If you, Renegade Writer, have an ebook to sell, once you have the files in your hands, the trick is to getting it to the readers. There are the usual outlets (Kindle, Smashwords), but even with their broad reach, you’re leaving money on the table by not selling from your website.
Let me tell you right now: Selling a PDF with a Paypal button, after which you have to email the file is not a good solution. You probably know that. If you’ve done it, you know what a hassle it is. For your customer, it defeats the purpose of an ebook, which is instant gratification. You’re tired of monitoring your email; your customers are irritated with you if you don’t pony up the file in about 2 minutes. I bought an ebook that way once. That was all it took.
Mike Cane pointed me to this: Massive Sqwertz for Indie Comics, which outlines a delivery system that is essentially manual (the part where you constantly manipulate your email filters). There are some good ideas there that I’ve had on my to-do list for some time, such as the SMS and QR code enabling, but at the moment, because I am on a shoestring budget, those tools compete with more high-priority customer needs (in my opinion).
Your goal, Renegade Writer, is to automate your delivery system without spending more than about $0.
I’ve said before that I’m not a visionary: I’m an implementer and streamliner of good ideas. The best one I’ve seen yet was Samhain’s My Bookstore and More (which is apparently on hiatus). It had everything:
1. Drop-down menu
2. Automated delivery
3. Perpetual bookshelf with unlimited downloads
4. Ability to redownload different formats (i.e., if you bought a title, you bought all formats)
5. Live files you can open immediately from your wifi device
That’s what I wanted. I contacted the people who built their site and about swallowed my tongue at the price. I’m a nanopress. I can’t afford that. Neither can an individual author. ZenCart and its ilk (free) are, I think, capable of doing this, but I really haven’t had time to delve into it for the exactly four titles B10 and Peculiar Pages have, which will expand to at least six by the end of the year.
My need to have a comprehensive perpetual bookshelf (defined as re-downloadability of different live-file formats) warred with my need to allow the customer to own all the formats. I couldn’t find a free shopping cart that would do that. (For one good discussion of shopping carts, go to Crystal Williams’s blog, Big Bright Bulb.)
So I had to choose between giving a customer ALL the formats and giving the customer a single live-file format (which would then necessitate me emailing the others).
It’s not a perfect solution, but I can’t afford a perpetual bookshelf. However, it sure beats any type of manual delivery system that depends on you, Renegade Writer, sitting guard over your email.
Perhaps the addition of SMS-enabled and/or QR code-enabled purchasing (if I can integrate it with my current shopping cart) will change my mind to favor the live file.
1. Domain name (~$15/year)
2. Webhosting (~$60/year)
3. WordPress installation ($0)
4. WP eCommerce shopping cart ($0)
5. Not having to tend my email 24/7 and having pissed-off customers (priceless)