So you’ve published an e-book. That’s half the battle, now isn’t it? Many new indie authors think writing the manuscript, subjecting it to painstaking proofs and editing resulting in sleep-deprived madness, cover art design, file conversion, and the ultimate click to publish was the entire battle. It’s not. Once you hit publish, you have effectively fallen through the looking glass into a whole new world. A world that in all likelihood is stranger than the one you wrote about in your book.
Marketing your eBook
Once you’ve fallen through the self-pub rabbit whole, you will enter the strange world of marketing. Indie authors are what we like to refer to as the mad hatters of publishing; they wear multiple hats from writer to marketer to PR person. It can quickly become overwhelming and discouraging, especially if you feel your book is underperforming in the sales department.
E-book marketing is not for the faint of heart. It’s a bear, fully equipped with sharp teeth and claws. With between 600,000 to 1 million books being published each year (i.e. 1,600 to 2,700 books hitting the marketplace every day) in just the United States, it’s imperative for yours to stand out.
The ugly truth of the self-publishing world is it’s a flood. Readers are drowning in the effects of a monsoon of mediocre material, books that vanish from view just as rapidly as the publish button is clicked. Your book needs a life jacket, and then it needs an airlift to safety, levity above the monsoon of material threatening to suck it beneath the surface. This is where marketing comes in.
The 50/50 of eBook Reviews
Several tools will make up your marketing toolbox, but one of the most important will be reviews. Now, e-book reviews are a 50/50 thing. What do we mean? Consider:
- Some readers religiously read reviews, seeing them as the primary determining factor in whether to purchase a book.
- Other readers read reviews, but they don’t put much stock in them, choosing to make their decision based off sample chapters and/or the synopsis.
- Still more readers don’t even bother to look at the reviews; instead, their buying decision is based on the overall presentation of the book.
While good reviews are never a bad thing, they aren’t necessarily the make it or break it of sales in today’s market. What matters is getting the right kind of e-book reviews in a concentrated effort to promote exposure.
Getting the Right eBook Reviews
Generating reviews for a self-published book is tough. The mantra of the traditional publishing world has always been that reviews sell books, but the venue has evolved. Self-pub books don’t usually see reviews via high authority and trusted sources, like the New York Times. And as CNet’s 21st of 25 things you need to know about self-publishing points out, in the beginning, bloggers weren’t taken seriously, but now are.
Getting the right e-book reviews comes down to targeted marketing. If your book is good and not littered with obnoxious errors, it will naturally receive good reviews from readers, particularly fans. But you can do some marketing in the meantime to push your book to a larger audience via reviews.
Leverage the Blogging Community
Bloggers and their communities used to be seen as soapboxes. No one put much stock in them because anyone with point and click ability, a basic understanding of how to type, and an opinion could start one. Bloggers have always had strong opinions, but in the beginning, the majorities were nothing more than rants and raves.
Today’s blogging scene is much different. It’s highly populated by authoritative voices, backing their content with solid research and facts. One might say Google’s push for high-quality websites has weeded out many of the bad blogs of olden days. As a result, leveraging the blogging community for e-book reviews is a good marketing strategy.
One of the most popular blogging platforms is WordPress. Initially released in 2003, WordPress offers both free and open-source blogging tools as well as a PHP and MySQL based content management system (CMS). WordPress bloggers either self-host the open-source tool or host through WordPress.com.
As you search for opportunities to gain e-book reviews, examine WordPress blogs hosted on WordPress.com. Bloggers using the free platform via WordPress (or choosing to upgrade to paid packages) have a unique exposure opportunity. When they publish their blogs, they are released to the entire WordPress community.
We’ll talk more about gaining the most exposure through this platform (and expand on this entire article) in an upcoming in-depth guide. But for now, here are the facts about WordPress and why it’s worth searching for willing reviewers leveraging this platform:
- 48 percent of Technorati’s top 100 blogs are managed via WordPress.
- As of 2014, 7.4 million websites depended on WordPress.
- WordPress is translated into 40 languages.
- Approximately 22 percent of new domains registered in the U.S. are run on WordPress.
- More unique visitors hit these websites than Amazon (U.S.).
Powered by Google, dedicated bloggers who use Blogger as a blog-publishing service are not to be underestimated. Originally developed by Pyra Labs, Google bought the service in 2003. Blogger blogs are hosted by Google’s blogspot.com subdomain. A single user is allowed up to 100 blogs per account.
As with most things Google, choosing to publish via their platform comes with perks. Much like Google Plus, blogspots are more quickly indexed by the search giant, opening the door for faster and better exposure.
Engaging Blog Communities
Blogs are built around communities. As you search for people to read, review, and post reviews of your e-book, be open to the avenues that come with blogging.
Many high value and respectable blogs are run on WordPress and Blogspot, some free and some paid. If a blog has a large subscriber base coupled with engaging discussions and shares, it’s probably a good place to gain exposure. You just need the gumption to contact the blogger, offer a free copy of your book, and await their review. Most will blog their review and post it on the marketplace if you ask.
Use Social Media
When it comes to marketing an e-book, social media is your friend. The problem is most first-time authors find it overwhelming. With so many platforms to choose from and so much going on in each, where do you start?
- Twitter: As one of the most active social networks on the Internet, Twitter is a good place to start. The trick to gaining strong exposure to possible buyers lies in using the right hashtags, connecting with the right people, and being persistent. But you cannot start a Twitter account and flood it with a link to your book over and over and over again. Instead, you need to intermingle a real life look at you, your life, and your past, present, and future work. Sprinkle in marketing, but don’t go cars salesmen.
- Google Plus: Often the forgotten network, G+ is one of the most useful for indie authors. It’s packed with super active communities bursting with eager readers. Not to mention, with the proper hashtag use, you can gain massive views. It’s also a great place to kick off your author website and/or blog. Posts made to your G+ account will attract search engine indexing faster than posts made elsewhere.
- Facebook: Although a Facebook page really isn’t the way to go nowadays unless you can spend thousands of dollars boosting posts and essentially buying visibility, the network does have many active groups. You can use these groups to post info about your available e-book and even ask for people willing to review a free copy to contact you.
Approach Industry Experts
The idea of approaching industry experts and asking for backlinks has been a staple in the content marketing world for a while. The same concept is applicable to the e-book world, but in a slightly different manner.
Regardless of whether your book is fiction or non-fiction, it lives in its own niche, called a genre. As you turn your attention to marketing, start looking for websites that specialize in your genre. If you’ve produced a top notch, professional looking book void of typos and basic errors, don’t be afraid of tactfully approaching the big dogs.
The trick is to contact the right person, which means doing your research before sending an invitation to read and review your book. But remember, the invitation is just as crucial as contacting the right person. It must be well written, to the point, and pique their curiosity. It needs to reflect your professionalism while staying clear and concise.
Most importantly, do not harass or spam industry experts for a review. Send them one invitation. If you don’t receive a response after 30 days, send one follow-up. If you still receive no reply, move on.
Look for Opportunities
Gaining positive book reviews that assist in generating exposure come down to a simple equation. You must first write and publish a professional, good book. It can’t be mediocre. It has to be the best possible, and it has to excite readers.
Once you’ve written and published a good book, you must next turn your attention to marketing. You don’t need to be a guru, but you do need to understand the basics of smart marketing. Always look for opportunities to request or spotlight a good review.
The hardest part will be nurturing patience. If you put time and effort into producing quality and gaining exposure through multiple reviews over a wide array of website (not just on the marketplace), you will see results over time.
Feature Image Credit: iqoncept via 123RF Stock Photo