Selling books online can be a daunting prospect, the internet is a jungle … but if the jungle can be dangerous and scary, the internet offers endless possibilities to earn money. You just have to find your way trough the scams that pop out of the bushes, always ready to suck your wallet dry; and you maneuver to the real deals, the ones that offer you value.
First of all, there is no need to invest huge amounts of money. Second, there are plenty of opportunities, and that’s what’s so wonderful about using online resources.
Whether you write fantasy, romance, history, horror, self-help books, memoirs, biographies, or any other genre, it all comes down to the same thing. How will I sell my work …?
Free Online Resources – What is Useful?
These are some of the options that are available online, and all of them are free. Please scroll down for detailed information.
- Barnes and Noble
- Apple eBook Store
- Social Media
Which Websites Are Free?
WordPress is excellent. You can set up your website for free. It is easy to use, and it has a comprehensible dashboard. No struggling, no trying to figure out how things work. It is pretty straightforward. WordPress offers free hosting, live support, live chat, dozens of themes, photo uploads, and it’s mobile friendly.
For an upgrade you get more services such as SEO tools, advanced customization, and security, or you could simply choose to continue using it for free.
SiteRubix is WordPress’s little sister, it runs on WordPress.org. (Please note that it is WordPress.org and not .com. The wordpress site I mentioned in the previous paragraph runs on .com) Basically, you can do a lot more with a siterubix site. You can insert affiliate links which in turn will earn you commission if someone clicks on them and ends up buying the product that you promote in said link.
Siterubix is hosted at Wealthy Affiliate which offers free hosting for two siterubix websites. Yes, you do not need to pay anything. You receive the tools and training to build your own 2 websites plus a quick and responsive site support team. A free membership at Wealthy Affiliate offers you all these (and more) benefits, and a premium membership includes free hosting on up to 50 websites …
Either WordPress or Siterubix can help you create an awesome author website where you can promote your books online. Personally, I like WordPress, but I prefer Siterubix, because it gives me a lot more freedom.
Is It Hard to Build a Website?
No, surprisingly it isn’t. You can create your first website in less than two minutes. Gone are the days when setting up a website took ages and cost you an arm and a leg. The internet has evolved. It took me only a little over a minute to start Writetopia.
The only thing that is time-consuming is writing content, but if you like writing – like I do – that shouldn’t be a problem. I enjoy writing articles and providing info that helps fellow writers and people in general.
Amazon – Isn’t it Overloaded with Books?
Yes, totally. There are millions of books on Amazon. To get noticed out there is not an easy feat, and it may take a while, but it is possible. Amazon offers you great publishing and promotional tools. Much of it is free and others have a cost.
Free on Amazon:
- KDP (Kindle Publishing)
- Upload your manuscript
- Upload your own book cover or use KDP’s book cover tool, which offers you many free cover designs and photos to choose from.
- Option to publish not only Kindle but also paperback version
- Set your book price
- Troubleshooting, Video tutorials, and instructional documents
- Excellent customer support
- Royalties reports
- Amazon Author Central
- Create your Amazon author page
- Add blog and social media
- Sales rank feature
- Add a book to your bibliography if you wrote it and it hasn’t been added yet
- Option to turn your book into an audiobook
- Amazon author insights: guidance and tips on writing, publishing, and marketing from well-known authors and Amazon teams
- Amazon giveaways
- Kindle Countdown Deal
- Free book promotion
- Sign your book up for Kindle Unlimited
- Paid Promotions
- Run an ad campaign (you pay when shoppers click your ads)
- Kindle Unlimited is popular and gives readers the chance to download books at a monthly fee. It gives your book more exposure.
- The platform is easy to use
- Great online support
- Author’s earnings on Kindle Unlimited are very small.
- High competition (over 3 million ebooks are on amazon)
You must be prepared to put in a lot of work, be patient and persistent. Overnight successes do not happen overnight, they take years of hard work. That being said, I don’t want to discourage you. Amazon offers amazing tools and is dedicated to good customer service. I have had a wonderful experience with the KDP help desk; their response time is quick and they give valuable help and tips. In my opinion, it is definitely worth it to create an author account and publish your books on Amazon.
This reading platform is a writer’s best friend. Goodreads is absolutely free and you can build your Goodreads author page, add your books, a blog, author interviews, book giveaways, and enter into other events and promotions. There are also seasonal or genre promotional campaigns for which you can sign up, for example, the month of horror, Halloween, summer reads, etc.
The author profiles also have a follow button and a private messaging system. One con of this platform is that sometimes things tend to get confusing and you may get stuck when trying to use certain features, but the online support is pretty good at answering questions and helping out. I’d highly recommend Goodreads for any author.
Both Amazon and Goodreads are great tools that any author should have.
I published my first indie book with Smashwords. This platform has been around for a long time and is constantly re-innovating itself. It provides great publishing tools. What I like about Smashwords is their rigorous manuscript revision. After uploading your manuscript, it goes through a vetting process, and if there are any errors, you will be notified on your Smashwords dashboard and also by email.
