Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Apple are the big dogs on the ebook scene, but they aren’t the sole providers of electronic books—not everyone who reads ebooks has a Kindle, Nook, or iPad. Let’s look at a few of the other players who still get quite a bit of traffic.
Sony. While we know that Sony has made it big in the world of computers, TVs, and gaming consoles, how do they fare in the world of books? For starters, Sony has the best ratings according to TopTen Reviews in the variety of ebook formats they provide. Not only do they give readers access to the standard EPUB format via the Sony Reader and smartphones (Android and iOS devices), but they also provide free software that enables you to read ebooks on your Mac or PC. The one downside is that the Sony Reader Store does price its ebooks a bit higher than other retailers. Nevertheless, the site is simple enough to use and has a range of books that will satisfy any book lover. And Sony is a proud partner of J. K. Rowling’s Pottermore—need we say more about the company’s dedication to the book world?
Kobo. Fun fact: the name of this Toronto-based company is an anagram of “book.” Kobo sells the most popular ereading device in Canada, and while you might not recognize the company as a major ebook retailer (if you live outside of Canada, that is), they do have an impressive ebook library and offer apps for multiple devices—so, for example, you can read from the Kobo app on your iPad without having to buy a dedicated Kobo ereader. But if you are in the market for an ereader, definitely take a look at their selection. The devices are sleek, and they offer everything from the Mini to the Glo (a model that illuminates the text in the dark) to the Arc (a Kindle Fire competitor that delivers movies and music in addition to ebooks and articles).
Google. We all know Google as the search engine and most of us use their many, many other services, but have you ever looked at Google Play? If you don’t have an Android phone, the Google Play store might not even be on your radar. Google Play is primarily a digital-app distribution platform for Android phones, but through it Google also offers books, magazines, movies, and music. Google does not, however, sell a dedicated ereader, which could be a turn-off for some. But in place of that, the company offers its Nexus tablets, which support Google Play’s wide variety of apps and accessories.
Blio. Blio is, first and foremost, a free ereader software that can be downloaded onto Windows, iOS, and Android devices. It’s on our list of ebook retailers, though, because its ebook store and content is backed by book distributor Baker & Taylor, which has partnered with all major publishers to make their books available in the Blio store. The Blio pitch is “Don’t just read books. Experience them.” Its ereading software, from K-NFB Reading Technologies, gives readers an interesting platform for books with graphics and multimedia components. Blio makes it a point to keep books in their original format, so readers get to see exactly how the book is supposed to look, a very important feature for books in genres like cooking, crafting, traveling, and and children’s.
So, while we all hear nonstop about Kindles, Nooks, and iPads, let’s not forget that ebooks are available more widely than you think. If you’re an author, don’t forget these other retailers as you get your ebook out there for sale!
Bonus: Check out Lifehacker’s list of the five best ebook stores.
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By now we all know that a blog is an integral part of an author website. It serves as a place to connect with readers, establish yourself as an expert, and build your platform. It can also be a place to flesh out new ideas, get feedback, and weigh in on hot topics. But after months or years of blogging, how do you keep things fresh?
Change up the design. Apply a fresh coat of paint to the ol’ blog every now and again. A new background or color scheme is a quick and easy update that your readers will notice and appreciate. If you’re Photoshop proficient, try changing your header image every month—it’ll give readers who use a feed a reason to click through to your site.
Ask your readers what they want. Since you’re the expert, your readers will undoubtedly have questions, and those questions can turn into great blog posts (or even a series of posts) on a topic you may never have thought of. Give your readers what they want and they’ll keep coming back for more.
Go multimedia. You’ve hopefully been incorporating photos and video into your posts, but how about creating your own? They don’t have to be anything fancy—most smartphones can record and upload videos directly to YouTube. Just make sure the camera is steady and the sound is good, and the content will speak for itself.
Experiment. Do you usually write text-heavy posts? Try an infographic. Do you usually post on Monday-Wednesday-Friday? Post on the weekend. Try new things and see how your readers respond. You may hit blogging gold, or you may find that your readers like you just the way you are.
Also check out these tips from ProBlogger on 31 days to building a better blog and Rachelle Gardner on 13 simple tips for a better blog.
What do you do to keep your blog fresh?
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Presidents’ Day is a holiday that combines Abraham Lincoln’s and George Washington’s birthdays—they’re both in February and, apparently, that’s close enough to share a party.
Lincoln’s birthday was actually last week—February 12th to be exact—and you probably didn’t even know it happened. It’s no longer a bank holiday although there are still several states where it’s a legal holiday. Sadly, Texas is not one of them. Though there isn’t much general celebration in most places, there is still a wreath-laying ceremony at his birthplace and his memorial and there are still a few places that do something special every year: Indiana Abraham Lincoln Bicentennial Foundation, The Kentucky Heritage Trail, and the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library.
