Should you Sell your eBook on Amazon or your Blog?

Should you Sell your eBook on Amazon or your Blog?

Blogging was for geeks a few years ago. Mention you were a blogger at a dinner party and people looked at you with strange eyes, mumbled under their breath and moved on. Being a parking meter officer was easier to explain and more socially acceptable.

It was a lonely experience.

Today it is almost cool. Like the hipster trend, except without the beards, the fixie bike and vintage clothes.

Emerging new media

Bloggers are no longer alternate but are part of the emerging new media mainstream. It’s about packaging your knowledge and accessing a global audience using social media and selling your expertise and passion as a digital product.

This democratization of media and marketing has traditional publishers, bricks and mortar stores looking for exits and new business models. The gatekeepers to publishing have become unhinged and desperate. They are no longer necessary.

Will they disappear? No, but they will look very different in 5-10 years.

Blogging and new media are opening up fresh frontiers and huge opportunities to create online businesses.

What is the secret to making money online?

So what is the formula for making money on the social web?

According to Ev Williams, the founder of Blogger and Twitter.

Here’s the formula if you want to build a billion-dollar internet company. Take a human desire, preferably one that has been around for a really long time…Identify that desire and use modern technology to take out steps.”

So the thinking should be when building an online business is “how can I take out the steps?

So what can you sell online?

Almost anything.

Digital products and ebooks are maybe the biggest opportunity for a blogger. Why?

  1. There is no cost of delivery and distribution
  2. You are no longer exchanging time for money. Books sell why you sleep
  3. You can access a global market
  4. Your profit margins are close to 100%
  5. It satisfies instant gratification for purchasers. They can download it in seconds.

So self-publishing has some big benefits. 

So what are the key steps to self-publishing?

Many of us want to write a book but never start. If you can write a blog post you can write an e-book. Just start. It means sitting down every day. It might mean waking up early or staying up a late. In the end it will be worth it. Mum will be proud.

The key steps include:

  1. The big idea – Title to the book, which encapsulates the big idea.
  2. The contents – In other words the chapter headings.
  3. Design – This includes the cover, the internal design
  4. Formatting – Taking the book contents from a Word format to Mobi for Amazon, ePub for Apple ibooks or PDF format for selling on your own blog.
  5. Setting up the selling platform – This includes selling it on Amazon, Apple (or other online publishers) or on your own blog or website.
  6. Marketing your ebook – Now this means that you need to learn about digital marketing. This includes building an email list, optimizing for search engines and social media marketing on Facebook and Twitter.

How can you sell ebooks online?

Setting up the platforms to sell can be daunting but as technology has evolved over the last couple of years it is now becoming easy. 

There are two key ways to selling self-published e-books online.

1. Someone can do it for you

This seems like the easy route. Amazon and Apple are the elephants in the room with millions of e-books in their online inventories.

When I released my book “Blogging the Smart way – How to create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” on Amazon last year I managed to hit the best seller lists including “Marketing” and “Marketing for Small Business”. That was great. But selling on Amazon has some upsides and some downsides I discovered.

Blogging the smart way Amazon Best seller

So what are the advantages and disadvantages of selling your ebook on Amazon or Apple?

Here is what I learnt.

Advantages

  • Trusted brand
  • Makes it hard for people to steal your content.
  • Access a huge marketplace
  • They set up the payment system

Disadvantages

  • Amazon and Apple take a 30% commission
  • They take out another 30% withholding tax on behalf of the government
  • They pay slowly. You wait 3 months for payment from Amazon (after they get paid). Also if you are unfortunate to live in a country that Amazon hasn’t bothered to setup for digital payments, you receive payment by check (this includes countries like Australia). This means you receive it by snail mail. Checks for an international currency also incurs a hefty clearance fee.
  • You have to create it in their proprietary formats (Mobi for Amazon and ePub for Apple)
  • Setting it up on Amazon and the Apple store takes time and quite lengthy and cumbersome. I did find Amazon easier though than Apple.
  • Amazon keeps the email list when people buy

I have self-published on both Apple, Amazon. It became quite a journey and sometimes daunting. It requires patience, persistence and some technical help. (Don’t try and do the formatting yourself or the design work unless you are a geeky designer with programming skills) 

2. You can do it yourself

Is this hard? It doesn’t have to be.

