How to Sell E-books on Amazon

Stephanie Chandler

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Many savvy entrepreneurs and writers have discovered a new way to generate income by selling information products. These “infopreneurs" are creating new revenue streams by sharing their expertise via special reports, e-books, audio programs, and other information products.

Though it can be relatively easy to list an e-book for sale on your own website, if you want to take your publishing venture to the next level and make it available on, there are some specific steps you need to follow.

Amazon requires e-book publishers to utilize the services of their partner, Lightning Source (LSI ): LSI is a publishing company and the exclusive packager of e-books for Amazon.

Prior to registering as a customer with LSI, you have to acquire your own International Standard Book Number (ISBN). An ISBN is a unique ten or 13 digit number that is assigned to a book title for a period of thirty years. Bowker ( is the governing agency that issues ISBN numbers which must be purchased in blocks of 10, 100, 1000, or 10,000 for $225, $800, $1,200, and $3,000 respectively. Each application takes ten days to process before the numbers are issued. If necessary, you can pay an additional fee to have your application expedited.

Your e-book materials must be fully edited and ready to go since once you submit, you will be charged for any changes. LSI accepts e-books in three formats: Adobe Acrobat (PDF), Microsoft Reader (LIT), and Palm Reader (PDB). The only limitation to the size of an e-book is that it must be less than 10 Megabytes.

Once your book is formatted and you have obtained your ISBN, you can register with LSI. The application process requires you to enter your tax ID or social security number and a valid credit card. The good news is that the fee for book submission is just $25 and no other fees are charged unless you need to make changes to your file. Once registered, you will receive instructions for submitting your e-book file along with a contract agreement.

You will receive a proof of your file and after you’ve approved the final version, LSI will list your title in its catalog and make it available to large resellers including, Powell’s Books, Ebookmall, Diesel Ebooks, and others.

As the publisher, you set the cover price of your e-book as well as the wholesale discount price. The wholesale discount must be at least 25% though most e-book publishers set their discounts at 50-55% to make it more attractive for retailers to carry it. Fortunately LSI doesn’t take any additional percentage points since they are compensated by the book dealers. So if you set your retail price at $20 with a 55% discount, you will be paid $9 every time your book is purchased. Payments are distributed by LSI on a quarterly basis.

Once your title is listed with Amazon, you can update the description, add a graphic image, or post reviews on the book’s listing page. To make changes, display your e-book listing on and look just below where the graphic image is displayed (or should be displayed if you don’t have one). You should find a link that says “Publishers: Learn how customers can search inside this book. " Click on the link, type in your Amazon login information, and you will be taken to list of choices for updating the contents of your book’s page. Amazon will typically update the changes you submit within a week.

Because LSI’s contract is non-exclusive, the author retains all rights. This means that you can also make your e-book available directly from a shopping cart on your website or distribute it through other channels. If you want LSI to provide you the ability to sell the e-book from your site, you will have to sign up with their retailer program which can be costly. Instead you might want to consider using a document distribution package such as the one provided by or a shopping cart system with auto-responders like the one offered by

As with any book that is published, the success of an e-book depends on the author’s marketing efforts. Though the process of acquiring an ISBN number, formatting your e-book, and submitting it through LSI may seem tedious, the advantages can be great if you put some effort into marketing your materials. Imagine the credibility you can add to your publicity when you are interviewed by a newspaper or radio station and you can say, “My e-book is available on Amazon!"

Additional Resources for E-book Publishing:

*Join the E-book community on Yahoo: http://groups.

*E-books ‘N Bytes lists resources for e-book compilers, publishers, distribution, and more:

*For more information on building an infopreneur business, visit

Stephanie Chandler is the author of “The Business Startup Checklist and Planning Guide: Seize Your Entrepreneurial Dreams!" and founder of , a directory of resources for entrepreneurs. Subscribe to the newsletter for hot tips and small business tools by sending an e-mail to .


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