Selling Books Directly Through E-Commerce: An Author’s Guide

Last Updated: 

March 6, 2024

E-commerce has opened the doors wide for authors to succeed in selling their books online. But how do you, as a writer and author, sell books directly through e-commerce?

While selling books through e-commerce sounds challenging, making money off the right book isn’t too hard once you know your way around e-commerce platforms. Let’s discuss what you should do to sell your books through these channels.

Key Takeaways on Selling Books Online for Authors:

  1. E-Commerce: A Gateway for Authors: E-commerce provides authors with an extensive platform to successfully sell their books, offering both digital and physical options to cater to diverse reader preferences.
  2. Adaptation to Changing Book Buying Trends: The evolution of book-buying habits over the last three decades underscores the importance of authors embracing digital formats alongside traditional paper-based options, reflecting the varied preferences of modern readers.
  3. Selling on Your Website: Authors can utilise their own well-constructed websites to sell books directly, incorporating features such as a shopping cart for a seamless user experience. For physical copies, coordination with publishers and distributors becomes crucial.
  4. Merchant Platforms Amplify Visibility: Leveraging merchant platforms, despite higher competition, can significantly enhance book visibility due to increased traffic. Authors should optimise their profiles and presence on these platforms to stand out in the competitive landscape.
  5. Consideration of Platform Costs: While merchant platforms may attract more traffic, authors should weigh the costs involved, including sales cuts and fees, compared to the potentially higher returns on their own websites.
  6. Traffic Generation for Personal Websites: Authors must actively drive traffic to their personal e-commerce websites through strategies like linking social media profiles, promoting during in-person events, and exploring paid search ads on platforms like Google and Microsoft.
  7. Marketing Efforts on Major Platforms: To reach a broader audience, authors should explore marketing strategies on major e-commerce platforms, balancing the advantages of their own websites with the potential exposure and reach of larger platforms.
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A Brief Intro To E-Commerce

The way we buy books has changed significantly in the past thirty years. While some readers like the feel of a crisp, paper-based page turn, others rely on a tablet, phone, or computer screen to read what they like. Digital books are the same as the books you might buy at a bookstore, only delivered digitally.

Of course, you can also sell physical books through an e-commerce site so we will cover that scenario too! Paper isn’t dead yet! Even major e-commerce sellers ship out books on a regular basis as not everyone likes to use screens.

Where Do I Sell Books Through E-Commerce

Here are a few places you should be able to sell your book:

Your Website

Many websites have e-commerce platforms that let you sell a physical or digital copy of your book. There are a few moving parts. You’ll want to have a well-constructed website and likely a branded domain with your name. For ease of use, the website should also have a shopping cart or another easy method for a user to pay for your book.

Some writers will find that the biggest challenge will, of course, be providing either a nice-looking digital copy of the book or a physical copy you can ship. Work with a publisher on that one! You should also consider the best book-writing software available to get started with writing.

If you do ship physical copies of your book, you’ll want to store the book somewhere or have a distributor hold and ship the books for you. This is a unique process in itself involving having relationships with distributors who are able to help you deliver books.

While there are many elements that make a good book e-commerce site, we’ll start by saying it should load quickly on a mobile device, have pleasant colours and graphics, and, of course, attempt to sell your book with some leading information. You can use some of the same inspiration to build an outstanding profile on a merchant platform that isn’t your site.

Merchant Platforms

Without naming names, there are quite a few websites that allow you to sell your book directly through e-commerce. Some of these are dedicated to books, and some sell just about everything under the sun. 

The key difference between a merchant platform and your website is that the merchant platform will be much more competitive, though they also surely receive significantly more traffic every day. You’ll want to learn about how to make the best of each platform when it comes to showing up more often for your genre. You’ll also want a well-developed profile and presence to stand out more.

A merchant platform will take a cut of your sales or charge fees and might ask for more money than you’ll make on your own website. This comes with the territory. You can expect to be charged less on your own website, where you receive traffic and your marketing efforts pushed.

How Do I Get Traffic To My Website For E-Commerce?

If you do launch your own website – and to be fair, as an author, you should have a website. You’ll want to get traffic to go to your page.

Among the best ways to do this is by linking your social media profile to your website and sharing it often. If you do events in person, telling people about your website also helps.

Google and Microsoft do offer paid search ads on their platform, but do know that signing up for a regular book-selling website is probably easier and more efficient. 

Facebook is different with unique targeting without search terms. Paid ads often cost a bit less there. You can also more easily use a previous post as an ad without having to set up too much.

So, while the traffic going to your website is indeed your own, you’ll probably have to put more time, effort, and potentially money into making it work.

Conclusion

There are now many ways to sell your book through e-commerce, whether you are selling through digital methods or want to send out paper. You’ll want to focus on finding the right website for your niche, though there are many options out there for e-commerce platforms that accept and sell almost any book.

We suggest starting with your own website and platform and looking into how to best market your book through a major e-commerce platform, too.

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