I have been using the Selz.com payment platform. Setting up my own payment system on Selz.com only took a few minutes. Self  publishing on your blog or website means formatting your Word document in the standard PDF format.

Selz practice what Ev Williams preaches. They have removed some steps. It is easy, quick and intuitive.

Sell your ebook on your blog with Selz.com

Advantages

  • Quick to setup. It only took me a few minutes
  • Simple and easy to use with a modern interface
  • Quick payment. You get paid every 2 weeks
  • Your fees are only 5% plus 25c per transaction, with no additional levies. Leaving you with around 95% instead of less than 40% in your hand with Amazon.
  • You can get paid online by PayPal or into your bank account
  • You can sell it on your Facebook page with a free Facebook page app
  • Customers don’t have to leave your site to purchase
  • You can build an email list of customers that purchase your first book, because those that love your first book are very likely to want to buy your second book.

Disadvantages

  • There is no affiliate system yet (although Selz tells me it is on it’s way)
  • You have to build your own traffic to your blog to sell it

So I have published my book “Blogging the Smart Way” on Amazon, Apple and my own blog and experienced the trials and tribulations of all three.

So what was my experience?

So should you sell your ebook on Amazon or your blog? Having the control of my own platform, marketing and payment system was a big plus. This meant setting up my own payment gateway but keeping 95% of my sales revenue and receiving prompt payment.

That’s a lot to like.

I also found that by selling on my own blog I was able to increase sales by 58% over my Amazon results. Amazon is always great at cross selling (which works for them but not for you). So when prospective customers land on your book page they are distracting you with other books to buy.

What about you?

Have you self published or thinking about it. What has been your experience?

Look forward to hearing your stories and insights in the comments below.

 

 

Want to learn how to create and market a successful blog with social media?

My book – “Blogging the Smart Way – How to Create and Market a Killer Blog with Social Media” – will show you how.

It is now available to download. I show you how to create and build a blog that rocks and grow tribes, fans and followers on social networks such as Twitter and Facebook. It also includes dozens of tips to create contagious content that begs to be shared and tempts people to link to your website and blog.

I also reveal the tactics I used to grow my Twitter followers to over 192,000.

Download and read it now.

Comments

  • http://www.juanjobote.com/ Juanjo Boté

    I’ve self-published a book about learning html in Spanish and catalan and selling over Amazon and another place, casadellibro.com. The last one is an spanish seller but the accept any language. With some videos in Youtube and some presentations about the book the my slideshare channel in two months I’ve got some interesting sells.
    If you’re unknown author maybe is the fastest step. Also if you self-publish on a topic diferent from your blog.

    I think that selling from your blog is interesting when you’re known and you have enough audience to monetize. And this is not easy depending on the topic you write.

    It’s also true that spanish language market is very different from english language market. People prefer to buy on “elephants” just because they have more confidence than in a blog. But things are changing slowly.

    This is my experience.

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Hi Robert. You are exactly right. You should sell on both. The main point of this post is to not give up total control to Amazon or Apple.:)

    • http://WWW.EXTRA-CASH-ONLINE.COM/ Robert Connor

      Thanks Jeff and take care!

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Thanks Juan for your insights and experience. The challenge for all of us is to try and get our books everywhere. It is similar to social media marketing strategies in that you should have your content on every platform and social network and not rely on one. You never know when they are going to change the rules.

  • http://www.weightloss-dietprogram.com/ Igor Katušić

    Well, combining the Amazon, Apple and Createspace (for printed editions), along with blog/website based selling in a .pdf forms covers multiple “territories” to say the least.

    It is a bit disadvantaging to sell in .pdf as Juan said, but as far as I’m concern if it’s a good and quality reading – format is not an issue. Most of people are in front of some screen anyway, so reading a .pdf on 22” screen beats the Kindle or iPhone anyway and preserves the sight.

    As you said, traffic is what it counts. Without it, all is in vain.

    • Cris

      Good point about traffic!

      As for the format, I’ve found http://pressbooks.com to be a good cheap solution for folks already familiar with WordPress

  • Sakthi vel

    One Quick Question, Can’t We Use Our Paypal Download Button In Our Blogs ?

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Yes you can

  • Raquel2277

    Thanks for the great insight Jeff.
    Your insight is greatly appreciated
    Now I just have to get writing!

