Archive for eBook Publishing
Next to writing a great e-book, effectively marketing your e-book is probably the most crucial step to getting sales. But many people, myself included, don’t have a lot of money to spend on e-book marketing. That’s why this week I’m excited to publish a guest post by e-book marketer Lynn Serafinn, where she answers some of my questions about e-book marketing on a budget.
Erica: How did you get started in e-book marketing?
Lynn: First, I just want to clarify that I don’t just work in eBook marketing, but in online book marketing in general. I actually got started (as many who do book marketing do) by learning how to promote my own books. I attended many seminars, both online and in person. I learned the best and rejected the worst (least ethical) ways to market a book. Then, in 2009, I launched my first (paperback) book using the online marketing strategies I had honed and it became a bestseller. Soon after, someone asked me to write an article about my process on their book marketing blog. From that, I got my first book launch client. I got her to #1 bestseller status. After that, I had a steady stream of clients coming my way, all wanting to use my services. Since then, our company has grown and I have a team of 6 others who help me create book launches. We also offer other services such as online platform building for the author just starting out. Lately, a lot of authors have also been hiring me to write the copy for them that goes on their online book pages (on Amazon, etc.).
Erica: What are your thoughts on using fiverr to find someone to do e-book marketing? Is it potentially a good resource or can an e-book author do it themselves for cheaper?
Lynn: Honestly? I’ve never used these services and any time one of my clients has hired via these types of sites they often get ‘budget’ quality support. For me, ‘doing e-book/book marketing’ is about designing a strategy and developing a regular practice with it. I think budget assistants can help you implement the ‘legwork’ of your strategies, but they cannot ‘do’ marketing for you.
When I work with an author, I work with them to find out about the heart and soul of the book they are writing. What is the message? Who is most likely going to want to read it and why? Who is the author as a ‘brand’? What else (besides their book) does the author have for their audience? What is the bigger aim of the author’s business? Is it just about writing books or is there something else? How can we make this a long-term sustainable enterprise for them? These kinds of considerations are what distinguish successful authors from struggling ones, even if they are self-published.
Based upon the answer to these (and many other) questions, the author and I then build an online marketing strategy. At that point, and only then, when we are really clear about what needs to be done, you might approach hiring Virtual Assistants to help you.
From experience, I know that looking for the cheapest price can often end up costing you more in the long term. I’ve had several clients who chose to hire ‘budget’ assistants from sites like fiverr or eLance thinking this was the best way to go. They see a price of $4 an hour as opposed to $50 an hour and think it’s a bargain. But honestly, I have never seen budget hires actually save money (or time) for my clients, because while they might understand basic graphic design or basic social media principles, they don’t understand marketing at all. One of my clients paid hundreds to get her website designed by a budget hire. It looked very pretty but it was completely non-functional from a marketing and customer experience perspective. She ended up having to spend a whole lot more to get it sorted out. Another hired a budget assistant to work on getting her followers on Twitter. When I looked at her followers, about 50% either didn’t speak English (which was my client’s language) or were inactive accounts. It took me weeks to clean up her account and rebuild. Another client hired a cheap assistant who immediately got her account ‘stuck’ by following too many people too quickly, and she had no way to help my client to undo the damage. The stories go on and on.
I think the best ‘budget’ marketing is to learn as much as you can yourself, either by spending a little more to hire a marketing strategist who comes highly recommended to guide you. You should also read as many articles and books on book marketing as you can, and attend webinars on the subject. Know that you do NOT need to use everyone’s ideas if they don’t resonate with you. The best and most natural marketing is when you combine the best ideas of others with your own style and make it feel good to you.
Once an author knows how to create a good marketing strategy, he/she can then direct their hired help to implement it. But if you rely upon cheap hires to create a marketing strategy for you, you will only end up wasting your time and money, and are likely to get discouraged.
Erica: Everything I’ve read says that the most important tool for marketing a Kindle book is the Kindle book page – what tips can you give for writing a good book description?
Lynn: Writing a great book description (sometimes called a ‘wholesaler description’ or ‘wholesaler blurb’) is extremely important and, again, it’s a marketing issue. I have many clients who hire me JUST to write their book descriptions (called ‘copy writing’). It’s often difficult for an author to be objective about their book, and see it through their potential reader’s eyes.
