How To Sell Ebooks – The Hard Honest Truth

How to sell ebooks and more of them, is what every author asks.

There is an answer to how to sell more ebooks. Unfortunately, though, the answer is probably not what true indie, self-published authors would like to hear, but it’s clear. Forget the rest and concentrate all your efforts on Amazon Kindle.

I have been self-publishing for so long now that it is hard to remember when I started. But during all these years I have always been, or at least tried to be, a proponent of open publishing. By this I mean, having my ebooks available on as many retailers as possible.

I have done them all. Not only Smashwords and its aggregated retailers such as Apple, B&N and Kobo but also smaller retailers and online publishers. I have even given Google Play a fair run. Sure, I have been in and out of KDP Select exclusivity, so I have had some ebooks available on Amazon only at certain times, but I have almost always had the majority of my ebooks available on as many retailers as possible.

But one can’t escape the fact – Amazon sells more ebooks.

In the end though, after years of trying, being very patient, adding links to all these retailers on all my ebook promotion pages, adding retailer widgets to my blogs, and even writing blog posts to encourage readers to consider retailers other than Amazon, the only ebook retailer that delivers a check each and every month is Amazon.

It’s a tough truth, but in all honesty, only Amazon knows how to sell ebooks.

I don’t have to add links or do any special promotions. I don’t have to buy ebook promotion, give away ebooks or even post my ebooks to social media for Amazon to deliver sales. All I have to do is publish my ebook, make sure I have selected good keywords and categories, and then let Amazon do what it does best. Sell ebooks.

It goes against my independent grain to say so, but after years of trying, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that there is only one retailer that knows how to sell ebooks. No matter how much noise other retailers may make, or how much they complain about unfair or monopolistic business practices, in the end, they simply just do not sell enough ebooks.

I have a wish.

I wish (read here doubly, triply wish) that Amazon’s ebook retail competitors would or could learn how to sell more ebooks, but after so many years of disappointment, I doubt it. Let’s face it. Only Amazon innovate and attract readers, and more importantly, ebook buyers.

Sure, other ebook retailers make noises about changes, refinements and new services for self-published authors, but do they innovate? I don’t think so. They tinker around the edges.

Apple, who should be Amazon’s strongest competitor, has done nothing innovative to inspire authors. Apple can’t even make linking to a book page easy. Have you ever tried to add a link to an ebook on Apple on social media? If you have, you will know how cumbersome it is to have to use Apple’s Link Maker, then when you do make a link; it only opens in iTunes. If you are lucky, and someone bothers to click, it will take an age for iTunes to open on their computer or iPhone. But bad luck if they have an Android phone, or don’t have iTunes on their PC. Innovative? Hardly.

Of course, it’s easier to add a link to B&N, but it will be, as it is so often in my case, always to my ebook with a three-year-old cover. I don’t understand why B&N can’t update book covers, but sadly, they don’t seem to be able to manage it all that well, so all the money I spent on new covers goes to complete waste by linking to B&N.

Ok, so you can read this post as a grumble. But when it comes to deciding on how to sell ebooks, I have to say that there is only one answer.

Forget the excuses, moans and wishful thinkers, and make your decision based on who delivers ebook sales, and a check, every single month.

I could do a lot of research into how many ebooks I have sold over the years on various retailers. But there is no need. I only have to look at my bank statements to know.

So am I still an Indie author? I would say yes because I have made my distribution decisions based on who I believe knows how to sell ebooks. It’s only a pity that the answer is in the singular.

This page was last updated on March 10th, 2017

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3 thoughts on “How To Sell Ebooks – The Hard Honest Truth

  • December 19, 2015 at 2:33 pm
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    Yeah. I’ve posted links to other sites, tried to promote other retailers, and I do have my books on all platforms. I can’t even find my books on iTunes sometimes, But Amazon outsells all of them, to the extent that I might not sell a single book on Kobo this month, and maybe a couple dozen through all the SW retail channels. Amazon, at least a hundred books this month–a number which has been falling since summer.

    Reply
    • December 19, 2015 at 2:39 pm
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      It’s the sad truth, Louis. And I have noticed ebook sales declining since summer too. Although, KENP page reads are probably to blame for this.

      Reply
  • February 8, 2016 at 4:37 pm
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    Bold advice indeed. I used to think that Amazon was the only deal worth having. After the debacle of Kindle Unlimited, I took everything out of Select and KU and put my titles everywhere – a year later, Amazon accounts for 1/3 of my revenue. I know that every self-publishing author has a different experience of using the different platforms – the best advice is to try them all and see what happens – and be prepared to wait, and work hard and maybe go a few months without a sale. Being Indie and signing up for Amazon’s exclusivity deal (especially since the changes to KENP) are poles apart in my opinion. And I have to say, Amazon makes authors lazy when it comes to marketing.

    Alp Mortal

    Reply

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