The fourth step to ePublishing: Getting the word out (a.k.a. How to increase sales by standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign)

Hello, people! Today I’m continuing my abbreviated series on ePublishing. First I posted about making sure that you have something to publish. Next, I talked about proofreading and formats. Last week I posted about finding the balance between creativity and realistic goals. Today? Well, we’ll continue with part four, which is mainly more housekeeping.

The fourth step to ePublishing:
Getting the word out (a.k.a. How to increase sales by standing on a street corner with a cardboard sign)

The first thing you have to do is to set your price. How much do you want to charge for your story? How much is too much? How little is too little? You don’t just want to give it away, because you might indicate that it’s not any good. But you don’t want to charge too much because then no one will buy it!

How much will Amazon and Smashwords allow you to charge for? What are their rules? How are royalties affected? What about sales tax? What about percentages? What about, what if, how come, what kind, how many, how much, whose? Yada yada yada, blah blah blah, etc. etc. etc.

Yes, this is important. But don’t freak out about it. If you set the price too low and it’s not selling, raise it. If you set the price too high and it’s not selling, lower it.

However, you should note that the lowest Smashwords allows you to set your price is $.99 and while Amazon will let you go lower, that will effect your percentage of royalties. Personally, I chose to keep both at $.99 since I published on both platforms.

Once you set your price and go public, you need to start promoting. Actually, if you already have a support base (like through Facebook or Twitter or blogging), it wouldn’t hurt to start promoting it even before you publish it.

You can also include links to your Facebook and blogs in the text of your eBook as well. But once you have it ready to go, put links on your Facebook wall. Shamelessly promote it on your blog.

Like this:

Can't Take My Eyes Off You by A.C. WilliamsFor Amazon Kindle Can't Take My Eyes Off You by A.C. WilliamsFor Other eReaders

(on Smashwords)

Talk to people about it. Set up opportunities to tell people about it, if you do something on that scale. Remember, what I wrote is just a little short story, so I hadn’t planned to really promote it to a huge extent, but really the sky is the limit. It’s whatever you want to do and however you want to do it.

Work your contacts.

Do you have friends? Everybody does (I hope). Ask them to read it. As long as they have enough food to eat, ask them to buy it and spread the word. Or bribe them shamelessly.

If you know someone in the writing industry, ask them to read it and pass it around. Remember, books don’t sell themselves. The number one way to sell a book (that I’ve found) is through word of mouth. It’s rare for me to go into a bookstore and just buy a book because it looks fun. The only way I’m going to walk into a bookstore (forgive the old fashioned reference; maybe I should say browse through the Kindle store) and buy a book is if I know and trust the author … or if someone has recommended the book to me.

More the latter than the former. If one of my friends tells me I have to read a book, I will, especially if it’s a friend whose judgment I trust.

So use that. If you have a support base of friends who enjoy your writing, ask them to help you.

Make the most of the opportunities you get.

If someone asks you about your book … talk about it. I’m bad about this because I’m not good at selling myself, which is why I soullessly keep posting links to go purchase my eBook. I always feel like I’m bragging when I’m telling people about my book or my work, and I have trouble loving people who brag all the time. So I never want to be like that.

But if you’re going to get the word out about your work, you have to talk about it. You have to tell people about it. And you have to love it enough to share it with people. So when someone asks you about your work, tell them!

My mom is a big promoter of my work. We’re still working on ways to promote the eBook, but I have a self-published daily devotional (AlwaysPeachy Devotionals) that’s becoming fairly popular. Well, what did my mom do? She called the local Christian bookstore and told them they needed to buy couple and put them in their local author section.

Seriously. Who thinks to do something like that? And the most amazing thing is that they said they were interested, which makes my stomach turn flip-flops. My first reaction is to panic. My second thought is to calm down because this is part of marketing. It’s an opportunity. And I need to make the most of it. (And I need to pay my mom a percentage because she’s a lot better at selling my work than I am.)

You have to market. Your work won’t sell itself. You have to be engaged, and you have to be passionate about it. If you don’t care about what you’ve written, no one else will.

And if all else fails …

You really can make a cardboard sign and stand on the street corner. Not even joking.

Next time? We’ll talk about expectations and how to stay positive without getting your hopes up.

A.C. Williams

Amy Williams left a lucrative career in marketing to write novels about space cowboys, clumsy church secretaries, American samurai, and alternate dimensions. Along the way, she also discovered a passion for teaching other creative professionals how to use technology to make life easier. Through video instruction or one-on-one coaching, she teaches software, blogging, basic graphic design, and many other useful skills that help creative entrepreneurs get stuff done minus the frustration.

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