Ebook Marketing: The Skinny from an Author Who's Been There, Done That

Ebook Marketing: How to Get Reviews and Links to Your Ebook

by Deanna Miller

First of all, I recommend the book "Secrets of Our Success," by M. J. Rose and Angela Adair-Hoy. I learned most of my successful marketing techniques from that book.

The goals of my ebook marketing campaign have been to help as many kids and teens as possible and to make my ebook successful enough to attract the interest of print publishers. It has not really been my goal to make a financial profit off the ebook. So my ebook has sold well, but I've spent much more money on ebook marketing than I've earned on sales. However, I'm not going to lament here all the wacky ways I've spent money trying to market my ebook. In each of the categories below except for #4, you'd mostly be spending time, not money, on getting results for your ebook.

With a nonfiction self-help ebook like mine, I think the best ebook marketing strategy is to get as many links to your ebook as possible. The more links there are to your ebook on other Web sites, the greater the chance your ebook will be found. After doing the basics--registering the ebook's Web page on search engines and directories and telling everyone you know about your ebook--your ebook marketing campaign should include searching for and contacting appropriate Web sites. These sites can fall under the following categories:

1. Web sites on the same (or a similar) subject as your ebook that may want to place a link, write a review, or post an excerpt from your ebook (with a link). Offer them free electronic review copies, but never send an electronic review copy without asking and getting permission first. An unsolicited ebook attachment can be large enough to clog up their in box and really annoy them. When you get a positive reply requesting a review copy, send the ebook and then, in a separate email message, a follow-up note asking if the ebook arrived safely and the recipient was able to open the attachment.

I had cases where the ebook attachment was too large for the person's in box to accept, but through some fluke, I didn't get an auto-message informing me that the message hadn't been received. If I hadn't followed up, the person probably would have thought, "Hmm. I never got that ebook. Oh, well!" No one cares about your ebook as much as you do, so don't count on the person to request it a second time. If people have trouble opening the file attachment or prefer that you send them a hard copy, print out the ebook and mail it to them.

2. Book review sites and thematically appropriate ezines. Offer them free electronic review copies. Every review on a book review site equals a new link, and even ezines often will post reviews on their sites in addition to emailing the reviews to their subscribers. Every time you get a good review, ask permission and post the review to www.deja.com (under lists such as alt.books.reviews and rec.arts.books.reviews), as well as any sites that welcome book review postings.

Include those good reviews the next time you contact a reviewer to offer a review copy. (The purpose is to convince the reviewer that the book is worth reviewing, not to convince the reviewer that he/she should also give the book a rave review.) If you accumulate a lot of good reviews, I also recommend sending out press releases highlighting these reviews. You can use services like www.bookflash.com that post the release on the Internet or services that specifically target print publications.

Press releases that include excerpts from online reviews can attract the interest of print reviewers. And a lot of print review publications will place the review on their Web sites in addition to their print issues. This is what happened for me. Press release services are costly, though, so you may find (as I did) that the press releases will earn you new reviews and links but not enough sales to offset the cost of the press releases.

ebook marketing

3. Web sites where you can post info. on your ebook yourself. Examples: I posted a summary of and excerpt from my ebook under "What Works: Dealing with Bullies" on www.familyeducation.com. I joined discussion lists on parenting and bullying, using a signature that pointed readers to the free excerpt on the ebook's page. I also posted to a lot of message boards and participated in discussion groups on www.deja.com, using this same strategy. With discussion lists and message boards, be sure to include the link in your email signature, rather than advertising outright in the body of your message (unless you're posting a review to a book review discussion group).

4. Web sites where you pay for exposure. Examples: I sponsored the Kids AIDS Site with a banner ad and paid an ad-blast service to reach a large number of online classified ad sites. These were expensive and resulted in few sales, so I don't recommend this tactic unless, for example, you want to just consider it a donation to the Kids AIDS Site.

Important tip: When contacting thematically appropriate ezines and Web sites, personalize your message by putting it in letter format (Dear So-and-So, I found your ezine/Web site and thought you might be interested in reviewing my ebook....Sincerely, your name) rather than press release format. I started out using press release format. Although the release clearly stated at the top that I was offering a free review copy (and therefore not trying to sell them anything), and although I only contacted sites on the same subject that listed their email addresses right up front on their home pages, I was reported as a spammer and almost lost my Internet connection.

As someone who gets obnoxious spam daily on viagra and XXX sites and tolerantly deletes those without complaining, I was pretty annoyed that anyone would report me for simply offering a free review copy of an ebook for bullied kids. In fact, I concluded that whoever it was must have been a former schoolyard bully. (He, he.) But that feedback did turn out to be helpful because when I switched to letter format I got more responses. If you want to send out a press release, do it through Bookflash.com or another service, not through your email account.

In summary, ebook marketing is time-consuming, but if you follow the steps above, I think you'll find it's a straightforward process to create many links to your ebook and increase the chances that it will be found by someone who wants to read it.

Ebook Marketing - Ebook Authors

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