I started selling eBooks many years ago, probably close to 15 years now.
For many years, some people encouraged me to sell paperback books as well, but I resisted it. I felt, and always said that paperback was the past, and digital was the future, and I wanted to be part of the future and not the past.
From time to time, somebody would write to me and just beg for a book on paper and I would relent. I would tell them that I do not offer paperback books, but that if they really needed it that badly, I would print the book out for them and bind it with a spiral binding, and ship it to them, but at a premium price. Most of the time the person would agree. Almost every time I made the offer, the person would be happy to pay the extra price and I would make the sale. Sometimes I guess I am dense, I did not realize that this was a signal that some people were willing to pay more for paperbacks! I continued happily along selling nothing but eBooks, except when I got a special request.
Well, if you have people who are taking the time to write to you and make a special request like that, how many just did not buy and went along their way without saying anything? Statistics show that the vast majority just didn’t say anything, and those are lost sales, no doubt.
Finally, in 2015 I wised up. A friend, Tom Nixon, had talked to me for years about POD Publishing (Print on Demand), where they will just print a book when it is sold. So you don’t have to pay to have a bunch of printed up books sitting there waiting to be sold. The books were only printed after each sale. I took Tom up on his advice and sought out a POD Publisher. I settled on using CreatSpace, because I wanted to use Amazon as my primary paperback provider, and Amazon owns CreateSpace. Using CreateSpace as your POD Publisher and selling on Amazon is a seamless experience, you don’t have to do a thing, except collect and spend the money when you get paid!
An experiment pays off!
One of my most popular books over the years has been 49 Ways to Make a Living in the Philippines. When I came out with an updated edition in 2015, I decided to rename the book 49 Ways to Make a Living Without a Job. I did this because a lot of people told me that the book could be used to earn money in any country, not just the Philippines. The name change actually caused me to lose book sales, so I had to reconsider. I decided to keep the new title, but also release book under the old title as well. The more I thought about it, I realized that if the ideas in the book could be used in any country, why not release the book for multiple countries? So, I decided to alter the book slightly for each country and come out with the book for many countries!
After I released the book under the old “Philippines” title, my sales again picked up, regaining those in the Philippines who wanted a way to earn a living. You see, although I am American, I have lived in the Philippines for many years, and have developed a following here, in fact, I am relatively well known here.
Within a few months, I had released the book in its “Without a Job” format and as well! I really just did this as an experiment to see what would happen. It worked!
My number one seller is still the “Philippines” title, with the “Without a Job” title as my second best. But, if you add up all of the sales of the other countries, they surpass the total for the Philippines and Without a Job titles! So, I consider that a great success. Basically, by doing just a bit of work, I more than doubled my sales! I can’t complain about that!
When I started out selling paperbacks, I sold only through Amazon. However, as time went on, I decided to sell them also on my own website. This has also been very successful. In the past, I sold only the eBooks on my site, but now I offer two options: paperback or electronic. Probably 75% of buyers on my site choose the eBook, but that still means that 25% are buying paperbacks from me!
How do I fulfill those paperback sales? Well, I just go to CreateSpace and order the book and have it shipped to the customer address. As the writer of the book, I get a significant discount when I order a copy from CreateSpace, so this allows me to make a good profit if I sell on my own site. In fact, since Amazon is no longer getting a cut for selling the book, I make significantly more when I sell the book myself. Whoever sells it, me or Amazon, I am always happy when a book sells!
How much do I earn?
Well, I don’t make huge money selling paperbacks. However, I have always been a believer in streams of income, where many small income sources add up to a nice total income. From paperback sales (me and Amazon) I usually earn about $300 to $400 per month. Like I said, I do better with eBooks than paperback, but it all adds up!
So, it had been a while since I had posted an update on book sales, paperbacks, and how my 49 Ways experiment turned out, so I wanted to share this with you today!