The digital world has brought with it many wonderful innovations – the mp3, the app and, my personal favorite, the eBook. With this ease of online publication, I’ve been able to read the expanded works of those I admire – from bloggers and new authors, to chefs and how-to mavens – in the simple and instant click of a download. The eBook revolution has opened the path for more individuals and business owners to disseminate their materials, too, and with companies like Artful Publications, the publishing process has become seamless. Meg Sylvia, the founder of Artful Publications, shares her passion for helping creative bloggers and entrepreneurs self-publish eBooks by providing strategic marketing, planning and contemporary design, and today she offers a bit about how you can successfully get your eBook products into the hands of more readers and consumers.
Read the full post after the jump…
Creating an eBook requires a whole lot of time, energy and love. However, so many bloggers and online business owners launch their labor of love without giving any thought to marketing it.
Simply releasing a product into the online world and having customers come may have worked in the past, but with the number of online products being made today, it is crucial to ensure that you put just as much thought into marketing your product as you do creating it!
Here, I’ve put together some of my favorite strategies that I use with my own clients in order to help them launch their eBooks with success.
Optimize Your Platform
The very first thing I have all of my clients focus on when it comes to marketing their eBook is optimizing their site. This may not be an obvious marketing tactic, but your website and email list are your ultimate market tools. Without an easy-to-navigate site and a simple-to-sign-up-for email list, you’re losing out on turning readers who have found their way to your site into potential customers.
First of all, do you have an email list set up? I can’t stress enough the importance of building this list. This is the most effective way to reach your audience directly and speak to them one-on-one, right in their inbox.
Once your list is set up, you will want to ensure that you have newsletter opt-in boxes in several strategic areas across your site (sidebar, top of homepage, within about page, etc). (To see the best places to put your opt-ins, click here to read an in-depth article on placement!)
You’ll want to set up your opt-in boxes in a way that it becomes a no-brainer for readers to subscribe. Three aspects of your opt-in to consider:
- Are you giving away a super-helpful opt-in goodie in return for signups (Mini-workbook? Resource guide? A preview from your upcoming eBook, perhaps?)
- Is the heading of your opt-in box clear, concise and compelling? (Something like, “Sign up and we’ll send you weekly resources and a FREE workbook to gain your first 1,000 Facebook fans!”)
- Do you ask for as few things as possible from your readers in order to sign up? (The less items you ask for, the better. I personally only ask for an email address on my site, but you can also ask for a first name.)
Other questions to ask yourself to help you optimize your site:
Is your website easy to navigate and intuitive?
- Include as few pages as possible in your menu
- Ensure that your homepage makes the purpose of your website very clear
- Ensure that pages aren’t dead ends – guide readers to the next most helpful page
Do you post regularly to your blog and email list? (This doesn’t have to be daily or weekly – just choose a schedule and try your best to stay consistent)
Reach Out Of Your Platform
Now that your site is ready to welcome new readers, it’s time to go out and get them!
Staying in contact with your own readers is important, but without reaching outside of your own platform, you’ll essentially only be selling to the set number of readers you currently have as subscribers. As you prepare to launch, I’d suggest preparing an outreach plan to help you get in front of new audiences. This way, when the time comes to sell your book, you will have a healthy flow of new readers arriving to your site and discovering your book.
A few ways to get in front of new audiences:
- Obtain guest posting opportunities
- Secure interviews on industry podcasts
- Get featured on industry news sites
When I suggest getting featured on other sites in your industry, this includes related industries. For example, if you’re a food blogger, rather than stressing out over getting a guest post on the largest food blogs, try reaching out to medium-sized food blogs and sites in related industries, like wellness and family blogs.
By obtaining posts and features on a variety of sites, you’ll be getting in front of readers who may otherwise be very unlikely to stumble across your site on their own.
Also consider thinking outside of the guest posting box and create partnerships with other influencers. Some examples of potential partnership opportunities:
- Co-hosted webinar / online class
- Co-authored blog post
- Co-hosted contest / giveaway
- Cross-promotion (promote the other blogger’s product on your site and vice versa)
Creating a private Facebook group is by far one my favorite pre-launch marketing strategies that you can take advantage of from the very beginning of your eBook writing process.
By creating a Facebook “Insiders” group for your book, you can invite your current followers to join so they can get a behind-the-scenes look into the making of your book. This group will also allow them opportunity to provide feedback and win Insiders Only giveaways.
Making a group gives you the ability to get direct feedback from your audience as you’re creating your book, and can make for a huge boost of sales and reviews during your eBook launch.
To invite members into your group, try emailing your list, posting a note on your blog, and pushing out the news to your social media accounts. Not only will you gain new members by announcing the group through all of your channels, you’ll begin spreading the word about your upcoming book.
Once you’ve created your group and have members joining, it’s time to start building those valuable connections and providing updates to your members. Try posting in the group around 1-2 times per week to be consistent, yet not overwhelming.
