Today, self-publishing is big business. Wondering how many books Amazon has on its Kindle store?
An estimate: 48.5 million. Amazon stopped making figures available several years ago, but it’s estimated that around a million new ebooks are published on the Kindle Store each year. With the rise of generative AI apps like ChatGPT, those numbers will increase.
Self-publishing authors are looking for new ways to sell their books, because competition on Amazon is fierce.
Beyond Amazon: self-publishing and making sales
We looked at ways to sell books on your website, as well as publishing as widely as you can on Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP) and other online bookstores.
By the way, if you’re not already using Draft2Digital, the online book distributor to “go wide”, that is, to sell your books on as many sites as you can, check them out. I’ve always been happy with their services, and they’re constantly developing new ways to help you to sell more books.
My suggestion if you’d like to sell more books: experiment as much as you can. Today, you’re looking for the roads less travelled, because the usual avenues have become traffic-jammed six lane highways.
Let’s look at two savvy ways.
1. Prolific author? Consider subscriptions
Amazon offers subscriptions via Kindle Unlimited. It’s a simple process for self-publishing authors. You enroll your books in KDP Select for three months, giving Amazon an exclusive:
When you choose to enroll your book in KDP Select, you’re committing to make the digital format of that book available exclusively through KDP.
I know that many authors have dumped all their books into KDP Select: these books are free to Kindle Unlimited subscribers. These authors make money according to how many pages of their books are read. Or they don’t.
One author told me that for her, Select is a solution that works. She said: “last year I spent more on advertising than I made in sales. I can’t take the stress and I’m making more money in Select.”
Although KDP Select works for some self-publishing authors, it doesn’t work for all of them. I’ve pulled out much of my fiction, under couple of pen names. For me, it cannibalized sales.
A friend is offering subscriptions to her books via Patreon. Another uses Substack. One had an unfortunate experience, with Revue, Twitter’s newsletter service: Twitter shuttered it in January 2023.
Blogging Wizard offers a roundup of Patreon alternatives to consider; there are many of them.
It comes down to this: are you primarily a self-publishing author, or a bookseller? If you enjoy selling, consider an online bookshop.
2. Create an online bookshop: sell books, and more
I’ve always loved the idea of owning my own bookshop. That will never happen, but it’s a lovely dream.
If you have the same dream, you can do it. Did you know that there are 11,807 live Shopify stores in its Books & Literature category? (Check out that page, it has some excellent stats.)
Shopify published a blog post, How To Start an Online Bookstore: The Ultimate Guide (2023):
Ready to turn your reading hobby into a business by selling books? Start your own online bookstore or bypass publishers to sell your own story directly to your fans.
So Shopify is actively encouraging new bookstores.
Would it work for you? One of my writing students is considering it. She’s self-publishing and has eight nonfiction books.
Her store will not only sell her books in digital, print, and audio versions but will also sell stationery. She’s a stationery nerd like me, so I can’t wait to see the results.
Self-publishing and promotions: create a plan and follow it
It’s always been challenging to promote and sell your books, no matter whether you’re a self-publishing author, or you go the traditional publishing route.
Subscriptions and your own bookstore offer opportunities. If they appeal to you, do some research. Only you know what will work for you. Don’t be afraid to take the plunge: create a plan, and follow it.
Good luck. 🙂
When you improve a book's blurb, you can rescue books which aren't selling, and have confidence that new books will have the best chance to find their audience.More info →
Copywriter and marketing pro Angela Booth maintains a busy copywriting and ghostwriting practice. Fascinated by online marketing, she wrote one of the first business books for internet marketing, published by Allen & Unwin. She’s been an enthusiastic blogger since the late 1990s.