Every author needs to know where to sell books online.
There is no right or wrong way when you decide which book and ebook retailers you are going to select. All of them can help you to sell books online.
You aim to use the best possible routes towards potential book buyers to gain sales for your titles.
There are many online book publishers available. But when it comes to ebooks, there are a few decisions you will need to make before you list your book.
Make sensible retailer choices to help you sell books
The first is to decide if you only want unit sales at your cover price. Or do you also want to offer your ebooks to ebook subscription services?
Note that ebook subscription services usually pay a much lower royalty than ebook unit sales.
The second decision is whether you a willing to accept Amazon ebook exclusivity. Or do you want to remain independent?
In other words, do you want your ebooks available on as many ebook retailers as possible, or only on Amazon Kindle?
To make these decisions, you need to understand what online retailers can offer you. And, more importantly, what they demand from you.
The details below are for the major online book and ebook retailers. It will give you a brief outline before doing your research and start to learn how to sell books online.
Amazon, FBA, Kindle, Kindle Unlimited, KDP, and KDP Select
Amazon sells books.
It sells every type of book you can imagine. It is the place to sell textbooks, paperback novels, coloring books, hardcover bestsellers, and university or college textbooks.
In my teaching job, I buy all my textbooks online from Amazon. This is because shipping is free, and it even offers textbook buyback if I overorder.
If you publish outside of Amazon, you can still sell copies of your printed books on its store.
You need to use Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). You need to get a price quote and shipping labels to use Amazon’s service to sell for you.
Almost all authors choose to have both their paperbacks and ebooks available on Amazon.
Amazon is by far the largest global online book retailer. So it is always the best place to sell books online.
It is especially true if you are new to self-publishing and looking to publish your first book.
For paperbacks, hardcover, and audiobooks, Amazon is absolutely the primary book retailer to use.
What about ebooks?
When it comes to ebooks, Amazon gives you two choices about how you can offer your ebooks on the Kindle Store.
You can upload and publish an ebook on KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) easily. Your ebook will then be available for sale on the Kindle Store on all Amazon sites.
But when you publish your Kindle ebook, you will be given the option of enrolling in KDP Select. It is definitely not the same as the standard KDP.
If you enroll with a simple click into KDP Select, you will be granting Amazon total exclusivity to your ebook. You will not be able to offer your ebook for sale on any other retailer for 90 days. Or longer if you also have auto-renew ticked.
If you want to sell your ebooks on other retailers, do not enter your book in KDP Select.
But, if you want to offer your ebooks on Kindle Unlimited, you will have to enroll in KDP Select.
There are some advantages to KDP Select. But be very sure that you know the differences between KDP and KDP Select before making your choice.
Blurb is an excellent choice because you can cover all the bases in one place.
You can design and create beautiful trade quality print books as well as ebooks.
Then you can distribute your books from Blurb to Amazon, iBooks, and Ingram. It also has a great online bookstore.
If you want an easy way to produce, publish, and sell your books, Blurb is a terrific option for you.
Apple and iBooks
Apple iBooks only sells ebooks. But it is second to Amazon in market share, so it is a very good online retailer to use.
More and more people are reading on iPhones and iPads. So having your ebooks available for sale on Apple is a good option to help you sell books online.
It is possible to publish directly with Apple. But it is much easier to use an aggregator that will do this for you. You can read about aggregators later in this article.
Apple does not have an ebook subscription service. For some authors, this is a good thing, as royalties will not vary from month to month.
Barnes & Noble and Nook
B&N used to be second only to Amazon. But in the last couple of years, its bookseller market share has declined. It is especially so for its Nook ebook business.
You can publish ebooks directly with Nook. But this option is only available for US authors. For non-US authors, the only option is to use an aggregator.
It is worth noting that you can also publish a paperback on KDP. But it does not offer the facility to make your books available on any other sales channel or retailer.
Coming in after Apple in market share, Kobo is worth using. But don’t expect a huge number of sales.
Kobo has a small but loyal user base. So if your ebooks manage to gain some traction, it is possible to gain sales.
Kobo also offers an ebook subscription service called Kobo Plus.
Again, you can publish directly with Kobo, but the easier way is via an aggregator.
Google Play Books
Google is worth a try.
I have always thought that Google Play should perform much better than it does.
You need to publish directly. But it has an awful and confusing publishing dashboard and an even worse sales reporting system.
You might get lucky, but I have never gained a lot of sales. But sales do sometimes trickle through.
The other retailers and libraries
There are many ebook retailers, including Tolino, Scribd, 24Symbols, and Playster, to name a few. There are also some specialty retailers like All Romance Books and Omnilit.
While much smaller in market share, you might be lucky and find some sales traction.
The last sales avenue is libraries. You can get your ebooks into libraries if you use an aggregator that supplies OverDrive, which specializes in library ebook distribution.
Choosing an aggregator
The best-known ebook aggregators are Smashwords and Draft2Digital.
Both are truly excellent services that offer very good support.
In choosing between the two, you might want to consider which one suits your needs best.
Draft2Digital is easy to use and requires very little knowledge of ebook formatting. But Smashwords offers a wider range of distribution channels, including libraries.
You can read more here about Draft2Digital and Smashwords.
Use an aggregator or go direct?
The benefit of using an aggregator is that your ebooks are made available to a solid list of ebook retailers. Also, your royalty payments are managed in one place by the aggregator. It makes it a convenient way to get paid.
But if you publish directly with retailers, you will get a slightly higher royalty. You won’t be paying a small cut to an aggregator.
However, your royalty payments will be split and might also be affected by minimum earnings payments.
It always pays to check how and when you will be paid before you make a decision.
When you self-publish a book, you need to learn how to sell books online.
Choosing your online retailers for paperbacks is easy. Get your books on Amazon and Barnes & Noble, if possible, and as many more as you can find.
With ebooks, however, there is always a difficult choice to make.
Open-publishing means having your ebook available on as many retailers as you can find.
But Amazon KDP Select exclusivity means your ebook will only be available on the Amazon Kindle Store.
This choice is up to each author. There is no right or wrong choice, as there are benefits to both.
If you have several titles, you can always have some in and some out. Then you can see which works best for you in the long-term.
Tip! Don’t forget to ask your local bookstores if they will agree to stock your books.
You can also offer your ebooks for sale directly from your website or blog. You will need a little technical ability to link downloads with a payment service such as Paypal.
After you have made your choices about where to sell your books and ebooks, it will be time to promote your books.
That is when the hard work really starts.