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How To Sell an eBook With PayPal

by PotPieGirl on June 10, 2009 · 24 comments

Selling Your eBook With PayPal Buttons – The Simple Steps

If you’ve been following along you know we have been talking about how to sell an ebook with PayPal. In the last post, we talked about how to create an eBook and convert it into a PDF file.  Now, the big question – What if you want to SELL your ebook?  What are your options?  One of the easiest ways to sell an eBook online is by using the buy now buttons available to you thru your PayPal account.  Now, this is far from the ONLY way to sell an eBook, but to me, it is the easiest way to get started selling info products online.  In typical PotPieGirl fashion, let’s walk thru the steps needed when selling an eBook with PayPal (and yes, there are pictures, too….lol).

What You Need To Sell An eBook With PayPal

When it comes time to set up your eBook for sale with PayPal, there are a few things you will need.

1.  An eBook  =)

2.  A PayPal account

3.  A Sales Page – web page online where you will sell your eBook

4.  A Download page (also called a “thank you page”) where customers can download your eBook after purchase.

5.  Your eBook hosted online via your server (don’t let this freak you out – and yes, there is an option to this.  Just stick with me here and I’ll walk you thru it all)

Since you already have your eBook, and I’m hoping you already have a PayPal account, let’s talk about the sales page for your eBook.  You can sell your eBook from just about any type of web page.  It does not HAVE to be an HTML page in that long sales-letter fashion that is so common these days.  In fact, your sales letter could actually be a video or a blog post.

The most important thing is that you have somewhere online where you talk about your product and detail out the features and benefits of it.  If your eBook solves a problem (as it should), be sure to make it clear what problem your eBook solves.  There is a TON of info online about writing effective sales copy so I won’t go all into that.

The most important thing in relation to todays post about selling an eBook with PayPal is to have a web page where your PayPal Buy Now button can be found so people CAN buy your eBook.  In this example, PayPal is the payment processor you are using.

Selling eBooks – How It Works With Payment Processors

PayPal is one of many payment processor options for selling eBooks online.  Others include Clickbank or PayDotCom or e-Junkie….and many, many more.  When you are selling something online, you need some sort of payment processor to take payment for your product.  The payment processor will then redirect the customer back to somewhere on your site so they can download or get their product.

Using my oh-SO (not) impressive graphic skills, let me show you what the simple process of selling an eBook looks like.

It’s a simple process…. A soon-to-be customer finds your sales page, clicks the PayPal Buy Now button and then is redirected OFF your site to the PayPal site for payment. After payment is complete, the customer is re-directed BACK to your site to get their eBook.

This whole entire process can be set up to happen automatically with PayPal.

Once you have a web page where you want to sell your eBook and a download page where customers can get the eBook after payment, head on over to your PayPal account to set the process up.

How To Set Up PayPal Buttons To Sell an eBook

Log in to your PayPal account and look across the top for “Merchant Services” – click that:

After clicking Merchant Services in your PayPal account you will see a LOT of options and PayPal tools for merchants.  We only want one thing from this page so just look at the top at the pictures and click “Buy Now Button” -

There are 3 steps that are available to use to set up your PayPal Buy Now button to be able to sell your ebook. Let’s look at each one.

Just a note: There are TONS of ways to make the process of selling an eBook online fancier and more complicated. My goal with this post is to NOT complicate things and show you the basic way of getting your eBook for sale on the internet. So let’s start with the basics. You can ALWAYS learn more after that =)

Creating a Buy Now Button – Step 1

Each step of creating a PayPal button to sell your eBook is broken down into separate tabs on the screen you see next. Do NOT get over-whelmed now… just hang in there with me as we walk thru the steps.

Let’s start with step 1:

Sorry if that appears confusing when you first look at it, but once you make one of these PayPal buttons, it will be second nature for you.

Choose “products”. Then choose to make a “buy now” button. Usually, “Add To Cart” buttons are made when there are multiple products to choose from so customers can put them in their “cart” and then check out all at once. Since we are only selling one product – your eBook – we only need a “Buy Now” button.

Next, give your product a name and an ID. These things will be shown via email when someone buys your eBook both in an email to you and an email to the customer. Also, if you ever want to run PayPal reports to see how much you made each month (or day or week or year….lol), you will need a unique name and product ID for each product you sell.

