Expert publishing blog opinions are solely those of the blogger and not necessarily endorsed by DBW.
The ability to sell ebooks as an independent author is easier than ever before. In some ways, a cult-like following has developed for self-published ebooks among cost-conscious readers and techno-geeks. Many people feel cool downloading books at cheap prices and helping drive the e-reading revolution. If you want to join the fray and sell ebooks to a wider audience, use these five tips to market like a pro.
Sell Ebooks Tip #1 – Give it away for free
One of the best ways to assess if you can make it as a new author is by giving away your ebook for free for a limited time, such as 30 or 90 days. Free is the quickest way to generate word of mouth, which is essential to success. If you’re writing isn’t good enough to get friends and family to share your book with others, you probably won’t get the general public to follow suit. By giving away your ebook for free, you can generate enough short-term momentum to carry you through to the real sales process.
E-book innovator, Seth Godin, encourages aspiring authors to give away their first book for free. “You should give your book away for free and send it to your twenty closest friends,” he says. “And, if that’s the end of it, then you’re not a good writer. On the other hand, if those twenty people send it to twenty more people, then you have four hundred readers, and then eight thousand readers, and so on. If you can get up to twenty thousand readers of your first book for free, there will be a line out the door of people wanting to help you with your next book.”
Using a free approach with your ebook allows you to test your material with readers without losing your shirt financially if you fail. The opportunity to build a new audience has never been this quick and easy.
Sell Ebooks Tip #2 – The price is right
A large percentage of people who read e-books are extremely price sensitive. Amazon started this process by setting prices for most e-books at $9.99. A continual battle rages throughout the publishing industry on the right price structure. But, Amazon created a trend in the minds of many readers. Thus, many independent authors picked up on this trend and now use low pricing as a way to get readers to take a chance on their new book.
For example, Darcie Chan, ebook author of The New York Times best-selling novel, The Mill River Recluse, used low prices to gain her initial audience. “The goal of my ‘e-book experiment’ has never been to make money,” she says. “I only wanted to get my work out there over time and gauge people’s responses to it. For that reason, I lowered the price to $0.99. I think it is true that readers are more willing to take a chance on a completely unknown author at that price point, and I definitely wanted to encourage people to take a chance on me.”
Not only did people take a chance on Darcie’s novel, they gave rave reviews and spread an electronic wildfire. Within four months, she was selling several thousand copies a day. You could argue that Darcie didn’t make much money from this low-price strategy, but with an established fan base, she’s now in a position to get a big advance from a major publisher or sell her next book at a much higher price.
Sell Ebooks Tip #3 – Partner with e-book blogs
E-book junkies are a tight-knit tribe who possess a powerful communication network. Everyone knows where to go for information, and they check-in regularly. There are numerous blogs, websites, newsletters, and social media pages that specifically review and promote e-books. The influence of these reviewers affects a lot of ebook buyers. Below is a list of several well-known blogs and websites with large traffic:
Ereader News Today: http://www.ereadernewstoday.com/
Kindle Nation: http://kindlenationdaily.com/
Pixel of Ink: http://www.pixelofink.com
Inspired Reads: http://www.inspiredreads.com
Kindle Reader: http://kindlereader.blogspot.com/
Getting your e-book mentioned on these websites can help generate a lot of downloads. You can write to the administrators of these e-book blogs and request a feature of your book. Some sites give free listings while others will feature your book for a fee. For instance, Kindle Nation offers author sponsorship opportunities to promote your book for $99 to $400. In addition, you can arrange for web-based ads to run on ebook-related sites, such as GoodReads and IndieReader.
Sell Ebooks Tip #4 – Pursue paid book reviews
Besides book mentions and paid advertising, independent authors can pursue literary reviews of their work for a fee. These review sites can help provide a level of legitimacy to an unknown author. Consider the following organizations if you’d like to pursue a paid review:
Sell Ebooks Tip #5 – Subsidize your writing costs with a sponsor
Taking the time to write a book can work against your ability to make a living. If that is the case, consider getting a sponsor for your ebook. This process is similar to getting an advance from a traditional publisher, because someone pays you up front to create your book. In return, you agree to give the sponsor some free advertising space or perform promotional activities on their behalf. Popular services in this arena include Kickstarter and PubSlush.
For example, e-book author, Al Pittampalli, landed Citrix Systems as a sponsor for his new ebook called, Read This Before Our Next Meeting. Citrix invented the popular GoToMeeting videoconferencing service (www.GoToMeeting.com), which is used by companies around the world. As a sponsor of Al’s book, Citrix got exposure to thousands of potential new customers. Likewise Al got funding through Citrix, legitimacy from their brand, and exposure to a much wider audience.
The key to landing a sponsor is to identify people, companies, or nonprofit organizations that want to reach the same audience you want to reach with your book. In essence, you offer yourself as a spokesperson or product placement opportunity for that organization. The company receives the benefit of marketing their product or service in a non-threatening manner to potential customers or donors. Sponsorship will work only if the company believes your book’s audience fits their target market and that you have the ability to sell a lot of books.
There has never been a more interesting time to be an independent author. The opportunities to publish and sell ebooks are unprecedented. However, the fundamentals remain the same. You must write a great book that provides tangible value to the reader. Ebooks allow you to accomplish this task faster than ever before. Start small, use a low-cost pricing approach to gain new readers, connect with the ebook community to grow your platform, find a sponsor if needed, and watch as the world downloads your message like wildfire.
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