A lot of self-published and first-time authors quickly realize they are in for an uphill battle after finishing their book (or maybe even before they write it). It’s helpful to hear from someone who is an expert at eBook promotion. We have a special treat for you today. Stephanie Bond, best-selling self-published author of numerous mystery and romance novels, was kind enough to speak with little-old-me about promoting an eBook title. If you have written a book and are trying to get it some exposure, here is your chance to get some really great advice.
Q: I’ve written a book; what is the best way to get it converted into an eBook?
A: The best way is to learn how to do it yourself! Every retail platform accepts an .epub format now, so you don’t have to generate multiple file types like before. There are lots of formatting programs out there, most of them around $50. Don’t be intimidated about learning how to format your book…if you can format a Word document, you can learn how to format your manuscript into an .epub file.
IF, however, you have more money than time (!), or if you’ve decided to concentrate on writing new content and to farm out the production side of things, then find a writing community or email loop and ask for referrals of someone who can take your manuscript file and format it into an .epub file. Prices and turnaround time will vary widely, so seek out more than one source.
A: Social media is the best way to get the most exposure for your book for no money. BUT realize that social media doesn’t necessarily sell a lot of books—it’s simply another “impression” to get your name and book title out there. With enough impressions, you’ll turn readers into buyers.
Q: What are the most effective channels for eBook promotion?
A: Work, work, work the channels that you have full control of: your website and your email list. And ASK your loyal readers to help you by leaving reviews, telling a friend, etc. Readers are wonderful people who are always happy to help their favorite authors with eBook promotion.
Doing a blog tour is another good way to promote your book. Line up a blog tour by contacting individual blogs and reserving a spot around the time of your book, with the idea of making a guest appearance on different blogs every few days in the two weeks leading up to your book release and two weeks after.
Q: Should I try and hook up with a traditional publisher to promote my eBook, or should I even bother?
A: Only if you are glutton for punishment [kidding].
Q: Will getting my book printed help me promote it at all?
A: Yes. Not only do many readers still prefer print, but some readers who fall in love with your eBook will want a paper copy for their shelf. Plus, the mere existence of a print/print-on-demand version of your book, which is probably at a higher price point, will push sales to your eBooks.
Q: How important is it that I have a social media presence for my eBook?
A: Yes, have a social media presence. But don’t let it rule your life or keep you from writing your next project!
A: The best advice is to do what I did: Google “self-publishing” and then settle in for a LOT of reading. Disregard anything over a year old and be suspicious if the info is more than six months old—that’s how fast things are moving and changing. Look for a YahooGroup of writers you can join so you can bounce ideas off each other. Notice what the best-selling indie authors are doing (Follow them on Twitter, sign up for their newsletter, etc.). The problem is there’s no one place to find all the answers [for eBook promotion]—you’ll have to cobble together your own marketing plan that fits your schedule and your budget.
Q: Is metadata important for eBook promotion?
A: Yes…passively. Metadata is simply the information you include in your product description and in the keywords you choose to describe your book when loading it to retail platforms…and in the text of the book itself. I write romantic mysteries; I want at least one of my book titles to come up if a reader goes onto Amazon and types in “romantic mystery.” So I make sure that string is in my metadata. Visualize your metadata as a Venus Flytrap, just waiting to snag any reader that happens to get close!
A: All of those, yes. Here’s the thing: you can spend every hour of every day promoting your book…but you can’t forget that your first priority is to keep creating new content. Nothing will benefit your career as much as getting another project out there working for you. So do what you can to promote yourself and your book, try this and try that and see if it helps sales—if it doesn’t, toss it…or try again at another time/price/title. Keep records so you’ll remember what worked and what didn’t.
Q: How long should I be promoting my eBook for? Should I do it for a few months then stop? A year?
A: The most read page/section on author websites is the ‘upcoming releases’ page, so start promoting your book as soon as you have a cover. Once the book is out, promote it until you have another new book to release, which should be sooner rather than later. When you have a new book out, you will, of course, have links to all your previous releases in the back of the new book, which will recycle sales, and so on.
Q: How do I know if I’ve been successful at promoting my eBook?
A: When the monthly royalty checks begin to make you smile. Don’t compare your success to anyone else’s. Set your own goals…then work to exceed them.
Q: Should I ever consider special contests or giveaways for my eBook promotion?
A: Yes and yes! But try to make those freebies work for you. For example, offer a free copy of your eBook to the first 25 people who would like to read it and post a fair, honest review at an online bookstore.
A: It’s tempting to want to emulate big-name authors (and yes, you should observe them), but be aware that they might be operating on a larger budget than you have, or be riding on the momentum of a retailer-sponsored program. Watch and learn from the people who’ve gone before you, but know and plan what you can spend in time and in money when promoting your book, then stick to your budget…and to your writing schedule.
Stephanie Bond is the best-selling author of more than 60 mystery and romance novels, 16 of which she’s self-published. Her romantic mystery OUR HUSBAND was the best-selling self-published Kindle book of 2012. To date, she has sold over 1 million eBooks on her own. Her current self-published release is TWO GUYS DETECTIVE AGENCY, available exclusively through Amazon in eBook, print, and audio. TWO GUYS DETECTIVE AGENCY has been optioned for TV series development. For more about Stephanie and her books, visit www.stephaniebond.com.
Do you have any experiences (positive or negative) to share about promoting a book? Was it easy? Was it tough? Join in the conversation by commenting below.