Imelda Dharmawi is the Head of Growth at Payhip, a partner with the NFAA.
How to Sell Books Directly to Your Readers from Your Author Website
By selling books directly to readers you can avoid paying hefty royalty fees and capture more information about your audience. In this post you’ll learn what direct selling is, the benefits of direct sales, and how to optimize your author website to increase book sales. You’ll also learn about Payhip along with other tools and strategies to easily set up and start selling your print books, ebooks, audiobooks, and other products directly to readers from your own website.
You’ll also find a video lesson on how to build your website.
What is selling direct?
Selling direct is the process of selling products directly to customers without using an intermediary such as a bookstore, retail store, or a third-party online marketplace like Amazon. You can sell books from your own ecommerce-enabled website, point your audience to a sales page you created on an ecommerce service, or insert a buy button from your ecommerce service on any page of your site.
Benefits of selling books directly to your readers
The effort of creating a direct sales option is worth the effort for many reasons.
1. Higher profit margin
When selling from your own website, you can set your own prices for your books, cut out the middleman, and keep a larger portion of your profits.
2. Instant payout
Instead of having to wait for your book sales to reach a certain threshold, or even wait for platforms like Amazon to remit your payment on a monthly basis, you are paid instantaneously.
3. Better understanding of your readers
You can build stronger and more meaningful relationships with your readers, better understand their interests, and, thus, market your books more effectively.
You’ll gain valuable insights into your readers’ preferences. By tracking sales data, you’ll learn which books sell well and which do not. This information can be used to inform your decision about what book to write next.
4. Control over the sales processes
You don’t need to limit yourself to book sales alone. You can sell your book bundled with other items such as a journal, coffee cup, or any product that’s related to your topic. You can make the customer experience special by adding confetti or a handwritten note. It’s up to you!
5. Reach a worldwide audience
Ecommerce services allow you to sell worldwide, so anyone on your email list can purchase your digital products (ebooks, audiobooks, courses) and enjoy instant delivery.
What does it cost to sell books directly to your readers from your website?
You can start selling ebooks directly to your readers with little to no upfront cost. Here is a brief breakdown of the things you need to get started:
- Have an author website where you can sell from
Cost: $0 with Payhip
- Conduct marketing activities to drive traffic to your website
Cost: $0 (there are plenty of free ways to drive traffic to your website)
Beyond the costs, you may also be wondering about the time and effort required to start and maintain your author website. In the next section, we’ll discuss the three simple steps required to get your website ready for direct selling. Generally, completing these steps takes less than a day. However, keep in mind that building and increasing website traffic will take longer and depends on your marketing efforts.
How to get started selling books directly to your readers
1. Create your author website
The first step in creating your author website is to select a platform that allows you to sell books directly from your author website. There are a variety of ecommerce platforms to choose from. As you probably know, ecommerce platforms generally allow you to easily set up an online store, collect payments, track orders, and handle customer service. Additionally, many platforms allow you to offer discounts and other promotions.
Payhip is free to sign up and earns a 5% commission fee for each order. That means you earn 95%. Features include:
- The ability to sell any product, including physical products (books, journals, coffee mugs, etc.), digital downloads (ebooks, audiobooks), online courses, coaching services, and memberships
- Instant file delivery for ebooks
- Automatic handling of UK & EU VAT (taxes)
- Integration with BookFunnel to easily deliver your books to your readers
- Print-on-demand book services through Bookvault and Zapier
- Instant and secure payout via PayPal and Stripe
- Free website themes and a simple drag and drop website builder
- Marketing tools such as discount codes, affiliate marketing, a referral system, cross-selling, upselling, and more
We made this video to teach you exactly, step-by-step, how to build your website.
2. Upload Your Product Listings
Once you’ve chosen a platform, you can start uploading your product listings. (Instructions are included in the video above.)
TIP: On Payhip, you have the option to set up pay-what-you-want pricing for your products. By allowing customers to pay what they can, you may attract those that could not afford the book at its full price.
3. Promote your author website
There are many ways to market your ebooks and physical books on your author website. Here are a few ideas:
- Promote your books on social media.
- Consider adding a blog to your website. This will give you a platform to share your thoughts and ideas, as well as promote your books. Create high-quality, informative content that will attract visitors to your website.
- Build an email list and send newsletters or promotional emails to your subscribers. Keep in touch with your readers and let them know when you have new releases.
- Write guest posts for other websites in your industry and include a backlink to your own website in the post.
- Create an affiliate program and reach out to websites and individuals in your industry to see if they’d be interested in joining. You can either offer them a percentage of each sale or a flat fee for each referral. You can launch your own affiliate program for free using Payhip.
For a full, comprehensive guide on how to create an author website go here.
Other sources of income from your author website
Having multiple sources of income can help diversify your income as an author, which is beneficial in case one income stream dries up. Multiple sources of income can provide a safety net and help stabilize your financial situation. Here are some ideas on how you can establish other sources of income on your website.
Selling online courses
An online course is a good way to connect with your readers and add value to your offerings. It can also be a way to build a community and foster a sense of connection among your readers.
By selling online courses, you can reach new people and expand your audience. This, in turn, can lead to more book sales.
Online courses can also generate passive income, so you can continue to earn money long after you’ve put in the initial work to create the course.
Offering coaching services
If you have expertise in a particular area related to your writing, selling coaching services can be a great way to share that knowledge and help others. Coaching can be done remotely, which allows you to work with clients from anywhere and offers flexibility in scheduling.
Selling memberships on your author website can be a good way to generate recurring income and provide additional value to your audience. Having a membership option allows you to provide content that only your paying members can access. You can also establish multiple membership tiers that offer various levels of access to your content or incentives. This exclusive access can be a great motivator for people to join.
One of the easiest ways to start selling physical merchandise, in addition to your books, is to partner with a product print-on-demand service. The POD services work much like the book POD services, in that they allow you to design and sell your own branded merchandise. You can sell things like t-shirts, mugs, pens, and tote bags, without having to keep any inventory. When an order is placed, the POD company handles the production and fulfillment.
If you have a specific product in mind that you’d like to sell, such as a book-themed candle or a piece of jewelry, you can create and ship these products yourself.
It’s interesting to test different products and approaches to see what works best for you. Promoting your products via your email list or social media is a great way to increase your exposure and sales. You can also consider offering promotions or discounts to encourage sales.
Selling books directly from your author website is a great way to generate additional income and build relationships with your readers. With the right strategies and tools, you can easily set up an online store and start selling your books to your readers.
Read Payhip’s step-by-step guide to selling ebooks online to learn more about selling online as an author.