The Realities Of Selling An Ebook

The barrier to publishing a book today is lower than any time in human history. Before the printing press was invented only chosen individuals produced books by writing them with their hands. With that gatekeeper gone then came the publishing houses and editors. These people picked the books to print and were in charge for a long time before ebooks came about. With that creation came self-publishing platforms which allowed any author to publish his or her book without the need of an editor or publishing house. Thus, more and more writers turned to this option, including myself. However, self-publishing a book is the easiest part of the entire process. How so? Let me tell you the realities of selling an ebook.

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The Realities Of Selling An Ebook: Writing Is The Easy Part

Here’s the first of the realities of selling an ebook: Writing is always the easy part.

Authors, before you come after me, I understand writing a book takes a great amount of time. I’m currently writing a novel myself and I’m not done with the first draft yet. I will write probably two more drafts before it’s done. All in all it’s probably going to take me a good part of a year to get it done because I’m also working full-time and dealing with life stuff. Yet, when I review the entire self-publishing process writing the book is the easiest part.

So what’s the entire self-publishing process? Here’s a list:

  • Write your book
  • Pick a self-publishing platform or multiple platforms
  • Format your document following the platform’s documentation
  • Checking your formatting is correct before uploading your file
  • If the platform accepts your file and finds no errors, great! If not, then you will have to fix whatever formatting issues and then reupload the file.
  • Fill out the details of your ebook
  • Determine a price for your ebook
  • Preview how your book looks on an ebook reader. (Although your file may pass the formatting checks during its upload this step is important because some formatting issues may not be caught. This is especially true of images.)
  • If the preview looks good then submit your ebook for publication and wait for the platform to perform its final checks
  • Once your ebook is live now you get to market it (which I will discuss later in this article)

The Realities Of Selling An Ebook: Selling The Ebook Is Difficult

Here’s the second of the realities of selling an ebook: Selling it to customers is difficult. Get ready to make no sales sometimes.

I published my ebooks available on Amazon and Gumroad. These are pretty big platforms for selling ebooks, including B&N and Smashwords. Thus, if you publish your ebook on these places you open your changes of making sales. Yet, that’s only the part of this step. The other part is pricing your ebook to sell. Check out the prices from self-published authors: Most sell their works for $.99 or $2.99 or $3.99.

Now you can set the price of your ebook to whatever you want. I see authors sell their ebooks for $9.99 or higher. Yet, this is high for a fiction or even a non-fiction book. Even famous authors do not overprice their works and frequently run discounts. Hence, if you don’t price your ebook correctly you run the risk of not selling many copies of your book, if any at all. So do your research.

The Realities Of Selling An Ebook: You Need To Advertise

Here’s the third of the realities of selling an ebook: You need to advertise your ebook so readers will know about it.

Yes, advertising either takes money or time or both. And many writers may not have one or both. Yet, there are some free ways to advertise your book.

The first free way is to create a website. There are many websites where you can create a website for free, even getting a free domain name. All you would have to do is invest your time into creating the website and adding content to it (like images and text). I use my website to display my book, creating a page for each. This works because search engines will include it in their results. Thus, when people search for your name or the title of your book they can find it.

The second free way is to use social media. Many writers create a Facebook page or a Twitter account to talk about their ebooks. I know others who are using Tik Tok to market their book and are getting good results. Again, this takes time and requires you to invest your energy into making posts and replying to comments. I also suggest joining writing communities on whatever social media platform you’re using. I did that on Twitter and it’s nice to talk to others and have a place to showcase my work.

While those two free ways can work the best way to advertise is to pay for it. Why? Because it takes a long time to build a dedicated following through a website or social media. Yet, if you create an ad and pay Facebook to show it you will get better results. You could create ads to show up on Google too. In the past I ran ads on Google and Twitter.

Now running ads can be costly for many authors especially if they want their ads to go worldwide. Many, if not all, advertising services allows you to create a budget on how much you want to spend per month. Thus, you can control how much to spend. You don’t have to spend hundreds of dollars but you should spend some money.

Finally, Some Genres Sell Better Than Others

Here’s the final of the realities of selling an ebook: Some genres sell much better than others.

Go to Smashwords and look at their best-sellers. You will see at least 60% of those books are in the Romance or Fantasy category. Another popular genre is Thrillers. Finally, self-improvement or self-help books are best-sellers too.

Does this mean your book in a specific genre won’t sell well? Not necessarily. You can improve your book’s changes with the proper marketing strategy. However, be prepared that if you love to write in an obscure genre you will probably sell less books.

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[…] the journey is writing it. If you want to know why I believe that please read the article I wrote here. One of the most difficult parts of this path is gaining an audience. One of the ways to do this is […]

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