How to Sell eBooks on an Author Website: The Beginner’s Guide

When I launched my Author Website in a Box project last June, one of the first questions that came across my inbox was how to build a bookstore on the AWinaBox site. My answer at the time was to recommend using a third-party service such as Payhip to handle payment processing and ebook delivery.

That was sound advice, albeit lacking in detail, but I knew I can do better.

When I launch AWinaBox 2.0, my answer will be to tell authors to use the template that will come bundled with the project. That launch is still a couple months away, so in the mean time I thought it might be useful to lay out the basic steps for setting up that bookstore so that everyone could use the info.

Update: It occurred to me after I published this post that “selling an author’s ebooks” and “having a bookstore” are two very different things. This post is about an author selling their own books. If you want to set up a bookstore, look into Aer.io.

I am just going to lay out the broad strokes here, and later come back and add the finer details.

The following project is moderately difficult and requires a modicum of skill, but if you can build a page on your and you can embed a FB Pixel, you can sell an author’s ebooks set up a bookstore on an author website.

What it comes down to is that you should use the buttons and code from a service such as Payhip, and embed them on your author website.

The first step is to set up an account at Payhip.

Payhip

Payhip is not the only company that will handle payments and content delivery, but their platform is relatively easy to learn, they’re not too expensive, and they cover all the basics. If you’ve never done this before, Payhip is a good place to start.

  • Set up your account, including your payment info.
  • Create a listing for each title you want to sell. Upload the cover, title, blurb, and the relevant ebook files. At a minimum you should upload Epub and Kindle, and possibly PDF.
  • Proof all of your listings to make sure there are no errors.

Be sure to save the cover and the blurbs because you will (might?) need them later when you add the buy buttons build the bookstore on your site.

Oh, and BTW, I feel I should point out that you can sell ebooks by sending people to Payhip to buy them. I do not think that’s a good idea; IMO the Payhip pages have a terrible design which hurt my eyes, and I don’t think that they sell very many ebooks.

Instead, I think you should sell ebooks on your author website itself using the buy buttons and other code provided by Payhip.

Here’s how you will make that happen.

Your Site

Before I tell you to build anything, I should probably point out that if you have a page with all your books in rows, you can add the Payhip buy buttons to the existing page (and save yourself a lot of work).

Also, if you have each of your books on its own page, you could also add the Payhip buy buttons to each book’s page. This is not my preference, however; I want all the books on one page.

If you don’t have those pages, here’s how you set up a bookstore page to sell an author’s ebooks.

Start by creating a new page on your site. Give it the name of “My Bookstore”, and add a subtitle which gently reminds visitors that you make more money when they buy direct.

Below that you will need to make a row for each of your books. You’ll need to add the cover, the book blurb, and buy buttons so that they look something like this:

That first button is going to be the Payhip button (it uses Payhip’s code), and the other buttons lead to other retailers.

BTW, you do not have to use buttons (I just have a preference for them). In fact, it might be easier for you to instead use text links. I am finding that getting all the buttons to play nice requires finicky CSS, where text links are much less complicated.

In any case, you will need to add a row for each book to the bookstore page. You’ll need to make sure the covers match the blurbs, and that the buttons link to the right retail pages.

Does this make sense? Does it help?

Any questions?

image by greencandy8888 via  Flickr

Nate Hoffelder

View posts by Nate Hoffelder
Nate Hoffelder is the founder and editor of The Digital Reader. He has been blogging about indie authors since 2010 while learning new tech skills weekly. He fixes author sites, and shares what he learns on The Digital Reader's blog. In his spare time, he fosters dogs for A Forever Home, a local rescue group.

2 Comments

  1. Steve H18 October, 2020

    How about the nitty-gritty of what file format ebook you will be sending the purchaser?
    Curious as that and the need to sideload them into a Kindle has always been a tech-hassle for customers at least on that platform. I recall that Nook has a simple way to import an EPUB as does Apple books too perhaps?

    Reply
    1. Nate Hoffelder18 October, 2020

      Payhip let’s you offer multiple formats to the buyer. Ideally you should offer both Kindle and Epub.

      Reply

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