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Writing a book is an intensely personal experience. Whether you’re writing eBooks for business or your first fiction novel, when you finish, there’s a sense of elation. 

This high is sometimes followed by lows that come from weak sales. Many writers have little to no promotional experience, but marketing is important. Without great eBook marketing, the people who need your book most won’t have a chance to read it.

Even if you have a publisher to distribute your eBooks, the bulk of promoting will fall to you. It will be your personality and your ideas that will sell your eBook. 

With a little invention, mixed with tried-and-true sales tactics, your eBook marketing can do more than jump-start initial sales. eBook marketing is what can keep your eBook selling for years to come.

Let’s get started.

Smart eBook Marketing: How to Sell Your Successful eBook

The First of Many?
Know your eBook Niche
eBook Marketing Keywords
When to Start eBook Marketing
The Best Channels for eBook Marketing
Create a Plan for Your eBook Marketing

A savvy marketer starts to build her ebook marketing campaign in this article from Selz the ecommerce platform to grow your business

The First of Many?

The first question you need to ask yourself- is this the only book you’re planning to write? 

Some books, like Jonathan Strange and Mr. Norrell, take 10 years to write. But a business eBook built from existing material can take just a couple of days. 

The amount of time and effort that goes into your eBook, and whether you plan to write another eBook, will have a big effect on your eBook marketing.

One effective and frequently mentioned strategy to launch an eBook is giving your eBook away for free. You can do this for a limited time or with a set number of eBooks. 

Giving eBooks away is a great way to introduce a huge audience to your writing. That said,  if you’re not going to write another book for 10 years you may want to consider releasing a single chapter or teasing sections of your book over time.

Know your eBook Niche

The next factor to decide on is your niche. 

If you already know your business niche you may already know where you want to aim your eBook marketing. It can be hard to categorize creative work. 

If you’re writing your first fiction novel it may be hard to pick a niche because you see your book as original characters in a unique story. 

With eBook marketing your goal is to help people find you. If you think about it from the readers’ point of view, they don’t know they’re looking for your story (yet). They do, however, know what they like to read. 

Understanding where your books fit is more than selling an eBook that your readers like. Who do you want to sit beside if you make it to an online best seller’s list? What writers do you want readers or critics to compare you to? 

This article is a helpful guide to understanding where your book fits. This article also has a helpful list of eBook genres. 

As you do this research, think about how competitive each niche is, and look for specific keywords within that niche that may make it a little easier for you to reach new readers.

Different readers are looking for different words online when they are looking for something new to read. Become a keyword master for ebook marketing

eBook Marketing Keywords

New to keyword research? Keywords will be your best friend as you begin marketing your eBook. 

Let’s use an online marketing tool for this research like Ahrefs. Even just one month of using this tool will give you good returns.

Start in the keyword research section after you pick a few terms from book niches that you think apply to your eBook. 

Add this list to the keyword search window. Your search will pull up current data for each keyword. 

Look at the keyword volume- the number of people who are searching for that term. You would think that’s where you should focus, right? But not quite.

Now look at keyword difficulty- that’s how many people are competing for that keyword. If you’re just beginning your eBook marketing it’s a good idea to focus on keyword difficulty below 20.

You’ll also want to look at how many clicks the keyword gets and the cost per click. 

You know how sometimes you’ll search for something on Google and get the answer without clicking into an article? That’s what the click rate shows- how many people are clicking on a keyword. 

You also want most of the clicks for a keyword to be organic. Organic clicks mean that there aren’t too many people buying ads for this keyword, which means that you’ll have less competition.

For example, science fiction has a keyword difficulty of 59, a volume of 36,000 and people click 26% of links for that keyword. This means it will be very difficult for an eBook writer just starting out to get attention for that keyword.

So, keep digging until you find a handful of keywords that work for you.

Why Keywords are Useful 

The purpose of learning the best keywords for selling your eBook isn’t just for people searching online. This research will help you understand who your ideal buyer is. 

eBook marketing is about connecting with people who will love your eBook, buy it, and tell their friends about it. 

