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How to sell ebooks profitably in 2024

20 min

Well-researched and curated knowledge will always have a market. This has been evident in the ebooks space.

In 2022, the global ebooks market was valued at $19.95 billion and is projected to reach $32.19 billion by 2032.

So, no, it’s not too late to get on the ebooks train and transform your knowledge into a tangible asset. And now you’re probably wondering…How? How do you start selling ebooks and actually earn from them?

In this article, we’ll explore how to create, market, and successfully sell ebooks online. So whether you’ve tried to sell your ebooks online before or are an aspiring ebook author, dive right in and start your journey towards successful ebook sales.

What is an ebook?

An ebook (electronic book) is an uneditable digital file designed to be read on electronic devices like tablets, smartphones, and e-readers like Amazon’s Kindle.

Unlike traditional print books, ebooks exist in digital formats like AZW3, EPUB, or PDF files, allowing readers to access and conveniently consume literary content on different devices. But just like physical books, there’s no limit on the pages or topic when selling ebooks online.

What’s the demand for ebooks?

The ebook market is already large and promises to keep growing. But why is there such a growing demand for ebooks? There are a couple of reasons why, including:

  • Portability: Readers can carry ebooks the size of an entire library on a single device, making it convenient for long-distance travel or daily commuting.
  • Global reach: Ebooks are distributed globally through various online platforms. That means they can reach readers in different countries without the international shipping challenges experienced with physical books. 
  • Instant access: Readers purchase and download ebooks instantly, eliminating the need to wait for shipping or visit a physical bookstore. 
  • Cost-effective: ebooks are more cost-effective than physical books. Readers don’t have to pay shipping or extra charges to cover printing and distribution costs. Authors can also use free ebook templates to create their ebooks efficiently.

Let’s now look at how you can start selling ebooks.

A step-by-step guide to selling ebooks

Here is a step-by-step guide on how to sell ebooks successfully. 

1. Analyze and pick a niche

Find your ideal niche by identifying your interests, expertise, and passions. The “write what you know” golden rule still stands with ebooks. Writing about a topic you are genuinely interested in will make the writing process more enjoyable and contribute to the content’s authenticity and depth.

Next, find out the specific topics people want to know about. You can do this by conducting thorough market research to identify topics that have a demand in the current market. 

Surveys, social media platforms, and other tools like Google Trends can be valuable resources for gauging the demand for these topics. 

Google Trends.

Besides that, analyze the competition by looking at other published ebooks in your field of interest or expertise. These might give you an idea or two for your next ebook.

Related: How to pick a niche for affiliate marketing

2. Define your target audience

Outline and understand who will benefit the most from the information or insights provided in your ebook. Identify your target audience’s demographic, psychographic, and behavioral characteristics to do this effectively. 

Demographics include age, gender, location, and occupation, while psychographics looks at values, interests, and attitudes. Behavioral factors encompass the habits, preferences, and your audience’s decision-making patterns. 

Once you’ve defined your target audience’s attributes, create detailed personas representing your ideal readers. Personas humanize your audience, making envisioning their needs and preferences easier. 

Audience persona template.
Audience persona example. Source: SproutSocial

As you research and craft your ebook, remember your audience personas. Tailor your language, examples, and solutions to address their specific challenges and pain points. This will make your ebook more valuable to readers.

Your understanding of the target customers will also inform your marketing strategy. As shown above, your persona shows the digital channels your audience uses the most. Focusing your promotional efforts on these channels when marketing your ebook will give you better sales results. 

3. Design a winning ebook cover

Most of us judge a book by its cover, and understandably so since the book cover is often the book’s visual identity. Therefore, ensure your cover is eye-catching and well-thought-out. It should grab potential readers’ attention while conveying the ebook’s essence.

Consider your ebook’s theme and genre when conceptualizing the ebook cover design. Even your target audience has specific design expectations for different genres and themes. 

For instance, a vibrant and whimsical design will work for a young target audience, while a sleek and modern design suits a more official corporate audience. 

Typography also plays a crucial role in the overall look. Select fonts that make the text on the cover visually appealing and legible on all screen sizes. Also, use visual hierarchy to organize the cover content appropriately. 

Your ebook title should have the largest font, followed by the subtitle and the author’s name. See below.

