Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Setting Up Shop

Preorders for Nobody!!!

…Are not being accepted yet.
But everything is in place for that to happen. Almost. There are still a few things in the background that must be tweaked for the whole thing to happen.
At the simplest level, I set up a PayPal button on the Shop page of my website. Clicking on this button will take the customer to the PayPal page to confirm the transaction and then return the customer to my website again.
Currently, the button—while it is a live connection—results in a null tranasction. I set the inventory to “zero,” so no purchase will be allowed until that condition changes. When I change it so a purchase can be made, the customer will not need to have a PayPal account to use it. The customer can pay via PayPal or credit card. If you are curious, go ahead and give it a try. Actually, it would be helpful if people did give it a try, because it will also help me test the accounting system.
PayPal makes a very convenient clearing house for credit card purchases and it is fairly inexpensive, too. The only downside is the lack of a shopping cart system on my site. It can be done, but I need to study up on the programming necessary to make it happen correctly and securely. At the moment, writing has a higher priority.
I could use the built-in shopping system supplied by my ISP. But if I want to accept credit cards via their system, I would be required to open a business banking account to act as a clearing house for credit card purchases. That starts to get expensive.
What I will probably end up doing is use my ISP’s provided shopping cart services and use PayPal’s API (Application Programming Interface) to provide the transaction system. For a monthly fee, PayPal allows for purchases that don’t leave the primary website. As I noted above, PayPal already acts as a credit clearing house, so I don’t need to open a new bank account to manage that end of things.
The last piece of this puzzle is I need to learn how to generate the actual download when the purchase has been completed, so the customer can actually download the file. I have actually worked with Point-of-Sale (POS) internet sales systems in the past. But those were meant for purchasing physical products, not for downloading computer files. The former would simply send a purchase invoice to the warehouse and there collectors would gather the necessary items for purchase and send it on its way.
Obviously, I still have some homework to do before everything is ready.
The easy path, of course, is simply to load the ebook onto Amazon.com, Apple, and Barnes & Noble and let their systems do all the work. So why should I bother with setting up a shop on my own website?
That answer is easy to show.
If I do everything myself, the transaction fees work out to 45¢ per purchase. If I use the big three ebook distributors, each transaction will cost me $1.50. My goal is to sell a minimum of ten thousand copies of my book. The difference in cost between the two means a $10,500 gain if I do it myself through my own website. Plus, I can (I hope) declare the transaction fees as business expenses and deduct them from my taxes.
Currently, the big three simply take 30%–35% off the top and send me my share as a royalty. Technically, that means I cannot claim that other percentage as a transaction fee, so I have cannot declare it as a business expense.
It seems pretty obvious that I should just forego using a third party sales system and just sell through my own website.
Yet, there is still something that must be considered.
The fact that using their distribution services is such a convenience does make it worth the expense of using those services.
Of much greater importance, there is also the added benefit of the promotional services they offer.
Apple’s iTunes Music Store has propelled many dozens of unknown artists to success just by featuring their songs as a free download of the week. Both Amazon.com and Barnes & Noble send out emails to their subscribers a few times a week, featuring recommended ebooks to readers.
Just to have my title featured in one of those emails would expose me to millions of potential readers in the United States alone! If only 5% of those people were interested, it would still blow out my minimal expectations in my sales figures significantly by many orders of magnitude.
A 2005 SWOT Analysis estimated Amazon.com’s customer base was around 30 million consumers. Amazon.com has grown exceptionally since then. A single email to their customers could potentially reach over 70 million people.
I figure through my own efforts on social web sites, I can get word of my book out to about 140,000 people. If just ten percent of those people are interested enough to buy my book, that means potentially 14,000 sales.
Ten percent of 70 million is 7 million sales! Just through one distributor alone!
Is that worth 30% off the sales price of my ebook?
Plus, sales figures, reports, etc.—things I would have to generate on my own, would all be taken care of for me by their accounting systems.
There are advantages to either way of selling an ebook, just as there are disadvantages. To me, I see excellent balance between the two sides. For that reason, it makes sense to me to be ready for both as each has strengths that cover the weaknesses I think are there.
Unfortunately, the fact that I am setting up the sales systems is not a sign that Nobody, Aggadeh Chronicles Book One is about to be released. But it does serve as a notice that I am at a point where I am getting close enough to completion that I want to have these services in place.
The question begs to be asked, “Why not just open prerelease sales if Nobody is getting to be that close to being ready for release?”
A couple friends have asked that question. I’ve asked myself that question! After being so long without a paycheck, my financial reserves are about dry. I certainly could use the income.
My answer is, because it isn’t close enough.
I cannot in good conscience ask people to hand over their hard-earned cash when I do not yet have a clear, set date for release. I have a firm dislike of vaporware; I would rather not be accused of doing something similar.
I will activate preorders for Nobody when it enters final editing. That means I'm done writing the story and the last pieces are out for editing review and it is time to work in the corrections and adjustments to the story. I estimate the final edit should take me about four weeks. A couple weeks to make the fixes, then it goes out to my editors in one final form to test readability. When that is done, the final tweaks will be made and then the story will be encapsulated into an ePub file, making it an ebook.
Once that file passes muster, it'll be pushed up into the internet and Nobody will be officially published.
So when you see Nobody open for preorders, that means the actual release shouldn't be much more than a month after.
Until then, you'll just have to put up with this blog for entertainment….