Last week, my store on Etsy.com made its first sales and I have to say even from only a short time working with this site, it is FAR better than working with eBay. For self-published authors who sell print copies of their own books, this post is all about what makes Etsy much more author-friendly than eBay.
Why I Prefer ETSY
I do admit, that selling on eBay was great for a couple years. The site gets tons of traffic because of the many categories of stuff available and people are more familiar with eBay than Etsy. Unfortunately, the good times ended when eBay screwed sellers over with their new pricing requirements.
Before, you could set a starting price for buyers to bid on an item (which is the absolute lowest you will sell your book for) and also set a “Buy It Now” price. The Buy It Now price had to be 10% higher than the starting price and was a great way to simply price a book a tad higher than the starting price so people would be tempted to buy the book rather than go through the bother of bidding on it.
For example, the lowest I will sell my Easy Preserving book for was $4.50 (plus shipping). I set my bidding to start at $4.50 and then set my Buy It Now price for $5. Ninety-nine percent of my sales were people who opted to Buy It Now rather than take the risk of bidding and having the price jump up (once you bid, the Buy It Now option goes byebye).
Then eBay had the brilliant idea that the Buy It Now price should be 30% higher than the starting bid price. This doesn’t seem like much, but it drove my Buy It Now prices way, way up (don’t forget, I need to add in for fees and shipping). After the pricing change, I did not make a single sale on eBay. My books were still selling through other retailers so it wasn’t that my books were suddenly horrible things no one wanted.
Thanks to a Twitter buddy, I learned of Etsy.com. This site mainly focuses on crafty items that people have used their clever little brains to make or craft supplies so you can make your own clever creations. The rule is that if you sell a final product it has to be something of your own creation and that you produced yourself. Yes, self-pubbed books count (books published by traditional means do not count, even if you wrote the books).
I checked it out and loved the look of Etsy, so I gave it go. It’s super simple to set up a shop and load your books on the site. I’m not going into details on how to get set up–they have plenty of tutorials on the site for that.
Instead, let’s look at a few comparisons of Etsy and eBay…
Listing Fees: Unlike eBay where you can list 50 items for free each month, there are no free listings on Etsy. However, the cost to list is only 20 cents AND that 20 cents keeps your listing live for four months or until the item sells (on eBay, you get one week with the free listing). Four months! This is way better than having to go in every week and renew listings that don’t sell on eBay. Point 1 to Etsy, 0 to eBay for saving me time.
Selling fees: Sometimes I had no idea what the fees were for items that sold on eBay. It’s supposed to be 10% of the total cost (item + shipping), but on some sales it seemed as high as 20% and on other sales it seemed around 8%. Either way, 10% is a huge chunk out of your sale. PLUS, eBay uses Paypal. Paypal also takes a fee that can range from 3 to 7% depending on which way the wind is blowing that day. Etsy? A flat 3%. Yes, three tiny percentage points. And because they pay you via direct deposit, you don’t incur Paypal fees. This alone gets Etsy 2 more points, and I think -5 points for eBay.
Refunds: Whenever I had to do a refund through eBay, I paid for the whole refund from my account. On one of my Etsy sales, I had to refund a small amount for the shipping since the person had ordered two books in one shipment. Yes, I could have pocketed that extra money, but I like to play fair. When I issued the refund, Etsy paid for 3% of it since they had charged me 3% on the money I had originally been given. Now THAT is good service. Etsy scores another point.
Clarity in Reporting: I have never been able to find any clear reporting on the eBay site regarding my sales. Yes, there is a section that lists items that have sold, but there is no break down of the fees. This only leads to confusion and extra work with the calculator to keep everything straight for the Tax Man. Etsy? Right on my main account page is a lovely report with full details of my sales, the shipping, the fees, and any refunds. Awesome. Point to Etsy.
The final tally…eBay at -5 points, Etsy 5 points. Etsy is the winner!
I haven’t bought anything on Etsy yet (although I’m very tempted by some of the super cute stuff on there), but word has it that it is a great experience. Shopping on eBay? It’s a bit hit or miss. I’d say at least half of the very few items I’ve bought on eBay had serious misrepresentations, didn’t arrive or were simply not the product advertised. Sigh…
One final Etsy bonus: I think Etsy allows you to sell digital content (frowned upon and made a huge hassle by eBay). I haven’t looked into it yet, but plan to eventually.
So, authors, get your store open and get your sales going on Etsy!