How to market and sell your ebook

Once you have self-published your ebook on Kindle, you need to promote it.

The first step is to make sure your book is visible within Amazon itself. Here’s what you should do:

1. Make sure that the description of your book is attractive – this is the equivalent of the blurb on the back cover of a paperback – this is your chance to persuade a browsing reader that your book is exactly what they want.

The type of blurb you have will differ depending on whether you sell non-fiction or fiction. Non-fiction books usually seek to solve someone’s problem: e.g. recipe books teach people how to cook a particular dish, so you need to explain why your recipe is the one they should go for (it’s been passed down from your grandmother, or it’s a something you have invented yourself via trial and error). The point is to have a compelling narrative that persuades the reader that this is the book they have been looking for.

Fiction books need a different type of blurb. Think about the genre you are in, and why readers of this genre continue to buy books. A romance book will have a brief synopsis that pushes the buttons of the typical reader of these books: she’s been left pregnant, and then meets up with her ex by accident again. What on earth is she to do? Or, he thinks he’s having a casual affair, and she discovers she’s pregnant, should she tell him? If you are writing romance, study the blurbs on Harlequin books to see how they do it – their blurb writers are some of the most effective in the business. Ditto if you are writing science fiction or thrillers or paranormal fiction.

The main point I’m trying to get across is that the blurb matters. Don’t skip over this step hastily – take as much care over it as you did writing your book.

2. Kindle usually lets you provide the first chapter as a sample (this is usually 15% of the book). Read through the sample as though you were a customer. Does it leave you wanting to read more? Like the blurb, the sample is part of your sales pitch. If you are not sure your first chapter really grabs the reader, re-write it, and then simply re-upload your book by clicking the “edit” facility in your kindle author account.

3. The Cover. Book covers play a major part in drawing readers to check out your book. The visual needs to be attractive and stand out from the crowd, but not be so out there that it puts people off. The ebook cover needs to be 600 pixels by 800 and needs to be two dimensional – both Smashwords and Kindle prefer 2D covers – Smashwords goes so far as to refuse to distribute your book to Apple, nook and Sony if you have a 3D cover.

If you have graphics knowledge you can create your own cover in Paint. You can also create a free cover at myecovermaker.com – they specialise in 3D covers, but will create a 2D cover in the process – it’s the 2D cover that you want to upload to Kindle.

4. Price your book correctly. Readers expect fiction to be cheaper than non-fiction (on the grounds that good non-fiction books can be re-read over and over as reference points). You also need to bear in mind the price of ebooks from the major publishing houses and price yours slightly cheaper. For instance, Harlequin tend to price their romances at about $2.20 – indie romances tend to be priced between 99 cents and $1.34.

Experiment with prices (Amazon allow you to change the price whenever you like), till you find the price point that works for you.

5. Tags. Amazon allows readers to tag books with up to 15 tags. Get your friends and family to log in and tag your books with tags you believe are the most appropriate. This will allow Amazon to serve up your book when someone searches for the tag words.

6. Join some author forums – I recommend Kindle Boards, and Indie Spot. There’s a wealth of information on those boards, as well as lots of authors to chat to. You can put your book link in your signature on the Kindle Boards as well as links to your facebook page, twitter account and blog. The links are all do-follow – Kindleboards insert their affiliate id into amazon links, but that’s OK – the commission comes out of Amazon’s pocket not yours, and because the links are do-follow, they should help the amazon book pages to rank in Google.

7. Try to get on Amazon’s best-seller lists. Listings depend on how many books are sold a day – so plan a “day of marketing”. Price the book at 99 cents for that day. Then promote the book to everyone you can, get your friends and family to buy (important that you emphasize that they need to all buy on the marketing day not before). Emphasize that the book is only 99 cents for that day only. If you’ve built a reader list, email them to advise them of the promotion. Hopefully the surge in sales will mean that you rise in the bestseller lists, as well as featuring on the suggestion lists (“the person who bought this book also bought this book”). Once you are on the bestseller lists, you are more visible and should gain more sales as a result, which should help keep you on the list.

8. Promote your book on facebook fanpages and review sites. Here are some places you could try:

– Facebook fanpage 99 cent romances

– Goodreads It’s free to join – you don’t have to buy advertising, you can just participate in the discussion forums and write a blog within the site talking about your books. (Search for your name, chances you are listed there already – they list both fiction and non fiction authors).

– Mobile reads forums They mainly talk about technical stuff (formatting etc), but you can put your book link in your signature and it is do-follow.