for new authors, their biggest advantage is the exposure they offer.
For example, Amazon releases about 2 million books each year, yet there are millions of people actively searching for new reads.
Amazon’s algorithm favors new releases, giving new authors a good chance to be noticed. By following best practices (which we’ll cover below), you can boost sales.
So, even if a small portion of that vast audience discovers your work, the potential is huge. Amazon royalties for authors can reach up to 70%.
Don’t underestimate the potential of smaller retail platforms.
They often offer more generous royalty rates so you can earn a larger share of the sales revenue.
Working with smaller publishers usually gives you greater control over pricing, cover design, and marketing.
For instance, Gumroad doesn’t burden new authors with hefty fees. They charge a flat 10% fee on each ebook sale, regardless of the price.
This is great for beginners who want recognition for their hard work.
Take this example of Victoria Kurichenko, who published a free ebook on Gumroad, “How to Make Money Writing.”
To her surprise, some people paid for the book as a way to show appreciation for her valuable content. Smaller platforms can be more caring and community-oriented.
Selling ebooks directly from your website can be incredibly rewarding.
You have the freedom to offer them in multiple formats, catering to your particular audience.
One major perk of selling ebooks on your website is that you keep 100% of the profit. There’s no need to share your earnings, except for operating costs.
Price control is another significant benefit. On platforms like Amazon, new authors often have to set low prices due to intense competition.
This means less profit unless you sell thousands of copies.
On your website, you can set a price that truly reflects the value of your hard work.
Selling ebooks on your website allows you to build a direct relationship with your customers. Knowing who is buying your ebook is vital.
You can nurture this relationship for future offerings. If you want to introduce your next ebook, you’ll have all the means to do it.
This level of control and customer connection isn’t readily available on major marketplaces.
In our opinion, the best approach is to sell ebooks on multiple platforms, including your own website.
Here’s a quick comparison to illustrate our point:
Higher profit margins
Large audience for early exposure
Complete control over pricing and marketing
Books on popular marketplaces can be more discoverable
Direct relationship with customers
Buyers are more confident to buy from marketplaces
Freedom to use any ebook format
Authors don’t need to deal with payment processing, deliverability and support
Ability to establish your brand
Some platforms offer promotional tools for advertising
Limited reach at the start can limit sales potential
Too much competition makes it harder to stand out
You are responsible for driving traffic to your website
Lower royalties result in less profit
Setting up eCommerce is your responsibility
Limited control over pricing, branding and promotion
Very limited access to customer data
Change of algorithm or policy can affect visibility
Having your own website has more advantages and fewer disadvantages. But it is more work.
If you’re worried that creating a website is a complex task, that’s no longer the case.
Even if you’ve never dealt with code before, you can build your website in under 60 seconds with the ZipWp AI builder (we’ll talk more about that soon).
We strongly recommend using WordPress for your website.
- It’s the most popular content management system (CMS) out there.
- WordPress supports top-notch eCommerce tools suitable for any type of business.
- It’s incredibly flexible and user-friendly, making it accessible for people of all skill levels.
- You can expand and personalize your website as much as you like.
We’re big fans of website creation. While drag and drop builders have been a game-changer, there’s something even more exciting: using AI to build a website.
We’ve chosen ZipWP, an AI website builder that’s flexible, customizable, and scalable. It can create a fully functional first draft website in under 60 seconds!
Getting started is a breeze. Just answer a few questions, and let ZipWP handle the rest.
Here’s how to begin your AI-powered website journey:
Sign up for ZipWP and create an account.
Log into the ZipWP dashboard, where you’ll find a straightforward interface.
The left sidebar menu shows your created websites and the option to make more. On the right, you’ll see an overview of your activities.
Take a moment to explore the dashboard, get comfortable with it, and when you’re ready, let’s create your website!
Click Create New and ZipWP will guide you through the entire process.
Provide your business name, a brief description of what you do, select relevant images from the library, and pick a design for your website.
Your site will be ready in just a matter of seconds!
To see how ZipWP builds a website in just 60 seconds, watch this video:
Once you’re done with setting up your website, log into your WordPress admin area using the credentials ZipWP generated for you during the process.
Spend some time familiarizing yourself with the different menus.
Once everything is done, you can optimize your website yourself like a pro with the help of 27 things to do after WordPress installation.
Now that your website is ready, you must be thinking about how to sell ebooks on your website.
To collect payments you’ll need a payment system. One great option is SureCart, a versatile and secure eCommerce plugin.
It enables you to receive payments in various ways, such as full payments, partial payments, and even installments.
SureCart offers a range of modern eCommerce features, including the ability to provide multiple payment options.
To add SureCart to your website, click on Astra dashboard menu and locate the SureCart plugin option on the right side.
Click on it to install and activate the plugin.
Once activated, a setup wizard will guide you through the installation process, which should only take a few minutes.
