Book on a beach

Publish & Sell Your Ebooks: Course Updates for 2020

The course, Publish and Sell Your E-Books, was launched in 2011, through libraries and community colleges around the world. In that time, it has helped thousands of authors get their first ebooks into ebookstores. Many authors, who have already published ebooks, join the course to learn more about the “sell” part of self publishing, and how to do a better job of marketing their ebooks.

Book on a beach

Of course, e-publishing has changed a lot in those years, so updates are always in order whether you’re just getting started or want to improve your sales! Not only have many additional formats been added, but there are many more players in the marketplace. That means understanding the essentials of ebook marketing is even more important.

Self Publishing Options To Suit Everyone

Nowadays, there’s a self publishing option to suit every skill level. As a publisher, you can choose to leave all the formatting up to an online ebook retailer or distributor, or you can take full control of all of your formatting and do the conversions yourself. Your ebook buyer can’t tell the difference!

The biggest change, though, in self publishing, is how much competition is out there. While in the beginning, there were relatively small numbers of ebooks in any given category, now, you may find as many as 210,000+ titles in categories like contemporary romance. So, it stands to reason that a self publishing course would need to make a shift from preparing ebooks to selling them, in order to provide learners with what they need to know. And that’s exactly what I did with Publish and Sell Your E-Books, or PYB. A breakdown of the main changes follows.

Publish and Sell Your Ebooks with Linda Aksomitis

Publishing Paths

One of the biggest challenges of a course like PYB is trying to separate out the different options for self publishers. There isn’t a one size fits all. Instead, authors need to assess their own technical skills, time and money (if any–you can self publish for free) investment available to them, and where they want their books sold. Once they’ve made those decisions, they need to select the best path.

So, during the revision process I created tables of data with each lesson and separated out four different publishing paths:

  • Draft2Digital: they do all the work and distribute to 11 ebookstores, library suppliers and bookclubs.
  • Amazon KDP Select: the exclusive option where authors only sell through Amazon’s KDP program.
  • Amazon KDP & Smashwords: in this option, authors sell directly through Amazon and use Smashwords (the world’s largest distributor of indie ebooks) for everything else. Note that Smashwords doesn’t distribute to Amazon (only ebooks that have already sold several thousand copies are eligible through Smashwords for distribution to Amazon).
  • BookBaby: a paid service for those who can pick and choose between a number of different services. By paying up front, BookBaby authors don’t pay an commission on sales above what ebookstores such as Amazon charge.

This means the revised course provides detailed information on these four publishing paths, so you can compare your options in one location and make the right choice for you and your ebook.

Covers & Book Descriptions

While the course always had help for self publishers on choosing covers and writing book descriptions, that has been expanded with the revisions.

You always start with identifying your ideal reader when it comes to covers and book descriptions, so there’s more material to help you do that effectively. Once you know who you’re trying to attract to your book, it’s easier to design marketing materials to do it.

The revised course contains an in-depth learning activity comparing covers and book descriptions, so you get an opportunity to examine some materials that have led to best sellers.

Categories

Initially, ebooks are grouped by typical genres, such as you’d find in any library or bookstore. Then, however, online bookstores start breaking those down into categories to help buyers find exactly what they want. On Amazon, these are called browsing categories.

Identifying the right browsing category and getting your ebook into it can make or break your sales. While Amazon only allows you to select two categories when you upload your ebook, you can end up in as many as 10 relevant categories if you know how to do it by using appropriate keywords in your book descriptions and while listing your book.

So, one whole lesson has been changed to take you step-by-step through identifying the best keywords to describe your ebook, and examining Amazon’s categories. That means more sales, whether you’re publishing your first ebook or updating the marketing material for a dozen already-published ebooks.

Discoverability & Self Promotion

It goes without saying that in order to sell ebooks an author should have an online presence. But what should that look like? Again, there isn’t a one-size-fits all. Instead, it depends on your time commitment, your interests, and to some degree, the category your book is in.

The original PYB lesson on selling ebooks from your own website has been expanded to include building your profile page on Amazon (and other online retailers), deciding whether or not a Facebook business page will work for you, and how to become an affiliate of online bookstores such as Amazon and Smashwords.

And if you have an advertising budget, the assignment with this lesson gives you some guidance on advertising with the two most important places for ebook sales: Amazon and Facebook.

Wondering about social media? There’s an assignment on that too, so you can get some guidance on if–or what platform–of social media would be useful in your marketing plan.

Sales Numbers

The sad truth is that not all types/genres of books have the same potential for sales. If you think about it, you wouldn’t expect a book on tax laws for real estate agents to ever sell as many copies as Harry Potter. The same is true in all categories.

In fact, even though Romance is the top selling category on Amazon, not all romance sub-categories even have the same potential for sales. According to a recent K-Lytics ELITE key data summary, the top 20 titles in Romance-Contemporary sell about 775 copies each per day. That’s amazing, isn’t it?  Imagine if you make $3 on each book, that you could be earning $2325 daily!

However, time travel romances in that same period only averaged 51 sales each for the top 20 titles, and medical romances only 26.  To avoid disappointment, it’s good to know when you’re starting out what the sales potential of your category is.

So, for this edition of the course, I’ve selected 11 top Kindle categories and done a summary of the sub-categories that have the highest — and lowest — sales potential in each lesson. For Lesson 12, I randomly selected a number of other categories, such as short stories and poetry, that I’ve found popular with indie authors.

App Stores

Many people prefer to read their ebooks on a mobile device. I know I do. So, they’re buying their ebooks through an app store, such as Google Play, Amazon App Store, and Android App Store.

The good news is that it may not be as complicated as your fear! So, I’ve included an overview of how it works and what you need to do in order to access these markets as well.

Sign Up Today!

So, if you’re looking for the latest information on self publishing an ebook, you can sign up today for PYB at the college of your choice. Or, do check with your local library to see if they offer Gale courses to their patrons, as you can also take Publish and Sell Your E-Books through them.

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