After your e-book is written and the price is set, but before you start aggressively marketing your e-book to draw sales, you'll need to choose a delivery method. Here are a couple of e-book delivery options, and some pros and cons of each:
You receive payment, and manually deliver the e-book via e-mail (or through a link contained within a manual email).
- Pros -- There are no extra costs associated with delivery services.
- Cons - Buyers don't get the instant gratification they're often paying a premium for (or willing to), you run the risk of missing a delivery and having a complaint filed against you with your payment processor, you have to monitor your email for incoming orders very frequently, keep access to the file available if you're out of town, and deal with any return requests yourself. It also may be tougher to get some buyers to trust you when they know you'll be getting their money, and they'll have to wait a while.
Auto-Responder with Download Link
With this e-book delivery option, you have an auto-responder set up to contact a buyer immediately after receiving payment, with a message that contains a download link.
- Pros - You don't have to manually email the file or download link to anyone, the buyer gets instant access to the file, and there's little to no added cost.
- Cons - In its simplest form (uploading the file to your server), there's no protection on the download link. Once a buyer receives the download link, they can distribute it to others if you haven't protected the file in some way (I'd consider it easier to let a service do that for you, especially if you're new to digital downloads). If you do this independently, you still have to handle returns on your own.
Digital Product Delivery Services
These services will generally host the e-book file for you, and offer protection options on the download link (like having temporary links for each buyer that expire when used, or after a certain period of time). They generally handle the payment processing, emailing the download link to buyers, and any return issues. Some also allow you to manage an affiliate program directly through them.
- Pros - Your e-book file is protected from illegal downloads in most cases (if it's not, you probably shouldn't be using that service anyway). Buyers still get immediate access to their e-book. You don't have to deal with returns yourself. Some of these programs also connect you to an affiliate marketplace (like with ClickBank), simplifying the affiliate marketing process. Other than marketing, e-book delivery services can make the e-book selling process relatively hands-off, and they can manage as many digital products as you'd like to sell all from one place.
- Cons - These services aren't likely to be free (that's not to say they're necessarily expensive though). Some services will charge an up-front setup fee. Others will charge a fee for each sale you make. Some will charge you a monthly or other recurring fee. Still others will charge some combination thereof.
Basically, how "passive" your e-book revenue is can have a lot to do with the e-book delivery option you choose. I started off with manual deliveries of my first e-book (a really bad idea in my opinion), and have since moved to an e-book delivery service (through E-junkie).
If you're already an e-book author, what delivery method did you choose, and why? Is it working out for you?