E-book Marketing Simplified

I’ve been working a lot helping authors market their work as e-books lately—and that includes my own books. Guess what? Like everything else, the more time and energy you put into it, the better your returns. But, e-book marketing is not difficult. Here’s a short course in the basics.

There are several sites on which you can upload and sell your e-book including:

  • Amazon
  • Barnes & Noble
  • Kobo
  • Smashwords
  • iBooks
  • Google Books

If you are a first-time author—or first time to e-books, I suggest you start with Amazon and Kindle Direct Publishing, specifically the Kindle Select plan. Once you have mastered KDP, the other sites are all similar. Why? Currently approximately 75% of all e-book sales are through Amazon Kindle. If you want to make a name for yourself as an author, you need to increase your sales rank. Maximizing your sales on only one platform will help you to do that. The Kindle Select program easily allows you to create special promotions. Used in conjunction with other promotions, this can greatly increase your e-book sales. Think of it as the snowball effect: Increasing e-book sales in the specific weeks in which you run specials can increase your sales ranking. This gives you increased visibility on Amazon, which, in turn, increases your rankings.

To use the plan you must first make sure that your e-book is not available on any other platform except Kindle. If you have already uploaded your book to other sites, take it down. Then go to your Kindle Direct Publishing “bookshelf” and select the “Kindle Select” option, which increases your royalties to 70%, and set your price at $2.99.

What Next?

Once you have uploaded and published your book, you can start marketing. Now that your book is on Amazon, tell people about it. For the first 45 days of your e-book campaign, you will concentrate on asking the people you already know to buy and review your book. Your goal is to get ten reviews in this period. Ten reviews will allow you greater choice when you do your first e-book marketing campaign.

After your first 45 days on Amazon you can run a one-week price promotion, dropping your price either to 99 cents or free. For your first promotion, I suggest you go with 99 cents.

Next, check out several of the e-book promotion sites that are available. If you don’t have 10 reviews, start with www.choosybookworm.com. There are dozens of other sites, also, each with slightly different requirements. A few I like are www.ereadernewstoday.com, www.robinreads.com, and www.fussylibrarian.com. These sites put out daily newsletters to subscribers telling them about various books deals. The newsletter is free for subscribers, but as an author, you must pay to advertise. Prices run from about $25 to several hundred dollars, depending on the popularity of the site. Some sites increase the price for more popular genres such as mystery.

Once you have signed up for a date for your price promotion, make sure you go back to KDP and change your price for the dates you have selected. It’s very easy to do. On your bookshelf, look to the right of your book cover icon and click the “promote and advertise” icon. This will take you to a new page. Click on the yellow “Create a New Kindle Countdown Deal” button.

Make sure “Marketplace” is set to Amazon.com, not Amazon.UK. Choose the date your deal will start and end. Then choose the price.

Now your first promotion is set.

You cannot, however, just sit back and let it happen. Using an e-book selling site will boost your sales, but you need to help it along. Post your deal on Facebook, Twitter, and other social media sites. If you have a newsletter, send one out the week of your sale and include a link to your book. Think about all of the ways you can let people know that your book is on sale for a week at 99 cents.

Of course, there are no guarantees in life, and the first promotion will rarely take you to number one in your category, unless you happen to have a very small niche market.

As with all marketing, e-book promotions work best when done several times. You can run a promotion once a quarter. The objective is to slowly, over time watch your sales rank increase. It will be at its highest on the first day or two of a promotion, but with luck, after each promotion, your rank will stay higher for longer.