Until 2008 (I think), you used to have to pay, then wait for me to send the ebook to you via email. Even though I romised a 24-hour turnaround time, this hurt sales.
How do I know?
Because when I started offering ebooks as instant digital downloads, sales went from maybe a few per month, to a few per week. Nowadays, it’s rare that I go a day without making an ebook sale.
The Self-Publishing Process: It Can Seem Like the Wild, Wild West
I’ve been at this so long that I forget that self-publishing can seem like the wild, wild west in that many are rushing into it, but there’s so much undiscovered territory. Amazon has made it more mainstream, but but there are a lot of writers who are new to the self-publishing process, which brings me to the question that inspired this post.
An author of two ebooks emailed me; she wrote:
I’m curious as to the technical process of selling ebooks like yours. I’m getting ready to launch two and I have no idea how to instant PDF download process works or how these are embedded on your site. Can you provide any tips or a starting point for me? I want to sell my own on my website but I’m not sure how to do the entire purchase and pay process.
Thanks as always for your help!
Following is my detailed answer.
The System I Use to Sell Ebooks Instantly from My Website
I use e-Junkie.com. What is e-Junkie? It’s a “copy-paste hosted shopping cart and digital delivery service to sell anything, anywhere, INSTANTLY – and easily.”
In answer to this reader’s specific query as to how the purchase and pay process works, it’s really easy.
Once you sign up with a downloadable service provider like e-Junkie, you literally paste some HTML code into your site, which will be your “Buy Now”; “Add to Cart”; etc. buttons. e-Junkie generates this code for you when you upload each product, so all you have to do is cut and paste it to your site.
FYI, I literally “wrote the book” on How to Sell Ebooks Online via e-Junkie because their interface can be a little funky to maneuver. But, once you know what you’re doing, you can literally upload a title in a few minutes.
As an example of an “Add to Cart” button, the HTML code for the “Add to Cart” button on the How to Sell Ebooks Online via e-Junkie ebook page looks like this:
<a href=”https://www.e-junkie.com/ecom/gb.php?i=IW-27&c=cart&cl=23447″><img title=”x-click-but22″ alt=”x-click-but22″ src=”http://inkwelleditorial.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/08/x-click-but22.gif” width=”87″ height=”23″ /></a>
Don’t let the coding scare you. It’s literally cut and paste (generated by e-Junkie).
Selling Digital Downloads: A Few Points about e-Junkie
It’s hosted on their site: This is good because you don’t have to worry about bandwidth and all of the back-end technical stuff if you hosted it yourself. Some ebook sellers may disagree with me on this, but I’m not very technical, so I like this.
Sell from two sites: When you sign up with e-Junkie, you in essence create a store on their site. For example, here’s InkwellEditorial.com’s “store” on e-Junkie.com. So that’s one. But, InkwellEditorial.com also has its own store, of course. So that’s two.
Sometimes people find InkwellEditorial.com’s ebooks on our site; other times they may land on it in our e-Junkie shop. So, being able to have two “storefronts” is a positive. As an aside, it’s great if you don’t have a website of your own yet. You can just sell via your e-Junkie shop.
Now, back to setting up two stores …
Some of the pages from the InkwellEditorial.com shop may link out to a page in the Inkwell Editorial e-Junkie shop, but that’s fine. I usually create the same product page for InkwellEditorial.com as I do for e-Junkie anyway.
See, it’s the same info – just on two different sites.
Fee: You can start for as little as $5 per month as of this update. I now pay $27 per month, but have something like 70 ebooks in my store on e-Junkie. Here’s how much it costs per month to sell ebooks online using e-Junkie.
Synched with PayPal: You can link your PayPal account to your e-Junkie account (or whichever online payment processor you use), which is where your funds will go when a buyer makes an ebook purchase.
Instructions to Buyers: When you’re going through the set-up process on e-Junkie for each ebook you want to sell, there’ll be places to input, for example, instructions on how to contact you (the ebook seller) if there are problems.
To keep this simple, I keep a file with this info in it and just cut/paste it into the appropriate place as I’m uploading each ebook. In fact, I have a file on my computer labeled Ebook Admin Files. I keep all info related to uploading products in this file.
As it’s a repetitive process for the most part once you start self-publishing your own ebooks, it streamlines things – which is a life (and time) saver, especially if you start to really get into writing and selling a lot of ebooks like I do.
What Takes the Most Amount of Time When Uploading an Ebook to E-Junkie
FYI, I hand-code all product pages – for InkwellEditorial.com and e-Junkie — using basic HTML. And, this is what takes up the most time when uploading a product.
Ebook Selling Tip on What Buyers Like the Most
This is your sales page (landing page) though, so it’s worth it to get the message right. Usually, my sales pages are excerpts from my ebooks, which often contain the Table of Contents. I’ve found this to be one of the things ebook buyers like the most because it gives them a very detailed overview of what they’re going to be purchasing.
How Buyers Get the Ebooks Once You Sign up with a Digital Download Service Provider
Once the buyer completes the sale after clicking on a “Buy Now”; or “Add to Cart” button, then they are immediately sent an email which contains a link to the ebook they bought. All the buyer has to do is click on that link to download and save the ebook(s) to their computer.
You can read all the info you want on how to do this, but you really have to kind of go through the process with a digital service provider like e-Junkie to learn how to start selling ebooks online as instant downloads; but it’s not complicated at all once you get the hang of it.
Self-Publishing Resources: 5 Digital Download Service Providers for Ebook Sellers
FYI, there are tons of these types of companies; e-Junkie just happens to be the one I use and am familiar with. I googled “digital download service providers” and following are some that popped up:
Again, I have no experience with any of these other companies; just providing some places for you to start your research in case you’re looking.
Selling Ebooks Online: Conclusion
Choosing which digital download service provider to go with is critical to your success as a self-publisher simply because it’s no longer an option – in my opinion – to NOT offer instant downloads. Ebook buyers expect to receive their info immediately and if you don’t offer instant downloads, they will most likely go surfing to find an ebook seller who does.
So choose wisely, ie taking into consideration things like cost, ease of set-up and operation, technical assistance and of course, what your self-publishing goals are. You want a digital download service provider who can grow with you AND one you’re sure will be around for the long haul.
Share Your Insight on Selling Digital Downloadable Products
Do you use a digital download service provider to sell ebooks online? Why/why not? Which one? Can you provide feedback on the service provider you use, or provide further insight into how to choose one? Please do so in the comments section below.
I hope this insight has helped and good luck, whatever your self-publishing aspirations are.
Note: This post was first published in 2013. It was updated in 2016.
P.S.: On a personal note, several have inquired about my time here in Jamaica, so here’s an update …
I have about a little over a week left here in paradise, and although I’ve been working way more than I want to, I’m enjoying it immensely. The weather’s been gorgeous — only a few days of rain since I’ve been here (almost 3 weeks). I went snorkeling this past weekend and had lobster grilled fresh from the sea right on the beach. I feel blessed, and hope you do too. 🙂
P.P.S.: Even though I published my first ebook in 2002, sales sucked until I signed up with a digital download service provider.
What happened then?
I went from logging a few sales a month, to a few per week. Now, I sell ebooks almost every day.