Use these direct sales tools to connect with your readers and earn more income from your book. You can sell directly at the same time you distribute your book with the aggregation and distribution or direct-to-retailer services (unless contractually stated otherwise).
Reminder: This consumer’s guide is a companion reference to the Self-Publishing Boot Camp Guide for Authors, 4th Edition, which provides step-by-step instructions on how to create, publish, distribute, and market, and sell your book.
IN ALPHABETICAL ORDER
Blockchain offerings for publishing include:
Blockchain can be used to prevent piracy issues and cryptocurrency is definitely becoming more prevalent. I suspect that services will start using blockchain and crypto eventually but if you’re on the cutting edge of this kind of thing you may want to check it out. (See Streetlib’s Blockchain for Books page for an interesting analysis.)
BundleRabbit lets you bundle your own ebooks for sale or become a curator by bundling ebooks by a variety of authors. You can add your books to the site so that other curators can bundle your book (with your permission) with their bundles. All authors who contribute their books are paid directly to their accounts.
All authors in a bundle receive a combined total of 70% for each bundle sold. Thus, if there are 10 books in a bundle, and 2 of them are yours, you receive 14% of the net sale. As the curator, you receive 5% of each bundle sold. The authors in the bundle receive a combined total of 70%.
Gumroad provides widgets to embed in your site so that you can sell directly to your customers on your site and not sending them to a blank PayPal page. It is by far the tool I recommend most for direct sales, subscriptions, and pre-orders for digital and physical products.
Simply upload and sell your digital files–up to 4 GB–or create an order form for selling physical objects. Integrated Facebook and Twitter buttons encourage sharing with customer networks. You get customer data and 95% royalty minus a 25¢ transaction fee.
I like Gumroad for its ability to provide both digital downloads and order forms for physical products, as an easy shopping cart system for your site and features that help authors drum up excitement during the book launch. Gumroad competitors include Selz and Sellfy.
Issuu is a digital publishing platform for publishing magazines, catalogs, and booklets electronically and in print. With website embeds and social media sharing it’s a great way to deliver related works and market your books. They offer free and premium programs with a 14-day trial period.
Leanpub is a combination of a book writing platform and an online bookstore. With Leanpub, you can quickly publish beta books, books in progress, serials, and subscriptions, updating your readers automatically when the book is updated. You can also pay a co-author automatically and set up a donation to a cause.
Create your book using simple Markdown language (an easy, plain-text format), then upload it to a connected Dropbox folder along with images and other assets. (This may sound a little complicated, but they do much of it for you automatically and provide easy instructions.)
As with Pressbooks, your book lives in the cloud, so you can make it available to trusted editors, collaborators, and assistants who can edit and replace files. A publisher page holds common assets like a verso page, copyright message, company logo and other elements that can be applied to more than one book. Take advantage of pay-what-you-want pricing by setting a minimum and suggested price, such as $4.99–$10.99, or even higher. Leverage your 1000 True Fans by asking for donations up to $500.
I think Leanpub is a very underused tool in the general indie publishing marketplace. Especially as you can make money with your writing before your book is done, plus leverage your readers to beta test your book and give you feedback from developmental editing to detailed proofreading to instructional corrections or just encouragement.
You can write and publish a book in a number of different ways on Leanpub:
- In your web browser with a visual editor (perfect for novels!).
- By uploading a Word document (.docx) that you have written according to Leanpub’s formatting guidelines.
- By uploading a PDF, EPUB, or MOBI.
- In your web browser, in plain text, using Leanpub-flavored Markdown or Markup as the formatting markup syntax.
- On your computer, in plain text or Word, syncing with Dropbox.
- On your computer, in plain text or Word, syncing with Git and GitHub or Bitbucket.
One of the most powerful things about Leanpub for authors is the “variable pricing” model. The most profitable book on Leanpub has a free minimum price. People often choose to pay more than the minimum price, including where the minimum price is free.
Other things you can do with Leanpub include bundles, coupons, and packages.
- You can create bundles of your own books, and bundle your books with books by other authors.
- You can create coupons, which is a really useful way to promote your book.
- Using our “packages” feature, you can sell your book along with other digital content you have created, like videos or presentations.
- If you create your book using Leanpub’s tools, then it is automatically available to customers to read it online and in their iOS app, as well as in PDF, EPUB, and MOBI.
They pay a royalty rate of 90% minus 50¢ per book purchase. It costs $99 to create a Leanpub book.
Leanpub is a publishing platform that exports to ebook and print formats, but it can also be used as a paid blogging platform or for crowdfunding.
Scribd is a document-sharing site and all-you-can-read book subscription service. You can sell or give away your stories, excerpts, ARCs, and ebooks in PDF and document formats. There’s lots of platform-building potential here as commenting, social media and sharing widgets are everywhere. It’s free to join and when you sell their take is 20% plus a 25¢ transaction fee. Though the social publishing features are not as prominent as they once were I still think of Scribd as kind of a Wattpad for grownups, with the bonus of being able to sell your work and distribute advance reading copies and private beta docs.
How to Sell Your Book Direct
The Self-Publishing Boot Camp courses will help you with every aspect of self-publishing. You can take the Selling Direct course on its own or purchase it in the bundle.