With keyword research, you can get a better idea of who those people are and what else they are looking for so it is easier to reach them.

It's never too early to start ebook marketing, so start when you're ready and create a long term plan

When to Start eBook Marketing

When should you start promoting your eBook? Most experts will say immediately.

Some successful book authors start eBook marketing as soon as they come up with a book idea. Others recommend starting once you are part way through writing your book. Either way, it’s a good idea to have an eBook marketing plan in place well before your eBook is ready for release. 

This way you can make the final steps of creating your eBook part of your eBook marketing plan. 

For example, it’s a good idea to add a call to action inside your eBook. You can use this CTA to encourage readers to follow your social media or blog or you can collect their emails. With these emails you can share events and upcoming releases with a dedicated group of fans.  

Another idea can promote your eBook while also making it better. Ask your social media followers their opinion on your eBook cover. This will help you get a sense of what your audience will respond to while also building anticipation for your eBook release.

The Best Channels for eBook Marketing

Once you’ve followed the steps in this article for creating and selling your eBook, there are a few more things you can do with your eBook marketing. 

Think of different marketing channels as building blocks. There are many different building blocks that you can combine to create a strong eBook marketing plan, which will work best is up to you!

  • Email
  • Guest posts
  • Your network
  • Your local community
  • Social media
  • Blogs
  • Podcasts

Email

Start with an email newsletter. You may share updates once a week or once a month, but consistently sharing your life and writing process with your fans and readers will make a difference with your eBook marketing. 

Make the most of your contacts to build your mailing list. Do you know any online teachers? Ask them to share your eBook with their students. Join eBook forums. Check out eBook communities on Reddit or answer eBook questions on Quora. Ask new connections if they would like to receive email updates about your eBook. 

Guest posts

Guest posting is another popular eBook marketing idea. Take guest posting to the next level and selectively offer your eBook for free to influencers in your niche. Use your keyword research to find blogs that readers and great writers turn to when they’re looking for new books to read. 

Read more:

Best Ebook Reader Blogs
Ebook blogs

Your network

You don’t have to do your eBook marketing by yourself. The best help you can get is from people you trust. Promoting with your network sounds complicated, but it can be as simple as telling a handful of friends that you are writing a book!

Be sure to include friends, family, and colleagues in your email list, social media posts and upcoming events. When it’s time for reviews, this group should be the first people you ask to share opinions online.

Your local community

Your eBook lives online, but your eBook marketing doesn’t have to be digital.

Post fliers with your eBook website at local coffee houses ideally spaces that host readings and open mics. Talk to the acquisition manager at your local library to see if they can offer your new eBook. 

Connect with non-profits, classes and critique groups for writers in your area. Keep an eye out for upcoming literary or marketing conferences. Look for chances to connect with other writers and publishers in your niche!

Social media is a visual platform, so get help or use your visual savvy to market your ebook

eBook marketing on social media

Create unique social media channels specifically for your eBook. Then, find ways to separate the identity of your book from your personal or business channels. You can sell your eBooks directly from social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, and Pinterest, but you want your feed to be about more than sales.

As you’re marketing your eBook there are two important things to remember on social media. Social media is visual, and it’s about conversation.

Get visual

As you dig into eBook marketing with social media, collect as many visuals as you can.

Your eBook cover is fantastic, but no one wants to see it every day. A few ideas to make your eBook marketing visual:

  • Follow other popular writers in your niche and look at the visuals they’re using
  • Grab quotes from your eBook and make them visually stunning to post online
  • Create a space in your home for your writing and take some beautiful photographs
  • Look at the things that inspire you where you write, take pictures and add them to your feed

What is the setting or location of your eBook? Take a look at free stock photo sites online and add them to your posts. Videos are also a great idea. 

Use your social media channels for more than eBook marketing, make them a space to start building the visual world of your eBook for your readers.

Socialize

As you engage online, think about what kind of conversations you want your eBook to start. Look at the comments on different social media posts to see where you can add to the conversation. 