  • venkyiyer58

    Jeff, the blog approach would not work for people who have yet to set up a big following, would it?

  • disqus_ubVge61A6m

    Good advice

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    Difficulty is looking at a 100 foot cliff and saying that is a big climb. THe journey is simple and sometimes mundane but it just needs one step at a time.
    Just start.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      The answer to your last question is “no” :)

  • claudoo

    Fabulous post, just discovered you (Thanks Lisa Fielding) and am really enjoying your posts. So much great info and so clear. Keep ’em coming.

    • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

      Thanks Claudia and glad to hear you are enjoying the blog

  • vasreversals

    Hi,

    I found you article very interesting. Thank you. I had been planning to use BookBaby.com to publish. A little expensive but I figured that it published to so many platforms including Amazon, for so many e-readers that it had a “cover-all-bases-strategy”. I was also very keen to benefit from the SEO of these larger portal sites.
    I’ve now looked at Selz.com – what are your comments about SEO or possible backlinks if I were to use this site?
    Your advise would be appreciated.

  • Cris

    What do you guys think about selling via http://www.paythruemail.com/ ? You get paid every 2 days, no credit card fees, and 2% commission.

  • Cris

    Dan, what was your experience with getting reviews on Amazon?
    And how much did it help sales being on Amazon (i.e. how would the sales be if you didn’t make any marketing by yourself?)

  • http://www.clippingpathindia.com/clipping-path-service.html Bijutoha

    Really it is helpful . I heard about you in “socialmediaexaminer” . and this is my first journey with you. I saw your many in a day . you are so nice and pretty helpful. I am pleased to meet you.

  • Venkat Reddy

    Worth reading; i am online publisher, writer and web producer; i was looking for the answer if online business will die in next 5 years; timely post for me. Thank you Jeff

  • http://www.PadoukDesign.com/ Diane Chehab

    I didn’t read it that way. He would just like to control his funds himself until the time comes to pay his taxes. That is how I read it.

  • http://www.jjticketingservices.com/ Jhoenna

    I’m planning to create an eBook and sell it online. And being able to stumble across this blog post of yours really helped. Thanks for this advice Jeff.

  • http://writemyseocontent.com Elisa Planellas

    I agree with Diane. Why be so quick to accusation? The main topic of this article is whether to publish on your own blog or on Amazon, not about how to evade taxes. It’s not strange for someone who’s basically self-employed to want to control when and how they pay any taxes they may owe. It’s about freedom, not about being a criminal, now can we please stop trying to cause controversy and get back to the point?

  • Emma Nutrition

    Awesome summary for a newbie ebook soon to be published writer!! Any tips for doing joint ventures to promote your ebook and building a mailing list?

  • Gaurav

    Amazon is the best and first choice of me.

  • Sarah

    it would be hard to start selling ebooks without being guided through first, check out http://bit.ly/1xxFSX8 for tips and hints on how to make your ebook sell like crazy, worth a shot!

  • http://jeffbullas.com Jeff Bullas

    You could use E-junkie with Paypal to get the same result. :)

    • http://www.dnbstories.com/ DNBStories.com

      Thanks, Jeff. Let me check them out.

  • https://frenchtogether.com/ Benjamin Houy

    It’s interesting to see you sell more on your blog. I have always feared to do that, because I was afraid people wouldn’t buy as much on my blog as on Amazon.

  • http://www.bloggingfromparadise.com/ Ryan Biddulph

    Hi Jeff,

    I am a big fan of Amazon selling these days. I loved selling through Selz yet Amazon seemed to give me exposure to a much larger audience. Either way you’ve stressed key points for folks who’re thinking through their selling strategy.

    Ryan

  • http://www.xtremegaminerd.com Sarfraz Khan

    I want to sell my first ebook on my blog. Don’t have much subscribers. Don’t know how much sales are possible

  • Raj Thakur

    I have an ebook on “Full course on making money from internet” and after reading blog I decided to publish on both amazon and my blog. But I want to know how amazon list my book on top. We should use amazon because it provides SEO while we will have to do ourself if we will sell on our blog. But there are so many books already on amazon related to my topic then how will I get good traffic?

  • Designbuddy

    Great read Jeff. I’m considering writing a book, but am thinking an e-book may be the route to go. Your advice is helpful.