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How to market and sell your ebooks?

August 7, 2011

That’s the question I am asking myself now! I’ve been a writer from a young age – the first short story I wrote (that I can remember) was about a shark around the age of 7. I think it’s a safe bet to say it was inspired by the movie JAWS. My sister and I used to scare ourselves in the water for years! Ebooks for me are still fairly new (I published my first ebook in April of this year), so I’m taking my long history of writing into the new medium slow step by slow step.

As the author of several ebook so far (I’ve got 1 novel, 1 screenplay, 1 book of poetry, 1 short-story collection and 3 short stories currently on Amazon.com and Smashwords.com – plus the many outlets that Smashwords distributes to), I’m getting used to the idea that I’ve got to be a publisher and marketer of my work, as well. That’s how it’s going in this time of ebooks, and it is more work for the author, but it’s also more freedom. The main questions I am trying to answer, after writing as good a book as I can, and then getting it out there for sale as an ebook, are: how to get noticed and pricing.

There a few ways to get the word out about your ebooks, and about yourself as an author. One of the most effective is what I am doing here: writing your own blog. I enjoy reading the blogs of other authors and I pick up many tips that way. It’s also a great way to share your knowledge with other writers, as many of us are learning in this new medium of ebooks and online publishing (or epublishing), and it helps to have friends along the way.

Close on the heels of having your own blog are the common social networks such as Facebook and Twitter that should be utilized, to be sure. Also, don’t forget about the smaller, more niche social networks like Goodreads.com and specific forums about the topics you may write about.

Pricing for ebooks is a hot topic in most writing forums and blogs I’ve seen. Many people give conflicting advice as to the best price to set for your ebook. A lot of authors have had success with the .99 cent price, and I can see how this is attractive for readers. I’ve been reluctant to price my ebooks at this price so far (with the exception of short stories), because the royalty rate the author/publisher receives (at least on Amazon/Kindle) is only 35% on any price under $2.99. If you sell your ebook for over $2.99 on Amazon, then your royalty jumps up to 75%! But, it’s ultimately about what price your ebooks will sell for, so I’m still experimenting on price and looking for the right prices to sell my ebooks at. I’ve had sales of my ebooks at a bunch of different prices, but I’m still looking for the price that most readers will be happy to pay. If that ends up being .99 cents in the end, that means I’ll have to settle with getting a lot lower royalty than I’d like, but I’ll have to see what the market decides.

Covers for ebooks is another topic of much discussion. From what I’ve gathered so far, it seems that the cover art for your ebook will have a huge impact on sales. This seems to be true from what I’ve seen. Though, I have seen some cases where an ebook had poor cover art, but still sold well. For the most part it does appear that there is a correlation between a good cover and good sales. Many authors who are epublishers make their own covers. This can work in some cases. I’ve made my own covers, and that may have something to do with the fact that my sales have not shot out through the roof so far – or not. It’s hard to tell. If I had the budget right now to hire a professional to design my covers, I might give that a try and see if sales improve. I don’t think it would hurt my sales at all, but it’s no guarantee. So, if there are any aspiring artists out there who want to design some ebook covers for a deferred payment (when the ebooks sell enough that I can pay you), and for experience for your resume, get in touch with me!

Inventory also seems to have a relation to sales of ebooks, in that the more titles you have for sale the higher your sales will likely be. More titles means that if a reader likes your work then you will have more ebooks for that reader to purchase in the future. Also, having more titles means that the chances of new readers finding your work are greater, as your titles will turn up in more searches and will take up more virtual “space” in online markets.

I’ll write more about my epublishing and writing journey as I go along. If you have any good tips for how to market and sell ebooks, I hope you will contribute to the discussion here by leaving a comment.

To the readers, thank you and I hope you enjoy what I’ll write in the future!

To the authors out there, happy writing and I wish you much success!

-David Sloma
Author of the science-fiction novel Brainjob,
the feature-length sceenplay Chewy, Gooey, Fruit Things,
a poetry chapbook A Conspicuous Medium,
and the collection David Sloma – Short Stories Volume 1.
Available from Amazon.com and Smashwords.com

 

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