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Selling eBooks with WordPress Step by Step

Do you want to sell eBooks on your WordPress site? Selling eBooks is a great way to generate passive income.

Smart business owners, side hustlers, bloggers, and solo entrepreneurs are using WordPress for self-publishing their eBooks all over the world.

🔎 In this article, we’ll show you how to sell your eBooks with WordPress easily. We will also look at the advantages and challenges of selling eBooks, whether or not to use marketplaces, and more:

What Is an eBook?

An eBook is an ‘electronic book’. Ebooks are documents that are distributed on the internet (or a computer network).

eBooks are read on a dedicated reading device called an eReader. The most popular eReader is the Amazon Kindle. They can also be read on a mobile phone, tablet, laptop, or personal computer.

Photo: person reading an eBook

eBooks are made to be read visually, not to be confused with audiobooks. Audiobooks are books recorded by narrators to be enjoyed through listening.

The Advantages and Challenges of Selling eBooks

There are many reasons why eBooks make a great digital product for you to sell.

eBook Advantages

  • Easy to create. You don’t need special software or technical skills to create and distribute an eBook. The publishing process is way easier than with printed books.
  • Scalable. Unlike with traditional paper printing, you won’t have ever-increasing overhead expenses when you sell more copies. If your eBook becomes a bestseller, you won’t have to worry about printing or reprinting your book to meet demand.
  • Easy to distribute. You just need to make a download link on your own website or list the eBook on a marketplace.
  • Easy to consume. Ebooks can be downloaded and viewed on most devices, quickly and painlessly.
  • Portable. Sure, a traditional paper book feels nice in your hand, but taking more than one or two anywhere is a pain. Customers love being able to store lots of books on one tiny device, especially for travel.

eBook Challenges

There are also challenges to sidestep or overcome when dealing with eBooks.

  • Consumers perceive traditional physical books as higher in value. The feel of the paper in your hands and the timeless prestige of a book on the shelf is powerful.
  • eBook Marketplaces have made it normal to buy books at a lower price than traditional physical books.
    • In most cases, $10 is on the high end with average prices closer to $2 or $3.
  • The prevalence of free eBooks makes the market crowded, it can be hard to demonstrate the value of your offerings.

These challenges make it very difficult to justify a high eBook price to customers. Customers likely expect to only spend a few dollars. This is unfortunate for content creators.

Where to Sell & Distribute eBooks

Basically, you can sell or distribute eBooks on digital marketplaces or websites.

Selling on Digital Marketplaces

Some popular eBook marketplaces are:

  • Amazon
    • Amazon makes it pretty easy to publish a Kindle eBook on their KDP (Kindle Direct Publishing) platform. Beware the 30-65% cut they take from all your sales in most cases.
  • Nook (by Barnes & Noble)
  • Apple Books (formerly iBooks)
  • Google Play
  • Kobo (by Rakuten)
Screenshot: Amazon eBook Marketplace

The advantages of using a marketplace are:

🟢 Marketplace Pros🔴 Marketplace Cons
They likely have a large existing customer baseFirst, most charge fees and/or take a cut of your sales revenue (the more you make the more they take)
Convenience; you don’t have to set up an online store to manage eBook salesSecond, many marketplaces take 60 or even 90 days to pay
Also, often you are only paid when you reach a certain threshold of money, otherwise they hold on to it!
Many set a maximum price your eBook can cost
Your customers are not your customer, they’re the marketplace’s customer
No direct or ongoing communication with customers

As we discussed above, it’s hard to convince customers to pay a lot of money for an eBook. When you factor in marketplace fees and restrictions, your profits can be low.

Bear in mind that even if the marketplace selling your book has a large customer base, that doesn’t mean their customers will find or choose your eBook. Those platforms have millions of books on them!

Illustration: Selling eBooks terms of use on marketplaces
Read sales terms carefully

Many authors on these platforms find they still have to do eBook marketing. They still have to create social media posts, write blog posts, strive to increase SEO (search engine optimization) and even pay for ads. All just to get people to buy their book on a marketplace that takes an additional cut of their profits.

The best way to make money selling eBooks is finding ways to keep as much or your revenue as possible.

💰 Keep more of your revenue! ➡️ Self-publish. 💪

Many entrepreneurs are instead self-publishing eBooks on their own websites. This way they can manage their brand, their website style, and (best of all) keep all their sales revenue.

As far as the convenience factor goes, sure marketplace platforms seem easy, but it’s not hard to do it yourself. 👀

In the past it was hard to make an online store. But with WordPress it can be easy, and no coding is required.

We’ll show you how you can use WordPress to sell or share your eBooks for free. You’ll only pay credit card transaction fees (which is unavoidable).

