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.

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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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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, and indie author. She began writing for clients in 1999 and started her first blog in 2004.

She owns 3 Beat Media - a publishing and client services company which operates All Indie Writers as well as several other websites and blogs including The Busy Author's Guide and BizAmmo. Jenn comes from a background in online PR and social media consulting, having owned a small PR firm for several years before choosing to pursue a full-time writing and publishing career.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names in the areas of children's fiction, mysteries, and horror fiction. Jenn is an active member of the Horror Writers Association (HWA) and currently serves as the organization's Assistant Coordinator of Promotions and Social Media.

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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