Every self-publishing author wants to know how to sell ebooks online.
Very often, it seems that writing a book is the easy part.
Ebooks and books are normal retail items. Like any other retail product, people need to notice them before they can buy them.
If you have published an ebook and you are struggling for sales, how do you get noticed?
You need to get people to notice your ebook
If you imagine a small retail store selling Japanese teapots and cups, where would it be located?
Usually, where there is a high level of passing traffic, such as on the high street or in a mall.
Now think about the thousands of people who walk past this little shop every day.
And then about the few who actually walk in the door, and then about the percentage of those who enter, who buy something.
Perhaps only one in a thousand people even notice the teapots and cups, and then only a few of those will enter and make a purchase.
Yet the shop survives and sells enough to stay in business and make a profit. It does so because it had or has a clear marketing plan based on passing trade.
How to create passing trade for books
Now think about your ebook or book.
Its shop is an Amazon, iBooks, Kobo, or Barnes & Noble web page. But how much traffic are you attracting to notice your little bookstore?
Do you have a marketing plan to attract the volume of traffic you need to make enough sales?
You need web traffic because it helps you to sell ebooks online.
The graphic below is an example of how to model a marketing plan for self-published books and ebooks. It divides the marketing process into four major elements.
Of the four elements, this one is the most important when learning how to sell ebooks online.
Search engines and social media are the best means of attracting, building, and continually growing Internet web traffic to your website, blog, and then to your books.
I see many self-published authors posting ‘buy my book’ links on Twitter and Facebook, yet they only have a few hundred followers or Likes.
This is entirely self-defeating. Perhaps a few of those few hundred followers may have already bought the book and will be fed up in no time at being asked over and over again.
For those who haven’t bought the book, they have no intention. They will ignore all the messages, or worse, unfollow you.
Social media should be used to continually build traffic, as for every thousand who follow you, only a very few will end up buying your book.
Think about how many times people would walk past the Japanese tea store before they entered.
If the owner jumped out the door and screamed, ‘Buy my teapots!’ at everyone passing by, I don’t think the shop would sell many teapots.
Use Twitter, a Facebook Page, LinkedIn, and any other social media platform to create and increase traffic to your website and blog first.
Then, for every thousand you attract, there will be a few who will see your book links and end up buying your book.
The second important reason to increase traffic is to have the opportunity to monetize your blog via advertising, which will come in very useful for offsetting paid promotion costs.
Inform your readers
As with the lady screaming at the top of her voice about her teapots, having a website or blog that screams, ‘Buy my book,’ will not work well.
What you need is quality content that is informative or entertaining and will be worth indexing by Search Engines, shared by your followers, and in the process of this, help again in building your traffic.
Of course, have book buy links in the sidebar or the footer of individual blog posts, but don’t make them the main focus.
Quality content is far more valuable, as it will continue to attract thousands of people over a long period of time.
A buy link will never attract, be indexed, or shared, so its value is extremely limited.
But a well-written quality article will continually deliver unique visitors, or traffic, to notice your book buy links, and help you sell books.
This is the easiest part. When you self-publish on the major platforms and retailers, your book sales pages are prepared for you.
The only work you need to do is ensure that you have a very well-written book description and a wow ebook cover to attract book buyers.
Setting up an Amazon Author page with your bio and adding all your blog, website, and social media links to your Smashwords and Draft2Digital book links is also well worth the effort.
There are many options for both free and paid promotion and advertising for all types of books. Here are a few ideas.
Free Book Promotion Sites
There are thousands of these sites that make money from Amazon Associates affiliate income.
In other words, if someone buys your book from their site or even downloads a free copy, the site owner gets a small commission or benefit from an Amazon cookie.
This cookie will attract a commission for the book promoter if someone buys something else from Amazon within 24 hours.
Use them by all means. But note that they need a lot of books to make money, so your book will be just one of the thousands.
Do a Google search and select maybe a handful of these sites to list your book.
Paid Book Promotion Sites
There are good, bad, and better here.
What you should get for your money is a lot of exposure and an increase in web traffic to your book buy page, blog, and website.
A good rule of thumb is to check a paid site’s Internet traffic by using Alexa, and checking if they have a Twitter account.
Check if their Twitter followers are organic (real) or paid (fake).
If it has a huge following full of accounts with no profile image, cute women with strange usernames, and no bios, they are probably robot followers, which have been paid for to increase the follower count.
None of these are real people, so, of course, they cannot buy your book.
Look for a solid list of organic followers. To get value for your book promotion dollar, you need a lot of online exposure.
Whizbuzz Books offers one year of book promotion to over half a million real social media accounts.
Google and Facebook offer pay-per-click advertising that can be used in a number of ways.
While it can become expensive, setting a modest budget for book advertising can produce sales results.
While you may spend more on advertising than you make in sales, it is a good tool for increasing a book’s sales ranking or page view count on your blog.
The other side of the coin is that you can earn money on your blog from Google Adsense. So it is well worth considering this as a way of earning extra money to offset your book promotion costs.
If your Facebook Page has only a handful of Likes, it will be difficult to increase the number organically at the beginning.
People are attracted to popularity. For this reason, I believe buying Facebook likes is good value when your Page is new.
I wouldn’t recommend buying Likes from providers other than Facebook itself, though. As with Twitter, fake followers and fake Likes tend to steadily disappear over time.
These were quite the thing a year or two back, but I am not sure how successful they are now. Depending on the package you choose, they can be quite expensive. Buyer beware.
As I mentioned earlier, followers can be bought, but they are fake, so they have little or no value.
Work on building your Twitter following by connecting with people in your niche.
Nothing in this article is set in concrete. But you can consider each element when preparing your marketing plan to sell ebooks online.
There are only two things that I would say are vitally important.
One is never stop increasing, building, and attracting organic traffic. The other is don’t spend more than an hour per day doing so.
I like to set time aside each day for the tasks I have.
Perhaps traffic building for one hour after breakfast and blog writing for one hour during the afternoon. Then a little socializing on Twitter and Facebook for half an hour in the evening.
The rest of my day is devoted to teaching, writing, and living life.
What’s your plan?