26 January 2011


In the year since I actively started marketing Helium3 as an e-book I’ve learned quite a lot about e-marketing. Here are the main things I think I’ve learned:

It’s difficult - it takes a good deal of time and effort.

The returns don’t justify the time investment, yet – but hopefully the hits will grow eventually until the time input does become justified.

No one will read anything from a self-published author unless it’s free. This means everyone need at least one book which is a loss-leader – if they like the free one they may return for another, and if they liked it enough they may pay for one.

Quantity is more important than quality, though, ideally you want both. A long backlist is important, because once a reader decides they like your work they will often return to purchase other books from you, especially if they feature the same characters.

Size does'nt matter – a lot of the best selling e-books are more novella than novel, often less than 20,000 words. In fact, brevity seems to be preferred when reading online. Whether this has to do with the nature of reading from a screen or the social settings in which the works are read, such as on a commute to work, is unclear. So it’s ok to write a trilogy of 25,000 words each rather than one saga of 80,000 words.

There appear to be three main approaches adopted when marketing e-books:

  • The scatter-gun approach – getting the book listed on as many sites as possible.

  • The funnel approach – channelling potential readers towards one sales website by contributing to as many blogs, chat rooms, and discussions as possible.

  • The third party approach – paying someone else to undertake on or both of the above approaches.
    I prefer the funnel approach, because I think I will get more return for my effort and I can keep a tight control over marketing efforts.
A lot of independent authors seem to spend a lot of time promoting their book to other independent authors – many of the site chosen to list work appear to only attract other authors.

There are plenty of people prepared to make money our of helping independent authors sell their works – typically these people promise lots, charge high, and deliver little. Do it yourself.

Everyone loves a special offer – discount codes really do work.

In future posts I will be working these ideas up into a marketing plan for the coming year.

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