Yes, Put the Cart Before the Horse

27 Apr
April 27, 2015

cartbeforehorseWhen it comes to selling eBooks, you need to put the cart before the horse. In other words, you need to start marketing your eBook and positioning yourself as a writer from the minute you have the idea. Don’t wait to market your eBook until after it’s written. By then, it will be an uphill battle. Instead, adopt an eBook marketing state of mind from the start.

The minute you have an idea for an eBook, you can do the following:

  1. Create an eBook title
  2. Purchase a domain name (either in your name as the author, your pen name, or the title of your eBook)
  3. Have a cover designed for the eBook

Once you have those things in place, you can begin marketing the eBook before you’ve even written a word. Ways you can promote the eBook before it is written:

  • Announce the eBook
  • Introduce characters as you create them
  • Set up your website so that you can take pre-order sales (we advise waiting to accept payment until you’re approximately three-quarters of the way done with the eBook and have a publish date)
  • Sign up for social media accounts and begin communicating with potential readers
  • Have contests where readers can name a character or choose a setting

The more momentum you build before the eBook is published, the easier it will be to sell the eBook once it’s done. The only catch is that you do have to follow through and write your eBook!


eBook Advice from the Experts

23 Apr
April 23, 2015

IMG_1297Looking for advice on selling, writing, marketing, and pricing your eBooks? We’ve gathered expert advice from around the web to help.

Derek Murphy: Format your eBook the right way.

Murphy offers great formatting tips for eBook authors, including this valuable advice: “The easiest way to make an ebook is to start by setting up your Word file the right way. Use line-indents, not tabs. Use the “heading1” style for all chapter titles, and check that a TOC is being made automatically. Set a new paragraph style for non-indents on the first chapter.”

Ali Luke: Write what you know and love.

“Choose a topic that (a) you already know a lot about and (b) you’ll enjoy writing about. This saves you doing lots of research just to get up to speed, and it substantially increases the chance that you’ll see your ebook through to a final draft.” Read more advice from Ali.

Jane Friedman offers an introductory guide to self-publishing, noting that “The first and most important thing to understand about e-publishing retailers and distributors is that they are not publishers. That means they take no responsibility for the quality of your work, but neither do they take any rights to your work.” Read more and download her self-publishing guide.

Seth Godin and Tom Peters: Give away your first eBook for free. In this video, Seth Godin advises giving away eBooks to gain readers.

What advice would you add? Who do you turn to for eBook publishing guidance?

The Rise of eBook Subscription Services

20 Apr
April 20, 2015

1372708366kwetfE-book subscription services function like Netflix for readers, providing a library of reading material for a set monthly fee. There are a number of eBook subscription services available, and understanding the benefits and costs of each may help you determine where to align your eBooks.


Free trial: 14 days
Cost: $9.95 per month
Features: Read on any device through the Oyster app. Access to over a million titles and partnerships with Macmillan, HarperCollins, and Simon & Schuster.

Kindle Unlimited

Free trial: 30 days
Cost: $9.99 per month
Features: Access to more than 800,000 titles, but no partnerships with major publishers. In fact, the system has come under fire for being the anti-thesis of user-friendly.


Free trial: One month
Cost: $8.99 per month
Features: Over one million titles, including comic books (Marvel) and audio books. Scribd recently announced a partnership with Penguin Books.

Whether you’re an indie author or publisher representing several indie authors, aligning yourself with a subscription service may prove to be beneficial over the long term, as these services are not only growing in popularity but offer every new author the potential exposure to a growing readership.

Have you tried any of these popular eBook subscription services? Which one do you like?

Increase Your Reach with YouTube

15 Apr
April 15, 2015

VideoMarketingYouTube is a platform owned by Google, and not only is it encroaching on TV, music video, and movies, but it has become a platform essential to indie authors and small publishers for marketing.

Tips for Using YouTube for eBook Marketing as an Indie Author

  • Create your own videos. Whether your eBook is fiction or non-fiction, you can use YouTube to reach a larger audience. Create videos that introduce you to your readers or provide additional background or information.
  • Make the videos short. Videos on YouTube that have the highest views are between 3-5 minutes long.
  • Don’t sell your eBook in the video. No one will watch a five minute ad. Give them something valuable, useful, or interesting in the video, then add a call to action at the end to click over to the eBook purchase.
  • Be authentic. Don’t try to be something you’re not on YouTube. Talk directly to your intended audience. If you’re goofy, be goofy; if you have insightful information that people will find interesting, share it.
  • Brand yourself. Take the time to create a channel on YouTube and add all of the detail you are able about yourself as an author, your eBooks, links to your website and blog, etc.

