You’re sitting with a blank sheet of paper, an ebook on its way, and you don’t know where to start. How do you market this thing?
Take a deep breath, and start with the big goals. There are three of them: key objectives that underpin a digital marketing plan for ebooks. Once you have these, you can start to add the detail, a layer at a time.
When there is no physical book for sale, the marketing changes significantly. However, most of the principles and techniques you’ll learn will also be useful where a print and a digital book are promoted together.
The importance of strategies: Insights from Dilbert
Three big ebook marketing goals
Let’s start by looking at the major goals and the challenges we face when successfully building a digital marketing foundation and getting new ebooks to the market. As you’ll see, these are similar to the big challenges publishers face selling print editions but how they meet the new digital challenges is often very different.
To understand how things are changing, we’ll look at how these challenges are met in the print and ebook worlds.
A marketing strategy for ebooks should cover three major components:
Develop online connections with people who will buy or influence buyers of your ebooks.
Send customers to online ebookstores (or your website or other channels) to buy your ebooks.
Convert browsers to buyers
Convert casual browsers and searchers in those online ebookstores into buyers of your ebooks.
TIP: Have a project in mind
As you do this course, it will help you to apply what you’re learning if you have a small project in mind.
- If it’s real, that’s great, but a hypothetical case can work just as well.
- Don’t make it too big or complicated.
- For now, just think about some of the basics of what you plan to market and who you’ll want to reach.
- Take a moment before you go further and perhaps jot down a few key points.
How book marketing changes when it’s digital
The staples of traditional book promotions — bookstore merchandising, reviews in newspapers and magazines, author tours, book signings, retailers’ catalogues — require a physical book to review, display, or sell. Consequently, few of these tried-and-proven techniques and channels to the reader are available for ebooks. So digital marketers need alternatives.
When books are digital, two things change significantly in their marketing:
- Most marketing takes place online.
- The influence of automated systems becomes critical. From search engines to social networks to online ebookstores, computer algorithms influence how, and whether, books are discovered and bought.
As we look at the techniques and tools to market ebooks, you’ll see these two themes coming up constantly. And, while traditional book marketing skills can be helpful, it’s now far less of an advantage than it was because so much happens online.
Book marketers — both publishers and authors — now need a new set of skills and a new ‘platform’ on which to base their marketing.
Print vs ebook marketing
Here’s a snapshot of some of the ways that print and ebook marketing differ as they tackle the same challenges.
1. Develop connections
- Print: Develop connections with local and national media (newspaper and magazine reviewers, radio and TV show hosts), influential booksellers
- Ebooks: Develop connections globally with online reviewers, bloggers, influential social networkers and reader reviewers, specialised book social networks
2. Create demand
- Print: Local print and electronic media reviews and interviews, in-store book signings, retailer catalogues, some local or national advertising (billboards, etc)
- Ebooks: Online reviews (blogs, reader reviews), author website, blog tours, digital samplers and give-aways, social network posts and promotions, search engine optimisation, pay-per-click advertising
3. Convert bookstore browsers into buyers
- Print: Sell-in multiple copies, get in-store displays (posters, shelf talkers, end caps, retailer price promotions), cover design and front cover copy, back cover copy, focus on new titles
- Ebooks: Search-optimised title and metadata, cover design (no marketing copy on cover), reader reviews and ratings, category selection, publisher price promotions, on-site bestseller lists, author site, online data analytics, cross-promote via author backlist/series
In the following sections, we’ll look at how each of these challenges can be tackled in the digital world.
Thinking of a recent book marketing campaign, how would it have been different if there was only an ebook edition available?
Find out more about this topic on our Digital Publishing 101 useful resources site.