This is a big subject, so rather than diving deeply into this here, Erica, I’d like to direct your readers to an article I wrote on this very subject called ‘How to Write Good Blurbs and Back Pages for Your Book’. In that article I go step-by-step through the process of writing a good book blurb that speaks to the audience rather than from a subjective perspective.
Your readers can find the complete article at http://spiritauthors.com/news/how-to-write-good-blurbs-and-back-pages-for-your-book/
Erica: Do you have any tips or suggestions for e-book authors with a small (or non-existent) marketing budget?
Lynn: In my experience, marketing is not just a monetary issue for authors; the truth is, they don’t really want to spend time on marketing. Many also imagine that if they can get a publishing deal, their marketing woes are over. This is a gross misunderstanding. Most publishers these days won’t sign you unless they see you already have a strong marketing platform established. The reality is that the modern authors simply must take ownership of their marketing, and build marketing into their business routine and their budget. That said, online book marketing doesn’t have to cost a fortune or take up all your time IF authors are willing to study and learn how to do it themselves, or learn just enough about it to direct their assistants to support them.
For me, the best, cheapest and most long-term book marketing strategy is to:
- Develop a large body of great blog and/or video content
- Drive traffic to this content through social media
- Develop a consistent, ‘do-able’ social media strategy
- Syndicate your content to article directories and other relevant blogs
- Watch your stats and make sure your site’s SEO is working for you
- Develop business relationships and build collaborations with others you meet on social media
Of course, there are other things you can do like organise virtual blog tours, radio tours and big book launches. I do these things for many clients. But these are far more expensive marketing choices because they require the help of other people (and these people need to be experienced). You don’t necessarily need these glossier marketing strategies if you devotedly focus on the ‘slow burn’ instead of the ‘big flash’, and are willing to wait for the results.
If you aim towards developing a consistent, continually evolving, long-term reputation, you will eventually see a tipping point where your books start to sell consistently. Your older books will experience an increase in sales every time you bring out a new title, and you’ll start to make a steady income from your books. The key is to stick with it. In my experience, most authors start to make real money after they’ve published their THIRD book. Keep writing. Keep building.
Erica: What other marketing resources can you suggest for e-book authors who are on a budget?
Lynn: I have dozens of free articles on book marketing on my Spirit Authors website at http://spiritauthors.com. I try to publish a new article every Wednesday (although with my busy schedule, that can get tough sometimes!). Authors can subscribe for free and receive these info articles via email every week. They can even get Spirit Authors articles delivered directly to their Kindle for 99 cents a month.
Authors may also wish to check out my book Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically, which is available in paperback and Kindle (other eBook formats coming in September).
And, of course, if authors are looking for some guidance, we offer a platform-building package for authors. It’s not a ‘budget’ package, but we really do provide a great service. Your readers can read about this at http://spiritauthors.com/hire-us-for-your-book-launch/ and then drop me a line via the contact form on the website if they’d like to discuss it.
I hope this information was helpful to your readers, Erica. Thank you for inviting me to speak with you today.
This article originally appeared on Erica Martin’s blog ‘My eBook Journey’ on August 6th, 2013 at http://myebookjourney.com/ebook-marketing-getting-the-word-out-on-a-budget/
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LYNN SERAFINN, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach, teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and author of the number one bestseller The 7 Graces of Marketing — How to Heal Humanity and the Planet by Changing the Way We Sell and Tweep-e-licious! 158 Twitter Tips & Strategies for Writers, Social Entrepreneurs & Changemakers Who Want to Market their Business Ethically. She is listed in the Top 20 of the Top Marketing Authors on Twitter by Social Media Magazine and was a finalist for the prestigious Brit Writers Awards. She also received the eLit Book Awards Silver Medal in Humanitarian and Ecological Social Affairs, as well as the Bronze Medal in Business and Sales.
Lynn’s eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. Her innovative marketing campaigns have produced a long list of bestselling non-fiction authors through her company Spirit Authors. Lynn is also the Founder of the 7 Graces Project CIC, a not-for-profit social enterprise created to train, support, mentor and inspire independent business owners to market their business ethically, serve society and planet, and restore all that is best about humanity.