Ideas for Using YouTube for eBook Marketing as a Publisher

  • Create an author series in which you highlight the different authors you represent. Conduct interviews with the authors, do Q&As, and present author profiles.
  • Have a ‘news of the week’ section on your channel where you talk about industry news.
  • Use YouTube to announce new publications, new releases, and newly signed authors.

Both indie authors and publishers can cross-promote by sharing published videos on a blog or website and on social media. Learn more with our social media guide.


eBook DRM: Why Digital Rights Management Matters

13 Apr
April 13, 2015

FeaturesYou’ll hear in the news and in grumblings around the Internet that eBook DRM is a bad idea, that it sends the message that you don’t trust your readers, or that DRM restricts people from reading eBooks that they legally purchased. But those grumblings often come from the very industry that has been threatened by indie author proliferation: the big publishers.

If you don’t understand DRM and why you, as an indie author or small publisher need it, you’re not alone. Digital Rights Management is just what it says: a tool that allows you to control who has access to your work. It doesn’t mean you’re keeping people from reading your eBook who actually bought it; it doesn’t even mean you’re restricting where or how they read it.  What it does do:

  • DRM protects eBooks from unauthorized copying
  • DRM protects eBooks from being sold by other publishers/websites without your consent
  • DRM gives you, the indie author or publisher, control over who has access to your eBooks

Small eBook publishers and indie authors don’t have the budgets of the big publishers and often don’t have any DRM at all. EditionGuard created a cost-effective web service to make eBook DRM more affordable for smaller eBook sellers and indie authors. Our primary goal is to support smaller eBook sellers to break into the market and make a profit on their work without risk.

You can try 30 days of EditionGuard at no cost – no credit card required. Discover how easy it is to sell eBooks on your own website or WordPress site with our technology. We integrate easily with most shopping sites, too. Learn more.

April eBook News from Around the Web

09 Apr
April 9, 2015

ebook mrgFrom mobile ubiquity to the latest eBook reader, here is all the eBook news you need from around the web.

Closing the Gaps in Readers’ Sales Journeys

Few publishers have marketing programs in place at every stage of a reader’s path toward making a book purchase, but that may change. Read more.

First Look at the Kobo Glo HD eReader

Numerous retail sites in New Zealand and Australia have leaked details about the Kobo Glo HD, Kobo’s next ereader. Read more.

Writers’ Events Can Strengthen Your Craft, Build Your Career

Authors who are interested in establishing themselves as both better writers and as serious career-minded artists can benefit greatly from attending writers’ conferences and workshops, but the cost of attending is often pretty prohibitive. Here’s a look at some upcoming events that fall on the lower end of the conference registration spectrum, while still offering some of the top names in the publishing industry as instructors, speakers, and presenters. Read more.

New Trends in Book Marketing: Mobile, Millennials and More

Do you know the difference between Meerkat and Periscope, WeChat and KakaoTalk? And even if you do, have you any idea how you can actually use any of these apps to sell more books? Read more.

Making Digital Proofreading Easier for Illustrated Books, Textbooks

Illustrated books and textbooks, far more than novels, require more effort produce and updated digital tools are necessary to make that process easier. Read more.

Three Stats on the Mobile Future

If publishers are inching toward mobile by fits and starts, consumers are barreling forward. Here are key pieces of the emerging mobile picture. Read more.


eBook Length: Does It Matter?

06 Apr
April 6, 2015

5Achieving the correct eBook length can be challenging for the novice indie author, but it’s really not about the length. It really must be about the quality first. The Future of Ink offers these guidelines:

“The average nonfiction book, if such a thing exists, runs about 50,000 to 75,000 words, but this can vary depending upon category. Biographies, for example, can run 200,000 words. How-tos or self-help usually have 40-50,000 words. The average adult novel runs approximately 100,000 words while those in other categories run 80-120,000 words.”

But while those word counts offer an excellent starting point, focusing on quality is the most critical aspect of ensuring a successful publication.