Since Lincoln had such a big year—with both Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter and Lincoln coming out in theaters, as well as Killing Lincoln. And a constant string of other references made about him in pop culture from the late 1800s to now.
We decided we’d see if we could come up with a few that weren’t on that list. And we managed to come up with a few.
From Nate we got this clever bit of Internet wisdom:
Jessica also reminded us that without Lincoln’s presence, pennies just wouldn’t look right.
Steve had our only bit of sincerity and historical insight: “What I have always found inspiring about Lincoln is that early in his adulthood, he failed in many aspects of his life. But he managed to move forward, learn from those mistakes, and strive to be better. I think it is what made him into the most recognized president besides Washington. . . . I also love how he single-handedly saved the USA from the vampire threat!”
What are your favorite Lincoln-influenced aspects of modern life? Does your town have a big Lincoln celebration?
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You’ve worked for months, if not years, writing your book. Your editors have polished the text, your designers have created an engaging cover, and your PR and marketing teams have generated consumer and media buzz leading up to your pub date. Now all you have to do is sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor—right? Well, not so much.
If you’re someone who monitors your weight for the loss or gain of a pound or two, or someone who tracks your 401(k) balance on a daily basis, you’ll have to trust me on this one. Put down the Nielsen BookScan numbers for a moment, and have some fun promoting your book! You devoted a significant chunk of time and resources to creating it, and now you get to engage like-minded readers—online or offline, it doesn’t matter. What matters is that you keep the conversation going, from your date of publication and beyond. Need a few ideas?
Social Media—I’m always surprised when I review an author’s social media presence and discover a robust LinkedIn profile, an active Twitter account, a popular blog, and a well-designed website with no mention of the author’s new book. It happens more than you’d think. This is low-hanging fruit, so don’t be that author who has a vibrant online presence and doesn’t leverage it in the long term to promote his book.
Your Community—Have you visited your local indie bookstores or had a conversation with the Community Relations Manager (CRM) at your local Barnes & Noble? If not, pay a visit. Inquire about a book-signing event. Invest some time in building your network of local authors and booksellers.
Events—Create an annual calendar of events that will draw an audience who likely has a strong interest in your book. Keep an eye open for local library and book events. Seek out and respond to “calls for presenters.” Are you able to participate in one each month? Great! Commit to them and get those events on your calendar. For a year.
Current Events and the Media—Keep abreast of current events with an eye to how they may tie in to your book’s content. See a strong or unique connection? Don’t be shy about reaching out to writers, editors, bloggers, and other media professionals to propose an interview or contributed article. Consider a submission to your local newspaper’s op-ed page.
An author’s personal and ongoing investment in the promotion of her book is key to that book’s success, and the one thing that all of these ideas have in common is that they take the long view. Of course, landing a national interview during your pub week or hitting a bestseller list can generate a big buzz in a hurry (think of that as hunting), but slow and steady can win the race too. Create and commit to a twelve-month calendar of events and initiatives designed to keep your book top of mind with readers, media professionals, and booksellers (think of that as farming). You’ll reap satisfying rewards and have a lot of fun in the process!
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We’re always on the hunt for new book-promotion and discoverability tools for our authors, and Ganxy is rolling out some cool features that we thought we’d share.
First, what is Ganxy? Ganxy is a set of easy-to-use online tools that help content providers reach their audience through promotion, social sharing, and commerce.
At the hub of Ganxy’s offerings is a showcase feature that’s completely free to users and takes just a few minutes to set up.
As you can see below, the showcase has some great functionality and includes a book description; a downloadable excerpt; social sharing to Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Google+ and via email; direct links to all major retailers; and the ability to embed your showcase on your Facebook page, website, or blog.
Authors can also work with Ganxy to facilitate direct sales of their ebook, with Ganxy handling payment processing, content delivery, and even customer support. Ganxy can even harvest email addresses from those sales so that authors can turn buyers into repeat buyers. If you decide to start selling via Ganxy, the fee is a flat 10 percent of net sales.
And if you’re looking for a way to offer free ebook promotions, Ganxy makes it possible though “open promotion” (the first x number of visitors download free) or “closed promotion" (redemption codes required)—it’s a perfect way to gift ebooks, bundle them with physical books, or use them as a value-add at speaking events.
What do you think of Ganxy? Will you be giving it a try?
Be sure to check out the Ganxy blog; there you’ll find the latest on how they’re helping authors promote and sell their titles.