Give your product a price and choose the correct currency. The stuff in the middle (where I noted “Don’t worry about all this stuff”) isn’t important right now. In short, these options let the customer add things and make choices when making the purchase. For example, if you were selling a product that could be engraved, this is where you’d add the field where the customer could tell you what to put on the product. Since we are just selling a simple little ebook, we don’t need to worry about all that today.

As for shipping – usually there wouldn’t be any shipping for an eBook since it is all delivered electronically online (ie, nothing is mailed). As for tax – check your local regulations. I am FAR from anything resembling a tax lawyer or a CPA so I am not comfortable giving advice on all that.

At the bottom, choose the “secure” option. What this does is encrypt your email address in your PayPal button so those nasty email harvester programs can’t come along and read your email address via the PayPal code. This could save you from some added spam in your inbox.

Step 2 – Setting up PayPal Buy Now Button

Step 2 is mainly for people selling “real” products – things that they need to keep inventory of and only have so many they can sell. The only thing I check on this step in to keep a copy of my PayPal button in my PayPal account. One never knows when I will totally erase a web page by accident (again…) and need a new PayPal button for my product right away. It’s nice to have it saved somewhere….just in case.

Step 3- Setting Up a PayPal Buy Now Button For Your eBook

This the step in the PayPal process that makes the magic happen when selling your eBook. To me, the “magic” is when it all happens automatically FOR you. Trust me, it is super nice when people can buy your eBook and GET your eBook and YOU don’t have to do a thing.

Here is how the Step 3 tab looks and works:

The first 3 answers are No, No, and No. You don’t need any of that to sell an eBook with PayPal.

The next field asks you what url (web address) you want PayPal to redirect someone to if they CANCEL the order process and do NOT buy. This can be any web page. Many folks choose to send them back to the sales page or to their main website. It’s totally up to you.

The next field is VERY VERY important for the magic to happen the way we want it to. This is the url (web address) where a customer goes to GET the ebook after their payment is completed. This should be one of those “thank you for your purchase, please click here to download your eBook” type pages that the majority of us are all-too-familiar with =)

This download page should be blocked from the search engines with a no-index/no-follow tag in the area…and it should be located on your server somewhere that is not that easy to find. Protecting eBook downloads is a WHOLE ‘nother topic that I could write 20,000 words on so I am going to let the topic be for the purpose of this post.

Above all, just make SURE the url you are having PayPal send paying customers to is right.

The “advanced variables” at the bottom – trust me, don’t worry about that today. There are so many ways to code and customize the PayPal process, but you don’t need any of that for this basic tutorial.

When you’re done, click “create button” (and yes, you can go back and edit in case you screwed something up like I always do).

Congratulations! You Can Now Sell Your eBook With PayPal!

After clicking “create button” you will come to a screen that looks like this:

All you need to do is copy all that code and paste it onto your sales page where you want the “Buy Now” button to go.

And, as I promised, there is also a link to go back and edit your button if you need to =)

Now, that wasn’t so hard, was it?

Selling an eBook With PayPal – Common Questions

1. How long does it take for me to get paid for my eBook sales?

PayPal puts the money for your eBook sale into your PayPal account immediately after a purchase is completed.

2. How will I know if I sold an eBook thru PayPal?

PayPal will email you (to your PayPal email address) each time a sale is made. It will show the product ID in the subject line followed by “Notification of Payment Received”. The customer will get an email receipt, too.

3. What if I don’t have a website or don’t understand how to get my eBook online and available from a download/thank you page?

There is an option to having a download page…. You can simply email the eBook to each customer as the payment notifications come in.

The payment notifications will actually have a sender email address from the customer (not from PayPal), so you could easily open the notification email, click “reply” and then attach the eBook to the email back to the customer.

This is not the optimal way to do, but it still can work very well if you’re ok checking your email often. I would also be clear on your sales page that the eBook is hand-emailed and to allow x amount of time for delivery. Trust me, people do NOT like to pay for an eBook and not get it right away =)

If you are afraid of terms like “FTP” and “upload to your server” – don’t be.  Once upon a time (not so very long ago) these terms absolutely drove me crazy.  I had NO CLUE what they meant.  If you don’t know what they mean – it’s ok!  You’re not SUPPOSED to know what they mean when you’re new.  That’s why *I’m* here  =)

If you want to learn what FTP and upload to your server means in PotPieGirl-type explanation, read this post called “What IS FTP???” on my 6StepNicheSites.com blog.