A short intro to digital media for authors who haven’t got a clue from author, coach, book marketer Lynn Serafinn.
I’m a fairly techie person. I’m on the computer so much, sometimes I think it would be more practical to have a microprocessor implanted directly into my brain so I wouldn’t have to sit at my desk all the time. But although I’m pretty expert with the Internet, social media, WordPress, web pages, etc., there are two areas in which I’m a bit of a late bloomer. One is mobile technology (I’ll be talking more about that in a later issue). I only just got my first “smart” phone (a Blackberry) less than 6 months ago. And while I work with authors ALL the time, the second area to which I am admittedly a late bloomer is the world of digital books—eBooks.
Actually, these two things (mobile technology and digital format books) are very, very much related, and if we authors do not have a clue about them, and how they work together, we are quite likely to miss out on half (if not more) of our potential book sales. In fact, my good friend Tony Eldridge from “Marketing Tips for Authors” recently became a #1 seller SOLELY because of his digital book, and only last week my own new book The 7 Graces of Marketing hit #1 & #2 in Kindle shops on both sides of the Atlantic.
I used to think an eBook was just a PDF file that was pretty much a duplicate of your print book. And up until a few years ago, that was true. Then, along came the Kindle, and a whole new market opened up. But THEN, “smart” mobile technology, such as iPhones, iPads and so many other formats entered onto the scene. It’s a confusing quagmire of technology, and it’s VERY easy to get overwhelmed with the options.
So I thought I’d write a VERY basic introduction to some of the practical considerations for eBook creation and distribution for authors who are self-publishing.
Do you need to bother publishing your book in an electronic format if you have a print edition?
ABSOLUTELY YES!!! Amazon actually sells MORE Kindle eBook sales than it sells print books! Can you believe I don’t even own a Kindle yet? What was I thinking? (I’m ordering one next month!)
What eBook formats are there? Which format should I use?
There are many formats, but the two you should concern yourself with most are Kindle (a bespoke format from Amazon) and the ePub format, which is used by iPad and other companies.
Kindle is the big leader in eBook sales (having been around for almost 5 years now), but iPad is catching up with currently nearly a quarter of all eBook sales at last count. Also, the ePub format is compatible with many other mobile devices besides the iPad. You should use BOTH formats, as well as PDF.
Where do I have to go to set up accounts for an eBook?
My suggestion is to use THREE: Amazon (for Kindle), Lightning Source AND Smashwords for other electronic formats. They all distribute to completely different channels (the only overlap I have found between LS and Smashword Kobo).
For Kindle, go to https://kdp.amazon.com/self-publishing/signin and get started. Be SURE to read all their guidelines before submitting anything. You don’t have to have an ISBN, but I think it’s a great idea to have one.
For Lightning Source, go to http://lightningsource.com. Download their list of “CoreSource” Fulfilment partners (there are probably about 60 of them, including MBS Books, Lulu, CyberRead, The Book Depository, Kobo and many others. They deliver eBooks in Adobe Acrobat ebook Reader, Microsoft Reader, and Palm eBook formats. You WILL need a new ISBN for your eBook version.
If you go to Smashwords at http://smashwords.com you’ll see their distribution partners on their home page as Apple iBookstore, Barnes & Noble, Sony Reader Store, Kobo and the Diesel eBook Store. Again, you don’t need an ISBN, but I think it’s a lot better to use your own, as it associates your book with YOU as a publisher, and not with Smashwords.
How do I get my book into digital format for Kindle and ePub? Do I just upload my PDF of my print book?
Nope. Each company has their own formatting guidelines and it’s EXTREMELY important you follow them. If formatting is not your “thing” someone can help you prepare your book for digital format. Smashwords will even send you a list of suggested formatters, who are all quite reasonably priced.
The Kindle Direct site is a bit confusing (I think it’s because their gradually updating their information), but if you hunt around it enough, you’ll also find a of suggested places where you can get your book formatted for Kindle. The one I’ve been using is called “LiberWriter” (LOVE the name!) at http://liberwriter.com/. You can test them out for free, and then if you want to use their services, it’s $25 to use their do-it-yourself conversion, and $50 to have them format and convert for you. They also actually respond to personally to customer service requests (always a plus).
