How to sell ebooks online.

If you’re wondering how to sell ebooks online, the good news is that it’s easier than you might think. There are several ways to do this and get your work in front of audiences worldwide, even on a budget.

In this post, I’ll show you how to do that using five different platforms. Let’s get started!

Key Takeaways

  • Set up your site on WordPress to get the most options for selling ebooks online. Use a free plugin called Easy Digital Downloads and have your work published that way.
  • Alternatively, sign up for Shopify. It’s a bit more beginner-friendly than WordPress.
  • Some people also like to self-publish through Amazon, which gives you access to a huge audience from day one.

Main ways to sell ebooks online

Now, we’re going to show you how to sell ebooks online. For each approach, we’ll discuss how the process works and the fees associated with it. We’ll also go over the pros and cons for each and talk about who it’s a good fit for. 🏋

1. WordPress

If you want to sell ebooks, an ecommerce website is an excellent way to do it. Therefore, you might want to consider WordPress:

WordPress homepage.

WordPress is a content management system (CMS) that lets you build a website without touching a line of code.

You’ll need to start by purchasing a web hosting plan. Bluehost is a popular option:

After you’ve chosen a host and set up your WordPress installation, you’ll need to create a basic website. Here’s a guide on how to do all that.

Then, you’ll have to install a WordPress plugin to get ecommerce features. For selling ebooks, you’ll only need basic tools. So, Easy Digital Downloads is your best option:

Once you’ve installed and activated the plugin, go to Downloads > Setup in your WordPress dashboard. Click on Get Started:

Easy Digital Downloads setup wizard.

Fill out the essential information about your business. Then, set up your payment gateway:

Connecting Stripe and WordPress with Easy Digital Downloads.

Easy Digital Downloads requires you to use Stripe. After you’ve connected Stripe, you’ll need to configure your confirmation email, which lets customers know they’ve successfully purchased your ebook.

As a last step, you’ll be able to create your first product:

How to sell ebooks online with Easy Digital downloads - creating your first product.

Toggle the button to add your first file, then complete the process!

Pros 👍

  • Affordable
  • Straightforward setup
  • Customizable website

Cons 👎

  • Requires multiple tools and services (web hosting, WordPress, Easy Digital Downloads, Stripe)

Fees 💸

You’ll need to pay for web hosting. Cheap plans can be as low as $3 per month. WordPress and Easy Digital Downloads are free, but Stripe charges 2.9% + 30¢ per successful card charge.

Who it’s best for ⭐

Beginners who want to create a full-fledged website. It allows for advanced customization and offers straightforward building and blogging tools.

2. Shopify

Next, we’re going to discuss how to sell ebooks online using Shopify:

Shopify ecommerce platform.

Shopify is an all-in-one website builder. So, you won’t need to look for an outside web hosting provider.

To get started, go to the Shopify website and click on Start free trial:

Shopify setup wizard.

The setup wizard will ask if you’re just getting started selling products or if you already run an in-person business. Then, you can choose where you’d like to sell:

Where to sell Shopify products.

You can create a fully customizable online store, add a buy button to an existing site, reach customers on social media, and more. Choose your preferred option and hit Next:

What products to sell on Shopify.

You’ll then be asked about your products. For selling ebooks online, you’ll want to select Digital products.

Follow the prompts to create your Shopify account:

Create Shopify account.

Once you’ve completed the process, you’ll be able to access the Shopify dashboard:

Shopify dashboard.

Here, you can complete a seven-step process to set up your site and start selling ebooks.

For a more detailed guide to this process, check out our complete Shopify tutorial.

Pros 👍

  • All-in-one solution
  • Ability to sell on multiple online platforms, including a new online store, an existing website, and social media

Cons 👎

  • Starter plans are a bit pricey
  • The user interface has a slight learning curve

Fees 💸

You’ll need to pay for a Shopify membership. Monthly plans start at $39 per month. You’ll pay an additional 2.9% + 30¢ per purchase.

Who it’s best for ⭐

Anyone who prefers a streamlined solution. Or users who already have a (non-WordPress) website and simply want to add a “buy button” or sell on other platforms outside a website.

3. Smashwords

Now, let’s see how to sell ebooks online with Smashwords:

Smashwords website.

This option differs significantly when compared to the platforms we’ve already discussed. Whereas WordPress and Shopify are geared toward ecommerce of any kind, Smashwords is for ebooks only.

To sell on Smashwords, you’ll need to create an account with its parent company, Draft2Digital.

