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What I've Learned about the Fundamentals of Ebook Marketing

Discussion in 'Marketing' started by BWFoster78, Oct 22, 2015.

  1. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    A couple of years ago when I thought I was ready to self publish (but really wasn't), the state of marketing prospects dismayed me. As far as I could find, there wasn't any clear path to success as an indie author mainly because there were no available avenues that provided positive ROI on book promotions. Ads? Weren't cost effective. Blog appearances? If you got lucky and got an influential blogger to review you, sure, but the chances of that were slim. Truly the only advice I could find was: write a lot of good books and somehow you'd eventually be discovered. I found that to be an extremely pessimistic message.

    I didn't look hard enough for solutions.

    When I again started preparing to publish several months ago, one of our members pointed me in the right direction. Now, I'm incredibly optimistic about becoming a successful author. Here's what I've learned that has made all the difference:

    2 Factors for Long Term Success -

    1. Write books that readers want to read.
    2. Write lots of books.

    I've seen first hand that I can pull down an amount that may reach four figures in a single month by releasing a new book, but that success is built on a single new release, and sales of that book will soon fall off a cliff. To have sustainable success, you must develop a readership that buys your books upon release and build up a solid catalog of books.

    3 Factors for Selling a Book -

    1. Cover.
    2. Pitch.
    3. Sample.

    If you put your book in front of your customers and it doesn't sell, you've got a major problem with one or more of these three factors. Do not skimp on your effort on any of these.

    Marketing Essentials -

    1. Email List

    Go to a site like Mailchimp and start an account. It's free until you reach 2000 subscribers. Build it mainly by these two methods:

    Organically - A reader buys one of your works and likes it so much that he follows the link in the back to sign up. These, imo, are much more valuable (more likely to open your emails, click your links, and buy your products) than the type below, but they're also more scarce.

    Ads - From what I've read, Facebook ads don't do a great job selling books. Reports say, however, that the are very useful for getting people to sign up for a mailing list in exchange for a free book. These sign ups are less likely to be converted into customers, but it's a numbers game. If you get ten thousand sign ups, a 1% conversion rate is better than a 50% conversion rate with 100 subscribers.

    2. Promotions

    There exist multiple options, some free and some paid, to advertise your discounted book during a promotion period. Bookbub is the holy grail (expensive and hard to get approved), but services like Bknights on Fiverr (cheap and takes anyone) have also been proven effective. The strategy is to lower the price of one of your books for a short period of time and promote that discount. If you're doing a countdown deal, you might even earn back the cost of the advertising (not all that likely, but it's possible), but the real profit comes in sell through (the concept that a certain percentage of people reading your free or heavily discounted book go on to buy more of your books). Note that if your books aren't what the readers want and you don't have any more books out, this is kinda worthless, which is why I started with those two factors as being crucial for your success.

    I'm going to have to do a lot of experimenting (after I get some more books on the market) on all the options that I have, but I'm confident in being able to develop a good strategy based on these two marketing sources. I cannot stress this enough: people are utilizing these two sources to sell books and make real money.

    Obviously, also, this is a very brief overview of the concepts, and there's a lot more involved such as pricing and release strategy. But I really wanted to put something up on this board that explains why I'm so enthusiastic about the prospect of self publishing.

    Hope this helps someone!

    Brian
     
  2. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    Good advice. I ran a Google Adwords campaign for 90 days as an experiment. Noticeable increase in sales but just under the cost of the campaign. I'm a novice at AdWords though, and my campaign wasn't optimized. Might be something to look at for someone who knows how to set up a good campaign. Google now has better tools to help with that.
     
  3. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    In general, the advice out there seems to be that it's hard to get a reasonable ROI advertising full price books no matter the forum you use*. Goodreads ads are considered to be particularly horrendous.

    As you mention, there's also a huge learning curve involved. The guys who know what they're doing tend to run small experiments using different ads and then put money into the one that provided the best returns. I think that the more time and money you're willing to put into advertising, the better your returns become.

    *Note that almost all the posts I've read have concentrated on advertising for discounted books or giveaways to get sign ups. I haven't really researched advertising full priced books that extensively, but what I've gathered is that using discounts to get sell through is a superior strategy.
     
  4. acapes

    acapes Sage

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    Stagger your promo ads too (with the newsletter sites) to hang around the higher rankings for consequetive days/more days, giving you more chance to get some random buyers

    Write a series :)
     
    BWFoster78 likes this.
  5. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    That's a good point, but I've heard the counter argument as well. By doing a lot of promos on the same day, you can propel your book to a higher ranking, making it discoverable by more people.
     
    acapes likes this.
  6. acapes

    acapes Sage

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    Yeah, me too - I tried that in the beginning and got one book up to rank 20-odd in a small sub-genre (magic-realism) but found I got better traction with other books by spreading the ads, especially with my other titles where the category is larger and the 'big first splash' didn't really made much of an impact.

    Although, I should say - my promos are at 99c rather than Free for price-point - I'm curious about trying the similar techniques for Free one day :)

    Are you running Free or 99c usually?
     
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  7. BWFoster78

    BWFoster78 Myth Weaver

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    I only published my first work two months ago and have run a single free promotion. I got just shy of 1100 downloads of my novella, and I think that effort boosted sales of my novel. I have no way of estimating how much, though.

    I plan to do a .99 in mid to late Nov and will post the results in my Marketing thread.

    Your experience at spreading out the promos is good info. Thanks!
     
  8. acapes

    acapes Sage

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    Ace, that sounds like a pretty great result for the single promo, awesome!

    Hope spreading them out a bit works :)
     
  9. j.k.m

    j.k.m Acolyte

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    Thanks a LOT for this post. That is more help than i have found in months.
     
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