This post is for every indie author who has ever typed “How to sell self-published books” into a Google search bar and hoped that the answer would include “through your website.”
It’s often a goal of a self-published or indie author to sell books off of their website. This is harder for traditionally published authors because of agreements between publishers and retailers. But if you’re an indie author, it is a lot easier to push readers to your website instead of Amazon.
Though Amazon is a trusted source for book buying, I know a lot of authors would like to keep a larger percentage of their sales and sell through their websites. So let’s look at ways to do that.
It All Starts with Your Website
The first piece of this is going to be your overall website, and this is where a lot of authors struggle. It’s in our nature to want to put everything front and center and to offer readers lots of choices.
But a multitude of choices often discourages actual choosing, and you wind up losing readers.
Make sure your website is easy to navigate, with a somewhat limited navigation bar.
Unless you’re selling your book right on your homepage, you’re probably asking readers to click over to another page. And this is certainly fine; there’s no reason not to send them to a book-specific landing page.
Just be mindful that each time you ask someone for another click, you risk losing them.
Shorten the Buying Staircase
The analogy is this: would you want to climb a long or a short staircase to buy a book? If you’re like most people, you’d probably rather take an elevator.
If you’re asking readers to make multiple clicks, as I mentioned above, you’ll lose them. In fact, more than two clicks to find your book is already too much.
Take a look at where your website store is now. How hard is it to find it and get there? To successfully sell your self published book to readers, make that pathway as straightforward as possible.
Understand How Consumer Navigation Works
Have you ever wondered why both eBay and Amazon have lots of content down the left-hand side of their websites? It’s because that’s the power side.
When consumers land on a website, their eye first goes to the left – top left to be exact. If your primary goal is to sell your self published book through your website, maybe that’s a good place to put a badge that reads Get My Book Now! Or something similar.
You don’t have to put a buy button in that coveted left-hand spot, but certainly don’t bury the lead. Meaning don’t invite readers to buy your book by making them scroll down your homepage. Make sure your store is obvious and easy to navigate to.
Why Should They Buy from You?
When considering how to sell more self published books through your website, consider what’s in it for the consumer. What’s the benefit to buying from you?
During the holidays, especially, consumers love free shipping on Amazon. Can you offer that on your website? Or maybe your books are autographed by the author? Signed books make great gifts!
Or you could offer buyers a free novella – or something else like an eBook you can easily deliver – as a bonus for buying from you.
I know one author who offered fun character trading cards as a bonus for buying the book through her website and they were a hit! Readers loved them.
Another incentive involves giving readers early access to your book – meaning you’re selling the title on your website before it’s available anywhere else.
If you’re a non-fiction author, could you create a companion workbook that readers can only get by buying your book on your website?
What about a coupon for a friend? Anyone who buys the book is offered a discount to share with a friend.
Even better, what about a buy one, get one offer? But the freebie would be an eBook so you aren’t shipping print books all over the place (and maybe eating the shipping costs, as well).
You could also offer a special edition hardcover copy of your book that is available exclusively on your website. Fans will love this – and if it’s autographed even better!
The point is, finding a way to encourage shopping from your website vs. Amazon will take a bit of work, and maybe a special offer, but it’s certainly doable.
To successfully sell your self published book through your website, I suggest experimenting with a few different ideas to see what works!
The Shopping Experience
Once you’ve got a buyer, how will you get paid? Make it easy.
Use Apple Pay or Amazon Pay or PayPal: give consumers a few, trusted options to pay you. These brands add some next level credibility and also help give a boost to the sales experience.
This is often where authors get hung up because shipping options can be confusing. If you’re paying for shipping and want to save a bit of money, I’d opt to do a media mail package (which is perfect if you’re sending books).
And save a step by getting a Stamps.com account (I’ve used this for years) or Click-and-Ship through the USPS website. Remember, if it’s not easy, you’ll spend a lot of valuable time messing with shipping.
We ship a lot of books (to media, reviewers, etc.) so it was crucial that we got the shipping down to a science. Use an existing service rather than waiting in line at the post office. It’ll save you a ton of time.
Selling your self published book through your website isn’t complicated, but it does take a bit of work to make sure you’re set up and ready to take orders.
If you aren’t sure if your website is ready, this might be a fun thing to ask your newsletter subscribers. Get their feedback; readers love getting involved in the process and it’s a fun way to let them know what you’re up to and to prep them for your new store – which you’ll hopefully open just in time for the upcoming holiday season!