Ebook Revolution

Marketing Starts Yesterday

Yesterday I mentioned that horrible word, ‘free’ and ‘your novel’ in the same sentence. Yes, I am completely serious. No, I am not in a straight jacket. No, I do not feel the need to jump of a bridge. There is a difference between those who succeed with their e-books and those that don’t. Those that succeed as the ones who have learnt how to use free to their advantage, they are the Masters of Free and have made thousands.

Many interesting marketing skills and strategies (including viral marketing) can be applied to publishing very effectively, particularly in terms of niche markets. It is up to an author to market their books smartly. The author is competing for the reader’s attention. Don’t waste the opportunity, capitalise on the 2.5 million searches (per month) for free e-books on Google! By using techniques such as giving away the first book in a series, or allowing a 100 page free sample for a 300 page book, the freebie hooks the reader’s interest and reels them in to buying the rest of the book/series. Free, eliminates the risk for first time readers and builds a following. If they love it they will tell more people and help you to overcome obscurity. The lower the price of the novel, the more likely people are to buy it, increasing the number of readers and overall profit. This will not be the first time I say this, readers are an author’s sales force!

There goes that angry ‘teaspoon in a blender’ noise again. “If I’m giving away my work for free, how the hell will I make money? Free doesn’t pay the bills! Free does run my internet! Free doesn’t let me flip off my boss and shout, ‘I QUIT’!”

What you are after is a following, if you do not have a following then no-one will know who you are and they will not look for you or your books. You remain a nothing author. There are 2.5 million searches every month for free e-books; if half of those are just the same people typing the same keywords that is still 1.25 million people looking for a free e-book. By making your book available for free for a month or two, or adding free bonus’s with your book such as free audio, you are getting people to sample your work for no risk. And hey, at least someone is reading the damn thing rather than it just sitting in your desk draw, or in an envelope in the middle of some publisher’s slush pile. You need people to talk about your work, to discuss it, to anticipate it. One great way to convince others to buy it is to give it away for free on the condition that they give you a review of your book. If even 10% of them remember, then you have testimonials to convince others to buy it. If you then sell your book cheaply or sell others in your series cheaply, the testimonials and its cheapness will get you more sales and gradually you can put the price up.

You can’t do that with a hardcopy, it’s one price and if the person doesn’t like it then they won’t buy no matter how pretty the cover looks. Digitally or in print, you have to get a following and reviews to sell. It just happens that online this is easier to do because, let’s face it, you can’t give a physical book away for free – it cost too much money to print, and unless you have bottomless coffers, your partner is probably going to confiscate your stash until you behave. However, you can give away a digital copy for free and you don’t have to pay to mail it to the reader or print it. And the online bookstores 15% commission on $0 is still zero no matter how you look at it. If you have given away something for free, people are more inclined to respond in kind for a testimonial/review.

There are many authors who argue that pricing a book low gives the readers the impression your work is amateur. But I would argue that there are ways that you can minimise that idea of amateur quality by making sure that your cover is professional and eye catching, and that your synopsis is some of the best writing you have ever produced. You can use online writing and editing communities to hone your synopsis just as well as you can your novel samples. By making your work appear professional, you turn that idea of low quality into the reader feeling immense luck at finding such an appealing book at an affordable price.

The most successful e-book authors will tell you that the next step once you have written a good book is to write another great book, start building up a backlist as each new book offers an opportunity to sell the others you have written. In this way you can make the first free and be confident that at least 1 in 3 will buy the rest for $2.99/$3.99/$5.95 whatever you decide. As long as you make an impact with your first, readers will want to know what happens next.

If there is a strong response one can start looking into print on demand hardcopies. Cory Doctorow maximises his following and profit by simultaneously releasing a free digital version of his book and his POD at the same time. It is important to note that the attention span of a reader and searcher extends to a maximum of about 5 mins. We’re busy people, if you don’t have what we need right now, well too bad, we’ll just go back and buy that book about the flying pigs we saw. Once you know you have a popular book, by releasing POD at the same time you can consummate the sale quietly and efficiently before you’ve lost their attention and access to their buying impulse.

It is wise to have patience when first starting out. Most print book authors have taken years to get to where they are now, and the same is true of e-book authors. Writing is a long term investment, and e-books success is a slow build, you need to assemble a social network and create trust with your readers. And above all, marketing starts yesterday.

TOMORROW: The Media Machine: reviews and websites, how to entice readers into a buying extravaganza.

FANTASTIC OPPORTUNITY! – Do you want to be ahead of the game? Join one of my introductory webinars (online seminar) on e-books! I will be speaking live and in detail about the 5 Fast, Simple secrets to E-Book Success and giving you some fantastic internet resources to help you on your way. Please join me to discover how you can create a massive following and increase the success of your e-book tenfold, allowing you to free up time to live, write and create whenever you want to.

Why Not Join My Weekly Introductory E-Book Webinar At 8:30pm?

Register NOW! In the blue box on the top right of the page

5 Responses

  1. Hi Em:

    Others will likely point out that neither Amazon nor B&N will let the self-publishing individual price their book at free. Smashwords lets you, but they’re only about 20% of the ebook market right now. Until Amazon and B&N start allowing individuals as well as publishing cooperatives give away their books, the best loss-leading draw we-who-are-out-there-on-our-own have is the 99 cent price point.

  2. Helena Halme says:


    As a UK writer, however much I’d like I’m not able to join your webinar in the middle of the night here – I have to do some paid work the next day. Are you going to post it here for viewing later? That would help me enormously.

    I am really excited about your blog by the way – it’s opening my eyes to all the possibilities (not just threats) that the digital revolution can offer an unpublished writer.

    Helena xx

  3. EmCraven says:

    @ Pheonix,
    Yes that is true, however Amazon also has a policy where you can’t have it cheaper anywhere else. After having spoken to Brian Pratt, one very successful author on Smashwords, he said that half of the books he has for free have been change to free by Amazon and the others haven’t. I suppose it’s how well the Amazon softwear works at any given time. Having your book as low as you can price it (99cents) will work just as well on sites where that is the lowest price. However Smashwords does produce a Kindle format so if on your blog, or forum posts, website or social media you explain to kindle users that they have the choice to buy it, or get it for free off Smashwords, that should have just as good an effect :) Social networks are really powerful that way.

    I actually had a UK webinar last Thursday night UK time (5am in the morning for me) Several people register but none turned up! But that’s ok, I don’t hold it against you :) I will be doing other UK seminars at the end of the week and next week too. I will post it at the top of the blog once I set up the times :) A lot of sleepless mornings for me!


  4. KidsGuard says:

    Hey Em, very informative this article. Great tips, I am really considering to give away one of my books for free as an intruductory way to my next one that is about to come alive in few weeks 😉 . Lets see how that goes, I will keep you post. Thanks
    Itzel M.

Leave a Reply