Welcome back to Austen Promises and the Writer’s Journal!
Some of my readers know that I sell my e-books directly to buyers, in addition to going through Amazon, Barnes and Noble, and other booksellers. I don’t get many sales yet, but I plan to grow that avenue into a far bigger portion of my income than it currently is.
The platform I use to sell directly is Gumroad. I actually made the account a couple years ago, and started uploading the first of my books, but I was teaching then and ran out of time. So, I let it languish for two years, though I did apply for and receive a vendor’s license so I can collect sales tax on books I sell.
This past spring, I took it up again and discovered that it’s a very quick and easy process to upload my books. I have a template for part of the description that I have to change the price on for each book, and that keeps me from having to go back and forth through the other books I have on sale to look for the right wording.
So far, I have sold four or five books. I finally got my first check! I have to sell $10 worth of product to get paid, but I can be paid every week, which is a big draw for me.
I look periodically at how to promote my Gumroad store. I have links on every blog post, at the bottom, both ones here and ones at Austen Authors. I also have links on every book page here. I share the link on my Twitter feed and when there is a new release, it goes to Gumroad first, and that is the link that gets shared first. With the newest book, Caroline’s Censure, I uploaded to Gumroad before I did anything else, shared that link with my newsletter subscribers, and got three sales in two days. That was exciting! With all this, I feel like I need still more promotion. I’d like sales more often than just when I have a new release, and I’d like to at least see that folks have visited every day, even when they don’t buy. So, promoting that store is one of my marketing priorities.
Like with anything, there are drawbacks to selling direct, especially using Gumroad. For one thing, I must do all the technical support at Gumroad. If someone doesn’t know how to get their file(s)—one price gets a purchaser three files—to their device, I must explain to them the process. I added a file to all my book product download pages after my first sale was to someone who did not know how to get the file to her Kindle. The file is a step sheet that explains how to do that. That being said, Gumroad does have an FAQ or help section that addresses that issue and others, but often, I think buyers don’t want to or can’t take time to search a database for answers. I know I have a tendency to ask for help rather than research, so I can’t fault others for it.
Another drawback, though I’d have it no matter what platform I used, is that I have to pay those sales taxes. Twice a year, I have to get online and fill out a form and, if I have sold books, send the state their chunk. I generally do not add sales tax on top if it’s an in-person sale. Instead, I just deduct it off what I made. I do the same at Gumroad, as they do not collect sales taxes for me. I must keep track of what I have sold, so I have accurate numbers for the state.
All in all, I am happy with selling directly to readers via my Gumroad store. The pros certainly outweigh the cons for me. I’m looking forward to making direct sales a much bigger part of my income!
Come back next Wednesday for another peek into my journal! <3