Guest Post: 5 reasons authors should create and sell an online course

Baidhurya Mani is the author of “How to sell online courses from your own website: A complete beginner’s guide.”

By Baidhurya Mani

Selling online courses has changed the lives of so many individuals. I have worked with a number of online course creators and have seen how they have turned their expertise in yoga, health and nutrition, cyber security, music, religious philosophy, and a number of other areas into a fully fledged online course business.

There is something about selling online courses that’s attracting so many individuals, including authors. If you’re wondering what all the fuss is about online courses and why you should create one, let me share with you the five reasons why I believe authors should also sell online courses: Continue reading

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Selling Your Book in Physical Stores

By 江戸村のとくぞう (Edomura no Tokuzo) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By 江戸村のとくぞう (Edomura no Tokuzo) (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

There are many ways for indie authors to sell their books online, but it’s not as clear how indie authors can sell their books in stores. It is possible though, you just have to get creative.

Book Business, for example, gives a list of third party operators, which manage cultural attractions and park services. Books that provide educational value and fit the niche can be selected.

Bigger stores, such as Costco and Walmart, are harder to get into. New Shelves writes that they have limited shelf space, and books need to have a proven track record before being considered.

If you are trying to sell your book in a store, you will probably need to do an offset printing, instead of print on demand. Self Publishing Review explains the differences and the pros and cons. Typically, offset printing results in books that look higher quality, but you do have to store the books somewhere, and you will have to pay upfront.

One other thing to consider is creating a large print version of your book. Andrew Knighton wrote a how to on making large print books, which includes leaving in more white space, in addition to using a larger font size.

Last, just for fun, The Culture Trip created a list of 50 unique bookstores in every U.S. state. You can always approach one and see if they will sell your book!

What Indie Authors Can Learn From Other Industries

By Adonts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Adonts (Own work) [CC BY-SA 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

As an indie author, it can be fun (and helpful) to learn about what’s going on in other industries. Joe Wikert outlined on DBW what publishers can learn from the podcast model, by offering easy subscriptions (which could arguably be similar to subscribing to blogs or newsletters), delivering content on a regular schedule, and delivering related content to your audience. To me, this could mean working with a network of people to promote each other, the way podcast networks work to help promote multiple podcasts. Recently, I joined a joint author promo mailing list, where about 50 of us each offer a free book for a giveaway, and then we all work to promote the giveaway. The last giveaway we did resulted in a couple thousand entries, and I got a few new people to subscribe to my mailing list.

Authors can also learn from airlines, according to The Bookseller. Airline prices rise and fall depending on the day:

But what if the same seat-pricing model were to be applied to books? A model where the titles would have lower prices on Tuesdays and be more expensive on Fridays. Where the R.R.P. on the back cover becomes as dynamic as a company’s share price. Where we compete to buy books like we do in an EBay auction.

One way to apply this is to heavily discount pre-orders, and slowly raise the price the closer to publication date it gets. Then, the price could continue to fluctuate based on “interest in the author, the genre, the topic, and personalized to the reader’s own interests.”

Indie authors also have a lot in common with independent app developers. One person on Reddit shared how they made over $700k from a premium game and hit #1 in the App Store (and the New Yorker even wrote about it). According to the post, it’s very hard to do as an indie, but what’s important is to release regular updates, cross promote to other games, and ask for reviews.

Another thing authors can learn from is content marketing, which is very similar to writing books. Drift wrote about what they learned growing their website from 200 to 27,000 visitors, and they found that blogging is an investment (so content published a while back can continue to drive traffic, much like the first book in a series can continue to generate interest), quality content is important, as is the amount of effort it takes to promote that content (community sites are great that way, as well as working with influencers), and data can only tell you so much, so it’s better to focus on big picture things in the beginning and not small tweaks.

DBW also advocates content communities, and recommends that authors share research, back stories, databases, and more to allow readers to see what’s behind the scenes and feel part of a community.

Related to content marketing is omnichannel selling. BookMachine shared ten things they learned selling at a conference, including the fact that most people make purchases online and many through their smartphone, knowing their path to purchase is important (so when possible, selling direct may be a good idea), when it comes to making a sale, email is much more effective than social media, social media is helpful for customer service, and things are always changing.

Gumroad’s post, “Nathan Barry’s Lessons Learned Selling $355,759 on Gumroad,” sums up everything nicely. Basically, Nathan recommends being able to contact customers (like in newsletters), pricing based on value, using email to build relationships and launch products, and selling in packages at different values.

What other industries do you follow? Share in the comments!

Editor’s note: This post originally appeared December 2016.

Becoming an Authorpreneur: Resources for Creating and Selling Online Courses

By Ter-burg (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

By Ter-burg (Own work) [CC BY 3.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons

Creating an online course is a great learning experience, and another way that authors can potentially earn income. Currently I have two courses for sale, on how to make ebooks. One is on Udemy and the other on Skillshare. It’s been a great experience teaching these courses, and now I’m looking into making a course about dinosaurs, to complement my I Know Dino podcast.

As usual, I’ve been collecting links. Below are some helpful resources about creating, marketing, and selling online courses. Best of luck! Continue reading

Smashwords: An Indie Author Guide

Smashwords is a retailer and an ebook distributor, and a great choice for indie authors. Why? Because the platform lets you upload once and sell on multiple outlets, saving authors a lot of time, and it offers a number of marketing options.

If you want a step by step on how to upload and distribute ebooks via Smashwords, read my EPUBZone article, “Ebook Distribution for the Indie Author.” I also have a video showing the steps in my Udemy course, “How to Create Beautiful Ebooks.”

I had the pleasure of interviewing Mark Coker, founder, back in 2012, and Smashwords has only gotten better since then.

How It Works

According to the Smashwords website, more than “100,000 authors, small independent publishers, and literary agents publish and distribute with Smashwords.” Continue reading

Indie Authors: Selling Books

After doing all the hard work of writing, editing, and designing your book, it’s nice to be able to sell it.

There are a number of creative ways to sell an ebook these days. Book Promotion Hub recommends selling via online book clubs, which includes Goodreads, Amazon Book Club, BookTalk.org, and Book Mooch.

You can also collaborate with people, or as Michelle from Random Writing Rants calls it, “Product Partnering.” Her particular example was very innovative. She wrote a geocaching mystery and then asked her Facebook followers if they would plant her book in geocaching sites in their states–she got 650 responses, and her book planted in all 50 states and some Canadian provinces.

Another technique that works for a lot of indie authors is to combine their books into boxed sets, and then cross-promote. Author Diane Capri gave advice on ALLi based on her experience selling a boxed set, which includes good packaging and pricing, being inclusive, and being generous.

For more ideas on how to sell your book, check out these links:

Got any other ideas? Please share in the comments!

Writers, Readers, Publishers: Present Tense, Future Bold #3

Last night’s meeting was actually more like the 15th meeting, but I don’t often get the chance to attend anymore, so this is only my third post about the group.

The speaker was Jeffrey Sussman, president of Jeffrey Sussman, Inc., a marketing public relations firm in New York City.  The email I received about the event said that “Jeffrey has represented virtually every kind of public and private company, but he  also represents and promotes books and authors.  His most recent books are Power Promoting: How To Market Your Business to the Top! And No Mere Bagatelles, a biography of Holocaust survivor and fashion designer Judith Leiber.”

Sussman had a lot of interesting stories and projects to share. Although all the books he spoke about covered very different topics, they all had one thing in common. They were all successful because of their niche market. Continue reading