If you only publish your books traditionally, you’re missing out. Check out this graph if digital sales between 2002 and now:
As the digital book market explodes, I’ve realized I need an ebook presence. Since I’m a one-woman show, I don’t want to be responsible for the fulfillment of online digital orders. It’s worth a portion of the revenue to find an etailer who can dependably deliver my books to my customers. In my quest for just such a sales partner, I have tried myriad companies–
- Freado–though I love the book widgets, they haven’t done a thing for my sales. And it took a long time to set up my store on Freado. They had lots of questions, options, fields that had to be completed–OMG. It was one night’s investment of time–say, four hours–with pretty much no return
- DocStoc–This site has a professional appearance and clean organized dashboard for sellers. After another long night spent uploading my books (rather a quirky set-up for uploading), I hoped it would be another Scribd. Unfortunately, I’ve sold only a handful.
- FiledBy–promotes itself as a marketeer for authors, telling the world what you as author are doing, where you are appearing. Since I don’t have a lot of public appearances, I have gotten no traffic from FiledBy to my websites. I’d like to know if it works for anyone else.
Don’t get me wrong. I believe if I put a lot of time in any of the above sites, I’d get a better return. The problem is, a day has only twenty-four hours. I can’t put bunches of time into every possible marketing outlet and hope it works. If you’re like me, you are author, salesman, CEO and you hold down a day job, so you and I must make judgment calls early on for what works or doesn’t, and then fish or cut bait (as they say).
Scribd was a similar effort, one I started several years ago. I had my books on Amazon as hardcover and wanted to participate in the ebook revolution (this was before I heard of Smashwords). My books are graphics-intensive with lots of tables. If you are a traditional fiction author, you aren’t aware that ereaders like iPad or Smashwords or anly other ereader don’t like the blockiness of pictures and tables. You can format them, but it’s expensive. So far, north of $200 each (I have nine books).
So I settled on pdf’s as my ebook option. I checked out Scribd back in 2007–it’s birth year. It bills itself as the largest social publishing and reading site in the world:
- tens of millions of monthly readers
- tens of millions of documents for free or for sale
- used by companies such as the Chicago Tribune, Fox News, the Red Cross and UNICEF
I uploaded two books. All you do is create a FREE account, upload a Word or pdf document, add tag words for searching, a short description and you’re ready to go. I made them free access to the public because I wanted to see if I would get activity before investing the time to upload my next seven books.
Within the first week, I had two thousand reads, so I uploaded the rest of my books and set up my store. Once the books are online, all I had to do to sell them was attach a price and how much readers could see for free. Scribd provides a dashboard for sellers showing a list of books, how many visits, how many sales of which books over what time frame, comments from readers. They pay quarterly, deposited into my PayPal account.
That done, I waited again.
It took three months to get my first sale. By the end of the first year, I’d had only a handful. I pretty much decided this was (yet another) dead end…
…and then things popped. Maybe Scribd finally gained traction in the cybersphere. Maybe my blogs finally drove enough business there. Truth be known, I don’t know why, but now I have a steady flow of sales monthly. In fact, because they take only 20%, Scribd rivals Amazon for the money I make (I didn’t say surpasses, though. Amazon is my most lucrative venue for book sales).
To date, I have 90,000 reads. Sales are handled by Scribd. I never worry about uploads to customers, complaints, concerns–Scribd is like my marketing manager.
I still have a presence on all of the sites I bulleted, but still nothing is happening. Unlike Scribd where I now have in excess of 90,000 reads, Freado et al are well below two hundred. As a result, I continue to be on the hunt for more marketing avenues. Right now, my eye is set on Google Books.
More on that later.