Tuesday, 19 January 2010

5 top tips to sell more ebooks

When ebooks were first devised the publishers panicked. The buzzword on everyone's lips was 'disintermediation' - the idea that with ebooks writers could sell direct to their readers, so would no longer need publishers or bookshops.

In practice it didn't work out like this. Okay, Stephen King managed to sell quite a lot of ebooks direct, but for the rest of us there was a serious problem. Let's say you've written a great ebook, how do you get the people who would love to buy it to notice it? How do you get them to the point of clicking the 'Buy Now' button? It's real needle-in-a-haystack country. I've got a range of ebooks on sale, and here's my top tips for getting them in front of people.

  1. Make use of free secondary sites - you will, of course, be selling your ebook from your own website or blog, but look for other places you can put up an ebook for sale without it costing you anything. One example is Lulu - although best known for producing print books, Lulu also sells ebooks, and charges nothing for hosting them. Of course you pay a commission when one is downloaded, but it's still a sale.
  2. Consider eBay - you may not get quite as much money for a sale on eBay, but every sale is a profit with an ebook. There is one potential problem. I did this successfully for over a year, then eBay suddenly started pulling the plug on my sales. They said it was because I was breaching copyright. Whose copyright? They were my own ebooks I was selling. Their logic didn't make any sense, but you can't argue with eBay, they just go round in circles, so I had to stop doing this. But it's still worth trying.
  3. Add value to the site you sell from - it's a bit of a shock, I know, but most potential readers won't be searching the web for Susan Smith, or whoever you are. You need to get them to your ebook. This means having a site that has some broader benefit, but that provides a good home for your ebook. Here's a couple of examples of the way I do it. I have a site www.organizingamurder.com that covers all sorts of murder mystery games, from boxed sets to mystery weekends with actors. And, yes, it also has my ebook of mystery games. Then there's a little ebook I wrote about choosing the music for your church wedding (in my spare time I run a choir). This is here at www.cul.co.uk/music/wedding.htm on a page with lots of useful information on music for church weddings - so it's worth visiting anyway and is more likely to get  noticed than on a site dedicated to the ebook.
  4. See if other people will host your ebooks for a cut - volume of exposure is important. I have an ebook of business creativity techniques, Instant Creativity which is one of my most popular ebooks. I sell more copies from someone else's website than from my own. They host a sales page on their business consulting website, I keep note of sales that way and pay them a percentage. It works for both of us.
  5. Use ebooks as added value for other products or services - I give away a fair proportion of my ebooks. This seems crazy if you are writing ebooks to make money, but I use them to make something else more attractive. So, for instance, I give training to large companies on being more creative. They get free copies of the Instant Creativity ebook as part of the training. It doesn't cost me anything, but it adds value to my training package.
And a quick bonus one - put a little ad, linking to your ebook, in the signature of your emails.

I'm not saying your sales will go through the roof. Most ebooks are well down the long tail of the sales graph. But you will be ensuring you are more likely to shift some copies.

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