Now and again a quiet revolution starts brewing. This is one of those times. Facebook has just made it possible for readers to buy ebooks directly from an author’s fan page without clicking to Amazon or any other retailer.
It’s a huge development, and I think it’s going to require a major shift in buyers’ attitude. But if that shift happens, Facebook, which we haven’t yet considered as the place to buy books, will deliver SO much potential!
Introducing Heyo Cart – Ridiculously easy
What is Heyo Cart? It’s a third party app that works seamlessly with Facebook to let people buy digital products… like ebooks. When someone buys, the purchases go to HeyoCart. A day or so later, 80% of book price is deposited in the author’s bank account.
It’s ridiculously easy to set up. An author creates a post with the book cover. If the person seeing the posts wants the book, all they do is type in the word “Buy.” HeyoCart and its payment partner Stripe.co (a system very like PayPal and Square) do the rest.
Anything that makes it easier and faster to impulse buy is a good thing for book sales. And because there’s no need to click to Amazon or iBooks, no momentum or time is lost between desire and purchase.
The system also makes a list of buyers’ email addresses so the author can invite them to join their email list.
My Heyo Cart Experiment
I like to try new technologies, so I’ve already experimented. But I started small, with a short story that’s just come out as a “single” after being in an anthology for 3 years. It’s called Capital Partners. I discounted the price from 99¢ (the price on all the ebook retailer platforms I’m on) to 75¢, to provide an incentive. And I only sold to my existing fans. But bear in mind that you can expand your potential customer base by creating a Facebook ad, which I also did later on.
So, did it work? My first attempt got an interesting response. Here’s a screenshot of the post I created.
And here’s a screen shot of a few of the ‘results’, i.e. the comments saying ‘buy’. As you can see, Heyo replies right away, engaging with buyers to say thank you. Another plus.
I would say it was a moderate success.
Working out the Kinks
There’s so much that’s good about HeyoCart’s system– ease of use, convenience, its power and efficiency — that I hope the kinks can be worked out quickly. And there are a few:
- Once someone says BUY they are taken to HeyoCart to actually make the purchase. Only about half of the people ultimately complete the buy, even though it isn’t cumbersome. Why do they not finish, I’m wondering. What can we do to help?
- An author can only upload one format at a time, i.e. either Mobi or E-pub, unless they want to create a Zip file with both formats. I don’t, as I’m sure someone could pirate both versions. HeyoCart says they’re working on this, but right now it’s an issue.
- The biggest issue, I think, is familiarity with the author. If an author creates an ad, a prospective buyer might go to Amazon first to check the reviews. Since they’re already there, maybe they buy the book at Amazon? Or maybe they don’t buy at all?
How to make fans feel better about buying direct ?
This is where the rubber meets the road, so to speak. Authors need a way to “prove their worth” to a potential buyer without a buyer clicking to Amazon, and I’m not sure how to do that. Over the long term, sure, we try to engage and build trust with our readers, but what about the ones we’re enticing with a short story or novel they can buy on FB? Although ebooks have only been with us for 7-8 years, the habit of going to Amazon, iBooks or Kobo to buy is deeply entrenched.
Some potential readers might actually never buy directly from an author because they can’t be sure of what they’re getting. Others might be worried about giving up their credit cards online, others may not like the way Facebook itself treats personal data.
One potential solution would be to include snippets of reviews in the post we create, or add links to our author website where reviews are posted.
Your best thinking needed…
I’m sure there are other solutions. What do you think? How can authors help readers feel more comfortable buying ebooks directly on Facebook? Please leave your suggestions in the comments. In fact, I’m adding an incentive of my own – for every legitimate suggestion, I’ll send you a copy of Capital Partners… FREE. 🙂