Recently, a friend asked if I had any foolproof strategies for marketing ebooks. My first response was less than quotable: "Um, no. I just try everything."
But, as I looked back at the past year and dug a little deeper into the various marketing strategies I used, I realized that I did, in fact, discover some things that worked better than others. And the best part? They were easy and free! Here they are, in case you want to try them yourself:
1. PUBLISH MULTIPLE BOOKS. Even though I don't write a mystery or fantasy series and all of my books are stand-alone novels, it's obvious that ebook sales for my first two novels, SLEEPING TIGERS and THE WISHING HILL, jumped when I published my third book, BEACH PLUM ISLAND, clear evidence that you can ramp up your audience reach as you put more books on your virtual shelf.
2. THINK BIGGER THAN YOUR OWN REACH. Yes, it's helpful for a writer to have a web site, to blog, to be on Twitter, to do meet-and-greets in bookstores, book signings, etc. But I see the most sales in ebooks when I write something that is then picked up by popular online sites. It's also important for authors to write guest posts for sites that draw a big audience of ebook readers, like IndieReader, Venture Galleries, and Shelf Pleasure. If you do a lot on Twitter and blog regularly, consider joining a Triberr group, which is essentially a gathering place for bloggers interested in reading and disseminating each other's work.
3. CHECK OUT BLOGTALK RADIO. Authors should definitely consider blogtalk radio shows. A lot of blogtalk radio shows have solid followings, and people who follow them download the podcasts and listen to them on the computer or while they're at the gym, using their iPhones or whatever. Listeners can immediately click on a link to buy your ebook if they like the show.
4. TARGET SPECIFIC MARKETS. In addition to targeting popular book-related web sites, it helps ebook sales to reach out to specific target audiences who would be particularly interested in the themes in your books. For instance, BEACH PLUM ISLAND revolves around half sisters and a second marriage, so I made myself accessible to stepmothers by writing guest posts for web sites like The Evil Stepmother Speaks and StepParenting with Grace. When my next novel, HAVEN LAKE, is published, I'll contact web sites targeted at veterans, PTSD survivors, etc., because that's a theme that runs through the novel. I'll also do the same with web sites that draw knitters and people raising sheep, because guess what? Fiber arts and sheep farming are also featured in the novel!
5. KEEP BUILDING A BIGGER SNOWBALL. Finally -- and this is probably the most essential strategy -- authors should realize that the days of a single book launch event (or even a week of launch events) are over. With social media, you can use a snowball marketing approach. Keep rolling out your words and ideas, and the readers will come!