Sending a kind note to any new followers and paying attention to their content is another great way to use social media to build community. 

Blogs

Your blog should be unique to your book. In addition to talking about your writing, your blog can be a place where other writers can also post. Your blog posts don’t have to be lengthy to be useful or interesting to people in your community.

Take a look at these posts for blog ideas:

101 Best Blog Post Ideas That’ll (Actually) Drive Massive Traffic in 2019
The Ultimate List of Blog Post Ideas

Podcasts

Podcasting is an easy way to share your eBook with the masses. Consider sharing a chapter at a time of your eBook or interviewing other eBook writers on your podcast. 

All you need is a laptop, a USB microphone and some free sound editing software. Pro podcasters recommend a dynamic microphone rather than the condenser mic for easier editing. Dynamic mics don’t pick up surrounding noise the way your laptop mic does.

Readers are looking for great books no matter where they are - with effective ebook marketing you can tap into their interests for a successful ebook

Create a Plan for Your eBook Marketing

While you’ll get more readers if you take advantage of every eBook marketing idea, it may be tough to do it all. 

Each of these ideas takes time and research, so start today. 

Grab a calendar or a free project management tool like Asana and start creating your eBook marketing plan.

In Asana, create a project and different color for each marketing channel you plan to use for your eBook marketing.

Decide when you want to share new content and what you want each piece of content to look like. Think long-term. 

For instance, if you have one year before your eBook release, focus on your blog and guest posting first because building up your SEO for organic search can take some time. Add in social media a month or so before your release. Look at launching your podcast a few weeks after your eBook is out.

eBook marketing can be a great way to share and expand on the parts of writing your eBook that you enjoy. Effective promotion can also create successful book sales for years to come. We can’t wait to see how you make your new eBook shine. 

This post was originally published in September 2013 and has been rewritten for accuracy and comprehensiveness.

About the author

Jana Rumberger

Jana is a writer and Content Manager at Selz. She has expertise in ecommerce strategy, selling products online, and small business solutions. Jana combines diverse experience in education, design, and manufacturing to craft engaging content.

In addition to her writing, she is a visual artist and foodie in Portland, Oregon.

8 comments

  1. Brain Moore

    Are social networking sites helpful in selling eBooks?

  2. Tommy

    Hi, I would recommend trying this free toolkit http://kitpdf.com/ for pdf conversions to e-Reader formats: mobi or epub formats, when needed. Installation isn’t needed, simply upload your files and get the converted documents. Maybe it might help. Thanks!

  3. Graphic Taitila

    Indeed a very nice post, I am also associated with this servicing. We provide best eBook publishing services and eBook conversion in the industry. Thanks for writing such a wonderful post.

    1. Leonie

      Graphic Taitila,
      Can you forward me some information about your business ?

      Thank you.

      Leonie

  4. Kristi Ambrose

    Do you think it’s better to hire someone to distribute your books for you, or do it yourself? I am pretty technically advanced personally so I think I COULD do it myself IF I found a way to convert the books to MOBI and epub files. The biggest problem I have with distribution is that my books are only about $3.99 so by the time I pay the person distributing the book and pay the actual site for selling my book, I am left with a very small profit per book sale. But, is it really HARD to distribute your own ebook to sites like Smashwords and Kobo? In my mind, if you have the right file (MOBI or EPUB) then the rest is a piece of cake. But, is that reality? Or just false thinking?

    1. Geoff

      Hi Kristi, thanks for the comment. You have highlighted one of the problems with distributing your ebook and that’s the small % profit your left with. That’s why lots of people use the marketplaces and also build up their own website audience. To answer your question about distribution. Personally I think one way to make a decision in this type of situation is to weigh up how much time and effort is involved, and how regularly you need to do the task. Then look at whether its more profitable for you to spend that time doing something else to promote your ebooks. It its a repetitive mundane task, it might be better to pay someone to do it and you spend time building your audience. If you want to know more about hiring Virtual Assistants, Chris Ducker is the expert in this area, it might be worth checking him out. Good luck, let us know how you go.

