Teachers who produce education curricula know their niche markets. Why? Because teacher lesson plans reflect their expertise. Fortunately, TeachersPayTeachers.com (TpT) is an awesome outlet that caters to hosting a variety of instructional curricula.
As a teacher seller you might wonder if some of your ebooks have a wider audience appeal; namely, if they can crossover successfully into the mainstream marketplace. This article will help you to determine whether your education products, and/or YOU, should sell through other vendors.
For example, I write communication skills ebooks. Slanted for education, most employ activities and worksheets. However, many of my communication ebooks have done well on Amazon, Apple, Barnes & Noble and other sites. On occasion changes to the content are made to adjust for generic readability. Take a look to see if you have products that can crossover to another venue. And if so, set up an account and try out a new sales opportunity!
If you are unsure about unleashing your product in another market—experiment! First and foremost, place your ebooks at compatible re-sellers. And, do select out teacher ebooks carefully. My noteworthy experience has proven mainstream readers are receptive to education books when they: 1) Address and solve a problem; 2) Fill a niche; or 3) Offer how-to-do-it info. Therefore, seek out ebook sites that support your genres.
My Self Publishing Journey is an Anomaly
It’s true! I write fiction and non-fiction stories. And, create teacher products. Plus, offer my-and others photography in collections. Quite a mixed bag. Initially, I didn’t research markets where my products might succeed. Curricula books simply flowed out of my brain with ease. An accrual from my years in education and corporate instructional environments. And, life experiences purged forth. The teacher in me loves to share. The process of creating is addicting. And the results rewarding. Consequently, my lineup reveals several distinct categories. The outcome is a variety now offered through a diverse range of ebook vendors.
My ebooks were selected for markets based on literary genre. To give an idea, as of this blog date, I have 111+/- individual ebook products. Approximately 87 are written specifically for education. And, 24 are aimed at mainstream readers. Yet, 32 of these are crossovers. Which means 32 can be placed at both teacher- and mainstream re-seller sites.
Cautions & Advice for Adding Vendors
If you are a teacher with successful sales on TpT, or another teacher vendor, be cautious about entering the generic reader markets. Admittedly, my author odyssey appears to have been arbitrary. As a writer I love to explore other composition styles. Yet while having fun doing so, I created an albatross to some extent.
So there are cautions to others embarking on this path. Namely, servicing different ebook stores creates lots more work for oneself. Every storefront is an additional site to maintain. Monitoring statistics, while revealing, is time demanding. When ebook content is changed, it needs modifying across all platforms. Catering to many sites is ambitious, one which can turn into an arduous task. Ongoing evaluation is vital to make a bookstore worth the time invested. There is no shame in closing an ebook store. It’s something I’ve done several times. Some reasons include: 1) If sales are minimal; 2) If genres do not fit a vendor’s market audience; 3) Vendor support is the FAQ’s page, very minimal response, or not at all; or 4) Effort to promote products does not merit your return on investment, aka ROI.
Valuable Tidbits & Lessons Learned
Do you ponder the option of expanding your market? Let my experience help you decide!
1) First of all, test market a new vendor. Initially, only place a dozen of your top ebooks. It takes lots of time to upload products to new platforms. Of course you want your writing properly represented. So select from your best sellers and/or products that fit the vendor’s audience. Then, see how sales go for 6 months before making a decision whether to add more store products. You can also just sit tight and let your ebooks find their own natural sales and rankings for awhile. Then determine your next steps.
2) You may be approached and invited by start ups and lesser known hosting resellers to join their sites. I have participated in several. And with enthusiasm, went ahead and fully loaded up all ebooks that fit their genre. They never sold. Why? Because these sites, with good intention, did not have the resources behind them. Not every ebook reseller host is a success. This is why I advocate for #1 above. Only place a few books at a site until it proves its worth.
3) Some well known resellers might not work in your best interest either. Who doesn’t love Etsy.com? It’s a marketplace rich in creative diversity. I held an Etsy store for a few years. Sales were sporadic and slow. Many Etsy sellers do well because of their marketing efforts in- and outside of Etsy. I did not have the extra time to promote my books on Etsy. After three years I elected to close my Etsy ebook store. Truth was, at that time it was a relief not having to maintain another store site. Lesson here is: if you decide to open up an e-bookstore you must make the commitment to promote sales from that site if you want to see it succeed. Fact is, reseller sites only host your stores. It is up to store owners to peddle their own products. All this said, I may elect to open up my Etsy shop in the future. Why? Perhaps my creativity will spawn new products that would be more in line with Etsy artful themes. I always leave possibilities and options open!
Update! EAT MY WORDS! I decided to open up my Etsy shop again. Why? I created some artful items that I thought might fit into Etsy’s theme better. And, I figure one more place of exposure for my Pet Project does not hurt either. So check it out HERE!
4) Another item worth mentioning, is that all reseller communities are different. Some offer forums, some don’t. Support differs vastly between hosting websites. From support requests answered by a person, to being directed to a FAQs page. While ratings and feedback on one site can be generous, on others it may be sparse. Be prepared. Some sites have buyer reviews that can be rough in their ratings- and with their comments. If so, try not to be disenchanted.
Find Your Niche and Stick To IT
All this said, it really boils down to this advice: 1) What ebook market(s) you want to serve; 2) How much time you want to dedicate to each market and ebook store site; and 3) What reseller host do you prefer to be affiliated with. Of course, much is determined by the niche that fits your ebooks.
My conclusion is that writing for education has been far more rewarding for me personally. Why? As a lifetime teacher it is easy to determine a target market precisely to a select audience based on my expertise. I have found that TeachersPayTeachers provide more support and acknowledgment on several levels. The assistance TpT support provides is on task and on target. They offer ongoing product and store promo opportunities for sellers. Teacher forums are chock full of help from peers; truly it’s a community of sharing. Weekly newsletters, periodic sales, plus more is offered to enable teacher-author-seller success. Additionally, buyer feedback and good ratings are commonplace on TpT, which is very unlike mainstream markets.
Nowadays my time is spent promoting my books on TeachersPayTeachers.com (TpT) along with my own website PattyAnn.net where my products are also sold. This choice evolved over time because of my niche markets- and for the amount of commission other resellers charge. While my ebooks are at other vendors such as Amazon and Smashwords (which acts as a porthole to other resellers), I don’t often promote my ebooks from these sites. Why? First, it comes down to time. Second, the amount of commissions charged. Particularly for Amazon with their policy of requiring author exclusivity; otherwise your ebooks are downgraded and commissions paltry. I leave my mainstream ebooks at other vendors to climb the ranks on their own merits. And, some have done surprisingly well without my promotional help.
There are many aspects and considerations involved when expanding your market. I hope these suggestions have provided you with some ideas and insight. Especially if you have- or are considering other ebook retail outlets. I would be glad to address any questions. Feel free to contact me!
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