How to Market an E-book

I see a question asked repeatedly by writers and webmasters... "How can I market my e-book?" Well for starters, that's something you should have thought about before writing it, now isn't it? But OK... you'll see the same responses surface each time:

  • Launch an affiliate program.
  • Write a long sales letter.
  • Get testimonials.
  • Submit to article directories.
  • Start a newsletter.
  • Use pay-per-click ads or other online advertising.
  • etc.

Now that's all fine and dandy, . Personally, I don't care for long sales letters, and refuse to buy any product marketed with one. I don't give much credence to testimonials, because frankly they can be "bought." I don't believe in paying for advertising when you can get the same results for less - advertising should be a last resort as far as I'm concerned. I won't deny that affiliate programs can work, but again, I'd use it as a last resort. If you can make a nice income without one, why share your profits? I despise article directories with a passion and look at people writing for them as a bunch of hacks. Newsletters are the only typical marketing tactic I hear that I think is completely respectable, efficient, and effective.

You don't have to agree with my feelings on some of the other tactics that I mentioned. I really couldn't care less one way or the other. My point is that these typical e-book marketing tactics aren't necessarily the most effective path, yet people eat them up and stop looking beyond them.

It baffles me... why do people act like e-books are some completely unique product type that needs to be marketed in its own special way? They don't!

There is no "e-book marketing" plan out there that's unique to the medium.

So if you're trying to market an e-book you've written, begin by getting out of that mindframe, and accepting two things:

  1. An e-book can be marketed very much like a book in print.
  2. An e-book's website (or sales page if you insist on being that stereotypical) can be marketed just like any other website or blog.

There's no magic formula for e-book marketing. Just take traditional marketing methods, and tailor the tactics to your needs. For example, here are a few book publicity tactics that you can use to market your e-book:

  • Book Tours - Instead of a traditional book tour, launch a virtual book tour hitting the blogging circuit.
  • Book Reviews - While top book reviewers may not want to make time to review an e-book, plenty of bloggers and influential people in your niche would probably love to. Send out advanced review copies just as you would with a print book.
  • Press Releases - Send out an e-book "launch" news release and a release for any events you may hold to promote the e-book.
  • Seminars - You can still hold seminars (or better yet, webinars and e-courses) to promote an e-book, just as an author of a print book might do.

If you treat your e-book as professionally as you would a print title, there's no reason why you can't follow tried and true book publicity and marketing plans to bring in a lot of sales and recognition. The same goes for your e-book's website. Look at what authors and publishers are doing to promote their print books online, and tailor the tactics to meet your needs (set up a social networking profile, blog on the subject of your e-book, etc.).

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Jennifer Mattern is a professional blogger, freelance business writer, consultant, and indie author. She runs numerous websites & blogs including All Freelance Writing, Freelance Writing Pros, NakedPR, and Kiss My Biz.

Jenn has 25 years' experience as a professional writer and editor and over 20 years' experience in marketing and PR (working heavily in digital PR, online marketing, social media, SEO, new media, and thought leadership publication). She also has 19 years' professional blogging and web publishing experience (including web development) and around 18 years of experience as an indie author / publisher.

Jenn also writes fiction under multiple pen names and is an Active member of the Horror Writers Association.

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3 thoughts on “How to Market an E-book”

  1. I like the idea of blogs to promote ebooks along with other ideas you mentioned.

    I agree about the long sales letters, most of them scream to me to run and not buy. They do seem to work however for the average user, just not to those that have seen them enough times to know better.

  2. I think a part of my issue with long sales letters is that my primary work is in PR, and I’m constantly fighting the “spin doctor” image, as someone who just “hypes up” people’s products, companies, sites, etc. I look at long form sales letters as nothing more than hype, and usually misleading at that, at least in some way, and consider it unethical professionally to essentially take advantage of the naivety of the average Joe as opposed to educating them about actual benefits and value.

  3. A long sales letter does not necessarily have to be filled with hype.

    But it should be filled with “what’s in it for the person” buying the ebook.

    Sometimes this can’t be said in short sales copy. What’s obvious to us who write the ebook is not obvious to the visitors who will buy.

    Actually, I think audio and video is better on a sales page anymore. Which, if used, makes the long sales letter unnecessary.

    Making the Complicated Simple!


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