How To Sell Ebooks Online: The Complete Beginner’s Guide
Looking for a way to share and monetize your knowledge and ideas? Selling ebooks online could be just the way to do it.
It’s super easy to make money selling ebooks, and there are tons of options for distributing and marketing the content you create.
In this post, you will find a full guide on how to make money selling ebooks online.
You’ll learn how to sell ebooks from your own website, or on marketplaces like Amazon. And you’ll find tips on how to market your ebooks so you can maximize sales.
Ready to learn more? Let’s get started.
Why sell ebooks online?
Ebooks are extremely popular, and it’s estimated that around 21% of all books sales come from digital downloads. The great thing about ebooks is that you don’t have to be a bestselling novelist to turn your ebook into a success.
The ebook market is diverse, so there is space for books of all shapes and sizes and just about any topic. The key to selling your ebook successfully is all in the marketing (we’ll talk more about this later) and you don’t have to rely on a well-known publishing house to do the marketing for you.
Selling ebooks online is a true solopreneur venture, and you can manage all aspects of the process yourself from writing to self-publishing and promotions.
This is what makes ebook creation such a great option for ecommerce businesses.
Selling ebooks vs print book
Even today, print books are still the most popular format for readers, however, this doesn’t mean there aren’t tons of benefits to selling ebooks instead of print books.
The main benefit of course is the cost. It’s much cheaper and more simple to create an ebook for self-publishing than it is to get a print book published.
Similarly, you don’t have to pay overhead costs such as printing and storage like you do with print books.
Also, the process of creating a book for print is lengthy and complicated, and outside of the scope of many amateur writers and small businesses. However, it’s more than possible to create your own ebook quickly and cheaply, and you can start making sales and seeing returns right away.
Sound interesting? Keep reading to learn exactly how to create an ebook that sells.
Creating an ebook that sells
Before we can get onto how to distribute your ebooks, and start making money, you first need to create your product. Here’s how to create an ebook that sells online.
Choose an interesting topic
The key to creating an ebook that sells is choosing a topic that will inspire readers to take notice, and purchase your book. You should think long and hard about the topic of your ebook before getting started.
Try to choose a topic that hasn’t already been written about by other writers or businesses. If you’re writing a non-fiction ebook, the aim should be to add value or teach the readers something they don’t already know. To achieve this, it’s a good idea to draw upon personal experiences that set you apart from other writers.
For example, if you are writing a book related to starting a blog, you should avoid focusing on generalized tips that can be found using a quick Google search. Instead, go into detail about your own blogging journey and things you’ve learned as well as pitfalls you experienced.
If you’re going down the fiction route for your ebook, consider looking at sites like Amazon Kindle to see what types of books sell well.
For example, dystopian teen fiction is extremely popular, so you might want to choose this as the starting point for your novel. However, if you want to stand out from the crowd, you should try your best to come up with fresh and unique plot ideas, and avoid copycatting bestsellers.
Come up with an awesome title
Next, you should try to think of a title that will grab the reader’s attention and inspire them to download your book. If you’re writing books about business, then titles that include financial figures tend to perform well.
For example, if your book is related to growing your blog, then something along the lines of ‘How I Made $100,000 From My Blog’ is likely to attract more attention than something like ‘A Step-by-Step Guide to Blogging’. If you’re stuck on title ideas, check out this guide to writing better headlines.
If you’re writing fiction then you should try to make your titles catchy and intriguing. There are also tools available to help you to create titles for different genres, such as Fantasy Name Generators and Adzing Book Title Generator.
Draft the content
Probably one of the hardest parts about selling ebooks online is writing the actual content. It can be time-consuming and if you’re not an experienced writer it can sometimes be a struggle. However, don’t let this dissuade you from the idea.
If you want to go down the route of writing the book yourself, create a detailed plan for each section of your book and a timeline for when you want to complete it.
Also if it’s your first time writing a book, don’t over-face yourself by planning for the book to be super long. Ebooks can be as long or as short as you like, so for your first attempt, you should choose a more manageable length.
Also, if you don’t see yourself as a writer, you can also hire a ghostwriter to draft the content for you.
It’s very easy and quite affordable to hire a ghostwriter. Check out freelancing sites like Fiverr or Upwork to connect with writers that have experience working in your niche.
Add high-quality images and visual elements
If your ebook is a non-fiction title and you’re delving into detail about complicated topics, it’s a really good idea to make use of images where possible.
Images and other visual elements like graphs and tables can help to break up your text and make the information more digestible for the reader. It’s also a great way to add value to your ebook and make it seem more professional.