Example of a book cover.
Example of a book cover.

In addition, choose relevant graphics and a color palette that evokes positive emotions and complements your ebook’s theme. Warm tones convey a sense of positive energy and enthusiasm, while cool tones tend to evoke calmness and professionalism.

Related: Free ebook templates

4. Create well-researched and valuable content

Thorough research is the foundation of valuable content. So before you start writing, even as an expert, research your chosen topic extensively. This includes gathering new information from reputable sources, reviewing existing content, and understanding the latest developments in your field.

Incorporate various content elements to enhance comprehension and boost your ebook content’s trustworthiness. For instance, you can include images, case studies, exercises, and real-life examples. 

Additionally, cite your sources and provide references. This adds credibility to your content and allows readers to explore the topic further.

You should also strive for originality in your ebook content. While drawing on existing knowledge and research is essential, include your unique perspective and insights. This originality sets your ebook apart and proves your knowledge in the field.

5. Write your ebook

Start with a well-defined outline. An outline serves as a roadmap for your ebook creation process, ensuring a logical flow of content. Identify key chapters, sections, and subtopics.

Ensure you have a strong introduction. The introduction sets the stage for your ebook, capturing the reader’s attention and providing a glimpse into what they can expect. So, craft an introduction that outlines your ebook’s purpose, highlights its relevance, and establishes a great connection with your audience from the outset.

Next, write compelling chapters that follow a great flow. Each chapter should have a clear focus and contribute to the overall narrative. Keep the paragraphs and sentences concise to make the content more digestible. Also, use subheadings to break up text and group similar discussions together.

Make sure to maintain a clear and engaging writing style throughout your ebook. Whether formal, reflective, or personal, consistency in tone enhances readability. Avoid jargon unless necessary, and even then, ensure you explain it to keep your content inclusive.

Once you’re done writing, take a break, then come back and review your ebook for any mistakes. Check for clarity, logic, and consistency. You should also seek feedback from third parties to gain different insights and identify areas for improvement.

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6. Check the need for ISBN

An International Standard Book Number (ISBN) is a unique identifier assigned to books and certain digital products like ebooks. Once assigned, an ISBN can never be used again, even if a book goes out of print. 

An ISBN alone is enough to identify an ebook’s title, author, specifications, and pricing. The number makes it easy for your book to be ordered or cataloged throughout the publishing industry. 

ISBN number example
ISBN number example

However, not every author has to get this number.  That’s why we insist on checking whether your own ebook will need one.

Consider your ebook’s distribution channels. Different platforms and retailers may have varying requirements regarding the use of ISBNs. For instance, an ebook publishing platform like Amazon provides its identification system (ASIN), allowing you to publish without an ISBN. 

However, if you plan to distribute your ebook through multiple channels besides Amazon, you will need an ISBN in addition to the ASIN.

The process of obtaining an ISBN varies by country. In some regions, ISBNs may be obtained directly from the national ISBN agency. Others may acquire them through designated organizations or select self-publishing platforms. 

You can look up your local agency on the International ISBN Agency site.

International ISBN Agency
International ISBN Agency

Weigh the benefits of having an ISBN against any associated costs. While some regions, like Canada, may offer ISBNs for free, some fees may be involved in areas like the US. For instance, the US agency Bowker sells ISBNs for around $125.

7. Pick your ebook publishing platform

The publishing platform you choose can impact your ebook’s reach, visibility, and overall success. 

Major ebook retailers like Amazon Kindle Direct Publishing (KDP), Apple Books, and Barnes & Noble Press provide wide visibility and accessibility to a global audience. Amazon KDP, in particular, dominates the market, making it a popular choice for most authors.

However, consider several crucial factors before picking your ebook publisher or third-party retail sites. One is the question of exclusivity. 

Platforms like Amazon offer programs like KDP Select that require exclusivity. This means your ebook is available only on their platform for a specific period. But while exclusivity can provide certain benefits, like being enrolled in Kindle Unlimited, it restricts you from other platforms’ benefits. 

So, evaluate the pros and cons of exclusivity based on your publishing goals and preferences.

The other factor is royalty structures and terms. Consider factors like pricing flexibility, royalties per sale, and payment frequency. For instance, Kindle Direct Publishing and Barnes and Noble take around 30% off each ebook sale. Also, be mindful of hidden fees or additional deductions that may impact your earnings.

