In the publishing world, there is one rule that goes above all the others when deciding if a book is worth publishing. That is:

Content + Platform = Bestselling Book

If either of these elements is missing, the book has zero chance of succeeding.
If you are self-publishing or e-publishing, your # 1 challenge is PLATFORM. How many people are following you? How many are interested in what you have to say? How big is your list?

In a previous post, Sell More Ebooks Part 1, I talked about how important it is to have great metadata and packaging for your ebook. That was a focus on quality, the content part of the equation. In this post, I’m taking it a step further to talk about how to get more people to buy your book, the quantity or platform part of the equation.

When authors sign a deal with a publisher, they are sometimes unaware that they’ll have to do some of their own marketing for their book. It’s absolutely necessary, even when working with a publisher, to do your own marketing. This is true even more so for self-publishing. “If you build it, they will come” is not reality.

Here are some things you can do to build a platform of committed, dedicated fans who are interested in what you have to offer. Ideally, you want to be able to launch a book and have people on your list who are obviously going to be interested in it.

  • Set up a blog. I prefer WordPress (and can help you set one up). If you are an author of fiction, make the website URL your name. If you write in a series, you might consider a second URL in the series name, that directs to a page on your main website. Nonfiction writers might consider a URL that’s in their area of expertise. Your goal is to write about your project/book and your life in general. Like Sandi Krakowski says, your main goal here is consumption – you want people to read your content. Blog regularly.
  • Start a Facebook Fan Page. Invite all your friends to “Like” your page. Start talking about your book and your life here, too. All links go back to your blog.
  • Start a Twitter account. Follow people in your area of expertise and many of them will follow you back. Send all links/tweets back to your blog.
  • Consider joining some discussion groups in your area of expertise. All links go back to your blog. Try joining the Amazon Author’s Discussion Group and BE NICE. An author friend of mine said that a lot of authors are jerks in their discussions. Just the act of being a nice person will translate to book sales. Strange but true. This particular author noticed that every time he made a comment in the Author’s blog, his book sales would increase. You can even link your blog to Amazon Author Central so people can see your blog posts on your Author Central profile.
  • Actively solicit reviews on Amazon, B&N, and iTunes. Ask your ebook readers to leave feedback on any of these sites. We usually like only positive reviews, but even really snarky ones can put book readers on the author’s side instead of the commenter’s side. If  you’re seeing way too many negative reviews (and especially if they’re about specific things), you might consider revising your book and reposting it. Be sure to tell readers (in the book description area) that you’ve revised it to include “…” That just might be enough to neutralize negative feedback, and more importantly, shows readers that you care about their reading experience.
  • Finally, if you haven’t already signed up with B&N and iTunes, you might consider Amazon Select. What this does is enroll your book in the Kindle Owners Lending Library, and allows your book to be downloaded for FREE for up to 5 days. While you might think this would cannibalize paid sales, in reality, the momentum created by free downloads actually increases paid sales. Note you can only do this if you haven’t yet signed up at B&N and iTunes (it’s against their contract).

How to build a huge online platform and market your ebook is by far the biggest question authors have to answer as we move from print books to ebooks. What we’re doing here is building friendships.

So what about you? Have you tried these methods or other methods? What do you think – any insight to share with the rest of us?

One thought on “Sell More Ebooks Part 2

  • July 19, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    These are all great tips, especially the Content part. One thing that’s easy to do when building Platform is to spread yourself too thin by trying to do a bit of everything social media. Sometimes it’s best to focus on 2 or 3 things, like a blog and Facebook, and just do those things really well.

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