Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 1: Introduction

This is the first post in a multi-part series about self-publishing your eBook. Posts include:

1. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 1: Introduction (this post)
2. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 2: E-book Formatting
3. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 3: Book Covers
4. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 4: Amazon.com 
5. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 5: Smashwords
6. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 6: Scribd
7. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 7: Lulu
8. Selling Your eBook Without a Publisher, Part 8: Selling Strategy

One of the thing I've been interested in for some time is selling my book (should be books soon) online. I'd already been doing some research into this, so thought I'd share my findings and investigative work through a new series. The series will likely cover e-book formatting, book covers and why they're important, and, last but certainly not least, the various online retailers that allow you to showcase your work and therefore skip the traditional publishing process entirely.

Selling without a publisher (i.e., self-publishing) is nothing new, but it seems only recently with the advent of popular e-readers that the possibility for e-books has really opened up. We're very possibly at the beginning of a new, mainstream medium for consuming literature, and there's no doubt the publishing game is changing. But going it alone sans agent or publisher isn't easy. Fortunately, there are online partners with whom we can collaborate: while you provide the content, they provide the showcase by which you can present your work. They, of course, take a percentage of your sales in exchange for this service.

Whether that is a fair trade or not is a matter of opinion (rates vary by partner site), but I think it helps to look at what these sites provide you. I mean, we all have web sites or blogs upon which to host the electronic versions of our books. So what are they providing that merits sharing the profit from a sale?

1.) Eyeballs

This one can't be stressed enough. As writers, we work in obscurity until we find representation or a big name publisher, or we work our way up through lesser known channels until we've built a following. Either way, we all start small, which means we probably aren't getting all that much traffic to our web sites. Online retail sites, like Amazon, for example, give us the opportunity to put our work in front of a lot of people who otherwise might never know it existed.

2.) Ratings

They also provide (in most cases) a means by which readers can rate our work. While this can be a two-edged sword in its own right, what we gain is essentially a third-party that removes the suspicion of impropriety were we to host such a facility on our own site.

3.) Community

Some online retailers create a community atmosphere around their product offerings. Scribd Community is one. Amazon Communities is another. You can gain support from others also trying to do well with this avenue, build a following, and connect with readers.

4.) They handle the transaction

They collect the dough, then send you your cut either at set intervals or, more likely, when a certain threshold is surpassed. The exact threshold varies by partner site. This has the nice benefit that you do not have to deal with providing a secure site in which to collect payment information, worry about storing such information for return visits, deal with the case where merchandise is returned (can you return an e-book?), etc.

Those all seem like good reasons to me, and well worth sharing the proceeds of a sale.

With that, I'll leave you with this introductory post for now. Look for Part 2 sometime soon.

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Comments (3) -

  • Steven Till
    If an author is selling an e-book for 0.99c on Amazon, what percent of sales does Amazon take for every book sold?

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