Some things that you can update your group with:
- Sneak peeks: photos of page designs or pieces of finished chapters.
- Polls: Ask members to choose their favorite tagline, topics, photos, etc. to appear in the book.
- Behind-the-scenes: fun photos or info about the actual book process.
- Questions: ask what problems they have related to a certain topic or questions that they’d like to see answered in the book.
- Be sure to keep connecting with the group on a regular basis and implementing their feedback as you create your eBook.
Run A Giveaway
Hosting a giveaway of your eBook before your launch is a great way to increase buzz about your upcoming book and gain valuable reviews (which I’ll talk about utilizing next).
When hosting a giveaway, you can request that winners provide a review on Amazon or whichever outlet you choose to sell your book through. You can expect that around 50% of the readers who you’ve given a pre-release copy of the book will actually go and leave a review for you.
So, if you’re planning on selling your site through Amazon, Barnes & Noble, or any other online retailer, you may want to give out as many as 50 copies of that book so that you can get around 25 reviews. This is a really solid number of reviews to have under your belt during the first few days of your book launch. It’s important to gain a lot of reviews on these major sites as you’re launching, because these reviews can help catapult you onto the top sellers’ list in your book’s category, meaning your book will be seen by far more eyes than it would otherwise.
If you plan on selling through your own site alone, I’d still suggest running a giveaway in return for reviews, but you won’t need to give away nearly as many copies. (These testimonials will make an excellent trust-building element on your sales page, but you don’t need to overload the page with them.) Somewhere between 5-10 is a great number of reviews to use for your sales page.
As you approach the launch date, it’s time to host the giveaway! You’ll want to run this a couple weeks in advance of the launch so that winners have enough time to go through the book and leave you a review. (Hint – your Facebook Insiders group is a great place to run this giveaway! You can even run two giveaways – a public one to create buzz, and a private one as a special “thank you” for your Insiders.)
Take Advantage of Customer Reviews
Those reviews that you gained from running your giveaway are invaluable for building trust in the eyes of potential customers. Here are a few more ways you can utilize those reviews further as a marketing tool:
- Use them for storytelling. We creatives tend to have a negative reaction to the word “sales,” and understandably so. With the amount of scam-y marketing out there, you certainly don’t want to turn off our customers with pushy selling.
- However, this does not mean that selling has to be a dirty word. If you believe in the work that you’ve done, it is your duty to sell your eBook! You know that by getting your work into the hands of more readers, you’ll be able to help more people, and grow your business. In order to do that, you’ve got to sell your goods!
- This is where storytelling comes in as a solution. Rather than fretting over how to write proper sales letters, why not let your happy customers do the talking?
- Reach out to some of your best clients, and offer them a free copy of your book in return for a brief interview. Have them talk about how your book impacted them, and elaborate on what sort of transformation they went through by reading your book (this can work for any kind of book – “transformation” can be as simple as, “these cookbook recipes have made my nights so much less stressful and make it easy to plan dinners for my kids!”) You can use these stories in your launch emails, and incorporate them into your sales page.
- Share them at the bottom of new blog posts. This is a fun little way to feature your readers on your blog while subtly advertising your book. At the bottom of new posts, try sharing a testimonial from one of your book readers, linking both to their site, as well as to your book’s sales page.
- Use them to create social media graphics. Take quotes from some of your favorite reviews, and use them to create pretty graphics that you can share on your social media sites. This is a great way to draw positive attention to your book (images are a great way to catch readers’ eyes as they scroll through Facebook or Twitter), and link the reviews back to your sales page.
An affiliate program is a great way to get your book in front of completely new audiences.
By creating an affiliate program, you can allow other bloggers and website owners to promote your book through their own sites, and when they make a sale, they will receive a commission.
I recommend setting the commission around 40-50%. Yes, this seems high, but the more you offer your affiliates, the more incentive they have to sell more copies of your book!
A few great ways to further incentivize affiliates:
- Offer a bonus to the highest selling affiliate each month (could be a physical prize, an increase in commission, or other).
- Allow affiliates to offer a bonus gift to readers who purchase your book through their site (For example, the affiliate can create a worksheet which customers will receive only when buying through them).
- Make your affiliates feel appreciated! Keep in regular contact with them, offer them the resources they’ll need to sell successfully, and thank them regularly for making sales
Tweak, test, request
Now it’s your turn to take action! Even with the largest of audiences, your book isn’t going to sell itself. Make sure that you remind your audience of your book’s arrival often, and try out some of these strategies to see what works with your readers. Find one technique that seems to be resonating especially well? Great! It’s okay, and even wise, to focus on one or two strategies that work well and tweak them for best results.
All in all, don’t be afraid to request feedback and a little help from your audience. You’ve put your heart into this eBook – go spread the word about it!