How to Market an E-book

on April 18, 2011 in Book Marketing & PR, E-books
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This article was previously published in 2007 at All Freelance Writing. It will remain archived here at All Indie Publishing. It was originally written with traditional e-books in mind (those released in .pdf format), so all information might not apply to all newer e-book distribution choices. Minor updates and edits have been made to ensure continued relevancy, to the best of my ability.

People want to publish e-books (of the .pdf variety) for many reasons -- to promote their business, share information or tutorials too long for traditional Web publishing, or just to share a story for example. But no matter what reason they have for wanting to write an e-book, many come to the same question in the end: "How can I market my e-book?" And in response they get the same old solutions:

  • Launch an affiliate program.
  • Write a long sales letter.
  • Get testimonials.
  • Submit to article directories.
  • Start a newsletter.
  • Use pay-per-click ads or other online advertising.

These tactics are all fine and dandy. They won't all work for all e-books. But many do work well, and have for years. The problem, though, is largely in the question. People treat e-books as some completely unique product that needs to be marketed in some super-special way that's different that everything else out there. But the reality is this:

There is no “e-book marketing” plan that’s unique to the medium.

So if you’re trying to market an e-book you’ve written, begin by getting out of that mindframe and accepting two things:

  1. An e-book can be marketed very much like a book in print.
  2. An e-book’s website  (or sales page) can be marketed just like any other website or blog.

There’s no magic formula for e-book marketing. Just take traditional marketing methods and tailor the tactics to your needs, abilities, and target audience. For example, here are a few book publicity tactics you can use to market your e-book, whether it's a novel or a more traditional nonfiction "information product."

  • Book Tours – Instead of a traditional book tour, launch a virtual book tour hitting the blog circuit.
  • Book Reviews – While top book reviewers may not want to make time to review an e-book, plenty of bloggers and influential people in your niche would probably love to. Send out advance review copies just as you would with a print book.
  • Press Releases – Send out an e-book “launch” news release and a release for any events you may hold to promote the e-book.
  • Seminars – You can still hold seminars (or better yet, webinars and e-courses) to promote an e-book, just as an author of a print book might do.

If you treat your e-book as professionally as you would a print title, there’s no reason why you can’t follow tried and true book publicity and marketing strategies to attract more sales and recognition. The same goes for your e-book’s website. Look at what authors and publishers are doing to promote their print books online, and tailor the tactics to meet your needs (set up a social networking profile, blog on the subject of your e-book, etc.). Better yet, learn from industries that tend to adapt even better to Web-based promotions, such as software companies. Authors of e-books and print books alike can still learn a lot about successfully promoting digital products (or promoting physical products to an online audience).

Thanks for sharing!
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3 Comments

  1. Anne Wayman May 3, 2011 Reply

    Ah Jenn, love the way you cut to the quick. And you keep it simple. Have just discovered calibre – a free conversion software for ebooks so they can go on kindle etc. and look good. I’ll do a review, but so far so good.

    • Jennifer Mattern May 4, 2011 Reply

      I’d love to see a review of that and how it compares to manual conversions, so do let us know when you’ve had a chance to do that! :)

  2. Neeraj Sachdeva September 28, 2011 Reply

    Great ideas! Love the simplicity of your post. I think connecting with other ebook sellers is also a good option. We can learn a lot from our competitors, and how they market their product. Thanks Jennifer :)

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