How to Actually Make Money Selling eBooks

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make money selling ebooks on ebayI get very frustrated whenever I’m looking for legitimate ways to generate additional streams of income, and I come across those horrid get-rich-quick sales pages. You know the ones – where the author can’t seem to decide on a single font size, and every other word is in bold. All you have to do is sign up for their amazing program, or buy their astonishing sales kit, and you too can be earning many thousands of dollars each month. In my quest to write, sell and make money selling eBooks, I’ve waded through mountains of these scams, and I’m here to tell you that it is possible to make money from selling eBooks, but that success does not come overnight and not without a lot of hard work. In this article I’d like to offer a guide (a free one…imagine that!) that you can use to sell your eBooks.

The first step is obviously writing an eBook. Don’t concern yourself too much with copyright. Thanks to the Digital Millenium Act of 1998, anything you generate and publish online is already legally copyrighted under your author name. However, it is true that enforcing that copyright could be somewhat difficult unless you do hold proof of copyright, so if you’re very concerned about someone stealing your work, then submit the claim electronically and pay the fee.

If it sets your mind at ease, it’s well worth the cost. If you’re wondering what format you should write your eBook in, here at MakeUseOf, authors provided a number of excellent tools that can help you generate that first eBook. Saikat wrote about the PHP script converter at EbookHood to convert your eBook into iPod readable format. You’ve also probably read about the cool MyEbook eBook publishing platform, or my favorite one, Zinepal, which creates your PDF eBook in a format that most common readers can display. Another very good option is converting your Word document to PDF format, as Aibek described in his article on doPDF. Once you have your eBook in a format that you can sell, you’re ready to move on into marketing and selling your eBook.

Make Money Selling eBooks Online Just Like Any Other Product

I’ve mentioned some of my own eBay history in my past articles on the auction site, and while my personal experiences as an eBay PowerSeller were not very easy, I do know that any product which you have an unlimited supply of and a high demand for do very well there.

how to make money ebooks

With that said, the eBooks that aren’t very in demand really don’t do well at all. The key, when you choose what topics to write about, is to choose eBook topics in the same way you would choose an online article topic – based on the demand for that topic and the availability of it throughout the net. The smartest thing to do when you go with eBay is to set up a seller store and post your eBooks in a permanent listing for a regular fee. Another fantastic marketplace for eBooks is Craigslist.

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how to make money ebooks

This surprises many people, but the truth is that Craigslist has become a very large marketplace with a huge audience. Just like on eBay, if you’re writing on a topic that’s in demand, you’ll get interested buyers.

Reaching the eBook Audience

The very best way to achieve the highest sales for your eBook is to take advantage of those eBook directories that accept submissions from authors. While most major eBook sellers like Amazon or Barnes & Nobles only accept submissions from major book publishers, many of the smaller online firms will accept direct submissions from writers. Jack recently wrote a great article on how to publish your eBook in print using LuLu’s awesome publication service, but LuLu also offers eBook authors a fantastic resource to sell your book in electronic format as well.

how to make money ebooks

Now, selling an eBook on LuLu is not free. The right to publish comes at a price tag that’s currently about $1.49. For me, that’s about the price of a cup of coffee, and considering the fact that LuLu takes care of integrating DRM copy protection and already has a huge audience for your book – it’s well worth it. If your book sells, LuLu takes only a $2.50 cut while you get $10 in revenue. I’m very impressed with LuLu’s rates and service and would recommend them to any potential author. However, if you really only want to use a service that’s absolutely free, there is another excellent option known as TradeBit.

make money selling ebooks on ebay

At TradeBit, you can upload your eBooks where the TradeBit community can find it and buy it. For hosting and selling your eBook for you, TradeBit charges absolutely nothing upfront, and when it sells you get 75% of the revenue. Again, this is a very fair deal considering that TradeBit absorbs the costs for hosting, promoting and selling your eBook on their site and with their existing traffic.

Host Your Own eBooks and Take 100% of the Profit

There is, of course, always the self-hosting option. In this case, you would set up a blog or a website and provide your own eBooks for download through a payment system like Paypal and just offer your books in a simple format just like you would sell Amazon books on your own blog.

make money selling ebooks on ebay

The advantage to selling your own eBooks on your blog or website is that you set your own price and collect 100% of the profits. The disadvantage is that you’re starting at ground zero in attracting an audience and potential buyers. Over time, you’ll have a good traffic, a strong reputation, and a steady revenue stream – but getting there will take a bit longer if you opt for the self-hosting approach. The best option might be to start with one of the eBook sales sites in order to get people hooked on the eBooks that you write, and then switch to the self-hosted option once people recognize your name as a premium eBook author.

Do you author your own eBooks? What approach or technique do you take to sell your books? Share your insight and advice in the comments section below.

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Comments (23)
  • David

    I found this article really helpful,it gave me some good ideas and new insight. I’m currently in the process of trying to write my first ebook and also learning some usefull stuff in my research and I’m glad I came across your post. I did digg it. please check out some of my ideas here

  • James

    I wrote a book called “It Happens To Men Too” about spousal abuse. My ex-wife and her multiple personality disorder with the attacks on me. It took one year to write while I was in college full-time. Personally, I feel it’s a very interesting production. It’s all true. This all happened prior to and during my activation for Desert Storm. I’m about to post the ebook as it’s already written. All that everyone speaks of in writing, posting, paypal, etc. seem easy but in my mind I’m wondering if anyone is interested, or would be interested in a book about a man getting whipped up on by his ex-wife. I’m 190 @ 5’10” and could easily have taken advantage of her but I’m not a violent person therefore I didn’t. Dorrance Publishing offered, for $10K to publish the book, LSU Press denied publishing because they stated they didn’t work on books with the content mine had.