How to Ensure the Quality of Your eBook

The best way to ensure quality as well as the best word count is to hire a professional eBook editor who has experience taking the creative effort and improving it. Hiring an editor is one of the best investments you can make in your eBook. Read our additional resources on the subject:

Do you need #proofreading and #editing for #ebook publishing?

How to Find a Good Editor for Your eBook

Writing Well

The length of your eBook may matter, but if it’s poorly written, it won’t matter how short it is; it will not sell well and it will likely get poor reviews. Make the effort to edit your eBook before you publish.

Gain More Readers with Contests and Giveaways

02 Apr
April 2, 2015

freeIt’s easy to gain more – and new – readers with contests and giveaways. Everybody likes free stuff and everybody likes winning. Social media makes it easy to both host your contents and giveaways and promote them. If you’ve read our series on social media for the indie author, you’ll already understand the importance of leveraging social media to increase your readership, and this is just another way to make the most of the tools you should already be using. You can also leverage your blog for contests and giveaways.

Tips for Hosting Successful Contests and Giveaways

Contests and giveaways are supposed to be fun, so don’t kill the joy of it or you won’t have much success.

  1. Make it easy for people to enter
  2. Provide multiple ways for people to earn entries
  3. Make the prize worth competing for


While it might seem like the perfect idea to give away copies of your eBook as the prize in your contests and giveaways, the truth is, unless you’re a very popular author with eBooks people are already clamoring to get, it won’t work. Instead, giveaway gift cards to restaurants and online shops, or even get sponsors who provide prizes for you in exchange for being mentioned on your blog and social media. You can even make following their social platforms additional ways for contestants to earn entries. You can select 10 people (the 10 first, 10 random, etc.) who will get copies of your eBook as secondary prizes, so you’ll still have the opportunity to get your eBook in front of new eyes.

Selecting Winners

The easiest way to manage your contests and giveaways is by using a service like Rafflecopter. If you do choose to manage the contest without that, you’ll need to track entries and ensure random selection to choose the winner. (You can number the entries and use to choose the winning number).

Have you held successful contests and giveaways to promote your eBook? Share your tips!

Connect with Readers, Part 2: Out in the World

26 Mar
March 26, 2015

People attending a CongressIt’s important for indie authors to connect with readers, both virtually and in person. Even if you’re only publishing electronically, you are not made of bits and bytes, and building a loyal readership that will buy your eBooks and recommend them to others begins with being accessible to your readers. While there are a number of ways you can stay connected with readers online, occasionally you’ll need to close down the laptop and venture out into the sunlight to meet and greet your readers in person. Try these five ideas for getting out in the world to connect with readers:

1. Host a reading at your public library. We encourage indie authors to work with local libraries on a regular basis. Your local community can be one of the biggest supports to you, and you can enhance that community support by building a relationship with your library.

2. Host a writing workshop. Many of your readers may have the desire to write themselves. You can establish yourself as the resident expert, connect with more potential fans, and share your experience by hosting a writing workshop or teaching a class at your local community center, college, or public library.

3. Participate in a writer’s conference. Writer’s conferences take place all across the country, so it should not be hard to find one that fits your schedule and your style. It’s a great place to connect with other writers as well as connect with readers. Wikipedia has a fairly exhaustive list of conferences that take place around the world.

How are you planning to connect with your readers out in the world this year?

Connect with Readers, Part 1: Virtual Connections

24 Mar
March 24, 2015

IMG_1297As an indie author, one of the best ways to sell more eBooks is to connect with readers on a more personal level so that they will provide the valuable word-of-mouth advertising you need to reach more readers. Connecting with readers virtually is a great place to begin. Most of your readers will be accessible on a variety of social platforms, so there are valid reasons indie authors should use social media.

There are ways to connect with readers virtually beyond social platforms. You can:

  • Send a newsletter
  • Host a podcast (or be a guest on one)
  • Publish a blog (and guest post on other blogs)
  • Respond to emails/fan mail
  • Create a YouTube channel

There are myriad ways you can connect with readers. To do so effectively, you need to make your connection less about selling eBooks and more about connecting authentically. Let your readers get to know you and your personality. Share pieces of you they won’t discover by reading your author bio. Show them your personality. Be genuine.

In our next post, we’ll talk about ways you can connect with readers offline (in the “real” world) to help create an even deeper relationship with the people who are most likely to help you obtain even more readers.

How do you connect with readers?