The digital publishing industry in the United States is worth around $10 billion, according to this Statista report. In fact, 191 million e-books were sold in 2020, and that's an increase by 21 million compared to the previous year. The implication is that there is a growing demand for e-books in the United States but also around the world – the book publishing industry generated $122 billion globally last year.
For a professional or business owner, it is a no-brainer to join the e-book publishing trend as a way of diversifying revenue streams or simply getting your knowledge and expertise across to hungry readers. This article will convince you of why you need to publish your own e-book today and how to sell them easily.
What Are E-Books and Why Sell Them?
E-books are electronic versions of regular books that can be read on a digital device – your smartphone, Android, laptop or tablet. An e-book can also be standalone, meaning it does not need to have a print version.
E-books are so popular and appealing to readers because they are easy to carry around and read on the go. It's like carrying an entire library on your mobile device with no extra weight. But for authors, e-books are popular because they cost next to nothing to publish and sell. With tools like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing, self-publishing authors have found a breakthrough way to spend less creating and publishing books while earning more from their creativity.
But why should you care? Why should you bother selling an e-book? There are perhaps 1000 reasons that can convince you, but these are the ones you should care about:
- E-books are cheap to publish and easy to sell, making the investment minimal but the ROI maximum. You could literally make thousands of dollars from only a few hundred bucks — there are a lot of free tools that can increase your profitability.
- There is a ready market for E-books – according to Amazon, 94% of public libraries in the US offer e-books, and some libraries even had a budget for eBooks as early as 2015, because people read them!
- It's a great way to make passive income — after the initial work. Because e-books are digital, you only need to write once and host it on some selling platform and you make money for life. No need for reprinting copies every time they are sold out.
- E-books are a brilliant way to scale a business. As a business owner, you can use this means to introduce your business to a new audience, acquire new clients, position yourself as an authority, and improve credibility or even start new businesses altogether!
- You will live forever! So if any of the previous reasons aren't good enough to convince you to write and sell a book, this one should. You'll always have that e-book somewhere on the Internet, attributed to your name even after you're long gone. How cool is that?!
If writing and selling an e-book is something you'd like to explore, then keep reading. It's time to find out how you can make that possible.
8 Steps to Creating and Selling Your E-Books Online
Creating and selling an e-book obviously might involve more than 8 steps, but these 8 cover the process of start to finish.
- Write and edit: The obvious first step to creating and selling e-books online is to write the book. Choose a topic that is interesting and that people care about. This would certainly require a level of research, which can be done by checking what questions people are asking or what topics they are discussing in groups — you could also do keyword research using tools like Ask the Public, Semrush or Clearscope. And when you're done writing, get an editor to edit/proofread your manuscript.
- Choose a title that hooks: According to Raymond Chandler, "A good title is the title of a successful book." Pick a title that captures and holds attention. Your title can convey the problem your e-book is addressing or the solution/result your eBook intends to offer. Whichever way, just make it short and easily understandable or relatable.
- Design, layout & formatting: The next step is to design your e-book and format the layout accordingly. You can do the layout design and formatting on a number of tools such as Canva (which has a free version) or Designer.io (which has a lifetime subscription) and other added-value services for an extra fee.
- Determine a book format. E-books typically come in PDF or EPUB formats depending on where you want to publish. Amazon Kindle accepts only .epub books while PDF is perfect if you are self-hosting. This goes to say that how you plan to host your e-book might influence the format you choose.
- Design a stunning cover: It is best to hire a graphic designer to produce eye-catching covers for your e-book. There are lots of freelancers on Fiverr or Upwork who will design book covers for small amounts. If you prefer to use DIY tools, Canva has amazing templates, as does the aforementioned Designer.io.
- Pricing: Decide on how much you want to sell your e-book for. Pricing may be determined by the volume of the book, the originality of the content/concepts shared, the value/result you are offering or the audience you've written for.
- Choose a sales channel: This is the ultimate step. After getting your e-book ready, you have to determine which of the many ecommerce storefronts you want to host your e-book and sell on. Ideally, you should consider multiple platforms for selling your e-book to give you greater reach and higher sales volume. Check out a few platforms below.
- Work out your marketing strategy: Your book isn't going to sell itself, you have to put the word out there. This means planning your promotion strategies ahead of your book launch. Marketing options available include placing digital ads via Google and Facebook, publishing blog posts on your blog or other relevant blogs, working out an affiliate program with people in your professional network, snagging guest features on podcasts, social media publicity, vlogs and even mainstream media, if you dream big!
And now, to the best part: where can you sell your e-book online?
Top 5 Platforms Where You Can Sell Your E-Book Online
A lot of published authors use Amazon's Kindle Direct Publish (KDP,) simply because it is free and easy. With KDP, Amazon does some of the marketing heavy-lifting and it offers print-on-demand service at no cost to you. This means people can buy your e-book as print copies. Amazon will print your book and ship to the buyer and send you royalties!
Barnes & Noble
Formerly Nook Press: Barnes & Noble works just like Amazon KDP. Once you sign up, you choose the e-book option as your book format. The platform guides you in formatting the interior and cover pages so that it meets the upload requirements. And then your book goes on the market. Selected books published on Barnes & Noble are featured in emails, online sales & promotions, and other exclusive marketing programs. That's more marketing work done for you.
Unlike the first two, Gumroad is purely a selling platform for creators of digital products like e-books. It does not have tools to help you format the book. On Gumroad, you simply host your e-book and get paid as people buy your e-book. Does it work? Well, Gumroad boasts on its website that "since 2011, our 89,905 creators have earned over $465,365,326." That must be proof that you can too, right?
With E-junkie, it is possible to have a maintenance-free online shop for your digital creations. Think of it as your own online bookstore. E-junkie also offers protection for your PDF files with their unique PDF Stamping feature that automatically imprints the buyer's details - name, email and a unique Transaction ID - on each page of the PDF file that they download.
Your Own Website
Another self-publishing option is to host your e-book on your own site. With Wordpress, it is easy to set up a website for your e-book in a few minutes. The rest of the work is to integrate PayPal or Stripe to receive payments. This way, you have total control over the sales process.
The opportunities in the digital publishing industry are vast, and you can — in fact you should — begin to explore them today.
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Notice to the Reader
The content within this article is meant to be used as general guidelines and may not apply to your specific situation. Always consult with an Information Marketing professional to ensure you get expert opinion on the best sales approach for your ebook publishing business.