Over the past year selling direct to readers on your own website has become popular. It used to be that people would tell you that it was hard, or it was hard to get people to buy, but this is no longer so.
So I thought I do a little update on this subject, since I have addressed it before.
New opportunities to sell direct to your readers are coming up all the time, and I’ll probably do another update at some point in the future.
Why has it suddenly become so popular?
There are several congruent factors.
The enshittification of Amazon has reached a tipping point. More and more ads on your book’s pages take buyers’ eyes away from your book. You are being asked to pay more and more for ads that have less effect. Organic success becomes rarer as pay-to-play takes over. Pay Amazon, that is.
On the other hand, we have the arrival of many direct sales options on the scene.
What are the options?
So what are the main options for selling direct to readers and which are the best ones?
Shopify has solidified its position as a go-to platform. It offers a wide range of plug-ins and is easy to set up. The main drawbacks are the cost, and the fact that it’s not very customisable. It’s not cheap for someone selling $5 ebooks.
For people who don’t like the expense, there is Payhip, which is equally easy to deal with. It integrates with Bookfunnel, they collect the money, and they even remit taxes for you. They have lots of new features, and you can customise your store to some extent.
You can use Wix, which is a platform I don’t know much about, but as far as I have heard, it is also easy to set up. I don’t know about how customisable it is. They have some integrations, notably with the BookVault POD printer, but at the time of writing do not integrate with Bookfunnel.
If you like more control and less cost, you might opt for Woocommerce, which uses the full power of WordPress. Woocommerce is free and works straight out of the box without customising anything. All you need to do is set up your PayPal and maybe Stripe accounts and upload your books, connect your Bookfunnel links and start selling. You don’t need to customise or program anything.
Another option is to have a direct sales link using a PayPal button. This would work if you have only one or two products to sell or if you have something that you’re selling temporarily.
In the next year or so, I will be testing the Stripe-Mailerlite integration as I move to the new Mailerlite. They allow you to sell directly, and this could also be useful for temporary specials that you don’t necessarily want to make public to those who are not on your list.
And then there is Kickstarter. They only take a small fee, but they are in effect a direct sales platform where all the money goes to you, and you need to deal with fulfilment. You can do this through Bookfunnel and Book Vault or Ingram Spark for printing.
There are also an increasing number of advanced (and rather pricey) options like Thrivecart.
What should you consider?
I don’t want to steer everyone in any particular direction for selling direct to readers. I think the preferred options are different for all types of writers. If you are just beginning, I would advise you to go to Payhip, simply because it’s free and super-easy.
Many of the other options are slightly more advanced, and I would only attempt some of them if you’re sure that you’re going to recoup the cost and you have a way of sending buyers to your store.
I think it is important that you start small to see if the project has legs and you like the feel of it. There is nothing as demoralising as to do a lot of work and not have any buyers.
Secondly, integration is important. Check that the services you want to use are integrated. You can hack integration with a tool like Zapier, but 1. it’s another paid subscription you might not want and 2. Every redirect you place in between a buyer clicking a link and the transaction going through is a point where the process may fail. I’ve never found these redirects reliable.