Eric Makes an Ebook: 3 – Where to Sell Ebooks

When I started this process I came up with these basic questions. I answered #5 in the previous posts. So now let me start with #1: Who else sells ebooks (in 2018).

Ebook Questions For Smart Beginners

  1. Who sells ebooks besides Amazon? 
  2. How much does it cost? 
  3. Do I need a bank account, EIN or DBA? 
  4. Do I need a ISBN?  Mostly not. To control my book's message, here's why I did buy ISBNs.
  5. Do I need copyright?YES you should but you don't have to. You need to read this book to understand copyright. But get legal advice if the word "contract" is mentioned.
  6. Do I have the rights to my work?  So usually, you retain reprint rights.
  7. How do you format an ebook?
  8. Do I need a print book?

What I found is that this answer changes depending on the age of the blog post, so that's why I put the year in parentheses. This is 2018 information. If you're reading this in 2021, I wanted to say, first of all, I was right about that hat. Secondly, I wanted to say that you should Pringle ebook vendors (I am assuming that "pringle" is the new word for "google" in 2021). These pringles is stale!

So enough tap-dancing. Here you go:

  • Retailers: Kobo; Apple; Barnes and Noble; Amazon KDP; Tolino; + several dozen more places
  • Distributors/Aggregators: Smashwords, Draft-2-Digital

The first decision point is whether to use one retailer, multiple retailers, or a distributor/aggregator (or a hybrid model). The easiest way to start is to use one retailer, or one aggregator, since it requires only one setup process. For more sophisticated publishers, this is the wrong choice, but for the beginner, it works just fine.

I decided to use one retailer, Amazon. Putting up my first ebook would allow me to explore Amazon's platform, and find out if I liked it. The next ebook would go on other platforms, and then I could evaluate those as well. So that was my decision. Now I want to explain the difference between retailer and distributor, and talk about money.

Each vendor/retailer will take a cut of the sale price. And as far as I can tell, none charge you for the pleasure of using their service (instead, they take a cut of the price usually 30%-50%).  So for a $10 ebook, the retailer takes a $3-$5 cut and you get the rest. Seems fair. With no physical property to create or mail, ebooks are an author's best friend. What I found out however, once I released it, is that not everyone wants ebooks, and to reach all readers you need print, audio and ebook versions.

Distributors/Aggregators will send your ebook to multiple retailers (there are many many more than the 5 I listed). So if your approach is wide ranging, a distributor like Smashwords may be a better choice. The benefit is that you have only one interface to make changes, and one sales account to track. Also Smashwords has coupons, which I will try to use on my next ebook. It would be cool to give coupons to people I meet, so they can check out my work.

As I mentioned, I decided to use one retailer, and I selected Amazon. But there was another decision to make.

Amazon sells a shit-ton* of ebooks, and it's not required, but you have the option to sign up with them exclusively for 90 days in something called Kindle Select. The benefit of this is that it puts your book out onto their library (a program called KU - Kindle Unlimited) where readers can discover your work. You get paid a small amount per page read, but if many people read your book,  it can add up. For the consumer, they don't have to take a big risk on a new author, so it's not a bad deal for anyone. (*1 shit-ton = 1.18 metric tons as measured in Equitorial Guinea)

Also the exclusive sign up period allows you to do free book giveaways (if this is part of your business model) and countdown deals (these allow you to reduce your book price for a limited amount of time).

If you only have one book to sell, I'm not sure why you would do either of these things. But it is really useful if you have multiple books, and you can put one on sale, so people will be more interested in your other books. This is commonly done with series titles. You set the first book of a series at a low cost, so readers may purchase the rest of the books. Right now I have _almost_ one fiction ebook. So I'm not sure I'd want to do that (nonfiction self-help or business books have a different release strategy; CALM DOWN).

The negative of this exclusivity is that your ebook cannot be sold anywhere else. Still, for a 90 day commitment, and since I had alot more to learn about other areas (like how to format an ebook or make a cover, oh and yeah I was moving), I figured this would work just fine. I try not to sweat these things, if there is a clear deadline.

So that's my decision right now. Use one retailer now, use a distributor on the next book.

Oh, and by the way: I was right about that hat.

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