In addition, consider the platform’s reader community. Reader reviews and engagement can play a crucial role in the success of your ebook. Platforms like Amazon have active reader communities that can help boost the visibility and promotion of your ebook, as shown below.

Amazon has an active community of readers who actively review books.
Amazon has an active community of readers who actively review books.

Remember, you don’t have to choose only one publishing platform. You can choose a couple and use an ebook-distributing service like Draft2Digital to coordinate your ebook sales on multiple retail sites.

8. Format your ebook based on the publishing platform

Each book publishing platform has specific formatting and submission requirements. Ensure your ebook meets the formatting guidelines to guarantee a seamless publishing process.

The guidelines may include recommendations for file formats, image resolution, and overall ebook design. 

For instance, EPUB is widely accepted and is the standard ebook file format for many platforms, including Apple Books. Amazon Kindle, however, uses AZW3 and MOBI ebook files. 

If your ebook includes images or graphics, ensure they are optimized for digital display. High-quality visuals enhance the reader experience, but they shouldn’t be excessively large that they impact download times. 

Most platforms will recommend the resolution and ebook formats, especially for cover images. 

Image optimization guidelines.
Image optimization guidelines.

Accessibility is also a crucial factor in ebook formatting. Include features like alt text for images to ensure your ebook is accessible to all readers, including those with reading disabilities. Some platforms, such as Amazon, may have specific guidelines for enhancing accessibility.

9. Set a competitive price

The whole idea behind learning how to sell ebooks is so you can earn from the knowledge shared through them. That means you need to be very strategic when pricing the ebook.

Start with market research before settling for a particular price tag. Look at the prices of ebooks by other writers in your niche. This will help you gauge what readers are willing to pay for similar content. 

Then, analyze pricing trends among the bestsellers in your category to identify a competitive price range. If you’re just starting, you can price your ebooks slightly lower until you build your readership.

You should also consider your ebook’s labor and product costs in your pricing strategy. The length and content of your ebook also play a role in determining its value. A comprehensive and in-depth ebook may justify a higher price, while shorter works can be priced at lower points.

In addition, different reader demographics may influence your ebook pricing. For example, a student readership base will likely be more receptive to lower-priced ebooks. Meanwhile, working professionals might be willing to pay more for specialized or niche content.

10. Publish your ebook

At this point, you should know the platform where your ebook will be published. So, follow the steps provided by your selected publishing platform to upload the ebook. This typically involves submitting your manuscript, cover image, and metadata such as title, author information, and book description. 

Platforms like Amazon KDP and Apple Books have user-friendly interfaces and written resources to guide you through uploading.

Next, set the ebook price you settled for in the previous step. Some platforms allow authors to experiment with pricing or offer promotional discounts during specific periods.

Before finalizing the publishing process, review all the details to ensure accuracy. Hit the publish button once you’re satisfied.

11. Market your ebook extensively

You can’t effectively sell an ebook without marketing it first. You must develop a robust marketing strategy to make your target audience aware of the ebook. How? For starters, you’ll need a dedicated author website and social media profiles. 

Your website should showcase your ebook, provide author details, and include convenient ways for readers to purchase the ebook. Use your social media presence to engage your audience, share updates, and create a community around your book.

For example, you can do virtual ebook launches and live Q&A sessions on social media.

How you can promote ebooks on Instagram.
How you can promote ebooks on Instagram.

Besides that, leverage paid ads to promote your ebook project. Create visually appealing posts like book trailers or teaser images, and run targeted social ads to reach your intended audience. 

A platform like Amazon also allows authors to run sponsored ads that help you target a specific audience. 

What sponsored ads on Amazon look like.
What sponsored ads on Amazon look like.

You can also create an email newsletter that helps you connect with your readers directly. Provide incentives like discounts to encourage readers to subscribe to your newsletter. 

You should also collaborate with book influencers or bloggers in your genre. TikTok is especially huge on this now; just look through the #booktok hashtag.

12. Monitor your ebook’s performance

We can’t discuss how to sell ebooks without touching on how to monitor their performance. How else will you assess your ebook’s success? 

Track your ebook’s sales and revenue regularly to gauge its financial performance. Most publishing platforms provide dashboards and reports, offering authors insights into units sold, royalties earned, and current trends.

