PUBLISHING

12 Places to Sell Your Book

BY HANNAH GUY • July 9, 2020

12 Places to Sell Your Book

We spend a lot of time talking about how to rise above the hurdles that indie authors face. And those hurdles are not just in writing and researching your book but in editing, publishing, marketing, promoting, and finally selling your book.

We haven’t spent a lot of time addressing the many platforms authors have to self-publish their books. There are more outlets than ever for books, including some that you pay to use and others that are free. But even the platforms that are free in terms of upfront investment have a cost, which we’ll explain here. And even the most generous—and most popular—platforms have their strings attached.

And so without further ado, we present our (by no means exhaustive) list of some of the top platforms available for selling your book.

Your website

Upfront Cost: None

This is not the place where you’ll have the greatest chance to become a bestseller. You won’t sell a ton of books, and you’ll have to do most of the work yourself. But it’s also the most overlooked. Not only can you sell your book directly to readers, but you keep a good chunk of your profits (minus printing and shipping costs, of course). You have complete control over how to sell it and for how much. Most importantly, it’s a great way to interact with your readers and also collect their email addresses (something you usually don’t get through other platforms) for your mailing list, announcements, news, and even for thanking your readers directly.

Amazon

Upfront Cost: Free

Terms: 35–70% royalties

Well, obviously. In North America and the UK, Amazon holds 80% or more of the market share. It is by far the largest and most popular platform. To enjoy their top 70% royalty rate, you’ll have to sell your book exclusive on their Kindle Direct Publishing program. That means you’re not allowed to digitally sell your book through any other platform—including your own. If you’re also selling through other platforms,  you’ll have to accept the 35% royalty rate. Amazon offers great opportunities to be placed on bestseller lists and get noticed through reviews and even advertising, but you’re also facing some stiff competition from millions of other books. And Amazon is stringent about their policies and requirements, so make sure you read the fine print.

Apple iBooks

Upfront Cost: Free

Terms: 35–70% royalties

iBooks has nowhere near the sales clout of Amazon, but they offer a much more handsome royalty program, and they don’t demand exclusivity. But the biggest reason to consider selling through iBooks is that their app is more popular than even Kindle. The biggest caveat here is that you’ll need to have access to a Mac in order to upload your book to iBooks, or consider using a third-party/aggregate publisher like Smashwords.

Google Play Books

Upfront Cost: Free

Terms: 100% royalties

Don’t discount Google Play from the bookselling party. They reach 76 countries, and the Play store is on every single Android device. That’s a hefty market to plug into. Perks include full royalties, benefitting from Google’s impressive search capabilities, and a large reader base. Cons? Some authors report struggling with uploading, formatting, and customer support.

Barnes & Noble Press

Upfront Cost: Free

Terms: 40–65% royalties

In 2019, B&N’s Nook was sold to Waterstones in the UK. B&N now offers their own self-publishing platform, Barnes & Noble Press. B&N has a decent share of the book sales pie, but your royalties will depend entirely on the cost of the book: if it’s $2 or under, you only receive 40% royalties, and anything over that is 65%. Nothing earth-shattering, but if you’re not selling exclusively on Amazon, this is a must-use.

Kobo’s Writing Life

Upfront Cost: Free

Terms: 45–70% royalties

While Kobo doesn’t have quite as strong a market presence in the UK and North America (although they have a slightly greater edge in Canada, where the company first began), they do offer an advantage to authors who are looking to spread out into other international markets. Now owned by Rakuten, they have a substantial reach in Asia, and your books can be sold in roughly 190 countries. Books that are over $2.99 qualify for the 70% royalty rate.

Shopify

Ongoing Cost: $29/month

Terms: 100% royalties

Shopify is an ecommerce site that allows people to sell merchandise to customers. If you’re an author selling books, you can offer your book for sale here. Provided you sell enough books, this can be more profitable than some of the other options, because while monthly payments start at $29, you keep all of your royalties. 

Smashwords

Upfront Cost: Free

Terms: 15% commission on all sales

One of the oldest aggregator sites, Smashwords was at the forefront of the self-publishing revolution. Their popularity continues today, and through them, you can also make your books available on several platforms, including B&N, Kobo, and even library networks. They charge a healthy commission, but Smashwords still pays out what would be, roughly, an 85% royalty rate.

Draft2Digital

Upfront Cost: Free

Terms: 15% commission on all sales

Smashwords’ key competitor offers a similar platform, with a different interface. Choosing between the two appears to be a case of preference between an older, reliable platform and a more modern version.

Inkshares

Upfront Cost: Free

Terms: 35–50% royalties

Unlike the other platforms, Inkshares acts as both a publishing platform for selling books as well as a “traditional publisher,” with a team of editors, designers, publicists, and more. But there’s a big caveat: they won’t publish your book until you have a minimum of 750 preorders. So you’ll be working to sell your book before it’s even published.

Fiverr

Ongoing Cost: $1 per transaction

Are you selling your book for $5? You might want to consider selling in on Fiverr. Known primarily as a place to buy and sell any kind of digital product or service, many authors have found Fiverr a profitable place to sell their books. There are a few cons, though. For one, at $1 per transaction, that a 20% commission. You are also responsible for emailing every purchase, and you’ll need to log in regularly to maintain your profile.

E-Junkie

Ongoing Cost: Starts at $5/month

Another ecommerce site, E-Junkie, allows you to sell your PDF e-books just by paying a monthly hosting fee. Fees change according to how many books/products you are selling, as well as how much storage you need.

We hope the options we’ve briefly presented here will get you excited about selling your book online. There’s a platform for every author (and every budget), so spend some time looking through these websites and finding the right one, or ones, for you.

 

 

Hannah Guy lives in Toronto and is a professional writer and copywriter who specializes in books, books, and more books. Follow her on Twitter at @hannorg. 

Great Books & News Curated For You

Be the first to read books news and see reviews, news and features in Kirkus Reviews. Get awesome content delivered to your inbox every week.

Thank you!