From Word document to book: Part 4 / “platforms and pricing”
The fourth part of a series I'm using to share how I took my manuscript from a regular Word document to a fully-fledged, pretty book available on Kindle + my online shop.
By the way, I’m currently putting the paperback version of my book together… and I’ll be adding the ‘paperback’ part to this series, too. So stay for that :)
Welcome to part 4 of this Word document to book series, and today I’m going to share with you which platforms I decided to sell The Indie Author on for its e-book launch.
I’m also going to go into why I chose the platforms I did, and then I’m going to finish by talking about how I chose a price for my e-book.
So let’s get started…
Platforms: Amazon + Payhip
When it came to choosing where to sell my book, I decided to keep things as simple as possible, and I went with selling my eBook in two places:
Amazon KDP, and
I wanted to keep things as simple as possible, choosing just TWO platforms in order to tap into the largest e-book marketplace (Amazon), and offer a way for readers to purchase my e-book directly (Payhip).
Amazon is the biggest marketplace, and my hope is that this book is an asset that makes me revenue in the months, years and decades to come. So that’s why selling on Amazon was a no-brainer.
But then I wanted to offer another option for folks who have another e-reader, don’t own an e-reader but still want to read the book via the PDF option, or simply would rather buy from me directly rather than Amazon. This direct option also feels important for me as an independent author, giving buyers the option to buy directly from me rather than through Amazon or another platform.
Having a direct relationship allows you to have more control. For example, you can send individual 'thank you' emails to book buyers, inviting them to follow you ad your work elsewhere, or add buyers to an email list (making this clear at checkout). On Amazon, you have no data for individual buyers – seeing them simply as numbers on a dashboard.
Like I said before, Amazon is the biggest marketplace and thus, in the long run, can be lucrative. (In fact, during our Introvert Writer Summit conversation, Joanna Penn shared that there are authors making six-figure-incomes through selling their book series' on Amazon. Pretty powerful stuff!).
Choosing a direct platform
As an independent author, I felt passionately about offering readers an option to buy from me directly. It was then a question of which platform to use to sell my book directly.
There are a good few options out there.
Initially, I was looking at a platform called Ko-Fi. This is a platform for creators to share their work and I really love what Ko-Fi are doing, but unfortunately – at least at the time of writing this post – they don’t support EU Digital Sales Tax.
As someone based in the UK, this tax is something I needed to adhere to. In short, this tax is a real pain to try and report and keep on top of yourself. A quick Google search which tell you whether or not you’re in a European country where this tax applies (things are changing all the time, so do keep an eye out for this if you’re in Europe. If you're in any doubt, I would strongly recommend consulting a tax specialist).
I decided to go with London-based Payhip. They are a small, lean 'indie' company. When I reached out to support to ask some questions, it was the founder (Abs) who replied back. I asked Abs back in October 2021 how big the Payhip team was, and they are a core team of 4 + freelancers. I also liked the fact that they are London-based, but the kicker was probably the fact that Payhip integrates with Bookfunnel (at this time, Gumroad doesn’t), an integration that provides an amazingly smooth and helpful experience for your directly paying customers.
I discovered this nifty Payhip + Bookfun integration through one of Joanna Penn’s videos.
Basically, a customer purchases an e-book from your Payhip store, they pop in their details, and they then get an on-screen confirmation and email from Payhip.
In addition, they receive a simple email from Bookfunnel with a link, and with that Bookfunnel link they’re asked which device they want to read on – whether it’s a Kindle, another e-reader like Nook or Kobo, an Apple device, an Android device, etc – and are walked through downloading your book onto their chosen device.
Using Payhip + Bookfunnel, I didn’t even have to upload the ebook separately to other stores with their own e-book devices, like Barnes & Noble or Kobo. Every single possible device was covered. I just had to upload the EPUB, MOBI and PDF files* to Payhip, and the Bookfunnel integration would do the rest for me.
*📝 Part 3 / “formatting covers these different file types I've mentioned.
And better yet, if they have any problems with that process, BookFunnel has a support team they can reach out to who can helpfully guide them through that process. It really is an amazing experience for the customer from start to finish.
So, that’s why I decided to use Payhip & Bookfunnel as the direct option for my selling my book.
Pricing my e-book
I decided to launch my book at $0.99 cents for the whole month of November. So let me talk about why I choose that price, and also that timeframe.
Price Firstly, for the book’s launch, I just wanted the book to reach as many readers as possible. Why did I want to do that? Well, this is my first book, and I really just want this book to reach as many people as I possibly can. I could have sold the e-book for, say $9.99 at launch, but people don’t really know who I am, and there are dozens and dozens of books on Amazon, even in the category niches that I chose.
[I'll be talking about Amazon KDP's categories and keywords in Part 5 of this series]
So what I wanted to do was, at launch, give my book the best possible chance of getting off to a good start on Amazon and rising up the algorithms a little.
And I also wanted folks to be inclined to buy the book from me direct, too, because that way – it would still be reaching more people for those who don’t have a Kindle, or who just wanted to support me directly.
So, in other words, selling the book at the super-discounted price of $0.99 would – I was hoping – encourage more folks to buy the book at launch, and so hopefully on Amazon the boost in sales would help it be ranked for the particular keywords and categories I’d chosen.
The reason why I chose the $0.99 price specifically, was because this is the lowest price you can price your book on Amazon without joining 'KDP Select'; KDP Select lets you set your book price as low as free, but is personally something I didn’t want to opt into as you are required to sell your e-book exclusively on Amazon for a minimum of 90 days; instead, I wanted to offer a direct option, and so I didn't want to be tied into this exclusivity.
Launch timeframe And I chose the whole month of November, because I wanted to give folks the opportunity to buy the book over the course of the month.
As part of the launch, I knew that the contributing authors in this book, some of whom had email lists, would want to share the book with them, and I wanted to give them ample time to do that; I know that people don’t always check emails immediately, and they would then have to prepare and send/schedule newsletters to let their audience(s) know.
It’s taken two whole years to put this book together, and I wanted to give folks – and the friends and connections of my contributing authors – plenty of time to purchase a copy.
And with my book release happening to land on November 1st, I thought it would be neat to offer the book at a launch discount for the whole month of November and National Novel Writing Month – especially with the title of The Indie Author and the book aimed at helping more people write and self-publish books.
So that’s why I priced my book at $0.99 cents for the whole of its first launch month, from the 1st to the 30th November 2021.
Some final words…
So hopefully that explains why I decided to offer The Indie Author e-book on Amazon & direct with Payhip.
With these 2 platforms, I was tapping into the largest e-book marketplace as well as offering all readers a way to buy directly from me.
At some point I may upload my book to the other e-book marketplaces (e.g. Kobo, Apple Books), but at that time I just wanted to keep things nice and simple.
And so that concludes Part 4 of this Word document to book series.
This little series was originally filmed for my youtube channel… here’s the accompanying vlog to this post:
Stay tuned for Part 5, where I’ll be talking about the keywords and categories research I did in preparation for selling my book on the Amazon Kindle store…