Business Principles: So You Want to Make an eBook? Bonus Sectionhere.
Edward asked this very valid question:
Also, following the recommendations here regarding Webstore software, I checked out the SimpleIPN site. They're now promoting something new called "UPLOADnSELL" instead. It looks legit... have you heard anything about it?
Yeah, I've noticed that.
I imagine that it is legit, though I've never used it, nor do I have plans to. My concerns are not because of the site itself (the guy helped folks way more than he had to with SimpleIPN), but are concerns of principle. (That's why I'm mentioning them here.) There may be very valid answers to these issues for UPLOADnSELL, but they're criteria you should be applying to any service that you do business with.
First, the "free" option has a clause where the individual item sold may go away if you don't make any sales for 90 days. That is a possibility. Sales from my website largely reflect how much noise I'm making about them. Con appearances, making noise on the web, just generally being active. If I enter a busy period (like the last, oh, 90 days for me), then I might not have many (or any!) sales from my website... which means all my work (and links) could be gone.
Remember that Amazon/B&N have a different audience than your website. The website traffic is made up of people who are actively looking for you. This is why appearances make such a difference in both website traffic and sales from my site - new people meet me, get curious, and check my stuff out. The digital bookstores, however, don't work with the same criteria. You can be found by people just browsing through who never heard of you before.
So, I'd rather avoid the uncertainty by using SimpleIPN if I wanted a free solution that was totally in my control.
Second, I'm always looking at stability and sustainability. Any product that has a large "free" solution - implemented by someone else - should be generating revenue in some manner. Most webhosts charge if traffic gets too heavy (how much and what the limits are depends on your hosting provider). That means the service may be an ongoing cost for the guy running it. (While there's a link for a "pro" account, there's no content there, and I'm skeptical of ad-based revenue streams.) Because there's a stream of outgoing money, then there needs to be a stream of incoming money to match it... otherwise they're paying out-of-pocket, and the service will only last as long as their generosity is larger than the expense. 1
Since my business would rely upon someone else's generosity...that makes me uneasy. (Again, I could be wrong. The guy behind both seems to be truly interested in supporting people - but you gotta wonder when he's going to get tired of it.)
In contrast, you have Fat-Free Cart and eJunkie. Both are by the same company. For small sellers, Fat-Free Cart takes care of most of the things you'll need... but for anything advanced (such as coupons), you need the full, pay version - most of which are streams (repeated small payments) of money. Don't cross the streams!
While nothing's certain in life (or business), I like to up the odds whenever possible.
1 This is also why my rates for eBook conversion are what they are - they're meant to be near-replacements for my "day job" income if I spent the same amount of time on it.
This post was part of So You Want to Make an eBook?. I'm releasing this book in sections on my blog, but when it's all finished I will offer the whole thing as a single eBook. Everyone who donates toward its production (use the coffee cups to the right, note that it's because of this effort) will get a free copy of this eBook. You can find all the posts here.