9 Tips to Help Ensure E-Book Success

This week is our second installment from James A. Rose on self-publishing and marketing tips. Be sure to check out his post last week too in case you missed it. Thanks James! We’ll be back to our usual stuff next week with a look at author intentions.

Indie e-book publishing has exploded in recent years and for good reason. It is the best method for new authors on a limited budget to introduce their book to as many potential readers as possible. Right from your home office you can upload your book to multiple retail marketplaces with potential consumer exposure in the millions. E-book publishing is also a great way to test the waters before you invest in a short print run. Don’t get too excited just yet. Most e-books go nowhere but there are some steps you can take that will ensure your new e-book has the best possible chance for success.


The first and most obvious consideration is overall book quality. Just because the self-publishing business model allows anybody the opportunity to publish a book does not mean that everybody should. You will need to pretend you are the person in charge of acquisitions at a traditional publishing house when you evaluate your own book. Better yet, get some review copies printed and send them to people not so close to you for honest reviews. The bottom line is that if your book is no good, it won’t take long for people to figure it out so make sure it is good.


Edit your book like NASA edits a new launch. Pretend that a typo will gets somebody killed. You edit, get a friend to edit and then have it professionally edited. You may not think a few misspelled words or missing commas are important but historical sales figures have proven that these are indeed major determinants of success.


There is a plethora of information about what constitutes a good book cover and for good reason. The importance of a quality cover cannot be overstated. I have seen the same book increase in sales over 100 fold just from changing the cover. Five hundred dollars for a cover may seem like a lot of money but it is really not when you consider how imperative it is.


Almost as important as the cover is the description or the “blurb” as it is so annoyingly referred to in the publishing industry. The description is your chance in two paragraphs to entice the potential reader. It should provide a clear idea of what the book is about and why the reader should care. You can compare it to a movie preview. In 90 seconds a movie preview will filter out all those not interested while sparking the interest of those that are. Target your book description to your specific genre and provide some substance.


Expose your book to as many consumers as possible. Avoid exclusivity contracts. If you must sign one, make sure the exclusive resell rights expire after no longer than ninety days. You have to be on Kindle Direct; that’s a given. Optimally you will also be on B&N Nook Press, Apple iBookstore, Kobo and Google Play.


Practice perfect pricing. Price too high and no one will want to spend that much to take a chance on an unknown. Price too low and your book will come across as junk and will be tossed into the e-garbage along with all the e-books written by get rich quick internet marketers. Fortunately, there is strong precedence for how you should price your e-book. Don’t break the mold. Stick with what works. This range will be $2.99 to $5.99. If you are an unknown then go low. If you are already relatively well known in your field then you can move to the higher end of the range. Those prices may seem low but with e-books, volume is way more important than per unit profit.


Wherever possible let readers preview the first chapter. This will give them the opportunity to see that you write at a quality level and to also hopefully get drawn in to the story.

Free copies are a great way to improve sales. It sounds counterintuitive but it is true. I’ll explain why in the next section. If you have written several books then consider giving away the first one for free on a permanent or semi-permanent basis. If this is your first book then consider running a free giveaway promotional period. I know KDP has this feature built in. This is because it works.

Word of Mouth

Word of mouth will be your best form of advertising. Your marketing budget is likely limited so word of mouth will also be a necessity. The key to successful word of mouth marketing is writing a good book and targeting a specific genre. Science fiction fans are passionate about science fiction and romance fans obviously passionate about romance. Don’t try to reach a diverse audience. Achieving the viral effect is the main reason for the previously mentioned free giveaway promotion. Don’t forget that these original recipients of free copies will be your best primary source of reviews which can also immensely help sales.


The final piece of advice is to think globally. International shipping of physical products can be somewhat prohibitive but not e-books. Have your book translated into as many languages as possible and post to international marketplaces. There is just no reason not to.


A good e-book should be evergreen, meaning it will be perpetually relevant. If sales are slow at first, don’t fret. You have plenty time to build an audience. Don’t let an incessant obsession with marketing distract you from writing your next book and don’t forget that many writers don’t find success until their third or fourth book. So the best piece of advice for ensuring e-book success is just to not give up.

James A. Rose is a writer for InstantPublisher.com, a self-publishing company that has been helping authors bring their visions to life for the past 15 years. He has worked in the book publishing industry since 2010 and during that time he has seen pretty much every problem that authors encounter during the self-publishing process. It is James’ goal to utilize his experience at Instant Publisher to help budding authors avoid common mistakes and self-publish the best book possible.



Digg This
Reddit This
Stumble Now!
Buzz This
Vote on DZone
Share on Facebook
Bookmark this on Delicious
Kick It on DotNetKicks.com
Shout it
Share on LinkedIn
Bookmark this on Technorati
Post on Twitter
Google Buzz (aka. Google Reader)
This entry was posted in Writing Craft & Self-Publishing and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Post a comment or leave a trackback: Trackback URL.

Something to share?

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

  • Follow DSB on Twitter

  • Our Books