This has come up quite a bit recently. I’ve had a lot of people contact me who are interested in offering ebooks online, and who want to understand their options.

The first thing you need to do is determine your goals for this promotion. Do you want to get your name out there or are you more interested in making the most amount of money per sale? There are 2 distinct strategies you can use based on your answer to this question, and both of them will (generally) result in paid sales.

But first off, let’s talk about an opt-in offer. I have an opt-in form in my header (see it up there?). When someone enters their name and email address, they’re signed up on my newsletter list. I use Aweber to manage both the opt-in form and the mailings. For your opt-in offer, you’ll want to write a report that’s related to your area of expertise. This can be as simple as a 6- to 12-page report written in Word, then saved to PDF. If you’re a fiction writer, this could be the first chapter of your novel. Creating your opt-in will allow you to communicate with the people who are interested in you and potentially your book.

This is where the 2 strategies come into play. Everyone needs an opt-in, but your goal will determine what you do next.

Let’s say you just want to get your name out there. That was my goal when I did my DIY EPublishing book. I had no expectations of making ANY money on it; I was interested in putting my book where the eyeballs were (Amazon) and testing out Kindle Select so I’d know what to tell my author friends. If this is your goal, I want you to do 1 thing: put your book out on Kindle Select and nowhere else. Kindle Select requires an exclusive distribution arrangement – if you sell your book on Kindle Select, you can’t offer the digital version of the book anywhere else, even on your own website. In fact, if you have a blog post on your website that appears again in the book, you may have trouble with the Kindle Select police. This is in violation of the agreement, and they’ll pull your book from sale until you remove the content from your website. Use the free download days (you can use up to 5 in the 90-day period) – these free downloads will increase your book’s ranking and will usually translate to paid sales.

There are a couple things you’ll need if you go this route:

  • The front cover in jpg, at least 1400 pixels on the shortest side. Best ratio is 1400 px wide by 2100 px high. If there’s ANY chance you will go to print at some point in the future, you’ll want your cover designer to work in CMYK at 300 DPI first, then have them give you an ebook-only version in RGB and 72 DPI. This will save you time and money in the future.
  • Kindle requires mobi files. If you’re having this converted (or using my conversion methods outlined in DIY EPublishing or using my training videos), you’ll also want ePub files made. This will allow you to take your ebook to other outlets if/when you decide you want to expand your sales efforts.

Route #2 expands your reach beyond just Kindle Select, and may or may not result in higher revenue. Do you have a large newsletter list, Facebook or Twitter following? This might be your best option. First off, you’ll want to offer your ebook in PDF form on your website. You can price this as you wish…even if you’re offering it for less on the ebook outlets. Just don’t price it for less on your website because if you do, you’ll be in violation of your contracts with the outlets. Then, your next step is to offer it on all the outlets you want to work with: Amazon Kindle (but not Kindle Select), Barnes & Noble Nook, iTunes/Apple, and Kobo…I am sure more are available but these 4 are the easiest to work with and you’ll reach about 95% of the ebook market when you list with them.

What you need if you go this route:

  • Downloadable PDF for your website. This can be created in Word or InDesign. If you think there’s a chance you’ll go to print in the future, you might get your manuscript typeset in InDesign, then you can use the same PDF for both the downloadable PDF and your print book.
  • Cover, both for the downloadable PDF (recommend using the CMYK high-res method listed above) and for the ebook (RGB + 72 DPI).
  • Mobi file (for Amazon) and ePub file (for everyone else).

Finally, you should consider a print option – my favorite POD printer is CreateSpace, just for ease-of-use and book availability. I recommend having your book typeset in InDesign if you go this route. Will cost more, but will give you more options. You can use CreateSpace with either sales strategy you choose (in other words, it’s not in conflict with your Kindle Select agreement).

And finally, WHEN should all of this happen? Obviously, we’re days away from Black Friday. If you have not been working on your digital product development, it’s too late to get it all together to hit Black Friday sales. The good news is that we still have at least a month worth of Christmas sales to go, plus the after-Christmas sales for ebooks are phenomenal. (How many people will be getting ereaders this Christmas? They’ll need something to read, right?)  Also, as New Year’s resolution season rolls around, you can expect strong sales of personal development, business, devotional, weight loss/fitness, and books on finance. And honestly, it’s ALWAYS a good time to develop a product, regardless of what time of year it is.

Happy Thanksgiving to you! I am blessed to have this opportunity to serve such a talented group of creative people. And let me know if you need help with your digital product development – I am committed to your success! OH – and check back in Black Friday through Cyber Monday for some crazy-good specials!

Lisa

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