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ebook marketingA writer-friend recently emailed me regarding his plans for self-publishing an eBook. A little backstory: The inquiring author has not published before in any format. The book is non-fiction and in guidebook format. My response is tailored to that genre, but you can translate these ideas to other genres.

eBook marketing is dynamic. Last week I instructed Author Marketing as part of Wake County Schools Lifelong Learning program. I covered items below in greater detail and reviewed ways to optimize your author page on Amazon. This fall I teach Book Marketing: Online and Offline, a 10-work course at Duke University’s Continuing Education OLLI program. Class starts September 16th.

Here is what the writer sent me:

What’s your take on eBooks? I have one to format for Amazon, and a few other half-ideas, plus old blogs that I can convert into short stories…I know a bunch of your colleagues/friends prolifically self-publish, but what approach have you seen that works? What do you think?  You seem to have this stuff figured out.

My response:

As far as eBooks go – I talk about them a lot in my author marketing classes, but I have no personal experience to draw on. I mainly use real-life examples, marketing and pricing strategies, and new tools that authors can use to connect with readers. (eBooks for $2.99 generally sell better than $.99 and you should avoid ‘free’ altogether, unless you do it a week prior to release to garner some book reviews.)

There is no ‘one’ approach. One of the main things is that it needs to be edited. The copy needs to be error-free. You will lose readers and they will not recommend the book if it is poorly prepared.

Cover design should be done by a professional and be eye-catching on mobile platforms. And a designer should look over your interior files as well–there are so many E-readers today that you need to make sure readers everywhere will have a positive viewing experience.

Two more things: Don’t think of it in terms of sales and don’t have just one book. A book is just one part of a writer’s platform. Are you planning to start offering services? Becoming a tour guide of the areas you know well? The book can help bring attention to those things. Today, authors can’t have just one book and be financially successful. It is super competitive. It’s recommended a writer comes out with two books each year. (This seems overkill to me personally, as you end up competing with yourself.) Maybe a guide for singles, another for college grads, and yet others regionally-focused for the Pacific Northwest, etc.?

Whatever you decide, do the best you can for each. I’m not happy with some of my books‘ layouts, but it is not worth my time to go back and revise. Do it right from the start.