For fiction books, including images is not really that common, and aside from adding illustrations that enhance your story you can probably forgo this step.
Note: Want to start selling your digital products but not sure how? Sellfy makes it easy. Click here to start your free trial.
Preparing your ebook for sale
Once you’ve created your ebook, there are a few things you’ll need to do to get it ready for selling. Here’s everything you need to know.
Format you ebook
Ebook formats vary based on book types but you should always format your ebook in a way that is easy to read and digestible for your buyers. It’s always a good idea to stick with font sizes of 11 or larger. Any smaller than this and readers may struggle to see the words properly.
Select an easy-to-read san serif font such as Veranda or Ariel for the main prose and stick with it. Alternatively, you can also use sites like Fontjoy to select professional font pairings that can be used for prose and headings. This way your text is consistent and clear throughout.
Where possible, break down large blocks of text into smaller paragraphs and add lists and headers that break up the text to make life easier for the reader.
Edit and Proofread
Before you think about finalizing your book and publishing it, be sure to edit and proofread it. You should do this at least once, but it’s a good idea to have more than one person look over it if possible. You can use tools like Grammarly to help you to pick up on spelling and grammar errors too.
Remember, you are selling this product, so it should be high-quality and free from errors. If your book is rife with spelling and grammar issues, this could lead to bad reviews further down the line which could heavily impact your marketing strategy.
Add branding elements
When getting your book ready to publish, be sure to add some branding elements so that people know more about your business and work.
Consider adding an author page at the beginning or end of the book, and place your business name and logo at strategic places throughout your books such as on chapter title pages, or in headers and footers.
Design an eye-catching cover
I know they say you shouldn’t judge a book by its cover, but most people still do, which is why it’s important to nail your cover design. Your cover should be eye-catching and professional and feature salient information such as the title, author name, and your business name if your ebook is affiliated with an existing business.
You can use online graphic design software like Canva to design your book cover and select from a range of free and professional templates.
Alternatively, you can hire a graphic designer. Whichever route you choose, make sure your cover features:
- High-quality images and graphics
- Contrasting text and background colors
- An easy to read, eye-catching title font
Also, make sure that any fonts and images you use are suitable for commercial use, to avoid issues with copyright.
Prepare different file types
There are a few different file types you can use to save your ebook. Depending on the platform you use to sell your books, you may need to have your document available in different file formats. It’s a good idea to save your files in MOBI, ePub, and PDF formats as this will allow you to publish your books on most major sites including Amazon.
To do this, initially save your file as PDF, and then use sites like CloudConvert to convert the PDF to MOBI and ePub formats for free.
How to sell ebooks on your website
One of the easiest ways to make money selling ebooks online is to use an ecommerce platform designed for selling digital products.
There are a lot of platforms that will allow you to do this, but our top recommendation is Sellfy. It’s an affordable platform and it’s very easy to use. Also, they charge 0% transaction fees which is a huge bonus.
We recommend opting for the Starter plan, to begin with, as this allows you to create unlimited products and you get a 14-day free trial. It’s the most affordable plan that allows you to sell digital products.
You can use Sellfy to embed your products onto a website you already own, or to create a digital storefront for selling your ebooks.
Here’s a quick step-by-step guide on using Sellfy to sell ebooks.
Step 1: Choose a plan and create your store
To get started creating your ebook store, head to Sellfy.com, choose your preferred plan, and click Get started.
You’ll then be asked to create an account and password and fill in some details about your store. Here you can choose whether you want to embed products onto a different site or create a Sellfy storefront. Make your selections and click Start 14-day free trial. You’ll then be redirected to your Sellfy account dashboard
Step 2: Add your digital products
Next, you can start creating product pages for your ebooks and adding them to your store. To do this Products > Digital products in the sidebar and then click Add new product.
On the new product page, you can drag and drop your ebook files to upload them or browse your computer for them. You can also add all the information about your ebooks such as a description, title, price, and a product preview. When your product page is complete, click on Save product button on the top right-hand side of the page.
Step 3: Make changes to your store settings
If you’re building a new store with Sellfy, you’ll also need to customize your store settings. To do this, click Store settings in the sidebar. From this tab, you can customize the look of your store by changing the themes and layouts.
You can also point your store to a custom domain. If you need to purchase a domain, check out this list of the best domain name registrars to buy from. We usually use Namecheap for domain registrations.
You can use the Store settings area to connect PayPal and Stripe to your store. This will allow you to securely accept payments from your customers.
And, you can set up other key aspects of your site, such as email settings and embed options.
Once you’ve completed all the steps above, you should be ready to start promoting your ebooks online and making sales.
