Sunday, January 27, 2013

Marketing Ebooks

The Light Heart of Stone on Kindle

2013 is my personal “Year of the Ebook”. Most of the other self-publishers whom I’ve met have focused on ebooks from the very beginning of their publishing journey. In fact, Patrick O’Duffy commented that he was ‘floored’ when he heard about my focus on The Light Heart of Stone as a traditional, physical book. I can understand why.

As a reader, I’m a huge fan of digital books. Having an iPad and Kindle has increased the number of books I read and I love the lightweight and portable format. As a publisher, ebooks make complete sense. While publishing a well-designed and high quality ebook isn’t inexpensive (at the very least there are editing, design and proofing costs), ebooks offer a much lower barrier to market.

I focused on The Light Heart of Stone as physical book because I had some really strong ideas about real world marketing that were better suited to a physical book than an ebook. Against those ideas was a complete mental vacuum when it came to marketing ebooks. I had no idea how to set about the task. I went so far as to produce an ebook with the help of Amanda Greenslade of Greenslade Creations. For all the good it did me… Amanda did a great job, but my ebook has been sitting on electronic bookshelves in cyberspace shops (Amazon, iTunes and Kobo) doing no business at all. On the other hand, its physical sibling has been selling: and selling well.

During the New Year period, I made a resolution to make 2013 my personal Year of the Ebook. My skills in physical world marketing had developed organically over many years. In the pre-ebook age, I worked in publishing and got to observe the operations of a couple of marketing departments. I’ve been involved with a various arts organisations. I’ve run a visual arts business and I have directed an art gallery. I don’t have comparable digital experiences to call upon.

I was worried about the time I’d need to come to grips with ebook marketing. I’m currently finishing a draft of a new novel and I’m about to start writing volume II of the Promise of Stone series. And that work can’t be set aside: not if I want to continue my professional life as a writer. The alternative of paying an ebook marketer didn’t appeal at all. It wasn’t just the money. Yes, I wanted to be sure I spent carefully and effectively, but I wanted to learn, not just receive a service.

I’ve been lucky in knowing Katherine Sylwester. Katherine is a Californian native who has lived and worked in my hometown in Australia and understands the particular Australian version of the worldwide book culture. Just as I declared 2013 my Year of the Ebook, Katherine opened Pale Blue Dot, a business designed to support the global needs of ultra-micro businesses. Nice! And the strong Australian dollar didn’t hurt either.

Katherine is doing my initial ebook marketing research and has prepared a simple strategy for me. I still get to do the ebook marketing work (so I get to learn, but learn in the context of Katherine’s support).

Katherine and I have lined up a number of sites and services that could be useful marketing tools. Some are free; others cost money. Our first target is a free US site called the Author Marketing Club. The Club was started by Jim Kukral, a business person and online marketer.

The Author Marketing Club site operates as a point of contact where authors can seek and offer reviews, discuss approaches, list their books, ask for advice and make use of some opt-in paid services. Is it good? Is it worth it? I have no idea but I’m game to give it a try.

To date, I’ve used the site to request review copies of other members’ books and have asked them to return the favour if they have a genuine interest in epic fantasy. I’m been completely upfront about my policy of not reviewing books unless I like them – so I’m under no obligation. I risk reading a few bad books, but I take that risk when I visit my local library.

I hope that this year will bring lots of ebook sales and that I come to some sort of understanding of the ebook marketing process.

The Light Heart of Stone on iPad
I'll let you know how it goes.


I may derive an advantage from mentioning the Author Marketing Club in my blog. Discussing the Club and including a link to the Club’s site may result in The Light Heart of Stone being featured on the Club’s website.