Love self-publishing? Many authors do, because they have complete freedom… or so they imagine. However, over the past year or two, authors have been discovering that they have less freedom than they thought.
Although self-publishing frees you from the middle-men — literary agents and publishing houses — the major book retailers nevertheless control your fortunes.
Changes in Amazon’s algorithm, scammers targeting Amazon, Facebook’s recent changes… more authors are looking to sell their books from their own websites so that they can retain more of the profits.
Do the benefits of “do it yourself” self-publishing outweigh the hassles? Of course, that depends on where you are in your self-publishing journey.
If you’re a new author, uploading your new novel to Amazon is a major feat. On the other hand, if you’ve been publishing for a while, you know that the self-publishing process cedes control. You have zero idea who’s buying your books, for example. The retailers keep the data.
Let’s look at some of the benefits of selling your books from your own website.
Self-publishing: the benefits of selling from your own website
The benefits of self-publishing from your own website as well as the big online book retailers include:
- You keep more of the profits (you’ll keep 90% of the profits, compared to at best, 70% if you sell through a retailer);
- Data: you know who your readers are. You have their email addresses, so you can contact them directly and build a loyal following;
- It’s a chance to make friends with readers, ask them questions, reward them, and build sales overall;
- Diversification can help to insulate your sales from algorithm changes.
A quick check: is your ebook in KDP Select?
Before we talk about the tools you can use to sell from your own website, we need to mention KDP Select. Be aware that once an ebook is enrolled in Select, you’re giving Amazon a three-month exclusive. So before you sell an ebook from your own website, do make certain that its term in Select has expired.
Tools: selling your books from your own website is easier than you think
Perhaps you’ve been putting off selling your books from your own website because it’s a hassle. You need a payment processor, and a delivery system. You also need a way to add your buyers’ email addresses to your email lists.
While there are dozens of tools you can use to sell your books (in various formats, whether ebooks, print, or audio) two tools have become hugely popular with the self-publishing crowd: BookFunnel and Gumroad.
(Disclosure: I don’t currently use either of these tools. However, I have heard good things about them, and aim to use them going forward. PLEASE make sure that you read ALL the Help files, before you use any tool.)
BookFunnel: an ebook delivery system for freebies, review copies etc.
BookFunnel provides an easy way for you to deliver freebies to readers, and add their email addresses to your mailing lists. You can use BookFunnel to deliver exclusive promotions, ARCs, review copies — you’re limited only by your imagination.
The tool collects reader emails for you, which you can download as a CSV file. Alternatively, BookFunnel can be integrated directly with your mailing list provider.
Gumroad payment processor and delivery system: sell ebooks, audios, and print books
Gumroad has been around for years, and is packed with features.
You can integrate Gumroad with your website easily. Either link directly to a product’s page on Gumroad, or use widgets, to integrate Gumroad with WordPress, Squarespace, or Tumblr.
If you use the MyBookTable plugin for WordPress, just add the Gumroad Buy Button in the same way you’d add Amazon’s or Kobo’s button.
Should you sell your books from your own website?
Selling your books from your own website won’t make you instantly wealthy. Your sales are unlikely to outshine your sales on Amazon and elsewhere, at least in your first year or two.
Your biggest challenge, just as it is on the retailers, is visibility and discovery. You’ll need to promote your products, just as you already do.
However, the benefits are many, and if you’ve been grinding your teeth because of Facebook’s changes, selling from your own website at least puts you in control of some of your self-publishing fortunes.
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