1. All my ebooks are in KU. Should I take them out and sell them direct instead?

Are you making money in KU? If you are, leave them in KU! I know direct selling is the big thing of the moment, but this is your income we are talking about. If KU ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Get your paperbacks and anything you sell wide on your Shopify site first, and once your Shopify site is making money, then think about what you want to do about KU. You could trial moving one series or a few books over, but don’t pull the whole lot at once if you have a big catalogue in KU. Please don’t throw away all the time and effort you have put into making KU work for you.


2. Should I replace my current author website with my Shopify site?

There are pros and cons of replacing your current author website with your Shopify store.

Advantages of keeping your current website:

Does your current website have Pretty Links or other pages that are linked to from within your books? Perhaps you have secret areas set up for readers. Is it a big part of your current author business? Do you have a custom-built website with features that could not be recreated in Shopify?

Advantages of moving everything to Shopify:

If your author website is solely there to tell people about your books and about yourself, it is possible to recreate these features on Shopify, including your blog and pages that link to books on other retailers such as KU. Your Shopify site can be made to look indistinguishable from a standard author website.

You might prefer to only have one site, so that each time you launch a new book you only need to put the information about it on one website.

It is better from an SEO perspective to have all your traffic going to one place, rather than splitting people off between two different sites. The more visits you get, the higher your search engine ranking, so it makes sense to send everyone to one place.

Once you have a Shopify site up and running, what purpose does your original author website serve, and can it all be done in Shopify? 


3. Can I make a whole load of merch and sell it on my site?

You can… and some of it can be print-on-demand. T-shirts, bags, mugs, etc. can be printed through companies that will ship straight to the customer. However, if you have other things in mind, like bookmarks, branded knitting needles, sticker packs, even signed paperbacks, who is going to print them? Where are you going to keep the stock? Are you prepared to go to the post office a lot, or have you got a lovely assistant to do that for you? (Don't look at me!) Will you ship internationally? Are you aware of the sales tax implications of selling different types of products?

I stick to print-on-demand books and digital products for a reason, but I am aware that for many authors, being able to sell beautiful products that complement their books is one of the main drivers behind setting up their own store. It’s very doable, and Shopify is set up to manage the selling of products with an inventory. After all, that’s what most online shops do. Just remember that it is more involved than whacking a few ebooks on BookFunnel and letting them do the rest. You will be creating more work for yourself, but it might be exactly what your readers want, and it's another outlet for your creativity!


4. Who do you recommend for printing books?

If you are planning to sell print-on-demand paperbacks/hardbacks through your Shopify store, you will need to use a printer that integrates with Shopify. Currently there are two to choose from, BookVault and Lulu.

You can’t use Amazon or IngramSpark for selling print-on-demand books through Shopify, though you could use either of these if you wanted to print books yourself, store them, sign them, package them beautifully, and then post them to the customer.

All the authors I have worked with use BookVault for their print-on-demand books. The reason people use BookVault is because it is cheaper than Lulu, the printing times are good and so is the print quality.

BookVault have recently added the ability to create bundles, which you can sell through your store, so you can sell a whole series as a bundle in paperback or hardback.

I like BookVault because they are a small British company who have been very responsive to the demands of authors. They have set up US printing, and the app integrates with Shopify very smoothly.

If you are a member of the Alliance of Independent Authors, you can get codes for free uploads to use with BookVault.

Your print books will never be able to complete with Amazon for shipping costs, sale prices, and delivery times (especially if your customer is outside of the US/UK) but if your customers want to support you and buy your books from the place that gets the most royalties directly to you, they will make the switch to your store.

Another advantage of BookVault is that you can sell paperback pre-orders, which you can’t do on Amazon at the moment.


5. Why do you recommend BookFunnel for ebook and audiobook delivery?

BookFunnel are brilliant for the delivery of ebooks and audiobooks. (Their audiobook delivery service is still in Beta, so you will have to request to add your audiobooks.)

The beauty of BookFunnel is that they will help your readers load their books onto their device if they are having difficulties, and it’s very easy to add your ebooks to your Kindle or other e-reader.

You can create bundles of ebooks and audiobooks in BookFunnel, and you can set up pre-orders. You can also produce ebook samples for your readers to “look inside the book”. (All of this is detailed in the quick guides and video walkthrough.)


And finally…Something no one asks, so I will:

How are you going to manage your site in the future?

It’s all very well building your lovely new site, but don’t forget that it is going to need ongoing action on your part to attract and retain your customers.


Just as you can’t just put a book on Amazon and expect thousands of people to stumble upon it, the same applies to your Shopify store. You will need some sort of marketing strategy to keep readers coming to your store.

Is there anything you need to change in your books’ backmatter now you are selling direct?

You will need to advertise your store, which you can do through linking up Facebook/Instagram and Pinterest, for example.

Make sure that when you send out a newsletter to your readers that you send them to your Shopify store! They can go find your books on Apple or B&N by themselves. It’s a different mindset: still publishing wide but focusing your customers’ attention on your own site.

You will need to set up email sequences for new customers. (See my article on post-purchase flows for more info.) Think about the emails you get from any online retailer when you buy something – you buy a pair of shoes and the seller emails you every so often offering you a discount or a similar pair that you might like. You can do this too.  

Site maintenance

You will need to add new books as you publish them, and think about any other products you would like to sell.

Very importantly, you will need to keep track of your sales tax obligations (if you haven’t set up an app to do this for you.)

You will need to keep an eye on your orders, to make sure that everything is working smoothly, especially with the shipping of print books.

As your back catalogue grows and you add more books, you’ll need to check how easy your store is to navigate. A site with ten books on it can be laid out very differently to a site with one hundred books. There will be an ongoing process of reorganisation, redesigning and general housekeeping.





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