In this digital age, a lot of people believe that “anyone” can write a book and publish it online. (Anyone can, but there’s a big difference between a thirty-page diatribe against The Man, complete with crayon-drawn illustrations, and a novel worthy of comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut!) But what happens after those eBooks get published?
For many, the answer is nothing. A lot of first-time authors, particularly those without agents or publishers, don’t realize that eBooks require marketing like any other product. If people have never heard of your eBook, they can’t read it. So what’s a writer to do?
The Basics of eBook Marketing
The first step is putting your best book forward. Your eBook needs to be thoroughly proofread. Recruit your English-major sister or ply your eReader-loving mailman with cookies for help, but edit it until it reads professionally.
Make sure your book has an appealing cover. While eBooks don’t sit on bookstore shelves, they still have a visual presence. When people are scrolling through eBook lists, you want yours to draw them in. An eye-catching cover and well-edited text guarantee that your first impression is a strong one.
After you’ve created the most compelling book you can, you need to define your goals. Did you write this book in an effort to get rich? Did you want to capture a fanbase? Did you hope to build your professional brand? Whatever your motivation, it needs to drive your strategy.
If it’s exposure you want, you need to focus on getting your book into as many hands as possible; you can give your book away for free on established eBook sites. If you’re looking for a big payday, your book needs to be published with the right mainstream publisher – you’ll need to put in a lot of elbow grease to attract their attention. If building your brand is your ultimate goal, you need to maximize your eBook real estate by including your company’s information, with links to your site.
Don’t forget your audience! If your goal is very specific – such as becoming the #1 author in the retiree self-help segment – you need to pick tactics that connect you with retirement-aged people. Your message has to match your audience; you’ll speak differently to mystery readers than you will with romance fans.
What Else You Need to Do
The eBook itself is the best marketing weapon. Did you write a book people will want to read, or is it a giant piece of incoherent babble? Quality books generate the best word-of-mouth marketing.
But since everyone is using the same basic methods we discussed above, you need to do more to stand out. Here are Internet marketing tactics that have worked well for eBook authors I’ve worked with:
- Add a link to your book in your email signature.
- Participate in related forums and groups.
- Submit guest posts to others’ blogs.
- Use press release services to annouce your book to the media
- Utilize social media – create a Facebook fan page for your book and advertise on Twitter, your LinkedIn profile, etc.
- Set up an author blog site, along with a website for each book title.
- Establish your own author page on publishing sites. For example, Amazon allows you to create your own webpage on their site
- (and include links to your site or blog!).
- Email everyone you know, but also ask them to email their networks.
- Take advantage of online publishers’ existing customer bases; have them email their lists to announce your book’s release.
- Make audio and video recordings of you reading excerpts. You can post the audio download on your own site, and YouTube can
- host a video of you reading a chapter.
What You Need to Do Differently
Of course, you’re trying to reach as many people online as you can, so you need to aim higher. Here are three innovative ways you can attract attention:
1. Host your own online radio show or podcasts. You can use sites like BlogTalkRadio, RadioMoney101, or wsRadio to get started. A radio show gives prospective readers a taste of your expertise, personality, and style.
2. Create an online channel on YouTube or Flickr. You can load it with content about developing the story, character, or plot – or even talk about your writing process or worries. People will relate to these stories (and isn’t storytelling what you’re all about?).
3. Add others’ videos to your channel. For example, an uplifting music video can help your branding if you write self-help books. A quick business tip from an expert can boost your credibility if you write for entrepreneurs.
What You Shouldn’t Waste Time On
You need to create a budget and determine where you can get the best bang for your buck. Some tactics will give you a higher return on investment than others. The things that typically don’t pay you back are short-term or expensive. Conferences and trade shows, for example, enable you to talk to thousands of people, but likely only a few are potential buyers. The upfront costs of plane tickets, signage, and more just aren’t worth it.
Most print-based advertising isn’t effective because it’s costly and only exists temporarily. Vanity-based marketing is usually a bust, too: T.V.-quality videos and live radio shows only do so much. Those T.V.-quality videos require a (gasp!) T.V. station in order to be useful; airtime is expensive. Local radio shows reach a limited number of people in a specific geographical area.
Anyone can write an eBook, but not just anyone can make it successful. If you’re investing the time in writing a quality book, invest just as much time in finding cost-effective marketing methods that will reach the audience you want. You may not garner any comparisons to Kurt Vonnegut, but you’ll surely attract the reader base you need.