How to Sell eBooks with WordPress

Are you ready to start selling your eBooks online? With the help of Easy Digital Downloads (EDD), it’s easier than ever to get started. In this article, we’ll take you through a step-by-step guide on selling eBooks using WordPress + EDD.

Step 1: Set Up Your Website/eBook Store

Before you can start selling your eBooks, you need to set up a website. You can use any platform you’re comfortable with, but we recommend using WordPress. It’s free, easy to use, and plenty of themes and plugins are available to help you customize your website.

If you don’t already have a WordPress website, you can get one up and running within minutes using SiteGround’s Managed EDD Hosting.

Once you’ve set up your website, you can install and activate Easy Digital Downloads. The best way to sell digital products (like eBooks) with WordPress is Easy Digital Downloads:

EDD Logo Graphic

Many WordPress eCommerce solutions are designed first and foremost for selling physical products. This is true of the popular WordPress plugin WooCommerce.

Selling eBooks on these solutions is an afterthought. A bolted-on feature. You’ll likely waste time and effort setting up shipping and inventory options that you don’t need for digital products like eBooks.

EDD is purpose-built for selling downloadable digital products, like eBooks. Tens of thousands of people use EDD to sell eBooks on their websites.

eCommerce without limits!

That is our promise. Most eCommerce solutions limit your creativity
…not Easy Digital Downloads!

or try the free version.

If you’re newer to WordPress or not sure how to install a plugin, click here to view a step-by-step tutorial. You’ll be ready in no time.

Step 2: Add Your eBook as a “Download”

With EDD installed, you’ll see a new menu item on the right side of your WordPress dashboard called Downloads:

The EDD Download menu item in WordPress.

EDD calls the eBooks (or other digital items) for sale on your website “downloads”.

Let’s get your eBook on your site. For this example, we’ll use the PDF file format. Look below for more information on file formats.

First, from your WordPress dashboard, hover over Downloads and click Add New:

Adding a new download to Easy Digital Downloads.

Next, you can give the Download a name (most likely your eBook title). Then add a description (blurb) of your eBook:

Adding an eBook download to your WordPress site with EDD.

After that, set a price:

The Download prices secton of EDD.

Next, we need to configure the Download File. This is your eBook file that the customer gets when they purchase.

  1. Under File Name type “Download eBook”.
  2. Under File URL click the upload button and add your PDF file.
Screenshot: Selling ebooks with WordPress setup: file settings

Last, you need to add an attractive product image. This will likely be the cover of your book. You can use the free cover graphic template below.

Look for the Download Image box and upload your image:

Screenshot: Selling ebooks with WordPress setup: Download Image

Finally, you can click Publish.

Your eBook is almost ready to sell.

Next, you can click on View Download on the top notification banner that appeared after you published. This will take you to the frontend of your website:

Screenshot: View download

You’ll see your new eBook sales page on the front-end of your website.

In the example below we are using the free WP Astra theme. Your website will look different, depending on which WordPress theme you have.

Selling eBooks with WordPress front-end view

Step 3: Add Payment Method & Do a Test Purchase

It’s best to test out the purchase process to make sure you like the customer experience.

First, make sure your site is set up for test purchase. Go to Downloads » Settings » Payment Gateways:

The Easy Digital Downloads General Payment Settings screen.

Here, you can select the Test Mode checkbox then choose a default payment gateway. We suggest using Stripe if it’s available in your country. PayPal is also a good option.

With Stripe, you can accept credit cards, as well as Google Pay and Apple Pay.

Get started and learn more about payment methods here:

Next, go back to the front-end view of your template page to your eBook download and go through the checkout process:

Selling eBooks with WordPress checkout screen

You will get a purchase confirmation email afterward. The default email looks like this:

Screenshot: Selling eBooks with WordPress confirmation email

Customers click on the blue link to download their eBook.

Tips for Successfully Selling eBooks

Have Your Book Proofread

Consider hiring a professional service to have your book proofread and edited. Nothing makes your work appear more unprofessional than spelling and grammatical errors. This also can lead to customers regretting they purchased your eBook because it wasn’t high-quality.

Photo: person proofreading

A good DIY method for proofreading is reading your book out-loud, or having a friend read your book out-loud while you make edits. Pro tip: it can be hard to spot errors in your own eBook.

Provide Previews

Customers will appreciate a preview of the book’s contents before buying. It will help you convert site visitors into customers.

You can show screenshots, provide excerpts in the description, or even offer a free download with a small section or preview of the book.

Using previews will help you increase sales and reduce refund requests.

eBooks Can Bring In Leads

A preview (described above) can be used as a lead magnet.

Use the lead magnet to build an email list. Afterwards, you can email them to either sell them an eBook or cross-sell to another product or service.

eBooks Can Be Great for Credibility

Being the author of or contributor to a book can be great for credibility. It can be great for your resume or bio. Or they can be useful for building trust with current or potential customers.

