The Cheapskate’s Guide to Promoting Ebooks
Recently, a newly published author posted a question about promoting her ebook on one of my fave writing forums, Romance Divas. I could tell from her post that she was completely overwhelmed and intimidated by the prospect of promoting her upcoming release. Making matters worse, her publisher asked her to submit a promotion/marketing plan to them.
First, a couple of definitions. (from www.managementhelp.org) Sometimes authors use the terms promotion and marketing interchangeably, but they aren’t the same thing.
Promotion: Promotion keeps the product in the minds of the customer and helps stimulate demand for the product. Promotion involves ongoing advertising and publicity (mention in the press). The ongoing activities of advertising, sales and public relations are often considered aspects of promotions.
Marketing: Marketing is the wide range of activities involved in making sure that you’re continuing to meet the needs of your customers and getting value in return…Marketing activities include “inbound marketing,” such as market research to find out, for example, what groups of potential customers exist, what their needs are, which of those needs you can meet, how you should meet them, etc. Inbound marketing also includes analyzing the competition, positioning your new product or service (finding your market niche), and pricing your products and services. “Outbound marketing” includes promoting a product through continued advertising, promotions, public relations and sales.
Now that we’ve defined those two relevant terms, let’s dig in. Please understand, I am basing my suggestions upon my personal experience only. I have no concrete data to prove whether any or all of these suggestions impact sales whatsoever.
First, let’s tackle marketing–which would include author branding, book content, cover design, blurb, and publisher. Writing a great book is a good start. Writing the right book for the current market is even better. And placing that right book at the right publisher is even more important. Not all epubs are created equal. Some have large readerships, high traffic, and have the potential to sell more ebooks for you than others. But those publishers also have a great many authors and an author needs to stand out from the crowd, especially if s/he’s new/unknown. Also, some publishers produce better sales in very specific subgenres, such as GLBT, but not others. Outside of the cover, blurb and excerpt, what can an author do to make readers click her Buy link when they have so many choices?
This leads us to the topic of promotion. I think it’s important to balance savvy ebook marketing with at least some book promotion. I’d never recommend an author waste hours a day promoting her book, clog the Yahoo groups with drive-bye promo posts, or spend tons of money on ads that won’t yield results, but I would recommend s/he do some simple things to help gain exposure in what’s already becoming a glutted market.
What doesn’t work:
First, chats do nothing to help an author promote an ebook. Generally speaking, they are attended by readers who are looking for a free ebook and other authors who are also there to promote their books.
Second, I’ve concluded contests offering a free download do nothing either. Oftentimes, they are entered by the same readers, over and over–the same readers who enter the many other contests hosted by authors. Many times the winner doesn’t even claim the prize.
What may help:
If you can snag a “guest blogger” slot for free on a blog that has a built in readership, that can help you gain some exposure.
If your publisher has a Yahoo group or forum where readers hang out, then taking the time to put in a presence there can yield results.
Hosting a writing contest, in which the final prize is a critique from an editor well known in the marketplace (or an agent), can drive traffic to your blog/site and help you gain exposure. Structuring the contest to encourage visitors to return weekly is best.
Here’s the reality: 99% of the people who will buy your book are going to go on your publisher’s site (or Fictionwise, or Amazon, or whatever), check out the latest releases, read the blurb, and click “Buy” because they like what they see. They will have had no exposure to you outside of that. Regardless of this fact, newly published authors need to do some work to promote their book. I’d suggest they stick with things that are very low cost, and be smart about how they spend their time.
1. Post an announcement on a forum you frequent (like Romance Divas) and ask other members to blog the release for you. Then return the favor for them.
2. Set up a WordPress.org blog (not the free WordPress.com one), pay for domain registration and hosting (under $50 for the year) and use the free “Related Posts/Related Sites” plugin to get instant exposure. Get in the habit of blogging every day.
3. Set up profiles at all the social networking sites: facebook, myspace, twitter, etc. and use Ping.fm to post to them all from one screen daily.
4. Join a blogging group, if you can find one that has an open slot.
5. Create a simple banner about your book and put it in your signature on any forums you are active on.
6. Write an article about writing and post it on Gather.com, with a link to your site/blog/book.
7. Sign up for a year membership on The Romance Studio (it’s very inexpensive) and post your book’s release on their New Releases, News, and/or front page.
So there you go, the Cheapskate’s Guide to Promoting Ebooks. Do you have any other suggestions? Questions? Comments? Post them in the comments.
- Writing Conference: NJRW Put Your Heart in a Book Join us at the 2010 NJRW Put Your Heart In A Book Conference! Boost your Creativity and your Career! October 22-23, 2010 Renaissance Woodbridge Hotel, Iselin, NJ Registration begins June 15th! Sharon Sala: Keynote Speaker Robyn Carr: Luncheon Speaker Leanne Banks: Special Presentation (* For first 100 registrants) Bob Mayer:......
- News Release: Barnes and Noble announces PubIt! self-publishing platform NEW YORK, May 19, 2010 (BUSINESS WIRE) -- Barnes & Noble, Inc. /quotes/comstock/13*!bks/quotes/nls/bks (BKS 19.77, +0.27, +1.38%) , the world's largest bookseller, is extending its deep and longstanding tradition of supporting authors and publishers with PubIt! by Barnes & Noble, an easy and lucrative way for independent publishers and self-publishing......
- The Hot Topic of The Day: The Erosion of eBook Prices You can't go on the Kindle Boards or read some of Publishing's most influential blogs lately without running across an article about the falling prices of ebooks. Nathan Bransford, the former literary agent, gives his take on pricing: http://blog.nathanbransford.com/2011/03/amanda-hocking-and-99-cent-kindle.html On BoingBoing, the question is asked, Will all digital books eventually......
- About Rejection The day I received The Call about the sale of Blood of Eden, I opened a SASE and read a generic Dear Author rejection. The timing couldn't have been better. I got a good laugh out of it. Is this the first time it's happened to me? Nope. Will it......
- Borders' new ebook store For those who aren't on a Borders email mailing list, Borders just opened their new ebook store and they're offering a free ebook to those who register and open a new account. Among the apps they are offering: iPhone/iPod Touch, PC/mac, Android and Blackberry. You can download them HERE. For......