If book formatting isn’t your thing or you find it too time-consuming, on Smashwords you can find professionals who will do it for you for a small fee. Likewise, you can also contact book cover designers who charge for their services. Those prices are very affordable.
When you publish on Smashwords your book is also automatically added to the Barnes and Noble online book store (but not on Amazon), and Smashwords also publishes a premium book catalog.
Barnes and Noble
This is another book store giant, but unlike Amazon, Barnes and Noble has retained its cozy bookish atmosphere. It has a huge readers base. Offering a broad selection to its readers, it is only advantageous to have your books featured on Barnes and Noble. It has the largest number of retail outlets in the US, and an international online book store.
Nonetheless, I wouldn’t create an author page on Barnes and Noble, because it is currently only available to Barnes and Noble press authors. It would be better to set up an author page elsewhere (such as the other mentioned platforms) and then link your book to Barnes and Noble, which in some instances is done automatically.
BookRix is a self publishing platform which also offers distribution services for indie authors. You can share your writing and connect with other writers and readers.
The great thing about BookRix is that it is absolutely free, your book is distributed to Amazon Kindle, Google Play, Kobo, Apple ¡Books, etc, it offers high royalties (70% of net proceeds), no strings (no binding contracts, you can cancel any time), and over 510,000 readers. You also have the option to create your own author profile.
Apple eBook Store
Not only can you create and publish books, but you can also ad artwork and metadata. While metadata don’t always influence Google ranking, it is nevertheless important for SEO. Visitors do not see metadata, it is invisible to them, but the information it contains is essential for SEO. It speaks to search engines. Therefore, the description in your title tag should be original and short.
Books you publish on the Apple app can not only be sold at the Apple store and on ¡Tunes, but also on the web.
If you’d like to learn more, Wealthy Affiliate offers a comprehensive training on setting up your website and learning all about SEO. The first ten lessons are free.
You either hate it or you love it, but no one can deny the power of social media. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Pinterest, LinkedIn, Reddit, and others are useful tools to share your work, connect with authors, readers, beta readers, agents, and publishers.
Twitter is an amazing platform which I use very often. It has connected me with many authors, reviewers, readers, and publishers, and it has greatly helped to promote my work.
On Facebook, you can create a business page and gain “likes”. It is also a good promotional platform, but what I don’t like about Facebook is that your posts may not be seen by all your followers. You are pushed to pay for Facebook ads in order to obtain more exposure, but those paid ads do not always have the desired results … So, you end up spending a lot of money and make little to no profit …
That is why I prefer Twitter. On Twitter, you can advertise your books for free and you will get much better results. And when you’re on Twitter, I suggest that you connect with the writing community (#writingcommunity). This online group is made up of mostly writers (and some agents and publishers) who answer questions, offer advice, give tips on query writing, and support fellow authors. It is a wonderful community that will make you feel welcome and help you on your writing and book marketing journey. When you’re on Twitter, use the hashtag #writingcommunity and introduce yourself 🙂
Instagram and Pinterest are also brilliant for promotions. Instagram is all about photos. You upload a photo that is related to your book or ad, and then you add a link and a description.
Pinterest is also a visual platform. You pin a photo and add the information, always including a link to your book or author page. Then you can save your pin under an existing board or you can create a new board.
The Importance of Hashtags
Don’t forget your hashtags. Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and Pinterest all allow the use of hashtags and they are essential to reach a broader audience.
Some good examples are:
- writing genres such as #fantasy, #urban fantasy, #historicalfantasy, #nonfiction, #memoir, #romance, #thriller, #historicalfiction, #werewolves, #vampires, #selfhelpbooks, etc. You get the idea.
- And so on
There are so many hashtags you can use, and you can also create your own. If you want to write a book about dogs and cats, you could make a new hashtag like for example #dogsandcatslivingtogether, #dogslivewithcats, #dogsandcats, or whatever relates to your book. Be creative 🙂
Seriously, I repeat once more, don’t forget the hashtags.
Personally, I have not considered Apple eBook Store, but it is well-known and offers great product distribution. I use Amazon, Smashwords, and Barnes and Noble, and BookRix looks very promising to me, since it links to mentioned platforms and will also help with distribution.
Regarding promotion, Amazon, Smashwords, GoodReads, and BookRix offer free promotional tools for authors and are dedicated to seeing authors succeed. I recommend using the free but also the paid advertising. Try them out, one by one, and see which one works best for you. I already stressed the importance of hashtags 🙂 .
All of these platforms and tools provide great service to an independent author, but they do not always guarantee a quick result. Some promotions can yield huge results in a matter of days. In some cases you have to try different methods to see which one is more suited to your needs and goals.
One very important thing to remember is that marketing your work requires time, effort, and patience. If your earnings do not come in immediately, don’t despair. Keep on going, connect with people, gather followers on your social media platforms, share, tweet, pin, use free promotional services (or paid if there is enough budget). As I mentioned before, there is a lot of competition, and you must work to get your book noticed. Just, don’t give up. Persistence pays off.