This is a question that has been asked by a few new authors coming to get their e-books created. A good question, as many digital products are sold via the websites of individuals and brands with great success.
But first, what are the main reasons why selling an e-book on your own website seems attractive?
- A big one is that you can sell it for any amount you like, with the ability to package and bundle your e-book as part of a larger value package. This is very popular with bloggers and online businesses.
- This is arguably the biggest incentive, and that is you get to collect the names and emails of those you purchase. This allows you to build your tribe and build the relationship with your super fans, long after the initial purchase. You can’t get any of this data via the major retailers.
- Eliminating the royalty restrictions instilled by the major retailers, and any additional fees or charges that apply.
- If you have a substantial platform then more visitors come back to your site because it’s the only place of availability. This allows you to keep them around longer to enjoy any other value offers or content you have.
There is plenty of shopping cart options to be able to sell your e-book easily enough, which also integrate email list software for data collection.
This all sounds great doesn’t?
Well let’s cover the downside and why retailers are the play.
- If you’re a new author starting out and haven’t already started building your platform early, then you’re not going to have a huge email list or regular traffic. So no one would be buying your book.
- Consumers already know, trust and buy from established brands and retailers. Everyone has heard of Amazon, even if they haven’t yet created their own account. The point is, you don’t have to “sell” anyone on the idea of going to Amazon or Apple to purchase, so you as an author leverage the retailers credibility in the engagement and sales process of your books.
- Then of course, there’s the issue of deliver-ability, sending your e-book file to consumers devices of choice. Selling from your website you’re assuming that your buyers are tech savvy enough to know how to “side-load” e-book files to devices (excluding PDF). Where as buyers purchasing from retailers automatically have the files delivered to their chosen device.
If you have a sizable platform and audience and your main goal is revenue and providing value over and above that of the e-book itself, selling from your website is a very attractive, viable and beneficial option. This would be more viable for nonfiction authors.
If you’re a fiction or children’s author who hasn’t yet established a sizable platform, then the major retailers (particularly Amazon) are going to be your best play to have new readers discover your e-books.
Plus, if you drive any and all traffic you have to Amazon then as a new author you can take advantage of Amazon’s internal sales algorithms to have your book rank higher for more exposure, without the need to worry about delivering the e-book.
Combine the two methods for greater results
The best method is not an “either-or” zero-sum game, but a combination of the two. Here’s an example:
- Make sure you have quality e-book formatting with both an EPUB and MOBI file, and then upload to your chosen retailers.
- In the file be sure to include thoughtful, strategic call-to-actions throughout your book that prompt your reader to come back to your website with a live, clickable link. The reason for this is because you want to maintain contact with your reader and build a relationship with your new fan. via your additional content and email list.
- Once at your website, be sure to have the ability for the reader to join your email list, which will allow them to receive updates and content from you. You’ll also have a fan remain at arm’s reach, instead of disappearing in the inter-web ether.
This method of combining the two is a good solution to taking advantage of the benefits of from major retailers such as selling, file delivery and discovery, combined with capturing the info of your readers to build a long term relationship that grows to a healthy fan-base and author brand.
Be the captain of your own ship.
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