Ta Da! E-books are great tools for promotion

Ta Da! E-books are great tools for promotion

Expert: Carolyn Howard-Johnson

There may be as many different kinds of electronic books as you’re likely to find of the more substantial kind in bookstores. There you see hardcover books, trade paperbacks, mass market paperbacks, books bound with twirly wires, pop-up books, large-print books, tactile books and more. E-books are all electronic but they come in all sizes from white papers that should, by all rights, be called e-papers to full-blown how-to books. They are given away and sold, usually inexpensively compared to books you can have and hold. They are offered as .pdf files, ready for readers to read on their screens or to be printed out and read the old-fashioned way and those that can be downloaded to multimedia readers for reading on the run. Surely one of them can be used to your advantage.

And just how do you use them to your advantage? Lots of ways. When your book is published as an e-book in addition to a traditional have-and-hold book, you let your readers (who, after all, are your customers) get your book in whatever form they want it and get it fast. Some books—books on tech, as an example—require frequent updates. E-books allow you to do that. You can reach niche market without much upfront expense, too. But mostly, Ta Da! E-books are great tools for promotion. Here are some ways to do that:

  • Write a white paper or e-book to give away. Don’t think that because it’s free, it can be slapdash. The idea is let the e-book you’re giving away attract readers to your other books—the ones they must buy. Having said that, you are giving it away so it should contain links, teasers, even advertising that will lead the reader to your other work.
  • Write an e-book to connect network. By coauthoring books, you share your contacts, your publishing expenses, your promotion ideas and time, your different skills.
  • Write an e-book to entice others to do something you’d like them to do. Like sign up for your newsletter. Like buy another of your books. Like subscribe to your blog. Let’s face it. They’re bribes. You can use others’ e-books as bribes, too. It’s a great way to help one another out in a way that benefits you both.
  • Write a sequel to your book and publish it as an e-book to spur sales that have become stale. Or the other way around. James Patterson gave away an early novel to attract new readers to his about-to-be published new one.
  • An e-book format can breathe oxygen into a book that is about to expire. If your book isn’t already available as an e-book, publish it that way and promote its new availability in a new travel-easy and frugal format like crazy.

My students often tell me authors don’t make as much money on e-books as we do on paperbacks. Yes, and no. Think of this as Economics 101. It’s about volume. Think of it as Marketing 101. It’s about word of mouth. The more people who read your book in any format (and love it), the more you’ll sell. But here are the reasons I make all my how-to books like this one and The Frugal Editor available as e-books:

  • I can offer them inexpensively to both accomplished and starving authors.
  • I can publish an e-book fast. Once written I was able to have first edition of The Frugal Book Promoter ready to use as a syllabus of sorts for my UCLA Extension Writers’ Program class in less than thirty days.
  • I can alter it reasonably easily to keep it up to date.
  • The number of pages is not an issue; I can include whatever I feel my readers—my fellow authors—need.

I’m sold on e-books. I even make the poetry chapbooks I publish myself available as e-books. People who love poetry read on their Kindles when they travel to Paris as readily as people who read nonfiction business books.

This is an excerpt from Carolyn Howard-Johnson’s The Frugal Book Promoter


The author is Carolyn Howard-Johnson, author of The Frugal Book Promoter: How to Do What Your Publisher Won’t, winner of USA Book News’ Best Professional Book, and Book Publicists of Southern California’s Irwin Award. Its sister book, The Frugal Editor: Put Your Best Book Forward to Avoid Humiliation and Ensure Success is also a multi-award winner. Her new booklet of word trippers is Great Little Last-Minute Editing Tips for Writers: The Ultimate Frugal Booklet for Avoiding Word Trippers and Crafting Gatekeeper-Perfect Copy. Learn more at: http://www.howtodoitfrugally.com.
Her complimentary newsletter Sharing with Writers is always full of promotion tips, craft, and publishing news. Send an e-mail with “subscribe” in the subject line to HoJoNews@aol.com.

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