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Preparing to Sell eBooks
by Ron Kurtus (revised 23 August 2011)
In preparing to sell your material as an ebook, there are three important actions you should take.
First of all, you should compile your manuscript into formats that are used by the major e-readers. Then you should set a reasonable and competitive price for your ebooks. And finally, you should try to distribute your ebooks through familiar or tried-and-true outlets.
Questions you may have include:
- What are familiar formats?
- What is a good price?
- What are familiar distribution channels?
This lesson will answer those questions.
Decide on format
A first thing that you need to do in preparation for selling your material as an ebook is to put it in formats that are used by the major e-readers.
The top devices and their ebook formats are:
- Amazon.com Kindle - MOBI
- Barnes & Noble Nook - EPUB
- Apple iPad - EPUB
- Sony Reader - EPUB
There are also ebook readers that you can use on your computer:
- Microsoft Reader - LIT (no longer supported)
- Adobe Reader - PDF
Note: Microsoft has recently abandoned their Reader and LIT format. The format is no longer an option.
There are numerous other formats, but these are the major ones.
Although a potential customer may be interested in buying your ebook, the person wants to be able to read the ebook on his or her e-reader device. This means it should be available in a usable format for the device. You must let them know what devices are supported.
Price is a factor for customers considering buying an ebook, especially from an unknown author.
You should check out the prices of similar ebooks to help determine your price.
For a while, Amazon.com was selling their Kindle ebooks for "only" $9.99. This was about 50% off the retail price of the hardcopy version. I've seen numerous major publishers selling ebooks at 20% less than the hardcopy version, and some even charge more than the hardcopy. This publisher pricing is ridiculous, since there are no printing or shipping costs with ebooks.
Some authors have offered short ebooks for free or $0.99. But often the quality is lacking those books.
Note that you will have to discount your list price for the ebookstore to make a profit.
Amazon's Kindle store allows a discount of 70% for ebooks selling for $2.99 or more.
Set a reasonable price for your ebooks. You need to weigh number of sales versus profit from each sale to hit a good selling price.
Check distribution channels
You want to make it as easy as possible for your customer to purchase your ebook. This usually means selling your ebooks on the major online bookstores. However, it may not hurt to have your ebooks available on minor ebookstores.
Your ebooks should be on familiar websites, such as:
- Barnes & Noble
- Apple Store
- Sony Store
- Microsoft Store
- Google eBookstore
However, you should not limit yourself to one or two outlets. You also want to put your ebook for sale on a number of outlets, But you should also make sure the process is easy to use and something that will not discourage the buyer.
It is good to test the purchasing process yourself, as a new customer, to see how easy it is to buy your book.
Some distributors provide ebooks in various formats and allow customers to check. Examples are:
Selling from your website
You can easily sell your ebooks in a variety of formats from your own website, using a e-payment service such as PayPal.
However, I think most people are more comfortable buying from a known entity. Also, if a person has a Nook, he most likely would prefer to buy from the Barnes & Noble website than from your site.
In preparing to sell your material as an ebook, you should compile your manuscript into formats that are used by the major e-readers, set a reasonable and competitive price for your ebooks, and try to distribute your ebooks through familiar or tried-and-true outlets.
Make it easy for the customer to buy
Resources and references
3 Barriers You Must Eliminate to Maximize E-Book Sales - Writer's Digest blog - 5 April 2011
Top-rated books on Self-Publishing
Questions and comments
Do you have any questions, comments, or opinions on this subject? If so, send an email with your feedback. I will try to get back to you as soon as possible.
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Preparing to Sell eBooks