How to sell ebooks on marketplaces such as Amazon
Although selling ebooks via your own ecommerce store is the best way to make a profit, many people also choose to sell their books on Amazon.
Amazon does take a cut of sales, but there are benefits to selling on large online marketplaces. The main one is that you don’t have to generate your own traffic, and in that sense, you don’t need to spend as much time on marketing.
If you want to use Amazon to sell your ebooks, it’s best to distribute them using a third-party site like PublishDrive. The upshot is that you can also get your ebooks listed on a lot of other platforms, not just Amazon.
Here’s exactly what you need to do.
Step 1 – Create a PublishDrive account and upload your ebooks
First, head over to PublishDrive.com, choose a plan, and create your account. You’ll then be presented with the PublishDrive dashboard. Click on Upload Your Book > Upload book.
You’ll then get a Create new title pop-up. Select Ebook from the dropdown menu and click Create new ebook title.
Then, in the Files section, drag and drop your epub file to upload. You can also upload your cover image.
Step 2 – Fill out your ebooks metadata, creator, and price details
Next, you’ll need to add all the important information about your book. This includes author details, metadata, pricing, and rights information.
To do this, simply work through the page, completing the sections step by step.
Step 3 – Set up your distribution options
After you’ve completed all the details required to upload your book, you’ll then be presented with your distribution options.
You have the option to distribute your ebook to a wide range of online marketplaces including Amazon.
By default, your settings will enable PublishDrive to distribute your ebook to any of the listed sites. If there are any sites that you don’t want your book distributed to, simply select Disable next to that particular site in the list.
Step 4 – Wait for your book to be approved
Once you’ve completed all sections, simply hit Publish. Then your ebook will be sent for review. The review process can take a few business days to complete, but once your book is approved, it will be immediately sent to any sites that you selected in the distribution section.
Step 5 – Promote your book and track performance using PublishDrive
Once your book has been distributed, you can use your PublishDrive account to promote your book, generate royalty reports and receive payments from the sites where your book is listed.
All of these features can be accessed from the side navigation bar of your PublishDrive account dashboard.
How to market your ebook
Whether you’re selling your ebook from your own ecommerce website, or you’re distributing it on Amazon, there are lots of ways that you can market it and improve your sales figures. Here are just a few of the best ways to promote your ebook online:
- Email marketing campaigns – Email campaigns are a great way to promote your ebook, particularly if you already have a well-established email list. Check out this list of some of the best email marketing services you can use to set up advanced and automated promotions campaigns
- Social media contests and quizzes – Social media is a great place to market digital products like ebooks. A fun way to drum up some social media interest is to run giveaways and contests. Using social media contest apps like SweepWidget you can create fun and engaging competitions that encourage people to like and share your links to your ebook. You can also give out free copies of your ebook as a prize.
- Online Quizzes – another fun way to generate some interest online is by creating online quizzes. You can use a quiz-making tool to create fun quizzes that readers will be interested in and promote your book at the end of it.
- Give away free ebook snippets – If you want to encourage more people to buy your book, consider giving out the first few chapters as a freebie. If your book is engaging and interesting, readers are sure to want to purchase the whole book to find out more.
- Run paid ad campaigns – Another great option is to run paid ad campaigns on Google, or on Facebook. You can target your ads towards people that have expressed interest in your ebooks niche online. Paid ads do require an initial investment, but when used properly they can offer great ROI.
How to identify high performing sales channels
Marketing is all about trial and error, so it’s important to keep a close eye on your ebook sales and try to identify high-performing sales channels to improve your sales going forward.
For example, if you’re running Google ads, Facebook ads, and promoting your books using organic search marketing, it’s important to know which is the most effective and where you should focus your efforts. Tools like Sellfy have built-in analytics which means you can easily see what percentage of your sales are coming from which channels.
It’s also a good idea to use Google Analytics or a paid web analytics tool to keep a track of how well your website is performing. Based on the insights you gain from your web analytics and sales channel analytics, you can make key changes to your site and sales funnels to increase lead generation and ebook sales over time.
Whether you’re an aspiring author, or a business looking to monetize your existing web traffic, selling ebooks online is a great way to make some extra cash. Hopefully, the information in this article has helped you learn exactly how to make money selling ebooks online.
If you’re keen to learn more about selling digital products and monetizing your content, check out some of our other guides:
- How to sell audio files online
- How to sell audiobooks online
- How to sell video content online
- How to sell fonts online
- How to sell PDF files online
- How to sell Lightroom presets
- How to sell photos online
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. This means we may make a small commission if you make a purchase.