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Thursday
Nov172011

Marketing an E-Book

Since we've been talking about marketing and platform so much around here these days, (and I have a few posts scheduled on the subject), I asked a writer friend to stop by and share her own experience marketing her e-book. I know that a lot of you have considered publishing an e-book, and since I don't have direct experience with doing this exclusively, I thought that Jen A. Miller - who just pubbed her own e-book - might have some wisdom.

If you want to grab a copy of her e-book, A Book a Week With Jen: 1 Year, 52 Weeks, you can do so right now and get 30% off with this coupon code: ZP97B

It expires November 20. It's good only on books bought from here:

Here are her thoughts on e-pubbing: 

I'm not like all ebook authors. I don't have a project that will be brand spanking new, but I'm part of a growing group of writers who are using stuff that's already written and giving it new life with an ebook (and hopefully giving themselves a little income, too). 

In 2007-2008, I reviewed 52 books in 52 weeks, and wrote a blog about them (your hostess with the mostest of this blog was a frequent commenter). I did not write it for financial gain. I wrote it because I was having the worst year of my life (I got dumped, lost my grandfather, bought a house and wrote my first book all in the span of four months), hit a major piece of writer's block, and figured I should do...something. I never expected anyone to read the blog. I never - save a few emails with an agent after it was over - expected it to amount to more than that. Just a blog that would force me to write.  

But the project had found an audience, an audience that would comment on almost every review. Now that I have a much bigger social media platform, why not try to give the project a new audience? At the same time, I'd dip my toe into the ebook process and figure out where it would fit into other aspects of my writing career.  

That's where the 'Book a Week with Jen' ebook came from. I did edit it for clarity, and deleted posts that weren't part of the book a week project. But other than that? I didn't do much the actual text of the thing before converting it into an ebook.

But it wasn't an entirely smooth process, and I didn't do it alone. Here's some tips that might help:

1. Have a good cover. I knew my ebook would be competing with everything else on Amazon, and as a reader, I was turned off by ebooks with amateurish covers. I didn't spend TOO much on mine (my brother had done that illustration of me in 2008, and I paid a graphic designer to turn that into the book cover, and I paid a copywriter friend of mine in beer and a free copy of the book to come up with a subhead), but I made sure it was professional looking an appealing.

2. Use a distributor - carefully. I was tempted to just use Smashwords to distribute the whole thing. But my friend Scott Neumyer warned me that they took a bigger chunk of your profits, and it didn't always look right when converted. So I published directly to Amazon's Kindle and to Barnes & Noble's Nook, and then let Smashwords publish to everything else. The result is that it looks right on all formats, and I keep more of the profits in my bank account instead of paying fees.

3. Format it right. I could also label this one as Ask for Help When You Need it. I tried to follow Scott's advice on formatting, but I'm not the biggest tech person. I emailed him to tell him that I was going to give up - and then he offered to format it for me (and, yes, I paid him for it). You want your book to look good and read well. Either stay with the process and be patient, or hire someone to help. If you ARE tech savvy, I recommend this formatting guide.

4. Price for your market. I priced my ebook about as low as I could go because, first, I know some people had already read it and still COULD read it on the blog for free, but I was selling them a more convenient format in which they could read it. And, second, I don't expect to make a huge profit. And maybe that's part of it, too. Yes, people get rich writing and publishing their own ebooks. But not everyone. 

Reader Comments (6)

thanks a lot for the post! very interesting!

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered Commenterpay for papers

Jen,

Thank you for your helpful advice!

How long did it take you to get your text converted into an e-book? Are you doing much to promote your e-book now that it has been published?

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSusan Weiner

Thanks!

Susan, it's hard to say. I spent time trying to do it on my own that proved a waste. Once I turned it over to Scott (who I linked to as the guy who formatted the book for me when I gave up), he did it in a few hours. Uploading to each site took about 10 minute each.

As for promo...well, you're reading this post :-) I've been doing stuff on twitter and giving free review copies to bloggers. I have pitched a few traditional media outlets, but nothing yet.

Scott made a good point: these books become passive income. There's no more overhead to produce and/or promote them. Just my time.

Jen

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen Miller

A few other things! I just remembered.

1. I held a silly contest on my blog where I gave away a copy, and then gave people a discount for a limited time (I also offered a discount via this post, too).

2. I dusted off an old essay that I had written during the 'Book a Week' period and had it published here: http://www.modernloverejects.com/?p=1639

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterJen Miller

Yay Jen! This is such a great idea. Thanks for sharing the backstory of how you pulled everything together. You've always been great at recognizing promotional opportunities & tie ins for your NJ books...it's inspiring to see you leading the way into this sort of project, too.

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTrish Ryan

"At the same time, I'd dip my toe into the ebook process and figure out where it would fit into other aspects of my writing career."

Yup. I had a similar thought when, in late 2009 (before Kindle publishing became what it is now), I decided to e-publishing an online serial I'd been writing every week on my blog for fun. It had won a contest with a major publisher, but ultimately they passed on publishing it, so I thought, Why not do it myself and see what I can learn? Over the course of the past two years, I've definitely gained a LOT of insight into what it takes to publish and market yourself. I'm still working on getting an agent, but I really value the lessons I've learned and the friends I've made in the process.

So, great post and good luck! I hope it turns out to be as fun and valuable for you as it has for me. :)

November 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKristan
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