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How to Sell Books Online and Make Your First $1000

We are living in the era of self-publishing. Fun fact: Do you know 50 shades of Grey originated as a self-published ebook before getting snapped up by a traditional publisher and movie studio?

Besides, E.L James, authors of best-selling ebooks like Amanda Hawking, Hugh Howey, Mark Dawson, and Rachel Abbot, are making six-figure salaries from their book sale businesses. So, it doesn’t matter what niche you choose. If you do it the right way, your business will definitely succeed. If you don’t have enough space for inventory, book fulfillment services will be an ideal option for your business. However, if your main focus are Ebooks, everything will be online and the warehouse is not necessary

This write-up shows you how to sell ebooks on Amazon (or other platforms) and build the same type of business.  

How to Make Money with Ebooks Online banner about ebooks

1. Creating Your Content

The first step to selling books on Amazon or any other platform online is to create your content. Below are some expert tips for creating content for your ebook. 

Repurpose Your Writing

If you write a diary or run an online blog, your content may be written already. You just need to turn it into an ebook. All you need to do is collect the relevant pages or blog posts in a particular order.

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Remove any information that isn’t relevant to the topic. Keep the same topics in the same chapter. Basically, you have to organize the entire content into something that makes sense.

After that, add an introduction chapter and a concluding chapter to give it a proper start, middle, and ending. And… your ebook is ready! 

Write on an Original Idea

When working on an original idea, the critical part is to be consistent. You have to work steadily towards your goal of finishing the book. Don’t make haste.

You cannot write an entire ebook in a day. Start with an outline or a rough draft of what you think the finished ebook should look like (or the primary information). Afterward, fill it in with secondary details.

Write something every day. Set up your writing desk and a time when you just sit down to pen your thoughts. 

Repurpose Someone Else’s Writing

You read that right! If you’re having trouble with an original idea, you can repurpose someone else’s work. There are many books available in the public domain.

That means their copyrights have expired, and now anyone can take the contents of these books and rework them in one way or another. Remember Pride and Prejudice and Zombies?

That’s an excellent example of repurposed public domain book. So you can find any public domain book and just repurpose them with your own unique twist.  

Shorter is Better

No one wants to read a book that goes on forever. They prefer to read shorter books with more focused topics. Therefore, it’s much better to break up all the material into multiple books and sell separately.

Yes, self-publishing platforms like Amazon are penalizing authors for shorter ebooks. They are still more effective in creating reader loyalty. Any book ranging from $2.99 to $4.99 lies on this sweet spot.

While you may not profit a lot per book, you can sell a higher volume of books. 

2. Preparing Your Ebook For Sales

When you’re self-publishing, writing content is just the first step. After that, you have to prepare your ebook for sales.

Here’s how you can do that. 

Format your Ebook

You probably wrote your ebook with the help of processing software. Therefore, you need to convert it into a proper ebook format.

We suggest converting your draft into PDF first. PDF is most widely accepted by online publishing platforms. You can also easily convert PDF into EPUB or MOBI if you want more options.

There are several free tools like Zinepal and Calibre that can help you modify your ebook format. However, if you want more advanced features, purchase Pressbooks or Scrivener. 

Design an Eye-Catching Cover

Unfortunately (or fortunately?), most people judge an ebook by its cover. If the cover fails to hold their attention because of either low-quality images or difficult to read text, they will not bother reading the preview.

Therefore, we suggest you should hire a professional ebook cover designer. You can easily find a specialist at websites like Fiverr, 99designs, or Upwork. 

Fix a Competitive Price

The majority of self-published ebooks fall in the price range of $0.99 to $9.99. Research different ebook platforms to know how different self-published ebooks in your category are priced.

Match these prices and then fix a market competitive price for your book. However, if you are a beginner, consider offering your ebook at a much lower price to incentivize the buyers.

In that case, the best price would be from $0.99 to $2.99. Once you start gaining some readership, you can price your next book higher. Popular non-fiction ebooks can sell for as high as $60. 

3. Deciding on a Publishing Platform

Perhaps the most important decision that can make or break your ebook sales is deciding on a platform. Where to sell your ebook. Below are your options: 

Sell on Popular Retail Stores

A vast majority of self-publishers sell their ebooks on popular third-party retail stores. In this category, you have options like Amazon’s Kindle program, Barnes & Noble’s bookstore, Kobo Writing Life, Lulu, Smashwords, etc.

