Monday Musings: Selling eBooks Directly from Your Site or Blog


by Kathleen Valentine

This is a tutorial from my blog from April 2011. Here it is:

Selling books for e-readers through Kindle, Nook, Smashwords, etc. is easier than ever but, with a little bit of work, you can also sell your eBooks directly from your own web site or blog. You can set your own price and the only cost to you will be what Paypal deducts for their services. I have sold hundreds of books and knitting patterns in PDF format this way. Below I’ll walk you through the steps you’ll need to take to do this. All the images below can be enlarged by clicking on them. What you will need are:

  1. Your manuscript in e-book format – PDF, HTML, TXT, DOC, EPUB or any other.

  2. An online storage site. If you have your own web hosting site that will work. If not you will need an online storage service like Dropbox, LiveDrive, etc. If you do a search for “online file storage” you can find one that will work for you.

  3. A Paypal account that is upgraded to a Merchant Account. If you already have Paypal you can use that by just upgrading the account. It’s free.

  4. A web site or blog where you plan to sell your books.

That’s it.

You can sell your book in any format that you have the capability of converting your book. Almost every word processing program (Word, Open Office, etc.) has the capability of exporting your file to a PDF (especially good for image/graphic rich books) and HTML. You can also Save As in TXT, RTF and DOC format. Once you have created your e-book and saved it to the format you wish to sell it in, follow these steps.

First: Upload your file(s) to your online storage site or server. Remember the URL of your file once it is on your server. For this demonstration we are going to call it:

Second: Go to PayPal and login. Select the Merchant Services tab from the top tab bar. Under Create Button select “Buy Now”. Fill in the form as indicated in Figure 1(above).

  1. Select the Buy Now button.

  2. Give the item a name.

  3. Set your price.

  4. Now Scroll to the bottom of the page and select Step 3: Customize Advanced Features.

Third: Once you are in the Customize Advanced Features screen check “No” for the first three items. Scroll down and follow the directions in Figure 2 (above). Check the box as indicated and then put your book’s URL in the blank as shown. Scroll down and click “Create Button”.

Fourth: You will now be directed to the screen that gives you the code for your button as shown in Figure 3 (above).  Click “Select Code” and use Control+C or Edit>Copy to copy the code. You are now ready to insert the code into your web page or blog.

Fifth: If you have your own web page you will go to the place on your page where you wish to insert the Paypal button. Insert the HTML code in to the appropriate place using Control+V or Edit>Paste.

In order to add the button to your blog you will need an area that accepts HTML code. I am using Blogger for this demonstration but other blog sites should offer similar possibilities. 

For Blogger, log in to your Dashboard and select the Design tab (above). And do the following:

  1. Select Add A Gadget

  2. From the pop-up box select Add HTML/Java Script.

Once the HTML box popup apprears do the following (above):

  1. Give the box a title

  2. Make sure the “Rich Text” option is showing, this means you are in the HTML screen.

  3. Paste the Paypal code into the body of the box using Control+V or Edit>Paste.

  4. Click Save. (Before you click Save you might want to add information about the book, a picture of its cover, price, etc.)

That’s all there is to it. I find that it is a good idea to include directions on my site advising people to wait until the link appears after they click the Paypal button but a lot of people do not. I get emails almost every day asking me to send the link which I email out promptly.

You can set up as many buttons as you like for different books and different versions of books (PDF, HTML, etc.) but you can only set up one automatic download per button. There are a number of services that offer secure storage for online files but they charge a fee so you have to decide if you think it is worth paying that. Check our E-Junkie.

So that is it. Please let me know if something is unclear or if I forgot something.

Thanks for reading.

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