Do you want to set up a free ebook download on your blog?
If you use either a self-hosted WordPress or a WordPress.com site, you can do it. You can make your ebooks available to your readers for free.
It is quite easy to create a pdf format of downloadable books using the WordPress media library. All you need to do is upload your pdf books to your media library. Then create a link to it in a post or on your sidebar.
But how many readers are going to get excited about reading .pdf books in a web browser? Very few, or more likely, none at all.
A better way to offer a free ebook download
Ebook readers who find a source of free books, such as public domain titles on Project Gutenberg or Internet Archive, want to be able to download and read books on their preferred device, and without any fuss or bother.
Readers want to download free books and be able to click and read immediately.
To accommodate this need, you have to offer your free ebooks in both .epub and .mobi formats.
However, WordPress will not allow you to upload .epub and .mobi files for Kindle books to your media library.
So what’s the solution to make your ebooks available on your blog?
How to set up your WordPress blog to offer free ebooks
Firstly, you will need your .epub and .mobi ebook files.
You can create your files by converting Word to epub ebook files.
You can also download your files directly from your self-publishing platform. Here is a quick tutorial on how to download your ebook files from KDP, Draft2Digital and Smashwords. See point number 10.
Now, let’s get started with what is a relatively simple process.
It will take you less than fifteen minutes to do this, and it is quite straightforward. You don’t need a degree in computer science to do it.
Step One: Install a plugin
You need to install a specialised download plugin and install it on your site.
There is no dedicated WordPress ebook download plugin. But you can use almost any download manager plugin to do the job.
There are a wide variety of plugins available, but my recommendation is to install WordPress Download Manager. I have used this free plugin for many years, and it works perfectly.
Once you have installed and activated the plugin, you are ready to set up your first ebook.
Step Two: Create your ebook download file
Go to the new Download tab on the left of your WordPress Dashboard.
Select Add New, and you will see the familiar WordPress Editor. But you will not be publishing a new post from here.
You will only be creating the necessary ebook download details that you will then be able to insert into a blog post.
Complete the details as in the image below.
1. Type the title, author and any other identifying details you would like a reader to see.
2. Upload you .epub or .mobi file. Once it is uploaded successfully, you will see it confirmed next to the big red delete button.
3. You can add any other notes you like here, but they won’t be visible.
The only other step is to select an icon for your download. Scroll down below the editor, and you will see a box called Package Setting. Select the Icons tab and then your icon.
Now click Publish. You are almost there, but not quite yet.
Step Three: Insert your shortcode
Look again on the left of your Dashboard for Downloads and this time, click on All Files.
You will see your new ebook download file.
Click on the Short-code field and copy the code.
Now paste the shortcode anywhere you like on your blog. You can paste in either the Visual or Text editor.
You might also want to write a new call to action text above your download link to encourage people to click your new link. Or you could set up a new online books page on your blog.
Now, update your post or your page, and that’s it.
Step Four: Repeat for other ebook formats
Repeat the steps above to create a .mobi version as well, so you can offer your free books online to Kindle readers.
Now blog visitors will only have to click the new link once, and the ebook will download automatically. You can keep track of the number of downloads in your plugin dashboard.
There are a lot more options available with this plugin. You might want to try some of them.
But for the purposes of this post, I have only given the basic instructions needed to create a simple ebook download.
However, you could use the same process for audiobooks.
Why would you want to offer your ebooks for free?
There are many reasons to offer free ebooks. It could be getting book reviews, finding new readers, promoting backlist titles or increasing series book sales with a first in the series offer.
These reasons are often why many authors chose to use KDP Select. It offers five days of free Kindle ebooks promotion every three months.
However, you need to grant exclusivity to Amazon to be able to use it. It is a bit of a wish and hope scattergun approach. There are thousands of free ebooks available every single day on Amazon.
Outside of Amazon there probably way over a million free ebooks on offer every day on a host of other sites.
But by offering your ebooks on your blog for free, you have a much better chance of finding new readers who are more likely to download your great book and more importantly, READ IT.
This is because they visit your blog for a reason. Maybe from one of your social media posts, a Facebook or Twitter share from friends, or from a post they found on your site from a Google Search.
By any of these means, you have someone who is a more engaged reader. They are more likely to be interested in your books.
It doesn’t matter what you offer. It could be science fiction, romance or free computer books.
The other advantage of using this technique is that you are in total control and you can offer your ebooks for as long as you wish. If you want to stop, simply delete the shortcode link.
Alternatively, you might want to experiment and add your links to a number of your posts to see which ones work best for you. You could also try offering different books and see which ones are the most popular titles.
The biggest advantage is that you are in total control of your free ebooks online. You are not restricted to five days in ninety or by an exclusivity agreement.
Can you sell your ebooks using this method?
Yes, you can. But in my experience, selling ebooks from my author site has never been a great success.
If you want to try, however, there are two ways I would suggest.
One option is that you can pay for a premium add-on for WordPress Download Manager, which I have used in this post. It has many payment add-on options, including Paypal, of course.
The second option is to use a plugin called Easy Digital Downloads. The free version offers basic Paypal and Amazon payments.
I have not tried this plugin, so please test it carefully as I have read both positive and negative reviews about this plugin.