How To Sell Ebooks – The Hard Honest Truth


How to sell ebooks and more of them, is what every author asks.

There is an answer.

Unfortunately, though, the answer is probably not what true indie, self-published authors would like to hear, but it’s clear.

Forget the rest and concentrate most of your book marketing efforts on Amazon Kindle.

I have been self-publishing for so long now that it is hard to remember when I started. But during all these years I have always been or at least tried to be, a proponent of open publishing.

By this I mean, having my ebooks available on as many retailers as possible.

I have done them all. Not only Smashwords and Draft2Digital and their aggregated retailers such as Apple, B&N and Kobo, but also smaller retailers and online publishers. I have even given Google Play a fair run too.

Sure, I have been in and out of KDP Select exclusivity, so I have had some ebooks available on Amazon KU only at certain times, but I have almost always had the majority of my ebooks available on as many retailers as possible.

But one can’t escape the fact – Amazon sells more ebooks.

In the end though, after years of trying, being very patient, adding links to all these retailers on all my book promotion pages, adding retailer widgets to my blogs, and even writing blog posts to encourage readers to consider retailers other than Amazon, the only ebook retailer that delivers a check each and every month is Amazon.

It’s a tough truth, but in all honesty, it seems that only Amazon knows how to consistently get readers to buy ebooks.

I don’t have to add links or do any special promotions. I don’t have to buy ebook promotion, give away ebooks or even post my ebooks to social media for Amazon to deliver sales.

All I have to do is publish my ebook, make sure I have selected good keywords and categories, and then let Amazon do what it does best. Sell books.

It goes against my independent grain to say so, but after years of trying, it is becoming increasingly apparent to me that there is only one retailer that knows how to get people to buy ebooks.

No matter how much noise other retailers may make, or how much they complain about unfair or monopolistic business practices, in the end, they simply just do not sell enough ebooks.

I have a wish

I wish (read here doubly, triply wish) that Amazon’s ebook retail competitors would or could learn how to encourage more readers to purchase ebooks, but after so many years of disappointment, I doubt it. Let’s face it. Only Amazon innovate and attract readers, and more importantly, ebook buyers.

Sure, other ebook retailers make noises about changes, refinements and new services for self-published authors, but do they innovate? I don’t think so. They tinker around the edges.

Apple, who should be Amazon’s strongest competitor, has done nothing innovative to inspire authors.

Apple can’t even make linking to a book page easy to help you promote your book.

Have you ever tried to add a link to an ebook on Apple on social media? If you have, you will know how cumbersome it is to have to use Apple’s Link Maker, then when you do make a link; it only opens in iTunes.

If you are lucky, and someone bothers to click, it will take an age for iTunes to open on their computer or iPhone. But bad luck if they have an Android phone, or don’t have iTunes on their PC. Innovative? Hardly.

Of course, it’s easier to add a link to B&N, but it will be, as it is so often in my case, always to my ebook with a three-year-old cover.

I don’t understand why B&N can’t update book covers, but sadly, they don’t seem to be able to manage it all that well, so all the money I spent on new covers goes to complete waste by linking to B&N.

Okay, so you can read this post as a grumble. But when it comes to deciding on how to best position your ebooks, I have to say that there is only one answer.

Forget the excuses, moans and wishful thinkers, and make your decision based on making money and who delivers ebook sales, and a check, every single month.

I could do a lot of research into how many ebooks I have sold over the years on various retailers. But there is no need. I only have to look at my bank statements to know.

So am I still an Indie author? I would say yes because I have made my distribution decisions based on who I believe can deliver ebook sales for me.

It’s only a pity that the answer is in the singular.