4. Does PayPal charge for this service?  Are there fees?

Yes, PayPal charges a fee to be your payment processor.  It looks to be about .60 USD (sixty cents) for me for every $10 in sales.  Just check in your PayPal account in the Merchant Services area.  There is a ton of helpful info in there.

Selling an eBook With PayPal – Demystified!

Well, there you have it – the PotPieGirl tutorial on how to set up your eBook for sale online using PayPal buttons.

There are LOTS of ways to customize this process so you can do things like collect email addresses and have affiliates and offer re-curring charges (like a membership fee), but my goal here is to get you started and bust thru the fog of confusion.

We all have to start somewhere….and in a little over 2,100 words, I just got you empowered, educated, and on your way!

Now – get out there and sell some eBooks!

Learn More:

  • How to Make Covers and Images for your eBook (video Lesson)
  • How To Create, Market, and Deliver your eBooks (video Lesson)


    Penny G @ Online Community College Courses June 10, 2009 at 3:26 am

    Thanks Jennifer, I had only set up a “donate” button with Paypal before, and this really is a helpful guide. I do have a product in mind, and this gives me a little push in that direction!

    Penny G @ Online Community College Coursess last blog post..Online Community Classes With 50 Start Dates per Year

    Newbie Profits June 10, 2009 at 3:52 am

    I prefer to use E-Junkie to handle the security and downloading of digital products, it just makes things SOOO much simpler. I do use PayPal to get paid.

    Guess I should do a post about why I like E-Junkie. LOL

    Newbie Profitss last blog post..Quick Google Indexing

    divacratus June 10, 2009 at 12:21 pm

    Thanks so much for sharing! That was really helpful. Yes, it did answer ALL of my questions.

    Once again, thanks a lot! =)

    Barbara June 10, 2009 at 2:27 pm

    you mentioned having your ebook posted online via server — what was the option for that? thanks!

    Paul Hughes June 10, 2009 at 3:14 pm

    Thanks again Potpiegirl. More priceless information, greatly appreciated. Looks like a piece of cake. BTW, I just put a marketplace page on my web site for the first time. Focusing on Amazon for now, although it was originally created to push a clickbank product. Took me about 2 weeks to go through the whole process…all I have left to do is make a lens through Squidoo and see if I can get any traffic to it. It’s very rudimentary. I did it mainly to go through the process, not knowing how it would work, but the experience of getting my first site out was so valuable. Now I just need to tweak the process, work on my keyword and niche research (I have several possibilities) and repeat the process. I see what you mean though when you say it takes alot of work…no get- rich-quick foolishness. I am a fisherman and know the importance of getting as many lines in the water as possible, so here I go. Sorry if I got a little off subject, but I was just too excited to finally see a tangible monetization on my site. Stay tuned.

    Susan Greene June 10, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    Should you use PayPal if you plan to have affiliates sell your book too?

    Also, is Paypal a better option than eJunkie, which is what I see a lot of ebook authors using these days.

    Thanks for all the helpful information. As I’ve just completed writing my first ebook, your timing couldn’t be better.

    Jaebird88 June 11, 2009 at 4:09 pm

    Great tutorial. I going to share this with my facebook and twitter friends. I am sure they want to know. Awesome.

    What would be really great would be one of your famous videos showing us how to do it start to finish. That’d be great.


    Jaebird88s last blog post..Why Search Engine Optimization: SEO

    Shira June 15, 2009 at 10:43 am

    I wanted to sell with PayPal, but found out that I can not cash out, as I reside outside of the US. I was looking for another option and got to click bank. I got there using http://www.creditcardprocessing-r-us.com, which offer various solutions, most will involve credit cards. If PayPal is not working for you I think you should try them out.

    Maurice (TheCaymanHost) June 18, 2009 at 7:27 am

    This is an excellent walk through but I had to comment and mention one glaring problem and it is one that so many digital info product sellers overlook or are completely unaware of.

    Using static download links for your products is as good as giving them away.

    With the proliferation of social bookmarking sites it only takes one person to bookmark your download page or add it to a forum and your product will be freely available to the world.

