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Authors: What Are Your Options for Selling Your Book?

ecommerceAll authors (at least the ones that I’ve spoken to) want to sell copies of their book. What many of them are confused about are the various ways to sell their book, and how to decide which one best suits their personal situation and preferences.

With that in mind, I will address the three primary ways that an author can go about selling their books via their author website (from easiest to hardest), and the benefits/drawbacks of each one.

Option #1: Do None of the Work Yourself

It can’t be simpler than this. Put a “Buy the Book” link on your website, and allow visitors to select whether they want to purchase it through the publisher site, Amazon, B&N, etc… One click and they’re done. And there’s nothing else you have to do.

The benefits: It’s free. It’s easy. There’s little to no hassle, since you’re not collecting money or shipping books.

The drawbacks: You’re probably familiar with the miniscule percentage of the profits that you get when Amazon sells a copy of your book. If you allow them to do all the work, they’re going to reap most of the rewards.

And yet, this is the option that the majority of authors choose. After all, they’re writers … not booksellers.

Option #2: Do Some of the Work Yourself

With this method of selling books, you get to call some of the shots. This option allows readers to buy the book through your website, but you don’t actually do any of the legwork. Instead, offers come straight through your site and right into the order system of the printing/distribution company that you’ve hired. They process the orders and collect an agreed-upon fee.

The benefits: Unlike with Amazon/B&N, you get to set the price that your book sells for. You do that knowing how much you’re paying for printing and shipping, so (in other words), you determine your profit. This type of system also allows you to better track sales than if you were to link out to sell.

The drawbacks: You’d have to first set up some kind of payment acceptance system through your site (more on that below). Then, you’d have to treat it like a business: keeping track of the money coming in, the money going out, etc…

Option #3: Do All of the Work Yourself

Okay, you’ve decided that you want to take the bull by the horns and sell the book yourself. This would mean that you keep a stock of books handy, accept orders through your website, and ship the copies of the books that are ordered. This option gives you all the control in the world over selling your book, but can also be a huge responsibility. After all, you’re responsible for processing the orders, shipping the books, etc…

It’s also worth noting that there are two different ways that you can go about accepting payments on the website. The first, and easiest, option is to set up a free account via PayPal and embed a PayPal button on your website. This will allow visitors to simply click a “buy” link, go to the PayPal site, and make their payment: the order will then come to you. However, some authors (especially ones who want to sell more than just their current book) will opt to create built-in shopping carts on their website. This is a lot more costly and time-intensive than a simple PayPal button, but it allows you to sell multiple items at once and doesn’t take people off your website to make payments.

The benefits: You’re in complete control. You set the prices. You create “discounts” for buying in bulk. You pack and ship the items. And who gets to keep all the profits? You.

The drawbacks: There’s a reason why distribution companies often handle this sort of stuff. Because it can be a full-time job. You have to be processing orders as soon as they come in. You have to go to the post office to mail the items. You have to pre-order as many copies of your book as you might conceivably need in case you’re lucky enough to get a big order. In short, it’s like running your own business. And it comes with all the responsibilities of that as well. After all, if a customer has a complaint about what they ordered, who are they going to call? That would be you.

If you’re still unsure about which book selling technique best suits your situation and your needs, contact us today for a free consultation. We’ll be happy to help!

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