While publishing on these platforms is free, most of them keep a percentage of your ebook’s royalties. For instance, Amazon’s KDP keeps 30% of each book sold. 

Sell with Smaller Online Retailers

There’s a growing list of smaller online retailers who help publishers sell ebooks. However, the best thing about them is that you can sell your ebook to as many retailers as you want.

There’s no limitation on you, unlike the traditional publishers. You have options like Apple, Sony, Scribd, Overdrive, and others in this category.

Most of these sites use epub format, which is a modified PDF. It is popular because of its better accessibility for impaired readers. 

Sell on Your Own Website

In case you don’t have a website, you can create one very easily. Once your site is ready, you can start selling directly to customers.

A personal website is an excellent platform not just for sales but also to connect with readers. It can be your first step to marketing yourself as a brand.

On your website, you can also collect emails from your readers and then connect with them in a much better way. 

4. Market your EBook

Good marketing is essential for the success of any business, and the ebooks business is no different. Especially when you are just a beginner, marketing becomes indispensable.

Below are some strategies to better market your ebook and reach your target audience. 

Create your Online Presence

Create your profiles on all major social networking sites like Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Quora, etc. Join communities, groups, and pages relevant to your fans’ interests.

Setting up your profiles on sites that promotes authors such as Goodreads and Amazon Author Central should also be a priority. Moreover, consider starting a page, blog, etc, to discuss topics related to your ebook. You can also post excerpts from the ebook to garner interest. 

Conduct Online Surveys

Sure, when you’re writing an ebook, you have a broad idea of your target market. But, learning more about them will help you better understand them. To do this, you can survey existing fans.

Ask them questions on Facebook, or engage them via individual emails. You can also ask them which social platforms, message boards, and online communities they frequently visit.

This info can really help you reach out to a broader audience with similar interests. 

Encourage Reviews

Reviews are critical for an ebook. To get more reviews, encourage your readers to leave a review wherever they can. Promote their reviews on your social media platforms.

You can even distribute free ebook copies with bloggers with similar interests. Review works of other authors who publish in the same niche/category.

Contacting your local book club with an offer for a meetup can also be a good marketing strategy. If the meeting goes well, you can ask participants to leave you a review. 

Offer Interactives like Giveaways or Contests

Social media provides excellent marketing opportunities. You can offer giveaways to fans who share your post by picking one randomly. These can be gift cards for future books, discounts, ebook software, or any other book reading accessory.

Likewise, you can post contests for fans. For example, encourage them to draw a picture of their favorite book character and then post the winner’s artwork on your social media along with the prize. 

5. What about selling old college textbooks?

If you’re not a self-publisher but have a bunch of textbooks from your previous semester – we got a solution for you too! 

Your college textbooks probably have quite some resale value – unless you’ve been keeping them for a very long time. In this case, your books may already be a few editions behind and not relevant.

Best websites to sell used textbooks

  1. Amazon – Amazon is a go to place for selling not just textbooks, but any kind of books. It’s as simple as making an Amazon Seller Account, taking some photos of your books and listing them for sale
  2. Textbook Buyback Websites – These websites can be your best option if you have recent edition college textbooks, only a year or two old. You can sell those textbooks on BookScouter, or BookDeal. BookDeal actually made a very comprehensive list of the best sites to sell textbooks which you can check out and select the one that will pay the most for your textbooks. Just type in your book’s ISBN and see the offers.

How to find the ISBN of a book

How do you find the ISBN of a book?

  • Look at the back cover. If your book has a barcode and it matches up with this product page, then you’ve found your ISBN!
  • Look inside the front or back cover of your textbook. Some publishers place their own numbering system there; others will put an “ISBN” sticker somewhere in plain sight. Either way, look for something that looks like this: 978-1-5386-8356-9 (notice how they include the year—this is important!)

Final Thoughts

When you are writing ebooks for money, no one strategy works for all. Initially, you have to really know your audience and what motivates them. If your ebook fails to connect, you can always go back, make a revision and publish a second edition.

There’s nothing wrong with a new edition. Try to adopt new marketing strategies and optimize the old ones for better results. We hope the information provided in this article is helpful enough to put you on the path to your first $1000 in no time.

Thank you for reading. 

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