Use eBooks to help you get a new job. Or use eBooks to help your company demonstrate expertise and land new clients.

Use eBooks to Sell Physical Books

Consider ways your eBook could be used to sell a physical book. You may be able to charge more money for a printed version of your book. There are many print-on-demand services out there to facilitate this.

If your eBook turns out to sell well, consider making an expanded and updated version that you sell as a printed book. You can even email your current eBook customers and try to up-sell them.

You can also format your eBook as an excerpt or scaled-down version of a larger printed book. This smaller book could be given away as a lead magnet or sold at a lower price. This smaller book will be used to entice them to purchase the printed book.

A physical book, in conjunction with eBooks, can help you expand your presence. You could get into libraries or bookstores. You could even do special events and offer signed copies.

Share your eBook on Social Media

It’s probably obvious that you should share about your eBook on social media. We want to emphasize the importance of making your eBook look more attractive by having a nice graphic or cover graphic.

Visual content stands out on social media. So be sure to include great graphics. Use our template (below) to do that for free!

Translate Your Book into More Languages

If your target audiences are multinational, offering versions in other languages can increase sales. There are professional translation services available for this. The popular business services site Fiverr has a large amount of freelancers available for this.

Fiverr Translations Services Page

It can be costly and tedious to do translations. And you’ll likely have to update multiple versions when you make a change. Be sure to carefully evaluate your business plan and market.

You may need to translate the rest of your website if you do this. Click here for a great article about ways to automatically or manually translate your WordPress website into other languages.

eBook File Formats

There are many file formats for eBooks.

Amazon Kindle devices use a variation of the older MOBI (Mobipocket) file format. They customize it a bit and call it AZW. I can’t find out what AZW officially stands for, most think it stands for Amazon Whispernet (their cellular data network used for downloading Amazon ebooks to your Kindle device).

The Barnes & Noble Nook uses the newer and more standard EPUB format.

Apple Books uses the EPUB format, but adds layers of copy protection or digital rights management (DRM). You can put PDF files on Apple Devices and read them in the Apple Books app as well.

Google play uses the EPUB format and also allows PDFs.

The Rakuten Kobo will also work fine with EPUBs and PDFs.

Illustration: selling eBooks on WordPress file formats

For self-distributed eBook files on your WordPress site, we recommend EPUBs and PDFs.

Free eBook Cover Design Template

Check out this free book cover graphic template we made with Canva. You can click the link below to make a copy and create your own cover graphic.

This graphic features an appealing 3D book cover style that will drive clicks. You can easily change all colors, text, and fonts. You can also add more graphics to it.

Screenshot: Free eBook cover template on Canva

👉🏾 Click here for your free Canva book cover graphic

Canva is a great free tool for making graphic designs. Set up a free account with your name and email address, they don’t require a credit card. Millions of people use their free plan with no strings attached.

They also offer a Pro Plan that has more features. Pro tip: the Pro Plan is free for registered nonprofits and NGOs.

FAQs About Selling eBooks With EDD

Can I customize the appearance of my eBook product pages with EDD?

Yes, Easy Digital Downloads allows you to customize the appearance of your digital product pages. You can choose from various themes and templates or create a custom design using WordPress themes and page builders. Additionally, Easy Digital Downloads supports extensions and plugins that provide additional design and customization options.

How are eBooks delivered to customers?

Easy Digital Downloads ensures secure delivery of eBooks to your customers. Customers who purchase an eBook receive a secure download link via email or on the order confirmation page. The link is time-limited and can be customized to prevent unauthorized sharing.

Does EDD provide sales reporting and analytics for eBooks?

Yes, Easy Digital Downloads has built-in sales reporting and analytics features. You can track and analyze key metrics such as sales volume, revenue, and customer behavior through the plugin’s intuitive dashboard. Additionally, you can integrate EDD with third-party analytics tools for more advanced insights.

Use EDD for Selling eBooks with WordPress

Nicely done! You’ve got your first eBook uploaded and ready. You’re on your way to selling eBooks on your WordPress website.

eBook publishing is a great way to make money and share your helpful ideas with the world.

Consider giving away an excerpt of one of your eBooks as a lead magnet. Freebies like these help you to grow your site traffic. They also allow you to do email marketing. Click here for our complete lead magnet tutorial.

Selling one book is good, but selling a monthly subscription could be even better! Consider how you could create subscription-based content and click here to learn how to sell subscriptions with EDD.

Get started with Easy Digital Downloads today:

eCommerce without limits!

That is our promise. Most eCommerce solutions limit your creativity
…not Easy Digital Downloads!

or try the free version.

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