Similar to when you created your website, you’ll need to provide some basic details about your store during the wizard setup. It will also help you integrate the payment systems you’ll need.
Now you have your website with an integrated payment system, it’s time to add your first product, your ebook.
Once you’ve correctly configured SureCart, you’ll be greeted with the main dashboard.
To begin, simply click on the Create A Product button. Alternatively, you can access this option from the left sidebar menu under SureCart > Products.
Next, provide a name for your product, which can simply be the title of your ebook.
Now, it’s time to add the essential details such as a description, images, or the PDF file.
You’ll also encounter a pricing module where you can set the price.
Remember, SureCart offers a variety of payment methods. You can even offer customers the option to pay what they choose!
Feel free to explore more features because SureCart is a comprehensive eCommerce solution 😄
Once you’ve added all the necessary information to your product, click Save located at the top right corner of the screen.
Don’t forget to change the Product Page status from Draft to Publish to make your ebook accessible to customers.
Save your changes again before proceeding.
As an example, we’ve added a sample book and included a stock image to demonstrate the process.
The beauty of this process is that you can fully customize it, enhancing the overall appearance and tailoring the user experience.
If you’re looking to dive deeper into customization, check out our comprehensive tutorial on how to create a Shopify like checkout page.
With your ebook prepared, your website integrated with a payment system, and your ebook successfully uploaded, it’s time to draw in your audience through effective marketing.
Here are some practical tips to launch your marketing journey.
First, check out what other authors are charging for ebooks like yours.
You might notice prices like $6.76, $16.78, or $13.89. This isn’t random; it’s about psychology.
People often see prices with decimals as a bit lower than whole numbers.
To figure out if the price you want to set is competitive, think about how much time and effort you put into making it.
Also, consider your marketing budget.
Ask yourself what readers might be willing to pay for your book and what similar books cost. Then, calculate how many copies you need to sell to make a profit and set your price based on that.
No matter how you put your ebook out there, you’ll need a landing page to tell people about it and get them to buy. The simpler the page, the better.
You can make it easy by using page builders like Spectra Pro. The plugin comes with a number of predesigned templates that you can use to build beautiful landing pages.
If you’re using a big site like Amazon or a place like Gumroad, just put a link to your product on your landing page.
Now you’ve got everything set up, it’s time to tell people about your ebook.
No matter if you’re selling on your website or through Amazon, there are plenty of ways to get the word out and sell more copies.
Let’s explore some of the top ways to tell people about your ebook online:
Email marketing: Emails work great for promotion, especially if you already have a solid email list. You can transform your site into a great membership platform.
Using the right strategy can help you create a thriving community that will eventually bring you rewards.
Social media: Use social media to promote your book. Try fun giveaways and contests. Get people to like and share your links, and give out free copies as prizes.
Giveaway snippets: To boost sales, think about giving away the first few chapters for free. If your book is captivating, readers will be eager to buy the whole thing to see what happens next.
Run ad campaigns: Consider running paid ads on Google, Instagram or Facebook to target folks interested in the topic. While it costs money upfront, when done right, these ads can bring a good return on investment (ROI).
Here are the popular file types you need to know:
EPUB (Electronic Publication): Think of EPUB like a flexible ebook that can fit on various devices, like smartphones and ereaders. It’s like a digital book that can adapt to different screens. Example: Most ebooks from libraries or stores like Google Books are in EPUB format.
PDF (Portable Document Format): PDFs are like digital photocopies of printed pages. They keep the book’s original look, which is great for textbooks and fancy formatting. Many academic textbooks are in PDF format.
MOBI (Mobipocket): Imagine MOBI as the favorite format for Amazon Kindle devices. If you have a Kindle ereader, you’re likely reading MOBI ebooks. Books bought from the Kindle Store will be MOBI.
AZW/AZW3: These are Amazon’s versions of ebooks, just like MOBI. AZW3 is the newer, fancier version with extra features. Ebooks from the Amazon Kindle Store can also be in AZW3 format.
iBooks (Apple): iBooks are like MOBI but with extra flair. They can include cool things like videos and interactive images.
HTML: HTML ebooks are like web pages bundled up into a book file. They’re good for interactive stuff and look great online. Digital magazines often use HTML format.
TXT (Plain Text): Think of TXT as a super basic ebook with no fancy formatting. It’s just words on a digital page. Simple ebooks or documents you read on your computer will likely be in TXT format.
Selling ebooks online isn’t just about advertising and email newsletters. It’s a comprehensive strategy that begins when you conceptualize your book.
With a solid foundation, the rest of the process becomes much smoother.
Use marketplaces by all means, but also consider building your own website. Most successful independent authors have their own websites and you should too.
As you have seen, building a website for promoting and selling ebooks online is easier than you might think.
We’d love to hear from you in the comments: What’s your favorite genre, and when are you planning to publish your next ebook? Share your thoughts with us!
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