Let’s talk about money. How do I price my book, and what kind of royalties will I receive per sale?
The short answer to how to price your book is at LEAST 50% LESS than your print version. So, if your print book sells for $15.95, then price your eBook around $7.95 or less. If, however, you’re using this book more or less as a promotional tool (as opposed to a proper “book”), consider selling for as low as $0.99.
Regarding royalties, it goes like this:
Wholesale compensation = 60% of retail (when sold on sites other than their own)
Example: if your eBook is selling for $7.95, the author would get $4.77.
When your eBook is sold ON the Smashwords site, you get 85%. In other words, if your eBook is selling for $7.95, the author would get $6.76.
LS take 7.5% taken from net (in other words, the author gets 92.5% of net sales). Net is calculated by taking the list price and subtracting the discount you are giving the distributor. For example, if your eBook is selling for $7.95 and wholesale discount is 50%, net world be $3.98, and the author would get $3.68. Of course, you could set your discount at a much lower rate wholesale discount if you wish to achieve a higher profit (example: at 30% discount, you would receive $5.14).
You can get as high as a 70% royalty rate from Kindle, minus “delivery” costs. Deliver costs are relative to your file size. On Amazon.com, the delivery cost is $0.15/mb. So, if your eBook that is selling for $7.95 is 5mb in size, your royalty would be: $7.95 X 0.70 = $5.57 – (5 X $0.15) = $4.82.
NOTE: to qualify for a 70% royalty your Kindle retail price must be between $2.99 and $9.99. If it is higher or lower, you are restricted to 35%. That means that you will actually make MORE money selling your Kindle at $9.99 than you would if you were selling it at $18.99, and you would probably sell a load more Kindle versions of your book if you price it as low as is reasonable. For example, I make only about $5.00 per print copy of my book that sells at $24.95, but I make almost $7.00 on my Kindle sales that are priced $9.99.
ALSO: The 70% royalty is NOT valid in all countries. If you select 70% and your Kindle sells to someone who does not live in one of the participating countries, you will receive 35% for those sales. It IS valid in countries such as US, UK, Canada, Germany, Italy, France, Belgium, Switzerland, and many others. The 70% royalty is NOT valid (as of this writing) for sales made to residents of the Netherlands, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Australia, New Zealand and many other countries. See Kindle Direct for the latest listing of sales territories that qualify for the 70% royalty.
Please note, these prices and calculations are correct as of this writing, and may have changed since that time.
The key idea with eBooks is to get your book OUT in as many formats, and in as many distribution channels you can. Make sure that links to where people can purchase these products is very visible and easy to find on your website.
I hope this short introduction has given you a bit more information about the practical why, where and how of eBooks. There’s a LOT more to talk about, especially how to make the most of your eBook format and how to market it. But, we’ll save that for another day.
I would very much welcome to hear about your own experiences, so pleae LEAVE A COMMENT BELOW or drop me a line at http://spiritauthors.com/contact to let me know what you have learned in your own eBook adventures.
And do subscribe to the Spirit Authors blog for more info and insight into the world of writing, publishing and book promotions.
Lynn Serafinn, MAED, CPCC is a certified, award-winning coach and teacher, marketer, social media expert, radio host, speaker and bestselling author. Her eclectic approach to marketing incorporates her vast professional experience in the music industry and the educational sector along with more than two decades of study and practice of the spirituality of India. In her work as a promotional manager she has produced a long list of bestselling mind-body-spirit authors. She is also the creator of Spirit Authors, which offers training, coaching, business-building and inspiration for mind-body-spirit authors, whether established or aspiring. Passionate about re-establishing our connection with the Earth, she supports the work of the Transition Town network in her hometown of Bedford, England.
International #1 Bestseller in Business Ethics, Marketing and Communication (Dec 2011)
- The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell (PAPERBACK)
- The 7 Graces of Marketing: how to heal humanity and the planet by changing the way we sell (KINDLE)
Spirituality Bestseller (2009):
To contact Lynn for coaching, campaign management or media appearances, please fill in the form at http://spiritauthors.com/contact.