KDP statistics panel.
KDP statistics panel. Source:

Also, monitor the sales data to assess the effectiveness of your marketing strategies.  Identify the marketing campaigns, channels, and promotions driving the most engagement and sales. Then, use that data to refine your marketing strategies.

You can measure reader engagement by monitoring your ebook reviews, ratings, and social media interactions. 

Additionally, examine the buyer journey – the steps readers take from discovering your ebook to purchasing. This analysis helps identify bottlenecks that hinder potential buyers from completing purchases. Optimizing these stages can improve overall sales performance.

Best ebook publishing platforms

We’ve briefly mentioned how to sell ebooks on several major publishing platforms. Let’s take a closer look at some of these platforms. 

1. GetResponse

GetResponse is an email marketing platform with built-in functionalities that can help you sell and promote your ebooks effectively.

If you’re considering self-publishing your ebook, you can use GetResponse’s website builder to create an author website and sell your ebook directly through your page.

To do this, first, you have to create a store in GetResponse and add your product, i.e. your ebook. Then, create a website or a standalone ebook landing page and add your product to the page.

How to create a store and edit your product details in GetResponse
How to create a store and edit your product details in GetResponse

Once you’ve done that, configure your payment processor, and you can start promoting your ebook!

Adding the product box to the GetResponse landing page.
Adding the product box to the GetResponse landing page.

👉 For a more detailed walkthrough check out this tutorial.

And if you’re not so sure about self-publishing but would like to attract and nurture an audience you can promote your ebook to, GetResponse will help you with that as well. Through its email marketing tools, webinar software, and paid ads, you can grow an engaged audience with ease.

2. Amazon Kindle publishing platform

Thanks to its vast global reach and user-friendly publishing tools, Amazon Kindle is a powerhouse in the digital publishing industry.

To sell your ebook on Amazon KDP, create an account on 

Log into your KDP account and click on “Create ebook.”

How to sell ebooks through KDP.
How to sell ebooks through KDP.

Fill in the required ebook details, including the title, author, description, and keywords. Then, upload an eye-catching book cover and your manuscript file in a supported format.

Next, determine the pricing for your ebook. You can choose between two royalty options: 35% or 70%. The 70% royalty option has specific pricing requirements, so make sure your ebook meets the criteria.

How to sell ebooks through KDP.
Ebook royalties on KDP.

Before publishing, use Amazon’s previewer tool to review how your ebook will appear on different Kindle devices. This helps you catch any formatting issues and ensures your ebook looks professional and engaging.

Once you’re satisfied with the preview, click the publish button. Your ebook will be available to the public within 24-72 hours.

3. Drafts2Digital

Drafts2Digital merged with Smashwords in 2022 to become one of the largest self-publishing platforms. The company allows authors to create, upload, and distribute their ebooks across major networks like Apple Books, Amazon, Kobo, Barnes & Noble, and other storefronts. 

How to sell ebooks through Drafts2Digital.
How to sell ebooks through Drafts2Digital.

One brilliant thing about Drafts2Digital is how easy it is to move from having a manuscript to a final ebook. The platform has an automated conversion tool that converts your manuscript into a beautiful ebook. They also provide several layout templates you can work with.

The platform gives authors lots of control, too. You can choose the storefronts you want your ebook distributed to, for example.

You will get two essential tools when you sign up on the platform: a B2R book tab and a B2R author page. These dashboards are supposed to replace a personal website. The B2R book tab gives you a place to share your catalog, while the author page lets you build your bio. 

Though impressive, you won’t get as much flexibility and control with these tools as you would with a custom website and an ebook landing page. 

Finally, Draft2Digital provides sales tracking tools to help you monitor your sales. You can track the storefronts selling your books, how many copies are getting sold, and royalties earned.

Drafts2Digital dashboard.
Drafts2Digital dashboard.

Speaking of royalties, Draft2Digital charges a flat 10% fee on the retail price of your ebook for each sale. 

4. Rakuten Kobo

Rakuten Kobo is a large self-publishing and distribution platform. Authors can sell their ebooks directly on Kobo or distribute and sell them elsewhere. This flexibility provides an excellent opportunity to expand your reach because you’re not limited by exclusivity.

