I have to start this one with a caveat: there are pros and cons to creating your own web store. As an indie author, you may think it’s a good idea to sell your ebooks on your own website. Why not? Well…
- It provides another revenue stream, besides Amazon & Smashwords &tc.
- You get 100% royalties (less payment fees, see below).
- You appear professional, with a high-tech site with a store and all.
- You have total control over how to sell, market, present, price, and format.
- You get to harvest emails from your purchases, unlike with third parties.
- Read the fine print on your contract if you are with a small press publisher. Some may explicitly forbid you to sell the same content online, even if you own the copyright.
- If you are enrolled in KDP Select, you may not sell on any other retailer, including on your own site.
- Customers don’t always feel comfortable using shopping carts on sites they don’t know. Some will refuse to give a credit card on “yourawesomesite.com” and others may not even feel comfortable using Paypal.
- The plugin I use processes payment using Paypal, which means you pay a fee on every transaction, (but usually the fee will be nothing compared to the lost royalties of other sites).
Okay, having said all that, of all the online store plugins I looked at, the one that made the most sense for me was the Easy Digital Downloads plugin. That’s how you can create store pages like this one. Notice the page I linked you to has a bunch of 99-cent items. If you want to see how the process works, feel free to “buy” a few free items from this store instead. All I’ve done is used the same plugin and listed items for $0.00.
To use this plugin, you’ll configure a few settings, then create new downloads. You will set the price and upload the file(s) the customer will be buying. For me, to avoid confusion, I let the customer buy three files for the price of one book: an epub, a mobi, and a pdf file. Since this plugin was created for photographers, musicians, authors, etc, it’s not specifically tailored for ebooks, so you’ll have to be a bit creative in terms of how you want to set it up.
That said, the biggest boon this has given me is information. If you have a “freebie” on your site, you are kind of flying blind on who downloaded it, right? Well, by using this plugin, you can create your freebie as a downloadable free “purchase.” Your fan/customer will click a buy button, it will ask for their email, and email them the freebie file.
The advantage of this approach is information. You now have your fan’s email (instructions later for how to auto-subscribe them to a mailing list), and you can track your downloads after a promotional. The disadvantage to keep in mind here is it does increase friction. That is, the more clicks, keystrokes, and decisions a customer has to make, the less likely they are to continue and to actually purchase your book, even if that purchase is free.
Bear all of this in mind before deciding whether to stick with KDP or attempting to set up your own shop.
Find more writing and publishing tips at Nothing Any Good.
Victor Davis is the author of one short story collection, Grains of Sand, and is publishing a second book, The Gingerbread Collection, in the spring of 2016. He shares his writing and reading adventures at his blog Mediascover. You can find him on Facebook, Twitter, and Goodreads. His Books & Stories are available on Amazon, Apple iBooks, Smashwords, and Barnes & Noble.