Now that you’ve successfully converted your manuscript into an ebook, it’s time to start selling your hard work. Making money from your ebook all starts with a good blog. Ideally, you’ll have been blogging like a madman for the past year or longer, gradually gathering a strong base of readers who share your interests and interact with you on a daily basis. Sound about right? (If not, check out these links on ProBlogger and ViperChill on developing a popular blog.)
Once you have a group of people following your free content, you have a built-in audience for your words with a price tag.
Begin by doing one of the things you do best as a blogger: talk about yourself. Create hype on your blog by posting about your ebook in advance of its publication. Ask your readers to contribute ideas and feedback; if your audience feels like they had a say in what went into your book, they’ll be more likely to pay for it when it comes out. Continue mentioning it before its publication to create a sense of anticipation. Your excitement will be contagious and your readers will feel like they’re a part of the process.
While readying your ebook for its launch, pay special attention to the creation of your landing page. Give your ebook its own exclusive URL; this adds credibility and authority to your ebook. Write great copy for the page once you have it set up. A catchy slogan at the top will be effective, as will a well-written description and “About the Author” page. Try to avoid sounding too pushy or salesman-like in these areas.
The design of your landing page should complement your ebook; be sure that you have a great cover and promotional images. Just because your book may not make it into the physical world doesn’t mean you should skimp on design.
Any extras you can fit onto the page will make the site more dynamic. Sarah Mae, author of How to Market and Sell Your eBook, recommends a video of you talking about your ebook—but try to keep it under two minutes!
Don’t forget to include some testimonials from well-known bloggers and experts, and be sure that the all-important “Buy” link is easy to find.
Now is the time to harness your online community. The key to selling a lot of ebooks is getting high-traffic sites to link to your blog. Start by identifying your target audience; after all, you don’t want to bother commenting on a juggling blog if your book is about real estate. Write down who you imagine your audience to be and research those communities online.
Once you find the relevant online forums and blogs that will help you develop your platform, participate in them. Offer suggestions, advice, and comments; remember to make your username the same as your blog name so that people know how to identify you. Keep in mind, though, that no one likes a spammer. Readers should trust you and know you as someone in their loop. Start mentioning other bloggers’ sites on your blog and they will eventually mention yours as well.
Volunteer to be a guest on a podcast. Write articles for free. Start contributing to sites like AllExperts and eHow. If readers know you as an expert, they will not only want to read your blog; they will want to buy your book.
Keep it cheap
All of us consumers know what it’s like to bypass an ebook simply because of its $11.99 price tag, even when you’re dying to read it. People just aren’t willing to pay a lot for digital content. Use this to your advantage.
Start by giving away sample chapters, both before your publication date on your blog and post-publication on your landing page. This will not only prove to readers that what you have to say is worth paying for; it will also create a buzz around your launch. You should consider coordinating a giveaway with your publication date. To celebrate, give away gift certificates, prizes, and your book. For example, if you are an attorney, you could give away a free hour-long legal advice session in addition to your ebook.
Check out Carolyn McCray’s “Anatomy of a Successful Ebook Giveaway” article, in which she breaks down the measurable impact of giving away your book. For instance: If you are planning on giving away a hundred free ebooks on six different blogs, you can expect in return ten backlist sales; seventy-five email addresses you can add to your newsletter; five reviews of your book; and three long-term contacts. Not too shabby, right?
McCray also advises taking some time to develop your “you’ve won” email. Include a coupon for a major discount on another one of your titles to get readers buying. Also ask them to sign up for your newsletter, offering the chance to win a gift card to the first hundred to do so.
Pricing your ebook strategically will ultimately bring in more money than demanding a hefty price will. Keep your asking price under $9.99; $5 is even better.
Finally, don’t relegate ebook marketing to the bottom of your to-do list after the initial few months. Make sure you remain engaged in relevant online communities and be sure to keep up with your posting. Readers should be able to depend on you to be a regular poster, regardless of whether you’re prepping to release your book or not. Maintaining a regular readership will help to continuously sell your ebook and will also open up the opportunity for future publications—two things we’re comfortable assuming you want.