Uploading and publishing an ebook is very straightforward. The platform has a neat user interface with various resources to guide you throughout the process.

How to sell ebook through Rakuten Kobo.
How to sell ebook through Rakuten Kobo.

As for the royalties, Rakuten Kobo will pay you 70% of the set retail price of your book. However, they have several conditions that must be met. 

For example, the retail price must be at least $2.99 in the US to get 70% royalties. They have similar minimum SRP requirements for other regions as well, including the UK and Canada.

Another critical requirement is that Kobo expects authors to set an SRP that is equal to or less than the lowest SRP by a third party selling the ebook. Read the fine print for more details before creating an account with Kobo.

5. Payhip

Payhip is an all-in-one platform that allows users to sell multiple products, including ebooks, coaching services, and online courses. That means using Payhip is not very simple compared to other platforms focused just on ebooks.

Still, you can create an account and sell your ebook fairly quickly. Just create a store and then select “Digital Product”.

Next, upload your ebook in the format you want to sell it, e.g., EPUB.

How to sell ebooks through Payhip.
How to sell ebooks through Payhip.

The book should appear in your store. You’ll also receive a link that you can use to start promoting it.

Payhip has a store builder that helps authors customize how their store looks. You can also write blog posts and connect your domain to the store. Use these tools to engage your target audience and drive your ebook sales. 

Payhip store settings.
Payhip store settings.

Payhip has several payment options. They have a free package that comes with all the features, but you’ll be charged 5% for each transaction – this is ideal if you’re just starting. 

Meanwhile, the paid plan costs $29/mo and an additional 2% fee for every transaction. This plan is a good option if you’re selling more books and you want to reduce the amount going to fees.

Lastly, the $99/mo Pro plan charges 0% in transaction fees. This is a great package if you’re selling many ebook copies.

6. Gumroad

Like Payhip, Gumroad is a versatile platform used to sell digital products. The platform has a page editor you can use to create your ebooks store. You can also connect your personal website with Gumroad to start selling ebooks.

How to sell ebooks through Gumroad.
How to sell ebooks through Gumroad.

Gumroad also lets you run campaigns like discounts to promote your book. You can also sell your ebook in various formats, like PDF and EPUB.

Gumroad has no monthly charges. Instead, they take a 10% cut from every sale.

7. Sellfy

Sellfy is an ecommerce platform for creators. It allows users to sell all sorts of digital products, including ebooks. You can sell your product from the platform directly or copy a custom link and promote it on your website, socials, and through emails.

How to sell ebooks through Sellfy.
How to sell ebooks through Sellfy.

The platform gives you several tools to increase your sales and revenue. For example, they have an upselling tool, tracking pixels to create ads, and an email marketing solution.

Sellfy offers subscription plans starting at $22/mo for the annual package. However, this plan is limited to up to $10k in annual sales. So, if you sell more than that, you’ll need to upgrade to the $59/mo package, also capped at $50k sales per year.

The Sellfy pricing structure can be expensive, so it’s important to do your calculations and compare it to other alternatives.

FAQs for ebook selling

Is it profitable to sell ebooks?

Yes, but not everyone makes a profit when selling ebooks. In 2022, Amazon KDP released a report saying that the number of independent publishers earning $50,000 or more increased by 40% between 2020 and 2022.

How do I choose the right niche for my ebook?

To choose the right niche for your ebook, consider your personal interest, market demand, and audience analysis. Therefore, look for a niche where your expertise aligns with existing demand to make money selling ebooks online.

The process is similar to choosing the best niche for affiliate marketing.

How can I effectively market my ebook?

You can effectively market your ebook by leveraging both free and paid promotional channels like social media, email campaigns, paid ads, or influencer collaborations. But no matter which channels you choose, it’s best to start by building an online presence and attracting an audience on your own website or social media profile.

Michal Leszczynski
Michal Leszczynski
Meet Michal Leszczynski, Head of Content Marketing and Partnerships at GetResponse. With 10+ years of experience, Michal is a seasoned expert in all things online marketing. He’s a prolific writer, skilled webinar host, and engaging public speaker. Outside of business hours, Michal shares his wealth of knowledge as an Email Marketing lecturer at Kozminski University in Warsaw. You can reach out and connect with Michal on LinkedIn.