{{ An Excerpt From Ebook Author Success Guideby Steve Bareham }}


Part I | Part III

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The following post is the second installment of contributor Steve Bareham’s guide to achieving success—particularly marketing success—as an ebook author. Click here to read Part One, and then swing back around tomorrow for the final post of the series.

What’s that? You say you can’t wait until tomorrow? How very American of you! For a quick shot of instant gratification, ebook-style, click here



Don’t Be Too Cute With Your Book Title

The name of the game is to get found, and there are 10 million books listed on Amazon’s site alone. To find you, if you aren’t famous, people are going to have to use search words other than your name. I used Think Well & Prosper for my critical thinking book; my wife and I thought that was cute. Maybe yes, maybe no, but nobody will find it that way since most people wanting such books will key in “critical thinking.” If I’d used that, my ranking would likely improve dramatically. In fact, I’m adding “A Critical Thinking Guide” as a subtitle even though it’s costing me to do so.

With fiction titles, cute may be okay since most people don’t know what to search for anyway. They might search “vampires,” for instance, but that brings up tens of thousands of possible titles. With nonfiction titles, though, play it straight if you want to get found; if your book is about “Red Wiggler Worms for Compost Bins,” make that your title. There are no rewards for cute, but there are penalties if your book languishes unseen in cyberspace.

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Kindle Direct Publishing Select

Like many authors, I had reservations about doing all the formatting, the table of contents creation, and then handing Amazon an exclusive on a book for three months. But I have to say, the concerns so far seem baseless. Figuring out the formatting was dead easy since Amazon offers a free book, Building Your Book for Kindle, that takes you step-by-step through the process, including creation of an active table of contents.

Honestly, anyone can do this, even those with marginal computer skills. I can also attest to the speed and accuracy of Amazon’s sales tracking feature. Within a few hours of uploading, I arranged for three books to be bought, and presto: There, within hours, was the report: Three books sold.

Amazon also makes it easy to make corrections and changes to a book even after it’s uploaded. My experience thus far has been very positive. And really, what’s a three-month exclusive in the big scheme of things?

Now, if Amazon would just help me sell a million copies, I’d really write them a glowing review!

Note: Amazon also gives you five days over the term of the exclusive to offer your book for free, the idea being that you can get a few thousand free downloads from people who love anything free and thus start some lasting buzz about how great your book is. There are varying opinions on how well this works, but if you aren’t selling many copies, what have you got to lose? To help ensure people know that your book is being offered for free, you have to do quite a bit of work to get that word out; that is, more communication leveraging.

Fortunately, there are other people who’ve done a lot of the research work for you—people like Rachelle Ayala. Click here to visit her blog.

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There’s A New Player In The Self-Publishing Game: Kobo

Kobo, a Canadian-based but Japanese-owned company, has a self-publishing platform to compete with Amazon. It’s called Writing Life, and you can read about it and watch a video here.

Kobo has the luxury of having watched Amazon’s experience, and the company’s CEO says they are going to do some things differently, so time will tell. Apparently Kobo will not insist on an exclusive (as Amazon does for 90 days), but the elephant in the room is market reach and thus market share. That is, will authors see enough sales potential to go with Kobo as opposed to Amazon, considering the latter garners about 60 percent of all ebook sales? Time will tell here, too, but it’s nice to see competition in the field. Competition keeps everyone thinking and coming up with better options for authors.

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Get To Know Goodreads

Unquestionably, one of the most well-traveled sites for book readers is GoodReads, and the company offers many options to authors, including free profile pages and a host of tracking features, plus the ability to acquire “fans.”

One big draw for GoodReads authors are the interviews with people who manage discussion groups. If you join groups, you can post (subtly) about your books. But even better is the potential for interviews, which are then posted for all on the group to see. In other words: free promotion.

Advertising: My experience is that the hard part of advertising on GoodReads is not getting your pay-per-click ads up, but actually getting people to click on the damn things. If you choose a GoodReads campaign, you have three options:

1. Tie your campaign on GoodReads to popular authors. When people search for someone like Clive Cussler, for instance, your book will be included in a batch of others in the right-hand column that people can peruse.

2. Alternately, you can link your book to specific genres.

3. Or, you can offer a contest or giveaway of some kind.

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About Gifting Books To People

I’ve seen several online bloggers suggest gifting books to people as a means of getting reviews. Sure, you can do this from sites like Amazon, Kobo, B&N, etc. But note this: On Amazon, if it’s a gift, there are two important things to keep in mind:

1. The recipient of the gift cannot review the book without also buying something. In other words, Amazon does not let anyone post a review if they haven’t made a purchase of some kind, so don’t waste your money gifting ebooks and expecting Amazon reviews unless you are confident the recipients will purchase something as well.

2. Gifted books do not carry the “Amazon Verified Purchase” line, and without that, the inference is that the reviewer didn’t pay for the book.

And that’s why—for the purpose of publicity, at least—it’s best if people you know actually buy the book themselves, and then review it.

 Log onto TeleRead tomorrow for the third and final Ebook Author Success Guide excerpt, which will include tips on Facebook promotion, the importance of properly choosing your book’s genre, and a look at Amazon’s stance on paraphrasing and plagiarism.

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UPDATE: If you happen to be reading this post on August 4 or 5, 2012, 

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Steve Bareham has taught writing and business communication to management students at Selkirk College, Nelson, B.C., since 1996.

His writing career began in 1969 with a decade-long stint as a reporter and editor with several Canadian daily newspapers. He worked next in public relations, marketing and business communications management positions with TransAlta, Simon Fraser University, and the B.C. School Trustees Association before joining the teaching staff at Selkirk. He has written nine print books for publishers such as Harper Collins and McGraw-Hill Ryerson.

As head of marketing and chief editor of EduServ Inc., a North American publishing house that served the education sector, Steve signed authors and edited more than dozen books from 1985-1991, generating several million dollars in revenue. Four of his eBooks will come online this year.


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