Analysts estimate Amazon’s Kindle selling about 1.5 million units by the end of 2009, while Barnes and Noble’s Nook is already sold out for the holidays. More e-readers are popping onto the market, and publishers are beginning to rethink their approach to digital media, like Time Inc.’s recent demo of a digital version of Sports Illustrated. The immediacy and convenience of ebooks and digital content has definitely had an impact on how people today read. Authors are beginning to realize that they can publish freely and digitally distribute their work for nothing other than their time with sites like Lulu.com. But, how do you make a great ebook that stands out?
You CAN judge a book by its cover.
A good cover can be a great marketing tool for an ebook. You want your cover to make someone scanning through a website, stop and click your ebook. You don’t want to be tacky or overbearing, but the cover should draw attention. In the open-publishing world, a cover gives readers their first impression of what to expect from an author’s book. For now, the quality of a cover is a good indication of which authors have invested more time into their work than others. Well-formatted and edited books typically have a cover that was put together by a professional designer and features professional art or photography that is eye-catching and relevant to the audience the content is trying to reach.
Do the work for your readers; be visible.
The easier you make the purchasing step for your customers, the better. This can be done by making your ebook as visible as possible. Every time you mention your book or yourself online, provide links to make it easy for people to find your content or more information about you. Let’s say you just put up a book trailer on YouTube. That YouTube page needs a link to your book’s storefront and the storefront needs a link to the video. This is called cross-linking.
One of the great things about Lulu.com is that it offers non-exclusivity for an author’s book. This means an author maintains the rights to their work, so they are free to upload it to Lulu and as many other sites as they want. This is a way to have your work reach that many more people. A little research into exclusivity rights could do a lot for your ebook.
Don’t make your customers read.
People want to read your ebook, not read about it. Try to limit the text that appears around your ebook to a minimum. A brief summation is a good thing, but make sure it builds up the content of the book. Use language that makes readers want to dive in right away. The less you say the better because you might talk potential readers out of a sale otherwise. Leave the real talk to reviewers.
Proactively respond to your readers.
Most of the work that goes into selling an ebook arguably comes after it has been written. All of the marketing for your book falls to you, and you need to be responsive to your growing audience. Social networking makes this much easier. Something like a Facebook fan page is a great way to maintain an open dialogue with several people at once while keeping people informed about your work. Be aware of reviews and respond to them positively when appropriate.
Keep up with the tech – know your formats.
.pdf, .epub, .bbeb, .lit. There are dozens of different file formats able to be assigned to the end of your would-be ebook. The most universal file format is International Digital or “EPUB.” Some ebook tech only accept proprietary file formats though so keeping up on tech trends can go a long way in getting your content out. Much like making your content as visible as possible, try making your content as accessible as possible by offering multiple file formats. You’d hate to lose sales just because you didn’t offer your book in the Kindle’s .azw format.