As the world of books shifts to digital, I’ve been thinking more and more about selling my digital content directly to readers through an online portal. My original thinking was
that I would sell my digital books directly to readers through this portal, essentially becoming another location for readers to shop. We like buying directly from producers. I go to farmer’s markets and art shows all the time, just for that reason, so marketing my books directly to readers makes sense to me.
I finally did something about this idea this fall for two reasons: the first is the trend to reading on other devices than dedicated e-readers. As readers enjoy their content on
phones or tablets, it seems reasonable to me that they’ll be less “portal-loyal.” Amazon is probably the best at keeping the bond between device and portal, but more and more
consumers know how to “sideload” content, and those using EPUB devices are even more competent at migrating content. (Really, there would be no pirate book sites if people didn’t know how to do this.) In the next few years, I anticipate that this trend will only accelerate.
Secondly, I found an e-store application that I liked. A Selz store (https://selz.com/) is easy to set up, has a graphic interface, and is geared to selling digital content. I had my basic store up and running in less than half an hour. The most time consuming part was uploading all of my content because I manage a lot of books. I integrated the store with both of my Facebook pages and my Mailchimp mailing list very easily, as well.
Even though my store hasn’t officially launched, I’ve already noticed patterns in what readers find interesting and this has already modified my original plan. I decided to add some free content, so that readers could try out the interface without spending any money. For example, I have family trees and a booklist available on my website as downloadable PDFs that can be printed out, and have put them in the store, too. The bonus with the store is that even a free download is a “sale”, so those readers can opt into subscribing to my newsletter. (When they download content from my website, they just
slip away into the wilds of the internet.)
The store also offers me the opportunity to inventory the print editions that I have on hand. After more than twenty years as a published author, I have many older editions of books in limited numbers, and I also have readers who are collectors. This makes it easy for a reader to see what I still have available and also to order copies. (I still have to get the foreign editions listed.)
Finally, I’ve been making free downloadable excerpts available. These have the cover, blurb, an excerpt and buy links at the end for pre-ordering. Again, the content is available on my site, but not everyone wants to read it there. This way, they can pop it on their phone and read it wherever—then one-click buy, if they so choose. (Of the various portals, only iBooks allows the option of offering a sample file on a pre-order right now.) These are the most popular “products” in my store, and again, a download means that reader has the option of subscribing to my newsletter.
As might have been expected in a changing market, the way readers use the store is shaping my expectations for it. I can see lots of possibilities in making bonus content available to readers, especially content that isn’t suitable to upload to the online sales portals due to its length, format, or price. This could become another way of effectively and creatively interacting with my readers.
Come visit my online bookstore: https://deborahcooke.selz.com/
Deborah Cooke sold her first book in 1992, a medieval romance called The Romance of the Rose that was published under the pseudonym Claire Delacroix. Since then, she has published over fifty novels in a wide variety of sub-genres, including time travel romance, historical romance, contemporary romance, paranormal romance, fantasy with romantic elements and paranormal young adult. Her medieval romance, The Beauty, was her first book to land on the New York Times’ List of Bestselling Books, and she is a USA Today Bestselling, nationally bestselling and #1 Kindle bestselling author. In 2009, she was the writer-in-residence at the Toronto Public Library, the first time that they hosted a residency focused on the romance genre, and in 2012, she was honored to
receive the RWA PRO Mentor of the Year Award. Deborah lives in Canada with her husband.
Learn more about all of her books at her website, http://deborahcooke.com