Hungry for readership, e-authors are constantly seeking innovative ways to market their work. Relying upon the casual traffic to their publisher's website is simply not enough.
For the purpose at hand, we will only work with downloadable e-books, as tangibles on CD's employ the same strategies as any paper book. The innate difficulty in marketing a downloadable, is that it exists only on the Internet shelf and customers are never met face to face.
Therefore, more inventive means of reaching a reader must be devised. Below are a few suggestions:
Develop Your Own Website
The cost of owning your own domain is only $35.00 per year. There are an abundance of hosting companies where you can park your site inexpensively, and owning your own name as author is crucial. Should success smile upon you and your hard work pay off, it only makes sense to reserve your own name, right?
This site should be considered your office. It can be set up to answer inquiries, demonstrate the product, take messages, distribute free samples and disseminate information to the media. This should be considered a professional space. Posting cutesy pictures of your toy poodle does nothing to enhance your reputation as a writer.
List your credits, name your publishers and the outlets where your material is available. Provide links if that happens to be on the Internet and track the statistics of your site to determine which pages visitors read, and which they pass. A website is a continual work in progress, and if maintained properly, made attractive and full of quality content, your investment will give you a solid return.
Distribute Electronic Business Cards
Floppy disks sell for as little as 10 cents, and constitute a huge billboard of creative opportunity for the writer. Built in an HTML format, the floppy is distributed via mail or by hand, and simply read by any Internet browser.
Include free samples of your work, biographical information about yourself, and of course don't forget to include links which when activated will lead the reader directly to the point of purchase for your book.
Color is free here, and you should make tasteful use of it. Your book cover(s) should be prominent, and include your photo, but keep the background pristine. Avoid cutesy backgrounds like lace for romances or spyglasses for mysteries. Let the words speak for themselves - and be sure to make them fairly large. Remember that there is no download time involved here, so graphics may be more elaborate.
The best part is that as your resume changes, you can update the disks.
Modesty is something a successful writer cannot afford. Sit down and make a list of everyone you know, and everyone they know. Mail postcards or your electronic business cards to these folks - or better yet, give stacks to friends to pass out for you. Ask your friends to pass around the word. Let your kids tell their friends, this sort of thing provides great bragging material. Let Grandma tell the ladies at church on Sunday and let Mom keep a framed color printout of your book cover on her desk at work. If you can get the local paper to do a feature on you and your book, buy 50 copies and post it on every bulletin board you can find. Talk to the local library and offer to do a reading - the same for the PTA. Use the school library computer to dial up the Internet and show your audience how to buy an e-book. If you use a hand-held reader, carry it with you and make sure you read it obviously while waiting for the doctor, dentist or hairdresser. Build curiosity. Leave postcards made from your book cover at the gas station, grocery store, restaurant, church, department store dressing room and expressway rest area. Negotiate with local merchants to include these as bag stuffers by including coupons for their store merchandise. Get the local pizza delivery to offer your e-book as part of a "Pizza and Internet Weekend" promotion.
While some of these suggestions may not be what you considered appropriate, consider how appropriate it will be to remain anonymous and a non-seller. Use your budget, your imagination and your sense of adventure. After all - your book is not the only product here - you are.
Kim Blagg is president of PageFree Publishing, Inc. (www.booksonscreen.com). Her multi-media e-book, How to Find a Husband in Your Basement, is available from online booksellers, as well as the company website.