Michael Boyter, the author of Memorygrabber, turned his love of family history into a series of successful e-books that have helped thousands of people document family history for posterity. Memorygrabber is a 150 page life story workbook designed to be used by individuals or their relatives to preserve priceless details of their family history. Following is an interview that I conducted with Michael in the Spring of 2003.
Laura: What made you decide to offer your book as an ebook, rather than taking the traditional publishing approach?
Michael: I didn't pursue the traditional publishing approach for a few reasons, one of which was that I didn't know much about traditional publishing.
The other reason was that I became so excited about the ability to digitally deliver internet products via the Internet. To be able to automate your web site and have it complete a transaction and then deliver the product (an e-book in this case) automatically, to anywhere in the world, truly excited me. It still is exciting to see from where in the world the orders come.
Having said all of that, I do plan to pusue the traditional publishing market anyway. That is a huge market that may need my kind of book, but may never think to look for it online.
Other reasons included, customers love being able to get what they purchase "right now!" This increases sales of course.
Laura: Have you published any books or articles in the offline world?
Michael: No, I have not published any books in the offline world, but I have been published in the Florida Gulf Coast Living Magazine, the Small Business Associations newsletter and several other offline newsletters.
Laura: In terms of marketing or promotional eforts, what has been your most successful effort to date, as measured by book sales?
Michael: My most successful marketing and promotional efforts have been Pay Per Click Search Engines, Overture.com to be specific. I've also had good success with the free search engines as well. Google and Yahoo have brought me lots of free traffic.
Laura: Upon publication of your ebook, did you do a press release?
I have yet to do a press release. I know they can be very effective and I am going to begin very soon. When I released my e-book, I really had no idea how to do a press release.
Laura: What do you consider the biggest secret of generating e-book sales?
Michael: Besides bringing traffic to your site, one must have a way of creating an opt-in list of people who are interested in your products. This can be offering a subscription to your newsletter, a trial version of your product or a free report or informative autoresponder course.
You always need to be building opt-in lists of people who want to know more about your product, as well as those who have purchased from you.
Then, tactfully following up can create a boost in sales, the bigger your list, the bigger the swell. The only way to follow up is with an autoresponder setup. I highly recommend ProAutoResponder.com. They are priced very cheap, but deliver in a big way.
Laura: In your experience, what is the biggest hindrance to e-book sales?
The biggest hindrance to e-book sales is that many people still do not have access to a credit card, but as VISA Check Cards become more popular, this hindrance will dissipate. Also, offering other purchase options, such as checks and money orders, will help overcome this situation.
Another hindrance, at least in my market, is that many people still do not understand what an e-book is and may not be used to shopping for information in this manner.
Laura: Have many of your readers requested a P.O.D. (Print on Demand) version of your book?
I have had a fair amount of requests--perhaps 15%.
Laura: Many e-book authors finish their book, only to experience disappointing sales. What is your most important advice to an e-book author who has just completed a book and is ready to offer the book for sale?
Michael:1. Find a group of people within your niche group and offer them free copies for their feedback/testimonials. For this I searched for newsgroups at places such as yahoogroups.com that would have an interest in my types of e-books. Make sure you get the owner of moderators permission before posting a message to the group. You may also want to seek out newsletters that cover your e-book's topic. Newsletter publishers would love being able to offer something free to their newsletter recipients.
Ideally, one should have already conducted some sort of market research to insure that the e-book written has a market sufficient to sustain a certain threshold of sales. In other words, is the topic of the e-book interesting to enough people.
But if one did not do this prior to writing the e-book, they definitely should do it before they spend a huge amount of time promoting it.
2. Make sure your sales letter on your web site is written well. Make sure that it answers all the questions that a potential buyer may have about your e-book. Lack of information will undoubtedly cause a potential buyer to have doubts and surf on.
3. Write articles relating to the topic of your book. Submit them to article sites such as Home and Family Writer & Publisher Exchange.
Article writers submit their work here and Webmasters and newsletter publishers find content to publish on their web sites or in their newsletters. The writers allow their work to be used for free in exchange for a byline and link back to their web site. A great win-win situation for everyone involved.
Laura: In addition to selling your e-books from your web site, do you also offer it for sale on sites like booklocker.com? Why or why not?
Michael: As of yet, I've sold mostly from my site. I have used affiliate sites and CNET.com to sell other products with decent results. For example, I promote The Home Video DVD Cookbook through CNET with a trial version of the product and have had great results. CNET is highly trafficked.
Laura: Do you publish an ezine to prospects or buyers of your book?
Michael: Yes, I publish The Family History Help & Product Review Newsletter about every two weeks. The newsletter provides the instruction, inspiration and motivation that one needs to collect and preserve family history, stories and memories, before they are gone for good.
Laura: How many copies of your e-books have you sold to date?
I'm over the 1,000 books sold mark and the sales for secondary products are escalating quickly.