Resources: Ebook Marketing and Selling Books Online

by Dan Farnbach, online editor, F+W Media

You are:

a) a book or ebook marketing consultant,

b) an author, or

c) a bootstrapping publishing professional

resources_marketingHere at Digital Book World, we know and understand your needs. You don’t necessarily have time or resources to develop a complete ebook marketing strategy all on your own, let alone implement it. And when it comes to selling books online (in print or ebook format), you need the revenue now.

Never fear. We’ve compiled the best resources to get you started in everything from ebook sales and ebook distribution to discoverability and your basic “how to sell books online.” We think you’ll find that this quick-start method is all you need – just build a little knowledge and get the ball rolling. After all, you’ve done the hard part in writing a great book. Marketing is relatively easy.

The Basics

Many of the links throughout this page assume an understanding of marketing basics that apply to any product. If it has been a while, brush up on the so-called “4 P’s” – the four pillars of marketing – and how they apply to content-based products.



DF_marketing3If you are marketing a purely informational title, defining the product is not too difficult. You are marketing all of the information that the book contains to an audience that needs the material. If you are marketing a novel or other non-informational title, product definition can be more challenging. Fiction and poetry live and die by their experiential value. You are marketing a piece of entertainment and – even more challenging – the artistry with which that entertainment is delivered.



When it comes to price, the second P, we have a lot of great information right here on DBW. We have been tracking ebook pricing since August 2012, and we have some of the best information in the industry. The thing to realize about ebook pricing is that it is very much in flux. Ebooks are still fairly new products for most consumers. Unlike groceries or gas, there is no long-held standard for the range of prices that consumers feel is reasonable. You’ll likely be tweaking your ebook prices over time. These days, the same thing goes for print book pricing for online sales. It’s a new world with lots of fluctuation.


Place (AKA, ebook distribution)

DF_marketing1Place, for ebooks, refers to the major ebook distribution channels: Amazon, Apple and Barnes & Noble, to name three of the big ones. If you have a large following on your own website, you may also be selling ebooks direct-to-consumer. Format questions overlap with place considerations. Each place has its own proprietary or best format for ebooks. The major ebook sellers will also sell your print version online.



Promotion captures all the rest of it. You’ll use in-person appearances, social media, SEO and discounting to promote sales and achieve greater market share.


Packaging (sometimes included as the fifth “p”)

A note about packaging, which some include as a fifth pillar of the marketing mix. Packaging is minimal for ebooks, and it might seem minimal for print books sold online. However, the book cover can be quite important. Surveys within the book industry typically place cover art as one of the top 3 factors in influencing consumer decisions. We recommend thinking deeply about your cover art while you are spending time on the first P, product. Many readers do not ever dig into the content if the cover turns them off.

Beyond the Basics


Digital Book World’s Discoverability and Marketing Conference
Visit the page for this year’s conference, or read about some of last year’s takeaways from Bob Mayer and Porter Anderson.

Wildfire Marketing author Rob Eager
Digital Book World is fortunate to have the writing of Rob Eager. Rob is perhaps the preeminent book marketing specialist active today. Stay up-to-date on his work by reading more here.

Bootstrap: Building a Marketing Strategy from Scratch, by Brett Sandusky
One of the best things about building a new business – content-based or other – is not having to do things simply because “it’s the way they’ve always been done.” More and more, in both theory and practice, the idea of community building is core to product marketing strategy. Read more >>>

Selling Books Online With Clever Metadata, by Deanna Utroske, with Renée Register
Discoverability is key to selling books online in print or electronic format. Clever publishers incorporate metadata at every stage of the workflow, creating much of it before a book is even published. Large and small publishers alike can ensure effective book sales, marketing and distribution by efficiently using metadata. Read more >>>

And, more on discoverability here >>> (a round-up by Andrew Rhomberg)

Ebook Pricing and Industry News, by Jeremy Greenfield
Stay focused on what matters in ebook marketing and selling books online. Ebook pricing is one of the biggest factors, and only Digital Book World is currently offering a week-by-week analysis of this ever-changing landscape. Here on the “Industry News” page, you will discover all sorts of ebook sales and ebook distribution nuggets that you can use. Read more >>>

And, sooner or later you’ll be getting into free ebook promotion as a means for selling more books online. Read more about it here (Beth Bacon) and here (Elle Lothlorien).

Ebook Publicity and Other Forms of Promotion
Ebook Publicity, by Deanna Utroske – a nice checklist with input from Smith Publicity, Inc.
Book Publicity: What’s Changed and What Hasn’t, by Mary Cummings
Digital Book Signings: A Range of Technologies and Services, by Beth Bacon

One thought on “Resources: Ebook Marketing and Selling Books Online


    I have written many Christian’s books (mysteries) which iUniverse is working on one of the books hard copy that will soon be out, titled (Sexuality is Not in Creation.) How do we start to sell some of the books as e-book online.



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