      1. Kristi Ambrose

        I’m pretty late. I guess I didn’t sub to comments lol. Anyway, I thought I would update this just the same. I ended up searching for MONTHS for people who would do this for you – mostly freelancers, as well as Virtual Assistants and businesses. But they ALL wanted way too much money. As mentioned in my earlier post I am pretty technically inclined. I figured ya know what, here I am wasting all this time looking for someone to do it for me, and it’s going to be WAY out of my budget, let me just test this out myself and see what happens.

        I used my best book (in my eyes) and my most professional book cover as the test subject. If that worked and I got sales, awesome, I would place the others on these sites as well.

        BN.com was a pain in the ass and continues to be. The support on this website is also very bad. It’s sort of an “if you can’t figure it out on your own, too bad” situation. I WANT my books on here, but as of yet they are not. Eventually, I’ll hire someone to just do it for me.

        Kobo had a few glitches but eventually I figured it out. At the time, they also were having issues on their website so that didn’t help things in terms of stress and frustration for me. I believe I have two books on Kobo.

        iBooks, I contacted someone who wrote an article about this site and they seemed like an expert, even offered to upload my books from their MAC to my account. But, once I converted the book file formats she sort of disappeared. I never heard back from her. So no books on here either.

        Amazon, big duh. This is like the EASIEST site to post books on. Anyone can do it. So I have every book I have ever written on here. Some of the older people I know still have issues publishing though because they may not be as technically inclined as I or lets be honest, they think they are going to do something wrong and mess everything up. For those people, like family and friends, I wrote a guide to help guide them along the way. But, I also made a few bucks selling this to other people that were nonfriends and family as well. Some are exclusively KDP some are not. Its true what people say about Amazon KDP, for some niches it works quite well and for others it does not. One thing to remember about Amazon though is that if you have a book on Amazon and also on a site like Google Play (which automatically discounts the book even if you don’t want them to lol) Amazon looks at that and will change your price on Amazon to the same price label on Google. However!!!! Amazon does not um I don’t know the right word. If Amazon sees that Google Play has discounted your book from $3.99 to $2.99 and you are on the 35% table for Amazon, Amazon will only pay you $2.99-35%. But! According to Google Play if Google Play discounts your book from $3.99 to $2.99 you still make the $2.99. Didn’t make sense to me, that’s like paying out of pocket, but that’s how they explained it to me.

        Google Play; I have one of my books on this website. It was pretty easy to set up. But, you have a lot of hoops you have to jump through.

        PayHip: I use this website because as an Author YOU keep 100% of your profits. Plus, they have a referral/affiliate program so you can gather up people to promote the books for you and pay them money per sale to their own custom URL. Plus, their book pages have a big beautiful cover page which really accentuates all that hard work you did on your cover. Not sure if I can post links but this is my page for The Warfighters Series Book #1 (The Nine Of Hearts) on Payhip – I am super proud of that cover and I love that BIG giant poster like view of it. Payhip ALSO has sort of promotions you can use for social sites. For example if you want to buy the book for $2.99 great, but if you want it for a certain percentage off *the author decides* share it on Twitter or Facebook and you can get that percentage off when you purchase my book. Stats are at a max, everything you could or would ever want to know about your visitors and buyers and so much more. If I could find 500 other sites like this, I would use them all.

        I feel like I am missing a website here, and I probably am lol. The biggest thing you need to do is convert your files. Honestly? I didn’t pay $20, $500, $5000 dollars to have this done. I figured ya know what, I am an Indie author and essentially a Freelancer, so surely another Freelancer out there can do this for me. So I found one. He did it for less than $10. :o) Something to think about.

        Hopefully, that helps someone out. And by all means, support a fellow Indie Author – its a tough world out here for the first few years! I can use all the help I can get as I am sure a lot of other people posting here can as well!

  5. John P. Wheeler

    This is a very comprehensive article on selling ebooks online. A must read for authors looking to get into digital publishing.

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