So you have written an e-book. The hardest part is over.
Now it’s time to start making money with it. How do you do it?
This article will teach you the mechanics of selling an e-book, step by step.
1. Web Site
First, you need a web site. To find out how to set up your very own web site, read this free book called “The Absolute Beginner’s Guide To Starting a Web Site” at http://www.firstbusinesswebsite.com/Guide.html
2. Credit Card Payments
You need to figure out a way to accept payments online – after all, it’s an e-book and when people are ready to order it, they want a fast and easy way to do so. The easiest and most cost-efficient way to accept credit card payments is through a third-party processing company such as ClickBank.com, iBill.com, and OrderButton.com.
All you do is sign up with one of these companies, set up your preferences such as the price of your e-book, web address of your “thank you” page where your customers can download it, and how you would like to be paid for your sales.
Most companies send you a check every two weeks, though some may give you an option of direct bank deposit.
3. Uploading E-Book
Now you need to put your e-book on your web site. You upload it the same way you upload any other file – via an FTP program such as WS_FTP or CuteFTP. Once it’s on your web server, you have to link to it from your “thank you” page so customers could download it.
Linking to an e-book is the same as linking to any web page. You simply specify where your e-book is located (URL), as shown below:
The above example shows the location of an executable file (I removed the tag brackets so you could see the actual HTML). When your customers click on it, they will be asked where they would like to save it on their computer.
If your book was created as a PDF file, you might want to tell your customers to right-click on the e-book link and choose “Save Target As” (MAC users can simply drag the link on their desktop). This will allow the book to be downloaded instead of online viewing, which can be quite slow.
4. Protect & Deliver E-Book
One of the biggest e-book authors’ concerns is protecting their books from public downloads. You put so much work and time into creating it, that you really want it to be profitable. You don’t want it to be downloaded by hundreds of not-paid users.
You must password-protect your e-book which can be done in many different ways. Let’s look at the most common ways of protecting your e-book.
a) One password protection. This is done via your hosting company control panel (my host, Pair.com, offers an incredibly easy interface for setting up a password) to protect the files or the directories you want. You can also install a CGI script that will allow you to do it from your web browser. See the link below for free password-protection scripts: http://cgi.resourceindex.com/Programs_and_Scripts/Perl/Password_Protection/ If you have never installed a CGI script before, then you might greatly benefit from a “How To Install and Troubleshoot CGI Scripts” tutorial at http://www.installcgi.com.
The above method is quite secure, but there are still some pitfalls. For example, a customer who purchased your e-book can send the location of your “thank you” page with the username and password on it to 20 of his friends.
You might want to manually change the URL of your “thank you” page and the password on it every 7-14 days, for better protection. In fact, some people prefer manual changes to automatic set up because it gives a much better control over it.
The protection methods outlined below make an attempt to create better and more automated security for your info-product.
b) Multiple-User Protection. If you would like to allow each customer to have their own password, then this is the method you should use. Again, you can do it through your host’s account control panel if available, or install a CGI script to manage users and passwords. At the link below you can find a great wealth of such scripts, free or fee: http://cgi.resourceindex.com/Programs_and_Scripts/Perl/Password_Protection/
c) Armadillo software protects EXE files. It is a powerful license manager and software protection system. It can generate keys for you, just like those you see on Microsoft CD-ROM disks. http://www.siliconrealms.com/armadillo.htm
d) Account Manager Lite will automate the multiple-user protection and user approval. Each person will have their own login information, and you will be able to track the number of downloads made from each account. There are many more excellent features in this program that will help you automate some time-consuming tasks. http://www.cgiscriptcenter.com/acctlite
e) Activ E-Book Compiler can be used to create limited and full editions of your e-book. It allows your customers to download your e-book before making a purchase. If they like it, they can order a full version from you. You will then send them a key that “unlocks” the complete features of your e-book. I was very impressed by the number of useful features this software offers. One drawback, though, is it only creates EXE files which can be viewed on a Macintosh system. http://www.ebookcompiler.com
f) DigiBuy allows you to set up a small web site and sell downloadable software and e-books. They create a temporary URL for each customer. This URL will disappear after 24 or 48 hours to keep people from sharing the URL with others. DigiBuy also handles the entire transaction and sends you a check each month. This is the safest and most convenient way of selling digital products, in my opinion. http://www.digibuy.com
Remember, whatever protection method you choose, make sure your customers can easily access and download your e-book. Sometimes people get so obsessed with securing their product that their customers have to jump through hoops to get to it – not good for somebody who just sent you their credit card number.
So, now that your web site is set up, online payment system is in place, and your book is in a safe location, it’s time to start spreading the word about it.
But that’s another article 🙂
Milana Nastetskaya is a full time web developer and the author of the “65 Instant Web Design Answers”. http://www.instantwebanswers.com