On the website, simply click on Sign Up. You’ll need to enter some basic information, like your name and email. You’ll also have to create a password.

Signing up for Draft2Digital account.

After that, accept the terms of service. Then, you’ll receive a verification email. Find the email in your inbox and hit Confirm Your Account:

Draft2Digital confirmation email.

This will launch a window where you can log in. Next, click on Add New Book:

Add a new ebook on Draft2Digital.

Then, select Start eBook:

How to sell ebooks online by creating a new book project on Draft2Digital.

After that, fill out all the necessary details under Create New eBook and click on Start eBook:

Creating a new eBook for Smashwords.

Here, you’ll be able to upload your manuscript, choose a release date, write a book description, and more.

After that, hit Save & Continue. Draft2Digital makes the remainder of the setup process simple. You’ll then need to pick your vendors and list a price. When you select a vendor, just be sure to select Smashwords.

For more information on this process, check out the guide to publishing with Draft2Digital.

Pros 👍

  • Authors maintain 100 percent of their rights
  • You can get your ebook listed on other platforms, including Amazon, Apple Books, and Barnes & Noble
  • You don’t have to make a complete website

Cons 👎

  • Steep fee on sales

Fees 💸

To get your ebook listed on Smashwords, you’ll need to use Draft2Digital, which charges a 10% fee for all sales.

Who it’s best for ⭐

Authors who have a product that is best for an ereader. Anyone who wants to sell their ebook on multiple sales channels.

4. Gumroad

You can also use Gumroad to sell your ebooks:

Gumroad ecommerce platform.

This is an ecommerce platform that enables you to create a storefront or embed one on an existing site.

To get started, just navigate to the Gumroad website and click on Start Selling:

Creating a Gumroad account.

This will prompt you to create a Gumroad account, which is super simple. All you need to do is create a username and password. Or, you can connect using a social media account, Google, or even Stripe.

Once you click on Create Account, you’ll be able to access the Gumroad dashboard:

Gumroad dashboard.

Here, you may want to check out the Getting Started section, which displays a checklist of things you’ll need to do. This includes customizing your profile, getting your first follower, creating your first product, configuring payouts, and more.

You can follow this checklist, or simply click on Create your first product:

Publish your first product on Gumroad.

Here, you’ll be able to give your product a name, select the product type, and set a price.

Then, click on Next: Customize:

How to sell ebooks online using Gumroad.

On this screen, you’ll be able to further configure your product info. When you’re ready, hit Save and continue to complete the process. All that’s left to do is publish and share your product.

Pros 👍

  • Simple storefront
  • Fast setup
  • Includes a free custom domain

Cons 👎

  • Steep fees on sales

Fees 💸

Gumroad doesn’t take any membership fees, but keeps a flat 10% of all sales.

Who it’s best for ⭐

Creators who want to sell ebooks directly to their audience.

5. Amazon Kindle

If you’ve been wondering how to sell ebooks online, Amazon Kindle has probably come to mind. This is another excellent option.

Kindle direct publishing.

To use this method, you’ll need to sign up for Kindle direct publishing. Navigate to the site and click on Join KDP:

Creating a Kindle direct publishing account.

You’ll then need to provide some basic details, including your name, email, and password. Then, follow the prompts.

Since this process can differ significantly, we won’t be walking you through it. But for more information, check out the three steps to publishing with KDP.

Pros 👍

  • Global audience potential
  • Promotional opportunities with certain plans
  • Doesn’t require a website

Cons 👎

  • Low royalties on some plans
  • Parameters on setting ebook prices

Fees 💸

Depending on your location, the size of your book, and your pricing preferences, you’ll earn either 35 percent or 70 percent in royalties from your ebook.

Who it’s best for ⭐

Aspiring authors who want to sell their ebooks worldwide. Or anyone who wants the built-in benefits that Amazon can provide, like marketing tools.

Conclusion 🧐

The great thing about an ebook is that anyone can create one – no publisher is required. However, once you’ve generated a few ebooks, you might be wondering how you can actually sell them as products.

Fortunately, there are several ecommerce platforms that can enable you to do this. What’s more, most of them are beginner-friendly.

  • If you want to create a full-fledged, customizable ecommerce site, consider WordPress or Shopify.
  • For a simple storefront and a super-quick setup, try Gumroad.
  • Or, if you’re strictly an author, Smashwords or Amazon Kindle may be better options. 💪

Do you have any questions about how to make your ebooks available online? Let us know in the comments section below!

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