    • Matthew

      James contact me at my site.

    • Ryan Dube

      James – it sounds like a brave thing to do, writing that e-book, so major kudos to you for taking the time and energy to share your story. Regardless who is willing to publish it, it’s fantastic that you’re willing to share a story that all too often goes untold in this country.

      In my opinion, LSU Press should be ashamed of themselves – I’m sure if the story was the flip-side, they would have published it without even blinking. Good for you for forging ahead and getting your story out there despite the LSU sexism. Best of luck!

  • Michelle Kulp


    I am a ghostwriter and I write ebooks for a living (along with sales copy, websites, etc) through my website and I am also a provider on elance –

    I find that many people have great ideas and are what I consider to be an “expert” in a topic, however, they do not possess the writing skills. It’s not only about writing an amazing ebook that people love…there is so much more to it…for example…

    In order to sell your ebook, you must have a website…again, most people don’t know how to write “persuasive sales copy that sells”. There is an art to this. When a person arrives on your site, you have about 30-60 second to grab them with your “words” or they are gone.

    Then you need a good blog, because people want “conversation” about the topic of your ebook. It will also help you in the Google ratings. It builds relationships and credibility.

    Then you need an autoresponder system, an optin with a free gift to start building a list and of course, you need traffic. (I focus on “free traffic”).

    I studied under Yanik Silver, who is my long-time Mentor and I have been teaching people how to create information products and do all of the above for over 5 years.

    In my “turn key” program where I actually create the website for my customer, create the graphics for the header and the ebook, write the sales copy, write the ebook, set up the autoresponder, etc. I can only take 3 customers per month because it is very labor intensive, but I can tell you that if you don’t have the “writing gene” and you don’t have the internet marketing knowledge, then you are better off working with a highly respected coach and mentor who can guide you and reduce the learning curve for you.

    If you are interested in some of these services to help jumpstart your online business, please feel free to take a look at my website and we can talk.

    There’s so much more to an online business than just “writing an ebook”.

    Like some of the comments mentioned, there is also the Affiliate program. But honestly, until you have a product that is selllng and doing well…you wouldn’t have to concern yourself with an affiliate program just yet.

    Baby steps. The key is to be committed to the path and not jump from one thing to the next.

    Hope this helps!
    Michelle Kulp, the 6-Figure Woman Coach

  • Mike Fook

    I was originally targeting paperback publishers with my ebooks and then began selling them on my various Thailand sites on my own. We saw some sales… then I hit on a great seller and decided to focus a future batch of ebooks on a similar niche and build a whole ebook publishing site for Thailand focused books… and getting that up and running now.

    We’re Accepting Thailand focused authors directly. ( Ebooks are great for so many reasons, but being able to give the authors 75% of the sale price of the book (net price rather), it feels good like we’re providing a service for them. Authors SHOULD get more than the dollar something they get from selling a paperback book – I think most would agree.

    I’m dying for a decent ereader to come out – if it’s an Apple tablet, so be it – but, I’d like to see an option for $199 that does everything: color touch screen; accepts USB inputs including external keyboard; WIFI; BlueTooth; on screen keypad large enough to type on; internal optical drive would be perfect; 10 inch diagonal; speakers; mic and headphone jacks; memory card reader; plays HD 1080 videos without skipping… you know, the basics!

    Reallllly hoping someone gets this ereader concept right in the next few months here.

  • Joel Mark Witt

    Hi Ryan,

    Great post about eBook selling. I have to say that starting out is the hardest part about the whole process. Just writing the darn book is hard… then having to sell it is even harder. But I will say that when you make your first sale and you realize you’ve created something that people are looking for – you feel wonderful.

    I wrote a 100+ page book called “21 Days To Twitter Leadership” helping people (mostly newbies) learn how to use Twitter. To drive traffic I bought some keywords on Google and emailed my list.

    It worked and I started selling copies of the book in the same week. Don’t get me wrong, I’m by no means a millionaire from selling a $37 eBook. But it has taught me a lot about online marketing, sales and content creation. I’m excited for the next opportunity.

    Here are three action steps I would recommend if you are serious about creating an eBook.

    1) Use a template to help you format as you write. I did this as recommended by one of my marketing coaches and it made a huge difference. It helps because you can see the book taking shape as you write and you don’t get burned out.

    2) Don’t look at the eBook as a the end product. Use the eBook as the beginning of a relationship with a reader/customer – not the last time you will help them.

    3) Don’t spend too much on Google adwords and other “for pay” traffic generators. Be sure to mix in affiliates, blogs and other social media elements to help spread the word. I learned this the hard way – so trust me on this one.

    Hope these ideas are helpful.

    ~ Joel Mark Witt

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For more details, please read our disclosure.
Affiliate Disclamer

This review may contain affiliate links, which pays us a small compensation if you do decide to make a purchase based on our recommendation. Our judgement is in no way biased, and our recommendations are always based on the merits of the items.

For more details, please read our disclosure.
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