In my opinion, Amazon is the place to sell online. Your market, no matter how niche, will most likely be on there. In addition you get to take advantage of their social ratings features (essential to buyers in their decision making process), their established online order and payment systems, their inventory and fulfillment software, tax documents, and more.
I had NO idea how to do this or all the steps involved. So, here’s what I discovered and what I did:
The first thing you want to do is set up a business account at your bank.
Next, create an LLC with your state. To do this, go to the government site for your state and search for LLC (limited liability corporation). I’m in Wisconsin, so I went here: http://www.wisconsin.gov/state/byb/LLcompany.html.
Wisconsin charges a one-time setup fee. You “could” use various online companies (like legalZoom.com or Rocketlawyer.com) to do this for you. Most of the time they provide an online wizard to take you through the questions you would have answered yourself on the form. I didn’t want to pay additional fees to a company to play a middle-man. But, I also felt comfortable answering the questions and had previously read books like LLC for dummies.
Next, go to the federal government and apply for an EIN (employer identification number). I went here: http://www.irs.gov/Businesses/Small-Businesses-&-Self-Employed/Apply-for-an-Employer-Identification-Number-(EIN)-Online
This is what you’ll need for taxes and the like. It’s a simple process, and can be done online in minutes.
Then go to the Amazon marketplace and register. I went here: http://services.amazon.com/content/sell-on-amazon.htm/ref=footer_soa?ld=AZFSSOA.
They have a great process with clear steps to setup your company. They ask a ton of questions, including your bank account, Federal EIN, and more. It’s all required and important.
Once you’re in, you’re ready to add your first product (printed book or ebook). Keep in mind that each product you plan on selling (and each format of that product–for instance one book may have a printed copy and ebook–that’s TWO different products according to Amazon), you will need a unique ISBN number with EAN 5 extension. The best place to get these codes is here: https://www.myidentifiers.com/. I’d go with a 10 pack, as buying them individually is cost prohibitive and if you really love writing or plan for multiple product formats you’ll eat them up anyway. What’s an EAN 5 extension? Well, it’s the part of the bar code that contains the cost of the product. Most places are looking for these to be included with your ISBN, especially printed on the back cover of your physical book. The great things about this particular site is you can both purchase the ISBNs, manage your data about those numbers, AND get a graphic file to put into your book cover art for production (with the EAN5).
You really need to have all the information ready for your product. It includes the following:
- Publication Date
- Series title
- Required Contributors
- Edition number
- Number of pages
- Volume #
- ISBN-13/EAN or ISBN number or UPC
- Seller SKU
- Condition Note
- Your Price
- Sale Price (and date to start and stop sale)
- Start selling date
- Restock date
- Import designation (Make in USA, etc.)
- Country as labeled (if imported)
- Shipping method (you, or done by Amazon)
- Shipping Options (standard, expedited, two day, one day, international, expedited international)
- Product Images (cover, back, spine, etc.)
- Product Description (2000 characters)
- Subject keywords (up to 5, 50 characters each)
- Search terms (up to 5, 50 characters each)
- Package dimensions (L,H, W, weight)
- CPSIA Cautionary Statements
Now go back to Amazon Seller Central: https://sellercentral.amazon.com/ . This location is different than the one you used to register. Pick “New Product” from the “Inventory” tab (first one in the navigation). Follow the wizard and put your information in.
The product will now show up in your inventory listing. Keep in mind that using Amazon’s infrastructure does NOT come free. They were going to take a $3.60 cut of a $6.99 book (my original book price before I realized this). I didn’t recall Amazon warning about how much they were planning on taking. In fact, most times I saw a “$1.00 per sale” cost.
That said, it forced me to print books in large enough quantity to bring down the printing cost to make this platform viable. I still believe it’s worth it 100%.
Make sure you get a business CPA to make sure you do your taxes and planning right. Here’s a helpful link: http://entrepreneurs.about.com/cs/gettingstarted/a/choosingacpa.htm.
And there you have it!