How to Sell Your Ebooks – 10 Simple Ways to Build a List of Buyers

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by Kathleen Gage

Eighty-five percent of respondents to the Digital Publishing Industry Report 2012 indicated they plan to publish a digital book within the next six months. This same statistic was true over 20 years ago, only then it pertained to traditional publishing, as 85% of the adult population in the United States dreamed of being a published author.

Unfortunately, the majority of these people are still unpublished. The challenges in the past were massive compared to today’s barriers to entry. Add to this the stigma that used to be attached to being a self-published author and many frustrated writers let the opinions of others control their destiny. Ironically, some of the most famous writers have been self-published. They certainly didn’t let the narrow thinking of others stop them from getting their works in the hands of readers.

Today, more than ever, the playing field has been leveled. What used to be massive barriers to entry for 99% of authors no longer hold true. Not only is it incredibly easy to get your work published, but the cost is minimal compared to the past.

As recently as a decade ago, self-publishing was much more labor intensive and costly than it is today. Authors today can choose to go the cost-effective route of POD (print on demand). What this simply means is a copy of a book is produced only when an order comes in. POD services began to appear only a little over a decade ago. However, in the truest sense of the word, POD is not self-publishing, but it’s as close as anything we had seen prior to that time.

Without a doubt, POD was a game changer. POD became the norm for a great many authors. Little did most authors realize there lurked an even greater change in the publishing world than POD. Enter digital publishing.

Initially there was a lot of resistance in the publishing industry and by many authors to go the digital route. Concerns over “real” books becoming obsolete surfaced in virtually every conversation. Time has proven this way of thinking to be an unwarranted. Sure, a lot has changed as a result of digital publishing, but it will be a long time, if ever, before physical books are no more.

The beauty of digital publishing is the speed at which an author can get a work published. In record time an author can go from unpublished to published. Therein resides the challenge. It’s one thing to be published and something completely different for potential readers to know your digital book exists.

Amazingly, this is the same challenge virtually any author faces whether they go the traditional publishing route, self-publishing, utilizing POD services or digital publishing; authors must market and promote their works. Otherwise, they likely won’t sell more than a handful of copies…if that.

“Build it and they will come” does not apply to writing books. You build it, and then letting them know you did so is the only way you will sell your digital books. Successful authors, those who actually make money from their works, know they must take full responsibility for marketing their books. If you have not embraced this fact you may as well accept right here, right now that not many people will be reading your works. Don’t fool yourself into thinking you will be the exception to the rule and somehow you will be miraculously discovered.

It is your responsibility to get the word out about your digital books. With all that is available online you have incredible opportunity to reach people from around the globe; readers who likely will become raving fans.

The first thing that needs to happen is for you, the author, to admit and accept you must take responsibility for the success of your books. Don’t fool yourself into thinking anyone will ever be as passionate about your writing as you are. The sooner you come to terms with this the better. Sure, you can hire people to assist in the marketing and promotions, but you still need to be involved in the process.

One of the greatest resources any author can have is a list of potential buyers. With a solid list, you are in a position to sell lots of books each time you write and digitally publish one.

Begin today to build an opt-in subscriber list. There are a number of ways to build your list. The easiest is to offer an ethical bribe in trade for the person’s name and email address. The ethical bribe (a giveaway of some sort) needs to be enticing, valuable and in some way connected with the genre of your book.

For example, if your book is on relationships, you can give away a report – The Top Ten Ways to Make Any Relationship Sizzle. The more you focus on building a list of potential readers the better.

And the sooner you start the better.

While you’re working on your book, invest time each and every day to build your list. This way as soon as your book is released, you’ll have a built-in pool of buyers.

Here are 10 simple ways to build a list of potential buyers:

1. Blog on the same topic of your opt-in gift (which amazingly is directly related to the topic of your book!)

2. Announce your giveaway with media releases.

3. Shoot a short video about the giveaway and post on YouTube directing viewers to the opt-in page.

4. Post an announcement of your giveaway on your Facebook wall.

5. Write and submit articles to three top article directories. Be sure to include a resource box at the end of your article with a   link back to your opt-in page.