    The problem is a real one but there is a free solution. You will need a hosting account and a MySQL database to install the script but other than that it’s free to use for a limited number of products.

    Setup is simple enough and once it’s done it will take care of all your orders and delivery of your product, leaving you to concentrate on other things. It can handle both Clickbank and Paypal among others, will build your list and takes away the hassle of thank you pages as well.

    Even using the free version you can count on pretty good support from the site owner too.

    I’m a first time commentator on your blog, but I think this is vital information for your readers/students so I hope you won’t mind me leaving a link where they can find more details on my blog.


    I think you will agree it is an excellent product. I’ve used it myself for a long time now and never had any problems :-)

    Maurice (TheCaymanHost)s last blog post..Marketing And Twitter Revisited

    Chadnan June 20, 2009 at 11:55 pm

    Great Artcle. From so many days I was searching about selling ebook through paypal. Even I didn’t know how to add paypal button so that I can sell online. Thanks a lot.

    Katherine June 21, 2009 at 2:41 am

    Thanks so much for posting this! I’ll need to know how to do this soon so I stumbled the post.

    james July 6, 2009 at 11:50 pm

    Thanks for this post. I thought you need to be really web programming-savvy to make this thing possible. Turns out, as long as there are people like PotPieGirl to generously show us the step by step procedures, we can get along.

    caudi831 July 9, 2009 at 7:28 pm

    Thanks for the awesome step by step on selling ebooks with paypal. I will create my page and let you know how it went.
    Thanks a Million

    Robert Magee July 25, 2009 at 6:26 am

    Thank you very much, excellent tutorial. I have been online since the beginning of the Internet as you now know it, way before Aol and Yahoo spring of 1992. I can do everything a person can do and have created many websites over the years. However I have never tried to sell an ebook or anything thru PayPal. I recently took a look and said this looks far like too much work. Well it really wasn’t. Your great and I am bookmarking your site or blog for the future. Thank You very much.

    Mike Fitzgerald August 6, 2009 at 11:03 pm

    Hey, finally I saw how to use PayPal to AUTOMATE books sales. Thank you. You solved a little mystery for me.

    Millie August 20, 2009 at 6:17 pm

    Well Done!!! This is a great post! Very much appreciated! Keep up the good work – I’m really impressed!!! ;-)

    Heather August 22, 2009 at 9:06 pm

    I’ve been working on an e-book, so when I stumbled upon this link via Redgage, I was so excited. The content and the user friendly language with the screen shots helped a lot in understanding exactly how to do this…..Now, I need to find your article on how to transfer my ebook into a pdf file! I look forward to reading many more of your articles! Thanks again!

    Christy Pinheiro September 7, 2009 at 4:10 am

    I’ve added a link to this guide on my small publishers resource page. This is the best step-by-step guide for setting up an ebook that I’ve seen so far. The images are a big plus. Thanks so much for posting this. I added the link to your site under “best how-to guides”

    Christy Pinheiro

    leung September 11, 2009 at 6:07 am

    2 thumbs up for you PotPieGirl !!! awsome article while I was searching the automated way to send ebooks to my buyers on ebay. Can I apply your method to buy it now on Ebay ? How can I replace ebay Buy it Now button with the one you present in here ?

    Thanks for any suggestion !!!

    Advanced Online Training September 13, 2009 at 7:14 pm


    Once again one of your posts have saved the day for me. This came in real handy for a current project that I’m working on where I’m using an ebook with MSR instead of selling a Clickbank product as an affiliate.

    Now you need one to show people how to create the link for downloading the ebook.


    Marty A November 1, 2009 at 5:17 am

    Thanks so much for the “sell ebook via paypal” section, it was so helpful :-)

    Luvli Lotus November 20, 2009 at 9:32 am

    This is a wonderful article. I have been researching selling ebooks online for several weeks now and this is by far the simplest method so far. A few questions for you: I have an MS Office Live website. How do I set up the link for downloading my ebook? Can I sell my ebook in a shopping cart with other products (some tangible)? How do I protect my download page from search engines? Should I change the URL often? You also mentioned creating an affiliate program, how?
    So many questions, I know! Your article has my mind racing.
    Thank you in advance,
    Luvli Lotus

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