Category: Self-publishing

Places to Publish: FastSpring

When publishing ebooks, indie authors may think they are limited to selling them at places catering to books, such as Amazon’s Kindle Store and Apple’s iBooks Store. But you can also sell your ebooks on your website. Use a service like FastSpring to handle the details of processing orders and accepting electronic payments.

Using FastSpring

If you visit the FastSpring website, you’ll notice that it’s geared towards selling software online. But from a buying and selling standpoint, an electronic book is no different from a piece of software. Customers place their orders, enter their payment information, and download what they ordered. There’s nothing preventing you from using FastSpring to sell an electronic version of your book.

FastSpring provides a custom storefront for your book. Customers use the storefront to order your book, enter payment information, and download the book. FastSpring processes the order and collects any sales tax. By using a service like FastSpring you can handle credit card orders without having to sign up for a merchant account.

After signing up for a FastSpring account, create a product for your book. Enter the name of the book, a description, and a price. From there you can test your storefront to make sure everything is working properly.

When everything is working, add a Buy button to your website that links to the FastSpring storefront for your book. You should also contact FastSpring so they can make the storefront match the look of your website.

Pricing

FastSpring takes a percentage of each ebook you sell. They take 8.9% of the sale price. If you sell an ebook for $10 on FastSpring, you receive $9.11.

There’s also an option where FastSpring takes 5.9% of the sale price plus 95 cents. Unless you’re selling your ebook for over $30, you’re better off with the 8.9% plan.

UPDATE: MARCH 2017

FastSpring removed the 8.9% plan, leaving the 5.9% + 95 cents plan. This change makes FastSpring less attractive for ebooks. With the new plan you get $8.46 for a $10 ebook.

Strengths

You get to keep more money from each sale, 91%. Amazon and Apple give you 70%. 21% of a sale is a big piece.

You can integrate your storefront with mailing list managers like MailChimp to stay in contact with your readers.

Weaknesses

You need your own website to use FastSpring.

FastSpring doesn’t print books. Use FastSpring to sell your ebook and a print on demand publisher like CreateSpace to sell a print version of your book.

Summary

If you want to sell ebooks on your website, using FastSpring is a good way to get more money from those sales.

Publish in Multiple Places

Hours after I published my CreateSpace article, a thought hit me. People reading the article are going to want to know the best place to publish their books. How do I answer that question?

While thinking about the question I realized that indie authors should be publishing their books in multiple places. If you read the CreateSpace article, you know that CreateSpace is a great way to get your book on Amazon. Amazon is a great place to reach readers, but it’s not the only place. You should have your book on Apple’s iBooks Store. If you have a website for your books, you should be selling them there.

Don’t worry about the best place to sell your books. There are lots of places to sell books online. Use them to reach as many people as possible.

Places to Publish: CreateSpace

I’m beginning a series of articles on places for indie authors to publish and sell their books. I can’t think of a better place to start than CreateSpace.

Print on Demand

CreateSpace is a print on demand publisher. The term print on demand requires more explanation.

To explain print on demand, it helps by explaining traditional book printing. Traditional publishers do print runs of 1,000 or more books. When you print 1,000 or more copies of a book at a time, the price per book comes down.

There’s nothing stopping you from doing a traditional print run as a self-publisher, but there are disadvantages. You have to shell out thousands of dollars for the print run. You have to store the books somewhere. When someone orders a copy of your book, you need to handle the order and ship the book. A traditional print run is also risky because there’s no way of knowing how many copies your book will sell. If you print 1,000 copies of a book and sell only 200, you’re going to lose money.

Print on demand publishers take care of the mundane tasks of self-publishing. You submit a PDF file for the book to them. When someone orders a copy of your book, the print on demand publisher processes the order, prints a copy of the book, and ships it to the customer. By printing a book only when a customer orders it, there’s no unsold inventory with print on demand publishing.

The downside of print on demand publishing is the price of printing a single book is higher than doing a traditional print run. But the reduced risk of print on demand publishing outweighs the higher printing cost. I would rather make $1-2 less per sale with print on demand publishing than ship books myself and risk having hundreds of unsold copies of my book sitting in my house.

Pricing

CreateSpace doesn’t charge upfront fees to sell your books. They take a percentage of each sale. How much they take depends on the distribution channel you use.

  • If you sell a copy of the book on the CreateSpace eStore, they take 20% of the book price plus the cost of printing the book.
  • If you sell a book on Amazon, they take 40% of the book price plus the printing cost.
  • If you use CreateSpace’s expanded distribution channel to sell to libraries and bookstores, they take 60% of the book price plus the cost of printing the book.

The cost of printing the book depends on the number of pages and the type of interior: black and white or color. Printing a book with a black and white interior costs 85 cents plus 1.2 cents per page. Books 108 pages or less have a flat $2.15 fee.

Suppose you are publishing a 300 page book and selling it for $20. The cost of printing the book is:

.85 + (300 * .012) = .85 + 3.60 = $4.45

Here’s how much you would get for selling the book on CreateSpace.

CreateSpace eStore: 20 - (20 * .2) - 4,45 = 20 - 4 - 4.45 = $11.55

Amazon: 20 - (20 * .4) - 4.45 = 20 - 8 - 4.45 = $7.55

Expanded Distribution: 20 - (20 * .6) - 4.45 = $3.55

CreateSpace also offers services like cover design and editing, but you don’t have to use them to publish a book with CreateSpace.

Strengths

CreateSpace’s biggest strength is your book is on Amazon. If you want to sell a print book on Amazon, CreateSpace is your best option. In my pricing example, you got about 37% of the book price for each sale on Amazon. If you use another print on demand publisher, your piece of each Amazon sale is going to be similar to your piece when using CreateSpace’s expanded distribution channel.

CreateSpace makes it easy to sell your book on Amazon’s Kindle Store. All you need to do is sign up for a Kindle Direct Publishing account.

Weaknesses

You don’t get much money per book if you use CreateSpace’s expanded distribution channel. In my pricing example you got only about 17% of the book’s price when using the expanded distribution channel.

Summary

If you plan to sell books on Amazon, you should check out CreateSpace. No other service will pay as much for a book someones buys on Amazon.