6. Guest blog for blogs that have a readership similar to your own. Again, at the end of your post direct readers to the opt-in page.

7. Be a featured expert on online radio programs. Be sure to get the host’s permission to promote your giveaway. Often, if they know you are offering something, they will be happy to encourage listeners to download your offer.

8. Write articles for traditional trade journals with a readership similar to your own. As with article marketing and guest blogging, direct readers back to your opt-in page by having a resource box at   the end of your article.

9. Frequent a few key forums where your potential readers hang out. If you are writing on health and nutrition, find 2 or 3 top forums in which you can get involved. Keep in mind you are not there to simply promote your giveaway. You are there to add value to existing conversations and to begin your own conversations. The more you position your expertise, the more likely it is forum participants will visit your website. Be sure to have your giveaway visible on your site.

10. Get involved in Joint Venture (JV) campaigns, where you can offer your giveaway as a bonus. JV campaigns are not as well received as in the past for one very simple reason—they got overused, and a lot of junk was being offered. As long as you keep value in the forefront of your mind, you should have no problem making JV campaigns work for you.

Any author who wants to sell lots and lots of digital books must have an opt-in list of raving fans. Even though it is possible to succeed without one, it’s like rolling a boulder uphill with a twig. You might eventually achieve your goal, but you’ll likely break your back in the process.

Start now to build your list to secure a pool of eager readers for whatever you publish. Then you too can count yourself among the ranks of successful authors!

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Comments

  1. Thanks for the article. Good advice. I was first published when the only legitimate route was to go with an established publisher, but you still had to market your own book.

    • So true. And regardless of the route one chooses to take on publishing, the author still needs to take responsibility for the marketing. Whether they do it themselves, or hire someone, it has to be done.

  2. Thanks, Im starting mu own publishing business and this really help, please check out my blog and give me some feedback.

  3. Wait. Kathleen, are you saying that you actually have to market your book? ;) It’s amazing how often people think they can write a book and have it just start selling on its own. Like the book is going door-to-door at night, saying “buy me”. (Cute visual, though.)

    Love your post.

  4. Without a doubt list building is the most important aspect! And once you have your list, with every new book you’ll be able to alert your list over and over. Pure gold!

  5. Some great ideas here. I need to find more information about some of these. I have yet to make my first YouTube video and I have no idea about getting on an online radio program, but now that I know about them, I am sure I can research the information needed. Thanks for sharing this information. I always learn something new when I read articles from the Future of Ink and it’s only been out for a week. Wow, the future looks like it will be very exciting.

    • William…yes, I totally agree…Kathleen has outlined some great ideas here. Fortunately for us (and for you!) we have one of the best video experts on the web today as one of our Future of Ink Expert Writers…Lou Bortone.

      We’ll be bringing you an article by Lou very soon on how to use video in getting your content out there. And I agree…the future is going to be exciting and TFOI aims to be a big part in bringing it to you!

    • Thank you for your feedback William. With the other experts you will be learning from at The Future Of Ink, you will be way ahead of the curve. Stay tuned and enjoy the journey.

  6. Kathleen, thank you for breaking down these steps. I have started to work on a couple of them now. It does take some work. I appreciate your honesty.

    • You’re so correct Rita. And one reason most people won’t succeed at what they say they want is this; they are not willing to put in the time, effort, money and resources. Fact of life.

    • Rita, thanks for stopping by and sharing your thoughts with Kathleen. I love how you’re taking fast action to implement the tips Kathleen shared.

  7. Kathleen, I’ve had this conversation with several people in the last week. If you want people to buy your book/ebook, you’ve got to promote it. And to promote, you’ve got to have a community of fans. Thanks for articulating so many simple, practical ways to get the word out and build a list. And, thank you for coming on board as a featured expert with The Future of Ink.